Thursday, May 29, 2008

Phantom Lake: Don't Forget Your Cycling Shoes

Our Saturday morning ride began with our group of cyclists disrobing. Well, not entirely. But, as the sun climbed higher the temperature in the parking lot got warmer. And together we realized that the extra jacket, or tights, or arm warmers weren't needed today! It was a moment of rejoicing since so many of our Spring riding days thus far had felt like winter. Jim, David, Kurt, and I had gathered when Gary pulled up ready to ride. This was only his third ride since having knee surgery. We were glad to have him back.

As we prepared to ride, Kurt came over to our group to say we'll be riding without him. He had left his cycling shoes at home. The leather moccasins he was wearing weren't gonna work by any stretch. I encouraged him to get his shoes and meet up with us in Bellevue. Our route would take us south through Kirkland and down 140th through Bellevue to Phantom Lake near the Eastgate area of southeast Bellevue.

After our devotions and prayer, we hit the road. Today was going to be a shorter ride since Monday, Memorial Day, was the 7 Hills of Kirkland ride and is a ride that's loaded with climbing and around 60 miles. This also motivated me to try a new route through Kirkland since we'd be riding along our usual Market Street route on Monday. From Juanita, We took 116th east to 405, rode under 405 and turned south on 124th. And from there, I discovered my new favorite road--80th. This quiet, tree-lined avenue parallels the busy 85th just to its south. On this beautiful, sunny Saturday morning, this was a wonderfully breezy slight descent. We turned right onto 140th which would take us all the way into Bellevue. The sun streamed through the treetops as we rode in and out of the shade.

Around NE 24th, I got a phone call from Kurt. He now had his cycling shoes and was going to try to catch up with us. After a few more minutes of riding, he called again. He had rode in the opposite direction, away from us. Realized he wasn't going to catch us and called it a day. I'll bet he remembers his shoes next time.

As we neared Bellevue Community College, we turned east onto SE 22nd Street. On this corner is now Eastside Christian School. This school was formerly Eastside Free Methodist Church where my wife grew up and where we were married 15 years ago. Next, we passed Robinswood Park and then began to round Phantom Lake. A crazy-fast descent down SE 24th took us along the southern edge of the lake and then we circled to the north through this quiet sunny residential area. Our route back along 156th took us past another notable church in my life--Cross of Christ Lutheran. This is where I first heard the gospel and fully understood it and decided to follow Christ. And of all places, it was during a friend's father's funeral. That was 19 years ago.

After riding through Crossroads Mall, we decided to make a stop at Performance Bike and do a little shopping. Jim bought himself some new cycling shades--the kind with interchangeable lenses. The yellow lenses will make even the grayest Seattle day appear sunny. A must have in our region!

On our return stretch along 140th, we all heard what sounded like a gunshot. The loud blast didn't leave anyone lying on the pavement, but it did bring David to a stop. The explosion was the sound of 100psi leaving through a 3 inch gash in his tube. I commented on how quickly he replaced his tube--no tire levers needed, all by hand, and with the efficiency and speed of someone who has had a lot of practice. David nodded. Apparently he gets a lot of flats and is well-acquainted with this task!

As we returned to EFC and braked to a stop, I congratulated Gary for his good post-knee surgery riding. The sun was out today and it looks like summer is nearly here. I'm ready for more warm weather riding. And I'll be sure to bring my shoes.

Riders: Jim, David, Bob T., Bob H., Gary, Kurt (almost)
Dist: 29.3
Time: 2.09
Avg: 13.5
Max: 38.9
Total Ascent: 2022 ft
Max Elev: 468 ft

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Hidden Lakes of Woodinville

Our Saturday morning started off under grey skies and a light drizzle. Hard to believe we're into May and still experiencing weather that looks more like March. Jim Nelson led our devotional and prayer, which is our usual beginning to our Saturday rides. I enjoy our time gathered around our bikes in this informal and brief time of prayer before we ride. Many times, this short devo gets our conversation for the ride started. And many more times, our prayer has proven to be heard by Heaven when we return free of flats or mechanical problems.

After rolling down to the Sammamish River Trail, we reached Woodinville and made a quick stop at Bryant Sabandal's home. We don't typically stop at the home of missing riders to hassle them, but couldn't help ourselves today since our route when right past his street. He wished us well... in the rain... and about to climb the hardest hill of the day. I referred to it as "The Wall." This climb parallels NE 171st Street--a busy road east of Woodinville--and goes through the Reinwood neighborhood.

We huffed and puffed our way to the top and soon downhilled past Lake Leota, our first hidden lake of the day. Next, we passed Bassett Pond--not officially a lake, but a hidden body of water at least--and then turned into the Cottage Lake Beach Club passed Cottage Lake (our third lake for the day.)

A brief ride down busy Woodinville Duvall Road took us to W. Snoqualmie Valley Road where we turned north. This stretch of road is popular with cyclists and takes you past dairy farms (advertising "aged cow manure") and rural homes overlooking the valley. After passing Crescent Lake (#4 if you're keeping track), we took High Bridge Road around to the northwest which offered a few more climbs until we turned south on Welch Rd. toward Lost Lake--also known as Devil's Lake (Lake #5).

Here we stopped for a rest break while we watched a dump truck and trailer navigate a hairpin turn, back up over a hill, and drive in reverse all while the driver talked on his cellphone. Impressive. Couldn't do that on a bike...

After Lost Lake, we rode west toward Echo Lake (Lake #6). This hidden neighborhood loops in a circle around the lake, which we did as well. Then rode north in the increasing drizzle toward Hwy. 522 and the remainder of our route. Most of this route so far was brand new territory for us. But, now we where coming into more familiar roads as we continued west toward Woodinville proper.

Our last lake of the day was Crystal Lake (#7). Crystal Lake sits at the end of a long, quiet stretch of roadway--past the "End of county maintained road" sign--where a lovely log-built community club sits and homes dot the banks of the shore. The rain increased as we finished our ride. When we reached downtown Woodinville, we were soaked.

Our ride covered plenty of new roads and neighborhoods, seven hidden lakes, not a single flat, but too much rain. We need to make sure we add that to our pre-ride prayers next time... "Lord, keep us dry... Amen."

Riders: Jim, Kristin, Brenda, Bruce, Jay, Bob