Challenging Vashon bike ride includes route called 'The Idiot'

Craig.hill@thenewstribune.comSeptember 8, 2013 

Answers to important questions nobody has asked me yet:

Question: What is the most painful way to visit Vashon Island?

Answer: In the pursuit of a hilly bike ride, some friends and I recently pedaled our way around Vashon Island. The island, a short ferry ride from Point Defiance, is packed with 400-foot hills, the first of which greets cyclists as soon as they roll off the boat.

The rewards for brutalizing your legs are great views, quiet streets and the inevitable downhill that comes after each climb.

Inspired by all those ups and downs, the Vashon Island Rowing Club is harnessing the hills to raise money.

The club calls its ride the Passport 2 Pain.

The third Passport 2 Pain is Saturday and, as the name indicates, it should only be attempted by fit and experienced cyclists. The longest of three rides, called The Idiot, climbs nearly every hill on Vashon and Maury islands over 78 miles.

In total, cyclists on that route will climb 10,000 vertical feet.

Too much? There are easier but still-challenging options. The Weenie route climbs 3,400 feet over 30 miles and The Weasel climbs 6,300 feet in 52 miles.

“It is a tough ride,” said Colby Atwood, president of the rowing club. “I’m impressed with anybody who can make it.”

The ride is limited to 300 participants and already has about 200 signed up, Atwood said. To get in, cyclists must pay the $20 entry fee and pledge another $80.

When the ride begins, cyclists are issued a passport that they then try to get stamped at 18 checkpoints along the course. Each stamp earns them $4 back from their pledge. Of course, when they’re finished they’re asked if they’d like to donate the money to the club anyway.

About half of the riders don’t take the refund, Atwood said.

The ride isn’t supported and riders are asked not to ride in large groups.

“It’s not easy,” Atwood said. “Guys have fallen. It’s a ride for the big boys.”

So of the more than 30 hills climbed during the Passport 2 Pain, which one is the toughest?

Atwood said Burma Road is so steep some riders feel their front tires leave the ground and others have to walk.

When I told him my friends and I just rode the road and concurred it was, indeed, tough, he asked if we went north to south. We had.

“That’s the wimpy way,” he said. “We’re riding the other way.”

Q. When is it OK for runners to wear their bras over their shirts?

A. All runners in the Wings of Karen 5k Bra Dash on Sept. 15 are encouraged to wear a bra over their shirt during the race. When they reach the finish line they’re asked to fling off the bra.

All this underwear running is designed to raise money for breast cancer research.

The race begins at 9:30 a.m. at Lake Wilderness Park in Maple Valley. Registration, before Thursday, is $35 for adults and $25 for children 12 and younger. There is an additional $5 fee to register at the event.

Prizes will be given to race winners and those who raise more than $200. Fundraising is optional.

For more information, visit

Q. Who’s the strongest person in the South Sound?

A. We might find out Nov. 9 when Tacoma’s Trident Athletics holds its first weightlifting meet.

While the Trident Open will have competitions for experienced men and women, it also will have a session for novice lifters.

Registration closes Oct. 22. For more information, visit

Q. Nutella is clearly the most delicious of all nut butters and two tablespoons has the same calories (200) as peanut butter, four fewer grams of fat and 75 milligrams less sodium. Is Nutella as nutritious as peanut butter?

A. No.

Nutella’s first three ingredients are, in order: Sugar, palm oil and hazelnuts.

Here’s a list of the ingredients in a jar of natural peanut butter: peanuts.

A two-tablespoon serving of Nutella has 21 grams of sugar, two grams of protein and one-third of the fat is saturated. A two-tablespooon serving of Smucker’s Hot Fudge has three fewer grams of sugar, 70 fewer calories, the same amount of protein and a third of the fat is also saturated.

A serving of natural peanut butter has 31/2 times the protein about a gram of sugar and 15.6 percent of the fat is saturated.

I recently asked registered dietitian Emily Edison, owner of Momentum Nutrition and Fitness, for her thoughts on sugar-infused nut butters.

“I look at it on a scale,” she said. “If you can grind your own peanuts, that’s best. Adams Peanut Butter would be No. 2. And then Nutella would be on down the list. I’d give it a D-plus.”

Craig Hill: 253-597-8497 @AdventureGuys

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