Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hills, Coffee, and Rain

Today's ride had all the earmarks of an early spring ride: jackets, shoe covers, fenders, coffee, and rain. When we departed Eastside Foursquare Church, the question at hand wasn't "Will we get wet?" It was "When will we get wet?" Fortunately, the first half of our ride was pleasantly dry.

We headed south through Juanita and the Kirkland waterfront. I was a little surprised to see several die hard walkers and joggers already out along Lake Washington Boulevard. I daydreamed for a minute and imagined how this same stretch of roadway will be packed with runners, sun bathers, and moms pushing strollers in just three short months. Today, the number of sun breaks and sun bathers were the same: zero.

Our first climb took us into Yarrow Point. I turned to David at the foot of the hill and said, "Smile, I want to take a 'before' photo." I knew the climb would be arduous. At the top of the climb, he was still smiling. That was either out of pride—not wanting to show his exhaustion—or out of joy—it's just plain fun to tackle these hills!

Our route continued through Clyde Hill, Medina, and Old Bellevue. These less traveled roads through Bellevue offer more opportunity for conversation as we rode two abreast and chatted our way along Meydenbauer Bay. Hill number two loomed ahead as we turned off of Main Street and past Wildwood Park. The Lake Washington Bicycle Trail launches you out of downtown Bellevue on an out-of-the-saddle, quad-burning, lungs-heaving climb. At the top, we curled over our handlebars speaking in two or three-word sentences until everyone had summited.

Now for the fun part. Our route rockets down and around stately homes on well-treed lots through the Beaux Arts neighborhood. Peekaboo views of Lake Washington are caught as we raced through this shaded community just north of the I-90 interchange.

At the I-90 Bike Trail entrance, we regathered and noticed we weren't the only cyclists out today. Another group of 7 or 8 riders came on by. They, too, were risking the rain. So far, so good. We're all still dry. We crossed I-90. I glanced northwest across the water to see Seattle in the distance. It was a palette of gray. So different than the view from this same point in mid-August.

Once we reached Mercer Island, we followed the trail that parallels I-90 until the Tully's Coffee was in sight. We gladly rolled into the parking lot, set our bikes beside a table, placed our orders and sat down outside to enjoy our coffee and the fruits of our labor.

Just when it started to rain.

Riders: Jim, David, Bob, Sally, Gary
Distance: 30 miles

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