I said it yesterday and I'll say it again. I was riding through a freaking snowstorm last Wednesday night and today... today it was 68 degrees and sunny! There was absolutely no way that I was going to miss taking advantage of this remarkable (and record-breaking) weather. So, around 12:30 I switched my Yahoo Messenger status from "available" to "gone cycling" and slipped into my bib shorts and a short-sleeve jersey and was out the door on my road bike in no time.
I chose to combine my lengthy Carnation/Fall City ride with my short North Bend loop and was feeling great. Normally, thanks to the climb up and over Tolt Hill Road, I don't reach the base of Ames Lake Road at 18 miles until 58-60 minutes into the ride, but today I was there in under 54 minutes. I was dumbfounded. I knew I was going pretty hard, but gawdam I was moving! Nice to see all that riding I did this winter is paying off.
I ran into a bit of a headwind on the way back out of Carnation and was feeling pretty low on energy. I was conserving my water and Gatorade for the final climbs and wanted to hold onto my last Gu until at least back up to Snoqualmie Falls. I stopped at the drive-thru espresso stand in Fall City in hopes of buying a bagle, but they only had some very messy danishes. I declined and kept riding, realizing that there is a water fountain and gift shop at the top of Snoqualmie Falls -- I can stop there to refuel.
With fresh water bottles, I took off up Tokul Road to add the North Bend loop onto the ride. The views of Mt. Si were incredible and I took a short out-and-back excursion down a dead-end road that parallels the base of the mountain. I've been told it's possible to see mountain goats from this road, but all I saw was a snake that I almost ran over.
This wonderful ride did end in a near-catastrophe, however. While pedaling back through "downtown" Snoqualmie, a car made a right-hand turn literally 5 feet in front of me while I was going 20 mph. I was following off the rear passenger side corner of the car for over 1/4 mile when suddenly, without a blinker, the cellphone-talking driver turned hard into the parking lot of a coffee shop narrowly missing my front wheel. I squeezed the brakes with all my strength, skidding the tires and doing everything I could to keep from riding right into the side of his car. My mountain bike skills came in handy as I started to slide sideways but kept my balance and hopped the curbing.
I was furious.
Without even thinking I started yelling at the guy with language that is not fit for print. He didn't even tap the brakes or acknowledge my near-disastrous collision with the side of his car -- he was still on the phone -- so as he drove around the circular driveway to approach the window of the coffee shack, I met him there. I yelled through the window and, finally, he hung up the phone and lowered the window to ask what the problem was. The guy was huge. A big sloth of a human being slumped into the seat of a dirty Caprice Classic. A country boy, but older. I didn't care who it was.
"Why don't you get off your *bleeping* phone and learn how to use your blinker! You almost *bleeping* killed me!"
"Were you riding alongside me?" he asked nonchalantly.
"You passed me and I was riding behind you for 1/4 mile, but you were too busy talking on your damn phone to notice!"
"Listen boy, don't start giving me shit."
"You almost *bleeping* killed me! Hang up the phone and use your blinker jerk!"
There are several recognized ways to determine one's maximum heart rate. The casual method is to simply subtract your age from 220. Others recommend the following "best fit" formula: 210 minus 50% of your age minus 5% of your body weight (pounds) + 4 if male and 0 if female. Neither of these are guaranteed to give an exact number so many athletes choose instead to do an intense interval workout and simply look for the biggest number. When I got my Garmin Edge 305 cyclocomputer and entered my age and weight it approximated my max HR at 186. I figured this was probably a little low, but good enough for the time being. I was going to do a max-HR test next week to determine what it is. Thanks to the idiot driver with the cellphone, I no longer have to.
When I hopped back on my bike after my very brief bit of road rage I looked down and noticed my heart rate was at 200bpm. I guess I found a new way to measure one's max HR! I was completely enraged and adrenalized and I took off up the very hilly Snoqualmie Parkway like a man on a mission. I was 55 miles into my ride, but was still in the big chainring and running a middle cog. Finally, once I was about halfway up the hill, my heart rate dropped to a steady 170 and I relaxed my grip and eased the throttle in my legs back to a more sane gearing. I did an extra loop around my neighborhood as a cool down and although I was still playing back the close call in my head, I was at least back into a happier mood and enjoying the weather.
Finished up with a bit over 57 miles and 2700 feet of vert and, thanks in small part to my briefly elevated heart rate, I burned nearly 4100 calories during the ride. Guilt-free ice cream binging tonight!