Seattle LiveStrong Challenge IV: A Shout-Out to Susan, and Co-Captain ClydeSteve's Ride Report

One of the things that impresses me most about the Lance Armstrong Foundation is the people there. Every single one of them cares. Deeply. I haven’t talked with a single person there who doesn’t convey a sense of mission about what they do.

So I suppose I shouldn’t have been too surprised when AnneMarie, who had ultimate responsibility for the Seattle LiveStrong Challenge, still took the time to make this video from the starting line:

But I am surprised, and touched. Thanks, AnneMarie, and thanks Team Fatty for keeping Susan and me in your thoughts even from the starting line. That means a lot.

And now, Steve Peterson’s — you know him as ClydeSteve, and as the Co-Captain of Team Fattty-Seattle — ride report.

ClydeSteve’s LiveSTRONG Seattle Ride Report

News flash – The Devil lies! In this picture he was all high fives and encouraging.

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But he later proved himself to be the father of lies. But I’ll get to that in a bit.

The Petersons and Tiscornias had seven participants in the 2009 Seattle LiveSTRONG Challenge, and I feared we would find it a challenge just to get there. Not so. All participants were lined up with Team Fatty on time, and the Team Fatty banner even got to the starting gate in time for official event photos. Daniel & I parked our bike against the announcer’s booth and headed for the Starbucks tent. We were shocked, SHOCKED, to be served instant coffee by Starbucks in Seattle. Irony upon irony. But I love irony.

I had met a number of team members for the first time the day prior, at the team BBQ and presentation dinner. Here we are accepting one of our Top Team awards:

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This was a chance to meet a few more. It would be good to be as gregarious as my son Daniel, and remember the names with the faces, but it wouldn’t be me. I won’t try to tell something special about every team member I met, because there were a lot of special stories and great people. I would mix things up.

David Lazar provided a treat for the Chippendales set by, apparently getting his entire kit on in the front of the starting line. That is only a rumor, but when I glanced over to the left, he was adjusting bib straps and had not yet donned his jersey.

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Nick Abbott, I believe, wisecracked that he didn’t realize it was THAT kind of show. I am not certain whether there was any public spalming, I averted my eyes.

At the starting gun we were off. Scott Peterson and Tim Tiscornia thought it a great idea to keep up with the shiny yellow pace car with flashing rear lights, and Team Fatty all agreed as we madly careened down 2nd. It was a bit disappointing that the pace car seemed so unsure of itself. It was just going too slow. In fact, we were pretty sure he was lost so we headed down 2nd and the fake pace car, now clearly a Team Microsoft Resources plot, suddenly veered uphill. We ignored this until we looked up various cross streets ranging from Pike to Columbia and saw the rest of the riders streaming along 5th street, which, in Seattle, is about 1900 feet above 2nd street.

The tunnels on the I-90 expressway were a blast, but I did not need my dark glasses. A good portion of the I-90 floating bridge was downhill.

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Well the part from the top, down to the water was downhill. The other parts were flat or uphill. But it all seemed downhill to me, and fast.

Mercer Island was a complete blast. Rolling hills and tight curves, it was better than the Mad Mouse roller coaster. If illicit substances could even come close, I would be in trouble. Jane Tiscornia had an unauthorized Power Stop set up for us with all the kids cheering all the bikes, so we skipped Rest stop #1. I wisely dropped my arm & leg warmers off, having already shed my rain/wind shell because it was nice right then. This is the kind of forward thinking that brings me into important leadership positions.

Scott had a flat just prior to the place on East Mercer where we entered the bike path to cross over the east bridge, and I had the opportunity to do my patented 92-second-bare-hands-and-CO2 tube swap. We even remembered to find the glass shard in the tire casing. I’m glad it was shiny.

We rolled our eyes at the thought of giving up elevation to go down to rest stop #2 at Newcastle Beach Park, and parted ways at the intersection where the 45-mile and 100-mile intersections split. I said goodbye to Scott, Daniel and Tim. I can’t tell you how much it meant to roll with Scott. He is living, riding and having fun. When I rode in the 2003 Tour of Hope metric century, I cried about half the way, riding for my brother I thought might not live long enough for me to see again. This was better.

The next section was May Valley Road, which was pretty and really seemed to pass quickly. I think I stopped at rest stop #3 to refill my water bottles and eat M&Ms and some other candy bar disguised as an expensive and healthy energy packed necessity. The Tiger Mountain loop was really not too hard. It was only a 9-mile loop, and not that long or steep, but I got a nice burn going and got warmed up. I worked with a Microsoft guy for a while going up and he set a high cadence at a pace just a little faster than comfortable. That is what I need when I have a set of low gears on and the road isn’t smack you in the face steep, or else I will get lazy.

Next the road headed for a trip around Lake Sammamish. It’s funny, I grew up hearing all of these weird sounding NA place names, and I can pronounce them like a local, but I left the Seattle area before I started to drive. I never really figured out where a lot of these mysterious sounding places were. It’s fun riding them. Well, actually there was a hill in there before we got to the lake that wasn’t that much fun. It was pretty steep, and long enough to get me soaked from sweat.

No problem, the descent and the flat trip around the Lake was wet and chilly enough to cool me right down. Man, those T-6 arm warmers would really not have taken up much room in my pockets. The rain shell would have, but I would not have complained.

I saw Team Fatty guys every so often and tried to interview some of them about important questions of their riding career. I would have liked to work together with someone in this section for the company, but frankly, the road grit in my face and yes, my mouth was not worth it. I think a few people; one guy in particular, liked drafting behind me with full Planet Bike Freddy Fenders and mud flaps. He can thank Kent Peterson, on whose advice I relied for that. Those fenders were my best decision of gear not to remove during the ride.

I got to rest stop 5 at Marymoor Park and ate a chocolate bar that was overpriced for tasteless wax, and a Luna Lemon Zest flavor woman-specific energy/health/candy bar. They are delicious. I worry some about the natural soy-based estrogen content, and whether it causes moob growth. But I try not to think about that.

I had a decision to make at rest stop 5. #1 or #3? I made the right decision, but bib shorts are a hindrance at times. And the restrooms at the park were a clear advantage over portapottys. A place to hang your jersey right side up so all the stuff does not fall out. Well there was one problem with the auto-flush toilet, but that belongs in Dugs blog, and he wasn’t there for the review. You will have to write for more details.

I met up with Matt (Ibis Silk) Kreger , Jeremy Everitt, and Jon Schwartz in Marymoor, and we rode out together. We caught up with Kent Peterson coming south on the flip side of Sammamish. Kent & I agree that Elden’s inability to properly clear his nose has caused some lifetime volume underperformance on his part. I am intrigued by single speeds, so it was fun to talk to Kent who has been riding them for about 10 years. But he has to climb faster or die. There was a hill somewhere, and I turned around and Kent was gone. But Montreaux was still there.

I had an inauspicious start to dreaded big climb. There is kind of a sharp turn coming in, and I like to carve turns and accelerate out of them so I sped up, carved, spazzed out by upshifting too much and hit a wall disguised as a hill on a normal road in some creepy gear like 52×16. And stopped. I had to wait for traffic so I could go sideways to start up. Which I deserved.

I like spinning low gears up really steep hills. Because a) I can’t spin high gears up them, and b) I despise walking up steep hills pushing a bike, especially in cycling shoes. But there is a limit. I think it was somewhere close to this limit when Jon or Matt yelled – “NOW is when you could use some of that high volume Green Day for climbing!” I tried to sing “Do You Know Your Enemy? DoYouKnowYourEnemy? Yes I Know My Enemy ThisHillIsMyEnemy Oh Yeah!” in time to my cadence, but something else came out and the medical people did a quick triage assessment and dropped a bleeding man with a compound fracture to come help the old guy (me) having a seizure. Maybe not. I couldn’t actually see past the spots swimming in front of my eyes at the time. If you are listening to the music video I linked right now, imagine me climbing in cadence to that song! My breathing cadence, not my pedaling cadence. It was like that.

I go up a hill on my commute where I have to hold the front of the brake hoods to prevent a wheelie. But it is shorter than Montreaux. And it does not have the Devil taunting me, lying to me. He was about halfway up Montreaux encouraging all the cyclists:

“See those yellow flags just 25 feet higher? That’s your summit – go for it!”

Well it wasn’t. As we discussed whether it would be worthwhile to go mug the Devil and send him to a bad place he would not like, Jeremy reminded us of a profound truth:

“The Devil always lies – You learned that in Sunday School.” Word.

And another thing – It was hot and sunny out during the Montreaux climb. What’s up with that? This whole big lake and only the steep hill is hot and sunny?

I weigh 207 and have a big 63cm bike with stuff on it. Fenders, handlebar bag full of inner tubes and CO2s and candy, pump, a curling iron, and a boat anchor. I descend like a bowling ball. I pass people on the next rise still in a tuck while they are all out of momentum and pedaling hard on the ascent. It’s a Clydesdale thing. And eventually I kept going on ahead when the other guys stopped to smile about how much fun the descent was, I guess. I just got bugs in my teeth all the way down to Lake Washington.

I kept descending past rest stops 6 and 7 all the way to Renton. Know what? There is a difference in attentiveness between the cops in Renton and the cops in Mercer Island. You know they had your safety in mind at every intersection in Mercer Island. I’m thinking it was doughnuts and coffee inside the squad car on the minds of Renton cops.

Someplace on Rainier Avenue, There was a sudden outburst of precipitation. I am a northwest boy, born in Seattle, raised in Oregon. These are the places where rain is made and shipped out to the world in limited quantities, because we like to keep it for ourselves. But I found it remarkable for volume, size of hail and raindrops and, thankfully short duration. I rode through it, glad for my fenders, but the vents on my helmet were filling with hail! It’s like having a personal refrigerator on your balding top, when you are looking for one of those propane salamanders they put on the field when teams play Buffalo in a snowstorm.

Seward Park and Lake Washington Boulevard were very beautiful. Everyone was out in the sun, strolling along the lake as if there had never been this weird hail and fat rain storm. I was all alone just poking along dodging little kids with training wheels. I eventually realized that none of the other cyclists had race number bibs on, especially the ones going the wrong way. I had that feeling, so I pulled out my wet slimy map for the first time, and verified I was still on the track.

Blew by rest stop 8. Phhttt! Who needs a rest stop 7 miles from the end of the course? Someone about to wheelie up those freestyle launching pads they put in the course, that’s who! I had just called my family a mile ago and told them I was 8 miles out and would be there in about 20-30 minutes. A couple of ramps later I was doing 4mph, 4 miles out, and wondered if I was an hour from the finish.

Dodged a double bus on 3rd, which almost pulled over a guy on a ‘bent – Hope it wasn’t Leif Zimmerman – and just about had my front wheel modified by cars careening down Bell Street.

At the finish, my whole family was there to cheer me. As if I had done something.

Team Fat Cyclist, on the other hand, did something big, and I was privileged to be a part of it. If any of you are ever in the mid-Willamette Valley, Oregon and want to ride my gauntlet, or just cruise the Valley flats along the river, let me know. I did not meet one of you I wouldn’t ride with.

PS: email me if you only have one of your Team Fatty 2009 socks. I have the other one, and it is clean now.

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