Wednesday, June 6, 2012

SIR Watery Olympic Peninsula 600k Brevet

Fair warning: very long ride.  So's this posting

In preparation for this ride, I had a new rear wheel built (Velocity A23 rims, existing White H3 hub, new spokes), and retaped the handlebars with gel padding underneath.

Sea stacks, La Push

The weather was going to be iffy - packed shorts, both OrRando jerseys (needed to represent!), leg warmers, Shebeest loose knickers to wear over that, booties just in case, PI Softshell Pro gloves...

This ride would ALSO be the first ride of any length with food in the bottle.  Made up a bunch of ziplocs of Carbo-Pro/EFS for both days, plus tossed in some Inari Sushi (didn't work) and Trail Putty (must get VBC's recipe.  Mine softens up.)

Planned to drive up with Bill A.  Theo joined us as well.  I had a room in Kingston with two beds, that would do.

Theo arrived about 2pm.  I marveled at his tiny drop bag.  Bill appeared shortly thereafter; we loaded up and headed north.  We went by way of Tacoma, and drove over the Narrows Bridge.  As we pulled into the hotel, we saw at LEAST one other rando bike in the motel lot.  We found Bill G, who was registering riders staying on the Kingston side.  Forms signed, cards handed over, and he decided to join us for dinner.  We walked a few blocks down and had a great dinner in a pub/restaurant.  My bike was all ready to go, as was Theo's.  Bill had a bit more organizing to do.

Sweetpea ready to go

Up the next morning, ate Greek yogurt with berries and Cheerios, and coasted down the street to the start point.  At about 6am, the ferry arrived, and we were treated to the sight of a seemingly-endless stream of cyclists riding off the ferry.

Riders POURING off the ferry

Found Chris W, Albert M ("oh, you are going to ride with your OTHER club!"), Narayan, Peg, and Jan H.  Visiting around, and then the route rap from Kole.  Someone from the back yelled out that he should tell us that Klaylock is spelled Kalaloch :-)  Good thing.  I wouldn't have known.  I'd have to send them off to Pulashis, Texas (spelled Palacios.  Go figure.)

So, 6:15am, and off we went.  I rode along with Narayan for awhile; we caught up.  I think Peg came along somewhere in there.  Eventually we ended up in Bremerton, and I got to ride over the Manette Bridge, and then briefly onto SR-3.  It started drizzling, but not enough to make me want to pull on my jacket or booties.  That was pretty much it for the rain all weekend.


Bill, riding south out of Belfair

Bit of a squeeze by a minivan getting onto SR-3.  Then out Belfair Rd, eventually finding a QFC at mile 39.  Not a control, but I went in and got more water.  Albert, Bill A, and Bill G were also there.

Bill A and I rode together out WA-106, through Union and out to the Skokomish Mudflats, the first control.  Lots of nice riding right along Hood Canal.  Looked like a lot of clam diggers out there.

Hood Canal

Skokomish mudflats

The control had camp chairs, tasty food (potatoes, bananas, and excellent big cookies) and... HOT COFFEE!  I hadn't had any yet, so it was very, very welcome.  Narayan: "I'm leaving... Wait, they have coffee?"  One control worker said "hi Lynne!", and he had to remind me he was Dan J.  Well, you know, he wasn't in riding gear, and had gone off and grown a beard. We are both UH Cougars, and there aren't many of us in the PNW.  :-)

SIR Skokomish control

Tire discussion underway; I mentioned that I had the Hutchinson 650Bs, with 3500 miles on them.  Immediate inspection of tires by some of the control workers :-)

Kicking the tires

Back off into the headwind, which was one of the major themes of the day.  More riding in the flats (this whole section from Belfair to Matlock was the "flat" bit of the ride).  Nothing remarkable about it.  Arrived at the next control (Matlock General Store 80.2 mi), to find Bill G patching another flat.  Got more water.  I was drinking calories in a bottle and making up new bottles as I needed them.  Bill G offered up a packet of Spiz.  I'll try it, but not on such a high-stakes ride. Bill A and Narayan eventually appeared, just as I was leaving.

Bill G in Matlock

scenery, Matlock

There was some promised gravel on the next stretch.  The road eventually started going up and down.  Cougar Smith Rd was quite enjoyable, but then I crossed a bridge and found the gravel.  Hard pack, not a problem.  There was one pitch, were the grade got to 11% and I had to walk it (the grade kept increasing for awhile) until it got down to 8%.  Not long.  Then I was at the top and riding along the ridge for a few miles.  My bike computer went stupid here.  This would not be good.

gravel panda

Olympic Peninsula ferns

Got onto the pavement and fiddled with the pickup positioning, and it came back; no erratic readings for the balance of the ride.  Albert and Peg came along as I was stopped, and they stopped, so we continued on together.


Future clearcut

Fun descents, lots of conversation.  Peg eventually pulled ahead on one steepish long climb, and I was riding solo again.  Somewhere in there Albert and I converged, and rode together to the Humptulips store.  Or maybe he was there already?  Anyway, more water, chatting with the storekeeper, enjoying the interchange with the two German tourists trying to buy gas.

entering the park

Next control (20 miles further) was the Quinault Rainforest General Store at 145 miles.  Albert and Bill G were there, Bill patching another flat.  I needed something, and eventually settled on a can of condensed Chicken Noodle Soup.  Cold.  Straight from the can.  The shopkeeper said she was really glad to see me, because it was so cool that I was 1 of 4 women total on the ride, out of 60+ riders.  I noted that the women generally had more sense.

Lake Quinault

Off again, solo, and back onto Hwy 101 for the next 68 miles, the overnight control in Forks.  As the sun started setting, I started getting dopey.  Eventually I did pull off for a short nap.

Sunset heading toward Kalaloch

Then, a mile or so down the road, who should I find but Vinnie and John and Vinnie's friend!  With sandwiches!  And (what I REALLY NEEDED), frappucinos!


Then off to Kalaloch, which, with everything closed, was now an info control.  Stopped and got a picture of the ocean (Ocian in view! Oh! Joy!)

Kalaloch just after sunset, again

Last 34 miles until Forks.  All on Hwy 101.  Dark.  Solo.  I have never before ridden solo at night.  Tried singing 99 bottles of beer, made it to 97 before I decided that wasn't helping.  It was chilly, so I was very happy to have more layers and warm gloves to pull on.  Took a few more naps.  Had the road to myself, pretty much.  I was on that road forever.  Getting a bit foggy, and even more chilly.  I was sure Forks was there somewhere.

And finally... Forks!  Just after 2am.  Drunk teenagers walking around.  A few big pickups with the occupants yelling encouragement.  No vampires.  No werewolves.  Finally found the hotel, and found Dan at the control.  He checked me in, gave me a room key, and took me over to the food room.  Hot soup.  I knew that I wouldn't get very much sleep :-(

Dan J, Forks control

Off to my room, which the only other female rider was just vacating.  Peg had DNFed.  Sad.  Shower, half hour nap, then back to the food room for some souffle.  Found a very nice note from Theo in my handlebar bag.  Pushed off about 4:45am for the out and back to La Push.

The out was fast, with great pavement.  Waved at Theo and several other returning riders.  Sea stacks are cool, but I didn't feel that I had a lot of time to properly explore.

Sea stack, La Push

The ride back was somewhat less fast.  And I was sleepy.  Started to worry about a possible DNF, because I could not stay awake.  No naps, but I did find myself on places of the road that I couldn't remember riding to.  Just before arriving back at Hwy 101, there was enough sunlight that I did wake up.  Whew.

From here to the Lake Crescent control was all uphill.  I had checked the elevations, and it didn't seem like it would be particularly difficult, just a long, gentle grade.  Stopped at a store past Forks for water; visited with Andy S a bit.  After consideration of what was ahead, I turned both my bottles into calories in a bottle.   Mike J and John D (2 more of the 5 OrRandos on this ride) rode up, and we rode together for awhile.  Then they moved on.  Pulled over to remove all sorts of extra layers.  Except my leg warmers.  They stayed on the entire ride.  Kept on going.  Arrived at the control  (268+ mi) with just over 2 hours in the bank.  Ace control workers got me a Coke and a hard boiled egg.  Heard that Narayan and Duane had DNFed :-( There was some inspection of my new A23 rim.

Lake Crescent control

As a descent was now looming, pulled the layers back on.  Didn't help much, I shook the entire way down.  So did the bike.  Lots of knee on the top tube and slowing down.  I rode completely solo from here to the end.

Lake Crescent was gorgeous.  So much so that I took pictures of the lake, as well as stopping to get a few waterfall pictures.  Faffed away some time in the bank, there.

Sweetpea at Lake Crescent

Waterfall, Lake Crescent

Then onto East Beach Rd.  My, my. Homage to Tahuya - inconsistent pavement, uphill, STEEP uphill, remote :-)  Finally got to the top, and rode through Joyce (info control!) and another 10+ miles into Port Angeles (303 mi).

My phone thought it was in Canada.  I could SEE Canada, but I am pretty sure I never left the US.  Brief stop to get more water, a banana, and a Payday bar.  Lest you all think I hadn't been eating all along - I surely had - bananas, trail putty, some snacks at controls, and all that food in the bottle.

By now, you might be wondering... Lynne, where's the bonk?  No bonks.  Not one.

Port Angeles was a series of evil, steep, nasty ramps, eventually dumping me back onto Hwy 101.  From there, a turn onto the Old Olympic Hwy, and thence to the Dungeness Spit (322 mi) for an info control.

Dungeness Spit

Also mouthful of Trail Putty control.  Admired the view, and then pressed on.  From there, off to Sequim (pronounced Skwim), for the last on-course control.  Quiet riding.  Towne Rd did have a few ramps (ouch).  There might have been 3 bonus miles in there somewhere.  Did get to the Sequim Safeway (329 mi), where I consumed a mocha, and topped off the bottles.

Last stretch, all on Hwy 101, and then SR-104.  Hwy 101 (18+ miles) was notable for its nice wide shoulders, and big pickups pulling bigger boats.  And RVs pulling bigger boats.  Noisy.  A bit scary.  Climbing up, then fast descents.  I was hoping for better on SR-104, took the exit and... was faced with a ramp that went on forever.  I couldn't see the cars dropping off at the top, either.  I think I wanted to stop and cry right there, but that wouldn't get me to Kingston.  Worked my way up, alternating sitting and standing.  It was about 2.5 miles long.  A descent then another ramp.  And another ramp.  And so on.  Started to wonder if I'd ever get to the Hood Canal Bridge.  Endless.  I'd get warm climbing, then freeze on the descents.  Lots of zipping and unzipping.  After 14 miles of this, finally, the bridge.

This was kind of fun.  I had never ridden on this bridge (heck, I'd never ridden on most of this route!).  I got one picture.

Hood Canal Bridge

Across, into Port Gamble (hey, I've been HERE), where I stopped to pull on the night riding gear.  Didn't know if I'd finish on the right side of sunset and wanted to be prepared.  Albert zipped by here; first rider I'd seen since Lake Crescent.

Still on SR-104, but not nearly as hilly.  There was a set of short ramps leading into Kingston, including the last 5% one just before the finish.  Normally 5% isn't a big deal, but after so many miles it can be rather more of a challenge.

Hey!  There's the Blue Water Inn!  I'm done!  Big hug from Jennifer (ace ride co-organizer)!  Pizza!  Soda!  Pictures!  Visiting!  Then getting into our room (Theo had arrived much earlier and had the key), and a wonderful shower.  More visiting.  I even drank a beer.

Jennifer, Bill G, and Kole

Me at the finish (photo by Mike J)

Control card front

Next day ate all the leftover SIR control food :-), took the Kingston ferry across and drove back home.  We'd still be asleep, but for Theo waking us up at 10am...

Bill and Theo on the ferry

38:32 total time
384 miles (a few bonus miles in there)
12.4 avg mph
16,223 vertical feet
6.5 hours off the bike, 30 minutes sleeping
No bonks.  Not one!
No mechanicals or flats.  Tires now have 3900 miles on them.
No post-ride migraine
No numb extremeties - hands and feet are both fine
Miles ridden on Hwy 101 145
Lots of solo riding, including at night.

All the pictures (lots more) here


Janice in GA said...

You are my hero. For realz. :)

Well done, you!

humming said...

Thanks for all the great photos.