Take a bow, Susan France! I had a fun time on the Poor Man's PBP 400K Pre-ride. Riders are in for a treat!
Dan Fender, Brian List, Peg Winczewski, and myself completed the Poor Man's PBP pre-ride. Dan didn't BBB (Brevet, Barf and Bail!). It was my first ever pre-ride where the content of the route sheet was in some doubt; I was quite amazed at the amount of work required of the people creating the route sheet and those doing the pre-ride, to ensure route accuracy. Susan France (OR Randonneurs RBA) created a great route with some new roads that I had never been on, and some utter beauties (Blue Slough Road, S Bank Road, Devonshire road), and some tried and tested (testy? Monte-Elma Road. UGH!) routes such as SR 105, SR 109, and 101 out of Aberdeen. The route sheet was pretty good, and when it wasn't the talents of my fellow riders, helped us get through. I was no use in this endeavour of course, but Brian, Peg and Dan were experts are figuring out things. My hat is off to them. I would have gotten lost countless times if it were not for the route finding and navigation skills of my partners.
We set out at 6a, to some showers, and climbed a short hill (Cooks Hill) which offered some fantastic fog-covered views of the surrounding valley. I got teased for getting excited about seeing deer. Traffic was of course very light at the time of day that we started, and was true of most of the roads that we cycled on, except SR 105, but even on that road, there was minimal traffic on the way back. SR 105 is heavy on debris and traffic. We even saw some Team Time Trials out on S Bank Road, a bike race of some kind. Lots of women teams, some of them said hi, others were just stone faced.
Weather was sporadic rain at the start, beautiful scenery and sunshine for much of the ride, and a deluge of epic proportions along a 3 mile stretch less than 5 miles from the finish. We were all soaked completely. I suffered a slow leak flat on the way to Pacific Beach, but caught up to Peg and Brian, who were camped out at Montesano market getting food. That bakery in Montesano seems to be closed always. We lost Dan Fender in that little excursion, and he finally caught us at the control in Pacific Beach. I got my rear tire slashed (with less than a 1000 miles on it) on SR 109 towards Aberdeen and never found the cause. It did leave a 1" gash on my sidewall. I improvised a $1 bill as a boot and rode gingerly (ka-thump, ka-thump, ad nauseum) to Swanson's market in Aberdeen, where Peg saved my rear-end by lending me her spare tire. Second time this year, I have had to borrow a spare tire. I shall never got out without a spare tire from now on.
The route was great for the most part, and riders are in for a treat, with some very lightly travelled roads and unavoidably, some heavily travelled roads. Susan France is the queen of finding lightly travelled roads, I think. Some dogs tried to chase us, but they were all quite overweight and were half-hearted in their chases and growls. Conversation was great, with Dan and Peg displaying a fantastic sense of humour. Dan is a fellow computer geek, and we had some fun discussions about PC's, Mobile Development, India, China and Prolog. Brian was navigator general, figuring out several tricky route cues. I, as usual, was the guy who can never navigate right.
I had not done a single long ride since the Tahuya 600, and it showed. I constantly brought up the rear, and my companions had to wait for long periods, in the rain at times, which delayed their finish times. Finished very weakly and am not very proud of that. My left knee hurt a little at the end, but as of Tuesday, my condition has greatly improved.
Here are some of the notes that I made. Peg made detailed notes, no doubt already mailed to Susan, and you shall see a very accurate route sheet.
- MP 54.8. Devonshire Road has some massive 1" wide cracks on the road running parallel to the direction of travel, filled with grass at places, not in others, that could be really dicey if you aren't paying attention. Make sure you watch where you are going.
- MP 73.2: Don't get confused by the left turn to go to Pacific Beach (a major highway) with the turn you ACTUALLY need to make, Ocean Shores Road, which is a beautiful, low traffic alternative.
- Pacific beach Control: The market is up the road and the folks there were nice, but their Teriyaki was a bunch of fiction; the food place immediately to the right is a better option. Don't expect great service, or copious refills of your water, if they are busy. They were fast, have Veggie Burgers, and their Onion rings were great. The sun was out, and it was a beautiful place to just sit and enjoy being outdoors.
- MP 109.5: The route sheet was a huge mess at the end of SR 115, but Peg and Brian figured this out. You will have an accurate route sheet, so don't sweat it.
- MP 116.7: The turn to Greenview Road seemed longer than 0.8 miles to me, so don't fret if you don't see it for a while.
- MP 120.3. The road morphing into Discovery is not very obvious, and you may be tempted to stay on Discovery, but you need to make a right turn here. Brian set me right pretty quick, here.
- MP 134.7: Narrow shoulders on SR 109 make it a challenge. I lost my rear tire here, so be careful and ride to the left of the white line, despite traffic. Otherwise you have thorns, and glass, and metal shards to contend with. Pick your poison.
- Aberdeen: The bridge to go over the river, just after Swanson's Market is a pain. No shoulders and high traffic. Take the lane, and pedal with all your might.
- MP145.3: It is not Industrial way, but Earley way (sp?).
- MP 189.8: The quiet section of the ride begins. We encountered very little traffic past SR 105, and whatever we encountered was very courteous. Relax, and enjoy. This is where we started seeing some ominous clouds ahead.
- MP 242.4: Keep a weather eye out for this one. A Right on Old 9 (at what looks like a huge roundabout), an immediate L on Tea St, immediate R on Grand Mound Way. Blink and you will miss this. So watch out. I certainly would have, if it were not for my companions waiting for me on Grand Mound.
- MP 243.5: You better pray for better weather along this stretch. The last 15 miles featured very light rain, but for a 3 mile stretch on 99, the faucets opened up, and we were drenched. But, the finish is nearby. I was ruing my very existence here.
- MP 249.8: The most welcome sight ever. The Travel Inn. After the right turn onto Lakeshore, pay attention to the bumps on the road. I almost wiped out here, and you don't want to crash 100 yards from the finish, do you?
Not that it is important, but our time was ~ 22h 28m. We had 3 big stops of at least a half hour or more, and if you keep your control stops short, you will do much better. Peg said this is an "easy" 400. When you ride as much as Peg does, every course is easy.