Monday, December 8, 2008

Eastside Tour: Bellevue, Issaquah, And Tolt Hill

On Sunday I headed out with a rough route idea in mind: Renton, Issaquah, Tolt Hill, and... possibly back around to Seattle via Renton, which would have easily been a 90 miler.

But it was way later in the day than I would have wished (1 PM), leaving me with about 3 1/2 hours of light outside. Which of course isn't really an issue with the dynohub and all, and after a summer of a lot of riding at a night (and sometimes through the night!), darkness is something I can deal with, and sometimes even enjoy.

So I set out anyway, to see how much ground I could cover before I felt like calling it a day. The roads were wet, but it wasn't raining - yet. I brought enough gear just in case it did, and my new booties did well to withstand water.


Lake Washington, as viewed from Lake Wa Blvd: (heading towards Renton)

Kind of boring, but it is what it is - Rainier Ave near Renton:

Now heading out of Renton, I took a pit-stop. Note the new rack and "handlebar bag" (actually a Carradice saddlebag) - I'm loving it so far!

From Renton I headed north on the Lake Washington Loop route, using the I-90 trail to head east to Issaquah.

Behind-the-back shot on ? road, in the Sammamish/Issaquah area:

Now heading down Issaquah-Fall City Road, a destination in itself.

The Pacer near Carnation, on that one little stretch that connects Hwy 202 with Tolt Hill Road:

Up to the point that photo was taken, I hadn't really done any serious climbing besides Black Nugget Road (which is hard, but only lasts a few minutes). Now it was time for Tolt Hill road, a hill climb I used to do all the time, and have done a few times this summer (once on the 100k "Issaquah Alps" populaire).

But after having done at least 10 passes over the summer, and doing Cougar Mountain countless times, Tolt feels way different now. Not necessarily easier, but it's been put in perspective. (Which begs the question, where's the local pass that will put Blewett/Stevens/Cayuse in perspective? I'm sure the next brevet season will offer plenty of opportunities for finding this out!)

After blazing down Tolt, I was on 202 for a mile or so, and then took a left on 244th Ave SE, which is a dandy of a little climb. Pretty steep at first, but it didn't last that long. On the plateau I went through what I suppose is "downtown" Sammamish, and enjoyed another downhill on Inglewood Drive. 

From there I took a left on E Lake Sammamish Road, which was flatter than I'd remembered. Even though it was dark by now, the views of hillsides covered with lights weren't bad. It wasn't raining anymore, and I was just cruising around, enjoying life at the moment:
  • I wasn't lost
  • Wasn't missing a control time
  • No mechanical issues
  • Nobody was waiting on me, and vice-versa
  • Not sick
  • Not cold or wet
Sometimes it's nice just to enjoy the fact that things are going OK. It helps when you've had all of the above happen to you, as we all have I'm sure. For me the best moment is when I can just point the bike in one direction and "go," with no worries.

And this was luckily a worry-free ride. The last little climb up Madison St & John St to Capitol Hill were quite the end to a decent stint in the saddle. Definitely good training for next year's adventures.

Total Distance: 76 miles
Total Gain: ~4,500 feet
Map w/ photos: here

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