I don’t like it, reverse it!

To those who know me in real live life, I know this admission will be a shocker.  But yes, I am a creature of habit.  I may have mentioned this in previous posts, but I have oatmeal for breakfast each day, in the same chair in the cafeteria.  A hard-boiled egg at 9 to hold me over till my salad at 11, then a walk at lunch. Some might consider this boring, while I consider it efficient!

This can be said, in some ways, about my riding as well.  There are just some rides I do every year.  The Chilly Hilly in February, the McClinchy mile in March, and, like this last weekend, The May Day Classic, in well, May.  I knows what I likes, so I keep doing it.

However, this year I finally figured out why I always feel a little ‘off’ at the end.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Along about 6:30 Sunday morning I pulled into the parking lot Of Jersey’s Sports Bar in Federal Way.  Its been a long, LONG time since I have been at a bar THAT early.  (Shoot maybe never! As this is a new starting part of the line). Last year, it was a miserable ride, cold, windy and BEYOND wet.  I remember having the heat cranked all the way home in the car just trying to warm up.

On this day, though, the weather gods seemed to be on our side.

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Some people roll their eyes when I tell them when the rides start.  But its nice, when it starts in town like this, to begin that early.  It allows us to get out of town on the busy roads and use some multi-use trails before the masses wake up.  Given that only about 300 or so riders sign up for this ride, it also means frequently I have the route to myself in the quiet of the morning.

This ride is put on by Phil of Phil’s Bike Shop.  (The man who put the Mudgeon in Curmudgeon).  Rarely have I ever gotten more than a one word answer from him on any questions, and most times it’s just a grunt.  He believes in 3 things that I know of.  1) If you buy a bike from Walmart you deserve to break down, and 2) a century ride will by gawd have more than 100 miles, and 3) a good route should detour to include the hardest and steepest hills ever!  Here is an example, appropriately named “Phil’s Hill” from his website.

What Is “Phil’s Hill”?
Ahhh yes, a May Day Classic and a “Character Builder” all in one! In 2014 there was a mudslide that compromised the road shoulder and guard rail.  Consequently the DOT closed the road and we went up Jovita instaed.  Good news for 2015 and beyond, Phil Hill is Back!!  The road is still closed to cars but the road surface is good and we are going to use it.  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 400 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.

The ride goes from Federal Way to just outside the Carbon River entrance of Mt Rainier and back.

imageAs with most rides, it is marked with Dan Henry’s.  Something I had to point out to a new rider as we were stopped for a light.  He looked over at me and asked “Do you have all these turns memorized? Where is your tip sheet?” He had his taped to a handlebar bag.  “I just follow the markings on the road.” I pointed them out and he seemed MUCH happier!  Off he went.

Editors note: I can’t make fun of someone like that, my first ride ever I had NO idea there were markings and I got completely lost in West Seattle!

I will say though, whoever marked it musta been thinking they had to conserve paint.  I have become, over the years, great at spotting the Dan Henry’s and even I lost the route twice…

Funny thing about Mt. Rainier and the Northwest. The closer you get to the mountain, the less you see it.  Smaller hills and trees can block your view when you are almost there.  But I will tell you she was out in her full glory Sunday.

image imageAnd here in lies what I finally figured leave me deflated a bit at the end of the ride.

On the way out, I am heading for this mountain.  Time and time again I get a view of it.  On a clear day like Sunday, it makes a hard ride worth it just by being able to see it.  Even better, as the climb up to Carbonado starts, I get much more in tune with nature.  These are some of the things you see (Note a compilation of this year and previous)

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Add to it the smells and sounds of nature.  Fir trees, birds, water, wind and very few cars.  Even though its 12 miles of mostly up hill, I feel myself relaxing inside, and taking in nature.  Returning to the Mountain Roots of Moutainstroh. It is my favorite part of the ride.  I even Haikued!

Carbonado Bound
Nature abounds: Smells, Sights, Sounds
The Reason I Ride

Then, at the turn around, after a ‘quick’ mile climb back to the highest point of the ride, gravity takes over!  With a slight tail wind, I am able to fly down the hill, and exhilarate with the wind in my face. Until I hit the bottom.

Then the rest of the ride has the mountain behind me and a crowded trail through Orting, all with a headwind.  Followed by a new trail in Sumner (which beats the old industrial area) that goes by the sewage treatment plant.  And finally boring drab city roads.  All the while with the mountain behind me and lost from sight.  It is a bit of a downer to end that way.

It then hit me.  How much more fun would this be to START in the mountains, bike to Federal Way, and then end with Rainier pulling me back up.  The ride would end with a mile long descent from the highest point, and me surrounded by nature! The drive home would ever be fun.

If I did this though, it would have to be just me.  That mountain road can handle 150 bikes (About half turn around in Wilkeson and skip the long climb) But there is no way it could handle that many extra cars.  Plus, even if it did, all of them parked up there would ruin nature for everyone else.

One of these days, though, I just might say to hell with it and do just that!

It was a great ride though, as you can see from smiling Tony

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And the huge pizza at Godfathers I had after picking up the Manchild hit the spot after 107 miles!  One century down, 3 more to go this month!

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4 Responses to I don’t like it, reverse it!

  1. sarburch says:

    If you happen to have any free weekends this summer, you busy bicycling bee, I think you ought to do this ride on your own (or with another cycling buddy or two — choose me! me!), riding it exactly the way you want to ride it. 🙂

    Loved all the bike’n’nature photos. And I LOVED that haiku of yours. ‘Tis brilliant! 🙂

    • This would be an excellent early fall ride! Especially a playing hooky from work day! And you’d be a great bike riding buddy!

      Loved the waterfall over the log. It’s why I really like riding in Mt Rainier you just never know what you will see or where

  2. Great post, Tony, and a metaphor for life: we are much more motivated to pedal hard when the goal is in sight!

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