Five days after completing a 60-mile ride with several tough hills, I endured the Flying Wheels Summer Century (100-mile route) on Saturday (May 30) — mercifully avoiding any major drama. My second of two back-to-back, backbreaking rides in one week actually went pretty well.
But, I need a vacation from a bicycle seat. I got the sore-butt blues just past the halfway mark, and it felt good to be finally done. (It felt even better to walk my bike from the finish line back to my car.) As usual, it took me about nine hours to complete what is now my fifth 100-mile-or-more event since I started doing organized rides in 2011. Nine hours is a long time to be on a bicycle seat, in my opinion.
No crashes, injuries or bicycle problems to write about, and that probably makes for a boring blog post. So be it. Here are some highlights:
- Third Flying Wheels Century was longer than before. Technically, yes. The race organizers, the Cascade Bicycle Club, revised the last part of the route so that it went through Fall City for a food stop, rather than skirting Fall City to the west as in previous years. The ride is now a full 100 miles. In previous years, it was 96.1 miles (and still considered a century).
- But, my 2015 ride was slightly shorter. I did this century a year ago, and I inadvertently rode off-course about five miles in Snohomish County when I followed a couple of riders who, it turned out, were not part of the event. Fortunately, I realized the error and found my way back. So I personally rode 101 miles or so. I made it a point this year not to make that same mistake.
- There were fewer hills than my Memorial Day ride. This made the ride feel easier than the 7 Hills of Kirkland Metric Century ride I did earlier last week. Flying Wheels has extremely tough climbs near the start and the finish, as you scale both sides of the East Lake Sammamish Plateau. That hill near the start is probably the steepest hill I will do all year. There are three other noteworthy hills on the course through east King and Snohomish counties, but they are moderate. The rest of the course includes long stretches of flat land through the Snoqualmie Valley.
- Again this year, I walked a bit up that first hill. The course starts and ends at Marymoor Park’s east end, and within four miles you encounter Inglewood Hill Road into Sammamish. It is a steep half-mile climb. And there is plenty of congestion with other riders and cars, so you can’t weave back and forth to eke your way to the top. I stopped to walk my bike, largely so I could take a few pictures. But I have not conquered this hill since I first did the Flying Wheels 65-mile route in 2012. I conquered all the others though.
- Downtown Snohomish is one of the best parts of the ride. When you get to Snohomish, you’re at the northern-most spot in the course. And you’re starting to feel spent. But it is a cool, vintage downtown, with antique shops, numerous restaurants, public restrooms, and lots of riders stopping to chat and socialize. I got to meet Lauren from Snohomish and Jessica from Seattle, who were doing this ride to train for the Seattle-to-Portland ride in July.
The course’s 33-mile loop into and through Snohomish County is where the number of riders thins out. More riders do the 67-mile (formerly 65-mile) route than the full century, and they don’t ride this loop. The century riders ride at different paces and get spread out. I was happy to be within a group of riders through most of this jaunt, and as a result felt safer and not so likely to go off-course.
As usual though, there are early risers and elite riders. Many of them are riding in teams with military-like precision (they yell “Car up!” and “Car back!” in unison), and they are finishing this loop as I’m getting started on it. But it is still nice having them around; it means the road is safer because cars are slowing down for them.
Top priority: A safe ride
More than anything, I was just hoping for a safe ride — ideally with no flats. I got both, knock on wood. I felt great to hit the finish line, even if the beer garden at Marymoor Park was winding down.
What’s next? Well, I guess that vacation from a bicycle seat will last only eight days. I have signed up to do the Woodinville Wine Ride this Sunday. It’s a 30-mile ride mostly on flat land and the
Sammamish River Trail, and includes a wine tasting. After two hard rides in a row, this one is for fun.
Thanks for reading! Till next time.