Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Better Half of the Seattle Century

As this weekend was deemed "volunteer weekend" by me, I dutifully arose at 4:15 am to help with set-up and registration at the start of the Seattle Century. I had conned Annie into doing the same and she had suggested that we do the ride afterward since our involvement included free entry and there was going to be a rest stop every 12 miles. We agreed on a "tra-la-la" ride, hitting 2 of the food stops. 

After completing our assigned tasks of checking people in and giving out numbers and assembling the goodie bags (2 beers, coffee and smoked salmon), we were ready to do some riding. However, the first 20 or so miles were on the trails and it had been raining so we weren't too excited about getting wet on a boring, flat trail. We agreed to hop in my car and drive out to Marymoor and we planned on meeting another volunteer, Sam, there to ride with him. We just happened to park in the same lot where the food stop was set up and, since we wanted to look like bona fide riders, we first changed into our cycling clothes. We also had ride numbers: I had selected 99 for Annie (as in Agent 99) and 86 for myself because I felt I was going to be 86d after being awakened so early.

Sam arrived in about 5 minutes and we took off together. I was in front and knew the route went up Novelty Hill so I got us over there, though I never saw a ride marking until we were on Novelty so I guess I was just on auto-pilot from my many previous rides in that area, including Goosebumps. At one point, Sam remarked to me, "I see your goosebumps" and I wondered if I was now a marked woman for having participated in a particular ride so regularly but then I realized he was referring to the fact that I was looking cold with my arms exposed. He stopped and gave me his arm warmers to wear and we were off again.

Up hills and down hills and a lot looked familiar and there were other markings from the 7 Hills of Kirkland and Flying Wheels rides and Annie and I kept having flashbacks of this or that thing that happened at this or that point on each of the previous rides that we'd been on. Food stop in Duvall with sandwich makings, then off on the lovely Cherry Valley and an interesting variation to avoid the closed Kelly Rd. We headed down the valley to Carnation and a pie stop near Remlinger Farms which was so perfect and the best thing about the ride so far. We parted ways with Sam at this point since he was an honorable man and was doing the full 100 mile ride and we were shortcutting back to our car in Redmond. We headed up what is called by some the Seven Steps to Hell, otherwise known as Union Hill Rd. I really like the climb because it is in steps and you never have to work too hard before another rest comes. Plus, it is a beautiful wooded road without a lot of traffic. 

We made it back to Marymoor Park with about 44 miles total. You can see our route here. We drove back to Seattle without traffic and back to Annie's car at the official finish. Annie headed home but I knew that my volunteer gig entitled me to one more treat: a post-ride gourmet meal. I enjoyed a mixed salad with macadamia nuts and cranberries, sauteed asparagus, pasta and barbequed salmon. A string quartet played in the background and beer was flowing freely in the beer garden. A pretty nice little "tra-la-la".

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