Saturday, June 30, 2007

John in action

So we ended up riding 75 miles together, from Kenmore to Arlington and back. John S. headed home from Log Boom Park, racking up another couple of miles, no doubt. I headed home to Phinney Ridge, adding 15 to my total, for a 90-mile ride. But John M. outdid us both -- he kept riding the Burke-Gilman until his GPS device showed that he had gone a full 102 miles, the same distance we'll cover on the first day of the STP. And he claims he didn't feel tired at all! He could probably do the entire ride in one day...

Back home

Clearly, it is not easy to be photographically creative while simultaneously riding a bicycle and shooting pictures with a cell-phone camera. I end up with a lot of posteriors. Oh well!


We had lunch at this great little bakery in Snohomish.

Rest stop

Here we are at a rest stop just north of the town of Snohomish, on the trip back.


This is another shot of the south side of Snohomish.


This trail warning said there were black bears on the trail, but the only wildlife I saw was a couple of grass snakes, one of which darted in front of my front wheel. I didn't feel a thump, so I think he got out of the way in time. John said he'd once seen a couple of coyote pups playing on the trail, the mother nowhere in sight - they were oblivious to their human observers.

Centennial Trail

This was our turnaround point on the Centennial Trail, somewhere south of Arlington.


John has an incredible amount of biking to his credit. He's done the STP three times, and a lot of other cross-country riding.


We enter the quaint little town of Snohomish.

Fields of green

This field just glowed, it was such a lovely shade of green.

The valley

I wish my camera phone did a better job, but this stretch of the ride just south of the town of Snohomish was really lovely. We came down off a hill and into the valley, through fields of corn and past cows grazing in their pastures. The cows watched us ride by curiously. I wonder what they think of a human on a bicycle?

Riding north to Snohomish

John and I were planning to do a 90-mile ride on the Burke-Gilman this weekend, which would have involved doing the entire trail from Gas Works to Marymoor two times. We're already a little tired of this trail, and I wasn't looking forward to repeating the ride twice in one day. Then veteran cyclist John Saul called me up on Friday and asked if I wanted to ride up to Arlington, on a ride that took in the Centennial Trail -- one of the few long bike trails I haven't done. I talked John Moen into switching plans, and away we went.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More than I've ever ridden

I took my bike in for its 90-day tuneup this week. I've ridden it more than 1,400 miles since I bought it at the end of March. My other bike, the Novarra Randonee that I used during the first part of my training, has more than 700 miles on it. It's incredible to think I've ridden 2,100 miles since February -- that's like going more than halfway across the country!
I actually had to get the chain replaced on my road bike. They said the chains on those bikes are wearing out abnormally fast (probably made in China - then again, what isn't these days?). I've never ridden a bike far enough to need to replace a chain on it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pretty stop

On the bike commute home today, I was stopped at the Fremont Bridge, which was up to let a sailboat pass. I had a very nice view of Lake Union, where there were dozens of sailboats afloat on the lake. It was a peaceful, pretty scene, and better observed from the seat of a bike than the seat of a car.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Bumps in the road

One truly awful thing about the Burke-Gilman Trail is that sections of it are in pretty bad shape. If this was a road that cars traveled on, these bumps wouldn't be a big deal. But ride across them on your bike, and you'll feel like your teeth are going to rattle out of your head. Most of the damage appears to be caused by tree roots, not bicycles.


Here's a picture I took while riding.

Sammamish River Trail

Sometimes people ride horses on this section of the trail. This was the turnaround point for my 50-mile ride today.

Best stretch of trail

Purely from the standpoint of comfort and speed, this is perhaps the best section of the entire trail, along the Sammamish River. It was recently paved and it's very fast -- especially when you're heading north and you get a little tail wind. It's hard not to go 20 mph.

Another weekend, another 90 miles

You know your perspective about riding has changed when a 50-mile bike ride seems easy! This weekend I'm supposed to do a 50 and a 40.

At about the 18-mile mark in Bothell there's a funny little stretch of park where feral chickens (can chickens be feral?) strut along the trail. Pigeons, ducks and occasionally bunnies show up here too. It's a popular spot for people who like to feed the birds, so they congregate here, looking for the next handout.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The end of the ride

Having done many fun runs and two half-marathons, I was surprised to find the end of the Flying Wheels ride so anticlimactic. There was no finish-line banner or cheering spectators. We finished where we had started, in the Marymoor velodrome parking lot. Riders dumped their bikes, wandered around the velodrome, watched some riders dressed up in silly costumes doing laps around the velodrome, and then drifted away. The guy in the top photo was attempting to wash his face with a water bottle. We hung around for a little while and I bought a hot dog to eat, then we loaded up the bikes and headed home.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The three-mile hill

This was the last hill of the trip -- three miles long! Somebody said we were near Monroe, but that didn't sound right to me. Actually, I have no idea where we were. This road went through a beautiful forested area, so even though it was a long hill, it was lovely scenery. And I've grown to like hills (if they're not too steep) -- they give you a chance to slow down and breathe.

Map reading

With four different possible routes on the Flying Wheels course -- a 25-miler, 50-miler, 65-miler and 100-miler -- cyclists spent a lot of time studying the maps.

Old bridge

There were times when I worried that we had taken a wrong turn. During this stretch, there weren't many other bicyclists pedaling with us.

Refueling, round 2

We did a big loop and came back to this refueling station at around 1 p.m. The guy who changed tires in this tent bragged that he was faster than the pit crew at the Indy 500.

Through the valley

The Snoqualmie Valley is a beautiful place to ride, although the shoulders leave something to be desired. But there wasn't much traffic on this stretch.

Half-way mark

Some cyclists were having serious issues with their tires at this point in the trip. I was glad I spent the money ($80!) on Kevlar tires. Last week I had three flats.


We arrive in Duvall.

Where is everybody?

For a long time, John and I were the only cyclists on this pretty stretch of road. I started to worry that we'd taken a wrong turn...

Steep hill

We had to make a sharp turn here and go up this steep hill, climbing out of the valley. John didn't gear down far enough in advance, and got caught in a gear that was too high. He had to walk.

Valley road

A big pack of riders has just passed us here.


Food is fuel for cyclists. You can't ride 65 miles without eating and drinking a lot along the way, or you'll "bonk," or run out of energy. This was a major food stop for the Flying Wheels event. I had a bagel slathered in peanut butter and a couple of bananas. There was a long line for the bathrooms, and a sign encouraged cyclists to behave themselves and use the port-a-potties...

Entering the valley

This is about the time that I dared to pull my camera phone out of its pouch and take a photo while riding my bike.

Watch out for us

The roads were well-marked in places, cautioning motorists to look out for us.

Map stop

Here, we consulted the map with this group of cyclists. In fact, we seemed to be riding at about the same pace, and ran into them two or three times on the trip. They were cycling the 65-mile route with both of their teenage children, and were planning to do the STP in a month, too. John kept calling them the Swiss Family Robinson because they had these good-looking red and white jerseys with the Swiss cross in front.

The first ugly hill

This hill off the Sammamish Parkway went straight up the Sammamish Plateau. It was brutal, and surely the steepest hill of the trip.

The ride begins

Compared to running races, bicycle rides are casual affairs. You don't wear a timing chip or line up for a start. You just start whenever you are ready.

Before the race

A small boy waiting for somebody at the start of the race.

Checking the pack

John puts on his hydration pack.

Unloading bicycles

This big crew had a lot of bicycles on top of a van.

Loading up the bikes

John loads the bikes on the back of his van for the ride over to Marymoor.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Fueling up for Saturday

I'm fueling up at work today for the 65-mile Flying Wheels Summer Century, which starts at Marymoor Park in Redmond. I've done 65 miles before, but this ride will be in the company of thousands of other cyclists, and up some big hills. I'm going to try to do some live photo-blogging and see how it goes.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ready to go.

Here I am, in full bicycle attire.