Took John Swinbank around the north part of Lake Washington, crossing back on SR-520. Chilly and misty at the start, so I wasn't sure it was going to be fun, but there were a hint of blue skies by the end: overall, a really nice day. Wandered around through town to get to the Burke, taking John on the "scenic route" (including a couple of wrong turns). He powered up Juanita Hill just fine, but started to wear out once we got into Kirkland. By the time we hit 520, he was pretty pooped, and suffered his way up Phinney (which isn't terrible, taken directly and with some gears). I tried a couple of sprints toward the end and I wasn't at full capacity myself, so I guess I need to restart riding. But hey, first ride of the year in January: not too shabby! Logged here.
Another ride with John Swinbank, this time across SR-520, through Medina and back around Mercer Island. With a little stop for paczki in Capitol Hill at Bakery Nouveau. It was a lovely day, though a bit chilly. Quite a few riders out and about, including a few we played leapfrog with on Mercer. Need to figure out which of the very fancy gateways we rode past in Medina are the Gates's house. I barely made it up Roy in Capitol Hill, I was laughing so hard (at the absurdity of the hill). Paczki were totally worth it, though: I ate two (and another pastry)! Logged.
Took a ride from work on a not-raining day, now that the days are long enough to make it feasible. Across SR-520, back on I-90, but going through Medina and West Bellevue was pretty dark: there are no street lights in the expensive areas! Didn't want to run out of light battery, so I didn't go around Mercer, but I probably could have. Was kind of chilly, but the full moon through the clouds over Lake Washington was really cool. Had a donut at Ly's at the end; bear claw, specifically, which was good but I think I'll stick with other things from there. < a href="https://ridewithgps.com/trips/21039373">Logged.
Digging around for ride ideas, I found this ride around West Seattle to Des Moines, which had some interseting looking hills. Didn't think I could do the whole thing (it's 45 minutes just to get to the West Seattle bridge), but figured it was a good starting point. Riding around Alki Beach was very slow: the car traffic was backed up really far, and the path was full of people. Admittedly, it was a lovely day, but they still slowed me down! Going south from Lincoln park past the ferry terminal is quite nice, and has some decent climbs, particularly going up Shorewood Drive; it's a nice approximation of the Mannyunk Wall, but I think even steeper. I cut across east after that and had to study a map to figure out how to get home. Ended up on some major streets because I couldn't figure out how to get past 599 and I-5, so that chunk was less than pleasant. Came home via Lake Washington Blvd. past Seward Park, so had another chance to push the speed a bit there. Whole ride was pretty slow, but I blame the slowness getting to (stupid Alaska Way traffic) and through (stupid beach cruisers) West Seattle. Logged it.
Was indecisive about where to ride today, but finally took the (probably wisest) choice to not go further out in the mountains, as trails would probably be snowy. Instead, drove over to St. Edward Park and wandered around in Big Finn Hill. Started out by riding down the gravel road to the water, and then back up; it turns out that there are no bike-usable trails that lead off from there, though a sign at the top suggested otherwise. The Big Finn trails themselves were easy to get lost in, without a guide like last time. It was fun to just explore, though. Made it back just in time to go to dance practice. Logged it!
Went around the north part of Lake Washington "the other way", going across 520 first, and then north through Kirkland and finishing on the Burke Gilman. It's a different ride this way, but I think I like the other route a bit better; the bike lanes and road margins feel safer going south. On the other hand, going over Juanita hill heading north is a different experience, and coming down is screaming fast: I was on the brakes a fair bit, otherwise I'd have easily exceeded 60 km/h. Coming back on the Burke is pretty fast, though I started to lag a bit toward the end. Stopped by the Mountaineers to see Alina's class meeting. Came home straight through town going over 70th and 85th. Nothing like sprinting uphill on 85th in the evening to get the blood flowing! Logged.
Finally some nice weather, so I drove out to Duthie for some trails. It was raining when I pulled into the parking lot, so I had to sit around for a few minutes, but it cleared up. Not many people there (probably because of the rain), so I had the Duthie trails mostly to myself. Fixed a kid's messed up brake at one of the times I got back to the main area. Then it was off to go partway down Grand Ridge and back. I turned around at the place where the trail splits south of the road crossing, and checked out the new "not quite loop" trail, which is a nice flowy trail. Logged.
John S. found a North Seattle loop online that we decided to attempt. I want to remember the bit through Laurelhurst: some very fancy houses there! There's also some fun hills along the lake, but getting to them is the hard part (none of the roads go in even remotely a straight line). We cut the ride off short because John and Daniela had to be somewhere at 4pm, but I did take them to Larsen's, so that's a win! Logged.
My first MTB race since high school! I entered cat 4 (beginner) hoping to at least not come in last, and ended up winning by quite a large margin. Would have been even faster if I hadn't had to pass so many people. Felt bad about winning, since I a lot of the other riders in cat 4 were over 50 and under 15. But, now I know I'm more than just a beginner! Need to see if I can manage the stairs: it looks do able (the drop I'm less certain of). I met someone who worked for Proflex in the late 90s, though not on my particular bike. I'll see if I can try Cat 3 next week. Here's the overall results.
Had some time before dance practice, so I did a few hills: Carkeek, 4th Ave. N, and Phinney Ave. 4th felt less terrible than when I've done it before, but it was still pretty bad. I think I like coming up the other side of Carkeek, instead of going up toward 3rd. Logged.
Did a few loops around North Seatac Park, as practice for Wednesday's race. Wanted to try some of the obstacles and get a feel for some other sections of the park. Managed to get the stairs cleanly at least a half dozen times, so I'll bet they won't be included in this next race. The log roll/drop I didn't try: still iffy on that. Worked up a good sweat, and found an Ethopian bakery near the Link station on my way out, plus several markets there that I should check out in the future. Logged (except where I had my backpack off to practice the stairs, and leaving it on while I bought Ethiopian bread and going up the escalator).
My second Wednesday Worlds Cup race. Longer course than last week, and I was clearly in a more appropriate category: I took 38/87, instead of winning by a minute. Still had trouble getting past people at the start, so I definitely need to try to get start further forward in the future. When someone spins out on a climb right in front of you, it's annoying. Nailed all the "hard" routes, except that stupid rail drop. Maybe one day? race results here.
Post-work ride, before the SDSS 20th anniversary of first light. I left work late, and didn't want to miss the event, so didn't end up riding around Lake Washington north side. Instead, I got a bunch of dumb hills in, just for funsies. As much fun as it is to climb Interlaken and then Roy St., getting over and off of Capitol Hill is so terrible that I'm not sure I want to bother with it again. I did learn that Swinbank has a slightly faster time than me up 4th, but I've still got him beat up W. Dravus. He said his time up 4th was so fast because he was so terrified of falling over. I came home on 3rd, which is actually rather pleasant. Logged.
Third Worlds race. I definitely need to start further forward: my first lap was over 2 minutes slower than my next two, mostly because of people bailing on the climbs in front of me, and then me not being able to get past. Had one guy just in front of me who I totally could have caught, but there was a cat 4 racer we lapped who had trouble on the short climb into the final asphalt, and I wasn't able to make up the loss. Guy beat me by 3 seconds: he said he could hear me breathing down his neck. Had a few people mention being shocked to see my bike go past, or how loud I am on the trail. Oh well! Hung out and had some sopes for dinner, but it got a bit chilly. Next time, I'm starting just behind the leader grid. Logged.
Took John and Daniela out to Duthie Hill for the Evergreen MTB fest, so John and I could demo bikes, and Daniela could take photos. I rode 4 bikes: Giant Anthem 29", Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt 770 27.5", Norco Optic 29", and Transition Scout 27.5". The Thunderbolt was my clear favorite, and I even took it down into Grand Ridge for a bit with John tagging along on a Santa Cruz. All the bikes felt more stable than mine, and the suspension was all clearly more comfortable. I even managed to get down the wooden starting block on Ryan's Flow, which would be way too terrifying on my Proflex. Going through Ryan's itself felt very fast on the Thunderbolt and Optic. The Scout didn't seem to climb as well as those two. I did feel like I had trouble getting around tight corners on both 29ers, and all of the bars were probably too wide for my shoulders (though I guess that's the thing these days?); it did feel a bit odd switching back to my narrow bars. Guess its time to start saving my pennies? Logged.
Another week, another Worlds Cup race. It was a pretty warm day, and they added one lap to every race in honor of the solstice. I really enjoyed having that extra lap: more time to sort out the course, though my last two laps ended up being rather slow. Landed dead middle again (32/67), and I certainly feel like I lose the most speed on the technical/rough sections because I can't roll through them. Just need to find a sponsor to buy me a bike! Race results.
Wanted to see what it took to get to the Marymoor velodrome in Redmond. Turns out, it's a relatively straight forward ride, with only one major hill in the middle. You just get on the SR-520 trail and go, though you have to be a bit careful getting into the park: I overshot and ended up coming in through the east entrance, because if you cross the Sammamish, there's no way to get past 520 and into the park until you hit Redmond way. There is a nice wetlands along the trail there though, so it was worth the overshoot. The velodrome track races are $5 to watch, and I want to get a group ride out there from work this summer. Logged.
Yet another MTB race. Felt ok through the start, but kind of fell apart in the last lap. Again, had problems keeping up in the rough stuff, but I need to figure out how to pace better. Some people at the race are starting to recognize me, though, so at least I'm making "friends-for-a-day". Alina came out to watch, and got a few pictures of me going by. We ate way too much good Keynan food after the race, at Safari. Race results.
Post work ride across 520 and around Mercer. Saw a bald eagle catch a fish on the I-90 bridge going onto Mercer from Bellevue. Had time to go around Mercer, which I haven't done in a while. It felt slower than usual, but was apparently about the same as my usual times. Followed an older guy on an 80s-ish era Serotta through about half of Mercer, and after I caught him, I was pushing hard but he basically just hung on behind me without seeming to work at it. Grumble. Had a donut on the way home, from Ly's. Worth it! Logged.
John S. and I wanted to get a 100 km ride in, and he found a route that goes around Lake Sammamish, so we went for it. Sadly, my speedometer seems to be flaking out, and it only recorded a part of the ride, so the above numbers come from ridewithgps. Had to do a bit of route finding to get onto the Sammamish trail, but otherwise it was straightforward. I didn't know that a section of the W. Lake Sammamish trail is gravel going along the lake, so that wasn't as pleasant as I'd hoped. And I definitely need new shorts: the chamois in these doesn't provide much padding any more. When we got to Marymoor, we did a few loops around the velodrome, which was a new and scary experience. We were all proud of getting on the track after 50km, but then a couple of guys showed up and said "yeah, track racing after 170km of riding!" and we felt less awesome (they'd started in Ballard and Capitol Hill, and had ridden down to Tacoma and back). My first attempted at riding on the track, I bailed as the turn started: I thought I'd just slide right off. After that, I got around a few times, but I wasn't moving nearly as fast as you're supposed to. Got home feeling sore, but it was a good ride. Logged.
Some more post-work exercise, going around Lake Washington across 520 and north through Kirkland. Since that's only barely a 2 hour ride, I added in a little bit of the Sammamish trail and a jaunt up 96th and then across some random roads, thinking I'd get to the top of Juanita again for the exciting descent. Turns out the roads up there are less straight than I thought, and I ended up not as far up the hill as I'd intended (came out just below St. Edward Park). Wouldn't recommend that route, as the traffic was pretty fast. Stopped by the Mountaineers to see Alina teaching a class, and get a bit of Tiramisu from her friend. It was yummy. Logged.
Rode around Lake Washington with John and Daniela, heading south. Was a nice, chill ride, I only lead them wrong once (down a street along the lake near Hazelwood that just ended and we had to backtrack to the trail). Ate a yummy Turkish pastry in Kirkland, and then some ice cream next door. It was a beautiful day for a ride; we thought it was going to get really hot, but it was quite pleasant all day long. I really hammered up Juanita, and was over a minute faster than my previous best: think the trick was starting a bit slower and ramping the pace up. I got some new bike shorts after John and my last 100km ride, and they definitely made a difference. We saw some goats hanging out under I-5 munching on grass and things. Mostly they were just lounging around. It's hard to find good work these days. Daniela was much less tired on the return than she thought she'd be. Stopping for food helped, but she's clearly gotten stronger over the last year: biking up Phinney'll do that! Logged.
Well, today I got a new mountain bike, and took it for its first ride. Found a lightly-used Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt on PinkBike from someone in Victoria BC, and he brought it down and met me in Mt. Vernon while on his way to visit family. I'd checked ahead of time and found "Little Mountain Park" just south of Mt. Vernon, which seemed like an easier trip than driving down to Duthie etc. and dealing with traffic (which was terrible on the way up: it took me almost 2 hours to get to Mt. Vernon!). Little Mountain had some fun trails, but damn was the bike a change from my Proflex. I certainly can't go back now. Spent some time chatting with a guy who was hiking with his family: he lived in the area and knew those trails well, and suggested one short steep bit to me (I managed a portion of it, but not the steepest part), while I told him he should check out Duthie. We chatted about what it is like to go from an old bike to a new one (he'd done something similar, but with about 12 years difference). Everything seems to be fine about the bike, although the rear brake feels a bit too soft. Logged.
First real serious ride on the MTB, on some trails I know well. Spent a good chunk of the morning and afternoon learning how to bleed my brakes, and getting mineral oil all over everything, but it does seem to have improved the rear brake feel. Every trail here felt a lot more stable than they used to, particularly descending. Did the starting block of Ryan's again, with only a little bit of terror, and Ryan's itself was fine. I do have to remember to disable the shock lockouts after riding on the road: I left them on riding through Duces Wild, and it wasn't very cushy! Coming down Grand Ridge I was tired, but felt in control the whole way. Don't know if I was actually faster than before, but much more stable and in control. I will need to learn how to manage tighter corners and how to really use the sag on the bike in sweeping turns. Sunset was amazing on the drive home. Sadly, when I got home the rear brake was rubbing a bit, and on Sunday when I tried to adjust it, I ended up cracking a piston (or it was already cracked?), so had to buy a whole new caliper. Lesson learned: be very careful when manually pushing the pistons back in! Fortunately Ascent Cycles had a spare XT caliper on hand, so I didn't have to order something and miss Wednesday's race! Logged.
Final race of the year! I thought there would be one more after my LSST Tucson trip, but sadly not. Alina rode down with me on the bus/Link and Bob met us there to watch (and gave us a ride home!). I can't promise I was faster on the new bike today, but I do know I was able to sustain speed and pedal through some sections--like the low muddy/rooty bit along the fence--that I had to just hang on through before. Now to learn how to work with the bike to keep my speed through the corners. For example, I ended up ditching on the final lap in a dusty off-camber corner. Bruised and scraped my leg, but didn't break the skin, and got right up. Came in 20th out of 56, and ahead of a few people from the last race, but I didn't keep up the speed on the last lap. Need to figure out how to pace better, now that I don't have to focus quite so much on the flat bits and climbs to gain time. Race results.
Biked out to the Velodrome again, and took a couple of laps on it. Logged.
Post Thanksgiving ride!