It was good while it lasted--this ultra-long dry spell, but now it is truly Fall. And, Fall means rain in the Pacific Northwest. However, it doesn't necessarily mean no riding.
I decided to see if they were right. Supposedly, year round, there are Saturday and Sunday rides from Tumwater Falls Park--even in inclement weather. I knew there was a mountain bike race today, but I thought I'd see if any road riders would come to the park. Well, there were three of us--one team guy and two of us wannabe team people.
Mark, the team guy, suggested Johnson Creek. That would give us some options should the weather get really nasty. We headed South out of Tumwater on what I have determined is the team's usual route. At 93rd we cut over to Tilley. At some point I told Mark he didn't have to lead the whole way, especially since the wind was coming from the South. On Tilley, he drifted back and I took the lead. Unfortunately, with me in the lead, we weren't going quite as fast. I let Monik (the other team wannabe) take the lead at the top of a small rise and I drifted to the back where I could catch my breath, and still keep up.
In an effort to get out of the headwind for a bit, we turned off Tilley onto 143rd. It's a little bit shorter to Tenino. It's also a bit hillier. Mark was back in the lead, but I couldn't keep up with him on the hills. Just as I would catch up on the downhill and flat, there would be another hill and I would fall back again. Monik took over the lead from me to give me a break (actually, I think he is a better climber, and was just being nice).
As we caught up to Mark in Tenino, he asked how we were doing and if we wanted to keep going (we could have shortened the ride by heading back from there). We were both good for continuing down Crowder Rd. to do Johnson Creek. It was just a couple more miles into the wind before we would turn and have a crosswind instead. It was raining, but I wasn't at all cold.
When we turned off of Crowder at 184th, Mark gave Monik and I some instruction in riding in an echelon (okay, so it was an echelon of three) to battle the crosswind. Unfortunately, I was not able to keep up with Mark. Monik wasn't either, so we were an echelon of two (would that be a duechelon?).
Mark slowed up some and we were able to rejoin him. He apologized for getting ahead. I told him it was no problem. I've had those times where you just get in the groove and go. You look back at some point and realize those who were with you are...not.
Turning onto Johnson Creek, we finally had the wind at our back. It was still raining, but who cares when you've got a tailwind! Once again, Monik and I didn't really keep up with Mark, but we kept him in our sight.
At the end of Johnson Creek Rd., we opted for the trail back. That was totally fine with me as it meant I could peel off when we got close to my house and not have to ride back home from the park. Mark would do the same as he neared his neighborhood (on my way to the park, Mark had pulled out from one of the neighborhoods--I recognized the team kit and knew there would be at least one other rider). Monik lives close to the park. Because we all started from home, we would have the same miles for the ride (so far I have always had about 12 1/2 more miles on each of the rides).
On Rainier Rd at Horizon Point, I said goodbye and turned off for home. I was thoroughly wet, but still not really cold. When I got home I was able to ring water out of my gloves.
A hot shower has been taken and hot soup for lunch has been eaten. Now I must go wash the 20 lbs. of pine needles of my bike and dry her off.
Total miles: 49
Average speed: 16.5 mph