Yesterday I woke up to sun shining through open slats in the blinds, and a quick check of the weather app on my phone revealed clear skies forecast for the rest of the day. Tomorrow would bring rain and the possibility of light snow, so I knew I needed to seize the day. It’s been too long since I’ve been able to ride my new bike, and a day like this was the first good prospect for hitting the wonderful paved trails in the greater Seattle area.
Eager to get on my way, I reheated some grilled chicken breast for breakfast along with some caffeinated tea. I ate chicken and cinnamon almonds while looking at online maps of the regional trail system in my area and decided to make Wilmot Gateway Park in Woodinville my take-off spot. I had hoped to be able to make it from there southward as far down as the Red Hook Brewery – just to see if I could make it down that far. Silly me for not looking at actual mileage, but we’ll get to that later!
For me, anything longer that a mile of riding is considered a “serious ride”, so I pulled out my Pearl Izumi padded bike shorts. Luckily I can wear them under my yoga exercise pants, so no walking around in BICYCLE SHORTS for me just yet, lol! After loading the puppy up with his treat-filled Busy Buddy Tug-a-Jug, I locked him in the bedroom and set on the task of loading my portable rack and bike onto the back of my MINI. This was my first time attaching the rack, so after the installation, loading the bike, and checking/re-checking all the straps, I said a silent prayer to the universe that the whole contraption wouldn’t fall off mid-drive.
The sun through the blinds did not lie: it was beautiful outside. 52˚F as I left the house, and not a cloud in the sky. The drive to the park was a quick 10 minutes and I could not get my bike rolling fast enough! I popped on my sunglasses, my helmet, my jacket, my full-length gloves, put the flashing USB red light on my seat bag, affixed my iPhone to the bike with the Quad Lock mount, fired up Strava, and away I went, southbound on the trail.
I was nervous, as this was my first public trail ride. As it was such a nice day, I feared there would be a zillion people that I’d need to navigate around and faster riders to avoid, but as it was Friday I lucked out and the trail was only populated-enough to make things interesting and educational, not dangerous. It’s a flat trail – wide, smooth, and well-paved – and follows the Sammamish River as it winds down the Eastside. It was not long before I was at a nice speed and about a mile in my heart rate was up in the 140’s and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.
This. THIS is what I’ve longed for since thinking about getting a bike last summer!
Before I knew it my heart rate was in the 160’s, but I was still feeling great. I had a few tears stream down my face – I’m honestly not sure if it was the air in my face, the sunny skies, or the sheer emotion that caused them. At some point the thought occurred to me that for every mile I went down, I’d need to climb it back up to my car. When Strava showed that I had rode a little over 5 miles, I decided to hit up a kiosk, drink some water, and check to see where I was geographically. Good thing I did! I was at the turn off for the Power Line Trail in Redmond, WA, and realized I had flown past the Red Hook a few miles up. I went past it by 3.2 miles, in fact. I was a few blocks from downtown Redmond, which was MUCH farther that I had anticipated going. There’s always part of me that wants to push harder, go further. But I knew that my round trip mileage was going to hit 10 miles and that was enough to scare me into rationality.
I immediately regretted my error as I headed back northward. It was a mixture of it being slightly uphill to start, and the wind clearly being in my face. I hadn’t realized the wind at my back on the way down, nooooo! But it deafened me and slowed my speed on the way back up, and I realized this return five miles wasn’t going to be as much a walk in the park as on the way down. My jacket became an unwanted layer that I couldn’t remove, and the long gloves no longer seemed crucial. The thought: “What have I gotten myself into?” played in my head for a little while, but I took it easy when I needed to, and let myself have a couple of “photo stops” along the way.
As I approached the hour mark on my Strava timer, I started increasing my speed – I really wanted to get the route done in under an hour. I rounded a tree-lined curve and saw the park architecture up ahead. In my head I celebrated to myself, “I MADE IT! I DID IT!” and pedaled to the front gates. As I hopped off my bike I clicked “Finish” on Strava and set to work on rehydrating and some post-ride stretches. I remembered my intention to bring a banana along for the post ride and chided myself for forgetting, but my mood was still firmly set to ecstatic. I was only sad for having to pack my bike up and leave. It was still so beautiful out, but I knew I had spent enough time in the saddle for today.
As I drove home I spent more time in awe of the perfect sunny weather, and promised the day would not end here with me lounging on the couch for the remainder. I decided that, after lunch, I would head out with the puppy to have some more adventures. I came home, played with the puppy, and made myself a quick lunch of turkey jerky and greek yogurt. As I ate I reviewed my Strava upload and marveled at what a great workout it was.
Time was a-wastin’, and I couldn’t eat lunch fast enough to get out of the house again. After checking online maps again, I realized that another regional trail that linked up to the famous Marymoor Park was directly next to the pet store and froyo shop I intended to go to that afternoon, so I planned a 2-mile walk along the trail with the puppy into the park before enjoying some froyo with the puppy. It was a great walk, and got me up well-over 14,000 steps. I would hit 15k steps before the day was over!
This morning I woke up and discovered my behind was more than a little sore from the saddle. Funny how before my bike fit a few weeks ago I couldn’t be on the old saddle for ten minutes without aching, but yesterday everything felt so much better. I will deal with a little soreness from time to time if I can take more rides like that! This ride felt so good that I’m eager for the weather to comply to allow for more.
I’ve set a goal to be able to ride the Burke Gilman Trail (another in the regional trail system) which starts just a short drive north from my house and meanders up around Lake Washington into Seattle. My old workplace is 20.2 miles away on this route, or 40 miles round trip. A bigger ride than I can conceive of right now, but I hope that by the time the fall season hits it’s something I can tackle. My old workplace was staffed with young, athletic, adventurous sorts (mountain climbers, etc.) who regularly biked to work, and I was always the odd duck. I’ll be under 200 pounds by then, and to be able to show up there, ON A BIKE?!? It’ll feel good to blow their minds like that 🙂