Sunday, March 9, 2008

A sneak peek at the 200k brevet.

Many a theory has been proposed about why 218th Ave is named the way it is... I spent the better part of 12 minutes climbing this little nugget of a hill and I came up with a few....

* The number of times you will swear at Greg Cox (unoriginal)
* The number of times I had to stop before I got to the top in 2006 (too inaccurate)
* The number of people who have died on this climb. (too dramatic)
* Distance in kilometers you will suffer AFTER you finish climbing this hill (perfect).

... and so on. If you do not know what I am talking about, next Saturday is a fine way to find out.

A fun bunch of randonneurs rode the SIR 200k pre-ride yesterday and lived to tell the tale. We met at the Cox residence and took off shortly after 7a. Since we started from the house, we got to climb an extra hill to the start as warmup. I DNF'd on this ride last year because I left an hour late and missed the first control by 12 minutes. That one stung! This time I arranged to be there on time, and leave on time, and yes, I did make all the controls on time.

We kept together until the little climb up Reith Road, except Mark who stopped to pick up a detached taillight (the tracks on 240th are deep). The sky looked ominous, but it was not raining quite yet. The weather forecast for today had varied so wildly that I brought everything, except a pair of gloves; I borrowed some from the host, and the spent the next 200k worrying about accidentally wiping my nose on my gloves (I didn't). We got some sprinkles on Dash Point road, but nothing to get us wet. Mark caught me just before the Town Center Foods control, telling me very kindly that I need not worry about taking the bus home, as he was not at his finest (ha!).

The speed at which this group of randonneurs cleared this control was impressive. I figured the others had gotten in a little earlier than Mark and I, but Mark got in, bought some Nesquick Chocolate Milk and took off, all in the matter of 3 minutes. I did the same, and the only people behind me were the Nussbaums. They of course caught me soon after the turn after I5, and dropped me on Green Valley Road, an idyllic stretch until you hit that climb up to Black Diamond. The climb lasted forever, but the Nussbaums proved hard to catch. I caught them just before the turn onto Highway 169, but they got ahead of me again just before the bakery.

Black Diamond Bakery is situated perfectly and has many redeeming qualities, chief among them being the BAKERY. I bought myself a Blueberry Strudel and a cookie, and proceeded to wolf them down as quickly as I could, but I still could not latch onto the group as they left. The food was great though I had to turn down Peter McKay's offer of free coffee. My sensitive stomach needed some babysitting (no Milk, only Soy Milk). I took off my jacket here as it had warmed up considerably.

Black Diamond represents a kind of transition point; from more houses to more open spaces, and far less traffic. After Black Diamond Ravensdale Road, the houses thin out and you get more fields and farms, which is a welcome change. It was good to be in this part of the world again. The turn onto the highway was the end of the fun though, and I suspect I was going through a micro bonk, not a good thing when you are faced with the climb to Mud Mountain Dam(n) Road. I suffered on this climb, and was the low point of the ride for me. In 2006, I averaged about 12kmph to Greenwater, but this year I was faster and it was mostly fun heading to Greenwater, with nice scenery and clear skies, even if the clearcuts were an eyesore. The river was beautiful and is sure to take your mind off the riding. I was filled with negative thoughts, and it got cold on this stretch. I saw the gang returning: Ward Beebe 10 miles ahead of me. But Mark and his group was only 4 miles ahead of me, and the Nussbaums had just left Greenwater.

I sat down to have some Gatorade and a Pay-day bar, and then took off. Bolstered by the nutrition, I pretty much hammered all the way to the top of Mud Mountain. This was great fun, and the reason why we do these rides. No need to get down on oneself. This is my 5th year randonneuring, and I still have not learned to recognize my low points. The descent on Mud Mountain Dam Road is exhilarating, but the curvy nature takes away the potential to bomb down without a care. There was some gravel too, and I was a bit more cautious. The rest of the riding to the control is all flat, and I got there a shade after 3.30, I think. The gang had all left.

I left almost immediately, filling my water bottles with Gatorade and munching on half a PayDay bar. It was only 20 miles to the finish, but I knew that a behemoth lay between me and the finish: 218th. But I also remembered two exhilarating descents, and sure enough, the descents on Whitney Hill Road and 212th were great fun.

The first part of 218th is flat, but right after that little bridge, the climb begins in earnest. I was at the lowest gear, but shifted up every once in a while to stand and "muscle" my way over. My admiration for people like Bob Brudvik (who rode today on Fixed/SS), increases by the day. I did make it to the top, and shortly after the turn I tried to shift to the big ring and my front shifter broke. Fantastic. just what I wanted! Thankfully it didn't break on 218th.

I had fantasized about finishing near 10 hours, but with the chain rubbing repeatedly against the cage, my speed tanked. I also didn't want to stand and pedal in case the darn thing completely gave away. The climb up to Greg's house was a little painful, but short. I finished in little over 10h 30m. A fine ride, on a fine day.

Ralph and Carol had bought some brownies, and they were delicious. We shot the breeze a little with Mark and Greg reminiscing about their Glacier 1000k ride last year. Mark outlined plans for the Fall 1000k, and it was scary. Let me put it this way: the Cascade 1000k will be easier than the fall 1000k. Eek!

Riders Greg Cox, Bill Dussler, Ward Beebe, Bob Brudvik, Ralph and Carol Nussbaum, Peter McKay, Mark Thomas, Rick Haight and myself.

1 comment:

matt said...

Cool writeup! Great to hear about this ride, I can't wait to do the 200k on Saturday (my first brevet).

I'll be on a blue Miyata with downtube shifters, see ya then!