Saturday, May 15, 2010

Do the Zoo

Saturday, May 15— Under bright blue skies, we headed south along the shore of Lake Washington through Kirkland, Bellevue, Newcastle, and into Renton. Our route today would take us around Cougar and Squak Mountains and then past the Cougar Mountain Zoological Park and up and over Cougar Mountain—or as we like to call it: Zoo Hill, one of the hardest local climbs we do.

Our first climb was more of a practice climb or confidence builder. We turned up SE 112th Street on the south face of Cougar Mountain and climbed up and up to some great views of Lake Washington, Mt. Rainier, and the Cedar River Valley. The descents are always the best part of any climb, and the descent from this climb did not disappoint. At the bottom, we turned east again on SE May Valley Road to Issaquah-Hobart Road. Along this stretch and on this beautiful Saturday morning, cyclists outnumbered motorists 10 to 1. We easily passed a hundred cyclists on the roads today. A brief stop at Squak Mountain State Park gave us a breather and a place to get off the bikes.

Our turn north on Issaquah-Hobart Road puts the wind at our backs and us onto the ride's "Time Trial". We got into the drops, tucked low, and pedaled hard all the way into Issaquah. But the hard work was around the corner. Those who had ridden this route with me before were already groaning. A coupled of steep climbs through a neighborhood above downtown Issaquah until we drop down to Tibbets Park where we refilled our water bottles and prepared for "His Majesty the Zoo-ness."

As we turned up Zoo Hill, the road was immediately unforgiving. Zoo Hill is a winding, switchback climb with at least two false summits that bring hope and then dash that hope to the ground until you finally, for certain, undeniably reach the top. At the top, you can do one of three things: dump the bike and flop onto the ground in exhaustion (Tenille did this); circle around with a huge grin of pride and wait for all the riders behind you (Johnny did this); turn around, descend to the bottom and climb up one more time (no one in their right mind does this. And none of us did either.)

After a rest in the sunshine at the top, we enjoyed the delicious breezy high-speed downhill into Factoria where we stopped at Starbucks to chat and refuel on coffee and pastries. Our return home was straightforward as we relished our accomplishment and appreciated the remaining strength in our legs.

Distance: 56.21
Time: 4:03:03
Avg: 13.8
Max: 41.6

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