Rookie’s Perspective on Training for the STP: Week 3: 43 Miles, 2000’ Elevation

By mile 40, I’m checking my middle-aged aches and pains:

Back (bulging disc) doesn’t hurt; knees (chondromalacia patella) are a little sore but not painful. At the beginning of Saturday’s ride my elbows hurt, a lot, but by mile 40 I had either acclimated to the pain or they had healed themselves.

So far, so good.

Mentally, Saturday’s ride felt far. Looking at the map beforehand, I felt overwhelmed by the huge loop from Redmond, down Lake Sammamish to Issaquah, west to Lake Washington along I-90 and under 405, north along Lake Washington past Medina and Kirkland, and then somehow we’re in Bothell with a long road back to Marymoor Park. These are places I would usually drive to!

Before setting out into the gray, cold, drizzly morning, I had to remind myself that, so far, I have often dreaded the ride but that the ride is always exhilarating. It helped that I’d written that down a couple of weeks ago, a clear promise to myself that it was worth getting into the car and driving to Marymoor.  It’s funny how easy it is to forget the payoff when faced with 50 miles of gray drizzle.

Our uncanny good weather luck continued to hold, however. (Now I’ve jinxed it!). A cooling mist for the first half of the ride and even some sunshine by our second rest stop. So far, we haven’t had to ride in driving rain.

Rest stops are about every dozen miles and are a prompt 10 minutes each. Which is not a lot of time when you have to wait in line for a toilet to get rid of that big cup of coffee you drank on the drive over to Marymoor. “I have to decide between peeing and eating,” I joked after the ride.

But, again, I appreciated the punctuality of the CTS leaders and floats, keeping us moving and on task.

“Rolling out in one minute,” a float called as I gulped down the last of my hard-boiled egg covered in hemp seed hearts and nutritional yeast.

 “Is that a piece of fish?” a fellow rider asked, eyeing my weird food dubiously.

I explained that it was one of my chicken’s eggs and immediately connected with another urban chicken owner. We tried to chat about chickens but it’s tough to talk while biking on a highway.

This ride was called the “Eastside Urban Loop” and I am weary of riding in traffic. Cars are terrifying and I don’t need to ride on Coal Creek Parkway on a bicycle again anytime soon. I’m looking forward to quiet country backroad scenery, to mountains and farmland and river valleys.

At about mile 30, one of the floats led a splinter group off at a faster pace. From the back, I watched them take off and remember thinking, “Damn, now I get to feel guilty for choosing to go slow.” Nevertheless, at the next regrouping, I found myself taking off with them.

It felt so good to go faster. Freeing.  Happy, even on a busy Eastside parkway. Those ten miles, up a big hill, were the most fun I had all ride.

At the debriefing at the end of the ride, our ride leader suggested in no uncertain terms that those of us who took off should consider riding Green (14-16 miles an hour) next week.

Yellow #1, I feel like I’m cheating on you but I think I might try Green. It’s me, not you. You’ve been a wonderful place to get started (thank you Wayne the Ride Leader and Mark the Safety Guy and all the floats) but I think I need to ride faster.

Can we still be friends, particularly if I get left behind with a sore back, knees and elbows on next Saturday’s 55-mile Green ride out the country roads to Snohomish?

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