Saturday, July 31, 2010

A tale of two rando rides [out of Olympia, Washington]

100k (July 8, 2010)

When Paul (Dr. Codfish) Johnson described the Seattle International Randonneurs' populaire on July 8th as a good introduction for non-initiated friends to the sport of randonneuring, I thought, "Hmmmm. Maybe Amy could take her recently-acquired Surly Crosscheck on a 62-mile romp through central-Western Washington." Never mind her longest ride to date had been about 10 miles, and that she dislikes hills with a vengance. At least now she had a bike better suited to this sort of adventure than her garage-sale Huffy.

We arrived in Olympia on that Saturday morning just in time (sort of) for Paul's pre-ride announcements in the parking lot of Olympia's Fish Tale Brewery. Once the ride commenced, Amy and I promptly took our places "off the back" from stream of 40-some-odd riders. A few early rollers had Amy wondering if this was really a good idea.

cookies in rainier, wa
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
The first contrôle was in the small, smelly town of Rainier. WA. Amy and I got our brevet cards signed at a little cookie shop (the shop was small, not the cookies), and Amy considered hanging out there for the rest of the day while I would continue to the finish, then go to fetch her. But fortunately, she continued on instead.

This 100k ride was relatively flat (especially by SIR standards), but the ensuing hills did not agree with Amy's respertory system. It was like an athsma attack would happen every time the road angled upwards

encouragement ...
Originally uploaded by tangobiker

The half-way point was at the Skookumchuck River dam, where John Vincent and Millison Fambles manned the controle. Amy was hoping to catch a ride from one of them back to Olympia, but instead they encouraged her to continue, saying the worst of the hills were over. In the meantime, fashionably late starters Robert Higdon and Jane Hudson arrived!

Amy's actually a strong rider when the terrain is flat. And when she gave herself "permission" to walk her bike up hills, things went fine. We leapfrogged Robert and Jane, then donned "Cyclos Escargot" jerseys at the Scott Lake Store contrôle (~10 miles from the end). We took off before Robert and Jane, thereby making it likely they would receive "lanterne rouge" honors.

robert and jane
Originally uploaded by tangobiker

Nice welcoming crew outside the Fish Tale Brewery. Amy ended up pleased that she stuck with it through the end. 'Twas quite an accomplishment for her first rando adventure. In retrospect, I wished I had ridden a fixie (as Robert did), but of course didn't think of it in time.

200k (July 22, 2010)

The brevet two weeks later also started in downtown Olympia, in nearby Sentenial Park, and headed almost due South. I was able to latch onto some relatively fast pacelines most of the way to Centralia (averaging nearly 18 mph!), and didn't linger long at the first controle. The route continued on Alpha-Centralia Road (which was also part of the SIR 600 route 14 months earlier), then South to Mayfield Lake and Mossyrock.

don and elaine ...
Originally uploaded by tangobiker

By that time, my average speed had crept down to 16 mph (still good by my standards). Warm weather created a large demand for ice there at that mid-way controle. From there, the route continued back West-Southwest to a rural-intersection info contrôle, then up to Chehalis, Centralia, and finally Olympia. I rode mostly solo for the remainder of the brevet. And even though my average speed continued to decline, I kept pushing. I wanted to break the 10-hour barrier for the first time on a 200k, which was made more difficult, not only by the heat, but by the fact that this ride was actually 213 kilometers (which I didn't realize till North of Centralia). It was also made more difficult by leg cramps that occured around 90 miles and again 110 miles. After walking them out and then continuing, I finally arrived at the Fish Tale Brewery. "Did I make single digit hours?," I asked organizer Josh Morse. "Yes," was the answer. My time was 9 hours and 57 minutes. Average speed: 13.5 mph.

Seems like I'm doing a lot of Seattle International Randonneurs rides lately instead of ones put on by the Oregon Randonneurs. Trust me, it's just timing and scheduling (juggling work, tango and velodrome events). But it also means that my next 300k and 600k will happen North of the state border.

Rest of my SIR 100k Populaire photos are here on Flickr.
Rest of my SIR 200k Brevet photos are here on Flickr.

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