Sunday, March 23, 2008

Saturday Toodle To The Kitty Mountains

Yesterday Dennis & I set out to do a big century that goes something like this: [map]

The elevation profile tells the story of the ups n' downs you'd encounter on this route (Cougar Mountain is the largest peak on the graph):

We met up at Lake Wa Blvd & Madison St in Seattle and headed south towards Renton via Lake Wa Blvd. As Steve Pool & other forecasters were predicting, Saturday was a great Spring day by all accounts! Even though it started out at about 34 degrees, it warmed up to 52 or so by 1 P.M. Oh, and it was completely dry!

On the right you can see what it looked like from my front door as I left - clear & crisp!

Finally, the day I've been dreaming of since about last August: rolling out with just a short-sleeved jersey, vest, arm-warmers, and my knicker-style lycra shorts. So the first 20 feet of the ride are a little chilly, but as soon as I start climbing Thomas St. up to 15th Ave I start to warm up. And by the time (only four blocks away) I'm up on 15th Ave, ~75 feet above where I started I'm all warm and toasty!

We met up at 8 A.M. at Madison & Lake Wa Blvd, then headed south towards Renton, passing Seward Park. Some other cyclists out, but not a whole lot. This early in the day I only see teams of serioius-looking people wearing dark sunglasses & team kits.

Here I am in Leschi, with Bellevue & the Cascade Mountains in the background:

At Renton we went went up the hill, taking Highway 900/Sunset Drive up through the string-mall hell towards the boondocks. There's no such thing as a bike lane out here in these parts, but drivers didn't seem to mind us in their lane, even on some of the slow uphills.

This climb up Highway 900 isn't all that steep, but there's tons of shit on the shoulder to dodge: (and once you get to the top of the hill, the shoulder is gone and you're swimming in suburban traffic) After riding through strip-mall hell, we made it to the country-side, replete with farm animals and the humans that tend to them.

Then we took a right on May Valley Road, taking us through even more picturesque scenes of Northwest farms.

Farmland out on Issaquah-Hobar Rd. heading north:

When May Valley Road ends, you're on Issaquah-Hobart road and we took a right towards our first big climb of the day, Tiger Mountain. At only 700-something feet of maximum elevation, this one is about half as hard as Cougar Mtn. But it's still enough to get you sweating, but as soon as you get in a climbing groove it's time to descend! Of course your 10 minute climb turns into a two-minute descent, but the road isn't too winding so you can open up and put your high gear (53x11 on the Ciocc) to the test! Only hit about 65 km/h (~39 mph) going down it, but I love getting the speed up there.

Then we went back up north towards Issaquah, and followed Newport Way over to Cougar Mountain. Now this is the big climb of our ride, reaching a high-point of about 1,400 feet.

At the false-peak of Cougar on 60th St:

To your left is the "bonus" climb for another 300 feet or so:

And your prize for getting this high? A beatiful view of Lake Sammmish & the Cascades of course:

A little further up the road is a hiking trail, we walked our bikes into the woods and took a little break:

If you look closely the sign says "Nike Missile Site 0.9 M" - surely it's not what it sounds like, but we didn't walk out there to find out. Wtf is this "missile" site?
The synthetics of my bicycle meet the natural world, a mossy shrub:

After Cougar, we got all adventurous and decided to descend down it a new way (following 60th St west basically). There was a great downhill, but at the bottom we were forced to go either left (downhill) or right (uphill), so we went down. This was not the right choice (to get us back on to Newport Way), but we ended up taking a really scenic route to Renton again.

At one point in Newcastle, we were approaching a four-way stop when a small golden cocker-spaniel came running towards us making its best "here I come to kill you" face. But topping out at 18" those things really don't post a threat, I just laughed at it, although a tangle in the wheels would've been really bad. But what was funny was two seconds later a second, identical, dog comes running out! So we're taking a right and they're still hunting us down, although their small legs make it tough to keep up. And then a third one shows up! I guess they own the block or something.

Who knows where these beasts are coming from, but somebody needs to round those things up! They were running in front of a bunch of cars, oblivious to all the things out here that could kill or injure them - guess they just had their eye on the prize!

I was laughing too hard to pull out the camera, so you'll just have to take my word on this one..

We eventually found Lake Wa Blvd in North Renton again and followed it back up north to I-90 to go back to Seattle. At Mercer Island, we took a left and did the ~10-mile loop. At this point, it seemed that everyone in the greater Seattle area that owns a bicycle was out! Some probably for the first time since last summer, but good for them! Always great to see more bikes out on the roads.

Start Time: 8 A.M.

End Time: 3:50 P.M.

Total Distance: 136 km (85 miles)

1 comment:

Eric Thrasher Troili.. said...

Nike Air Defense Missile System.. The NIKE missles were part of the cold war national scare tactic; A useless air defense system with sites all over the country.. Their mantra was, "If it Flies, it Dies."..

I guess the brainwashed masses have always needed (and still need) something to fear..