I left the kids at home this morning to join RAW (Real Active Women) Retreats for their first group ride. I consider myself more sort of active than real active, but “pace: casual, 15mph, no drop” sounded good to me. It was raining when I left home, but after yesterday’s sun I hoped for the best and almost left without my rain pants (thank goodness Mr. Family Ride talked some sense into me) and tucked my sunglasses into my bag. Three of the ten RSVPers showed up and Tracey led us towards Seward Park, a destination I’ve only reached by utilizing (or: cheating on) the light rail before.
The route after the University Bridge was new to me and very scenic–Fuhrman to Boyer to Lake Washington Boulevard. Also scenic was the freezing rain that turned to hail and then snow as we rode through the Arboretum. Then rain again, then more snow. I thought we all looked well-outfitted, but I wasn’t the only one with frozen toes so we took refuge in the Madrona/Leschi Starbucks, five miles shy of our turn-around point. The huge snowflakes looked much prettier from inside the cozy cafe while we thawed our hands on warm drinks.
We almost kept heading south, but decided (possibly due to my wimpiness and suggestion that we save the full trip for a future monthly RAW ride) to change our out-and-back 25-mile route to a shorter trip and include a trip by Montlake Bike Shop for dry socks. However, instead of turning north on 24th we went south and the half-mile climb warmed our wet toes up just fine. Veloroutes calls the grade 7.2%, but it certainly felt steeper than that. Things got easier (and scenic again) as we took the winding route through Interlaken Park on our way back to North Seattle. Tracey then let us play with her adorable bear-suit-clad baby and dog while she fed us potato leek soup and Irish soda bread. And wouldn’t you know, the sun came out!
I put on my sunglasses (probably for the last time for at least a week, wah) and zoomed home. I was feeling quite accomplished and passed a couple other bikes up 45th…but then my chain fell off at a red light so I slunk over to 44th before they had a chance to catch back up. The group ride was 18.6 miles instead of 25, but my transit to and from the ride bumped my mileage up to 22.2.
The monthly rides (which may occur more often when the weather improves) are only part of RAW–the 3-day cycling and yoga retreats on Vashon Island are the big draw. Tracey is a wonderful ride leader, whooping encouragement at passing cyclists and my favorite–her right turn signal includes a cheery upward finger point…though that may have been because all our right turns took us up big hills. Whatever the reason, it made me smile every time. Also, I chuckled when I typed an email with the subject line “RSVP for RAW,” two Cascade Bicycle Club events that would be fun some year.