A Weekend of of Two Tales Part II

Saturday was chores and errand day.  Sunday?  All about cycling!

I lived in Federal Way for years, and it never failed, some weekend early in May I would see people with numbers on their jerseys riding through town.  I would tell myself I wanted would remember “next” year, and then promptly forget and tell myself the same thing.

This year was different, I got out there and signed up for Phil’s Bicycle Shop’s Mayday Classic!  A choice of 50, 70 or 100 miles from Federal Way to Orting, Wilkeson, or the Carbon River Valley respectively, and back.  A great ride, supporting Bicycle Alliance of Washington and the Orting Food Bank, and all for $20!

I signed up for the Carbon River route, since this takes you to the back door of Mt.  Rainier, one of my favorite places in the word!

Plenty of views of the mountain on the Mayday Classic
Plenty of views of the mountain on the Mayday Classic

The weather forecast was for 80 deg, and blue skies!  As I pointed out yesterday, this is unheard of in Seattle!  I was there at 630 AM and ready to go.

In my last post I mentioned that one of my friends Amanda rolled an ankle and was unable to ride today.  Our mutual friend and her Riding buddy Liz was still going to go!  So it didn’t surprise me when she showed up in front of me and said “HI!”  Totally didn’t recognize her.  I’ve only ever seen her in work clothes.

Since Amanda wasn’t riding she asked if she could ride with me for a while.  I’ve honestly never ridden with anyone on a ride like this before.  It was going to be new for me.  I am glad I did since this was her first ride!.


The ride takes off from Federal Way, which is on top of a hill and works it way down to the Valley.  Phil has found a back roads I had never seen in the 20+ years I lived down there!  One of them the words “Welcome to the Wall of PAIN” were written.  Yep a pretty steep hill!

The course was marked, but it wasn’t what I would consider well-marked.  Some of the Dan Henrys came at the last-minute, or were very faded.  It wasn’t the easiest route to follow.  This was reason #1 I was glad I was riding with Liz.  Early on I could point out the markers, and it wasn’t long before she was following like a pro!  (After this one, she will have no problem following any ride.

Once in the valley, the route took us along the Orting trail and onto back roads.  Even though it was a valley, there were some hills.  This is reason #2 I was happy to be riding with Liz, I was able to give her some pointers on shifting for hills.  It was harder for her, than for me.  I have a triple ring set in front as compared to a double for here, and my rear cassette has much larger rings than she had.  I was having no issues with the hills but she was amazing and did VERY well!

We traveled through some very scenic areas, along rivers and through the forests.  It was gorgeous! Just before Wilkeson I took this pic:



Wilkeson is a very old, very small old Coal Mining town.  It has 3 stores, the last gas before Rainier and now has a Distillery with a tasting room (thought about going in but would have been a BAD idea!)  It is also the location of the turn around point for the 70 mile route.  Liz’s legs were BEAT.  And the next 12+ miles was a steady incline to the 100 mile turn around.  She and I agreed that 70, being her longest ride ever, was a great accomplishment, and she turned for home.  Smart girl!

I headed out to the Carbon River Valley.  And yep, it was hard, but pretty, I love crossing this bridge!



I had no problem getting to the turn around, and of course the best part of a long uphill?  The long downhill!  I was averaging 21 MPH heading back down.  Then, on the last hill before the valley, I hit 39 MPH!  LOVE hills!

Sadly in the valley, we were back on the Orting trail, for 25 miles of an UGLY headwind!  That just sucked the energy right out of me!  This drug on until I reached Phil’s hill.  Here’s the description:

Ahhh yes, a May Day Classic and a “Character Builder” all in one! Phil’s Hill is a lovely little {yet feels big} secret one way road with super sweet new pavement {58th Pl S.} that comes UP from the Algona Pacific area to the heights of Military Road and 5 Mile Lake {approx elev at the top a whopping 465 ft}. It is a .7 mile climb with a vertical gain of 385 feet and an average grade of 7 .7 degrees. Some also call it “Little Italy” because the narrow winding road may remind one of the Pyrenees and its spectacular scenery. The reason this little hill gets your attention is you have been pedaling the flats of the valley for the past 20 miles and you are only nine miles from the finish; then you round the corner and Uppy Uppy…Go! Go! Go! All routes go this way, enjoy your stay.

This year is was renamed Lance’s hill after a friend of Phill’s that died on Wednesday last while bike commuting to work.  On the trail were spray painted these words (forgive if it isn’t a perfect recall, I was dog tired and hot! “The hill is steep and the legs are tired, yet we relish the memories of Adventure just as Lance always did.  RIP 5/1/13”  I found this to be a very fitting tribute.

And a welcome distraction because this hill SUCKED ASS! but I made it!  It was then a relatively easy 9 miles back to Phil’s for my free piece of pie!

A great ride!  I regret I forgot sunblock, and there was an ass who was yelling at riders on the road above Wilkeson and through a bottle at another.  That cyclist just happened to have a go pro camera going, so we are hoping he got the throwing and the vehicle on the tape.

I will do this ride again!  It could easily become one of my favs, and was a great way to end the weekend.  Also, my legs felt great, no issues with 100 miles!  (The longest ride so far this year!)  So the Reach the Beach in 2 weeks should be relatively easy and I am in good shape to keep getting ready for the Crater Lake Century!

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