Seattle’s Best: Finding the Sweet Spot
In general, my rule is simple. When in a city, head for the hills.
More often than not, of course, that means heading out of town. To the country.
That’s what makes Seattle something special.
Wherever I am in or near Seattle, I’m drawn to the city. Because it isn’t really city cycling. At least it doesn’t feel like it.
Memorial Day Weekend in Seattle is busy. In addition to festivals here and there, a few thousand youth volleyball players descend upon the University of Washington and other sites for tournaments. I had two playing.
First a shout out to Googlemaps, who actually delivered a route I could follow.
Still, it wasn’t long before I was at a crossroads, about to get onto the Mountain to Sound Trail and the I-90 Trail, and wasn’t exactly sure which was which.
Just in time, a fellow on his Felt breezed by. I asked if this was the way to Seattle. He nodded, then slowed.
Maybe it’s just me, but he slowed in a manner that made me think he thought my wheel size might make a difference, not in a I’ll wait for you for a moment manner.
I charged up to him in a snap, and might have snuck up a bit, since he didn’t hear me chink and clink through a series of gears to get up to speed.
We chatted a bit, and he said he’d take me to a point and explain the rest. Then he cranked it up a bit.
I jumped on it, and hung at his side. After a double take, he mentioned he did 75 miles the day before, 3,400 feet of climbing. Hadn’t really recovered yet.
A smirk slipped across my face. Making excuses, now? Really?
We zipped along the path for a spell, then he gave me directions and headed off. I realized the New World Tourist and NuVinci fit in here like a coffee house.
But that was just the beginning.
When I decided to explore Mercer Island a bit, the endless ups and downs of terrain challenged me.
OK, who am I kidding. I was lost on Mercer Island, not exactly sure which way the trail went. But the detour did make me realize a key factor for the NuVinci. I’m in control.
I decide if I want to stand up and crank, or take it easy while climbing in the saddle. I decide, not my gearing.
It took me a while to really grasp this concept. But it became painfully clear, or, shall I say, the absence of painfully clear, as I exited the trail and went for the Lake Washington Loop.
I went from the long flat ride across Lake Washington on the I-90 bridge to climbing a pitch as steep as a staircase.
All it took was a snap of the wrist, and little adjusting here and there, and I managed to keep my cadence right where I wanted it. No tendon popping or chain dropping back and forth. Nope, the sweet spot. Right where I wanted it.
I was in control.
From that point on, Seattle delivered even more than I could have imagined.
I’d forgotten these were the same roads I chased America’s best back in the mid-90s at the National Championships here.
It caught me as I glided through beneath the towering trees, remembering the moment Jeanne Golay exploded from the women’s field and went solo to a national title.
Later, zig-zagging into the residential section, I remember Bart Bowen escorting Kevin Livingston to a national championship.
By the time I hit Montlake, where I left the New World Tourist for Seattlites to test ride until July 15, I was floating on a cloud.
The way I do when I usually head for the hills.
Unless I’m in Seattle.