Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Swallowing Cougar Mountain For Lunch

Today I made it out to the Wednesday lunchtime ride at work in Redmond, and it was a perfect day for it too - Sunny and 50F. Yesterday on the bike alias at work I suggested Cougar Mountain for today's ride, and they said yes! Sweet.

(These lunchtime rides aren't Microsoft-only, they are put on by the & Albert Meerscheidt, also a local PBP ancien and SiR rider.)

These Wednesday rides are "High Performance Cycling" (HPC) rides, meaning a faster pace. I've always wondered how fast the HPC rides actually are, since they say the pace is "strenuous" (18-21 mph as defined by Cascade). Could I hang? Well there's only one way to find out.

So I let my team know I'd be gone for a bit, and met up with about 10 other riders at the Overlake Transit Center in Redmond, about 1/2 mile from my building. After a few introductions, an explanation that Albert (our ride leader) had unfortunately dropped a drill on his foot and couldn't make it, we were off.

To get down to Cougar we took NE 40th St down the hill to W. Lake Sammmish, and headed south. The pace was pretty snappy indeed, and we were in the 22-25 mph range on the flats, with a good paceline going. I like pacelines, although it can be a little nerve-racking when it's a semi-serious one, and you've got to worry about touching a wheel, getting a flat, or something else that can ruin the delicate balance that is a paceline.

When we finally got to Cougar, our group of 10 had been whittled down to four of us. Oops, I guess we sped away from the other six, sorry 'bout that! We started the ascension, and one rider, Patrick, immediately spun away from us, but not in a "I'm racing you" kind of way, more in a "this is easy for me" way. The funny thing was that he'd said it was his first time doing it!

I ended up moving away from the other two riders, although I never caught up to Patrick until I found him waiting at the top - well rested and probably bored after waiting a few minutes! We waited around for another 15 minutes or so for the rest of the group (including the dropped six) to trickle up to the top.

On the way back we used a bike trail I hadn't seen yet, the I-90 trail through Eastgate (just off of Newport Way). That spit us out on about 164th St. and we followed that north back to the Microsoft "campus." On the way back the rolling hills split up the pack again, and Patrick & I ended up alone at the front, both hammering away. Not racing, just going fast. It was fun for sure, although I could've used some more calories towards the end.

Elevation profile for the ride:

(The way back from Cougar wasn't that much longer, I think I zoomed in closer when clicking the route on the way back)

Ride Stats:
Total Distance: 41.1 km (~25 miles)
Rolling Time: 1 hour 41 minutes
Avg Speed; 24.5 km/h (15 mph)
[map link]

1 comment:

Ted Diamond said...

I don't see it on the elevation profile, but the part of Cougar I find most challenging is the stepped short hills just before the summit. I've privately dubbed these rises "The Seven Sisters" (I don't know if there are indeed seven -- I always lose the ability to count, as well as most mental function, by that time).

Great that you could get out to do this on a lunch break.