A few years back, Jan Heine and Kent Petersen put together a ride just east of Seattle that climbs up a down a devilish collection of hills. The ride starts with a tough climb up Cougar Mountain and ends atop Squak Mountain. With around 6000ft of climbing in 70 miles, the ride is often called our Un-populaire.
On Sunday, around 50 riders turned out on a beautiful morning. I rode down from home (with a coffee stop, of course) and met the others at the park & ride where we started. This year, Jan is still in Europe, so Kent was there with help from Matt Newlin and Narayan Krishnamoorthy to start us off.
Other than the searing pain in my lungs and legs, the first climb was spectacular. Certain turns rewarded us with views of Lake Sammamish below and Mount Baker in the distance. My hill climbing "prowess" also afforded me the opportunity to see most of the other participants as they passed me on the way up. At the top, Bob Brudvik, Greg Paley, and Mike McHale were waiting for me (as they would throughout the day). Mike rode strongly despite a recent encounter with a car that left his leg battered and torn. Bob and Greg are always strong.
Descending back down to Newport Way merely set the stage to climb back up again. As with the prior climb, Matt Newlin was at the top (on the other side of the street this time) to mark our cards. Some nice riding took us to Tiger Mountain for climb 3, where Rene Comeaux was waiting, signing our cards, and offering a new rando delight - gummy Life Savers.
Up and over the Sammamish Plateau we went, followed by a nice ride through the Snoqualmie Valley to Carnation. Sandy's Espresso in Carnation is one of our favorite coffee stops anywhere. Their hospitality and coffee did not disappoint. The omnipresent Matt Newlin signed our cards. Bob Brudvik (new caffeine addict) and I (old hand and pusher) ordered triple shot espresso drinks to fortify us for the last two climbs. (Photo courtesy of new rider Brad Bleck - blog).
The climb over Tolt Hill Road is steep but not too long and the climb up Duthie Hill Road is relatively gentle and soon we found ourselves back in Issaquah. The cruelty of this ride is highlighted when you pass the delightful Issaquah brewpub at 100+ kilometers on your way to the dastardly hilltop finish. As you climb up Mt. Olympus Drive, the cross streets have mountain names. A final twist of the knife is when you pass Mt. Everest street, which should, by all rights, mark the high point. But no, more climbing awaits. Kent was at the top with cold drinks, SIR 100km populaire pins, and hearty congratulations.
After riding back down the hill to the park and ride, we retired to the aforementioned brewpub for some food and carbohydrate replenishment, accompanied by the telling of many PBP tall tales. A good day!