103 total miles, with short-cuts and riding to the ride and riding home again
Start line at 7:59 AM
Finish line at 5:04 PM
Solo ride: no tandem, I did not ride in a paceline or draft anyone
Weather: Grey and threatening, never actually rained while I was riding but the pavement was damp in places. Temps mostly in the 50s
Started off by frying up breakfast for me and friend Geoff Hazel. When I realized that it was actually raining, I did a quick switch of my planned outer wear, and put on a light wool v neck sweater plus my rain jacket. With this running around and general conversation, we finally pushed off around 7:30.
We waved to various people at the start line, and took off right around 8:00. Geoff kindly rode with me until Inglewood Hill, then took off and I never saw him again. (He ended up completing the hundred in 6 hours, 17 minutes.) I do Inglewood as a part of my commute, so while it’s not an easy sprint, it’s also not a problem. On the way off the back of the Plateau, saw a rider in the ditch, being attended to by a Ride Ref and a few others. When the pavement is wet, I’ve seen riders who have crashed on that hill. It’s steep and windy, and it’s shaded so the pavement is often damp and slippery.
I notice I come out a lot earlier to make left turns compared to many riders, and once again I did so, this time to take the left on Ames Lake Road. I really enjoy this segment. It’s green: Big Leaf maples and Doug firs, lots of ferns and moss as you ride up the cleft. Then it was whee! down into the Snoqualmie River valley. I geared down just fine for the hairpin start of Stillwater Hill (always some chaos right there as not every rider has), and ground up to the top. I passed by some South Asian guy in a blue jacket, and I guess the sight of this auntie blowing past him caused him to take off. “You gave me motivation!” he yelled as he passed me later. I passed him later, on Cherry Valley Road, and once again, getting passed by a middle aged woman caused him to push himself harder. I joked as he went by that he must be one of those competitive Microsoft types – something he didn’t deny.
Duvall was my first stop. It was crowded. I sat in a chair (because I know how to live) enjoying grapes, oranges, and a banana. I got a little chilled sitting there, and put my sweater and jacket back after stuffing a spare packet of fig newtons into my back pocket.
Then it was a scant mile to the decision point – 65 miles or 100? Well, I had well mentally committed to the 100, so the decision was easy – off to the right!
In previous years, I have seen cyclists making the return from the northerly loop at this point, and it’s always a bit discouraging to see so many about 30 or so miles ahead of you on the century. This year I saw fewer – just a few clumps – so I felt like I was not that far behind on doing the century at that point. High Bridge road is labelled as a hill, but the climb was easy. On the downslope, we were cautioned to take it slowly, as there was a rider down. Sure enough, the lane was completely closed off and there was a guy in the middle of it whose head was covered in blood. I muttered a little “there by the grace of God” type prayer of protection for myself and everyone.
The two aftermaths of accidents that I saw were on downhills, and I think this is no coincidence. Speeds are higher. People are maybe trying to keep up with a paceline for their century ride, and so are temped to ride faster than they are really comfortable handling. A little dampness (back of the Plateau) or gravel (off High Bridge) and people go down. I have a scar on my knee from a similar situation, so I know how this can go.
Anyway, a few miles past this, I decided to take a break at a park a few miles before Snohomish. I ate a luna bar, a banana, and that pack of fig newtons, and drank a bottle of water.
Since I took that break, I saw no reason to actually stop in Snohomish. I was very happy to roll into the Monroe rest stop a half an hour or so later.
In the food line there, I felt like I should have something more substantial than bars and fruit. It didn’t feel appealing, but I made myself a pbj. I also grabbed a bag of animal crackers. I drank some electrolyte drink with the pbj, and then ate the animal crackers.
Coming back on this segment, returning to the rejoining of the ride with the 65 mile loop, I started feeling really icky.
TMI ALERT – do not read the next paragraph if you are squeamish
I regurgitated up peanut buttery something twice on the bike. The first time I managed to spew it off to the left, but the second time it hit me so fast it hit the top tube instead. On the third wave, I stopped the bike. I heaved into the grass. I regret to say that I also lost a little bladder control with the force of my hurling, and pee ran down my leg, too. I felt pretty crappy all the way around. I was weakened by the upchucking, my shorts which never pristine on a century were now really gross, and my stomach was still churning. I got back on the bike. I rode about a mile longer, then did another upchuck of peanut butteriness into the shrubbery, a repeat of the previous incident. I rode some more, and then I took a little detour from the route. It’s not even a quarter of a mile shorter, but it just felt like I wanted it. It was a good choice – it felt warmer, I was out of the wind and the traffic, and it was quieter and more peaceful. I felt comforted. I did a final regurgitation, though, on this road, before returning to the regular route.
As I rode past Carnation Farms, I briefly toyed with giving up on the ride, but I thought that at this point maybe I had gotten nearly everything up that had distressed me. I stopped at a park, and while waiting in line to use its lovely sanitary facility, I drank another bottle of water. This seemed ambrosial at the time, probably because I had lost so much on the previous segment of the ride.
At the Carnation rest stop, I refilled that water bottle. I decided I would put nothing else into my stomach except that which was completely digestible and trustworthy. I drank a bottle of water with a brand-new clif shot, and refilled it again.
I rode through the really nice segment -no traffic, flat, and this time, no wind – that goes through Jubilee Farms with a tall young fellow on a Mendocino. We didn’t say much, just had some companionable riding along.
Since I had the clif shot in Carnation, I didn’t see any reason to have the traditional sports gel before climbing the Fall City-Issaquah road. Doing that climb was pretty tough this time out. It’s at about mile 80, and it’s a long set of stair steps. The guy on the Mendocino left me. I think I was still weak from my previous digestive difficulties. I hated to think that I couldn’t manage it solo, though. I’ve done several effortless climbs up that road with David on the tandem, recently. So I just worked it, dropping into the granny on the risers, and sure enough, I made it to the false summit. Then I rode up to the final summit, and came out feeling like, OK, I’m actually going to complete this ride.
I got a second wind. At the final rest stop, I used the blue room and then thought, you know, maybe I should check the tire inflation. Turns out they were at 60 lbs. (I can feel my husband’s eyes rolling from here.) I put them up to 85 and I got back on the bike. I showed fellow rider Mike Kelly the “short cut” on the Plateau. For the first time in a long while I was feeling strong. We dropped back down on to the regular route. The guy on the Mendocino happened along, and was startled to see me. “Didn’t you stop at the rest stop?” he asked. I told him I barely stopped at it, but more importantly, I took a short cut on the Plateau, and that’s how I got ahead of him.
It was easy easy easy at this point to make it to the finish line. I saw Leo at a distance in the beer garden. He said I looked like someone who could use a beer and a sit-down. He might have been right, but I didn’t want to linger, as I was afraid if I did so, I’d never make it home.
So I said goodbye, and headed home. I took Multi-Deity Hill for the way back, but I confess, I walked the bike up its steepest part. It wasn’t my intention, but somehow I found myself in the shower within a few minutes of stepping in the door. It felt great to be clean and home at last.