Your bike is too heavy

And other things men say to me…

One night wayyyy back in December Mike was out of town and I was a lil drunk, and a friend got a bunch of us to sign up for “chilly willy” and commit to riding in prom dresses. And because I had no one home to say “but Lindsey you would hate that”, I registered!

Fast forward a few months to bitter cold, and the thought of riding around a hilly island in freezing wind and snow (!!) had me bummed. But we had gone dress shopping already – so we were committed! Although I told myself that if it rained I would just bike to a coffee shop, hang out there alone for a few hours, then head home and say I rode the whole thing realllllly fast.

As it was, I planned to meet up with Jen at 6:30 to ride the longer, flatter route to the ferry. We were going alone, as all of the other mamas had kids in tow and would be taking a later ferry. But the morning of was so windy that we didn’t want to take the more exposed route. And I forgot to charge my light so it was dark! We decided to take the still not super direct route (but the one I knew better than guessing at the direct one) through Seattle Center. This also may have been for photo ops…sorry Jen!

We made it to the ferry with time to spare, but getting in the slow line (12 mph or less) was quite the challenge! It was blocked by all of the fastfastfast riders who simply could not move over to make room. But we made it! By the time we loaded onto the ferry it was almost full. We parked up on the upper deck by laying our bikes down (non drive side) in a very Surly fashion. It was windy on the deck! I think we were the only ones crazy enough to go outside.

Of course as soon as we got back to our bikes to off load I got the “your bike is too heavy” comment. He said he was impressed with anyone riding on a steel steed. And the bags! “Why so many bags?” SNACKS. And puffy down vests. Of course he was riding with a backpack and that looked horrible to me. I told him not to worry, that it was my lightest bike and I could even lift it over my head! He seemed doubtful, but repeated press ups of a 20+ lb baby will do that for you!

We waited a bit for faster riders to clear out before heading up the hill to start the course. There I was met with my first descent. I’m not a great descender (I fear speed) but it’s gotten much worse after a recent slide down our steep driveway. And my brakes on HT require more hand strength to fully activate than I currently possess. Needless to say it was slow going and many people passed me. But then I passed them back on the uphills because lil Hill Topper lives up to her name!

We stopped for photos along the water and got some passive aggressive comments for that, but soon continued on up the hill and around the corner and OOF. I had broken the cardinal rule of going up hill around a blind corner: I expected it to flatten out and thus didn’t shift out of 8th gear. I felt like a certain 8 year old I know. So I had to step off and walk up to a flatter spot where I could get going again. Many people yelled ON YOUR LEFT to let me know that I was very much inconveniencing them and obviously hadn’t trained enough for the event.

We stopped for photos and burgers at Frog Rock and again at a cookie stop not too far down the road. That’s when the pack of fast riders from the next ferry caught up to us. They wooshed around us on a downhill, going 40+ mph. They did not seem amused with my five seconds off, three seconds on braking style. I got many glares as they zoomed by.

But then we came to the first big uphill and I was passing people left and right…until…someone popped their cleat out just in front of me and that was the end of that. I made my way over to the side to walk the rest of the way. I probably could’ve recovered if I had more experience riding in groups, but as this was my first organized ride I wasn’t able to swerve around him and keep going.

We rode with the pack for a while and it was fun! And we were fast! I even pedaled on the downhills! We were cruising! The next major downhill was terrifying and I lacked the confidence to open up like I had done on some of the less steep grades. I think the combination of hills, cars, and curves really bothered me. Of course I downshifted too early in anticipation of climbing the big hill ahead and lost a lot of momentum. We stopped at the top to readjust our layers. There was a lot of yelling at the top of the hill from volunteers directing traffic. They just kept yelling CAR CAR CAR CAR UP CAR BACK CAR CAR CAR CAR UP CAR BACK BIKES AHEAD BIKES BACK BIKES UP CAR CAR CAR! It was pretty much the worst. I missed the quiet of earlier.

The halfway point was just ahead so we pulled off for bathrooms and baked potatoes. The lines were long when we arrived but it seemed to clear out fast. Of course I dropped my potato on my drive train…

Just as we were finishing up the mama bears rolled up! We stayed to hang out, but probably overstayed by about 20 minutes chatting. It was hard to get rolling again. Soon after we hit the road we spied a fox! Jen thinks that it was checking out my new Swift bags! Copyright infringement!

Around this point a man yelled “on your left” as we headed up hill. I kept waiting for him to pass me. But he never did. Ha! I guess I was just going too fast. We muddled along to the shortcut, got turned around and then eventually found our way. But a big, winding descent threw me off my game. At this point the crowd had thinned out so we were stuck on the gravel and debris filled shoulder. And it had been windy so there was a lot of tree litter. People driving cars were passing close and fast. I couldn’t handle it. So I walked. Then when I went to get back on I crunched a huge rock the wrong way and almost tipped in front of a car. So I took a few minutes to hold back the tears before setting out again.

And then, the final climb. Up, up, up. Again the bike lane was filled with debris and impatient drivers of very large vehicles with extremely wide overhanging mirrors were passing. About 3/4 of the way up I pulled off to adjust layers and let some slower riders get further away from me. It turns out I’m not a confident passer on the uphills. I don’t want to pass someone who speeds up to compete with me (aka MEN) and then won’t let me get back over. People (men) don’t like to be passed by people (mostly women) in velvet dresses.

All was going well on the final downhill stretch until someone in a Subaru decided to punishment pass me just as I was skirting a major pothole. Don’t worry. We both got to that stop sign at the same time.

And the end! Chili and cornbread! I’d give it a meh on both counts – the beef chili tasted like inside of a can and the cornbread had huge grains of sugar that made the texture unpleasant. We hung around for about an hour with the mama bears, who finished up a few minutes after us. Lynne brought beer (& it was still cold!) because she is awesome.

But then it got too cold so we headed for the ferry, where of course we stood in line for a while freezing our butts off before getting on. The benefit to being towards the front of the return line was that I got to hang my bike! Woo! I actually got trapped between the bike and the wall and Jen had to rescue me but it was fun anyways. A bunch of Surlys parked near me so I know I was in good company despite the many repeated exclamations of “wow that Surly looks heavy” and “I can’t believe you’re riding a Surly uphill” and “heavier bikes should go down hills faster”.

I looked a bit out of place on the return ferry, what with my crushed velvet dress and all. Jen’s husband ended up giving us a ride home which was awesome because it started sleeting just as we got out of the car and I don’t think I would’ve handled it well on the ride home.

Overall it was fun! And not too cold. The weather held up nicely. Jen said I looked “fucking majestic” on the uphills. And that’s how I felt! But I think I’ll add interrupters (brake levers on the flats) to improve my descending.

3 thoughts on “Your bike is too heavy

  1. Congrats on the Chilly Hilly. I’ll be heading up that way next month to do the Seattle Randonneurs 100 km populaire. Hopefully that’ll be fun. (And they are used to seeing steel bikes. 😉 )

    And oof, the “your bike is too heavy/you have too much stuff” guy. I’m always…impressed with their ability to try to suck the fun out of something by tell me/us what we’re doing wrong, despite us still doing the thing. I think this is a reason why I’m scared of many rides like this, though this can just happen randomly, like on a bike tour I did.


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