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Friday, June 28, 2002

More "Don't You Wish You Lived Here?" Stuff

If you are a cyclist and you live in the state of Washington you’ve got it about as good as it gets. I can drive 30 minutes from my apartment in downtown Seattle and I’m in a mountain bike heaven of tough single track trails, or an endless network of Forest Service gravel roads that reach the top of vertiginous peaks.

On days when I can’t get out of town I get on my racing bike and pedal up and down the big hills of Seattle. The views on my city rides alternate between the snow-capped peaks of the Olympic Mountains to the west and the Cascades Mountains to the east. At 14,410, the dormant volcano Mount Rainier looms over the city and can be seen from hundreds of different angles around town. Seattle is also bordered by water on several sides: the Puget Sound to the west and Lake Washington to the east.

The hills of Seattle would challenge Lance Armstrong in the short run. Queen Anne hill, which usually starts and ends my city ride is an impossibly steep climb that never ceases to exhaust my cardio-vascular system. I have always been a strong hill climber but at my present weight of 180 at 5’9” I pack a little too much muscle to be the effortless climber that I was when I was a skinny, 150 pound kid. What I gave up in finesse I try to make up for in brute force.

I wish that I could shed some of the pounds I have gained over the years of weight training because hill climbing is what I love the most about cycling. When I have the time I throw my mountain bike on my car and head east to the Cascades. Yesterday I parked at Lake Kamchess and started up the first Forest Service road that I came upon. Most of these roads go in only one direction: straight to the top of the mountains. They are used either for fire suppression or for logging.

To give you an idea of how high I get on these climbs let’s just say that I walk on snow every time I have gone out. On June 14 I have a picture of myself standing with my bike in a four foot drift that covered the trail and ended my upward progress on the day. I haven't figured out how to post pictures but I'm working on it.

As much as I’ve tried I don’t think I have adequately articulated how these workshops in masochism can be fun for me. It is easy to talk about how magnificent the views are from atop these peaks in the Cascades. Perhaps the pain of pumping through these trails is the price I’m willing to pay to escape the crowds and cars of city life. I haven’t quite figured this out.

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