Monday, July 27, 2009

Seattle "Century"

Last weekend I road the Seattle Century, a 160km (100mile) (supposedly, more on that later) ride around the Seattle area. Starting at Magnuson Park on Lake Washington's western shore, the ride looped north of the lake heading east to Bothell, south to Redmond, east again looping through Duvall, Carnation, Fall City, Issaquah, and Bellevue before finally crossing Lake Washington over the I-90 to Mercer Island and back in to Seattle. The organizers and volunteers did a terrific job of providing food and hydration at the start/finish and at rest stops nicely spaced along the route. I was going at a good strong pace for the first 90-100km or so and before I started to slow down. I finished the ride in 6.5 hours and calculated that I spent about 50minutes off the bike in rest stops. In retrospect, had I eaten better during the ride and spent less time in the stops I would have finished stronger and with a much better time.

The part of the event organization that really fell down was their route marking. There were several parts of the ride where the Dan Henry markings used were ambiguous or too close to a lane changes and turns in traffic. There were several riders who got lost at various points on the ride. The markings used were also inconstant in that at least two different Dan Henry variations were used and they were painted with differing paint colours. The 7 Hill of Kirkland ride that I did early in the year was much in this regard. In addition, whoever calculated the route distance was a good 16km (10 miles) short of the advertised distance.

The route itself only had 3 or 4 big climbs, but in general was up and down most of the way with few flat parts. Rather than being a tour of the sights of Seattle as billed, this ride is more a tour of the scenic areas east of Lake Washington.

The fellow riders on the trip all seemed enthusiastic and friendly as well as observant of good road riding etiquette. At several points I was riding with groups of riders in what could have almost been called a loose pace line which was not only fun, but a great way to cover distance quickly, though this only happened for small chunks of time given the general hilliness of the ride, the lack of organization in these groups, and the varying levels of rider ability.

All in all, a fun days event and a good opportunity to ride some nice roads with hundreds of other cyclists.