Saturday, July 5, 2008

July 4th Spin To Snoqualmie Falls, Cougar Mountain

Yesterday I set off with a loose route in mind: Renton, Issaquah, Cougar Mountain, maybe Snoqualmie Falls. I figured it would be about 70 or 80 miles, and if it turned out to be 100, well that would've been OK too!

With the STP next weekend, and the RAMROD a few weeks after that, I wanted to combine distance with climbing - then again, it's hard not to do that around here.

Check out the elevation graph for this route - sort of like a roller coaster: (max elevation is 1,000 ft or ~330 m)
Starting out, I did the familiar Lake Wa Blvd heading south at 1:30 P.M. to the tune of a light headwind. But a headwind I could hold 32 km/h into it. By the time I hit Renton, I was
 averaging 29 km/h - a good start, but I knew the speed wouldn't last.

In Renton I believe 99% of cyclists take one look at the four-lane Highway 900 that heads uphill and think, "I'd never go up there." They're doing the Lake Wa Loop - a great route - but I never, ever, ever see anyone else riding up this hill! Come on folks, it ain't so bad.. (although the shoulder is kind of dirty, covered with rocks & debris)

Highway 900's hill is only 100 meters high, nothing special. But the descent through the thick country woods is well worth the slog through strip-mall-hell! Soon enough you're in the country, enjoying clean-ish air and stunning views.

After getting up and over the Plateau, I took Issaquah-Fall City road east, towards Fall City. After a fast downhill (didn't even touch the brakes!), I took a right and followed Issquah-Fall City Rd for a few more kilos until I hit Fall City. Here's what the stretch before Fall City looks like, awesome:

After spending a little time on Highway 202, I was at Snoqualmie Falls at about 4:39 PM. It was crowded, but there was enough space for me to squeeze in and see the Falls - wow.

I was somewhat dreading the way back, with a little climb up Iss-Fall City Road that was undulating but lasts 5 or 6 km (I think). It wasn't as bad as I thought, although doing Cougar Mountain after about 65 miles was taxing! But I knocked it out in about 25 minutes of ascension.

I tried a new descent coming down it, this time just going straight at the top and following the road all the way down to the stop sign, where I took a right. You go uphill for a few hundred meters, but then it was a BIG downhill - with a signed that warned of a 10% grade up ahead. (Lakemont Blvd?)

I hit 78 km/h (~49 mph) going down that stretch, and was pedaling so fast that my 53x11 wasn't big enough (or rather my RPMs weren't high enough). Damn I love going fast! It's a nice gradual turn at the end, compared to the tight turns going down 54th St/The Zoo climb.

Then it was a slog back up Newport Way all the way from Eastgate, and then the I-90 bike trail, across Mercer Island, and back home via 12th Ave.

Felt strong coming back up Capitol Hill - I definitely feel confident about the upcoming STP! I should be able to do it in less than the 14.5 hours it took last year.

Total Distance: 130 km (~80 mi)
Total Time: 1:30 PM to 7:30 PM (6 hours)
Snakes Seen: 1
Flats: 0
Rain drops: 0
Food: 1 Bag of Jerky, two water bottles (ice-cream sandwich & cola at the Falls) 


Robert H said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert H said...

I was going to ask if you were doing the STP in one day, but I obviously didn't read the post close enough. Good luck beating that time. You'll do great!

Ted Diamond said...

I was in the same vicinity yesterday. Went up Iss-Fall-City, up 202 to North Bend. Then did some exploring, and found the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. Since I was on big heavy wheels (rear: 32, 3x, Alex DM-18; front: 36, 3x, Alex DM-18, both with Rivendell/Panaracer Ruffy-Tuffy's, 28mm), I decided to follow the trail, even though I was on a road bike. I got as far as Rattlesnake Lake, and then turned back, taking the road back into North Bend. One of these days I'll make it up to the Pass.