I can’t remember the year, but it was sometime early in the 2000s, and I was going for my 3rd attempt at Mt Rainier. Having to turn around the two times prior, though necessary, was a major blow to this cowboy.
I was SURE I was going to make it the 3rd time. I trained harder and longer, read everything I could get my hands on, and mentally visualized myself on top. I had also found a quote from a mountaineer that I loved: “Summit or die, either way I win! ” I wanted to get a t-shirt made. My plan was to lie through my teeth, and do whatever it took to make it to the top.
Yeah I didn’t make it. That’s not the story here.
This weekend, I learned how much I have changed from that younger me.
This weekend was my 3rd century of the month, the 7 Hills of Kirkland. I knew I had a week at the ocean after the Reach the Beach, so the legs would be fresh and raring to go for this ride. Yeah that was the plan.
Michelle and I have a ‘tradition’ on Memorial Day weekend. One day is a yard day, one day is a ‘butt’ day and one day is a ride day for me. It gets us ready for the summer, gives us time to relax and gets me closer to whatever goal I have. Our plan was to have 6 yards of bark delivered and spread out on Saturday. I would sit on Sunday, then ride Monday…
Editors note: I have NO idea how much a ‘yard’ of anything is. Let alone 6. I can conceptualized weight, distance, depth and speed. But Yards…
Our delivery, that was to be here by noon, finally (after 3 phone calls to the delivery people) got here at 430. DAMN that was a lot of bark!! I started spreading that night, but it wasn’t until 3 the next afternoon, with the help of the Manchild, that it was done. I was exhausted and the legs and back were fried.
But, I have a rule, if I pays I plays, so ride the next day I did!
My first mistake was thinking I knew where the start of the ride was. I knew it at Marina park in Kirkland. But I thought the park was right over the hill from us. So my thinking was park closer to home, and ride over the hill and back for extra training on hills. It looked great on paper…
The problem? The park I THOUGHT was the start, wasn’t. Thanks to Siri, I found out I had added 20 miles and 4 hill climbs to the route, with the round trip ride. Note to self: Check a map next time!
But, since I always leave early, I was there in plenty of time for start, got my number, and went right back the way I had cycled to get there. They call the road the 7 Hills of Kirkland because it has 7 named climbs. With an untold number of unnamed climbs. I do NOT know who the person is who designed this ride, but he or she is a sadistic bastard! Uphills result in fun downhills though! its the reward for the climb.
Within the first 7 miles, there were 3 steep climbs. I am glad I had the 10 mile pre-ride as I had a chance to warm up the legs before hand. From there on it just got harder. The route designer would have us hang a right off the main road, do a 3 mile climb, and then return us to the same road a half mile further along the same road!
There is one feature of a ride I’ve never seen though. On top of Winery Hill behind Woodinville Neil the Bagpiper!
I guess he is out every year during this ride. I think he is there for Memorial Day as he was doing all the military anthems (Anchors Aweigh, Off We Go into the Wild Blue Yonder)/ He was belting out the tunes, but I had to wonder what his neighbors thought about him.
The basic 7 Hills Ride is only 30 miles, but there is a turn that lets you ride either a total of 60 (a Metric Century) or 100 (Full Century), my plan was the full. However, the route designer stuck to his mean streak and kept us climbing as much as possible. Folks my legs were NOT happy.
Add to it, whatever route I took, I was adding 20 miles to it with the round trip bike ride to the start. PLUS I had two more big climbs to get back to my car. My legs were letting me know how hard they worked the day before (oh and I forgot to mention, I have the last century of the month the following Saturday (5 days away)) it was decision time.
I made it to the spot where the full century went left, the Metric went right and back toward home. And I pondered for bit. The younger Tony, who felt he ‘failed’ on the mountain woulda gone for the 100. Damn the torpedoes full speed ahead, NOT going to fail again!
This Tony, is smarter. Folks, pure and simple I’ve got nothing to prove. These legs and my bikes have carried me everywhere I’ve asked them to, and they woulda carried me the total of 120 miles that day. I had it in me. But, its my job to keep the bike and legs in good condition. Even though I would have made it, I would have been shot for the rest of the week and next weekend.
The Metric it was! I called and left a message for Michelle to let her know I was changing the route. (It’s always good to let her know the plan). She was in full support, but I knew she would be.
As soon as I was heading home, the legs got peppier! But it was one of those rides that was uphill both ways! Plus, I started counting and sure enough, I had only done 6 named climbs, there was one more lurking! Sure as hell Rose Hill was the last one, and yes it went on forever, but I was passing people on the climb, the legs were stronger than I thought. In fact, later on, another rider told me he saw me “Flying up the hill!” I don’t think I was but it was nice to be told.
At 60 miles, I was back to the starting line, but still had 10 miles and 2 more climbs to go. Halfway up the last climb, another rider caught me and asked “So going for another lap?”
“Yep!” said I, “I never saw any real hills the first time, so I thought I’d look again!” He laughed as he pulled away from me.
Over all, I rode 80 miles, and got some great climbs in. I also now have a close route for more hill training. I am very happy with that ride, and I was still able to ride to work this morning. Older and smarter Tony has nuthin to prove to anyone, and no matter what Michelle is always proud of me. I did the right thing, and I can already feel the legs recovering. Next week will be the full 100!