Sunday, 24 September
One beautiful day in autumn 2005, I set out on the Seattle International Randonneurs' 100km populaire with some friends. We missed a turn and, in retracing our tracks, piled into an unmarked road hazard, and our outing adjourned with me in an ambulance. I have since ridden several times on that stretch of May Valley, but today was the 2006 edition of the SIR 100km populaire and I was determined to complete the whole thing on my bike and thereby banish any remaining demons lurking in my subconscious.
The weather was at least as beautiful as it was for last year's event. I'm not sure the ride organizer was thrilled to see me, but I pointed out that I had brought a different map reader with me and so was less likely to go off course--or at least not in the same place. After yesterday's 61-mile TT, what I needed was about an hour of easy spinning to get the legs ready to go, but within a mile of the start on this ride you are headed up Cougar Mountain via the zoo (the other name of this ride is the mountain populaire). This sorts/strings out the group PDQ. My husband/map reader (who gave away his route sheet to someone else!) sprinted off up the hill to be the first rider at the first check point, but he waited for me. Then you go down Lakemont, up Newport to the 4-way stop, then up Cougar that way, then down to Coal Creek and along to May Valley. We got in a little group, which was nice because "real" randonneurs have nifty little packs on their handlebars with a nice space for the route sheet, so we didn't have to pull ours in and out of our jersey pockets every 0.4 miles.
I was immensely relieved when we made our turn OFF the May Valley road and headed south. We literally went over hill and dale, including Tiger Mountain, Lakemont, Issaquah-Fall City, Tolt Hill, Duthie Hill, and to the finish at the top of Mt. Olympus Drive in Issaquah. Although the composition of the group changed a little bit, there was a core of 8-10 of us who stayed together for the whole ride. I nearly got dropped several times in the first half of the ride (these guys had "rested" yesterday in preparation for this adventure) but then started to warm up. By the time we left Carnation to head back to Issaquah, most in the group were starting to fade, so the tempo on the climbs got slower. Except Mick, who kept riding away from us all.
I have to say that this particular group of randonneurs liked to ride all over the road. Never mind the single line to the right. One guy in particular liked to patrol up and down the traffic side of the group. And he was not a particularly good bike handler. Every time I got boxed in behind him on a climb, I would have to dig deep to go around and pass him to keep my sanity.
But it was a good, hard ride and, most important, I finished on my bike and came home in my car. I'm still wary of road hazards, but who isn't?