Long time readers of this blog might remember the heady summer of 2009 (also known too many posts about Ironman training) when I last did the Seattle Century. Since I wasn’t doing this as part of triathlon prep, I didn’t have to worry about simulating the race experience (or more accurately: I could eat whatever I wanted at the aid stations and not feel bad about it!) And of course this year I had T’s cheerful company:
And yes, I’m rocking the Ironman jersey because sometimes I need the mojo. 😉 We managed to get out pretty early and enjoyed the nice flat initial part of the ride. There were the usual head scratching moments of other riders doing mind-boggling stupid/incompetent things. My favorites were the couple of riders who nearly fell off their very nice carbon fiber road bikes trying to negotiate a 90 degree turn up a slight four foot slope onto a footbridge. One of them had to cling to the corner post while the other nearly dropped his chain shifting down about a million gears. Unfortunately, this carnage happened right in front of me and I had to clip out and stop. But T and I had something to make fun of for the next ten minutes, so it all worked out.
Once again we skipped the insanely early first aid station and left that group of terrible riders behind. We did decide to stop at the next aid station for a little potty/water break. They also had a magic donut buffet:
Jen used these kinds of donuts in her Ironman training, so I partook in the hopes that these donuts would give me her awesome climbing powers. Then we were off and running. We rode on a path I’d never been on before, which was cool. We avoided another crash with bad riders not being able to negotiate the crosswalk/intersection area. Aid station number three was on top of a crazy hill in Duvall, which would become a trademark of aid station placement (though if there has to be a steep hill, it’s nice that there are yummy treats at the top of it. Sadly, there were many treatless exceptions to this rule… )
At each of the aid stations they had a map that showed the route, where you were on it and had these awesome notes on the bottom. Can you guess why people do these types of rides?
The pie stop was my favorite feature of the last time I did this ride, so I was definitely looking forward to it. We’d entered the rolling portion of the route, so it went by pretty quickly as there was always something to either be climbing or flying down. And there were pretty trees to look at and so forth. So, before we knew it, we were entering the town of Carnation and nearing the pie stop. Mmmmm… pie:
The boy took a little rest in the grass (He looks much more in pain than I remember him being at this point, so we’ll just assume the camera hates him or something. Maybe he was in pain and just had his game face on. And wait, is that some blue sky peeking through the gray?)
The next section was probably the only one I was semi-worried about. To complete the full 100 miles, we’d have a little out and back section out to Snoqualmie Falls, followed by a fairly long bit of climbing back into Issaquah. Luckily, I was buoyed by fat and sugar and was feeling pretty good. T & I hadn’t been out to Snoqualmie Falls since an early date of ours back in 1995(!!) so I was kind of excited to see it again. (And picture how shocked I would have been had you told me back then that we’d eventually ride our bikes there from Seattle… )
It still looked pretty cool, but more construction than I remembered:
It was a funny collision of bicyclists and tourists and I heard a lot of questions about “were we in a race?” and so forth. T and I walked back to our bikes to see an Indian family standing in front of Slim Shady and discussing him. They continued this discussion while we put our helmets on and got ready to go. It was kind of like being a zoo exhibit, but they were very polite about it. Then it was onto the next leg of the ride, which involved much hill climbing. It wasn’t fast by any stretch, but I got up the hills without too much trouble.
The last few sections of the ride were surprisingly smooth. We stopped at aid stations for goodies and water as the sun had finally come out and it was getting warm. There was strawberry shortcake at the penultimate rest stop on Mercer Island, which gave me a nice boost for the final leg home. I had one last close call where a rider nearly veered straight into me for no real reason (other than she was probably really tired.) She didn’t actually hit me or even cause me to have to stop, so it was all good. We navigated the last butt-kicking hills into Seattle and before we knew it we were back on the Burke Gilman. Unfortunately, it was now filled with the sunny afternoon riders, so it was a bit of a cluster. I picked up the pace because a.) I was actually feeling surprisingly strong and b.) I wanted to get finished with this crazy ride before someone else tried to crash into me.
After a quick stop at the car to drop off our bikes and change shoes it was time for some more food. (The number of calories consumed greatly outnumbered the calories expended, I’m quite certain.) They had a great post-race spread with salmon, salad, asparagus, some sort of orzo salad, etc. Plus free beer! Win!
And best of all, I knocked nearly an hour off of my ride time from 2009. (I did ride a little bit longer for that time, due to riding to the start line, but the ride times are exactly an hour different. Since I haven’t felt like I’m in very good bike shape, this gave me a huge boost… ) Hopefully, this bodes well for RSVP. At least we know we can eat a million calories and still ride 100 miles. Specificity, baby!