May 21 2011

Sammamish-Snoqualmie Valley-Carnation Loop, May 21

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Just like the previous 10 weeks, we were blessed to have another day of decent weather for riding. There were heavy clouds all morning but the showers held back. I recall only feeling a few drops during the ride. Gail and I arrived at Sunset Elementary where we were joined by William, Heli making the 7 mile trek to the school from home (Heli refused the car ride to the school this morning with us), and Ed and Richard, who also rode to the school together on Ed’s tandem. Eric came by shortly afterwards, and finally Billy and Jeff joined us for the first time this year. Welcome guys! In all, we had 9 riders. The quote of the day comes from Jeff who said

When we drove into the parking lot and saw the group of riders there, I thought Uh Oh…

We left around 8:15 am from the school parking lot and headed east towards Issaquah. The pace was a comfortable 18-20 mph on a slight down hill. As we rounded the bottom of the lake and headed north on East Lake Sammamish, we began to work a little harder maintaining the same average pace on the flats.

As we worked our way up the backside of the lake, we reached Inglewood Hill Rd (Hill #1); Gail and I reached the hill first and found ourselves almost immediately shifting to our granny gear for the first time ever. As we made our way up the hill, we were passed by Club Dred….then William …then Eric…and then Heli, finally we reached the top before both Billy and Jeff caught us.  After a brief stop, we continued east and made another quick stop at a gas station. During the stop, we noticed Billy stretching his legs trying to work out some of the stiffness and rust, but before he had a chance to finish stretching out we were off again. Sorry Billy!

We reached 244th and I almost didn’t recognize the intersection, there’s a brand new round-about where the 4-way stop use to be. We made the turn and headed north keeping up a decent pace, with all the rollers (small hills) in this stretch, it’s difficult to figure out how fast we were going. The key to riding rollers is to make sure you pick up speed on the downhill and using your momentum to carry you up the following hill. As we came to the end of the rollers we had our first opportunity to test our nerves on the downhill coming off of the north side of the Sammamish Plateau. It was a blur but I noticed a sign indicating the grade was 12%. I don’t know who made it down first but it wasn’t us. At the bottom of the hill, we rode along Hwy 203 for a short distance until we took a left turn up Ames Lake Rd (Hill #2).

Club Dred, William, Heli, and Eric took the early lead up the hill and shortly thereafter I lost sight of them. I don’t know who reached the top first but I know it wasn’t us. We regrouped at the top of the hill with a brief break. Most riders who love hills usually focus on their breathing and cadence while working to the top. I was told while Club Dred was working their way to the top of the hill, Richard was enjoying the scenic view and noticing the ferns on the old growth trees. When there’s an uphill there’s normally a downhill at some point. In this case there was a long easy downhill grade that took us into the Snoqualmie Valley. This was an adrenalin filled 4 mile stretch where some of us hit close to 30 mph.

The scenery quickly changed from expensive housing developments to country farmland and pastures. We decided to ride a more moderate pace in order to regroup and to enjoy the scenery, we made a brief stop at the Korey Camp Farm which use to be the Nestle Training Center and then we were off again. When we reached Carnation, we made a stop at Starbucks where we refueled and refilled our water bottles. Billy, thanks for the bagel offer but I didn’t need the extra weight climbing up Stair Step hill which was yet to come. :D  

Interview of Jeff by Billy at the Starbucks stop

As we headed south along the valley, we turned off Tolt River Rd and rode along the back roads near Carnation golf course. This is a quiet flat stretch of road of about 5 miles with few cross roads which made it ideal for practicing riding in a pace line. We were able to get organized quickly and rode a pace line the full distance maintaining a speed around 18-20 mph…nice job! At the end of this stretch we were rewarded with the opportunity to climb Stair Step Hill (Hill #3).

The normal cast of riders took the early lead up the hill again where I lost sight of them through the turns. I don’t know who reached the top first but I know it wasn’t us. As we reached the top, William decided to head back down to make sure the rest of the climbers were OK. You’re the good Shepherd William!

This was the last hill of the ride except for a few rollers. We headed down the plateau into Issaquah and past Costco. The last few miles Gail and I decided to see what was left in our legs so we led to group up the long rise back to Sunset Elementary maintaining a pace around 18-20 mph. Along the way we saw Steve and Frances (corrected) heading the opposite direction. Gail and I lead the group until we lost momentum trying to get around traffic at which point Club Dred, William, Eric, and Heli passed us by. I don’t know who finished first but I know it wasn’t us. In all, it was a fun day of riding, with no notable events…not even a flat tire.

Here are some ride stats:


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  1. Dred

    Richard Marshall arrived at my door at 7:15am. Right on time. As usual. We adjusted the softride stoker position on the tandem to Richard’s height the night before, but we thought it would be more comfortable if we used one of Rich’s old saddles, instead of the block of wood I apparently had on there. On the internet, it says that the “block of wood is comfortable and is fully broken in after around 3,000 miles.” Google it, you’ll find it. Since our ride was a little shorter than that, we installed his girly man saddle. The “block of wood is also good for emergency use as fuel for fire, should you get lost…” That’s on the internet, too.

    It was raining, so I naturally asked him if we should go riding today. At which point he said, with a little bit of disgust, ‘YES, we should go! This is nothing. Put your jacket on, and let’s go!” He didn’t add in “You big baby.” But I think I heard it in a really quiet voice. Or maybe I imagined it. Okay, let’s go.

    We met up with Heli, William the Conqueror, Kary and Gail, and Eric. We were waiting around for Kevin Luu, who just lives down the street, but he became a no show. Then Billy and Jeff showed up. They unloaded their bikes, tied their shoes, pumped up their tires, applied makeup, put their contacts in, shaved, and checked email, then We Left!

    The ride was great-no flats-we all stayed together-we all strained to get up the hills-(Those Other Guys are So Competitive!)-no accidents-no problems-no fist fights-no trash talking (because Kevin wasn’t there-lol)! I must say that I really enjoyed riding Tandem with Richard the Great-his power was appreciated and noted. I also need to say that Heli is a total Studette. Richard an I shed everyone on the last climb to finish the ride…except Heli! She might be an Extraterrestrial. Or a Freak of Nature or something, because she is an extraordinary rider.

    Looking forward to more riding.

    1. Tailwind

      Dred – block of wood? Try this for a real saddle: http://sheldonbrown.com/real-man.html.

      Billy – you did great staying with us. Just remember that hills are good for you just like vegetables.

  2. blueneck

    18-20mph??? Heeeyyyy…that’s not STP speed! That’s faster! Frances – with an e – and I did 36 to the floating bridge and back. As captain, I’ve been pretty toasted going up the hills; even small short ones. I count on my stoker to get us up the hills.

    There were more than the usual number of riders out there due to the Tour de Cure (ride for diabetes). Overall, it was a pretty good day for a ride. I hope you (the reader) also got out there.

  3. billyqvo

    @Dred – yeah, we were super late! Both too the ride and during the ride. What can I say, it’s the “make-up”…. I may be slow, but at least I can look good =).

    @Tailwind — definitely, like vegetables. Each ride just makes me stronger! Though, Jeff and I really did think this ride was going to be led by Heather Nakamura!

  4. Heather

    It appears I am now the designated “geriatric ride group leader”… guess that means we’ll be fueling with Geritol and recovering with Ensure. I’ll make sure to pick up a case of both the next time I’m at Costco…

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