OK, so we are women, biologically speaking, but deep down inside and while on the bike riding together, we are girls. We have fun, we flirt with boys, we challenge each other, we support each other. Hey, this ain't no feminist rant- this is a ride report for the 7Hills of Kirkland's Century Ride! "The Girls" started out as Becky, Molly (in town for the holiday weekend), Lynn, Emily and me. I last saw any trace of the first three at the first rest stop, waving to Becky as I was waiting in line for the port-a-potties. She was still smiling and I can only guess that she alternated between smile and grimace for the remainder of her ride, with smiling edging out the victor. Let's hope they all did.
As I climbed Winery Hill, always the toughest climb for me, Emily and I chatted about this and that and I wondered if the hillside has sloughed away since the climb didn't seem so bad this year. A great descent followed and we were once again back at the same rest stop when who should appear, but my old ride buddy, Annie. She and I have shared a lot of road miles together, both around the Puget Sound region but also in Spokane and over the North Cascades Hwy. We were a great team. But things change, life gets complicated and the distance between our wheels grows larger. It was great to visit with her and to see her on the bike after so long. And she saved me from a wrong turn later in the ride.
Back on the road, our group was solidifying into a nice foursome of David, Bob A, Emily and me. David made it known that he wasn't feeling so great and I thought he might turn off to cut the ride short but we passed the metric cutoff point and he stayed with us. After the stop in the Snoqualmie Valley, he resigned himself to riding off the back of the pack and on his own. I would hear none of it; if he wasn't interested in actively drafting, then I made a point to ride slower so he had no choice but to draft (insert rear wheel here). David has become quite the strong rider in the past couple of years and, whether it was the box jumps at the gym Friday, the climb up Mt Erie Saturday or the coffee on an empty stomach today, he was now in need of our support and we were there for him. Even Bob A was on board with that train of thought and he regularly waited to make sure we were all together before proceeding. Of course, it was really Emily who was the power behind our foursome, as she spent the most time at the front, pulling the rest of us tirelessly. She wants to become a better, smoother rider who is solid to draft behind so, although I like to see the work of drafting spread out among all riders, I was happy to let Emily work on her skills up front. I was secretly hoping it might tire her out a little bit. OK, so I was being a little catty- MEOW! But Emily is so strong that I thought she might go off the front on a hill and leave us all. Instead, she just continued to pull and I appreciated that greatly.
Along the ride, we were sometimes joined by Bob N, Bruce and Denny. At one point, a fast young woman went blasting by us and soon, Bob N gave chase. Oh, the power of a woman! (in this instance, woman works better than girl- I guess you have to be one to understand) We saw Bob at the next rest stop; no sign of the woman;-( On the home stretch of the ride, everyone seemed to have more energy. David must have been feeling better because we no longer had to keep an eye out for him, he was just right there with us. Until the last hill, that is. I surged ahead as if I were really not tired. That didn't last long, though, and Bob A and Emily came around me. But it was a long hill and so I had time to just sit, spin and slowly catch up toward Emily, taunting her (supportively, of course) to go a little faster. We made it through the light while I saw David and Denny get stuck and a while later Bob A was descending toward us (showoff!) to go check on them.
At the crest of the last hill, I really did have a surge of energy, be it girl power, adrenaline, or just the thought of strawberry shortcake at the finish. I took the lead and the others allowed me to keep it, down 116th, along Northup Way and Lake WA Blvd. They even followed me down a one-way street going the wrong way with tons of oncoming traffic; now that is devotion to one's leader. And I think only something that a girl on a bicycle can get away with.
For more photos, see here.