It's been about 40 degrees and clear at night these past few nights. Add 15-20 miles per hour of head wind and you have cold extremities. Luckily, I have a full array of warm gear, so no problems there.
I wasn't sure what to expect. I was at Gasworks at 5:50PM and nobody was there yet. A few more riders show up, it's now 6PM and we are waiting for a few more to join. Seems like the group is pretty serious, from the looks of the frames I'm sure some bicycles were in the $5,000 and up range. I had my singlespeed Salsa Casseroll CroMo frame with 30mm tires. I was outclassed, bicycle-wise.
However, I've been riding some serious hills and knew I'd be capable of sustaining the 16-18mph advertised range.
Rides don't always go as advertised. Right away, most of the riders took off faster than this, and at the beginning I had a tough time keeping up the pace on the flats. And on downhills, I would just spin uselessly, where they could crank it up. But I would close the gap on the uphill sections–and there were more than a few of these. We got to Discovery Park and I was fine.
There were 5 of us, one of them a person I knew from prior rides, named Ken. He was probably the most serious of the riders. Before the ride, he talked about having done the Death Ride. He obviously does difficult rides. He took over the lead position and sent us on a couple up and downs. (He also rode from Bothell — about 20 miles — to join the ride, and he had talked about another 30 mile ride tomorrow. Tomorrow's Thanksgiving. Admittedly, I considered a morning ride as well.)
We rode from the top of Discovery Park down to the lighthouse/sewage treatment plant on the water, and then back up again. The road is about 18% grade, according to some other riders. I have to walk the middle section on my singlespeed. We do a couple more descents and climbs in the park. Then from the top of the park, we ride down Perkins Lane to the water again, then back up to the scenic Magnolia bicycle road. Since the return climb is not as steep I don't have to walk my bicycle, luckily. Then we ride down on Magnolia Bridge, down Elliot Avenue, Nickerson, and the ride ends.
Ken rides home to Bothell. One rider ("Bob") is MIA, he runs marathons and apparently got his leg messed up recently and couldn't complete the ride. I share some beer and nachos with the remaining riders. Then, it's up Fremont Ave to Greenlake and home again.
[* Regarding the title: SBC doesn't hate single speeds, but let's just say, they don't coddle the weak.]