Monthly Archives: May 2013

7 Hills of Kirkland Century 2013 (rain shortened)

There are no organized rides that I have done as often as the 7 Hills of Kirkland. I started doing it in the early years, when there were only 7 hills, in the middle years, when 4 additional hills were found, and more recently, when a final 3 hills were located, giving a 40 mile option with 7 hills and about 3000’ of climbing, a 59 mile “metric century” option with 11 hills and 4600’ of climbing, and a full century with 14 hills and 7000’ of climbing.

It is well-organized, has good food stops, and strawberry shortcake at the end. And, if you like hills, you will like this ride, where even the short version has some very steep pitches (Winery hill hits 18% or so on one pitch). It has one flaw, however.

It is held on memorial day, and late May in Seattle is not a reliable source of good weather. 3 days before the ride, it looked like there would be a window of nice weather on Memorial day, but it shrunk and moved.

I got up at 5AM so that I could be sure to start by 7AM; the weather forecast was rain by 10AM. I got there, parked, and got my wristband. I rolled out by myself at 6:23 AM; I don’t ride hilly rides with friends because the majority of them are mutants and I’m tired of having my legs ripped off by them.

One of the problems with starting right at the beginning of a ride is that you have little chance to pass anybody; those who start behind you who are faster will catch you and go by, and everybody else is already behind you. Market, Juanita, and Seminary are quickly dispatched, and on the section before the next, I pick up a companion. We chat as we ride up Norway and head over towards hill number 5, but my light Karma catches up to me and I lose him up the hill. I had planned to skip the food stop the first time, which was a good idea because they aren’t quite set up yet.  I head up towards hill #6, Seminary. On the descent down Boneyard (also a nice climb), it starts to spit, which is not unexpected.

Seminary is the steepest hill on the whole ride (18% or so)m, but the pitches are pretty short, so it’s not that bad. Head back to the food stop to use the facilities, refill my water bottles, and head out. It is spitting a bit more seriously now, and I gingerly pick my way down the steep descent to Willows. Last year a rider in front of me crashed on this descent, so I’m extra careful. I head south, and then turn off on 116th towards the east.

I had signed up for the full century, but my legs only feel average and I’m not excited about the rain; the century route takes you out in the Snoqualmie valley and up behind Duvall, and when the clouds get there, they tend to drop their moisture.

Anyway, at the end of 116th there’s a short but steep climb. I stand up to get some extra power, and my rear wheel starts spinning up. I make it to the top, and start heading up the Education hill climb. This section ends with a descent down 104th to Avondale. It’s a 18% gradient, and it ends right at a stoplight. I’m not excited about in the dry, much less the wet, so I take an alternate route; I head north until I hit 116th, and take that descent; a much nicer way down. A quick trip south, and I head east to climb up Novelty Hill. I said earlier that Seminary is the steepest climb, but I have a special place in my heart for Novelty. I’m not sure why, it just seems like a slog to me. Just after the roundabout I picked up another rider, and we together made the decision to only ride the metric. A quick trip on Union Hill Road (not an actual hill), back down Novelty (passing lots of soggy riders climbing up) then up old Redmond road, then back up 116th to the second food stop.

Where we were greeted with cheers – we were the first cyclists into the food stop, and the volunteers were happy to see us. We spent about 5 minutes; I had a ham wrap and a couple of salted new potatoes.

Then, all that was left was a trip up Old Redmond Road, a descent down, and a quick run along Lake Wa Blvd. Then chocolate milk from Smith Brothers  (my favorite), and multi-berry shortcake (not just strawberry!). Picked up my Jersey, changed clothes (I was pretty damp, except for my feet, which were soaking despite my booties), and then a trip to Qdoba for lunch.


60.2 miles
4462’ of elevation gain
14.5 MPH
2389 kJ

Strava ride

Field test…

The forecast is pain…

As part of starting a new training plan, I need to do a field test. A field test is a great way to determine your current level of fitness, and therefore very useful when setting up your training ranges. I haven’t done a field test since 2006, not because it isn’t a useful activity, but because it hurts. A lot.

A field test involves the following:

  1. Warming up thoroughly
  2. Riding as hard as you can for 8 minutes
  3. Recovering for 10 minutes
  4. Riding as hard as you can for 8 minutes
  5. Crawling home.

8 minutes is right in the pain sweet-spot; short enough that you have to be working very hard to go all out, and long enough that it goes on forever.

So, anyway, I did the test, and ended up with the following results:

Date Description Duration Distance Work Avg power Max power Avg HR Avg Speed Avg Cad 95% HR
5/4/2013 FT #1 8:00 2.7 122 254 545 155 20.6 102 163
5/4/2013 FT #2 8:00 2.9 122 255 434 156 21.7 102 164

As test results go, these are pretty good; note that the average power, average heart rate, and average cadence are very close. It was a bit windy, so the speed was different between the two efforts. I’m not terribly excited by the average speed, but I do know at a high cadence – which was deliberate – I’m not as fast. I am disappointed by the 95% heart rate, because the last time I did the test I was able to hit 172, and the decrease is another sign that I’m not getting any younger (Max HR goes down as you age…)

Anyway, that gives me an 8 minute average power of 255 watts, which – applying the usual conversion factors – suggests 243 watts for 20 minutes, and 232 watts for 60 minutes.

After the field test, I took the rest of the day off. I’ve tried riding after a field test in the past, and it’s really not a very good idea.