Having taken a few days off from work, I decided that I would make the most of the Wednesday morning sunshine and enjoy a quick Permanent. Narayan, ever tolerant of my short-notice card requests, sent me the card for Route #757 on my shortest notice yet: 14 hours. The Issaquah/U-Village 100k has a Redmond start option which makes it convenient for me to ride to Peet's Coffee for a 5 mile warm up and then enjoy a cup of coffee before the route.
Redmond to Issaquah
The weather was fantastic right from the start. Nearly 60 degrees when I left my apartment, so I only needed my arm warmers as "extra" gear. It felt so nice to be unburdened of the usual shoe covers, knee warmers, jacket, long gloves, and spare luggage to carry it all if the day decided to warm up. I had sunscreen and my ever-so-stylish STP Tyvek jacket along with the essentials in my Berthoud, but I would only need the former; the rain held off and the skies cleared as I headed south after a cup of coffee. Maybe it was the knowledge of impending McBreakfast; maybe it was the nice weather, maybe it was just the coffee... But I was seriously flying. As I snarfed down a delicious sausage, egg and dubiously named "cheese" flavoured product McMuffin, I had to check the time on the receipt to see if I had actually hauled enough ass to beat the control opening time. The control opened at 30 minutes and my receipt put me in at 34 minutes (iirc; I've already popped everything in the mail.) Regardless, I was considerably faster than any previous ride.
Issaquah to Woodinville
Fueled on my breakfast of McChampions I pointed myself north and rocketed back (mostly) the way I came. The southbouth trip makes the lakefront jaunt down E. Lake Sammamish Place, while the return trip does not.
NOTE TO RIDERS:The route sheets for both the U-Village and the Redmond start instruct riders to return on WEST Lake Sammamish and this is incorrect. You return north on EAST Lake Sam.
The northbound trip has some long grades which didn't seem to slow me down much. Possibly the previous day's 5-laps of Novelty Hill workout had jaded me to anything less than 6%. I hammered my way to 65th and zipped through Marymoor Park to the Sammamish River Trailhead, expecting it to be jam-packed with riders, joggers, dog walkers and baby strollers. Surprisingly, it was rather empty. Maintaining a 19mph pace was not difficult on the flat and mostly unpopulated trail. There were a few commuters out and heading the opposite direction, and a couple groups of joggers. I only needed to announce my presence to one group in the entre 7.5 mile stretch to Woodinville. The trail is under construction at Wilmot Gateway so you must exit at the main gates of the park and hit the sidewalk to get to the ARCO control. The 175th St. exit from the trail is closed
I slammed down a Snickers and a 5hr Energy at the control while refilling my bottles and dropping in some more Kona Kola NUUN tablets (reviewed below). Looking at my ride card, I realized I hit the control only 16 minutes past the opening time. This was shaping up to be one of my fastest rides ever. I hopped on my bike and zipped back down to the park where I could reconnect with the Sam. River Trail (SRT) and head to University Village.
Woodinville to University Village
I've ridden this section in every type of weather, at all times of the day and night, and I just don't like the first half of it. From Woodinville to Lake Forest Park the trail is poorly maintained. There are root heaves galore, and it's difficult to maintain a comfortable spin; every time you get into a rhythm, you have to stand back up or suffer having your saddle hammer you in the behind as you slam your way over yet another buckled section of asphalt. Once you're past that, the only hazard is not getting squished at the many, many, many intersections on the way to the U-Village shopping center. There's not much visibiilty at some of these intersections, and I did have to lay on the brakes pretty hard once when at the last second I saw a vehicle coming down the hill. After a quick but uneventful section I popped into the U-Village Bartell's for another Snickers bar and bottle of water.
U-Village to Redmond
This should have been a fly-though segment like the previous three, but I ran into some cramping issues around mile 55 and needed to take a stretching break for a while. This has happened on quite a few of my longer rides recently, and I've been trying to figure out exactly what the problem is. I was drinking plenty of water and packing away electrolytes since I was sweating a lot in the almost 75 degree heatwave we experienced. It must have been a combination of a hard hill workout the previous day, and possibly not enough food during the ride. That seems to be the big issue when I ride alone; I don't eat enough. I thought I was doing a good job of keeping the calories flowing in, but I suppose not since I pulled off the trail with the same cramp I've been getting: Both legs, inner thigh. I have no idea why this is where I cramp up, either. I sat on a picnic table and stretched out for about 15 minutes while eating a Clif Builder's Bar and drinking an entire bottle of water with 2 NUUN tablets in it. Feeling that the cramping had subsided, I started slowly (at first) back to Redmond. Eventually I was able to pick the pace up to 15.5mph, but I couldn't continue to push my 18 - 19mph rolling average from earlier in the morning. I made it back through Marymoor Park and into the Peet's lot just before 11:00am, putting my return trip from the U-Village at a staggering 90 minutes. Yikes!
While not the record setter I was hoping for, 4 hours and 29 minutes is still my fastest 100km time. I got my final receipt and propped my legs up to enjoy a few minutes of rest while I munched on a sun-dried tomato and pesto roll before riding back up Novelty Hill.
Product Review: Kona Kola NUUN Tablets
The manufacturers of NUUN Electrolyte replacement tablets would have you believe that "remarkably quenching yet deceptively complex... elements of cinnamon, vanilla, clove and a gentle hint of ginger join an underlying cola theme to complete a flavour profile that is simply... stunning." (direct from their product description.)
If you haven't time to process all that, I'll describe it in two words:Flat Pepsi. That's right. Take a Pepsi cola, open it and take a few sips. This is how awesome Kona Kola NUUN is when you first mix up a bottle; it really does taste like Pepsi, and the effervescence even makes it feel like drinking a soda.
But wait, there's more! Oh, nevermind... There isn't. The fizz goes flat in a few minutes and now you have the water bottle equivalent of that 2 litre you forgot about in the back of your fridge for a week. Sure, it looks inviting; but that disappointing non-bubbly first sip lets you know that the fun is gone.