Saturday, March 27, 2010

Put on Your Big Girl Pants

Our Saturday morning club rides begin with a short devotional and prayer. This morning I began a short discussion around a book I'm currently reading, Shut Up, Stop Whining, and Get a Life by Larry Winget. The author isn't a Christian, that I'm aware of, and his perspective isn't exactly from a Christian worldview, but his premise was worthy of discussion. I asked, "How do we as Christians love others and offer compassion but don't enable someone to keep making bad decisions. How how do we love people but still are able to get in their face and say "shut up, stop whining, get a life"?" We talked a bit about Ephesians 4:15, "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ." Kristin summed it up well when she added, "Sometimes you've got to say to someone, "Put on your big girl pants and deal with it!" That would prove to be good advice for the ride ahead...

We headed south to Juanita where we were met by our first adversary: a flat. Two new riders, Neal and his son Tim, were joining us today and it was Tim's rear tire that flatted within the first five miles. I forgot to review that rule... No flats within the first five miles. Our team-approach to flat repair paid off and we were back on the road riding along Juanita Bay, up Market Street, and into Kirkland along the Lake Washington waterfront. The day was looking good.

We rode up our first sizable hill up into Clyde Hill and Yarrow Point. No whining yet. That's good.

Our route took us through Medina and Old Bellevue and then we turned right off Main Street and joined the Lake Washington Bike Trail. It starts with a HC Climb (that's French—"hors categorie," Tour de France lingo for "beyond category" which means really steep) that goes up, turns right, keeps going up, turns left, and keeps going up. The view of downtown Bellevue and Lake Washington is gorgeous, but you have to lift your head and look up. Most riders are focused on the tire in front of them and trying not to barf up a lung. The whining was beginning... where are your big girl pants?

At the top, we regrouped, caught our collective breath, then enjoyed a great descent, some easier ups and downs, and racing through the neighborhood of Beaux Arts. The trees and shade make this section of the ride truly beautiful and I can see why any family living here has so chosen. Neal mentioned to Tim that this would be a great ride for the middle of summer when it's 90 degrees. The shade definitely would cool you down.

We rode across the I-90 bridge, crossed onto Mercer Island, and then followed Kristin as she led us through Covenant Shores and around to the northwestern corner of the island. We took the counter-clockwise route around the island and noticed very quickly that we not the only ones on the island today. Dozens of other cyclists were out today. Training groups, pairs of friends, other cycling clubs, racing clubs riding in formation—they were all out today. The weather was still filtered sun but not too warm. We rolled around the island enjoying the twists and turns, the slight rises, and short descents, until we reached the northeast corner of the island where I-90 crosses. Our goal was to hit a Starbucks or Tully's for coffee. The only problem was that since we had started on the west side of the island, we now had another long hill between us and the downtown shops. No matter. I brought the right kind of pants... Big Girl Pants. Let's bring it.

So up we went. This hill was harder than the first two. By a factor of three at least. I tried hard not to remind myself that this was Kristin's idea. We even gave everyone a vote... Hill or no hill? I think Neal—who voted for the hill—was shocked at what he had elected to ride up. But we made it up. We had an easy downhill into town and then promptly found the Tully's where an iced latte, some coffee cake, and chair in the sunshine made the effort worthwhile.

John had dropped back a bit when we coming around the island so Warren had gone back to retrieve him and make sure he found his way to Tully's. First, I think Warren was glad that after all these years of riding, the tables had turned. We used to say, "Who's gonna wait for Warren?" Now, Warren is doing the waiting—and fetching. When he got John to the base of the big hill, my phone rang. They were looking for an alternate route. I couldn't blame them. So I provided a longer but flatter way and they soon joined us at Tully's. John had already phoned his wife and asked her to "do him a solid" and pick him up at the Tully's. She agreed. I wondered what her fee would be.

After leaving Tully's and saying farewell to John, we headed back through downtown Bellevue—hitting every street light we could, because that's what you do in downtown Bellevue. At the light at 112th and NE 8th, I glanced to my left and saw the window signage at the David Barton Gym. Their slogan, "Look Better Naked." Hmmm. Perhaps. But after today's ride, I think we all look best when we put on our "big girl pants."

More photos here.

Riders: Bob, Jim, Brenda, Kristin, John, Warren, David, Neal, and Tim
Distance: 45.26
Time: 3:10:57
Avg: 13.8
Max: 40.2

Saturday, March 13, 2010

To the Bike Expo: German Acrobatic Cyclists, Hasidic Jews, and IC3

It was a cold morning on our way to Bike Expo. but the promise of more than 300 exhibits of bikes, gear, travel, health and fitness plus three stages of speakers and performers kept us moving. Our route along the Burke-Gilman Bike Trail into Seattle wasn't too eventful until we passed Matthews Beach Park and I passed three pedestrians that were dressed a bit peculiarly. As I neared them I realized it was an Hasidic Jewish couple and their daughter. The tell-tale black broad-brimmed hat, long coat, and untrimmed beard gave him away. I wondered if we had cycled too far and were now in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

We rode on into Fremont, crossing the Fremont Bridge and into Seattle via Dexter Avenue. I had not ridden along Dexter before and recognized some familiar businesses like KING TV's broadcasting studios and a few radio networks. After missing a turn, we rode a bit deeper into downtown than we needed, but retraced our path back into Belltown and then westward to the Olympic Sculpture Park and then along the Elliott Bay Trail that would take us to Cruise Terminal 91.

The view across Elliott Bay was stunning as the sun began to emerge from the clouds and warm up our late morning. Cascade Bicycle Club was routing us around some commercial property that borders the Cruise Terminal so our route to Expo for the final mile or two wasn't as direct as we had hoped. We turned onto the pier and passed other cyclists, pedestrians, and buses. And two kids on unicycles.

After entering Expo, we could tell we wouldn't be disappointed. Two floors of exhibits with booth after booth with cycling gear, organized ride info, cycling tour operators, food distributors, and so much more. My first stop was at the International Christian Cycling Club booth where Mike Leaman and Jay Bonner were greeting attendees and giving away Hammer Nutrition samples. They were getting plenty of visitors on this busy Saturday morning and early afternoon. The place was a zoo. I was glad I brought my backpack. I filled it with cycling grub samples, fliers for upcoming rides, and free cycling magazines being handed out. It also limited me to not buying anything more than what I could fit INSIDE the backpack!

After making my rounds upstairs, I headed downstairs to make sure I didn't miss the German Artistic Cyclists, Corrina Hein, Stefan Musu and Lukas Matla. These three cyclists were absolutely stunning to watch. The video at the top of this blog shows some of the amazing tricks this athletes are able to do with a bike. Needless to say, I did NOT attempt any of these moves on the way home.

On our way home, we headed north toward Discovery Park but turned to take one of my favorite hidden bike routes—a walking bridge that crosses the Burlington Northern RR and connects W. Government Way to W. Commodore Way. When you exit, you are south of the Ballard Locks. We walked through the Locks, remounted our bikes, and returned back to Eastside Foursquare Church along the Burke-Gilman Trail once more. It was a day of sights, tastes, and tricks... and plenty of miles.

More photos here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

First Club Ride of the Year!

This was gonna be a great day of riding. I could tell when I pulled into the parking lot and already could see a half dozen cyclists getting ready. The first weekend of March marks our first Eastside Foursquare Church Cycling Club ride. This date in the past two years has been cold, wet, and miserable. Today the temps would break 60F and be almost balmy. I wasn't alone in my excitement. By the time our ride would begin, we would have 13 in our group!

We descended Waynita Way and jumped on the Burke Gilman Trail riding into Kenmore, then turning north through Briar and Mill Creek. The sky was blue and the roads were dry, so it made for a fun and lively morning riding with friends I hadn't been on a bike with since the 2009 season ended in October. We were quick to catch up on all that's been going on and just enjoyed the morning to ride and relax. I commented at least once that this sure beats doing yard work!

Our route took us through neighborhoods, and parks, and along side roads that most cyclists in our group aren't familiar with. Our pace quickened as we reached our halfway point and began turning back south towards Woodinville and Bothell. Riding with a large group like we had this morning makes the conversations even more interesting. One rider drifts back while another comes up to the front of the pack and I get to start a new conversation. One of my favorite parts of riding with our EFC group is the conversations that are enjoyed while on a ride.

A few of us hammered hard as we rounded a corner in Maltby heading into Woodinville. Then we turned into Wellington Hills golf course and began the steep descent to Highway 9 that we like to call "The Plunge." You have to be sure your brakes are in good condition otherwise you'll be sailing right into the front doors of Costco.

Our final miles took us onto the Sammamish River Trail and into Bothell where we stopped for a post-ride latte and baked goods at The Lyon's Den. When we entered, I noticed there was a group of hearing impaired or deaf people chatting with each other. A couple of them were ordering ahead of us in line, writing their orders down on paper or on PDAs to hand to the counter staff. When I got to the front of the line, I said, "Now we go from the hearing impaired to the fashion impaired," referring to the colorful group of lycra-clad cyclists I was with.

Our coffee and conversation was a great conclusion to our first ride of the year. I'm already looking forward to next Saturday.

More photos here.