Saturday, May 25, 2013

7 Hills of Kirkland...check!

At the Kirkland Waterfront
The City of Kirkland hosts an official ride every Memorial Day which features some of the most challenging hills in its surrounding communities.  Dubbed the 7 Hills of Kirkland, the route snakes from the city's downtown through Juanita, Bothell, Woodinville, Redmond and Bellevue.  Every year hundreds of cyclists ride through the route unofficially just to challenge themselves.

Enter Team Mang.  Once again trying to build on their previous accomplishments as part of their training, the team decided to do the basic 36 miles 7HOK route but instead of starting from Kirkland, they started from Renton Stadium, adding another 25 miles and a few more bonus hills to the route.  They also picked up a couple of riders along the way.
Team Mang checklist: 7 Hills of Kirkland - check!

The "Peterson hill" is a bonus warm up hill near Newport hills that Team Mang adds to their rides for warm up - to wake up their legs 4 miles from their starting point.  That climb was quickly followed by a sprint to the Kirkland waterfront where the official ride actually begins on Memorial Day.  Hill number 1 wasn't too difficult even though it was technically a Cat 5. It climbs from the Kirkland waterfront up to the top of that town. The second hill was not as steep but was still challenging due to its length - climbing from downtown Juanita park on Juanita drive to Bothell.  The route then drops riders back down almost to water level so they can climb back up on the other side. This is hill number 3, which would turn out to be the most challenging hill, a full category above all the others - climbing back up from Holmes Point towards Juanita Drive near St. Edwards Park.  Some riders actually skipped the dip down and up to stay on Juanita Drive. Hill number 4, the climb to Bothell's highest point - Norway Hill - created some dessert for the team.  Jello legs, according to one of the riders.

There would be a few more ups and downs but the next official hill was on a major thoroughfare, NE 132nd. The climb begins under I-405 and is made even more challenging because you begin from a total stop (traffic light) and you have to contend with fast moving traffic and construction cones.  Hill number 6 comes after a long break, including a stop at Safeway and a fast downhill ride down to Woodinville.  This hill, which begins with a "wall" and a smiley face, would force some to stand due to its steepness in the beginning.

After Hill # 6, there's reason to rejoice!
After that, it was a sprint to Subway for lunch and a break just before the last hill in Redmond.  Having completed the 7 hills, the team still had to make it back to the Stadium.  A few fell victim to cramps, some pain here and there but overall, they completed the route with an average moving speed of 13 mph.  The ride is always complete, of course, with its share of joking, clowning around and just having fun with each other.  Temperatures never went above 65 degrees with a few sun breaks - perfect weather for climbing but brrr...cold on those downhill runs.