Monday, March 27, 2006

Hill Climbing in Seattle, Cycle-style

My brother-in-law (Greg) and I met at his Fremont home yesterday (Sunday) morning at 8:45 for a quick two hour tour of some of the city's hills. As I've done more and more riding the last couple years, I've found it increasingly difficult to get a goodcardiovascular workout without going for very long rides, often in the 4-6 hour range. It became really tough to fit in that much time, especially in the standard time months, where daylight hours are at a premium.

Last fall, I started doing some hill-climbs--running style--and found that was a great workout. In 30-40 minutes I could get the heart-rate way up and after a steady diet of that for 6 months, I feel really fit. But running up and down the same hill four or five times a week got a bit tiresome, so I guess it was time to get out on the bike.

The weather yesterday morning was blustery and cool, with a solid 15 mph wind blowing out of the south. The two miles to Greg's place involves a couple little hills and halfway there I already felt like this was going to be a long morning. It's a funny thing about cycling--it can take an incredibly long time to get warmed up. Especially with the wind blowing and the cool temps, I was just dragging. It's a psychological thing you have to get over. Just like riding up a big hill, things always get better on the other side.

We did have a nice break as we rode down Fremont Ave to the bridge. Then it was over the Ship Canal, up a moderate incline (Dexter), until we came to the cutoff that led to the Aurora Avenue underpass, going past Canlis Restaurant. Then another incline as we worked out way up the northside of Queen Anne hill, with a very steep section going up 4th Avenue N.

We made our way to the very top of QA (watertower) and worked our way down the south face to the bottom. Just for fun, we climbed up the west side of the hill and soon found oursevles on the top once again. We rode to the north side of the hill, found Dravus and sped west toward Magnolia. As it goes up the Magnolia hill, Dravus becomes very steep (unrideable?), so we just made it up as far as we could and took a left, heading south. After a few blocks, we found a very steep, but more manageable way up and soon were at Bayview Park, a fairly obscure, but very nice city park with a wonderful view of the Port Area and the north end of Queen Anne.

We made it to the top of Magnolia's east ridge, slid down and headed up the west ridge, toward the watertower. Again the way was very steep and quite long and though we both powered up, it was the most challenging part of the ride and definitely one of the more challenging hill climbs I've ever done.

We headed north to Discovery Park, worked our way through the old parade grounds with its wide open view of Puget Sound, and snuck down toward the locks, following an old road loaded with downed trees, shady and slippery with a winter's growth of moss. We were soon walking through the Government locks, picked a newly-completed section of the Burke Gilman trail that took us to Shilshole Bay and biked north to Golden Garden Park, where we took a winding, unshouldered road up the hill to the top of 32nd Ave NW. Then it was just a short ride home for me (Greg still had to go to Fremont) with the overall time of the ride being about 100 minutes.

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