Friday, March 26, 2010

SIR "Chili Feed" 200k

I’ve always looked forward to the Seattle International Randonneurs annual “Chili Feed” 200k brevet in March ever since 2008, the year I carpooled up with Lynne Fitzsimmons (and the year she scored housing for us at the host's home). Last year, I carpooled with Joshua Bryant in the wee hours of the morning. And this year, I drove solo straight from work (in Beaverton) on Friday evening (March 12th) and stayed in a motel in “downtown” Kent. ‘Twas the priciest of all the strategies, but probably provided the most rest and general preparedness for Saturday’s brevet.

A herd of well over 100 cyclists took off from Greg’s neighborhood at 7:00 AM on what was the last day of Pacific Standard Time (until next Fall). It was one of those events where it takes a while for everyone to cross the start line (as it were). So by the time all the riders had turned West onto 240th Street, the line of cyclists was pretty well strung out.

vincent checks me in ...
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
There were a couple pretty significant hills before the first contrôle in Dash Point. When Vincent Muoneke checked me in, he asked where my Cyclos Escargot jersey was, and then suggested I wasn’t riding slow enough for true escargot-ness.

Another hill and descent, and soon we were leaving downtown Auburn for bucolic Green Valley Road. Around mile 40 I was finally able to find a paceline in which I rode with a couple riders before hitting Hwy 169. At the popular Black Diamond Bakery, I abstained from going in, but instead took off as soon as my brevet card was signed.

headin' up to greenwater
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
After Black Diamond, there were about a half dozen roads before the turn onto Hwy 410, I felt reasonably strong, but not very fast on the final 17-mile approach to Greenwater. Once at that contrôle, I spent more down time than planned, as the many bicycles that were there when I arrived were mostly gone when I departed.

A couple miles into the return from Greenwater, I got a flat. Never did figure out what caused it, and wasn’t able to find the slit in the tube till the next day (at home). Not only that, I wasn’t able to get more than 60 psi into the tube with over 200 + strokes on my Topeak Road Morph pump. But after the turn from Hwy 410 onto Mud Mountain Dam Road, Bob Lepage used his pump (identical to mine) to get my tire up to a respectable riding pressure. Hmmm.

Bob was riding with Ron Himschoot and Deirdre Arscott, so I joined them and another rider (on a Davidson) for most of the rest of the ride. I spent less time than they did at the contrôle in Enumclaw, and made a friendly bet that they’d eventually catch me, which is exactly what they did (after the steep 218th Ave. incline). We then zigzagged through the residential maze that leads to the Cox’s neighborhood, and then finished the ride with an official time of 10:51.

chili feed
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
Of course, the chili, salad, and fruit were excellent. Had nice conversations with Michael Wolfe, Joshua, Nathan and Eric. Greeted Peg, Lesli, and Paul upon their arrival back at the Cox’s. Then it was off to Portland.

Great ride. Always worth the trip. Many thanks to the Cox’s and all the other Seattle Randonneurs who helped put this on.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Birkie 200k Pre-ride Report

Had a really nice pre-ride of the Birkie 200k with Ray Ogilvie last weekend (March 6th). The actual ride happens this Saturday, March 20, and is basically unchanged from the previous three iterations. It’s as if the ride stays the same, but the organizers change. So the biggest variable (besides the weather) becomes … what are the “hot drinks and home-baked goodies” in Vernonia gonna consist of?

While it’s a little bit of a challenge for an old bachelor like me to compete with the likes of Marcello (’07), Cecil and Lynne (’08), and Del & friends (’09), I’ve got some good help at this year’s staffed control from Barbara and Ray Ogilvie, Ed Groth, and my friend Amy. So to put it another way: no one is likely to go hungry at the 59 km point in Anderson Park.

The ride is described very well on the Oregon Randonneurs web site.
The only edit I would make is that start at the Grand Hotel in Forest Grove is no longer “new.”

roadside river ...
Originally uploaded by tangobiker

Ray and I were blessed with somewhat chilly but otherwise wonderful weather on the 6th. We encountered one hostile Neanderthal in a pickup driving the other way on Gales Creek Road, then enjoyed some espresso at the Black Bear Coffee Company in Vernonia (in lieu of the staffed control at Anderson Park). We came up with a new, uncomplicated control question for the Keasey Road turnaround, and later noticed that the Birkenfield Country Store has a new look-feel inside.

Originally uploaded by tangobiker
Beware of engaging the cashier in a conversation about propositions 66 & 67. She’s ready to move the business to another state.

Ray and I utilized the US Bank ATM in Vernonia for the return control, and the Shell station on the right-hand side of Hwy 6 on our way back through Glenwood. We got back to Forest Grove with a finishing time of 11 hours and 21 minutes, which was around dusk. So if you’re planning a leisurely approach to Berkie, make sure your lights are in working order!

Looking forward to seeing y’all at the McMenamins Grand Lodge Saturday morning. Remember, check in is from 6:00 to 6:45 AM. Start is at 7:00.

Lotsa photos of Ray at the Birkie preride photoset on Flickr.