Monday, April 23, 2007

2007 Flèche Northwest: Success for Flèche Gordon's Space Cadets

Pictures are here:

The Team of Allison Bailey, Paul Johnson, Narayan Krishnamoorthy, Brian List, and Chuck Pailthorp successfully completed the 2007 edition of Flèche Northwest, with a strong ride througout. The ride was scheduled to begin at 3p from Brian List's house. Allison and I took the bus from Downtown Seattle, and reached Olympia at 2.30p.

We headed south to Castle Rock, where we planned to have dinner. Castle Rock had one Chinese restaurant, and we ate there. I got something vegetarian, but my friends were all carnivores, and so had to suffer even more. The food was truly awful. A definite thumbs down.

Brian List had pointed out to me that my rear blinkie (in solid mode, RUSA regulation) was not very visible from afar. I was bummed about this, but Paul Johnson came through with batteries for my taillight. I offered to return new batteries to him, but he refused, saying I had to owe him that forever. Some debts are not repaid easily, if at all.

We stopped near Vader (near Mrs. Beesleys, highly recommend their Milkshakes) and I had a Starbucks DoubleShot and so did Allison. I was feeling sleepy at this point and the drink gave me a nice lift. Paul warned that Allison would take off, and sure enough she and Brian List took off like bats out of Heck on Jackson Highway. Paul and I plodded behind, and saw their taillights vanish off into the distance. We regrouped at a light, and got stopped by Toledo Police, and Brian explained what we were up to. The Sheriff wished us a safe ride and took off. It was either Centralia or Chehalis, where we saw Dave Read's team flying low, all lit up like UFOs.

We headed back to Olympia for a snooze in the pre-dawn hours (4:15a). Chuck made us all great breakfast which featured a great Banana-Grape smoothie and we left together around 6.15a. The hills quickly broke us up, but we reached Hoodsport around 9.30a. Paul was there first, and was at the Hoodsport Coffee Company (which is his favourite stop).

Time was conspiring against us at this point, and when my ride mates stopped at Eldon, I rode on. I was well and truly gassed when I got to the Chevron station at Brinnon, and sat down to eat a Bean Burrito with a Starbucks Latte (coffee avoidance be darned). I thought I had put some distance between us, but my team mates scurried ahead of me a little later. They let me catch them, we reached the summit almost together and this was our 22hr point. Not feeling that great, I took off again for Quilcene. When I met my team, I told them that Center road owned me and took off. Felt a little bad about taking off, but not being a great climber, I had little choice. Center Road after 350+ km was a way easier beast to deal with than Center Road after 550+ km (referring to last years 600, which finished in Kingston).

I waited at the 20km point (from Quilcene), which at 370k, put us well over the 360K point (according to Brian's calculations). I sat down on the grass, and Brian and Chuck rode up. We decided to finish at the 2mile signpost on Center Road (in keeping with SIR tradition, it was atop a hill). We finished at 3p, but still had to ride our designed distance to the hotel, which put the total ride at just under 400k.

It was an interesting ride. Conditions ranged from nice and sunny, to overcast, to rainy, to cold and wet to glorious sunshine again. My riding companions were nice and easy to ride with, and we had fun. On a personal note, successful completion of the Flèche means that I only have PBP to complete to earn my first Randonneur 5000 medal, the grand mama of all randonneuring awards (in my eyes).

We suffered no flats, except Brian lost his E6 lens to vandals in Castle Rock (somebody unscrewed the lens and the shiny body off, and left the bulb near the restaurant). We spent some time looking around for the lens, but to no avail. Brian was more patient with this than I would have been in a similar situation.

The banquet was great fun, with many a funny story shared and even more plates of food consumed. We parted company, promising to ride again next year.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

Sounds like a great ride. Congrats! Thanks for posting it. It'd be great if you had your route on your site as well. And, how about the details of the E6 lens?