Hares and Tortoise. I was wanting to ride the Seattle Randonneurs Dart Populaire, which was going to be held the day after the annual meeting. As I am in Portland and don't know the Seattle area well, I was hoping to get on a team formed up there. Theo (the organizer) and I chatted, and he said he'd check around.
A week later I received an email asking if I wanted to join him and James. He promised minimal distance and as few vertical feet as he could route to make it work. I was in.
Then there were the Logistics - the route started in Green Lake and finished in Kirkland - 20 miles and a big lake in the middle. The annual meeting was in Issaquah. A kind randonneur who lives near Theo (and Green Lake) offered up a bed for the night, and Theo and I planned to drive over to Kirkland, leave my car parked by Mark's house (two blocks from the finish location), and ride over to Green Lake.
It was originally going to rain, and I packed for that. After the car was loaded, Susan O shared an updated forecast with practically no rain. I figured I'd check before leaving the car, and remove any superfluous rain gear before riding off east. Theo also suggested I bring a u-lock. I have one. It must weigh at least two pounds. But I brought it along.
After a delightful annual meeting (so nice to see everyone!), it got even better - Shan offered to drive Theo and me back into Seattle!
Theo and I arrived at Noel's house and let ourselves in, saying hi to the very large, very friendly dog. We then hiked over a few blocks to get some dinner. Thai, world's noisiest restaurant. Food was good but there wasn't quite as much as I could have eaten. I heard Theo had pizza with James later :-) Theo pointed out the way I'd ride the next morning - I was under the impression that I'd just head down the hill, but I really needed to ride up a couple blocks and then down, so I'd end up in Green Lake and not Ballard.
Visited with Noel a bit and then conked out. Up the next morning, organized, and out the door, but not before Noel told me to take a banana. Fun ride up and over, and on the trail around Green Lake, where I quickly arrived at Fix Coffeehouse.
Our team had grown by one more - Audunn joined us. Nice!
We set out shortly after 8am. While I had the cue sheet and the route loaded on my phone, I was just going to follow Theo. Surface streets for a bit, then through Ravenna Park, which was firm pea gravel. Theo: "homage to Ken M". We then got onto the Burke-Gilman trail, familiar to me from several years of riding RSVP. Susan O's team passed us, riding south.
I think we missed a turn somewhere :-( and had about 3 bonus miles added to fix that. Then we were on the Bothell-Everett Highway for a good long while - strip malls and lots of traffic. Better than some heavily-traveled suburban roads I ride here, but we were all happy to get to the end of that! Lowell Larimer Road was a delight. Peaceful and quiet.
Our first info control was at the corner of Lowell Larimer and Lenora roads, involving a house with a totem pole in the yard.
Heading toward Snohomish; photo by Theo Roffe
We then turned east towards Snohomish and the delights of the Snohomish Bakery. Food service was slow, so we all bought pastries and coffee. Theo got a cheese bread thing the size of his head.
From there we headed north to Lake Stevens, by way of the Centennial Trail. I am pleased to report that the Bollards of Death have been replaced with more standard bollards. We saw both John Pearch and Ward Beebe out riding. Arrived at the coffee stand in Lake Stevens. Given that I was the slowest rider, I got my card signed and headed back; they'd catch up soon enough.
We headed back through Snohomish, and onto the part of the route that I recognized as RSVP in reverse. So, up that hill on Springhetti, up Broadway (does this hill have a top?), arriving at the 6 hour control in Cathcart, perhaps a little past 6 hours :-) Doesn't matter, you just can't LEAVE the 6 hour control before 6 hours. There was another team sitting outside, snacking.
Bought a banana and some more water, and we headed out. More miserably steep pitches (I never met a hill I couldn't walk up), and we finally arrived at the corner of Woodinville-Duval Road. I was totally looking forward to the descent, but first offloaded my u-lock on Theo ("ooh! More weight for the descent! Yay!"). Oh that was fun!
We arrived in Wilmot Park, where there was discussion about the route, and how it wouldn't get us across the river and... So, we went a slightly different way with a breathtaking wall which seemingly had no end. I had to walk the whole thing, just couldn't ride up it. I am still not sure which way we went.
Our 120km point was just as we got on the Kirkland Connector Trail, which we made by 7:50 elapsed. So we rode on for another 10 minutes, then took pictures and signed each other's cards at the 8 hour point.
From there we had a leisurely cruise to the finish in Kirkland, at the Chainline Brewery. I sat and drank a soda for awhile, and eventually scraped up the energy to get some tasty fries from the food truck.
This was my first calendared RUSA ride since last November, and the most challenging ride I have done this year. What with bonus miles and all, bike computer reports 79.6 miles, and 3154 vertical feet.