I had my next 50 mile bike ride today. OK. It was only 49 but it a challenge for me as I started in Seattle and traveled to the east side on roads close to the foothills. It's a place I've always wanted to go riding but I'm a big ol' chicken about trying new routes on my bike. I need to know where I'm going and be certain I can do the route and not feel too intimidated by hills or traffic or whatever.
Today's ride was an excellent introduction to the eastern area. I was riding as part of a group ride with my running group and the intent was to ride to the end of where the group run was and then get a ride home. Nice!
On the Sammish River Trail, I got to dodge lots of 10k runners as there was a race going on. This only made me slightly jealous as really, it was too warm today for a race. Biking was actually better! I passed the earlier cyclists in my group and got to take over course marking duties. This was highly amusing to me as I had never been this way before on my bike and wasn't too sure where I was going.
It was around here that I started chatting with a cyclist I'd passed but who then passed me back as I got course marking responsibilities (you have to draw arrows on the ground with colored flour). This guy was rather interesting as he was riding his road bike and just had one arm. If you have ever ridden for some time with just one hand on a road bike you know what great core you have to have to do this! He answered my questions about where I was going and we traded stories about what we were training for and what we were riding today. The nice thing about cyclists and runners as K observed is that they are always easy to chat with!
I bade farewell to my cycling buddy and made my way onto Highway 202 towards Snoqualmie Falls. I was expecting a rolling course but this ended up being basically flat, fast and fun! There was just a bit of traffic but nothing too much and I was really enjoying myself. I really didn't see any other cyclists out there which surprised me. I did run out of water but otherwise did a good job of fueling myself on the bike.
I had been very nervous about the climb up to Snoqualmie Falls. I've driven up and down this road before and had seen cyclists struggling up it. I expected it to go on and on up and up but before I knew it I was to the top with no trouble at all. I made my way through the town of Snoqualmie and took a turn to take me towards the big interstate freeway. As I was cycling, I see a very large, dark object get onto the road. it took me a bit to identify this as a brown bear!
Yikes! I stopped immediately and saw the bear look over to me and continue across the road. There was a truck pulled over on the road behind me and the driver leaned out the window to exclaim about the bear! Who knew you could see a bear while out on the roads? This was certainly not what I expected to see.
As I debated about whether the bear was past and what about if there was a cub, the truck driver noticed my angst about continuing. He was very kind and drove my speed past the area where the bear was. It was a big relief! I continued my final climb a little shaky because I was getting hungry, thirsty and hot and I'd seen a bear!
Hills, traffic and whatever. Watch out for that whatever!