Sunday, March 16, 2008

SIR 200km Brevet

Husband: "why can't you stay in Portland and go for a long ride in the rain here?"

Bell Metropolis Helmet with accessories

He was referring to my expedition to Seattle to ride the Seattle International Randonneurs 200km.

Why indeed? (Lynne outs herself here) I needed an ACP/RUSA 200km ride for March, to keep up the string of rides for the RUSA R-12 Award. Cecil and I are pre-riding the Birkie Brevet on March 29, but the ride itself is credited to the official ride date, which is on April 5. Besides, there was the lure of riding somewhere completely different. Somewhere where I had absolutely No Clue of where I was.

I arranged to carpool with Bill. The ride organizer offered up his guest bed. As the ride started right around the corner from his house... Wow. Can you imagine getting up and STARTING your brevet from the front door? Riding two blocks to the start?

The weather was forecasted to be, well, not to put too fine a point on it - wet. Temps mostly in the 40's. Start at 7am (sunrise around 7:30am). So, which piece of new gear did I need for this ride? A helmet cover was indicated. I recently bought a Bell Metropolis helmet, because it has a loop on the back to hold a light, and a nifty little integral mirror accessory. It also has a fitted helmet cover. Said helmet cover has little buttonholes for the helmet brim attachment points to fit through, and is curved to not interfere with the rear light mounting loop. I have a headlight that I attach as well. No holes for that. But I have the skills and tools, so two additional buttonholes were added Friday evening, while I was waiting for Bill to come by.

Off to Seattle (in the rain), with an expedient dinner stop at Burgerville in Centralia. Only on evenings before rides or the ride day, do I get to eat with impunity. Mmmm. Cheeseburger and fries.

Found Greg's house in Kent, no problem. Greg and Mary are really great folks. Their house is just like ours was a few years ago - random teenagers wandering in and out, and one is never quite sure how many will be there in the morning. I think a Guitar Hero session was going on somewhere.

I planned to get up at 5:30, eat my pbj sandwich, and head to the start. Over 100 riders had preregistered. So, proceeding as planned, got up and headed downstairs. I found Mary, their daughter and daughter's friend already up. Made my thermos of Gatorade tea, ate my sandwich and visited.

Then on with the shoes and booties, stowed my sandwiches, put on my wool cap, helmet, glasses, gloves with REI mountaineering shells on top (waterproof! I wanted waterproof!), jacket... and up the little hill. Bicycles and riders everywhere. It was dark and raining, but I managed to find Cecil in the crowd. Also saw Sal and Peg.

At 7am we all headed out; a long line of red taillights (some solid, some blinking) shiny through the rain. Daughter and her friend were out on the sidewalk, in the dark and rain, cheering us on. Cecil and I rode together all day. We followed the crowd. It eventually spread out, and we had to look at our maps from time to time. We rode through Kent, heading west, and along Dash Point (I still do not have an overview of the route in my head; bear with me). Nice views of Puget Sound, there.

Then to our first control at a grocery. Mark Thomas was there, signing our control cards. After determining that there were no functioning restrooms, Cecil and I ate some muffin and headed off. Up a hill (more great views of the Sound), then riding. Cecil started to worry that we had missed the turn onto Enchanted Parkway. I didn't think so, and we all compared odometers. By then Nat had joined us (Nat from the Bingen 200k in October - that was his first-ever brevet). His comment: "I'm sticking with you two because you looked like you were experienced at this!" I'm falling over laughing, because, yeah, sure, I can read a map, and follow navigation instructions, but we were all in completely unknown territory! Nat isn't used to riding where there are actual road choices and lots of urban traffic - he's from the Tri-Cities. After determining that no, we hadn't missed it, we rode on and found it.

Crossed I-5, rode around a little more, and found ourselves in Auburn. Narrow, quaint little main street, there. We stopped for a train. My left foot was not unclipping, and I almost fell over. Embarrassing, that. Another rider introduced himself - he's Gene from the Cascade Bike Club forums, so we've met electronically. :-) He said once we got through Auburn, we'd be out in the country.

And so we were. Many delightful and scenic miles (there was even a period of non-rain) on Green Valley Rd - farms with horses and shaggy, horned Herefords, sheep, goats, flowers. Flat, too. We rode past Flaming Geyser park, where Cecil and I learned that there is indeed a burning swamp gas emission, but "geyser" perhaps overstates it. Probably more like "pilot light".

I recognized the "bridge to nowhere" that John C. has on his flickr page, as we rode past it.

Then a stretch of climbing, of the 8% variety, working our way to the fabled Black Diamond Bakery (and control). I dropped behind on the climb and came around a corner and headed up the hill. I hadn't flipped my map over, and so missed the turn onto Jones Lake Rd. Got to the top of that hill (not THAT long), and checked the map. Ooops. Down the hill, around the corner, up another, less steep and long, hill and there was Mark, signing cards, and Cecil telling me she'd grabbed a table.

Peeled off the overmitts, went in, dumped my helmet, gloves, and card on the table and went to get an apple-walnut-whole wheat-cinnamon roll with cream cheese frosting and a hot chocolate. It was big. I really tried, but I couldn't eat the whole thing. Being at a table full of randonneurs, that wasn't a problem. My feet were refusing to warm up, so I put on some chemical toe warmers. Eric and Maggie came in and got real bowls of soup and rolls. Bill came in as Cecil and I were leaving. Mark gave us each a chunk of his enormous (dinner-plate-sized) cookie, and we reassembled, and headed off.

Rode along interestingly named roads (Kent-Kangley, Retreat Kanaskat, Cumberland Kanaskat), working our way to the east edge of Enumclaw. There was a Secret Control on that stretch :-). More riding through open farmland, all still very soggy from the winter rains. Then left onto Hwy 410, where we'd ride to the turnaround point at Greenwater (17 miles). The altitude increased, and there was snow beside the road in places. The rain returned. There were a few climbs, but it was mostly a gentle grade. Nice views, although it is rumored there is an enormous mountain out there, which we could not see. We followed the river on up, and watched the faster riders heading back down. My light, which had by this point decided that it did not need to be on (auto sensor), kept flicking on during the climb parts, which were shaded.

Eventually we arrived at Greenwater, where one store patron pronounced us all "crazy". Bought a Payday bar, and had my card signed by the store clerk. I changed my inner gloves to shortfingers, Smartwool liner gloves and old, beat up ragg wool gloves. Cecil changed her socks and got more handwarmers for her gloves. Maggie's feet were cold, and we offered her some toe warmers, but she passed, because then she'd have warm feet, and Eric and Brian wouldn't.

13 miles of mostly downhill, now. All the skiers, boarders and snowmobilers had decided to head home from Crystal Mountain for the day. Most of them passed us at a safe distance (yet still at high speed), but the occasional truck towing a trailer would not, and that was a little disturbing.

It had stopped raining at Greenwater, and the sun came out.

Finally got to the turnoff onto Mud Mt Dam road. Wonderful pavement, no traffic at all. And then a downhill. Even better. Then into Enumclaw, and to the Circle K, our last on-course control. I was dragging at that point, so I had some Ibuprofen, which I should have taken at Greenwater, Gatorade, half a banana and a caffeine-enhanced Gu. Results were immediately forthcoming.

It had definitely warmed up. All of 45 degrees. Cecil's bike computer had reported a low of 36? at the start, warming up to 40, dropping to 38 at Greenwater. So, not a warm day, by any means.

Cecil and I set out on the last 20 miles. I think we headed north from Enumclaw. I knew there were at least two more climbs in there. Flat horse country, then rollers, then down 212 Way. At the bottom, we found ourselves at the intersection with the bridge to nowhere again, this time heading up Auburn-Black Diamond Road. 1.7 miles. Cecil said it was mostly 8-9% with significant bits of 10%. (She has a nifty-feature-laden new bike computer, can you tell?). After that climb we wandered around some more, then got onto 132nd, and then 240th, for the last climb of the day, with the ride finish at the top.

It was still daylight. Novel! I finished at 7:03pm. Peeled off all the wet and dirty outer layers, and went inside for a big bowl of chili, salad, fruit, cornbread, chips, nuts, cookies...

Got to meet some of the other riders, plus visited with Peg and Maggie, and other riders I'd met on previous outings.

Nat finished, and we all cheered and took pictures. The shower came open, so I got to shower and put on clean clothes. I packed up all my stuff, and took my knitting downstairs to visit and wait for Bill. He finished at around 13 hours.

More visiting, etc. Bill and I finally left around 9:30pm.

I didn't take any pictures - the overmitts preclude getting the camera out, taking the picture and putting everything safely away. But there are pics here:

Jim Carson's pics
Cecil's pics


beth h said...

>>..."went to get an apple-walnut-whole wheat-cinnamon roll with cream cheese frosting and a hot chocolate. It was big."


It sounds ridiculous, and possibly just what the doctor ordered at the time.

Teriffic ride report! Congrats on adding another notch to that R-12.

Lesli L said...

I'm still getting mentally prepared for the 08 brevet season. You and Cecil are really getting me motivated with these early ride reports. At the moment, 68 miles seems like a nice polite distance.

How were the hills compared to the OR rando brevets??

Driving to cycling events is kind of lousy--dont you think. You two should come down and do Jack's down the drain brevet permanent as one of your 200ks. I'd join you.