(Sorry in advance for the horrible formatting going on here - the blogger interface really sucks sometimes!)
Yesterday I ventured out for a ~155 mi/260 km ride at 5 AM. The goal? To ride to a 70-mile ride from Granite Falls to Barlow Pass, near Monte Cristo, and back. The Cascade ride started at 9 AM in Granite Falls, and there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony at noon at the top of the pass. Nothing like little deadlines to keep you on pace!
On the right you can see what it looked like when I rolled out at 5 AM - a mostly-sleeping town. I love it when the roads are empty like they are on Saturday morning.
I made it to Granite Falls at about 8 AM - an hour early! So I rode around the small streets and looked for the High School where the ride started. I knew the route anyway, but was supposed to meet up with friends. I went to McDonald's and had a monstrosity of a breakfast meal, and chatted a bit with the locals. They were genuinely enthused about the ride, and asked all about it!
It was tough walking my bike through the packed debris, and after 100 feet of walking I turned around, since I couldn't tell where the snow trail ended.. Oh well, I'll have to visit Monte Cristo another day. There were other people walking back there, but I didn't feel like slippin' and slidin' my way out there with the velo in tow.
So I turned around after getting some photos, and went back to the pass where the ribbon-cutting ceremony was. Rachael showed up eventually, and not too much later John & Andy did too. After resting for a while and chatting, when we were ready to go the ceremony had begun, and we were trapped behind it!
The 1/2-hour ceremony slogged on, and eventually we were free to enjoy the downhill. We rolled down at about 1 PM, and it took us ~2 hours to get down - about the same as it took me to get up! We took our time and enjoyed the sun and scenery.
We arrived back in Granite Falls at about 3 PM, and my trio of riding buddies split off to find the car to head home. Me? Time to ride back! Sure the offer of a ride back to Seattle sounded nice, but I wanted to take full advantage of the nice weather we finally have. And take advantage of the fact that all of my previous rides make doing long-distance like this much easier than it should be!The Ride Home
228th St (Ave?) looking west - the uphill section in the distance was even tougher than it looks, especially in 90-degree heat! This was about 140 miles into the ride too:
The last little kick of 228th before 80th was brutal - I'm gonna throw out a number and say that it was an 18% grade, if only for one block. But damn, in the sun, and with the distance, it was a real tough one. Did I prevail? You bet. (Btw now I see why the Summits of Bothell ride skips that last little section!)
I skipped Lake City Way on the way back, as it was now 5 PM or so and not the time to take that road on a bicycle! I got on the Burke-Gilman trail and then got sick of it due to too many people on it. So I opted to take the "hilly" way home, e.g. Perkins/180th to 5th Ave back to Seattle. You can get off of the B-G trail and take this at the intersection with the Starbucks.
Finally I found some shade coming up through Lake Forest Park, and took the three-mile climb at an easy pace. Heading south on 5th Ave (parallel to I-5), there were three more hills to climb - but once I was over the last one (just after Northgate) I knew most of the climbing for the day was done.
Taking Harvard/10th Ave up Capitol Hill wasn't easy at the end of a 150+ mile ride, but I did it! And I even sprinted onto Broadway at the end, just to prove to myself that I could do it. And I did it, rolling back home at 7:30 PM.
Many more photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/98486054@N00/sets/72157605902296002/
Total Distance: 260 km/161 mi
Overall Time: 14.5 hours (incidentally what the StP took last year!)
Rolling Average: 25 km/h (15 mph) - I was really happy with this