Which list, you might ask? The possibly the hardest ride I have ever done list. This one moves past my last Bikenfest outing.
Because of someone's baby shower date scheduling, I needed to ride a different 300k. (It would be really, really bad if Grandma wasn't there. Really bad. Especially since Aunt and Great-Grandma won't be there.)
Susan and Asta thought they'd participate as well, so a close to the start and the finish hotel room was secured. They both appeared at the same time on Friday afternoon, and, having removed one rear seat, and removing one front wheel (Asta's), we successfully stuffed 3 bikes, 3 cyclists, and their stuff into the Element and drove north. Of course on a Friday evening it took FOREVER to drive through Portland and cross the I-5 bridge. But we didn't care. We had company.
Dinner in Olympia at Casa Ramos. Some people were overwhelmed by the choices in the menu :-) Me, I figure it isn't my last meal and try to order something not too big and not too expensive.
Susan played the part of the GPS for the last couple miles, successful arrival, check-in,... Asta: "wait, aren't we skipping something?" We checked in while you were napping; didn't want to disturb you :-)
Did I mention that I had a cold, with a bit of a cough, and a sometimes exuberant runny nose? Yeah.
Good night all. Up at 5:30, and I will say for 3 women and 1 bathroom, we all did a great job of getting ourselves up, dressed, and down to the breakfast room with our bikes. They had a great breakfast selection. There were some similarly-dressed folks also eating breakfast, so we all introduced ourselves.
Then last minute business and out the door to the Safeway. We rode by the back side of the brewery, pretty cool. Lots of riders at the Safeway; checked in and greeted all my SIR rider friends who I hadn't seen for several months. But wait... where was Peg? where was Narayan? My hope of having some company at some points in the ride evaporated.
Off we went, and it started to rain. And rain. And rain. (keep repeating that refrain until I tell you to stop)
SE into a headwind (keep repeating that as well) for the first 15 miles to Rainier. It was described as a climb, but it wasn't too much of one. Riders pulled away, and, as expected, found myself riding solo. Somewhere along there I passed Susan, fixing a flat. She said she was ok, so I went on.
Found Vinnie and Josh in the parking lot of the Texaco. We chatted a bit, they signed my card, and pointed me at the trail. Right. I knew that. Nice trail, and eventually I recognized the tall trees and athletic fields - I had arrived in Tenino. On STP, this is the stop with the really big cookies. Not today. Off the trail, through Tenino, and pressing onward through Bucoda to Centralia.
I stopped at the Pearl St. Market to get more water. Every time I paused, I would stuff a chunk of fruitcake in my mouth, so I wasn't hungry, but I did need more water. Allen F and Jason H had also stopped, but I think they left before I did.
Susan O caught up as I was headed into Centralia proper, and I followed her through and out. The heavy rain had conspired to cause some leakage through the vinyl cover of my map pocket and through my 9x12 ziploc bag. Time for another one. Note to self: carry backup cue sheet in another ziploc bag in the front bag... Not so bad that I could not figure out what it said.
From Centralia we headed SE on Alpha-Centralia Rd. I remembered this from coming the other way on my first-ever 600k, after recovering from a bonk. So, perhaps I was thinking it would be challenging. Now, there WERE a couple of steep ramps, but really, not so much. Climb up the ramp and roll up and down. Pretty. (still raining). I thought I was hallucinating, that I would occasionally see a rider up ahead, but probably not. I started to notice hail by the roadside. Lots of hail. I guess I missed it. Did see one rider headed back, and another standing under a porch on a utility building of some sort. Before I got to 508, I realized I was not hallucinating, and eventually caught up with Jason H.
There was an info control at the turn onto Cinebar Rd, but instead we found John P ("I've abandoned all thoughts of riding on the Oregon side for our fleche route") and Rick B. Cards signed, a little bit of visiting. Rick: "we are watching your SPOT". John: "Where do you put it?" I pointed him back to Little Pink Bear. The bear finally has a job :-) My comment to Rick - "I can see places where it is not raining. We are not riding in any of those places."
Pushed off to find Mayfield Lake and Mossyrock and the loopy bit out of there. By now, the rain had actually let up. Maybe even stopped. Dropped down to the lake, again leapfrogging Jason. I pulled into a handy park structure for a quick stop, but found him on the bridge across the lake.
Now we started up, climbing a couple hundred feet to Mossyrock. Some of those feet were very compressed. I stopped for a minute, and could see Kathy and Charlie walking up ahead, but they pushed off before I got there.
Into Mossyrock and the grocery. Mindful of my coach's instruction to Eat More Protein, I rummaged around in the sandwich case, finally settling on roast beef/cheese. Chatted with Kathy and Charlie as they finished up their sandwich. Looks like they ate as much as I did. Had half a sandwich, but the bread sort of made me gag. Topped off my bottles and left.
The next stretch was quite pretty, and not raining. More climbing winding up Perkins Rd, the highest point in the ride. I had peeled off the raincoat in hopes of getting my top layers to dry out. And they did. My feet never did dry out all day. Down for awhile, then up again as we passed the lake. Mostly downhill, with bits of up, but heading into the W part of the headwind. Yup, still with us. Lots of farms along here, with llamas and cattle. Passed Susan fixing another flat.
Crossed under I-5 about mile 107, heading SW (into the wind), and annoyingly back up to our next control in Vader. Strangely, my body was trying to sleep. Really, really big yawns. Couldn't stop them. Finally paused and had a gel with caffeine. Got to Vader, and Allen and Jason were there. I made myself a rando mocha (more caffeine, yes please!), and chatted with the cashier while I drank it. "You've got one more really bad hill coming up". I remembered it from the Two County Double Metric Century of many years ago. It was painful on the speedy bike with only 60 miles in (I didn't know what randonneuring was, back in those days), and I was not looking forward to it. Topped up the liquids again, stuffed a chunk of fruitcake in my mouth and headed off.
Started raining. Blah. Sucked down a gel before the hill. There might have been one or two short bits of walking. But I got to the top and headed down, after zipping everything up. Rain....
But! Finally! At mile 120, headed NORTH! YAY! Kind of beat up by now, pedaling along, and at Boistfort Rd, turned west again into the wind. I noticed my other blinkie (I had swapped batteries on one before the ride) kept turning off, so I took a brief stop to change the batteries. The ride to Pe Ell was again, wonderfully agriculturally pretty, but it soon started winding uphill.
Down into Pe Ell. This was a control, and there was a store, and a tuna sandwich. I managed to eat half of it, and borrowed Allen's towel to wipe my clear lenses off before installing them. It was officially getting dark-ish, but not dark yet.
Free-range goats along here. Also signs for free-range cattle, but I didn't see any of those.
Not to far out of Pe Ell, past the other end of Boistfort Rd, I spotted blinkies up ahead. Was I catching up with Jason? No. But I did find a Secret Control, with Ian, Corey and Josh. And a covered area, heater, chair and hot chocolate. And a blanket. And a couple of welcome hugs. There was indeed a shortcut, if one wanted to climb back out of Pe Ell and go over Curtis Hill. Ow. No. I have done it, and got my fastest ever descending speed on the other side. Ow. So, after half the cup of hot chocolate (Allen had come and gone), I started out again.
More sleepies. I stopped and dug some caffeinated mints out of my bag and crunched on those. It seemed to work, and I didn't have any more dozy episodes.
There were still a good number of miles to ride before the left onto Scheuber Rd. I finally had to remove my glasses, because the oncoming traffic would light up the rain drops on them and totally blind me. I never did catch up to Allen. I had looked at the turn on Google Street Map, and it pretty much looked like a turn in the middle of nowhere. I could only hope that the turn was marked (Washington is pretty good at that).
There was a gas station on the right; I pulled in for more water and directions. I was just about there. One patron wanted to know if this was dangerous. Well, no one had tried to kill me yet. Left onto Schueber. Listened to about a million frogs croaking. Eight miles later I was at the Centralia Safeway, the last on course control. I was really, really cold. Going into hypothermia cold. The staff at Safeway was not helpful, and that was the control. So I got my card signed after waiting around and went over to the Texaco convenience store. The cashier pointed me at the hot water tap. Filled my thermal jug and made calories in a bottle with an added teabag. Drank some hot water. Finally quit shaking. Twenty more miles to go. I decided to wear all my gloves and all my wool hats. That helped.
North again. Heavy rain. Pedal pedal pedal pedal... I didn't even know what time it was, just that I would finish in time. Not too worried about that. It was so cold. Case Rd felt three times longer than advertised. Look! A Stop Sign! Oh darn, Maytown Rd. More to go. Pedal, pedal, pedal, pedal. Not even a place to take shelter from the rain. Several light-years later, I arrived at the end of Case Rd, cut under the freeway, and continued, again, on Case Rd. A few more turns, all feeling much longer than they should have, and I could finally see the Motel 6 sign up ahead.
Headed toward the blinkies, leaned the bike against something, went inside and started toweling off. It was 2am. Signed things, and sat there long enough to quit shaking (again). Headed off toward the Best Western, except I turned the wrong way at the light and got an extra couple of long blocks tour of Tumwater.
Finally, back where I was supposed to be. It was a very hard choice, shower or bed? If I could have slept in the shower, I would have.
Next morning heard Susan and Asta rustling around and heading off to breakfast. Except their bikes were still in the room. Not good control efficiency. Fell back to sleep; woke up some time later. Bikes still there... After deciding that I should probably not get breakfast in my pjs, quickly got dressed and walked down. All the riders staying in the hotel were rehashing the ride. Susan said that the forecasted 25 mph headwind and thunderstorms were what called it off, and would I mind having company on the drive home? No, not at all. After an extended breakfast (seconds on scrambled eggs with ketchup) we finally went back to pack up and load the car. Susan offered to drive. Even better. Pre-drive walk over to Starbucks.
Arrived home, unloaded, got all the soaking wet cycling gear out of the bag and became one with the chair.
My cough let me know exactly how much it appreciated this much fun. Worked from home three days so as not to scare the co-workers.
Finally getting better now.
Bike computer claims 7900 vertical feet
RideWithGPS claims 7700 vertical feet
In either case, not an excessive number for a 300k.
for the whole day 193.5mi, avg 11.62. oh, that's slow...