Honor and enjoy your Creator while you’re still young,
Before the years take their toll and your vigor wanes,
Before your vision dims and the world blurs
And the winter years keep you close to the fire.
First the exciting news I got earlier this week: I GOT IN TO RAMROD! I lucked out and my name was drawn as one of the 800 riders doing RAMROD this year. Dad also lucked out, amazingly enough, so we’ll be riding together. YAAAAAAYYY!
That said, now I’m thinking about actually training for RAMROD. Today was RAMROD training series ride number 3. You know how sometimes it seems like everything that could go wrong does? Today’s bike ride was one of those. The plan was fairly simple: Dad and I drive to meet Team Earthdreams. We ride with them to the RAMROD training series (RTS) ride. We do the RTS ride. We ride a few extra miles with Earthdreams. We arrive back at Marymoor happily tired. End of story.
The first part of the plan went well enough. In fact, the ride was going quite well for me. The Earthdreams people really took off, pushing the pace up beyond 21 mph and on towards 25 mph. On my own, I can ride about 18 to 19 mph consistently; with somebody else pulling, I can sustain a 20 to 22 mph pace. Beyond that, even drafting I’m pushing really, really hard. This ride was hard because a lot of it was flat, which meant the leaders were moving. These are people who are used to riding up huge, steep hills on a regular basis, so on flat sections they tend to ride ever faster. I slowly fell to the rear, but hung on and managed not to be the very last one most of the time. I seriously doubted I’d be able to do all 75 miles at that speed, but I was determined to see how long I could hang on.
Then I decided to get a drink of water on a flat, straight section. As I put my bottle back, it slipped and fell, causing havoc among the riders behind me. I only had one bottle with me — I don’t tend to drink a lot on rides, and there are always a few opportunities to refill the bottle along the ride — so I had to stop to retrieve it. One guy, Frankie, was forced to stop behind me. The rest of the group made it around me and my stupid waterbottle without mishap and they continued on at their fast pace. I figured, “OK, that’s it, I’m dropped.” But Frankie wanted to try to catch up. So he pulled us fast for probably 5 miles. As we approached Marymoor Park, we saw the group at a stop light! The light turned green, they proceeded through… and then it turned red just as we pulled up. It was a very wide intersection with lots of turn lanes and so we (a) couldn’t run the stale yellow light and were forced to stop; and (b) ended up waiting there for an excruciatingly long time. Every second the group of got farther ahead of us.
When the light turned green, we took off again. But as we rode over a bumpy stretch of road, something went flying off my bike, into my rear wheel, and then out. I slammed on my brakes again. It was my rear light, which was mounted on my left seat stay and had somehow jarred loose. I picked up most of the pieces and Frankie and I continued, disheartened. I figured everybody was long gone. But when we pulled into the first rest stop, there they were! Everybody was about ready to get going again, and I barely had time to take a few bites of food and refill my bottle.
Then I noticed my rear brake was rubbing — one of the last things I needed was something else slowing me down. One of the guys helped adjust it. But that made me wonder if something happened to the rear wheel when the light fell off.
Then I checked the front wheel, and the quick release was loose. Of all the bad things that could happen on a bike, having a front wheel come off is about the worst. The group was leaving, so I quickly tightened it down the best I could and resolved to check everything very carefully when I got a chance.
I kept up with the group another few miles, but when a red light separated me and Dad — the last two people in line by that point — from the rest of the riders, we decided to just let them go. The pace was grueling and ultimately unsustainable for me, and I’d kept up for 40 very respectable miles. We rode through Hollywood Hills together, and at the top I noticed a bolt holding my waterbottle cage on was loose. I carry literally no tools on that bike; if I got a flat, I’d have to rely on somebody else’s preparedness (that’s about to change, let me tell you). Neither Dad nor I had a multitool to tighten the bolt. Examining the rest of the bike, we noticed the loop that had held my taillight on had slid down the stay and was banging around by the axle, with a good chance of getting wedged into the spokes. We couldn’t take it off because it was screwed on. I wedged it tightly against the quick release and hoped for the best.
Nothing else happened for a while. When we got to Blyth Park, we saw the last Earthdream rider leaving and we let him go. A bicyclist just finishing his ride loaned me a screwdriver and I took the dangerous light attachment off and threw it away with no small amount of vitriol. Stupid thing. Anyway, we proceeded along at a more moderate pace for another few miles. Then, on 6th Ave in Kirkland just past the intersection with 68th, Dad pulled over. Something else was wrong. Long story short, his rear derailleur cable snapped. No shifting in the rear for him meant that his ride was effectively over.
After some hemming and hawing, we split up. Dad went back to the car. I continued on the ride. I had the route in my GPS, and even though I’d lost the Earthdreams rabbits, most of the RTS riders were still behind us. As an RTS group went by, I jumped in with them and finished the last few RTS miles with a guy named Joe. When I got back to Wilburton Park, there were most of the Earthdreams people, still standing around! I told them what happened to Dad, and rolled out with them to do the rest of the miles. Fortunately for my legs, everybody else was tired, and they decided to just head back to Marymoor on the 520 trail. I rode with them until they went south on the Sammamish River Trail; at that point, I headed north and home.
Brickyard Road was hell. Every weekend when I roll home from these rides, I wish we’d bought a house at the bottom of a hill rather than the top. Fortunately, Ian had chocolate milk and a sandwich for me. That plus a shower and I’m feeling pretty much human again.
Final stats: 76.11 miles, 16.8 mph average, 4 hrs 34 min total ride time, 4700 to 5000 feet of climbing. Spent 27.75 miles above 23.6 mph (including downhills) and an additional 30.75 miles at above 17.6 mph.