Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Smooth as Silk: 400k with dairymen and lumberjacks


But first I had to get on the train.

This year, I really, really, really wanted to become a "super randonneur" or somebody who has done a sanctioned 200k, 300k, 400k, and 600k ride all in one year. The 200k went swimmingly and was more or less flat from Olympia to Mayfield Lake and back again with some curly cues and a head wind.

On August 20th, I boarded the train to Bellingham to ride the summer 400k which starts from Dan Turner's house. Dan is a randonneur extraordinaire, rides a sweet Colnago with every accoutrement you could want on a bike except fenders. He also let our rag tag group camp out on his lawn both before and after the event.

Now just so you don't get any funny ideas, I was doing the easy ride. My ride started on Saturday morning and ended on Sunday morning, was only 250 miles long and was pretty darn flat, but more on that later. The big group was doing 1000k and started from Dan's house on Thursday so as to return at the same time. Dan was therefore running an SIR mothership command center from Demming, Washington for 4 days. Chapeau!
This is the sign in: Albert Meerscheidt, Robin Pieper, unknown awesome randonneur (Jeff Tilden?), and the aforementioned Dan Turner.
And the rest of the shot rounding it out with Elaine Jameson of wonderful 200k tandem chattiness fame, Lyn Gil, Albert, and Robin. Fun riders included were Ward Beebe, Eric Ahlvin, Bill Gobie, and a fellow new randonneur named Tommy, who tore the heck out of this course.
We rode in a big pack until just before Blaine when I couldn't keep up. Tommy and I rode into the second checkpoint, then he rode away from me. I took a bunch of wrong turns, came to the third checkpoint from the wrong direction, and found myself more like 20 minutes behind, oh well, I knew I would have a head wind until Stanwood (mile 110 or so) so I just hunkered down and started taking photos of cool animals.
Bellingham attempting to pass for Youngstown Ohio

I didn't take too many more photos after that because I caught a tail wind that pushed me from Stanwood to Darrington and then it was gently downhill to Rockport where I came upon a christian rock festival.
Next time with video.

I encountered the ride leaders on the out and back to Marblemount, had a nice dinner in Marblemount, saw Tommy and Bill riding quickly out of town so I lent chase, caught Bill, found out Tommy had stopped for supplies (not in that order), and sped downhill to Sedro Wooley, which was more or less closed.
Then the obligatory photo of Concrete, Washington.
I finished just after midnight with a time of 18:17, not bad considering it was my first sanctioned 400k, I hadn't ridden with anyone since 10 AM except for Bill for a while until he rode away too.
I had the presence of mind to snap this post ride shot. The next morning I rode to Bellingham, caught the train, which was late, met a fantastic member of the Alaska Randonneurs (Nick?), led him to REI mothership, then missed church entirely.
At which point I regaled my lovely wife, Claire with tales of great adventure and daring do.

I'm a huge fan of taking the train to rides, as driving to and from is both a whole statistical universe more dangerous, takes the car from my wife and two kids, and is much less chatty. Oh the people that you'll meet on the train...........

Ride stats, such as I can calculate
Ride mileage: 250 miles
Average Speed: 13.66 mph
Time; 18:17
Time riding: ~16 hours
Fake computer average speed: 15.26 mph