Sara’s Southend Saunter

I was feeling more social than usual and did a Cascade Bike Club ride yesterday. Tom and Sara’s Southend Saunter starts at Ft. Dent park, in Tukwila, doing a 77-mile, counter-clockwise loop through West Seattle, Des Moines, Redondo Beach, Browns Point, and Kent.

Over the river and
through the woods?!

Microsoft Streets and Trips failed abysmally in its suggested route to the park entrance (the green line; the correct way is the purple line). Instead of arriving 15 minutes early, I rolled in right at the 9:00 a.m. start. Fortunately, there was some kind of special event going on, replete with parking cones and someone collecting $5 for event parking. Since I was already late, the ticket vendor just saw my bike and waved me over to where the cyclists were. Sara and Tom delayed start time about ten minutes.

Cue sheet

Sara Matoi is an over-the-top ride leader, and I mean that in the best way possible. Her cue sheets have the mileage callouts on one side and the map on the back, with certain key intersections enlarged on the side. Additionally, she takes the time to highlight all of the restrooms, food stops, and tricky/dangerous areas. She also supplies a velcro-fastened cue sheet holder. This is a very nifty idea. The maps much longer than if they were stuffed down my shirt, and the cover can be positioned so as not to obscure my dual cycle computers.

The first 18 miles were flat, at an average speed of 16 with gusts in the low 20s. I kept up with the group fairly easily, enjoying the views of the downtown skyline. We stopped at Lincoln Park, located a few miles south of Alki Beach. I chomped down some banana bread, and thought it was going to be an easy riding day. (rumbling music starts)

Exiting the park we had a short, steep grade, followed by mile and half hill climb. This was where the group started to break up, with me as the caboose. I don’t think the banana bread agreed with me as I was starting to get abdominal cramps. I slowed down a bit more, assuming I’d not see the group for the rest of the day, but was happy they were waiting for me — I’d like to think it was for me — at the Des Moines Marina.

Scuttlebutt was those hills were just foreplay for the more serious ones north of Redondo Beach. One rider claimed a 15% grade, the duck and cover variety. I didn’t think to measure them, though I agree they were at least 12% by the way I was panting going up. The neighborhood was certainly pretty, with a lot of people out attending to their gardens.

The produce section at our lunch stop (mile 46), Browns Point Grocery, was grazed over by the cyclists ahead of me. I found one banana, then went to the dried fruit section where I thought I had grabbed dried cherries that turned out to be cherry-flavored cranberries under the brand name “Craisins.” I had drank nearly all 100 oz of the contents from my Camelbak, so I stocked up on PowerAde. (The stuff is sugar water with a pinch of electrolytes and vitamins.)

The group dropped me on another steep uphill. I made a wrong turn and ended up south of Celebration Park (another restroom), in a very high traffic area near an onramp to I-5. (16th and 348th Ave, to be precise). I sorta knew where I needed to go and waited about ten minutes for the right combination of lights to part the sea of traffic before I headed back to a known spot.

One of the turns on the map was denoted by a stoplight that’s since been replaced by a roundabout. I turned the wrong way and tacked on a few extra miles riding through one of Weyerhauser’s corporate campuses. I didn’t clue in until I saw the street numbers ascending. It was obvious I wasn’t going to make it home in time to cook dinner. I called my spouse and fessed up that I had 27 miles to go, including the 5 mile diversion.

Once I was on track again, I had a quick descent with most of the remaining miles on the Interurban Trail. I missed the little turnout to the Green River Trail, though I noticed they both converged again near the end of the ride. This was actually a good thing since it knocked off a few miles from the trip. The tricky part was crossing under I-405 on the West Valley Freeway, currently under construction.

Strangely, most of the “hot shot” riders hadn’t made it back yet. Sara broke out a cooler full of sodas, and had potato chips on the hood for us to munch on. As some of these folks rolled in, we heard that two were dehydrated and one had strong cramps (probably no salt).

Total mileage: 77.6, 3,179′ ascent, average speed 12.3, 1 1/2 gallons of liquid consumed. (Food: 3 pieces of banana bread, two fruit strips, a lemon poppyseed Clif bar, one banana, a bag of Craisins. I’ve decided that fruit and pretzels work best for me. Clif Bars are okay, too.)

Geeky data plot

5 thoughts on “Sara’s Southend Saunter”

  1. Sara Matoi / the ride leader

    Hi Jim, I found this web site while surfing the net out of couriosty. Thanks for the positve comments. I really try hard to make a good map / cue sheets, hoping that it helps folks stay on course and have a good day.
    I hope that you are able to join us again this season. We have a couple of 100 miles rides listed and our annual rides to Mt Rainier.
    Happy cycling,
    Sara Matoi

  2. John Calnan

    OK, I’ve now tried this bad-boy twice in my attempt to get in shape for my mid-life crisis first-time RSVP.

    First time, a couple of months ago, we bailed at Des Moines due to lack of time (started too late).

    Today, I did it solo, but ran out of mileage (I was kinda limiting myself to 60 due to my application of the proposed STP training schedule to the RSVP dates). Sounds good, right? Actually I was completely gassed after those hills out of Redondo. There had to be a couple of slopes in the bunch that were 15%, because they HURT way more than an 11% that I know and hate.

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