Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A little indecency in my garage.

Get your mind out of the gutter!

I have a Fixed Gear bicycle sitting in my garage, courtesy of Mr Duane Wright. I have "borrowed" it and am going to try and commute on it tomorrow.. Let us hope that I arrive at work in one piece.

The motivations are many: get stronger (the ever-quotable Kent Petersen would say "Gears make you weak"), experience something new, and get some training miles in while my bike sits at the bike store awaiting a new shifter cable. And no, I am not going to try and ride the 300 on a fixie. I offer no competition to the likes of Mr Brudvik and Mr Petersen (though I may solicit his help in getting my own, out of a beater bike).

Have fun on the 200 folks.

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.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Spring 100k Pre-ride report.

Yes, it is a little late. But I was wiped out from riding it and didn't have time to write it up that night (Saturday), and I volunteered at the Seward Park control the next day. But, I was the guy who rode onto the Freeway! .

It was the best of rides; it was the worst of rides. The hills were constant, and when respite came in the form of a reasonably flat stretch (such as E Marginal Way, or the Alki Trail) it came with the dread of how Eric was going to compress more hills in the ensuing stretches to make up for "lost time". My fears were often proved right. I only got lost twice and added about 5 miles in bonus miles to the process.

Thanks go to Eric for proving that one can be riding 200s all winter long and still stink on a 100k. 91st, the climb away from Lake City Way and Henderson Road, all genuinely kicked my butt. The descent down Fauntleroy was something to remember though. As was "What was the sign before the bridge?". I just had to turn around and take a picture.

Volunteering on Sunday was infinitely more fun. I got there 10 minutes after the control opened. Jennifer saved me by appearing at the control very early, and I saved her by wearing the Blue SIR Jersey that made me easy to identify. Duane brought us supplies, and Eric made us the "junk food" control. Pop, Chips, Pretzels and Cheez-Its; his control probably had nice wine, Camembert Cheese, Clotted Cream and Blueberry Scones (Maggie told me at the pub that they had boiled eggs with custom painting on them!).

I probably bored Jennifer to death. She was great company! This is her first year as a rando but that hasn't stopped her from registering for the RM1200. I saw the fast guys for more than a minute! Duane dumped us to go see a basketball game (he has got this thing for the Huskies). The pub was also cool; as was seeing Allison, Peg and a lot of other friends after a very long time. Since it has been a while, Peg decided to start razzing me the moment she saw me. Mark Jackson, Steve Davis, Theresa Garl, Peter Beeson and Mark Thomas were just some of the familiar faces. Rosie (Albert Webmaster's daughter) completed her first 100k. Congratulations!

A fun way to spend a day with the randonneurs.