Sunday, August 10, 2008

Seattle to Cougar Mountain, WIth Some Offroad Action!

After watching some Olympic road cycling today, I went for a spin with a goal of hitting up the Cougar Mountain Climb, one of my local favorites. Sunny skies, a littering of clouds, what more can I ask for?

On the way out over I-90/Mercer Island, there was a guy riding on the freeway, going the other direction (this was on the bridge between Mercer Island & Bellevue). After he saw me I think he realized what was going on, and got on to the trail.

At first I was thinking he was a rider finishing some crazy coast to coast tour, and having ridden I-90 for the last 1,000 miles, was oblivious to the bike trail. Instead it was a guy in Dockers shorts, on a hybrid or mountain bike - had probably just gotten on the wrong road in Bellevue that spit him out onto the Interstate. I'm all for riding on big highways, but only in the parts outside of the metro area that you're allowed to do so - otherwise is not a good idea!

Anyway I made it out to the base of Cougar, and had passed a smaller chap on a big mountain bike, who somehow had held on enough not to be completely dropped by the time I started Cougar. After a few minutes of climbing, I look back only to see this little guy (well he was kind of short I think), chugging up the Mountain after me.

We must have been going about the same speed the whole time (10-11 km/h), as when I got to the "top" and was taking the left for the "bonus" climb, I could see him chugging up that last little kick. It's nice to have someone chasing you! Makes for good motivation. For all know the guy was heading home, but in my head he was out to catch me..

After the leg-breaking bonus climb, I ventured into a new area of Cougar: the unpaved part. When you keep going straight at the top, the road becomes gravel/rocks, and I just kept going.

My 25's aren't much for dirt/gravel, but they held out pretty well. I rode on this unpaved road for about .5 km, then ended up at a trail head, and turned around. The small descent from the trailhead (on dirt) was interesting - I haven't ridden with the uneasy feeling of going forwards, yet sliding sideways at the same time, in quite a while! What a feeling! You're out of control, but not enough to make you crash - you just have to plan waaaay ahead when it comes to steering.

The screaming descent down Lakemont (?) was great, and I hit 77 k/h on it (w/ dynohub on). I've done 80 km/h going down that before, I must not have done the aero tuck correctly...

After making my way back to Seattle via the I-90 trail, I took Lake Wa Blvd over to Madison St, then after a left on that, took a right on 29th to begin some more brutal climbing. Usually Dennis & I take Aloha Ave to get back up to Volunteer Park, but this time I decided to take Seattle's steepest incline, weighing in at a whoppiong 22% grade!

Sure, it's only one (small) block long, but with about 60k of work on my legs so far, it looked pretty daunting. Actually it looks more like a wall than anything else! And you get to do a 10% or so block of climbing just to get to the steepest section...

I geared down to 39x27 and let it rip - I ground up the incline, barely eeking out 4-5 km/h, if that. You've got to balance just right on a hill like this: too far forward, and your back wheel will skid. Too far back, and your front wheel will leave the ground! In fact there were a few times that my front wheel poppped up a bit, quite scary.

But in the end I made it to the top, without stopping or walking. The cobbles after this section were a relief, at an easy 5% grade or so.
Ride Stats:
Total Distance: 65 km
Total Rolling Time: 3 hrs 4 minutes
Total Time: 3 hrs 30 minutes
Totals Year to Date: [log]
Distance: 8,184 km (5,085 mi)
Last Month's Total: ~1,800 km (~1,200 miles! My first >1k miles in a month so far)


Robert H said...

You are getting some crazy milage in this year. You are going to buy some wider legged pants soon.

christopher said...

hay matt-
i wont see you tomorrow on the 200k, got a wedding to attend. but if you can fit the thursday night ride in next week you should. we'll be visiting with steve hampsten (cycles tournesol).

have fun tomorrow and i hope to see you soon.- chris