Sunday, September 28, 2008
Rattlesnake Lake to Cle Elum Bike Ride 2008
We started riding at about 830 and arrived in Cle Elum at 330. In between was 53 miles of the usual mix of good and bad, difficult and easy, fun and boring. After nearly 10 years, the Iron Horse Trail has lost most of its intrinsic appeal and really the only things left are companionship with my brother in law Greg and the physical/mental challenge of the ride.
The first 20 miles are all uphill, albeit at a grade of only about a 100 vertical feet per mile. It doesn't seem like much, but when one is constantly peddling, never being able to coast or sit up on the bike for even one second, it takes a toll. For me, it's always my back. Even though I carry a relatively light pack, after ten miles it feels like a bus. Though my arms and legs are fine, my back tightens up and I can go no more than 6-7 miles without taking a break. Greg is very patient and sets an easy pace and doesn't mind the stops. He tells me that this year's stops were no more than usual, but it seemed like they were quite frequent between Rattlesnake Lake and Hyak.
Once we get to the tunnel, the grade flattens and immediately I feel better. On the east side, we're greeted with warmer temps and a very light wind. The next 12 miles or so is a slight downhill grade and before I know it, we're at Easton, where the trail straightens and basically follows the freeway into Cle Elum. I had trouble in two spots that had loose gravel, getting bogged down and nearly falling at the first spot and then dumping the bike in the second bit, but landing on my feet. I discovered that my rear tire was nearly completely flat and was simply not able to move through the loose rock.
The next hour and a half was at a pretty good pace, though I had some difficulty in keeping up as the tire had a slow leak and we had to stop several times to pump it up. Nonetheless, we soon rolled into the familiar South Cle Elum train station and a few minutes later were taking the traditional end of ride pictures at the house
I must thank Greg for setting the pace for the entire ride this year. He's in better shape than me and it took a load off my mind not to have to lead. Still I survived the ride in good condition, feeling just quite tired on Sunday, but otherwise no aches or pains. Greg said our moving average was 9.8 mph this year. down a little from previous rides.
In the end it was a particularly bittersweet ride that I'll probably remember more for the drama that's unfolding around Tiana than anything else, but still, it just felt good to be on the bike.