Conquering the “7” Hills of Kirkland

Last week I checked my training workouts and saw that Teresa was seemingly intent on turning my taint into a giant callus on which I could strike matches by scheduling me four bike workouts: one tempo/strength ride, a recovery ride, a 3 hour interval workout, and the 7 Hills of Kirkland metric century ride on Memorial Day. She emailed me and asked if I was doing the ride. I responded with a “Maybe…who else is doing it?” Teresa directed me to our Yahoo! group forum so I could coordinate with some teammates and have someone to ride with. I, of course, was too lazy to do that so I ended up not knowing who was riding and when they planned on starting.

My half-assitude lasted me through the weekend until I figured it was time to actually do some semblance of research and see who I could ride with. I had never done the Kirkland ride before (it’s put on by the city every year to raise money to help homelessness), so I asked Jason if he’d sign up with me. He gave me a “Pshaw hell nah, I’m tapering for Boise.” His dad, on the other hand, was interested in doing the ride so at least I’d have one cycling buddy for the day.

In keeping with my “total lack of research” theme for this ride, I woke up early Monday morning, got my gear together, did a quick glance at the 7 Hills website to get the address of the starting point, and took off. I met Jim, Jason’s dad, at the park where the ride took off from at 7 am and begrudgingly coughed up $55 for the registration fee. (A cost that I think is too expensive, especially considering that the course is still open to car traffic and we’re really only paying for a couple of aid stations. I reminded myself it was for a good cause and remembered to take more fuel gels than I needed at each food stop to make up for the dent in my wallet.)

The ride started out pretty decent, and the climbs were pretty good but nothing that was pants-crappingly difficult. Unfortunately, I found out pretty quickly that it’s not the best idea to do the ride on a time trial bike — there are enough climbs that having a road bike would be more beneficial, plus the descents are often winding/zig-zaggy and there aren’t that many flat/fast stretches to get into aero. I ended up being that doosher trying to look all bad-ass on my TT when a road bike was way more appropriate (at least I didn’t have race wheels *coughBrentcough*).

Jason’s dad had warned me ahead of time that the Winery Hill climb was the worst, and he had also cautioned me to be in the proper gearing as soon as we turned onto it. He wasn’t lying — as soon as you take a right onto that road, you run directly into the start of the hill. If you’re not in the correct gear when you hit it, you’re pretty screwed. The climb itself is shorter than the other hills on the ride, but it’s a steep fucker. My rear shifter was pointed towards the sky and I was cranking down on my pedals so hard, I nearly keeled over a couple times (I do not know how those professional cyclists wobble back and forth on their bikes so aggressively). When I got to the top, I was greeted by a woman sitting in a lawn chair and clapping, and once I made my way out of the neighborhood, a bag piper played the one token bagpipe song in existence.

According to the map, the winery hill was #6 out of #7 total, so I’d have a nice, good stretch before running into the final climb…or so I thought. We’d ride for a bit, and then we’d come across another freaking hill that wasn’t marked like the other ones we had climbed. I thought, “There’s no way they don’t consider these to be hills, so why the hell aren’t these marked and how come they don’t count?”  I grew more and more disgruntled with each ascent, cursing the city of Kirkland and my go-to scapegoat, Teresa, for scheduling this ride for me.

When we got to the second aid station, I brought up the fact that we’d clearly done more than seven hills. Someone heard me and said, “Oh yeah, the 7 Hills is if you do the 40 mile ride. Since we’re doing the metric century, we climb 11 hills.” What?! That’s over 50% more hills! Granted, if I had checked the ride’s website, I would have known that the metric century course is a lot hillier than the standard 7 Hills course, but I didn’t do that because I was half-awake when I left that morning (and a groggy Bec ain’t nuthing ta fuck wit). Thankfully, we were 15 miles and one last climb away from the finish.

After we finally rolled back into Marina Park, I checked my bike computer and saw that I averaged a glorious 14.4 mph — that’s what happens when you do 11 climbs over 60 miles and are packed so tightly amongst other cyclists, you can’t get a whole lot of speed or get into aero. I sure felt speedy. Jason’s dad gave me a dopey hug and thanked me for riding with him. We decided to grab lunch, so I headed over to my car to change into some less-yucky clothes and to lock my bike.

As I ghetto-cleaned up next to my car, I noticed a car waiting behind me out of the corner of my eye. I didn’t think much of it since I figured he was waiting for cyclists and pedestrians to cross the street so he could leave the park. After a while though, he stayed put and I realized he was waiting for my parking spot because the park was full. Since I was only dropping stuff off at my car and wasn’t actually leaving yet, I walked over to him and told him exactly that. He sneered and retorted, “You could have told me sooner, I’ve been waiting for ten minutes” and then drove off. And that’s why I hate assholes who try to poach your spot instead of looking around for something that’s available.

Jason’s dad and I grabbed lunch. Our conversation went something like this:

(before lunch) Jim: “Yeah, I think I could have gone 30 extra miles and done the century ride.”

(after lunch) Jim: “I’m glad I didn’t sign up for the century ride.”

When I got home, I unpacked my stuff and pulled up Training Peaks to log my workout. I noticed that Teresa had updated my workouts for the coming week, but what immediately caught my eye was that she had changed my 7 Hills of Kirkland ride to a day off. My reaction was basically this:

I updated my workout with some choice colorful language, and Teresa called me back within five minutes (because a workout update is like the Bat Signal to her), exclaiming, “You told me you weren’t going to do the ride!” I responded, “I said I’d maybe do it!” This back and forth continued for quite some time before she said, “Well, I’m happy you did it! Aren’t you happy you did it?” I didn’t have the heart to tell her no, I’m not happy I did it because I could have slept in and played video games and eaten a huge breakfast scramble instead, so instead I just sighed and said, “Yeah, it was fine.”

Overall I felt the ride is alright except for a few things:

  • It’s too expensive (I know it’s a charity ride, but still)
  • I should have used my road bike
  • They should mark all of the goddamn hills, not just the titular “7”
  • They should space out the aid stations better (the first one comes after an hour and the second one comes towards the end)

I don’t know if I’ll do it again next year — it’s good for training but the course ain’t exactly scenic, plus all of the cyclists can make for a somewhat dangerous/annoying ride (I ran into my fair share of douchebags who’d cycle two-by-two in the middle of the road going 18 mph on a descent). Whatever my decision for next year, I’ll make sure to triple-check the workout with Teresa.

2 Responses to “ “Conquering the “7” Hills of Kirkland”

  1. teresa says:

    aren’t you glad you did it?! ha!!

  2. Jenni says:

    I loved this entry! I’m doing the ‘7 Hills’ on Monday and was looking for some input on what to expect. I figured that any ride that titles itself from the contours it provides is probably good fucking clue as to what to expect–but still. Ever ride in the ‘May Day Metric’? Just wondered how the featured Kirkland hills compare to ‘The Wall’ and/or ‘Phil’s Hill’ on that ride. Guess I’ve got a few days until I find out. 🙂

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