Last Friday I decided to go on a wee adventure ride… not too long, maybe 40 miles or so, as I was planning on a ride with JamisLad on Saturday, around the Snohomish area, and then Sunday the Discovery Trail over on the Peninsula with KonaLad (which I wound up bailing on).
I drove (guiltily) up to Sultan, WA with the idea in mind of parking in the little downtown area and riding up to Spada Lake, with some rambles around the forest service roads in the environ. I wrote guiltily because really I could have ridden out to Sultan from home, it just would have taken a lot longer time, and left me more tired than I needed to be. However, it would make an awesome out-and-back ride some day: Mountlake Terrace, Kenmore, Woodinville, Paradise Lake Road/Maltby, Monroe (pronounced Maaawn-Row) and over to Sultan on the Mann Road; from there up to Spada Lake and then, lickity split, back home.
Boy was Friday hot. Oy! Even at a relatively early hour, when I got started, I was feeling the heat. In town I’d noticed on Google Maps a green line indicating a bike trail, looping off from a school or similar, up at the terminus of Eighth Street. I cruised along said street, spotted the gravel and dirt path and then, whoa! was off to the climbing races. That was a very steep start to the day. It definitely got me huffing. My quads were feeling it from the Iron Horse ride the day before. But damn it felt good to be alive… riding in dirt, on a road bike, on a sunny day in August, when most other folks was off at work, me getting to play at being a kid again.
Sultan Basin Road
Soon enough I was on Sultan Basin Road, a lovely shelving climb up into the hills, surrounded by placid farms populated by even more placid horses, munching underneath crackling powerlines. I wish I’d gotten a picture of how it looks coming out of Sultan… a definite “whoa are we really going to ride up all that elevation” as this road goes off straight up into the distance. But don’t get me wrong, it was so lovely, hardly any traffic, nice surface condition, lots of shady trees and again, pastoral views everywhere. This stretch strongly reminded me of Tennessee, just without the August heat index of 114.
Soon enough you’re out of the farm-urbs and into more of a managed forest, state parks feel. The road becomes swoopy with rollers and fun curvy berms. There are lots of creek crossings:
And then you’re more and more under the trees. Soon enough, after maybe 10 more lovely miles of winding, deserted road, you come to the end of the pavement and are faced with several miles of seriously steep gravel:
Made in the shade to make the grade...
This was a definite leg burner hill. The few cars that passed, likely weekend campers, gave me astonished looks as I spun along. I almost turned around, feeling a little tired, but I hate giving up on things so I plugged away and soon enough, after ignoring all the intriguing-looking side roads I finally came to Spada Lake:
I tried to capture the cool little whispy clouds gathered on those peaks...
The main south shore access road was closed for construction which meant I wouldn’t be able to follow along the lake east- and northward as I had planned. Oh well. At least there was a nice bathroom facility nearby:
Much better than a Honey Bucket.
From there it was mostly downhill back to Sultan. My hands got tired from gripping the brakes coming down those gravel hills but oh man it was so much fun overall! Loved it. I think there may be a loop you could put together with Kellogg Lake Road, with only a dip or two onto Hwy 2. Add that to a close-to-circumnavigation of Spada Lake and you’d have maybe a 50-60 mile ride along some very quiet backroads with nice scenery. I particularly enjoyed the way the road up to Spada Lake followed a creekside path. And then of course Spada Lake itself is amazing, with a very nice blue shade to it. Best of all, once you hit pavement again all that uphill you put sweat equity into earlier pays off; there are several sections where you can cruise at 17mph while barely turning a pedal. Overall a very pleasant day.
The next morning JamisLad picked me up at 6:30 am (whose idea was that anyway!!!). I hadn’t slept very well. I’d had all kinds of good work ideas the evening prior, fueled in part by the meditative qualities of the Spada Lake ride. So I started off a little rough, with legs that felt out of it and a groggy brain that definitely was. We parked in Snohomish and took off north on the Centennial Trail. Perfect! It allowed me to warm up and wake up a little. By the time we got to Granite Falls I was feeling bonky so we stopped at the grocery store and I got a chocolate donut. Which, as JamisLad pointed out, probably wasn’t the best idea, it sure put some carbs in my tank because we lit out of Granite Falls at a good clip. In fact as we rolled up to Lake Roesiger JamisLad was chugging along so hard that at one point I pulled up next to him and asked, “Was this *the* hill already?” Turns out he was just as surprised. He’d been saving his energy to go all-out on the hill, but we’d already done it! I think that’s a good sign. I honestly had been wondering when the climbing was going to start. Maybe I won’t totally suck at High Pass Challenge after all, ha.
We chewed up the miles, anticipating the massively steep hill leading to Oil Well Road. It’s the one we’d encountered earlier in the year that had dispirited most of us, and had excited JamisLad. That was some serious steepage but we made it, deciding at the top we didn’t need to go back down and re do it. Soon enough we were back in Snohomish, procuring choco milk on our way out of town. It was a great training ride, and the weather just couldn’t have been nicer.
As we rode Saturday I was reflecting a little bit on work, and on this year’s biking mission. For the work stuff I realized that, for years, I’d concentrated on finding the ‘ideal’ job. This had been a fallacy. Even if my company had an ideal job title I’m pretty sure I’d be frustrated within a matter of weeks because of the environment. With that line of thinking it dawned on me — rather than simply changing jobs, I needed to change the environment. It’s a precondition for all the other things I want. For instance, I don’t want to be a Project Manager in an environment where I’d be working on a project that has (literally) two other Project Managers each representing different bureaucracies. I don’t want to be in Requirements meetings where there are 10 manager-level participants and only three knowledge workers. As far as Golden Ratios go, we’ve got that one backwards. If anything it should be reversed; more ideally, it wouldn’t just be 10 knowledge workers to three managers, it would be the three-to-five knowledge workers self organizing the hell out of the directive handed down by the one manager. There’s a lunacy at work at my work and I don’t want to join in as things are currently structured. Instead I want to change the system, for the better, possibly from a different vantage point of leverage. Then I might consider jumping back in the PM circus or, perhaps, looking at other companies.
As for bike training, I haven’t been a very good PM at all. I’d blown off STP thinking I’d focus on RAPSody. Then RAPSody decided not too long ago to forgo their one-day option. My Flying Wheels ticket was spent on the 25-mile option riding with my pops. These were all choices I’d made. Clearly my priorities are different than they were last year. To rationalize it, I’ve been taking this viewpoint: last year I met and exceeded all my goals. I coasted through the 200 miles of STP; I struggled but survived RAPSody; and then I came in for a silver finish at HPC; each successive month I was expanding my horizons, surprising myself with what I was capable of. It was a grand summer, one I’ll never forget. This year, I met my weight goal (under 170 pounds, wearing size 32 Levis) and am proud of that, but in a way the horizons I’m expanding are at work. I’m having a ball, creating brainstorming sessions with diverse groups, coming up with crazy huge ideas that are going to benefit the company in substantial ways, coaching and mentoring lots of folks and seeing some of them attain successes and moving to dream jobs… hearing from someone I’m mentoring via IM “Guess what! I got the job!!” is as exciting to me as hitting some long bike ride.
Here’s the perfect sign: my bike computer on the Poprad hasn’t worked in a while. I’m not even sure I’ll do anything about it for High Pass Challenge. Now, that’s detachment!