Tuesday, June 21, 2011

burke gilman detour

The usual "long way" or scenic route home would be to take the Burke Gilman trail north around Lake Washington. This summer it's closed for construction, so I had to find another way. Today was my first attempt.

It started out well. The wind was to my back and I was cruising. Usually I would be cruising at 14-16mph, but today with the help of the wind I was doing 17-19mph. Good times. I even picked up a drafter. Somewhere by Woodinville the guy who was following me thanked me for the fast pace. He hadn't biked that fast before. I think what he said was something like "I wanted to thank you for keeping up the fast pace. I've never gone this fast before." I was feeling pretty good about things.

It would be all downhill from there (not literally). Whereas the normal north route would be flat till Capitol Hill, the detour that I was taking took me up another 500' hill at mile 16. After cresting that plateau, my left calf cramped up. Not cool. I could have stopped, but I just drank some liquids and kept going. At some point my right calf cramped up too and I was biking along in some really weird looking position. Not pretty, but it still worked. Good thing I didn't adjust my seat up. If I did my weird stance may not have worked. I still managed to maintain speed and passed some guy while I was totally cramped up (the slight downhill helped, I'm sure).

The middle section of the northern Interurban Trail kinda sucks. It's along Fremont Ave, but in that part of town, Fremont is a side street. That means lots of parked cars, little traffic circles, and cars rushing through the traffic circles. Not particularly safe. I need to find an alternate route next time. It was also in this section that my adductors cramped up. That has never happened before and it just felt bizarre. I didn't even think I used those muscles when cycling. Apparently I do, although I'm not sure for what. I was still passing people.

Thankfully, most of this section is downhill... all 10 miles of it. It was a nice break, despite the random cramping. When I finally descended down to Lake Union on Stone Way, I was going about 33mph. I probably should have stopped pedaling because after I started back up the Burke Gilman I think my butt cramped. Really bizarre. At this point though, anything like that seemed minor. My calves were cramping here and there and I didn't want to cramp up my adductors again. The important thing was that my quads were still working. That, and I was still passing people. Since the cramps at mile 17 after cresting that plateau, not a single cyclist passed me.

Of course, from this point on, everything is uphill. Capitol Hill. The unpleasant side. There's three parts to the climb. They all suck. The first section is on Harvard Ave coming up from Eastlake to Roanoke. I only got a mild cramp, and passed some lady while I was at it. Getting a cramp that early wasn't a good sign, but I managed to get up the second section up 10th Ave OK too... meaning I made it up. I passed yet another dude after that too. Of course the final section had to be the steepest section... going from 10th Ave E up to my place on 13th Ave E. It's about 100' in elevation gain with maybe 30' in the last block. It's not that bad for me usually, but usually I'm not cramping up after 30 miles and 1000' of climbing. The last section was the worst. My calves were already cramped up, and I had to go up a block that people go sledding on in the winter. WTF. Oh. And there were people watching. I think my whole leg cramped up almost immediately. Somehow I managed to keep them moving and actually make it up the hill as if my legs functioned. It was pretty amazing. It's good knowing that I can pull that off, but just to be clear, my legs were not at all happy with me.

The moment I got to the top of the hill and got off my bike, my legs just literally wanted to shrivel up. Anything aside from a squat hurt like hell. If I try to stretch my right quads, my left quads would cramp up horribly. I tried to stretch my right calf, my right quad and whole left leg wanted no part of it (and were very vocal about that too). But, I made it. It sucked. It was a really scenic and pleasant route, but it took forever and it hurt like hell. I'll try it again someday I think. It would be good training. But first things first - I had to carry the bike up the steps to get into my apartment. Ouch.

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