I participated in the Rapsody Bicycle Ride last weekend. It was 165 miles of hills, with about 9,000 feet of climbing.
The first day I did 85 miles in about 6 hours, including a few stops and ferry ride. The second day 80 miles in about the same time, including stops, looking at sandcastles, and addressing a leaky tire.
Most of the riders were fairly veteran, with high or higher-end bicycles. The average age of the riders was probably around 40-45, and I didn't see too many younger than 25. Like my days of sea kayaking, I often wondered if I'm participating in an event for old people. One approximately 60 year-old lady, who invited me to eat at her table and get a closer look at the Shelton high school dance team's performance, thought I looked around 19. Maybe it's all the green tea I drink that keeps me looking young?
Said 60-year-old is actually quite an athlete. After giving up smoking after 20 years, she got into weight training, and then cycling. She's done the RAMROD event three or four times, which is one of the most difficult cycling events in Washington. Her attitude was, if she sees ladies fatter than her doing the event, well certainly she should be able as well.
The ride was overall a great improvement over my STP experience. The food was wonderful, though not gourmet; road markings were clear, the volunteers cheerful and friendly. The scenery was, on average, very nice. I didn't encounter any rude cyclists.
I still have a few complaints, though. One was that the route was largely on chip seal, making it a bumpy ride for your average high-pressure tires. Next year, if I did this ride, it'd be on wide tires. Second was the lack of hot water for showing at Shelton High School. There was hot water provided later on (at a middle school) but I had already had mine by the time the issue was raised. Another minor issue was that the athletic field was recently mowed and camping out there got dead grass on everything. I should have brought a rake!
Route highlights: Any of the sections bicycling next to or overlooking the water. If I were to make a day trip out of it, I'd probably start in Gig Harbor and ride along the inlets and harbors. Also, I enjoyed the many road sections canopied in maple trees or large cedars. There were very few cars, and no rude drivers. Though a few did pass a little close, most were kind enough to pull into the other lane completely. Olympia is worth exploring by bicycle someday.
In terms of climbing, I probably went to my bottom gear only a few times. The climbs were steady not steep. I'd love to have Hitomi along next year, if she's willing. Taking it a bit slower would be fine. Unlike the STP, where the traffic is constantly whizzing by, and often nothing worth looking at, there were many nice places I could see myself exploring along the way.