Artist Point

TLDR: I biked up to Artist Point on Mt. Baker with my dad. It went well. Mountains are scenic. I plan to bike more.

One of the views down the road from Artist Point

Between important life/work stuff, and a fun little bout of the food poisoning, I haven’t done much ambitious on the bike lately. Operation Train For The Dolomites 2.0 is a little behind schedule.

I did manage get in a ride over to my favorite place, Zoo Hill. The first time up that of the season is a really good way to reconsider your choices in life.

I’ve also been commuting and errand-running a lot, and trying to really push it on some of those rides–a sort of disorganized form of interval training. Despite the lack of long, epic rides lately, I’ve been feeling really strong, and have smashed some personal bests on my commute. (When you’ve gone up a hill over 100 times, a personal best on it means something.)

So I’ve been liking to tell myself that I’m in a decent place fitness-wise, stronger than this time last year. And I had no problems on some longer/more difficult rides I did earlier in the year, so it’s good right?

Today was a good test of the happy story I was telling myself. I drove out to Glacier, WA with my dad, to do the 24 mile ride up to Artist Point on Mt. Baker. The ride is about 12 miles of rolling terrain that is generally up, then 12 miles of up. From 1000′ to 5000′ but with about 4500′ of total elevation gain on the way up. For bonus fun, the switchbacks at the top are steeper than the rest of the climb.

I had done this ride once two years ago, as part of a 300k brevet put on by the Seattle Randonneurs. At that point, I had only done one mountain ride before, climbing Chinook Pass from Enumclaw. I really wasn’t sure if I was even capable of getting to the top of Artist Point.

I made it two years ago, but it hurt. Among other things, I had a hard time keeping up with fueling, which I realized when I noticed my thoughts had stopped making sense, and it was all I could do to hang my head down and stare at my cyclometer as it ticked off 1/100 of a mile increments. Very. Slowly. I nearly cried with relief when I got to the top. I didn’t notice much of the (what I now know is) amazing scenery on the way up.

…And this year, with no mountain climbs under my belt yet, and a sub-optimal and haphazard “training” program so far?

It felt easy! I felt great the whole way up–cheerful, lucid, peppy!

At the top. Told you I felt good–and my dad had fun too!

The 24 miles took me 2:20, which was 14 minutes faster than two years ago. Not a huge speed increase if you consider what I’ve done in the past two years–but actually pretty significant given how easy the climb felt this time, and how hard it was last time.

In fact, I was having so much fun, I not only rode to the top, but then rode back down to the bottom of the switchbacks (the part that nearly broke my soul last time) and rode back up with my dad. Or at least that’s what I meant to do–I got in a conversation with a friendly, chatty Forest Service volunteer, and my dad took off without me. I chased because it felt fun to go hard, and though I didn’t catch him (if only the climb were slightly longer!), I scooted up those switchbacks pretty quickly. And it felt good.

The descent was great–I stopped a few times to take pictures, and then tucked in and charged into the really unnecessary headwind that plagued the lower, flatter section.

Yay mountains!

Yay mountain streams!

Back at my car, my cyclometer claimed 51 miles and 5,600′ of elevation gain. So a respectable ride. And I still felt good–I happily could have kept biking had that been on the menu, though I didn’t mind that instead, changing into clean clothes was what was on the menu.

This is all good news, not just for the Dolomites, but also because we are less than two weeks out from STP.

AND…

I am exactly one month away from RAMROD–150 miles, 10,000′ elevation gain. After volunteering last year, and doing my own version of the ride, I am now doing the real deal. And after today, I feel like I’m in an ok place, training-wise. Especially considering the training effect of STP, and that next weekend. Ian and I are planning to repeat last year’s Mt Rainier fun of Sunrise+Chinook.

So between now and then, probably nothing too crazy bike-wise, just normal daily riding. I guess that means nothing much to report on the goals front this week. Except bike up Mt. Rainier. I think that’s probably enough.