|Route profile - not flat by any definition|
I planned to re-use last year's route, with one change - we'd go around in Astoria, rather than over. That was painful. The route got .1 km longer, 360.1 km total, but I still figured we'd be a shoo-in for the Lowball Award. The team name, by a vote of the 5 team members, was Nonsense Prevails.
The weather looked to be not bad, and there would even be a tailwind. Oh my. Shipped a box of clothes off to the hotel in Olympia. Bicycle cleaned. Previous saddle pulled out of the closet and reinstalled.
Day of, did the last food preparations (lox and bagel is a tasty ride snack), and dozed for about an hour in the afternoon. I can't say I slept, but I didn't do anything else.
The guys all drove to Olympia and caught the train there. Then they hopped the MAX train, and I met them at the transit center, where we coasted back down to the house. They all had a pre-dinner beer, then dinner all around. Then it was time to ride over to the start (7 minutes tops), and have our pre-ride pie and coffee. Fitz joined us there and took our only team picture. Keith thanked me for organizing and all. Me: "you say that NOW."
Given that the first 32 turns of our 78 turn cue sheet were getting us 12.1 miles to the edge of the Urban Growth Boundary, I took the lead. We had an amazing sunset as we headed towards Banks, our first control.
|Banks Thriftway control - Paul, Geoff, Lynne. Photo by Keith Moore|
Popped out into Vernonia, and had a brief discussion as to whether we should use the Cedar Side Inn or the bar across the street for a control. I suggested we go into the Cedar Side Inn, in case anyone wanted food. It was QUITE lively and loud in there. Blacklights, too, so we lit up the place in our neon/reflective vests. There was a birthday party going on, and Birthday Girl was completely entranced with our adventure. She ended up buying a round of coffee for us, and would have gotten us drinks, if we'd wanted them.
It was starting to get cold, so we all pulled on more layers. Not raining, so I didn't go so far as to add booties and RainLegs.
A couple of locals warned us about rude and/or drunk drivers on the road to Astoria. We thanked them and headed out. (For the record, until we got close to Astoria, we saw only three cars)
Given my spectacular bonk on the 300k a couple weeks ago, Narayan made it a point to make sure I was eating. My timer watch had given it up on the 300k, so I bought a countdown timer app for the phone. I had food. Also lots of Perpetuem. So I was, indeed, eating.
My plan, at least, was to take a short rest stop at the Jewell Elk Refuge. There is water, and the bathrooms are heated. We could conk out in one of them. Randos know the classiest places to stop. We arrived with plenty of time - no need to be to Astoria before 6am - so filled up bottles, took care of other business, then sat down and dozed for about 20 minutes.
|Napping. photo by Keith Moore|
Then, a couple miles out from the stop, at mile 82, the rain started. Darn. Pause while some of us added rain gear. Spun our way up to the Coast Range summit at mile 86. The rain got more insistent, and then even more so as we descended 11 miles. Brrr. The headlight was just wonderful, though.
Somewhere along there (Olney?) we pulled over and ended up doing a glove handout - one rider who shall remain nameless had only shortfinger gloves, so I loaned him my extra wool gloves. Keith shared some gloves with another rider. By this point I was wearing shortfinger gloves, Smartwool liner gloves, and ragg gloves with grippy palms over those. The outer two layers of gloves were worn intermittently for the balance of the ride.
Then there was a not really flat 11 mile stretch to Astoria, where we could see the Astoria airport and Warrenton as we rode by. The sky gradually lightened. What with the clouds and rain, I am sure the sun was there somewhere, but not yet seen. There was one really evil metal grid bridge. I was riding with Paul at this point, and we worked our way around the peninsula Astoria sits on, passing the bridge, and ending up at the Pig and Pancake. We found the other three inside, wet helmets and gloves and jackets draped everywhere.
Food and beverages were ordered; some attempted a nap.
|Narayan, Paul, and Geoff. Photo by Keith Moore|
Breakfast over, we then crossed over the Astoria Megler Bridge (4 miles long!) into Washington. The rain had let up some, but not stopped entirely. We wandered upriver a bit, and then rode up and over a ridge, heading inland.
Brief pause in Naselle for someone to buy food, but nothing was open yet. We were behind time, but this was expected; I knew we'd make it up. And now, there was nothing but riding between here and Raymond. We did have our tailwind. We also had the seemingly endless little climbs. And rain. And more rain. Heavy rain. I think all the rain in the universe was concentrated in the area around South Bend/Raymond as we were passing through. Munched on some more antacids; they were settling my stomach.
So that we wouldn't lose time there, I made the call to pull into a c-store in South Bend, and then we'd ride through Raymond, and the looming 4 hills. The first is a 400 foot climb, with a not particularly good shoulder, followed by three more 150-200 feet climbs. The road got much better. The other riders pulled ahead, and I didn't see anyone until the last climb, where I found Narayan. We all regrouped briefly, planning to stop at the Chevron in Montesano. I fell off the back again, and rode the 8 miles to Montesano solo.
Found everyone in the store. My first order of business was to swap the batteries in the SPOT, because it was telling me the batteries were low. Then I bought some peanut butter crackers; I was pretty tired of sweet stuff. We were almost an hour ahead of where I had been last year; looking good!
Then we headed off to McCleary, our 22 hour control. It looked like we'd get to take an actual break there. But wait! What was this headwind? Ack. So, slogging eastward, again riding solo after awhile. Bad, negative thoughts going through my head, along the lines of "I will never do this again, ever". I am sure this is partly because every single brevet I have ridden this year, and a fair number of permanents have been in very suboptimal weather.
The shoulder improves greatly once in Elma, but after awhile, one gets the feeling that McCleary is a myth, never to be found. But eventually it was, and there were bicycles parked outside the Subway, and many "wet floor" signs on the floor :-)
There was plenty of time to get a bowl of soup, a flatizza, and a Coke. We spread out on the booths, and left massive puddles wherever we stood or sat. I only wish I had not been so thoroughly saturated, because it really wasn't very warm in there. Well, it may have been warm enough if I had been dry.
Just before 5pm, we started reassembling for the final push. We had to ride together for the last two hours, so Narayan suggested I lead. Into the pouring rain, out of town, and over the hill to get onto Hwy 8. Lots of fast traffic, but also wonderfully wide shoulders; no worries. So there we were, and Keith rides up to tell me the other three are off the back. ??? Slowed down for the others to catch up.
Gentle uphill for about 10 miles, but it really didn't seem that far. Then downhill, off Hwy 8, and downhill some more, at which point there was only the climb just past the Blue Heron Bakery, and a couple of miles navigating through Olympia.
By now I was not considering finding a spot to wait until just before 7pm to finish right at 24 hours (tradition). Too cold and wet. The suggested route in to the finish location was a bit weird. I had scoped it out on Google Street View, but still made the gps-equipped team members lead us in. And there was still confusion at the bridge. But finish we did, at 6:48pm.
Dripped our way into the hotel, to be welcomed by riders who had finished earlier and taken hot showers and were wearing dry clothing :-)
Geoff and Paul changed and took themselves right back to Seattle, but Narayan, Keith, and I went out for some tasty Thai food. More random visiting back at the hotel, back to the room to chat with Susan and Asta, and then oblivion.
The next morning Susan got me some coffee (thank you!) while I packed up and organized. Looked like I'd be wearing yesterday's riding clothes for the trip to the train station - didn't want to be sitting on the train in wet clothes. Ewww.
But anyway, first there was first breakfast (hotel's continental breakfast) with many of the riders, and then we all adjourned to second breakfast (the after-ride banquet). Much fun, hearing about the other rides. Except possibly the team that didn't get rained on until the last 10 miles, and had warm sunny skies.
As planned, we took the Lowball Award. The route was even .1km longer than last year. :-)
Then it was time to change into the still damp jersey and shorts, and head off to the train station. Susan had concocted a route, but Andy S suggested we go a different way, involving some of the local bike trails. I know we ended up on the Chehalis-Western trail, but am not entirely sure how we got there. And coming off the trail, the development we rode through looked very familiar. Once we popped out on the Yelm Highway, I recognized the RAPsody route. Just a bit of riding there, and we were at the train station.
James was there as well :-) The train pulled in, we handed up our bikes, and went to find some seats. Shortly after departing, I changed my clothes, which was much better for everyone around me. The train arrived about 20 minutes early; Fitz was there very soon thereafter to collect us.
What went right? Surprisingly, a lot of things. Alert readers will note that I said nothing about falling asleep on the bike, bonking, having saddle issues or shoe issues.
What I wore - started out with a LS wool jersey, Louis Garneau Neo Power shorts, wool sports bra (very important), wool quarter socks, Assos gloves, stripey homemade cycling cap, and Gore Visibility Vest. In Vernonia I swapped on a wool beanie, and added a short sleeve wool jersey and wool armwarmers underneath. Also my Showers Pass jacket, venerable PI kneewarmers, some toe covers. When the rain set in, on went the helmet cover, wool longfinger gloves, RainLegs and Endura rain booties. Before the end (LONG before the end), I was completely saturated, but not cold, as long as I was moving. Stops weren't so very relaxing, because I'd start to shiver.
Randonesia is setting in, even.
All the pictures (not many, too wet to pull the camera out very much) here