Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Iron Horse Trail

{words & pictures reed}

Sunny and warm- time to break out the ONE WAY “fixie” and prepare to start commuting in the “Northwet”!

Two sunny days in a row with temperatures in the mid60’s have provided a much needed break in what seemed like a long week of winter like weather – see (Yesterday We Opted For A Drive).

Sunday when I first sat down to write this entry (an attempt that failed) big rain drops were being pelted against my kitchen window by gusts of wind, tap, tap, tap. We had hail Friday afternoon that was still on the ground when I got home from work. It seemed like winter had descended down on us like a great pyroclastic from a volcano. Well, ok, maybe not that fast or destructively, but fast. It was just last Saturday that I was out on a great local classic ride – the Iron Horse Trail – on a beautiful sunny and warm autumn day.

The Iron Horse Trail is a rail to trails conversion that actually covers over 105 miles and is part of the greater Mountains to Sound Greenway a National Scenic Byway. I rode 18 miles of the Iron Horse Trail from Rattlesnake Lake up to Snoqualmie Pass through the 2.3 mile long Snoqualmie Pass Tunnel and back. While the grade of the Iron Horse Trail never exceeds 2.2% it is still uphill for 18 miles, but the scenery is worth it. The fall colors were if their full glory (at least for here in the Northwest) and the fast and running mountain streams under the tall railroad trestles cooled the air noticeably as you road past. Along the trail three are several popular rock climbing spot which were packed with climbers taking advantage of the weather and the trail was a busy as I have ever seen it with bicyclist, runners and hikers of all ages and abilities. If you ride the Iron Horse Trail bring a headlight and ride the tunnel. The trail though the tunnel is very well maintained, but it is dark, cold and a little wet (there are several areas where water comes down like rain from the tunnel ceiling), but it is worth the effort – very cool.

Anyway, back to the here and now – on Monday I put the One Way in the car to take to work in order to do a shake out ride at lunch. And yes, I have not been bicycle commuting for a while now, lots of excuses, none of them good. Now that the racing season is over and winter has come my commuting season has begun. After a summer of riding a very light (sub 16lb Raleigh Team) bicycle with 20 gears the One Way seemed a little heavy and I was having trouble staying on top of the gear. It did not help that this was only my third ride since September 30th. I have been off the bike quite a bit since returning from our industry’s annual trade show (Interbike). Alaska Airlines had done a number on my road bike on the return trip to Seattle and that combined with the usual post show, post racing season letdown had me a little down and discouraged. That makes the third bicycle damaged one way or another this year. But after a few miles I started to feel a little better and being out in the bright, warm sunshine felt great. While my legs and lungs eventually felt better, the part of my body in contact with seat did not. It is amazing how just a couple weeks off the bike and the butt goes soft, plus the Brooks saddle on the One Way needs a few more miles, say a thousand, to be really broken in.

The battery is on the charger, the rain gear out and ready, the Ortlieb Messenger bag set and adjusted. I just need to let my saddle sores heal. I pledge I will ride more times and more consistently this year – there now it is out there on the blogosphere, so I need to back it up. But there are so many excuses – I’m cold, I’m getting sick, it’s raining too hard……..

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