Apr 26 2012

Snohomish Bakery Ride, April 21, 2012

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Potatoes au gratin are thinly sliced potatoes baked with cheese and cream. According to Livestrong.com, a 1-cup serving contains 313 calories, roughly half in carbs, and the other half in fat. I like mine prepared with Yukon Gold potatoes, and a mix of parmesan and gruyere cheese. Most of you who’ve taken Heather’s Eating for Endurance workshop will immediately recognize that this dish is an extraordinarily poor food choice for a pre-ride morning breakfast, since the high fat content will not easily digest.

But if you are like me, you will not even consider this. Rather, what will go through your mind is that you have only 15 minutes to get out the door, into the car, and to Marymoor Park if you want to make it in time, so therefore whatever can be eaten immediately is going to be breakfast. And that means leftover P.A.G. is going into the microwave for 45 seconds, then into my belly.

It was another flawless Saturday morning, and despite my lack of preparation I was looking forward to a beautiful ride. But no matter how much one prepares, one cannot escape the fact that on any given ride, stuff happens. The challenge is to avoid stuff, and minimize happens as much as possible. Stuff cannot be prevented. When it happens, you just go with it.

I have many personal examples of stuff happening.  Like the time where I arrived for a ride, only without my bike shoes. I ended up pushing tiny pedals in my sandals.  Another time, when preparing for a rainy day, the seam on my shoe cover blew out as I pulled it over my shoe. I had a very wet, cold foot that day. The most recent example was at the Black Diamond Bakery, when I was just about to spend some quality time with an almond danish, just before I was about to sit down and enjoy it, it was savagely flung across the room onto the floor (don’t worry, Doug.  I forgive you, just as Christ, out of merciful, loving, grace, has forgiven me). Though devastated, I managed to keep myself together, and soldier on…and eat my danish anyway (yum!)

The chaos at Marymoor park that morning was a perfect recipie for inducing stuff.  We were not the only ones thinking about riding that day.  Roughly a hundred others had the same idea. Apparently they were also on a schedule, since as we arrived, they left, en masse. But not everyone in that group arrived in time for the start. Confused, this poor, misguided latecomer approached us thinking we were his group. What happened is that someone was late, and also mistook us, Hiep, Bart, Heather, Rich, Grace, Doug, and me, for an organized group of riders who know what they’re doing.  Moroever, with that many riders, with very clearly wide range in riding experience, you just know stuff will happen.  I’d love to read that ride report.

We actually managed to get rolling ourselves.  Being a beautiful Saturday on the popular and crowded Sammamish River Trail, there was plenty of opportunity for stuff to happen. Fortunately nothing did during the stretch to Woodinville Park.  There, we rendezvoused with Eric and Kim, who are new to Lighthouse, as they recently relocated to Seattle from Portland.  Kary, William, and Ed would be delighted to know that Eric and Kim were sporting a blue Burley (if memory serves) tandem.  Today, they get to see Seattle on a clear, sunny day. And while we had the pleasure of meeting and riding with new friends, unfortunately Rich turned back, since his knees aren’t yet ready for a long ride. Get better soon, Rich!

From Woodinville Park, we turned north to hit a series of steady climbs up the Woodinville-Duvall road, which turns east until we topped out onto 156th. From there it was smooth sailing into Maltby. In Maltby, we couldn’t find Broadway Ave, the next road we wanted to turn down. No, we weren’t lost. We just couldn’t find our road. Turns out, this was because the only way to see it is to approach it from the other direction. Riding in our direction, the road is nearly a 170-degree right turn. We spent a good 10 – 15 minutes looking before we eventually found it.  Riding down Broadway, we quickly merged back onto our original road, meaning that the turn down Broadway was completely unnecessary. Oye. Stuff happens. We lived. We learned. And we moved on.

The stretch from Maltby to Snohomish was delightful, with the roadway framed with a pastoral backdrop, and, best of all, featured an awesome downhill section which ran for over a mile.  These are sections are where you drop into a tight, aero tuck, and let gravity do it’s work.  Bart was right behind me, and I glanced down at my computer to see that I shot past 30 mph.  At the bottom, Bart and I waited for the others to join.  Only, they didn’t join.  Instead, we were met by another group of riders.  “Um, are you guys with that other group?  Well, they took the turn off back there.”  Oh no!  The devilish excitement of the hill descent led us astray.  But I told myself when stuff happens, you don’t dwell on it.  Instead, you move on.  I was mentally calculating the climb back up the hill, when they continued:  “But don’t worry.  You can still hook up with them.  Just take this right, go all the way down to the next set of lights, and go right again.  The road will meet up there.”   Coolio.  There was an easy way.

We did meet up with the group again, for the final stretch into Snohomish.  If you’ve never been there, I recommend a visit.  Main Street is lined with antique shops and cafes.  The sidewalk was crowded with wandering visitors, drunk with sunshine and fresh air.  There’s even a public restroom right next to the scenic Snohomish river. We stopped in at the Grilla Bites café for our lunch.  I ordered the egg, feta, and spinach sandwich.  Should’ve had the oatmeal cookie too.  And the smoothies looked fantastic.  Next time.

All too soon, it was time to saddle up for the return ride.  It was at the top of the first climb, with Grace, Hiep, Eric, and Kim, when we figured out that stuff happened.  The rest of the group was at the bottom, fixing a flat.  We discussed turning back, so we could have the pleasure of added miles, and attacking this climb once again.  For Kim, this discussion meant that this wasn’t just stuff happening, with the flat tire, but instead double-stuff, because if we went back, she’d have to climb this hill, again, on a tandem.

Kim was making a point.  When stuff happens, it’s usually random, uncontrollable stuff, like the flat tire.  It is something unforeseen, and is actually core to the biking experience.  You may not like it, but when stuff happens, you knew that it would at some point or another.  In contrast, turning around to descend a hill that you just climbed on a heavy tandem bike is something that is consciously foreseen, and controllable.  You can choose not to do it.  However, this distinction misses the point.  Just as a flat tire is random, uncontrollable stuff that happens, and therefore a core biking experience, so too is making the decision to turn around and descend a hill you just climbed in order to regroup and help out with a flat tire, even if “help out” means standing on the side of the road and telling jokes.  Stuff happening includes purposeful, conscious decisions as much as it includes random, uncontrollable events.  Stuff happening is an integral part of biking.  If stuff isn’t happening, then you aren’t really, fully biking.

More stuff happened during the return.  Grace’s water bottle cage came off.  Fortunately she didn’t lose the bolts, and we were able to screw it back on.  Doug also had a flat tire.  Fortunately it was successfully repaired.  I didn’t know that Doug had a flat, and bombed down another hill.  While I didn’t miss the turn off, I was separated, again.  Fortunately we all re-grouped back at Woodinville Park (after a short stretch down the wrong road, which I quickly realized), where Erik and Kim turned off to head back home.

And from there, we too made our way back to Marymoor Park, hurrying along lest more stuff happens.  And while we say we don’t want it, the reality is, stuff is what makes a ride happen.  It gives us something to talk about, and memories and experiences to share.  Bring on the stuff.  I prefer it that way.

-FA(s)T Eddie au Gratin









Apr 24 2012

Eating for Endurance Cycling Workshop on Wednesday, April 25

One of our riders, Heather, is a sports nutritionist and she will be holding an Eating for Endurance Cycling workshop on Wednesday, April 25 from 7-8pm at the South Bellevue Community Center. This would be a great way to learn how to fuel yourself for any long rides, including the STP.  Please consider attending!!  Click here for more information on the content and cost.

Apr 23 2012

Cedar River Eagle, April 22, 2012

Last week Esther and I dusted off our tandem and went for ride.  After a few mishaps, we did eventually get a ride in that week.  We knew though, that we would like to make adjustments and so we went on another ride this week to try out some dffferent equipment.  In particular, we were trying out a Selle Anatomica Titanico leather saddle for Esther to replace her Brooks B17s Imperial saddle.  We were also trying out Keen Commuter II clipless sandals.

I am happy to report that both worked quite well!  Esther liked the new saddle which is much more compliant than an unbroken in Brooks.  Although I had to tension the saddle a bit from the get go, it seems to work well and we will see how it holds up in the end.

The Keens were to replace the flexible sneaker-like hiking shoes that she was wearing.  These sandals allow you to use SPD style clipless pedals and still are very walkable.  Although we only used toe clips this time, maybe next time we can use some Time ATAC pedals.

Starting at the Renton Community Center the early afternoon sun was filtering through the tree lined trail.  As we started, I had a nagging feeling that something was missing.  It finally hit me.  I did not have my Garmin GPS with me!  As those of you who ride with me know, I like to collect the data for the rides – now how am I to know how fast we were going and how far?  What about saving a trail map to that I know what rides Esther and I did?  After going through several option such as using the phone to track my ride, I settled on one.   The one best option?  Just ride and enjoy the ride.  Hard to do initially, but with Esther’s good company, it proved to be just fine :-)

The ride out towards the direction of Black Diamond was smooth and easy.  Bikers riding along, but not blasting by.  Walkers enjoying the sun and keeping track of their dogs.  Lots of families with kids on bikes – there is hope for the next generation yet!  We felt like we could just ride on and on so that was nice.  Coming from the east coast, it still amazes us that we can see bald eagles just flying around.

(If you look carefully you can see the white tail feathers.)

Not knowing how far we went, we decided to get to a good stopping point and turn around.  Don’t want to overdo it now even though it was so effortless.

Turning around, we hit a headwind.  All…the…way…back.  No wonder things seem so effortless.  As the miles rolled by, I was getting hungrier and hungrier.  Doesn’t a nice steak sound great at this point?  Melrose Grill helped to address this portion of the ride:

Looking forward to seeing what the next trip will be!



(Still need to have some data so here is a reconstructed GPS route for this ride.  The route is correct, the average speed is my best estimate, but the speed at any given point would not be accurate.)

Apr 22 2012

Sunday afternoon – South Lake Loop

Well, I attempted to set this up as a friendlier ride and it started out that way.
Alana was there and we had a decent pace for a while. Then she had to drop off.
The pace was still friendly going across the floating bridge and started to pick up
a little as we rode on Lake Washington Blvd. We then headed toward Seward Park
and Kary and Gail took off. The tailed off a little and they let the group catch up but then they
took off again; this time I chased. I’ll have to put my computer back on my bike – Kary said
they clocked in at 28(?) – a good sprint.
We took our obligatory pit stop at Seward Park; lounged around and then headed up the
hill out of the park. I had a pretty good climb out and Victor was right on my tail. I think
he’s ready for his upcoming century. We then threaded our way down to
the Renton Airport, over toward Coulon Park, and then back along the east side of Lake Washington.
Not too eventful until we hit that little rise going toward exit 9. I thought I had a good pace
going until I got smoked by Hiep’s brother, Si. We then made our way over to the famous
Honda hill. It was a good climb back. I knew the ride back to Sunset would be easy – it was
all downhill once we made it to Newport way; so I cranked it a little (well…Ok, I cranked it
a bit). I didn’t see anyone behind me but I figured they’ll eventually catch up. Then I saw a
shadow in my mirror and could tell someone was getting close.
I figured it had to be Kary and Gail, so I cranked it harder. By this time I was getting
a little tired after their sprint back near the lake. I looked in the mirror and I thought Kary
and Gail were getting closer, so I stepped it up as much as I could. I made it to the red light,
stopped, and turned around – it was Hiep. Another mile or so and he would have passed me.
We made it back to Sunset without incident. Great weather and a good ride.
Thanks to Kary, Gail, and Hiep I was tired the rest of the evening :)

Apr 20 2012

2012 STP Training Rides Schedule

The 2012 STP training rides schedule has now been put on the blog under the tab “Riding Tips”.  It will be updated as rides are scheduled.

Apr 14 2012

Tacos, April 14, 2012

Saturday found Esther and me preparing for our first tandem ride of the season.  I dusted off the bike, checked to make sure all the tools were packed, pumped up the tires – good, no flats - and noticing the crank had some grease, tried to at least give it a cursory wipe.

Rolling the tandem to the car, i removed the front wheel to get the bike racked. While going to put the tire in the trunk, I remembered to also pack the helmets, water bottles, and the like.  Finally it was all done.  For a first ride, it sure took along time.  This was also a first test of the car rack to see if it could hold the weight of the tandem

Esther came and we got into the car; as we were backing up I heard a funny sound.  Not quite running into something, but a soft whump.  Hmmm… can’t be a good sign.  Hope the rack is holding.

Getting  out I saw peeking out from under the rear tire the front wheel of the tandem.  Not good.  Still, hope springs eternal and maybe it would be fine!  Drive the car forward, pick up the tire, spin it…and…it looks like an open taco.  Bummer.

Fortuantely I had a “spare” mountain bike wheel that should fit.  Actually, it is the wheel to Esther’s mountain bike that slowly over the years has become a donor bike.  Well, this time it was a good thing, except that now I had to change tires from mountain bike tires to smooth and narrower road tire.  5 minutes later, we were on our way. Again.

Getting to Marymoore was uneventful, except that we had to park in the grassy areas.  The bumpy ride made the rack creak and groan in protest but eventually we got to a good spot and unloaded.  Not having tried the replacement wheel, it turns out it was wider and the brakes need to be adjusted.  Since it was a cantilever brake, it need to be adjusted in multple dimensions – yet another 10 minutes delay.  We won’t even talk about us getting on, riding off and having to return to pay for a parking pass…

Once on the trail the ride was smooth, dodging runners, dogs, other cyclists, roots, etc.  It was nice to have a bell to give a warning, but most people ignored it anyway.  Initially we were only going to go a few miles, but before you know it, we were by Chateu St. Michelle so we turned in to have lunch.

Going in, we asked the informatiion desk if they were serving.  The lady promptly replied that she did not know, maybe go to the shop next door.  Do you think that she did not want us in cycling clothes going into the dining room?  As there were very few people there, probably not, but still the question lingers.

We decided to go to Red Hook instead and were joined by tons of other cyclists.  This must be the place to be!  The hamburgers and curry that we ordered hit the spot and now we had to make our way back home.

The way to and from Red Hook was guarded by giant Dragonflies– 


Which we did at a nice lesiurely pace and capping off a nice first tandem ride of the year with Esther.





Apr 09 2012

The Tragedy of the Black Diamond Bakery Ride

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A beautiful day, and a beautiful ride.

As a rider, this means a bright sun that sharply pierces the solid, blue sky, and gently radiates warm rays onto my face, while miles clock by, past rushing river, past tree-covered embankment, over smooth dry asphalt, and into a bakery. No flats, no cramps, no injuries. Enjoying the beautiful day that God provided on this Easter weekend, with a flawless group ride.

As a writer, this means I have nothing to write about. I mean, I could continue on about the budding trees, songbirds tweeting springtime calls, and the smiling faces standing behind the case of baked goods, and about how on a sunny spring day, pushing the big crank feels easier, but that isn’t what cycling is about. At least not for me. Perhaps I should explain.

Yes, there are those glorious, magic days when one wheels along on a clear, warm, and slightly breezy day. I had many of those as a kid, on my yellow & black Schwinn Stingray knock-off from Sears, riding through the neighborhood with the other kids, chasing each other around, and racing around the pond along the dirt and gravel trail. My own kids have those days now, squealing in delight while pushing their pink and purple bikes along the sidewalk, handlebar tassels snapping in the breeze, and training wheels “crrrupp”-ing when they contact the cement. These are the types of scenes depicted in movies or TV commercials, conveying simple joys that make the human spirit grow. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t love this feeling. Seeing my children laughing and scooting along makes my heart soar.

But that is not cycling. Yes, the scene I described does involve bicycles, but that is circumstantial. The same feelings are also had on the last day of school, swimming at the beach, or at a birthday party with cupcakes and a “My Little Pony” piñata.

For me, cycling involves suffering, in various forms, and not necessarily sourced from muscular or cardiovascular distress.  “Enjoyment” is about how you process your suffering, and whether you’re able convert it into something better, whether that’s the ability to accelerate faster up a hill, or a gaining a broader perspective on life.  Without suffering, I can’t really say that I had a meaningful ride, and therefore can’t really say I have anything meaningful to write about.

Fortunately there were a few instances where I almost suffered.  There was the very beginning, in the morning when it was 34 degrees. This could have been good—dense passages detailing in minute detail the incremental progression of cold numbness creeping down my fingers and toes, as the capillaries in the epidural layers of my skin contract, pulling the circulating blood back into my veins, and leaving an interstitial void that contracts until I can no longer feel my hands, which thus are incapable of pulling on brakes, all the while observing how Jason, despite the cold, still chooses to ride with sleeveless jersey, with fingerless gloves, and with the perma-grin on his face. But no, the day warmed up, I ended up shedding my jacket, and also this storyline.

I almost suffered during the bit when soon after we exited the 10 mph zone on the Cedar River Trail.  Mikkel, Craig, Jason, Hiep, and William decided to air it out at 22+ mph. Immediately I could hear Heather shout “No! No! Why is this turning into a testosterone ride?!”

The high-intensity sprint might be the form of suffering most easily understood by, or at least described to, the non-biker.  The point is to turn the cranks as hard as you can, as fast as you can, for as long as you can, to hurtle yourself through the air at an exhilarating pace.

However, nature conspires against you.  As you collide with the air ahead of you it literally becomes denser.  The molecules compress as they hit your body, then each other, until a literal wall of air forms ahead of you.  This means you have to generate more power to turn your cranks just to go as fast as you would’ve gone without the dense air.  This is when your thighs, calves, buttocks, sartorials, back, shoulder, and neck muscles all begin to fatigue.  Water is combining with long-form sugar chains to break them down into shorter chains.  Mitochondria convert Adenosine Di-Phosphate into Adenosine Tri-Phosphate.  Sodium ion pumps transmit signals from nerve axon to axon.  Calcium pours in and out of muscle cells causing them to contract and relax as they break down ATP.  Myosin rips and tears.  Metabolic by-products such as lactic acid begins to pool in the interstitial space, accelerating the decline in chemical efficiency of metabolic functions, and making you to work harder to generate power.

None of this happens without oxygen, which you’re consuming at a faster and faster rate.  Your lungs take in something like half a liter of air at a time, approximately 20% of which is oxygen.  Work harder and you’ll need to either breathe faster, or deeper to meet your body’s demand.  And that’s just the intake.  Your heart needs to circulate your blood faster and further through your arteries to transport oxygen from your lungs all the way down to your legs, and return that blood back through your veins, carrying all the CO2 and other waste you need to expel.  The heart does this by pumping faster.  And since it is a muscle, the metabolic chaos partying away in your legs is also raging on in your heart, meaning that it too has to work harder, so that your legs can work harder, so that you can turn your cranks harder, so you can push your bike faster.  And as anyone who has gone through this can attest, sustaining a sprint hurts.  Literal, physical, burning, searing pain in your legs, and in your lungs.

If you’re really lucky, you can become oxygen-deprived, to the point your vision begins to blur, and tunnel in from the sides, your head becomes dizzy, and ringing fills your ears.  Keep going, and eventually you will black out.  If you are lucky, your bike, which is essentially 2 really big gyroscopes held together with a tubular frame, will stay upright long enough for you to recover your wits and maintain control.  Or if you like some riders I know, like them you will lose control of your bike when your body slumps over, shifting the center of gravity over far enough to overcome the gyroscopic momentum that your wheels have generated, sending your body skidding and bouncing across the chip-seal asphalt which rips away the millimeter of nylon called your jersey and shorts, and grinds away your body’s surface until your  lower dermal layers and thousands of nerve-endings are fully exposed to the air, and rubbed with a dry mixture of dirt, sand, rocks, broken glass, plant debris, and anything else that might be sitting on a road surface (you can read the blog post about rising around Lake Sammamish in the rain to get a perspective on this).

Since it was relatively early on in the ride I hadn’t really warmed up, but I attempted to turn up the pace anyway.  Alas all was in vain, as after about half a mile I conceded that my legs were like a couple of heavy logs, and I simply couldn’t stoke the fire.  So I eased back and sat on a leisurely 18mph, as I watched the group disappear ahead in the distance, along with my story.

The next moment of near suffering was in the Black Diamond bakery itself. By the way, for those of you who‘ve never visited the bakery, you should do it. There are mounds and mounds of baked goods, covered with sugary frosting, and filled with delicious, sweet goodness. I recommend the almond danish.

Back to the near-suffering. To set the scene, I must point out that the discussion topic at the table was colonoscopies. I’ll spare the dignity of the discussion participants by withholding their identities, but let’s say that I now know more about some of my fellow riders than I really cared to know.  And you may be thinking to yourself that listening to a colonoscopy discussion is the suffering. But it was not, at least not for me.  In fact, the near-suffering I encountered was a very sad moment, especially since it was entirely avoidable. It occurred during an awkward moment, when attempting to sit down, I bumped into Doug. Neither of us saw one another until that moment. But as we collided my poor danish, it flipped into the air, in slow motion, just like in the movies, and landed on the floor.  When things like this happen to my 7-year-old, she starts crying. I know how she feels, as if my soul were ripped out of my throat by hand, and dumped on a pile of offal.  With sadness, I picked up my danish, and looked at it as a child looks at her empty chocolate bar wrapper that someone else ate without her permission or knowledge.  As I sat silently, contemplating the meaning of all this, Dan shouted out words of wisdom: “For goodness’ sake, just eat it.  It’s not like you’re riding in the rain, with all the road spray flying into your mouth!” He was right.  These were words to live by. And the danish still tasted good after all. Yum!  And as quickly as I devoured my baked treat, so too did my story disappear.

Soon it was time to head back. Mikkel headed back in the car with Karen, who joined us at the Bakery with their beautiful, new baby (by the way, Mikkel, if your experience is like mine, the riding time will take a nose dive over the next couple of years, which, by the way, is another form of suffering). The ride back seemed to go by faster than the ride in as if somehow the floor  almond danish had lit up something inside me. We hit the smooth, straight section along the Maple Valley Highway, and I felt energy surging from within me. My legs no longer felt like heavy logs, but like a nuclear reactor, pushing my cranks over and over again. The feeling was exhilarating, streaking along the asphalt, holding steady at 22 – 23 mph. And thinking that Craig was ahead of me, I decided to push it a bit to see if I could catch up to him. I kept pushing, straining my eyes for a glimpse so I know whether I’m actually reeling him in.

In my head, I knew that something was wrong. Just that morning, my legs would not move. I spent the winter sitting on the sofa and drinking milkshakes. This was my 4th ride of the season. There is no way I should feel so good with my riding. Was I returning to form? Not last year’s form, but my form from years ago, mountain biking, weight training, and in great shape!  This couldn’t be happening, yet the miles were clocking by and I was maintaining the pace. Perhaps my home cardio workouts on the elliptical machine work after all?  Eventually I hear Kary behind me, “Great pace!” Yes, this is for real! Look out. FAST Eddie is back, and he’s baaaaad! Time to get a new bike, with white bar tape and matching white shoes, ‘cause there’s going to be some real riding coming along.

We eventually regrouped as we re-entered the 10 mph zone. It felt good to hear Kary and William talk about how they struggled to keep up, as I haven’t felt this good in such a long time. The elation continued as we returned to the Renton Community Center, as we posed for a group shot, and as I drove home. The excitement percolated in me as I put my gear away, as I showered and dressed, as I ate lunch, and as I started to download the day’s ride from my Garmin bike computer. I thought about all the riding I had done in the past few years, where I struggled to push my cranks, fell behind the groups, unable to generate wattage. But this felt like a new day, knowing that I was able to turn it on once again.

As the good feelings of a great ride were still buzzing in my head, I started to look at my Garmin’s data. And that’s when my heart hit the bottom, and I felt the greatest moment of suffering for the day. The section where I experienced the riding glory, where I felt unstoppable, where, like Rocky Balboa, I was about to defeat Apollo Creed for the Heavyweight title. That section of the ride, and indeed for the entire return ride, the elevation, it was all downhill. But I suppose that’s how the saying goes.

-Fa(s)t Eddie


Garmin Ride Stats

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Mar 31 2012

March 31 ride around Lake Sammamish…in the rain

Wet.  Cold.  Typical March riding conditions for Seattle.  Who could ask for more?  Apparently, most people do.

Fridays nights are when I plan to get ready for my Saturday morning ride.  Work is stressful, not because it’s hard, but because of the volume of projects and deadlines.  Each week run by in a blur, and when Friday comes around, it is simultaneously surprising that it has arrived so fast, and welcome, because it means that I get to think about things that I want to think about for a couple of days.  And what I’m thinking about on Friday nights is what’s going on for the Saturday morning ride.  As it turns out, on this Friday, there was no plan for the Saturday ride.  So what to do?  I make one.

The first thing I did was check the weather for rain.  Yep, 100% chance of rain for Saturday.  Then I check the temperature.  Low to mid 40s.  In other words, wet and cold.  Then, it’s the email blast to the CTTL group.  Let’s go riding!  And since I’m tired, I go to bed early, not knowing how many responses I’m going to see.

Saturday morning.  The kids are especially slow.  Need to get them dressed.  Need to feed them.  Need to get them ready for the babysitter, because I’m going riding.  Let’s check email to see how many are joining.  How many of the determined CTTL members, the motley group of committed riders, the biking enthusiasts who are honing their leg, hearts, and lungs which will power them and their bikes a hundred miles a day for consecutive days, up 1,000 foot ascents, and across international borders.  How many?  Well, it looks like it’s William, and he’s proposing a later start time. At the end of the day, 1 is better than none.  I’m glad to have someone join me.

I’m glad because the truth is, riding in the cold is miserable.  Your ears freeze and hurt.  Your eyes water.  Your toes go numb.  Your fingers go numb, making it hard to shift or brake.  Your whole body shivers, and after riding, it takes so long for your body to warm back up.

Then there is the rain.  Yes you wear the pants and jacket, but they do only so much.  Water still drips down off your helmet onto your head, then pours down your face, into your eyes.  What doesn’t go into your eyes, continues on down past your chin, down your neck, past your jacket collar, and into your shirt.  Your glasses are soaked and fog up.  Your bike shorts underneath your pants eventually get soaking wet, and “things” (which I won’t describe here) start to chafe.  Even if you’re wearing booties, water still gets in over the tops of the collars, and your feet get wet and the toes begin to prune.

But  the worst part is the road spray.  All the water that your tires carry and then fling off into the air does 2 things.  The first thing it does is that it lands on something.  And if you are behind someone, that something is usually your face.  The second thing that the spray does is carry road grime.  I’m talking about all those pieces of dirt, sand, oil, debris, all that gunk that cars expel, that dump trucks spill, that garbage trucks leak, that Honey Bucket trucks ooze, all that stuff that is on the road.  And when it rains, it’s everywhere, and in the water that our tires carry and fling into the air.  And if you’re riding behind someone, that spray is usually hitting you in the face, or on your jacket, or your water bottle.  By the way, this is why riders want fenders, because it keeps the spray to a minimum.  But don’t be fooled.  Even if your fenders are keeping the spray down, there is spray-ricochet coming off your fenders.  This is the spray from your tire hitting your fenders, and ricocheting off back onto your tire, creating a turbulent mist, which still carries all that road grime and still makes it onto your booties, your bike, and your bottles.  And even if the fenders do keep things clean, there is always the passing cars, who drive through the deep puddles, and send a tsunami of road water over your way.  All this, in my opinion, is the reason why people do not like riding in the rain.

So it was no surprise that no one wanted to ride.  In fact, the real question is, what is the matter with William and Eddie, why did they choose to ride?  Are they mentally ill?  Are they idiots?  We could debate this until the cows come home, but for some reason they consciously, purposefully chose to ride in the rain.  And to emphasize the oddity of this situation, they both knew that neither one had adequate rear fenders.  Yes, while the rest of the CTTL crew were either sleeping comfortably in their warm and dry beds, in their flannel footy-pajamas, under the cover of 800-fill Duxiana down comforters, or reminiscing about the stack of buttermilk pancakes, eggs over easy, english muffins, sausage links, coffee, and glass fresh-squeezed orange juice that they just consumed, William and Eddie are spraying each other with road grime, smiling, laughing, taking turns.

I was glad William elected to join.  Because it is cold, and wet.  Because I really need the saddle time.  Because if he didn’t, the chances of me not riding are huge.  I needed someone there to keep me honest, and make me follow through on the plan to ride.

Now if anyone is still reading at this point, you’re probably wondering about the ride itself.  For me, the ride was about what I described above.  But, as noted earlier, and by definition–since I rode in the rain today–I’m atypical, so what I find worth sharing may not be what others want.  So here it goes.

William and I started at 8:37-ish sharp, at Sunset Elementary.  After the customary salutations, and small talk about the weather, and ceremonial checking email one more time to see if anyone else is joining (we both knew no one else was going to join) we started off, William on his Litespeed Tuscany, the bike I almost bought before I bought my Pinarello, and me on my Trek Portland, which, by the way, should be spelled PorKland since it weighs 30+ pounds.  The pace was brisk, 20-ish mph on W Lk Sammamish towards Issaquah.  We took turns spraying each other in the face with grime leading until we approached Costco, where we turned north towards E Lk Sammamish Parkway, but not before taking a quick pit stop at the Soccer fields to visit the Honey Buckets there (as if we aren’t going to get enough Honey Bucket action through the road spray).  From there, we quickly make our way to the Parkway, cruising at ~18 mph.  For those familiar with the route, you know that this one rolls up and down, until you get to Marymoor park.

Typically, a CTTL group ride will take a break at Marymoor.  But with so much road spray to enjoy, and so little time, William and I saw now point in stopping, and continued on through.  We rolled onto W Lk Sammamish and then cut off onto Bel-Red road, for a long, sustained, gradual climb.  On the one hand, while I’m huffing, puffing, and spamsing my way up this hill, there is also a brief respite from the spray, since (a) William pulls ahead of me since I am in lousy shape, and (b) I’m going so slow that my tires aren’t really able to fling water very far.  Soon enough, we reach the top at NE 30th, cut south through the neighborhoods on 164th, down SE 26th to W Lk Sammamish, and back to Sunset Elementary, where we congratulate each other for a good ride and comment on how we both needed and enjoyed it, both of which were true for me.

But now, the final dilemma.  I’m covered in road grime.  My pants, jacket, booties, gloves, helmet.  Everything.  I am not just climbing back into my car with all this on.  I don’t know what other people do in these situations, but what I do is I proceed to strip down.  In the parking lot.  In the rain.  I keep a spare pair of sweat pants, shirt, and towel in my duffelbag, just for these occasions.  All my grimy stuff is carefully folded and placed on my rubber floormat, so I can rise them off when I get home.  I use the towel to wipe off my face, hands, neck, etc as much as I can so that I avoid fouling the interior of my car.  My bike, I rinse off the drivetrain with my remaining water, but that too will get hosed off when I get home, along with everything else.

Riding in the rain.  It takes commitment and determination, for it is definitely not what a reasonable person would do.


Garmin Stats


Mar 25 2012

South Lk Wa Loop – 3/24/12

At last, a dry sunny but crisp Saturday morning for the bike ride. Ten riders (William, Paul, Grace, Dan, Victor, Eddie, Brad, Craig, Gail, and myself) gathered at Mercer Island Park and Ride for a 26 mile stroll around the south loop of Lake Washington. I did say stroll, but Craig and William didn’t understand the email, more to come. Here’s the ride according to my perspective. We started out at the Park and Ride and headed east towards the I-90 east channel bridge were we encountered a lot of bike and foot traffic going the opposite direction (towards us). I believe there was some organized event going on based on a check-in stand I noticed along the way. The traffic quieted down as we headed across the Mercer slough and south towards Newcastle. I had intended the ride to be at a moderate pace but that didn’t last very long. I quickly found us pulling up rear of the pack along with Dan. Thanks Dan for staying with us. We made our first stop at Coulon Park in Renton where we took a rest break and refueled. We then continued heading south around the lake then back up north along the Boeing access road. I didn’t feel any tail wind as we were heading south, but as we were heading north there was a definite head wind. Lucky for us, William and Craig took the lead in pulling us along Rainier Ave maintaining a healthy 20 mph. I tried to do my part but didn’t last very long. Through Rainier Beach and though some rolling hills the group dropped us, even Dan got tired of keeping us company. When we arrived at Seward Park and did a head count we were two riders short…somewhere along the way we lost Eddie and Victor. Fortunately, about several minutes later they pulled in. It ended up that Eddie had a slow leak on his Pinarello. Someone asked if there’s a free lifetime flat repair service for Pinarello’s…need to check into that. Eddie decided to change his slow leaker. I don’t know how long it took him but it was enough time for my legs to really tighten-up :) . Along Lk Wash Blvd, Craig and Paul kept a decent pace leading the group up the switch backs up to I-90. Took a quick break at the top of I-90 for a picture and off we went. Across I-90, the group sped away but they graciously waited for us at the Mercer Island Lid Park where I decided to pass them by and back to the Park and Ride. Thanks for the wonderful ride everyone. I hope I didn’t sound unappreciative of the company….just poking a little fun :) .

Mar 05 2012

STP 1 day

Hey Everyone! Grace and I on Tandem and Craig are doing the STP in One Day. I’d like to invite other Crazy people to join. Our goal is 12 hours total. My original thought was Sunday at 3 am, but, there may be interest for Sat at 3 am. Sunday would be nice because the 2 dayers would be the rabbits we are chasing, and we all meet at the end for celebration or before. Sat is nice because some even Crazier people would join the two dayers on Sunday for another 100 miles. I’m crazy, but not that crazy.

Let me know if you want to join this One Day group, and I’d most likely just go along with the majority for preference.


I need help with training. Anyone free on weekdays to train? I may ride with Cascade to get some miles in, as I find it hard to ride alone. Weekends, Grace and I will be training…pls join. But we will not be doing beginner rides.

Sat ride with Jason and Richard was nice-not too hard-not too slow-a little windy going South in the South Loop.

Sun ride was wet, and I had Inappropriate Clothing, and no fenders and i had WHITE SHOES. They got really dirty in the rain with water and mud. Hosed them off at church. I need WHITE SUNGLASSES to match. Like in the music video ‘Sexy and I know it’. We’ll find out if the editor edits this out.  The asian esl janitor at church is really nice…Grace is strong, I’m fortunate to have a strong stoker, although on this day we rode single bikes.



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