The Mountain Turtle is now on the road!!!
Thursday morning was the long awaited roll out. Kent departed on his "prologue" ride to Banff, Alberta. His goal is to arrive the afternoon before the 9am June 11 start of the Tour Divide. He will then ride 2,745 (or more) miles, probably in less than 20 days.
In the last few years, a community of cyclists and philosophically like minded people have grown up around this blog and since Kent declared his intention to ride the Tour Divide again, this community has shown a tremendous amount of support.
This support translated into actual pats on the back yesterday as a very nice crowd showed up at Bicycle Center of Issaquah to see him off and wish him well.
There were over two dozen friends there,
and even a reporter from the local newspaper.
His supportive co-workers from Bicycle Center gave him some last minute advice,
while blog reader Jeff examined his set-to-go bicycle,
the fully "loaded" Monocog Flight (with PLATFORM pedals!) that Kent will be riding a century and a half on every day this month.
One quarter mile on the odometer.
We'll expect to see several thousand more on there by the end of June.
Kent profusely thanked everyone: his family, friends, co-workers, supporters, riding buddies and blog readers.
And he passed out the collectible Mountain Turtle pins which help to support his ride.
The vast majority of us were excited and happy, however there was one person present for whom this departure was somewhat bitter-sweet.
Yet another full month gone is indeed a lot to ask. Christine has been amazingly supportive of her husband's cycling whims.
With a final, teary farewell
Kent was rolling.
Along with him, for the first few miles at least, was his gang of bikers.
The whole group was quickly stopped in downtown Issaquah at a red light that won't change for bikes.
I guess 15 bicycles don't have as much metal as one SUV.
Eventually we took the crosswalk.
We followed the trails out of town in a good mood.
And were very quickly cycling through beautiful forest.
It was a perfect day for a ride in Kent's backyard.
Fifteen miles in, at Snoqualmie Falls, we stopped for a short break
where a strange tourist had us pose together as a backdrop for her photo of herself!!
Kent really does eat this kind of thing while riding!
He is Not A Nutritional Role Model.
At the Falls Matt donated a penny per mile to Kent's efforts.
To avoid a missing trestle on the trail, we cut through the town of Snoqualmie.
Jimmy cruises on the back roads by the river.
Kent is packed light for 26 days of hard riding with his Ergon BD2 backpack.
The Snoqualmie Valley Trail was a very enjoyable ride and everyone had plenty to talk about.
Matt pedals his Kustard Kogswell alongside Kent while Michael flashes the peace sign.
Sixteen friends, cyclists, blog readers, supporters joined Kent in the roll out of town. People rode as long as time would allow them, throughout the day people said goodbye and turned back.
Kent made me promise to mention how much he appreciated everyone who came out to see him off, and those who rode a little.
We rode the trail through North Bend and continued up the gorgeous trail to Rattlesnake Lake.
When we got there Kent still had 8 escorts, Bob & Joe had to turn around soon after.
From Rattlesnake Lake we were climbing on the John Wayne trail for a bit, but due to the tunnel closure at the top of of that trail, we followed Kent's plan to descend at Olallie State Park and after only a very brief piece of I-90 we were back enjoying the forest, climbing for 10 miles on Tinkham Road.
Despite a couple of fresh clearcuts this was a really beautiful forest road that we all enjoyed. There were a number of deep potholes that often made the ride into a slalom course. Here's Scott avoiding several of the potholes on his gorgeous Red Rawland Sogn.
There was an actual ford on Hansen Creek that was fun to zoom through,
although Jimmy's idea of coasting seemed to work.
From Tinkham Road we cut across Interstate 90 at exit 47 and picked up the wonderful Old Snoqualmie Highway.
Those of us without Tour Divide gear stopped at Denny Creek campground to re-fill our water bottles, while Kent was using his giant water bladder and the flow through water filter.
Then we started up the climb on the forested road. Despite the fact that it predates the interstate, it has perfectly smooth pavement. We saw ONE car the entire climb (and zero on the descent!). Strangely they built the eastbound and westbound lanes of I-90 on either side of this road, so although we rarely could hear traffic, we were actually riding in the median strip of the freeway! (Hey, maybe that could be the name of the blog post - Riding the median strip of I-90!)
It is a most wonderful road, but it is a steep climb. Kent, always the Energizer Bunny, got a full switchback ahead of us on the steepest part of the old Snoqualimie Highway.
The weather was pleasant all day, just cool enough to be comfortable, but i know i overheated on those switchbacks once we got out into the sunshine. Kevin who kept a very steady pace throughout the day, was pulling me along, admiring the glorious scenery.
At the summit, the last 6 followed Kent's example and fueled up on junk food at the the gas station convenience store. After sharing some guilty pleasures Jimmy, Kevin, Mark, Michael, Matt & Scott wished Kent a tailwind one final time.
Sandwich in one hand, The Mountain Turtle pedals off to Banff and the Tour Divide.
Kent had over 3,000 miles ahead of him, but the rest of us were all already very tired. We quickly put on our jackets and headed back west.
After a tremendously fun descent of the smooth, quiet, winding, Old Snoqalimie Highway we rode the shoulder of the Interstate the rest of the way back to Preston, where we got on the Issaquah-Preston trail for a very pleasant last 10 miles of our day.
We rode 89 miles: 50 to the summit, mostly on trails (4,000 feet of gain), and 39 back to Issaquah, mostly on I-90. I deeply appreciated the company on those difficult last dozen miles of freeway riding.