Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Kings Valley 400k. Better. Sort of.

Ah, the 400k.  My most challenging distance.  And this year, a more challenging route as well.  More vertical feet, and a possible 100km stretch with no services whatsoever.  On the plus side, a new route with new places.

Pacific Ocean at Spanish Head

After a long lecture conversation with my coach on how I did not eat anywhere near enough on the fleche ("You had so little calories I am really surprised you could ride this long."), I rummaged around and found my old running watch, which had a working countdown timer, and set it to go off every 15 minutes.  Made up 5 packets of Skratch electrolyte drink (140 calories) and 5 packets of Carbo-Pro/EFS mix (350 calories).  Packed a lot of food, mostly Allen Lim's yummy rice cakes, Clif Builder Bars (protein!), and Shot Bloks.

Planned my "big" eating locations, and added those to the cue sheet, along with all the summits.  I like to know these things.

Received my new headlight, so had an evening soldering session in the garage.  It is mounted the same place as the previous light, but I am getting a new rack so as to mount it ahead of the handlebar bag.

After obsessing over the weather, also tossed in my lightest SP rain jacket, helmet cover, and booties.  Otherwise I was planning to wear pretty much what I wore on the fleche, and it was supposed to be warmer.

To make it more fun, an NPR reporter was going to be following us around :-)

Arrived at the LaQuinta Friday evening, just as the other 3/4 of our hotel room showed up.  Checking in, unloading, faffing...  and in bed by 9:00.  3am was going to arrive awfully early.

Up we got.  I made the sad discovery that I had forgotten to bring my knee warmers.  Michal offered up his tights, but they'd be really long, and too hot.  I figured I'd be ok.  I didn't need them at the moment.

Food swaps, and Cyndi had a nice breakfast for us all.   My contribution was single serving Egg/Swiss Cheese/Mushroom/Onion fritatta (protein!).

Signed in, chatted with other riders, and it was 4am and off we went.  Lesli and I were the only women in the crowd, and I didn't see her or Michal after about 5 miles - they were going for time.  We did have a bit of a ride together at the start, so Michal got to see the wonderfulness that is my new headlight (more on that later).


Bit of a puzzlement when I realized we didn't actually go THROUGH Dayton, but it was fine, and probably shorter getting to Amity.  There is a new market on the corner, so I went in to get some more water.  Lonnie was leaving just as I arrived.

Baby trees near Amity

Ballston Rd, on to Sheridan

My timer was going off every 15 minutes, and I was taking a big bite of something and drinking every 15 minutes.  For the whole ride.

The shoulder on Hwy 18 has not improved.  That stupid rumble strip goes right down the middle of it, leaving precious little space to ride.

Made nice time to Grand Ronde, which was a planned meetup with Angela from NPR, as well as a Real Food stop.  I am instructed to learn to eat "gas station sandwiches".  Grand Ronde offered made to order sandwiches, so I got my sandwich order underway, and walked around the store getting a Mocha Doubleshot and more water and getting the card signed, with Angela in tow.  Collected water bottles and sunscreen, and settled on the bench to eat, talk, prepare bottles and apply sunscreen.

evidence of eating, Grand Ronde

Angela from NPR interviews Jeff

While I was engaged in all those things, Jeff A rolled up, and we joined forces.  Bidding farewell to Angela, we headed up to Sourgrass Summit.  It didn't seem to take long... "wait, what, this is the summit?"  Zipped down to Hwy 101, where we turned left, and it was all new roads from here until Independence.

Ocean view


Jeff on Slab Creek Rd

Then we turned onto Slab Creek Rd.  After hearing for years how awful the pavement was, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually pretty darn good.  Less good heading up, but new pavement heading down.  A very pretty climb, and since it wasn't killing me, perhaps I was not attacking it hard enough.  The downhill was way fun!

Pronto Pups in Otis

From there we ended up in Otis (more water; Jeff bought pepperoni sticks), then a bit more on 101 and off onto East Devil's Lake Rd, along the backside of Lincoln City.  It rolls a whole bunch there.  Lots of very, very nice houses, a summer camp where I have attended events, and some High Water.  I rode through it very slowly.  My soles touched the water, but never went under.

More wandering along, and we popped out by the Factory Outlet Stores.  Right after we turned onto 101, Jeff wondered if they had a Pearl Izumi outlet; I could get some knee warmers.  A bit of online research said no, but there was a Nike store, and a pair of running capris would do very nicely.  As I had worked at Nike for 22 months, I knew exactly what I wanted, and the store had it.  Most expedient trip ever in a Nike store.  First ever outlet shopping trip on a brevet, too.

Found Bill at Spanish Head, where pictures were taken.  Fabulous view of the ocean.
picture by Bill Alsup

Bill at Spanish Head


Another 4.5 miles and we turned east on the Siletz Highway.  It is so very, very, very pretty back there.  What with all this newfangled eating and drinking, I also needed to do more stopping.  We found an RV park where the manager pointed us at the facilities and told us the combination to get in. My bike picked up a piece of gravel in the parking lot and the rear wheel would not budge.  I popped the wheel out to get it loose while Jeff finished up.  He just realized that he can Wash His Face on rides!  A wonderful feeling it is, too.  24+ miles on the highway, flat to gently rolling.  We saw pretty horses (white ones with gold manes and tails), llamas, cattle, alpaca, sheep, goats...

Siletz River with camera strap

Evidence of participation

Eventually, we found Siletz.  Also Bill, who was finishing up.  We went into the market to stock up for the next possible services-free 100k.  I filled up my auxiliary water container (1 liter collapsible Platypus bottle), bought a sandwich and another Doubleshot, grabbed my sunscreen, and sat in the shade across the street to eat.  Lonnie joined us here - he'd gotten bonus miles by missing the Logsden turn and looking for it in all the wrong places.  He left before we did.  Hard to eat those sandwiches - the bread makes me choke.  Have to work on that.

Lonnie, Siletz

I was doing my major cue sheet flip and pressing the air out of the big ziploc bag I keep it in, when a townsperson came by: "what are you doing?  what are you posting there?"  Umm.  Nothing.  Very weird.  Most of the folks in Siletz were really nice, stopping to chat, wishing us a good ride and so on.

Some more pretty and rolling miles to Logsden, and we got there long before the store closed.  There are great murals painted on the outside.  I got a gentleman inside to sign my card; there seemed to be random locals socializing in there.  Topped off the water again.  He insisted on taking my picture with the murals, too.

Logsden Store mural

Not climbing yet

Pavement ends

Now the "fun" started.  The stretch between Logsden and Blodgett is the really hilly part.  Rolled along for awhile, again, not getting overly stressed, except to wonder where the mythical gravel stretch was.  Oh.  There it was.  Hardpack with loose gravel all over it.  Kept a steady pace up until the road banked and I started sliding down.  Walking!  The grade was 8-10%, so I couldn't even think about starting up on that.  A motorcyclist came by and asked if this was the way to Blodgett.  We sure hoped so, and told him what our cue sheets said.

Walked up.  Then walked down, because it was no less steep and slanted.  Finally to a place where I thought I might be able to start up.  Headed down, it started to get a bit too exciting, but I could see the pavement, and headed right for it.  Whew!

Then the next climb, which went up to Summit (which wasn't, but I already knew that), and went up and down about 5 or 6 times.  And finally we dropped into Blodgett about 7:30.  And the store was still open!  More water and a Sobe.  I needed a break from electrolyte stuff.

Rolling our way east


In theory, we had three more summits.  The first one was over before we knew it, the second and third ones rolled along for awhile.  The stretch on Hwy 20 was not too bad - big shoulder.  It got dark along here, but with my wonderful new Luxos U headlight, I could see much better, and took the descents a bit faster.  It also helped that the pavement was absolutely wonderful.

Ok, so it is dark now.  Our intermediate goal was to make it to the control in Monmouth before the Burgerville closed at 11pm.  And we did, by 20 minutes.  I got a kiddie cheesburger and a Coke.  Jeff ordered a bigger one.  My kiddie meal prize was pea seeds and a plant marker - I gave them to Jeff for his daughter.  He ate my fries, too.  Pulled on the running capris and long sleeved jersey over the short sleeve jersey and arm warmers.

And then I started to yawn.  Oh no.  Kept it going until Salem and the convenience store.  Bought a V-8.  No use of the bathroom allowed.  Ok then.  Not stopping there anymore.  Jeff knew of a good gas station store in Keizer on the way out, so we stopped there.  Got a Coke and put it in one of my bottles, and mixed up the very last drink mix I had (that is 10 packets of electrolytes, half with extra calories consumed.  A new record).

Out of Salem/Keizer, north on River Rd, north until it turned into French Prairie (friend Don lives there), right on St Louis Rd.  I started wobbling.  Finally had to call a halt and get a short (bike computer says less than 5 minutes) nap.

Off again.  Tried to stay awake.  Kept smacking my face, eating caffeinated mints, drinking the Coke and so on.  It was just NOT working.  Finally, right after the turn onto Boones Ferry (10 miles out.  Sigh) I did stop.  Jeff said try for a longer nap, and I was out for 25 minutes.  I hope he was too.  Tweeting birds woke me up, and we headed out for the last bit.  I really felt much more alert, so maybe the pre-nap caffeine and the nap combined to perk me up.  Finished BEFORE sunrise, at 5:06am.  Only 1 sunrise on this ride.

Got to the hotel, found the control room, and gently woke up the control worker :-)  John Henry and I chatted for a bit, then I headed over to the elevator and my room.  Cyndi let me in, and I took a good long shower to scrub off all the rando crust.  Oh, that bed felt really nice.

Woke up around 9am, joined the others for breakfast in the hotel lobby.  Home just after 10am, Mother's Day Brunch, short nap, Timbers soccer match, home, in bed by 6pm, didn't get up until 7am the next morning...

Final Comments: Finished it up at 5:06am, which was about 2 hours longer than I personally wanted it to be.  But it was still 40 minutes better than last year's ride, and a more challenging route, with no bonks, or even the hint of a bonk.  Took rather longer to get sleepy as well.  My coach is delighted.

SPOT track is here (stopped tracking about 10 mi before the end, because I rolled over 24 hours.  I have learned something new)

Distance: 252.85mi (almost exactly matches RideWithGPS.  Finally got the computer calibrated!)
Pace: 12.57mph avg.  slower than last year, but more climbing on this one.
Total Time: 25:06; 40 min faster than last year.  Less faffing/sleeping
Vertical feet: 10031 according to RWGPS
All the pics here (lots of them)

Fiat Lux!
Ah yes, the new light.  The Luxos U is amazing.  Wonderful wide light throw and a good long distance down the road as well.  The previous light is a Supernova, backed up by an Ixon IQ, and this is much, much better.  I did not give the charging function a test, so I cannot report on that.  But the light on the road is very good; it doesn't wash out the surface.  Did I mention the wideness and length and brightness of the beam?


Oliver Smith said...

Wonderful report and pics, Lynne! That's an amazingly challenging ride -rumble strips, high water, loose gravel, a bazillion summits, and outlet stores over 400k (with no bonks)! Nicely done. I hope to do this someday!

ErinL said...

I enjoyed reading this. I'm somewhere near the same point in my randonneuring with 2 400Ks completed. I love how you are able to remember so many details and turnout a very readable ride description! Pics are great too!