Flying Wheels 2005

After I signed up for Flying Wheels, my spouse received an invitation to an industry seminar, which would mean I’d be watching the kids most of Saturday. Schedules magically aligned by the end of the week so she could go to the seminar Friday afternoon and I had yesterday to do a redux of last year’s Flying Wheels.

Many of the roads are used by other events. For example, Stillwater Hill is used on the spring populaire and the 100-mile version of the 7 Hills of Kirkland. RSVP passes through Snohomish. Tour de Cure also uses several portions, as is noticed by the Dan Henrys with “C”s in them.

This record-setting cow graces the outside the Nestle Corporate Training facility in Carnation. My wife and kids enjoyed the tour of the facility. Unfortunately with all the hysteria following 9/11/01, they don’t offer them anymore.

We spend a lot of time in the Carnation/Duval valley passing a couple of community supported agriculture farms like Jubilee and Full Circle farms. A couple of areas — not near these farms, thankfully — reek of a fermented odor. If it’s warm and the wind’s blowing the wrong way. (shudder)

The stretch of road leading from Duval to Snohomish snakes along the west of the farmland. A gaggle of at least thirty Porsche owners were out for a gentle Saturday trip.
One thing that pisses me off about these huge rides is how some riders insist on riding two abreast on a busy, narrow road. An example of this mal-behavior in the top right of the first picture. Cars stack up behind these bozos, squeezing everyone behind them out.

We circle around Snohomish’s Harvey Field, a short and narrow airport east of Everett’s Paine Field. My interest in flying was piqued here eleven years ago as a friend rented their Cardinal (Cessna 177RG) for a trip to East Sound. Before I made my fateful foray into ownership, I’d occasionally rent C172s from the field. Finding the airport at night then landing is entertaining.

In previous years, Monroe’s Lewis Street Park was the big stop for the century riders. It’s a nice facility, but getting in and out of it requires crossing the insanely busy Highway 203. This year, they cordoned off a block of downtown Monroe.

Lest I give Ken “Bike or Die? Okay, die” Schram any ideas, there was a section of the return trip where half the road was blocked off with rocks and gaps in the pavement. A traffic light was set up to convert this into a one-lane road, but the timing wasn’t set with a long enough period to let cyclists eek through. They did anyway.

The 100 and 70-mile rides circle back to the Vincent Community Center with a rest stop, where I popped in for a couple of minutes. I saw Claire and Rose just leaving on their tandem festooned with a “Slow onup Hills” placard. I need to get one of those, appending “and everything else, except downhills.”

Kicking buttocks

The last few miles along Issaquah-Fall City were a sucker punch. The climbs aren’t long, but the road shifts back and forth as if to taunt you whenever you think you’re done. Several other riders were ill-prepared for the final set of hills. A younger kid did the “Picard Maneuver” in front of me, where he unpredictably stops and shifts his bike at a random angle to catch his balance. I could also hear a lot of chain skipping as people realized they had downshifted too late. It’s a lot like the long climb on Chilly Hilly.

I finished the ride with an even better time than I did last year. No sunburn, too. Congratulations also to Sam Dwarakanath who completed this as his first century.

What was good: The ride is well-marked. There is abundant food and water — Clif Bar is a very visible sponsor. If one needed it, there are several opportunities for routes.

What wasn’t good: crowds! The ride is close to town and is billed as preparation for STP.
Most of the stops had large queues of people. I was missing the serenity of last week’s event. Maybe this would be ameliorated if I had started earlier?
The distance between stops is a bit long. Mile 14 had the Vincent Community center. For the century route, the next food stop is mile 56. I initially felt an evil stare as I grabbed a handful of Clif Bars, but that proved to be wise in the later miles.

Random stats:

  • 3,200′ elevation gain using a barometric altimeter; Eric had more… 2,000′ more.
  • 6:43 hours on bike (which is like amazingly fast for me), 5,199 calories
  • Things consumed: 6 Clif bars (four oatmeal raisin walnut, one lemon poppyseed, one black cherry almond), three handsful of pretzels, a banana, an orange, 150 ounces of half-strength sports beverage.

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6 thoughts on “Flying Wheels 2005”

  1. Hey, that placard read “Slow *UP* hills”! We were plenty speedy *down* them!

  2. > You mentioned about 3200 feet of climbing for the Flying Wheels 100-mile route however my Garmin 301 shows 5100 feet. I was curious if you have a page talking about your gear. Hopefully I can find out where the variations are happening :).

    Jeffrey: I have pretty ancient equipment:

    Polar S710 heart rate monitor — my old standby.
    Garmin eTrex Vista GPS — this cut out on me several times along the way because of satellite loss (treelines and all that).

    The Polar seems to employ a more aggressive altitude smoothing algorithm to take out the burps in readings (it’s basically a barometric altimeter). For example, if I look at the raw data, adding up only the positive changes in altitude, I come up with 3,875′. The Polar registered 3,120′ of gain in its summary. My GPS reported 3,282′ of gain on the unit itself. The Garmin MapSource product doesn’t have any (obvious to me) way to create a profile from it. (Actually, it’s quite cluttered with multiple logs, possibly because of the intermittent signal. Did you have any issues with your G301?)

    How do you like the MotionBased service?


  3. Wait? You ride *up* hills? ;-p Glad you enjoyed the ride. Thanks for sharing the photos. I dig the cow but I’ll make sure to scratch the Carnation plant off my “to-do” list if I’m ever out your way.

  4. Speaking of hills, I remember taking advantage of them to pass the occasional paceline, only to get handily passed on the subsequent flat. 🙂

    That was a fantastic intro to century riding. I’ve never been on those roads, and was really struck by their idyllic beauty. I’m now obsessed with returning to Snohomish and guzzling pie. Oh, and I signed up for STP, and plan to do RSVP too. Jim, thanks much for the pre-ride advice – don’t think I’d have made it all the way without it.


  5. Hey. I hosed out on the longer Flying Wheels rides, but I had similar experiences with torn-up roads and orange cones a-plenty. Every time I plan a Cascade ride that I have yet to go on, I check in at your site for info. Thanks!

    Also, I hope you don’t mind that I linked your blog from mine. Check it out here:

    Man…I forgot about the pie, though. Darn.

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