What do I think about?

One of my students asked me “what do you think about when you’re riding?” I think my reply started with “Uhhh…” What do I think about–I often have hours to do it. So, here’s a sample of my thoughts from today’s ride around Camano Island.

Pebble, pebble, broken glass, pebble, roadkill, pebble. Man this shoulder sucks.

Chip seal. I hate chip seal.

A bald eagle! Those things are big!

Asphalt… Ahhhhh, smooth, beautiful asphalt…

C’mon, you can pedal faster than that.

I love coasting.

Is that a heron? Those things are really really big!

Wow, look right, Mt Rainier, look left, Mt. Baker.

I hate chip seal.

This ride is flatter than I remember.

Look, flowers!

Oof, bump, watch where you’re going.

Headwind. That had better still be there to be my tailwind when I turn up ahead.


Is there a pickup truck convention in town or something?

Cute yellow bird!

Ewww, big roadkill.

At any rate, it was a beautiful day for a beautiful ride. I had done this route once before as part of the Winter Training Series hosted by the Seattle International Randonneurs (aka the crazy people Ian got mixed up with who do super-long-distance rides). Back in January, the ride start was delayed by an hour in hopes that the temperature would come up enough to melt the ice and frost on the road. Today’s 70’s and sunshine was a nice contrast.

Also, back in January, there was a pea-soup fog over the island until we were about 15 miles in. Today I saw the north end of Camano for the first time. Turns out there are woods and fields and horses and an air strip and all sorts of stuff. Who knew?!?

Because I didn’t feel like stopping, I took no photos. So here’s a photo of a sign in Wenatchee that I found entertaining.





Week done…and next week?

This week was bittersweet. My students on Bainbridge Island had their end-of-year performances, and they did some fabulous work. That part was pretty sweet. And it made me want to be in the studio with them, building on the progress they’ve made. Instead, I had to say goodbye to the graduating seniors, and send the rest of them off on summer break. That’s a bit bitter.

But then again, I’m on summer break!

Amidst the whirlwind of performances, Ian dragged me around on the bike both Saturday morning and this morning–tootling around Bainbridge Island yesterday, then Squak Mountain as promised for today. And as promised, he disappeared off into the distance on Squak Mountain. (And frequently on Bainbridge too). I love being right.

But now, down to business–time to commit to what I’m going to do this week. In writing. And I’m feeling indecisive. Sigh.

So let’s be sensible about this, and go in non-chronological order:

Saturday, the Big Kahuna of the week. Ian and I are planning on going to Mt. Rainier and biking up to Sunrise and then up Chinook Pass. It’ll just be 50 miles or so, but two pretty significant up-a-mountain experiences. Wahoo!

If the print's too small to read, that's over 5,000 feet of elevation gain in less than 50 miles. This won't hurt at all, no siree...

If the print’s too small to read, that’s over 5,000 feet of elevation gain in less than 50 miles. This won’t hurt at all, no siree…

Tuesday, a rest day. I’ll be teaching in the morning, and in the afternoon, in pursuit of the all-important rest and hydration, might find myself sitting down with a beverage and watching USA vs. Belgium. Hey, training requires sacrifices.

Monday, the weather looks good, and I think going up to Camano Island could be pretty spectacular. That means getting in the car for a while, bleh, but I think the alternative is hill repeats up Squak or something similar. So yeah, Camano sounds pretty good.

Wednesday, I think that I’m stuck with hill repeats up Squak. Or to be a little wild and crazy, I could alternate Squak and Zoo a couple times.

That leaves Thursday and Friday, which will probably need to be days of easy, flat riding to keep my legs loose before the Big Kahuna.

So, I think that’s a wrap!

And really, if you’ve made it all the way through this post, which is basically me narcissistically talking to myself, you deserve a prize or something. No prizes here, but there is an awesome joke: “What did the snail say when he got on the turtle’s back?” “Wheeeeee!”

Now aren’t you glad you read all the way through!

A little perspective

So I did get out for a decent ride today–the south end of Lake Washington, around Mercer Island, and then home via south Lake Washington again, for a total of 75 miles.

I was poo-pooing my ride to myself a bit: “you just did an easy ride, relatively flat, no big climbs, I thought you were supposed to be challenging yourself here. There are Dolomites to be climbed!” Then I stopped and considered that not so long ago, this would have been a big-deal challenging ride for me. So that’s something.

I will admit though, for having done an “easy” ride, I have pretty tired legs now…


It was perfect riding weather today, so after I got done teaching in the morning, and despite my sore, tired legs, I pulled my helmet on for for an epic ride! To Trader Joe’s. The one a mile from the house. So it was an epically short, epically wimp-out-on-my-training ride…

Courtesy Google Maps Streetview. This photo doesn't get way more awesome if you click to embiggen, but feel free.

Courtesy Google Maps Streetview. This photo doesn’t get way more awesome if you click to embiggen, but feel free.

To be fair, I did take the scenic way around, for 6.5 miles on the day, which is 6.5 more miles than the love affair between my ass and the couch voted for.

I have all sorts of excuses (students’ performances, scrubbed the kitchen floor in deep squats and lunges, teaching taking all my brain energy) but it basically boiled down to: I wasn’t feeling it, and after I post this, I think I’m going to lie down for a nap. As much as today’s epic ride is perhaps an epic training fail, if I didn’t have the prospect of a blog post about today’s ride looming over me, I likely wouldn’t have gotten out there at all.

And though my legs hurt just as much as they did before the grocery run, they’re less stiff. That’s a good thing, since I have a big ride on the calendar for tomorrow!

So, here we go, public accountability–I didn’t live up to my goal for today, though at least I did something, which is better than nothing. Let the heckling/encouragement/taskmastering start for tomorrow!


Goals for the week of 6/23

This week is going to be a pretty modest week, biking-wise. My students on Bainbridge Island are performing all week, so I’m over there a fair amount teaching warm-up classes and attending performances. It’s a great week, but one that takes a lot of energy, especially mental energy.

So other than biking to work and back (and maybe a little around-the-island biking), we’ll call this a recovery week. Or something.

Still, I should be able to get a bit of a ride in on Thursday afternoon, and Friday is also looking good for riding. So what to do?

Thursday might be another good day to do a Sights of Seattle day.

Friday, if the weather is nice, could be a good day for Camano Island. Or if I wake up and really don’t want to get into the car, I could go around Mercer Island a couple times, perhaps getting there via the south end of Lake Washington. Note to self: the Leschi Starbucks is closed in the afternoons for remodeling.

Then on Sunday, I think I’ve talked Ian into going out and doing Squak Mountain with me. Because nothing boosts one’s morale like struggling up a difficult hill, and watching someone else disappear into the distance with ease.

And, since I feel like this has been a boring post, a kitten:


Fun Happy Sad Day

I talked myself across the Eastside, Mercer Island, and the I-90 bridge with “you’ll stop at the Leschi Starbucks, get chocolate milk and a banana, and it’ll all be ok. You’ll be ok.” Of course, I was forgetting that the Leschi Starbucks is closed in the afternoons for remodeling. I didn’t cry, but I did consider it.

This was the meat of the plan for the day:

Eastside ride

If you’re not familiar with the area, it’s an easy, flat ride around the south end of Lake Washington, a traverse to Issaquah, followed by a climb up Squak Mountain (not as much elevation gain as Zoo Hill, but plenty challenging…), then up Zoo Hill, then up to the Newcastle Golf course (not super challenging, but great views) then climbing Montreux, and home via looping Mercer Island.

Spoiler alert: I said “@#&% this ^&@*” to looping Mercer Island, and went straight across.

The day started off well–I enjoy the south lake loop, despite some busy roads, because it goes by such a range of stuff. I especially enjoy circumnavigating the Renton airport.

Riding out to Issaquah is nothing special–the special started with Squak. I hadn’t done this one before, and I really enjoyed it. It’s a very stairsteppy climb, with some of the steps eliciting a “you’ve got to be kidding me!” But it’s a fun challenge, with some great views, and a sense that you really biked yourself to somewhere.

On the way back down from Squak Mountain

On the way back down from Squak Mountain

Then, Zoo Hill with 40+ miles and one hell of a climb in my legs… Was fine. I actually like this climb–the first time I did it, I was super worried that I wouldn’t even be able to make it up to the top, as it is such a notorious climb. But if you just relax and take it a bit at a time, it’s fine. And the landscape changes throughout, eventually yielding some great vistas. Note that I am making no claims to setting landspeed records, but hey, it’s a hard climb and I’m still stoked that I can do it at all.

Another Zoo Hill view

Another Zoo Hill view

Over to the Newcastle golf course is a bit bumpy, but compared to the previous two climbs, hardly noticeable. I guess. Though it’s not an epic ascent, the golf course has a panoramic view that is well worth it. Plus, I always feel like I’m putting something over on snooty golfers by riding on “their” road…

That's right, I do feel smug about biking here when they all drove

That’s right, I do feel smug about biking here when they all drove. BTW, this photo is much better if you click to embiggen.

Montreux. I’d done this once before, and didn’t like it then. It has less elevation gain than Zoo Hill, but all of the difficulty and none of the redeeming features. It’s just a wide suburban road, with McMansions hidden behind high hedges–which also mean you can see nothing except the road rising in front of you. No vistas, no interesting neighborhood, no forest, no distraction.

Montreux was what broke me. Partway up, my day of fun challenges ended, and I was done. Finis. Kaput. I did not want to be doing difficult things on a bicycle any more. I wanted to be home. Horizontal. Preferably with beer. And nachos. And a blanket. And a teddy bear. Physically I was pretty tired, but it was my mental resources that just disappeared.

But I did not turn around and go back down the hill, I finished the climb (and was pissed about it), then rolled downhill and towards home (20+ miles away).

And as mentioned, I decided to omit the Mercer Island loop (oh yeah, I’m also getting hungry, and have eaten all my food), and take the direct route to Leschi Starbucks. All considering, I’m pretty proud of not crying when I got there and it was closed for the afternoon (did I mention I could see a big pile of perfect-looking bananas through the window?)

Luckily, there’s a bike shop next door, where I got a snack and some water–many thanks to the Polka Dot Jersey shop for making the end of my ride much better than it otherwise would have been!

And then home. When I later went to the grocery store to get some things I wanted for dinner, I grabbed a shopping cart specifically so I could have something to lean on. I’m pretty wiped out.

I recorded 77 miles and 6,500 feet of elevation gain–the vast majority of that packed into 20 miles.

Overall, it was a great day on the bike, but it took a lot out of me, mentally and physically. Which I guess is kind of the point of training.

I’d actually happily repeat the climbing insanity on the Eastside–but without Montreux. I’d rather do hill repeats of Squak and Zoo. As far as I’m concerned, the Montreux climb has no redeeming value, other than dealing with suffering for suffering’s sake. Have I yet made myself clear on how much I don’t like Montreux?

The ride’s elevation profile:


Owwie Hilly

Well. My legs are certainly feeling the last couple days. I did the Chilly Hilly route to work again today, and my legs were just empty. Rather than fight it, I decided to work on keeping my pedaling cadence high, no matter into how low a gear I needed to shift, no matter how slowly I might end up going. And the beautiful thing about my bike computer–when I have the display set to show my cadence, I don’t see my speed at all, so I can pretend I’m going as fast as I want to think I’m going…

So–drumroll please–the giant TBD for tomorrow and Friday? The verdict is tomorrow I’m resting these poor puppies. And Friday I’ll do some sort of spiffy and challenging ride before working all weekend. But I think some quality couch time with my legs elevated is calling my name tomorrow.

In other news… We got an email from Elaine (Andy Hampsten’s wife, helps him run the tour business) with a list of suggested items to pack. The trip planning is underway! (Well, for me it’s been underway for a while, because I’m neurotic like that, but now it’s really officially people-in-charge-bugging-us underway!  I totally got a little wave of adrenaline when I opened her email…)

Heckling welcome for Friday–let me know just how spiffy and challenging of a ride you think I should do 🙂



Vashon: Happy Magic Place of Pain

First off, does anyone on Vashon actually drive? Much of the time I was riding on empty, moss-covered roads, looking out for deer as they were the only other moving thing out there likely to hit me. At one point, a few cars went by me, and I started getting grumpy about all the traffic–as in, I spent about 15 seconds suffering through the noise and exhaust of internal combustion vehicles, and then it was over.

Anyway, today’s goal accomplished. Check. Done. I’m done. That was a fabulous ride, but really hard! My cycling computer never read higher than about 485 feet, but some of the hills on the island get to the top in a hurry. There were a couple in particular that were…Special. As in, I would turn a corner, let loose with some exotic vocabulary and start asking questions like “Really?!? Are you serious?!?”

At any rate, it was a difficult, but also pretty spectacular ride. As usual, some mediocre cell phone photos:

The photo really doesn't capture how precipitously the ground drops down--or going the other way, how steeply it goes up. Going around the corner at the bottom to see this hill looming was...exciting...

The photo really doesn’t capture how precipitously the ground drops down–or going the other way, how steeply it goes up. Going around the corner at the bottom to see this hill looming was…exciting…


More views. Again. Natural beauty of the PNW and all that.


The tide was pretty far out today. Also note, the smooth, glassy water–which means that the south wind of earlier has died down. Just when it would have been a tailwind. Of course.

By the time I got home, I could claim 86 miles on the day. And a ravenous appetite. The Vashon part of the ride was 51 miles with over 5,000 feet of climbing–that’s pretty hilly, in my book.

I had sketched out a circuit of the island that was more like 40 miles, and then my dad sent me a route he had drawn up, taking some inspiration from the Passport2Pain ride. I ended up adding a couple things to his route, and making the monster that I rode today. So for the record, my dad figures out a difficult route, but I’m the one to go ride it. I’ll let you decide who got the brains in the family.

Zoo Hill is really going to hurt tomorrow. Whee!

Goals for the week of 6/16

If you read my goals post from last week, you’ll note that I’m supposed to be doing a big ride with Ian or something today. (And though I didn’t say it, I was thinking that Monday would be a rest day). But… Ian had stuff going on keeping him from doing a bigger ride, and the first-thing-in-the-morning ride that we planned instead ended up not happening. The alarm went off at 6AM, we listened to the cars splashing on the wet roads outside, and cancelled. Going back to sleep, warm and dry, was awesome…

So instead, I’m having a quiet day at home, resting and taking care of a number of household chores that I had meant to do tomorrow. Because…

No more rest day tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll go around Vashon Island. That should provide some hills and challenges, making the scenery even better for having been earned.

Tuesday I “have” to go to the 12:40 baseball game, so I need to do something that packs a lot into a little. Yup, Zoo Hill again. Sigh.

Wednesday I have to go over to Bainbridge for an evening rehearsal, so it’s the Chilly Hilly commute (though I could do something like bike part or all of the way to Port Townsend. And back. Hmmm…)

I don’t know yet what to do Thursday and Friday. One option would be an easy spin on Thursday, and a big ride on Friday (Camano Island, maybe?). Or the other way around, because I need energy on the weekend for work.

Saturday and Sunday will be bike-lite, as I have to teach and be at dress rehearsals for my students, something that will require a fair amount of physical and mental energy. Hence thinking maybe I should suck it up on Thursday and take what will be pretty tired legs on a big bike ride. After all, part of what I’m training for is to be able to get back on the bike after several days of difficult riding. But then again, I might be better getting a little rest and recovery on Thursday, then going all-out on Friday.


So folks, this is why I’m writing this blog, this is what I need your help with–feel free to send me heckling messages here or on FB or email to keep me from wimping out on the week!

(As for the Father’s Day part of today’s plans… Father’s Day has be relocated to a different date, and will be celebrated by my dad making me dinner. Because yup, I’m that fabulous of a daughter.)