I love it when the weather forecast shows this:
when I’m looking at this:
CTS ride #2 looped around Mercer Island from Magnuson Park — about 35 miles with 1,200 feet of climbing. I’d been fighting — and losing — a head cold all week and was not delighted with the prospect of biking in a thunderstorm with a stuffy nose and cough, still bleery from a dose of Nyquil. I spent the first hour of the ride bitching and moaning to myself until I got some calories at our first rest stop and realized it was a gorgeous day around me, regardless of what my weather app was saying.
Yellow 1 rolled out of Magnuson Park parking lot promptly at 9 a.m. (I’m loving that about CTS: none of the chronic tardi-creep that afflicts every organization I’ve ever worked or played in.) The morning was blustery and cold; I bet the guy parked next to me that it would rain. It sure felt like rain. But as we rode down the Burke Gilman trail, through the back of the UW, through Montlake and over the I-90 bridge, the sun began to break through the clouds. By the time we were on Mercer Island, it was sunny. Not a thunderstorm in sight.
View over Lake Washington and the I-90 bridge
I was curious about the route around Mercer Island. A couple of weeks earlier I rode it by myself and got lost making my way to the eastern side of the island. Flustered with riding my bike while looking at the directions, I unclipped to figure out where I was. Unfortunately, I unclipped a different foot than the one I tried to put down on the curb and keeled over in that ridiculous, slow motion, oh shit! biker’s fall. Banged myself up pretty good, which I was very brave about at the time.
I didn’t fall this time around the island, despite the best efforts of the treacherously slippery turtles marking the shoulder around the blind, hilly curves. I eventually found myself riding at the back of the group with the sweep — and discovered that it is a lot quieter back there. The middle of the group is busy yelling hazards, which is clearly the right thing to do and which I try to enthusiastically participate in, but I find it kind of stressful and shout-y. Much quieter tooling along in the back.
Our intrepid ride leader directs us on what to expect in the next stretch
This ride’s sweep asked me if I were Kathryn and said he’d read my blog post about last week’s ride. I asked him if he recognized the bike, since there are a lot of us and Blue is a lovely bike. He said he recognized my bicycle pump. Not sure what I think about my bike pump being more memorable than either myself or Beautiful Blue!
The last time I rode around Mercer Island, I had to drag myself up and over the last hilly stretch; this time I felt strong — if sniffly — all the way around. I’ve started gauging my biking fitness by what point I still think I’m going to run errands after I finish the ride. Mile 15 I’m still thinking I going to the grocery store; last week at mile 20 I was sure I was going to a fuchsia sale at the Center for Urban Horticulture — but couldn’t get out of the car. I was able to rally after this ride and go to the CUH’s plant sale and buy two hardy geraniums.
“Are you wiped?” my partner texted me after the ride. “Nope, just tired,” I replied, and then didn’t get up the rest of the day. The geraniums can plant themselves another time.
With a head cold, I can’t say l felt particularly grateful during the ride, other than to be glad not to be riding in a thunderstorm. It was only later, at home, looking at the photos I took of the ride, that I noticed to be grateful for this extraordinarily beautiful city that I often take for granted as I bike and run and live in it.
A beautiful day for a ride — even with a head cold!
Kathryn Saxer is currently enrolled in the Cascade Training Series, a 13-week training series designed to prepare Cascade members physically and mentally for the Group Health STP or RSVP. She’s a personal and professional coach in Seattle. When not learning how to bike long distances, she likes to run in the mountains, share adventures with her 7- and 9-year-old children, and cook terrible dinners for her beloved and long-suffering partner. She’ll be reporting on her CTS journey weekly.