The Seattle Century 2011 Ride Report

Since my triathlon season has largely transitioned to running for the rest of the year, I was able to mix things up a bit and enjoy doing a fun century ride with my Dad while I was out in Seattle for work this past week.  Here’s the story of of our 100 miles of Seattle – note that it’s more of a ‘Ride Report’ than a ‘Race Report’ – since the goal wasn’t to race anything, but rather just enjoy it.

I’m so used to the whole concept of a very exacting schedule when it comes to race days for triathlons and running races that the idea of simply swinging by a race start, grabbing a few quick items and heading out whenever you want is somewhat foreign to me.  But I think I like it!  No worrying about missing your start wave or having to fret about the moment the gun goes off and having a hundred of your closest friends swim over and through you.

We arrived around 5:30AM for a 6AM ‘start’.  This enabled us to hit up the building that was converted into the race headquarters and pickup our race numbers as and bike jerseys, and t-shirts.  Additionally there was also breakfast there.  As an interesting side note about the building, it was actually a former WWII aircraft hanger.  See, what is now Magnusson Park used to be a Navy Base where they did flight training.  In fact, the runways used to lead out straight over the Lake, consequently leading to a significant number of old WWII aircraft sitting just off shore underwater due to ‘learning mistakes’.


Being the first time I’ve ever done a group ride, I mentally assumed we’d all be starting en mass at 6AM. Turns out not so.  The 6AM start time was the earliest suggested time in order to ensure upstream aide stations are open in time for you.  But otherwise you had a few hours to get on the road and get cooking.  This is even more logical when you consider that just half a mile away the route goes onto a typical bike path – so having 1,000+ riders all converge onto the path at once would only result in failure (though admittedly, probably some rather humorous photographic moments).

So at about 6:25AM, my Dad and I set on out for the start to our day:


The first 30ish miles of the route go along a very popular bike path in the Seattle Area – the Burke Gilman trail.  This trail meanders around Lake Washington and this time of the morning was otherwise only occupied by a few folks out doing their Saturday morning long runs and rides.

Despite starting almost near downtown Seattle, and going through the heart of the University of Washington – the trail was generally pretty quiet, especially in some of the farming areas.  Though give it a few more hours and it’ll be hopping.


At around mile 30ish or so we stopped at our first aide station.  We had skipped the very first one around mile 15, simply because we had made good time on that first section and didn’t need anything.

This was my first introduction to the whole concept of well stocked aide stations.  Coming from the triathlon and running side – you’ve typically only got water/Gatorade and maybe a few gels.  On an Ironman run course you do get a bit more variety, but not really the time to enjoy it all.  This first aide station was well stocked with everything from freshly made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to muffins and watermelon:


The course then left the bike path and started to head out towards some of the more rural areas that are nestled up against the Cascade mountains.  Despite being back on roads, there were really very few cars to worry about:


Some of you may be wondering what technology I used on the ride.  The group organizing the race had uploaded the route to a site (RideWithGPS), where I could then download the ride file to my Edge 800.  This enabled the Edge 800 to provide turn by turn directions for the route, though admittedly I never really needed it because the course was so mind-bogglingly well marked.  But it was nice to just get a glance of upcoming turns or elevation profiles.  For example, since elevation info was included I was able to see just how long a hill would last:



One thing that I was most concerned with was ensuring that we were going a pace that we were both confortable with.  So I also wore the Garmin FR610, but paired it to my Dad’s heart rate strap and cadence sensor.  This allowed me to keep an eye on things and pace both the flats and the hills appropriately by his effort.  His cadence was interesting because most folks tend to slow their cadence when their legs start to tire.


Every once in a while a loosely organized group would come along and we’d enjoy pace lining it for a bit.  Given this is somewhat of a major no-no in triathlon, I always forget just how much more efficient cycling can be (at least when implemented correctly).


Around mile 50 we hit perhaps the most important rest stop of them all: The one that served pie. I’ll just let the pictures do the talking:


You’ll notice the sign says the rest stop closes at 1PM.  As we were getting ready to leave at around 9:45AM, my dad made a very valid observation:

“You know, we could just sit here for another 3 hours and eat pie.”

I really couldn’t come up with a good reason why we shouldn’t just do that.  Nonetheless, we carried on.


Part of the course includes an out and back section to Snoqualmie Falls.  This is what differentiates the 100-miler from the 85-miler.  Since we were going 100 miles, we of course included this detour.


It may be hard to understand just how big the falls are.  So for comparison, see the center of this picture below?


Here, let me zoom in a bit:


Now see? Yup, a few workers up there on that small rock outcropping.  Now go up three pictures to see just how small they look once zoomed out in comparison to the overall waterfall.

Yup, lots of water. Big drop.

Onwards we went!


Another aide station, below.  Remember – since we weren’t racing for a best time, we were most definitely competing to enjoy everything each and almost every stop included.  It’s entirely plausible the calories expended did not cover those taken in.  In fact, a group of competitive looking younger cyclists travelling in a pack made the comment at the pie stop: “I think we just ate 1,000 calories in pie…that’s what I normally do after my training – not mid-way through!”


Oh, and Strawberry Shortcake at mile 87:


The volunteers were great.  Here at Mile 87 one of the younger guys had the job of cutting up watermelons.  He was being timed to try and beat the watermelon cutting record for the day of about 61 seconds from start until completion.  I don’t think too many fingers were lost – though it was hard to tell given all the watermelon juice.


And finally, the last section back to the start – crossing the floating bridges over Lake Washington and then riding along the shoreline to the University of Washington:


Mt. Rainer looming off in the distance…


And finally – we’ve got the finish park in sight!


Mom was waiting at the finish to take a few picture upon our arrival:



Good times!

The food afterwards was great – and they even had this crazy ice sculpture:


There ya go – can’t beat a day riding around the beautiful Pacific Northwest for a 100 miles with your Dad!  After which, I did the only thing logical: Go home and eat more of my leftover birthday cake that my Mom made.  I then followed it up on Sunday with flying home to DC and eating the crazy birthday cake that The Girl made.  Good times, good cakes! 

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  1. Great pictures. Man, that’s a century ride you can actually gain weight on! But Ray, you get penalty points for wearing an Ironman jersey on a road bike ride! You need a good ‘ol roadie jersey and bib shorts (to say nothing of a road bike!)

  2. This looks a really cool ride, I got to find if there is some rides like that where I am (Paris, France)

  3. Baptiste

    Unfortunately it seems to me very difficult to organize such a ride here in France but you can experience something equivalent riding the “cyclotouriste” rides.

    It is very interesting to see the volunteers and how they are involved in the ride/race (this one but also for triathlons).
    It is very difficult here in France to have enough volounteers to organize big events. For example, the Tristar 111 in Lyon,FR (where I am living) last July was looking for volounteers until the race’s day…

    Nice pics anyway and what an amazing cake 😉

  4. Man, that cherry pie looked awesome, Asia for the last 14 years – haven’t had anything like that in years.

  5. This sounds so great-not competing but just enjoying!!! :) Sounds like a great day w/ dad.

  6. wes

    that sounded like an awesome time. And the birthday cake looked great too.

  7. “Being the first time I’ve ever done a group ride”

    Really?! You need to get out more. This century looks awesome! So scenic and the food looks delicious. Very cool idea to pair your watch with your dad’s HR and cadence.

  8. Sounds like a great day in the saddle, and what a better way to spend it than with your Dad and pie!

  9. Ryan

    So I also wore the Garmin FR610, but paired it to my Dad’s heart rate strap and cadence sensor. This allowed me to keep an eye on things and pace both the flats and the hills appropriately by his effort.

    Legit LOL when I read that. Genius idea!

  10. Ron

    Thoroughly enjoyed the report Ray. You should have joined us for RAMROD (Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day) last Thursday. Not nearly as many photographs, but maybe my report will inspire you to plan a trip home again next year at this time. Also check out the course flyover on a prior post from last week. Finally, the Girl is to cake making, what you are to ride photography. Belated congrats on the nuptials. You two are a creative-tech force.
    link to

  11. awesome pics Ray! I’ve actually been in Seattle for work and during my Saturday ride I came upon people in the middle of the 50 miler. Very fun. Seattle is a gorgeous city!

  12. Great thing to do a ride like this, priceless to be able to do it with your old man! Enjoy life and its precious moments….
    Andre Dias

  13. GSP

    This is an incredible ride overview! Thanks for putting it all together, so fun to read.

    If you liked the Seattle Century, you’ll love the other events from Good Sport Promotion. See our full calendar here:
    link to

    We look forward to seeing you on the road!
    Team Good Sport Promotion

  14. Hi ray, thats great that you got to spend time with your dad on an awesome ride like that. I’m sure you’ll both remember it for a long time.

  15. Layra Reza

    OMG, how I miss Seattle :( I used to live there, for a couple of months, but still. This is my first time posting a comment in your site, which I love by the way. You are too much fun, and this looks like an awesome time with your family. Keep up the great site, and congrats on being married, you guys look like the perfect couple!

  16. Tom

    He Ray, is it possible that I can invite you for the “Ronde van Vlaanderen”-century ride. Imagine 20.000 people the day before the real “Ronde” around Belgium’s cycling hotspot. For pics see here. I’ll make sure you have a ticket, hotel, bed and company. Saturday 31th of March is the century, a day later the real race for the pros.


  17. RWJ

    That pie must’ve been darn good to bike 50 miles to get it.

  18. I just started reading your blog and I’m glad I found it. I saw that you take your camera with you on your rides and runs and so it inspired me to go ahead and do it. Glad I did–I got some nice pics this weekend on my bike.

    Also, liked this: So I also wore the Garmin FR610, but paired it to my Dad’s heart rate strap and cadence sensor.
    My boyfriend needs to pair one of these to my heart rate! He’s a much stronger rider than I!

    Thanks for posting–I’ll be tuning in!

  19. Great ride report! We were there, too, and enjoyed the great day, scenery, and most importantly – the food!

    This was one of our group rides for our “Ride for LIVESTRONG Seattle” fundraising group – where we raise money and awareness for LIVESTRONG and its cancer survivorship-supporting programs. You can check us out at

    Glad to see you enjoying quality time with your Dad. It’s plan to see that he’s proud of you, and had a great time beside you (behind you!?) on the road.

    See you on the road – maybe next year …!?

  20. that looks like the best ride ever!

    mm cherry pie! way better than gels!

  21. Great report on a great day with Dad Ray! Very nice read as usual, I know you have a lot of fans, just wanted to tell you to keep it up!!

    I used to cycle with my dad and large groups for years when I was younger, like from my 9th till 16th, enjoyed it ever so much! Sadly I found out about going out and alcohol hehe..

    Little over 18 months ago, at age 37 now I started running and few months ago decided to buy a bike again, enjoying myself every single minute.. Unfortunatly dad’s health is not up for cyclcing anymore (sad to see for someone who used to ride 12.000 miles a season (7/8 months).. He does have a scooter (small motorcysle, not mobility / invalids type yet) now though, so had my very first “derny-like” training with dad a week or two ago hehe, sure there’s more to follow!

    On a sidenote: been training the wife running for about 7 weeks now, had her wear my back-up Sigma HR strap while wearring the watch on the opposite arm of my own FR60 to check her health before teaching her how to use it herself :)

  22. This was a great ride report! I also did Seattle century last weekend and your report amd pictures do a great job and showing ihow well organized and fun it was and … All that wonderful food. No way to consume that many calories on this ride. I found your blog following a friends’s recommendation and since I do tris also, I found it very informative and inspiring. Funny enough, I was also in Boise this year. My first half IM. Dreaming of full ironman next year or the next. Any recommendation for a specific race? I live in Seattle.

  23. Anonymous

    Great ride! Did it last year too. Very well organized and super food and support. Many thanks to ride support volunteer Tracy who helped us fix a flat in record time.

  24. Derick

    “One thing that I was most concerned with was ensuring that we were going a pace that we were both confortable with. So I also wore the Garmin FR610, but paired it to my Dad’s heart rate strap and cadence sensor.”

    That’s brilliant! I wish I had thought/seen/knew this was possible. My riding partner is a bit slower than me and if I had her metrics readily available, I would know if she’s struggling to keep up. It would have been really nice for the Seattle-to-Portland bike ride.