Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Exciting Ride: Hyak to Snoqualmie via Rattlesnake Lake

Ooooo, is this going to turn into a cycling blog? MAYBE! :) Nah - I still have to talk to you about men and plastic surgery and not eating too much because you think you are a super-stud bicyclist but the scale reflects that you are not, in fact, exercising as much as you think you are. :)

But on Sunday, I went on the bike ride that I have been very, very excited to do all summer long. Problem was, I needed two cars to do it and I couldn't wrangle together another rider. Note to self: make more bicycling friends. The Cascade Bicycle Club organizes this ride, but they did it on one of my kid-weekends. A meetup.com bicycling group did it, but also on a kid-weekend. Lance Armstrong said it would be fun to do, but with his $7500 racing/road bike, it is not possible. Deep, heartfelt sigh. I could not find anyone to do this ride with me.

And why not?? It's only the best bicycle ride in the country! You start at the top of Snoqualmie Pass and you ride down, down, down the mountain to Rattlesnake Lake, then you can do like we did and continue down further into the town of Snoqualmie. It was 32 miles one way, at a very gradual downhill slope (so you weren't pedaling uphill, but you had to pedal the whole way). I found a willing riding partner a couple weeks ago when I went on my first Cascade ride: I asked two of the riders, Justin and Michelle, if they'd be interested in joining me sometime. They were! We scheduled the date for 10/7.

Michelle actually bailed at 1:45 a.m. Sunday morning by text: she said she had hurt her neck and couldn't go. That was okay because to me she had always seemed a little iffy, and I was SUPER STOKED EXCITED for this ride and didn't want anyone bringing me down. Justin and I met shortly after 10 a.m. and drove his car over to our end-point of the ride. Then we loaded his bike onto my car and drove twenty-some miles up the mountain to our start point. Later, we'd drive his car back up the mountain to get my car. You see why you need a second vehicle for this trip, otherwise you'd want to make it a shorter ride so you could go back up the hill. It can be done, but it's a lot of work. Heck - just orchestrating the car situation is also a lot of work, haha.

Well, I didn't know much about Justin except that he was a nice guy and he likes to ride bikes. Young guy. Has a car and was willing to do this ride, so I automatically adored him. So I was cracking up when he said he had to watch the time - he and his fiance were meeting the man who is officiating their 11/3 wedding at 5:00 p.m. at the place where the wedding was being held. No pressure to finish the ride on time, oh my!!

Biking Buddy/Groom
We got to the top of the mountain and parked, and headed off for the trail. The abandoned train tunnel is pretty much right at the trail head, so the hugely anticipated part of the ride began right away. This tunnel is 2.5 miles long, perfectly flat and INSANELY, PITCH BLACK DARK. Wow. I would lose my marbles in it if my light burned out. And I could not have ridden it alone. You start out in that tunnel and there is a tiny pin-point of light at the very far end. It is very, very far away, and I think it was only there because it was such a gorgeous sunny fall day. On a cloudy day, I wonder if it would just be utter darkness? We rode through that tunnel and laughed nervously and joked about flat tires and dead batteries. It was SUPER FUN but super scary. You could do some serious psyche-damage to yourself or someone else in that tunnel, eek.

But we made it through. And I was amazed, because later we saw people bringing young kids into it. I would not bring my kids into it, I think. Really, really dark. Really, really long.


After the tunnel, we still had a bazillion and one miles to ride. And we did. And it was GORGEOUS. The day was perfect, my riding buddy was perfect company, it was crisp and cold and sunny and the trail was full of autumn colors. Absolute heaven. I think I may become a mountain bike rider. Like on trails and stuff. For reals. I was in heaven.

We made it to our first destination, Rattlesnake Lake. How appropriate, since Justin had confessed he is very afraid of snakes and while he had spotted a couple on the trail, I had actually run one over with my bike, oops. It picked a very silly spot to sun itself, I say. Sorry, snakey. On the way to the lake, we passed over at least three old railroad trestle bridges. The scenery was stunning, I promise you. What a perfect day.

Rattlesnake Lake. No snakes spotted here.
We had a picnic lunch at the lake, or rather, I did. I had picked up a Subway sandwich for us to share, as well as a couple bags of chips. But he said he is a very, very picky eater, and since there was mustard on the sandwich, he wouldn't touch it. Uh, he also said he was a very, very picky eater as a child, so it sent a little shiver down my spine thinking about my own picky eater at home. But I ate without him, because I'm telling you, after I "bonked" that day on one of my first long rides, I don't wanna do that again. I'm being much more careful about eating and staying hydrated. Note that my earlier post that admitted the scale said 143-something: maybe I'm being too overzealous about making sure I eat, hahaha.

A bridge along the way. I had such a fantastic day.
From Rattlesnake Lake, we had about nine miles left to Justin's car. We had to change trails, so it was a little touch and go for a minute as we wanted to BE SURE we were on the right trail, haha. By now, Justin was a bit nervous watching the clock...neither of us are experienced enough riders to accurately gauge how long a ride will take, and we were in an area unfamiliar to both of us. And his fiance had texted in a couple times making sure he'd be back on time. Eek! Oh well, I wasn't going to let it dampen my day - all we could do is finish the ride, right?

The ride into town seemed farther than we expected: wow, we were both tired. Conditioning-wise, I would say we are at about exactly the same spot in our abilities. Perfect! Hopefully his soon-to-be-wife will let him ride with me again, because it is fun to ride with someone you know you aren't holding back, etc. But who is proficient enough that you can still keep yourself challenged.

Our ride ended with the trail passing right through the middle of a golf course, we knew. It took for-freaking-ever to get to the golf course. It was hot - I was dressed in 5000 layers and was roasting. That's the price of doing a ride with such crazy elevation changes: I wore gloves on top of the mountain and was still cold, but was drenched in sweat the last few miles of the ride, where it was much, much warmer at lower elevation. (The ride from start to finish was about a 2200 foot elevation change.) My legs and butt were killing me. :) I so badly want to do some of these long rides - and I will next year - but right now, I'm pretty well tapped at 30+ miles. When we finally reached Justin's car, we both sort of collapsed into it. Because now we were realllllllllly running late for Justin's marriage to be on the line before it even gets started important appointment, we threw his bike in the car and locked mine at the park. Then he zipped me back up the mountain and dropped me off at my car.

I had to remind myself all the way down the mountain to stop back in town and pick up my bike, haha. And still, I almost passed the freeway exit. Loaded up and headed home. I had actually planned to see Lance Armstrong yesterday afternoon. I have been pretty cheesed with him that he does these really, really long bike rides and then seems utterly spent for the rest of the day and can't get together. And on my way home, I found myself *hoping* that Lance Armstrong would cancel. Now I know what it's like to do these really, really long bike rides and not want to do anything else for the rest of the flipping day, haha. But his rides are more than twice as long and are twice as fast as mine. Phooey on him. And he did call me, testing the waters to cancel because he was tired - and I *jumped* on it. Yes, yes, let's reschedule.

Next post will be about men, but don't expect anything exciting. Mostly, my feelings about men right now are they are annoying and keep me from riding my bike. But not for long, because I'm about to shuttle the whole lot of them. :)


  1. That sounds like a fun ride!!

  2. What a gorgeous ride! I LOVE love LOVE Snoqualmie!! It is one of my favorite places. Hubs and I explored Snoqualmie Falls with a friend a few years back.