I asked Kim last week if she wanted to ride to Gig Harbor on Saturday, or down to Centralia. Kim chose Gig Harbor (even though the hills terrified her). I, mistakenly, was thinking they would be about the same distance (don't ask me why, as I have done both rides enough times that I should know they are nowhere near the same distance) of around 50 miles. Centralia is around 50 miles roundtrip. Gig Harbor? More like 70+. So when I actually mapped it beforehand, I thought maybe we wouldn't go all the way into Gig Harbor. Maybe we would just go across the Narrows Bridge and turn around. Little did I know, Kim had mapped it out too. She knew it would be about 70 miles, and she still wanted to go all the way to Gig Harbor! Amazing!
Let me back up a bit. Who is Kim you ask? I've not mentioned anyone named Kim before. Who is this person? Well, a few weeks back Kim (I did already know her from a couple of rides with Michelle's Beginning Cyclist group through Capitol Bike Club, and she had done Cycle the Wave) posted on Facebook that she was looking for a mentor to help her get faster on her bike. She's been riding for a little over a year, and wants to be able to, "Hang with the big girls." Since what I knew of her (she's a nice person and all), and I'm always willing to help gals achieve their bike riding goals, I said I'd help her out. So, we've been riding together about 3 days a week, slowly increasing our distance and speed. She's been doing great, really making progress! Up until today, her longest ride ever was 42 miles, or maybe it was 47. Anyway, there was only one stipulation regarding today's ride. I was not allowed to let her die.
We met at 10:00 at Joy Ride Bikes. At this point, I don't know that Kim knows how many miles we're riding. So I'm thinking of as many ways to shorten it as possible. Instead of riding the Woodland trail to the end, we got on Pacific (there's a bike lane). Instead of going down Pacific, we went down Steilacoom, and cut back over to Pacific.
Back on Pacific, we came to the first hill. It's not so bad at first, but then as you round the corner and see the bridge, you see that it gets a bit steeper. Kim noticed that right away! Normally, on longer hills, she stops and takes a break for a minute (or less); just to catch her breath. She made it the whole way to the top without stopping!
Made it up Hill #1!
Next up was Hoffman Hill Rd. As you can probably ascertain from the name, it's a hill. It's a doozy of a steep hill. She made it more than 3/4 of the way before having to stop. Then, because it can be difficult to get going again when you are in the middle of a hill, she had to walk until it leveled out a bit.
Trying to get started.
Not quite making it.
When she caught up to me, there was still some hill to go. At this point I got all mentorie and all, and showed her how to start by going across the hill. That worked, and she was rolling once again.
We did the Bob's Hollow turn to get on the little bike path shortcut over to Center Dr. We took Center Dr. to Steilacoom Rd. Going up the hill after North Gate Rd., Kim makes it all the way to the top without stopping. Woo Hoo! When we get to the bottom of the hill in Steilacoom, I tell Kim we will take a little break at a small park (also a potty shack opportunity).
It is here at this park that I find my new bike. I take it for a short ride, but decide I'm not going to get too far with it.
Helmet on for safety!
Back on the real bikes, we head along the water. Kim remarks how she's always wanted to know what it would be like to ride her bike along here. She finds it to be quite delightful. The fact that it has recently been re-paved helps a lot, I'm sure. In fact, I find it to be quite delightful too! Nothing like fresh pavement (smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy)! Of course there is the one small matter of the hill at the end...
There are now two options for coming up Chambers Creek Canyon. One is a bike path. Although you don't have to contend with any cars, it is very very steep (what were they thinking???)...switchbacky-pop-a-wheelie steep. Or, there is the road. I laid it out, and gave Kim the choice. She chose the road (wise choice, Grasshopper). Up the road we went. Once again, Kim makes it all the way to the top without stopping. This girl is on FIRE!
We do the roller coaster that is Grandview Ave. (Kim doesn't really like the part with the hills). When we turn onto 27th, I opt to go across Jackson/Bridgeport and turn on 70th to stay off of the busy Jackson. Of course, we still have to ride some on Jackson, but we just take the lane, and it's mostly downhill anyway.
That brings us to...THE BRIDGE!!!
There's the bike path to the left.
Notice that the bridge is really another hill. Kim was so excited to be going over the Narrows Bridge, I don't think she hardly noticed we were going up a hill! At the top, we stopped for the obligatory photo-op.
There was another group of cyclists there doing photos. I took one for them, they took one for us.
The hill going up after the bridge is rather steep. It required a rest stop for Kim. While we were stopped, a couple of guys (one was named Jeff--the other I shall call "The Bearded One" as he had a rather impressive beard...and I didn't catch his name) stopped and asked us where we had ridden from. They were duly impressed that we had come from Lacey. The Bearded One proceeded to tell Kim she could do the STP (even though she's "a little bigger" than him). Kim has no plans to do the STP, but it sure is good to know that a bearded stranger thinks she can do it!
We rode the Cushman Trail on into Gig Harbor. Before we knew it, we had arrived at our lunch destination of Subway (of course!). We had a nice leisurely lunch. Once we were back on the bikes, Kim discovered that the legs don't always want to function at full capacity after eating a meal. I told her it was no problem, we would just take more breaks. Here's a couple more shots going back over the bridge.
It really is a long way down. That's a full-size cruise ship! Okay, not really...
Kim is laughing because just before this photo, I almost made her crash as I snuck up beside her. Good thing she didn't crash, and good thing she was laughing about it (remember, I wasn't supposed to let her die).
When we got back to Jackson, we decided to ride up the sidewalk. It's a hill, and it would probably not be a good idea for Kim to stop on the shoulderless 4-lane road to take a break. At the top, we got back on the road. At 27th, the road becomes Bridgeport Way. I decided we would stay on Bridgeport so as to avoid the roller coaster hills of Grandview. It's still a climb, but not as bad as we didn't lose any elevation.
We turned onto Cirque Dr. to head over to Grandview (after the hilly part). As we were getting ready to come down the hill to Grandview, Kim realized why she was having trouble stopping her bike. The brake cables were in need of tightening. I turned the barrel adjusters, and, voila, functioning brakes!
We returned to the water and rode back into Steilacoom. Next was the big hill out of Steilacoom. Prior to starting the ride today, Kim thought this hill wouldn't be so bad. I do not know where she got that idea! Still, she made it to the top with just a couple of rest breaks. She didn't walk any of it!
You've got this!
We work our way back into Dupont, and then we have to go back up the previous down part of Hoffman Hill. Kim does not remember this being such a good downhill (going the other direction), therefore she is not thrilled with the steepness of the uphill. But, she makes it the whole way up without stopping. Then, we have a little bit of downhill before one more bit of up. Kim is thinking we were already at the top. She just muscles up the hill in her big ring because...she is mad. I tell her she should get mad more often when going uphill!
We do the awesome downhill, get back on Mounts, make it up that short hill, get back on Pacific, and ride that to the bottom. As we are beginning the climb up Pacific, we stop for a get-off-the-saddle-to-rest-the-lady-parts break. I decide now is a good time to fire up the Buckshot music speaker. So, we pedal our way up Pacific listening to tunes. Oddly, a group of young people (did I really just say "young people" like I'm my grandmother?) ride by us as we are taking another break (I say odd because we're kind of in the middle of nowhere). One of the dudes has the longest dreadlocks I have ever seen. No helmet, of course, but he probably couldn't fit a helmet over those dreads anyway! Later we pass them at the roundabout of Pacific and Marvin. Maybe they were lost. Since we had the opportunity to cruise through the roundabout, we didn't stop to ask.
So, we made it! Kim blew her old record of 42 (or 47) miles clean out of the water AND...she didn't die! Mission accomplished!
Total miles (for me): 74.6
Average speed: 12.3 (respectable considering all the hills)
Elevation gain: 3024ft (see? I told you there were a lot of hills!)