Ha ha ha ha ha! Funny joke from Italy!

A piece of advice that Andy gave us for the long, steep climb up to the Passo Fedaia: “it’ll be cold at the top and on the descent, so on the climb try not to push so hard that you work up a sweat.”

Don’t sweat biking up the Fedaia

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!!!!!

Except I think he might have been serious.





Apropos of nothing in this post, here's my bike at the Passo Duran...

Apropos of nothing in this post, here’s my bike at the Passo Duran… (It’s the one with the yellow handlebars.)



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:


Islands were a bad idea for today.

So… I said I might ride around Camano or Mercer Islands today… And then I woke up, staggered downstairs, and contemplated the ominously dark clouds outside and my very tired legs. (The latter having, I think, less to do with Zoo Hill, and more to do with teaching hinges to my modern dance students yesterday. I knew better than to do that. But as previously discussed, I’m an idiot.)

So the islands plan was ditched. Instead, I relaxed, read the paper, and enjoyed my coffee.

Then I put my bike clothes on and got out the door for a gentle two hour ride up and down a few of Seattle’s hills. The ominous clouds were gone, replaced by blue sky and those cute fluffy white clouds, but I still thought it the better part of valor to stay close to home.

It’s actually really fun riding through Seattle neighborhoods, especially this time of year. Things are in bloom, some streets are arched by a canopy of trees while others open up gorgeous vistas, people are out working on their houses, buildings are getting built or torn down. There’s a lot of neat stuff to look at.

So, 26.1 miles later (taking about the same amount of time as would a world-class marathoner–though they generally don’t have to stop for stoplights and such) I got home just as the sky started looking dark again. I hope the predicted thunderstorms and rain start soon, so that I can feel really smug about the timing of my ride.

Still not bored of good views from my bike

Still not bored of good views from my bike

I am an idiot

…Which is something I am taking full advantage of with this blog.

Monday, sitting on the couch, rested and lazy, it seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to bike Zoo Hill on far-off Wednesday. This morning, I woke up, relaxed on the couch with my breakfast, and realizing I was supposed to be doing Zoo Hill, thought “what a stupid idea.” And then “but I wrote and put out in public that I would do it…”

So, instead of a lazy, relaxed morning, I biked from 80 feet above sea level to 1330 feet above sea level in 2.7 miles.  That hill hurts. It’s what curse words were invented for. Except you don’t have enough breath leftover to swear.

My one concession to being not-an-idiot was driving to Issaquah, instead of biking to Issaquah. Maybe one of these days I’ll be even more of an idiot and bike out there and do Zoo Hill twice, or something like that.

I know from past experience that I’m really good at thinking that something will be a good idea to do a few days from now–and getting there and realizing what a silly idea it is. The plan for the summer is to let my idiot self reign, and put my I-have-a-better-idea self on the back burner until after the trip to Italy.

At 1300ish feet. You may be able to keep Seattle riff-raff out of your gated community, but you can't keep us off your public roads! Of course, if you could, I wouldn't have had to climb all the *&#$^&* way up here...

At 1300ish feet. You may be able to keep Seattle riff-raff out of your gated community, but you can’t keep us off your public roads! Of course, if you could, I wouldn’t have had to climb all the *&#$^&* way up here…


Just 11 1/2 miles for the day–but some of those miles really counted for something.