I rode down to the start in Leschi in the dark with a fine mist falling from the sky. Not really rain, but it gets you wet, just the same. The temperature was about 45 degrees. The weather never really changed all day except that the light misting slowly turned into a light drizzle, and then just good old rain.
I met the rest of the group at the Leschi Starbucks and we hit the road a few minutes after 8:00. The ride heads south along Lake Washington to Renton and then out toward Maple Valley on the Cedar River trail. Every time I ride in this area south of Lake Washington, I think I need to get out here on my bike more. There are really some great roads and trails out there. We followed a little road from the Maple Valley highway out to Ravensdale that was as good as it gets, with fun little ups, downs, twists and turns.
From the first controle at Ravensdale, the route heads back west to Auburn. When we got to Auburn Robert and Chris decided to head home from there. I can't blame them at all. By this time the rain was coming down steadily and there was no sign that it would get any better. Chris was just getting over a cold and Robert just wasn't feeling right. So they headed for hot showers while Joe, John and I headed off into the rain toward Flaming Geyser.
The climb near Flaming Geyser park is the biggest climb of the ride. With grades up to about 8% and nearly two miles of climbing, it definitely gets your attention. I needed to get home by six, so on the climb I realized I'd have to get a move on to make it on time. I apologized to Joe and John for leaving and then kicked up the pace a bit.
For the rest of the ride I was on my own, riding through Black Diamond, Cumberland, Issaquah and then familiar territory along Lake Sammamish. The last part of the ride follows the Sammamish Valley trail and Burke Gilman trail from Marymoor Park, up to Woodinville and then down the West side of Lake Washington back to Leschi.
Just before University Village I got my only flat tire of the ride. In the dark. And the rain. I was a little over a mile away from home at that point and it would have been very easy to just walk the bike home and call it a day. But I still needed to make it to Leschi to finish the route, and then ride home from there. So, I reminded myself that it's good practice to fix a flat on a dark rainy night, and I fixed it and then rode on to the finish.
I finished the permanent in about nine and a half hours. With the ride to and from the start, it was a 142 mile day. A hot shower has never felt so nice.