Flying Wheels 2004

What a great day for cycling!

On Saturday, I rode Flying Wheels, Cascade Bicycle Club’s summer century.
The event
is three loops along the
rural roads of eastern King and Snohomish counties. One can do
50, 70, or 100 miles:

  • 50 miles: Marymoor (Redmond) – Carnation – Fall City – Marymoor
  • 70 miles: above plus Duvall
  • 100 miles: above plus Snohomish and Monroe

The return segment passes within a few miles of my home. Since I already had my
bib #, I talked myself out of going to the official starting point
and competing for parking with the other riders and the

Prarie Home Companion groupies attending the recording later in the
afternoon. Instead, I joined the route in downtown Sammamish. This
was within 0.2 miles of the official tick sheet.

They staggered the starting times, letting the 100 mile riders get an one-hour
lead on the rest. I thought this was a great idea because folks visiting the
food stop in Carnation could get in and out fairly quickly. As it happens,
I skipped this stop on the way outbound because I was already juiced up and
wanted to get most of my riding done in the morning while it was still cool.

After Carnation, the 70 and 100 mile riders continued on a loop towards Duvall.
This segment was part of the
populaire I
did in March and had a “secret control” just before
the road bends and heads towards Duval. It’s a very quiet,
lightly trafficked meander around the sub-suburbs.
While I was in my reverie, a maniac in a black Dodge Ram pickup
zoomed by me, almost clipping me
in the process. I only bring this up because I had one of those
weird “time dilation” experiences: I’m biking. Something says scoot right and
I do.
I watch as his passenger side mirror flies over mine. I feel a whoosh of
air, then hear the sound of him zooming by. When I snap out of it, he’s
half a mile away. My heart’s racing from the andrenaline rush
and I’m thinking of

Stan Reynolds
getting clipped earlier this month.
And then, a minute later, all is quiet again.

After a quick chat with some of the riders at the pottie
near Woodinville-Duvall road, I was back on the road again.
West Snoqualmie Valley road borders several farms whose
main buildings are in various states of repair. One structure
has finally begun collapsing from the weight of the moss
on its cedar shingles. (Wood and insect rot are contributing
factors. I’ve been watching this building slowly deteriorate
for the last few years.)

Another has mounds of tires piled up on the roof. It reeks of
black olives festering in the sun.
A third building is … definitely a bovine feeding area.

Harvey Field, Snohomish’s airport, is a welcome site because
doesn’t smell that bad at all. I cross over the Snohomish river
and stop in the town of Snohomish. Downtown is cute,
pedestrian friendly, and its cafes are deservedly popular among
cyclists. In a rare exhibit of self-disciplin, I’m able
to resist the temptation of the Snohomish Pie Company.

Mile 56 was the Lewis Street Park in Monroe, the only
major food and water stop on these extended loops.
The main drag through Monroe (SR 203) is very busy, and
making the left turn is challenging. The park is nice,
and is a great starting point if you ever want to ride to
Stevens Pass
and back (round trip is about 100 miles). I’m feeling a bit tired and
top off my Camelbak, stuff my pockets full of pretzels, and
sit in the grass munching for a while.

The raspberry flavored sports drink they’re supplying is something called
“Ultra,” but no one knows the details. It’s great that vendors supply
rides like this, but it strikes me as odd how poor the marketing is. At
, I would put a placard on the coolers. The Clif Bar people
use these events to give out samples of newest flavors. At least with those,
there’s a wrapper with a web site on it.

The ride to the Carnation food stop (Mile 70) was uneventful: The
roads were flat, the temperature’s in the low 70s, and I was passed
by several pacelines. It’s times like these where I’ve considered
changing my name to “On Your Left” so their remarks are a greeting
rather than a statement of how slow I ride.
I filled my pockets with Fig Newtons, suddenly the tastiest food
in the world. I also dumped out half of the Ultra and dilute it
with water. The drink was too concentrated and was giving
me cramps. I pitied the rider behind me.

Mile 83 was the Fall City rest stop. The roads leading here were all flat, too, but the lack of a tree canopy made the sun and wind more noticable. Luckly, my SPF 70 held out.

The final set of climbs was on Issaquah Fall City road. This is a very pretty, hilly, and lightly trafficked road, normally very fun. However, at this late in the ride, it seemed cruel. I was in my lowest gear, huffing and puffing away. Ahead of me I saw a couple of riders pushing their bikes. One of them had just fallen a few minutes ago, his ego apparently bruised more than anything physical.

We turned onto Issaquah-Beaver Lake, where I broke off the route to head home. The numbers: 94.7 miles, averaging 12.7 mph, 3,179′ ascent, 5,862 calories.

Rate this event!

17 thoughts on “Flying Wheels 2004”

  1. Claire Petersky

    We also got passed by someone on Cherry Valley Road that was completely out of control. In our case, it was a truck hauling a boat on a trailer. It was on a section where the blackberry vines were hanging over the shoulder, so we were taking the lane. The trailer was slightly fish-tailing, and passed us at high speeds. We had to bail into the blackberries, and still felt the whooshy-whoosy feeling of the boat almost side-swiping us.

    Another story of the right-side mirror nearly whacking the helmet, from earlier this year:

  2. Close calls with cars, trucks, etc. is something that really irks me. Are the drivers:

    1. Unable to control their vehicle?
    2. Purposely trying to scare us?
    3. Have their head buried in their tuckuss?
    4. All of the above?

    Sadly, there are some really dangerous drivers out there. For some reason more of them drive trucks.

    I have thought several times about wearing my helmet video cam out on a ride. Capturing a dangerous driver on video can go a long way when reporting them. It’s a pain, because the police don’t like to take the time, but it is possible to report dangerous drivers. It can also help prosecution if that driver does end up harming/killing a cyclist.

    Aggressive drivers should not be tolerated!

  3. I think its pretty much #3. I’m pretty sure the complexity of this world has maxed out most people and they can’t handle it anymore.

    When I’m riding home I often look at what other people are doing and it terrifies me. When you approach the burbs, you’re required to have a cell phone attached to your ear. I see people using their cell phone as well as smoking and/or eating.

    I love your idea of riding with a video camera and have thought about doing the same.

  4. Thanks for the link, Claire. I always enjoy reading your posts.

    I don’t know what goes through drivers’ minds. With the big black pickup, I’d guess #2 or #3, because he was clearly going way too fast.

    Doug’s comment is poignant because we’re in an age where complexity of the world taxes the senses. There’s a push to do multiple things at once. Economists call this “productivity gains,” but it’s so tempting to take advantage of the “free time” by calling while you’re on the phone.

    I remember a news cast about 10 years ago where they showed a guy going down the freeway, cell phone in left hand, pen in the right diagramming something in the air. Point being: your mind isn’t 100% allocated to the task of driving.

    I’ve seen the unstable drivers (category #1), too, especially when biking near vacation areas. The scariest are the elderly couple in the Winnebago. Senses dulled, they’re not the best in maintaining control of the land boat.

  5. FWIW, riding with a video camera is possible, and reasonably affordable. A small “lipstick” camera starts at around $200. Of course, you still have to add a video camera to it, but ther overall package isn’t terribly expensive.

  6. Have you seen Hans’ racing videos?

    I thought it would be kind of fun to do a fast version of the commute — I don’t think anyone would sit through watching it in real time, though 60-100x might be kind of fun.

    There would be a lot of impracticalities on the longer rides, though. Unless the camera did a constant loop, I’d probably forget to turn it on at the right time. How are video cameras on batteries? What’s the storage of a video camera?

  7. I have a Digital8 camera and get an hour on each tape. I don’t know what kind of recording time different formats offer.

    That camera I linked to also has remote controls for controlling the camera. However, if you’re carrying it solely to record any incidents that might happen during your communite then having a loop might be nice.

  8. Darn it Jim. That’s how much I burn in 6 weeks of workout 🙁 btw, how much time did you take?

    As for rash drivers out there, shame on them. Although I don’t think they are out there to get ya 🙂 I always am extra cautious when I see a bicyclist. I get jittery like a mile away especially when they are on the road, and I have to go to the opposite lane to maintain a safe distance from them.

  9. Videos : Yes, a lipstick camera is what I was thinking about. I’ve done many videos with mine. You can take a peek here:

    As for running the video camera, I would suggest a remote start/stop controller. I use one which allows me to keep my camera tucked safely away in my CamelBak and to start and stop as needed.

    When to record and not? I suggest when you are riding in an area you know to be a problem. As you hear a vehicle coming, click the record button. No problem? Perfect! Driver does something dangerous such as swerve and the middle finger? Gotcha! You now have proof of the incident. Print one or more frames from the video showing the driver’s actions. Hopefully the license plate will be visible. Then file a report with the police. It might take a bit to have them do so but it can be entered into the records. Later, if that driver and/or vehicle is involved in an accident there is prior evidence which can then be used to help in prosecuting the jerk.

  10. Ramya – “I get jittery like a mile away especially when they are on the road, and I have to go to the opposite lane to maintain a safe distance from them.”

    May I suggest, if possible, not moving totally into the other lane. Especially on sections of road with curves. When vehicles pass entirely in the other lane on curved sections, it risks accidents with oncoming vehicles. It also spooks the cyclists since they recognize the possibility of the passing car and an oncoming car having to perform a dangerous maneuver which may involve a collision.

    An entire lane between the cyclist and the passing car isn’t necessary. Sure, it’s nice having more space, but not at the risk of causing an accident. Half of a lane can be more than sufficient.

    A suggestion for passing on blind or sharp corners. Slow down, count to two which gets you through most corners, and then pass as the view becomes clear. Those few seconds mean nothing in the your overall drive time but mean a lot for the lives they can save.

  11. I’d agree that moving entirely into the other lane makes me nervous as it introduces the potential sudden swing over later. Predictability is good.

    Incidentally, when I’m not riding far to the right, there’s usually a reason: the shoulder gives way, shrapnel, or the dreaded blackberry feelers.

  12. I typically only ‘ask’ for 2′ of clearance. For most cars, that only requires moving to the centerline (Hummers, Full Size Pickups/SUVs or RVs, especially with the 2′ protruding mirrors are another thing entirely). Make sure you’re not nearing a hidden corner, then pass at approximately 10 mph over the cyclists’ speed (typically 25-30 mph).

    Maybe I’m just extra crazy, but on dangerous corners, I move over and take the whole road. Figure if I’m going to get hit, might as well win the legal lottery.

    FWIW, I had an interesting experience on Old Snohomish-Monroe Road two weekends ago. I had two motorcyclists pass me while standing on their seats doing their best Leo DiCaprio/Titanic immitation. Seems to be the in thing among the motorcycle crowd here in left corner Washington. Whatever the insurance companies charge for motorcycles, it’s not enough…

  13. Oh boy. I’m wondering if those two motorcyclists truly represent all motorcyclists.

    I hate summer, because it’s when all the poseur motorcyclists hit the roads. Check out the motorbikers that are commuting and riding in the winter, and you’ll get a different impression.

    I will probably end up with about 25,000 miles on my main motorcycle this year. I roll my eyes at the squids, too. (squids are motorcycle poseurs, much less brainpower than horsepower)

    Of course, I also roll my eyes at cyclists who put their $6,000 carbon fiber bicycle on the back of their car, rather than ride to an event.. or cyclists who put their bike on the rack and drive to work, just so they can look down on those lame car drivers.. if you aren’t riding, you don’t have any good reason to look down on drivers.


  14. Oh yeah- there is significant overlap between serious motorcyclists and serious bicyclists. I know quite a few motorcyclists in the northwest who commute by bicycle, or ride in major events (STP, Cycle Oregon, etc).

    There is also crossover in technology. Motorcyclists are always borrowing bicycle technology for their motorcycles. For instance, cycle computers are more accurate than speedometers.

    The opposite is true- look at any mountain bike and compare it to offroad motorcycles. For instance, disc brakes look just like the ones on a motorcycle. And the newer hydraulic brakes are very similar to the motorcycle variant.

  15. Ted: I hate summer, because it’s when all the poseur motorcyclists hit the roads

    When I flew, I used to hate clear weather on the weekends for the same reason – it brought out all the people who hadn’t been in a plane for six months. Going to the San Juan islands was a lot like Flight of the Bumblebees, and trying to identify which two people in the pattern who weren’t using their radios only added to the chaos.

    The scariest experience I had was when the Boeing controller lined two of us up on the runway, me in the middle, newbie behind. She cleared me for takeoff, but the other guy thought it was for him. He started taking off, oblivious to the large white thing sitting on the runway in front of him. Sadly, the guy died in an air crash in Arlington later that year when he took off without removing the seat belt from the control yoke and his plane spun out.

    But I digress. Newbies are everywhere. One hopes they learn enough before they’re an endangerment to others. Much like is the case in Weather forecasting, we’re more likely to notice the 1% of nimrods more than the other 99% operating their vehicles, whatever those are, properly.

    I should also note that I’m very appreciative for the volunteer work done by the Honda GoldWing Touring Association checking up on us during events.

    Ted: significant overlap between serious motorcyclists and serious bicyclists

    Case in point: I went to a motorcycle shop, CycoActive, to buy a decent GPS mount.

  16. Tedder,

    FWIW, they appeared to be early-20’s (i.e. the I’m invulnerable stage). There have been several letters-to-the-editor in both the Everett Herald and local weekly about this ‘fad’, plus my wife got caught in a backup several weeks ago on I5 in Federal Way caused by a motorcyclist doing this and causing a 5 car pileup, which is why I suggested a trend.

    I know there are responsible motorcycle riders (like the ones I see during my Sunday evening Everett-Portland commute) and I didn’t mean to insinuate that all motorcyclists are at fault, though I don’t know if I quite buy the 99/1 ratio. FWIW, I see plenty of cyclist bozo’s too, particularly on rides like Flying Wheels, for some reason.

  17. I just found your site following a link from Cascade’s site. Just spent an hour reading through your stories, etc. Love it.

    By the way, that was probably me that fell in front of you heading out of Fall City. I seriously bonked and couldn’t get my feet out of the clips fast enough. Thanks for not running me over.

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