I rode a modified version of the century edition of the 7 Hills of Kirkand (map, cue sheet, review it) yesterday. The Joe-Bob summary: 100.1 miles. 5,700′ of elevation gain. Rider-fu. Seven dead animal sightings. Two sore everythings. One “You really rode R.A.W.? On that thing?” flying hatchet-to-the-head comment. Three stars.
Like last year, I left my house around 7:30 a.m. biking. The first observation was how quiet the streets were for a Monday. Oh, yeah, it’s a holiday. It’s been a long time since I’ve legitimately had a government holiday off from work and didn’t have some impending deadline that forced me to use it as a catch-up day.
I made it to the registration area about ten minutes before 9:00. Check-in was efficient. They had photocopied the check and entry form. As this was the tail end of the checkin period, the food had been picked over. I topped off my Camelbak with water, ate one of the organic Clif Bars I brought with me, and set off.
The first two hills, Market (210′) and Juanita (285′) went by quickly. “Quickly,” in this case, refers to the amount of thought I put into them, not so much the speed at which I climbed them. About this time, we had officilaly achieved “partly sunny.” For those outside of the Seattle area, this is our optimistic way of saying “mostly cloudy.” Continuing this optimism, I pulled into a Walgreens to buy and apply sunscreen. Ten minutes later, while climbing Seminary Hill (455′), it started raining.
I think I’m starting to seriously enjoy biking in the rain.
In my dreams
My reverie was broken up shortly after a couple of riders passed me. Rider 684 had a very retro-looking bike with nifty, color-matched blue fenders. Rider 685 had some kind of carbon fiber jobbie with two-spoke lighter-than-air wheels and the latest in His Favorite Team’s cycling wear. Considering the road had a very adequate paved shoulder, but was otherwise windy and two-laned, this “couple” insisted on riding two-abreast, but not close to each other. One was on the fog line, the other in the middle of the car lane, oblivious to the traffic spooling behind them (and comments of “car back”) until a frustrated driver justifiably honked. I watched this spectacle repeat itself a few times, wondering how it would pan out. Occasionally this was broken up by #685 racing up to the top of the hill then “waiting for #684 to catch up. Inexplicably, when he did this, she swung out into the center of the lane. Another few cars queued up behind her until one would beep and she’d get a bleeping clue to move over a bit. Convinced that it would be bad luck to remain behind them, I powered past them at the first opportunity. I never saw them again.
Fast forward a bit over the next couple of hills, Education (410) and Union (636) and through the serene farmlands of Carnation. The ridership had become a trickle as the turnoff for the metric versus century routes. By this point, all of the hard hills are done and it’s some additional extracurricular exercise. I had my fifth Clif Bar for the day and was wishing I had packed a steak or cheeseburger or something meaty, but not so sweet. I did the mental arithmetic and concluded the rest stop on Stillwater would likely be closed by the time I got there.
Sure enough, there was a car sitting at the bottom of the hill, its driver waving at me. She was going to send the food back to the original stop near Norway Hill (as it’s the most common point), but had seen my bib number and wondered if I was having some kind of mechanical difficulty, did I need a ride, etc. I thanked her for the concern (and waited for the “you’re doing the century. On that thing?”) then thought of trying to explain that I was doing fine, this was really mile 66 for me (versus 50 on the tick sheet), and I really wanted to do this last official hill before heading home for a cool 100 miles. Greater reason prevailed and I just said “I’m on my way home, thanks a lot.”
My legs started to hurt as I started up Stillwater Hill, but reaching its top was quick enough. This seemed a heck of a lot easier than it did in March’s Populaire. (Maybe all the commuting is paying off!) There seems to be a definite passive-aggressive driving tendency by people in this area. I’ve learned to stop monitoring the rear view mirror and instead listen to a combination of the doppler shift and the thump-thump-thump if the car veers over centerline to give me some extra berth. Acceleration and no thump are bad.
Coming off the other side of the loop, I was at mile 76. My GPS showed the route back was about 15 miles “as the crow flies.” Taking Redmond-Fall City road, however, was slightly longer. It’s flat enough that I didn’t have to push that hard to maintain 14mph. Going up Dulthie Hill, the final climb towards home, was also easier than I remembered it. I stayed in my center-low gear the rest of the way home while wondering how close I’d get to 100 miles. As I was coming up the final mini-hill near home, I had 99.4 on the odometer. I did a few loops to pad it the extra 0.6 miles.
So, what I like about the 7 Hills is the ride’s accessible from my house. Except for the parts along SR 203, the route’s got relatively light traffic. It’s nice to get most of the steeper hills done early. They’re good about posting the elevation gain so the ‘dread’ is factored out. The downside is the rest stops aren’t spaced too well. I prefer them every 15-20 miles versus 25+ mile intervals. It’s hard to hydrate and not have to pee once an hour or so. I would have been in deep doo doo if this area weren’t experiencing such a construction/remodeling boom and had Honey Buckets scattered around. Also it would have been so nice if they had some pretzels. After I got home, I was eating salty stuff the rest of the evening.
Next year I would like to try the Century Ride of Centuries in Pendleton. It’s one I wanted to do, but didn’t schedule far enough in advance. John and Terri did it this year. I hope they weren’t too rained upon.