Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Iron Horse Trail - Seattle to Hyak - 67 Miles

I've suddenly become (relatively) bicycle fit and what should I do about it? Oh I know, I'll bike 150 miles over three days from Seattle to the Columbia River via the Iron Horse Trail. Coach T has been talking about this one for a couple of years and it finally happened this year.

I got dropped off at Myrtle Edwards park in Downtown Seattle and meandered my way through downtown (see rant from last weekend). Hooked up with the I-90 trail and instead of turning right after the Mercer Slough, I continued west on the I-90 trail. I'd never been this way before and was excited to try a new route. Newport Way was great fun on a bike. I was quite nervous about this ride as it was going to be the farthest I'd ever ridden and with a huge climb to Hyak and the Snoqualmie Pass so I made sure to keep it easy and try to fuel well.

After going through Issaquah I finally had the fun of riding on the Mountains to Sound regional trails which allow cyclist onto I-90 past Issaquah. I'd seen crazy people bicycling on the freeway before and swore I'd never do that! What can I say? People change and now I was one of those crazies. It was a good thing I didn't know that I'd be riding on this part until the last minute as I think it would've given me something else to stress about. And really, it wasn't bad at all. I even got a nice shout out of approval at one point from a car whizzing past. At least that's what it sounded like to me.

After a bit of road ups and downs, I came to the Preston Snoqualmie Trail which I didn't know existed. A short trail with a few bumps and there was no one on it at all. Very remote feeling and it had a screaming downhill to get to the Preston Fall City Road to go to Fall City. They were doing road paving on this stretch and had the road just to one lane and holding traffic. The flagger waved me up to the front and sent me on ahead to the next flagger where I waited and chatted with the lady. She was amazed I'd come from Seattle and then reported that she'd seen a bicyclist crash in front of her before. That's really what I want to hear at this point. She redeemed herself by letting me go first of all the cars on new pavement. Man, that was fun!

I was expecting to climb the road to Snoqualmie Falls but I took a quick turn left before there and found an even worse hill to climb (Coach T is really good at this sort of thing). I didn't think I was going to make it up but I powered and grunted up the hill and was a quivery mass for a bit after that. Here I had lunch and traded my trusty road bike for my also trusty (but not as well loved) mountain bike. It's just not as comfy and I had changed tires to my monster grip ones so the mountain bike felt even stranger. I was now on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail and it would take me to Rattlesnake Lake.

I've been on the SVT countless times as a runner and racer and occasionally as a cyclist. It's rather dull in a leafy, calm sort of way. K has seen a bear before along this stretch of the trail and sure enough, there are signs posted about bear activity. This did keep me slightly more focused.

At Rattlesnake, I stretched a bit and started up the Iron Horse Trail. It was here that I realized with 20 miles still to go that I was really hungry. Not a good sign when it's literally all uphill from here.

I'd been riding all by my lonesome but I did start to pass other folks on the ride here. It was fun to chat and compare various aches. Everybody had a smile on their face however! See that smile of Laura E's face?

My back was aching, my hamstrings were hurting, the little area between shoulder blades was screaming protest and yet even though I was close to being done, there was still one very big hurdle left. Dunh, dunh, dunh. The Tunnel, my nemesis. Yes, i was going to be facing it again and truth be told, I was thinking about it for at least 60 miles.

I could try and go through by myself or wait for another person to come along. After 60 miles of mulling it over I wanted to go through by myself. I had brought K's fantastically bright light and hoped that would make a difference. And it did! It made a huge difference being able to truly see the ground in front of you. I had no troubles going through it at all. I was still tense at that moment when the light behind you vanishes and you can just barely see the pinprick of light ahead, but it was bearable.
Coming out of the tunnel is usually like coming out into a whole 'nother world and it was no different today. While it had been cloudy and sometimes drizzly on the other side, as soon as I cam out of the tunnel it was warmer and sunny in Hyak. You could look back and see the clouds retreating from the pass. It seemed like we were being welcomed after our long trek.

PP and I loaded our bikes on the van and went to the hotel to quickly unload stuff so she could go back to the trailhead for the next group of riders. We both realized on the drive to the hotel that we were fried. I was starving and not able to focus and barely able to even form complete sentences.

I chowed well at dinner and poured the liquids in. It was like I'd never eaten before! I kept thinking of Tour de France riders and how many calories they have to take in daily to sustain their exertions.

It was a pretty amazing day. 67 miles is definitely a new biking high for me for one day and the elevation chart just makes me laugh.

1 comment:

Enniferjay said...

67 miles! Why don't you bike down to San Diego? It's not much farther and our only bears are in the zoo. I felt sympathetic hunger and muscle aches for you. Hope you had a Micheal Phelps breakfast after that.