On May 4th, I was working out with my trainer, Cathy, when I mentioned that one of my goals was to ride my bike to training some day. I said someday because I was thinking about the hills between Redmond and Bellevue and how much work it would be just to get to the gym.
Cathy said the best way was probably to take the 520 bike trail most of the way to the gym. This bike trail runs along the north side of 520 from just about the 520/405 interchange in Bellevue all the way to Redmond. I’ve been on part of the trail before when I use to commute by bike/bus to downtown Seattle.
On the way home from Seattle, I would sometimes get dropped off early at either the 40th or 51st Street exit. Then, I’d ride DOWN the hill into Redmond. This hill is so steep, I would sometimes beat the bus into Redmond when the bus was on the freeway…
Thinking about trying to ride my bike back UP that hill gave me pause. Would I even be able to do it?
On May 8th, Amy left early in the morning for her triathlon training. I was thinking about the Sounders game I was going to later in the afternoon and trying to decide what exercise I should get for the day. I was suddenly sized by inspiration, hopped on my bicycle, and headed for the dreaded 520 hill.
The first part of the hill is the steepest part. After a few hundred feet, the incline slightly lessens to only nearly impossible till you get the to 51st street. After that, there’s a slight down hill followed by a slightly more gradual climb to 40th.
The first and steepest part of the climb went pretty good, as I had warmed up and was on fresh legs. By the time I got about half way up the hill, my legs were burning and I was having some trouble controlling my breathing. But I didn’t stop! Finally, I managed to make it to 51st. I leaned up against the light pole to catch my breath and drink some water.
A minute later, a pair of bikers came up behind me on the hill and stopped to wait for the light to cross the street. After eyeing me for a minute to make sure they didn’t need to call me an ambulance, one of them said “Nice day for a ride!”
I smiled and said “Yep. First time up the hill for me.”
The biker that spoke before smiled, the light changed, and they continued on up the trail while I waited a bit longer to catch my breath.
I continued on to 40th, thinking I was up the hill and would have a pretty easy ride. After a short down hill, the path started going up again. While not as steep, my legs were almost done. I think this part of the ride was almost as hard as the steeper climb to 51st.
I finally made it to 51st and crossed a bridge over 520. A mostly flat, slow ride up 156th past Microsoft helped my legs recover. I then turned down Bel-Red Road for the most fun part of the ride.
Bel-Red Road is a nice, LONG, downhill with only a few lights and not much traffic that early on a Saturday. I managed to get up to almost 35 mph before the road merged with the flat West Lake Sammamish Road. I then followed this to Marry Moore Park.
At the park, I was planning on jumping on the Sammamish River Trail and heading home. However, I had forgotten that the trail is closed for construction under 520. I decided at that point to ride through the park and loop around another trail behind Redmond Town Center that reconnects to the river trail.
A short time later, I made it home after one of the hardest bicycle rides I’ve ever done. And I’ve found another great hill for training for climbs!
Total Time – 1 hour
Distance – 12 miles