The SIR 400km ride looped from North Bend over Snoqualmie, Old Blewett and Stevens passes. The brown curve shows the altitude. I cleared the passes within 12 hours, and spent the next 11+ hours crawling in. It worked. This is one of my favorite rides to remember.
The night before, after checking into the hotel, I drove the back part of the route – kind of a combo time killer and mind soother. Not to mention good preparation. The most complicated navigating will come at the end of the ride. Essentially, we have 180 miles of highway riding, and then 70 miles of twisting and turning. This last bit will all be in the dark for me, in a part of the state I don’t know, when I’m tired, hungry and not at my swiftest. So, a little scouting can’t hurt. And the route is very nice. It goes by the Snoqualmie Falls area. I learn that Nestles has some land and buildings tucked back in there. Nice narrow roads through some agricultural land – it looks like parts of the areas they race through in Europe. And bonus: they also have a statue of a cow.
The summary stats are below. The ride line is the heart rate. Brown’s altitude. The passes are, in order, Snoqualmie, Old Blewett, and Stevens. This was my first trip ever (any mode of transportation) over Stevens Pass.
Started the morning with a flat. Pumping up the tires before heading outside the hotel. One of them deflated; the stem pulled away from the surrounding tube. I had two spare tubes. One new. I put the new one in, and started the ride with one spare tube. I also had a spare tire (no jokes, please) with me. My front tire had a small slit in it, and carrying a spare seemed prudent.
Started riding strong, feeling good, and in a group going up the first pass. I was following, led by a rider who never came off the front. He dropped a rear light. I fell back to pick it up and then rejoined. The effort coming back to the group felt good; got the engine turning. I ended up finishing at the top ahead of the group. There were cloud shards hanging across the mountain. No wind. Light sun. A great start to the day.
Then I got passed by the riders while going downhill and on the flats by lots of guys with aero bars. I found this very annoying and puzzling. OK, mostly annoying.
Stopped for coffee in Cle Elum at a local Espresso shop (I’ve stopped there a few times since). A couple of youngsters comment on the camelback. I work hard not to say things like “Borg” and “Feeding Tubes”. Managed to contain myself and engage in pleasant conversation. They must be all of 6 years old and are busily talking with me, and ordering coffee for one of their Moms and a Bagel for themselves. Good kids. Mention that they saw me from their car as they entered town. They sell me on the bagel; I also get a skinny latte with some sugary syrup. It’s quite good. I see some cyclists out the window go by. I know that they have the wind; I’ll have it too when I leave. I eat, drink and then leave.
Had an explosive flat outside of Cle Elum. Turns out that the tire had a sidewall hole and a corresponding blow-out for the tube; the hole may have been made by a stray piece of the wiry tire debris that was all over the road during the first 70 miles of the ride. I debated using the spare tire; instead I patched the sidewall with some adhesive patches… This holds up fine all the way to the end.
We went up Old Blewett pass. It was a nice climb. There was a control at the top, more or less a nice place to have some water and food. Then carefully down the other side, taking care for the washouts. There’s a group at a Convenience store in Leavenworth. Don’s bailing. Knee. I head out and up.
Sugar cycling up Stevens pass. Almost dead asleep, Gu, wake up, dead asleep. The cycle took 15 minutes. Eventually I bail on the Gu; stop for coffee as well. Then I find myself in a group of 4, heading the rest of the way up the pass. We chat. The air feels good; crisp mountain air. Then we’re at the top. It’s raining. Some of the folks put on additional clothing. I should have gotten a clue then. Down the other side – they all drop me. I fall, pedaling, for miles, until I see the Chevron and head straight for it. I’m very cold; shivering hard. At the Chevron, I put on the rest of my clothes. I’m feeling it in the knees at the end; also sore in the crotch. Get some food. Still shivering. And head out. Still cold and shivering. Eventually I dope it out: pedal hard holding the brakes. The big muscles generate the heat and I’m fine.
Did I mention this is one of my favorite rides to reflect on? Still is. It’s getting dark. I’m not cold so long as I ride. We head up a steep steep hill. One of the folks walks his bike up it. I ride at approximately the same speed. His knee was on the fritz, and he bails when we get to the next control. This leaves me with no riding companion, and I preferred to have one or two at this point. Anyway, I eat, grab a banana for the road. During this time a couple of folks have showed up, and I look them over to see if they’d ride with. One’s on a smoke break (I’m not kidding, and he doesn’t look to be in a hurry. This guy is one of my heroes now; but, not a riding companion. He’ll be there awhile with the Cigs. I’m getting colder). The other’s a real big guy. And he’s started eating and looks like he’ll be at it awhile. I head out and on.
The cycle odometer dies. Rain. I start guestimating distances based on time and assumed average speeds. This actually works (good thing, it’s the middle of the night and I don’t actually know where I am). And eventually I get to the part of the route that I’d driven the night before the start of the ride. I’m heading in fine.
The last two miles seem to take forever. In retrospect, I probably bonked. The inky hallucinations are a dead giveaway. Definitely bonked. But, the hallucinations are entertaining. One was a dog in the middle of the road. The other a human form. Silhouette. I’d been getting by on coffee and Gatorade; with a ration of corn nuts and a payday bar in the mix. Should have stuck with the coffee and Gatorade. I tried eating peanut M&M’s; just didn’t work at all in this setting as an energy source. I get in fine enough, get the card signed and go to sleep.
I mentioned this: the computer/odometer died. Wait, it turns out the display died and not the computer. Here are its last words: Ride time: 19:23, Distance: 245.8, Ave: 12.6 mph. It resumed functioning once I got it home. I’ll retire it to a desert bike.
• Rain gear – get some.
• A larger gear carrying device is in order.
• Need to get the front-end fixed on the new bike; no reason not to coast downhill at 40mph instead of a measly, lousy stinking, slow, energy wasting 30mph..
• Need to figure out how to eat/drink. While I have the theory in mind (the theory is 300 cal per hour of energy food. And about 16-32 oz of water) it does not work for me. Interestingly, the times I had “real” food (bananas, ordinary sandwiches) I felt fine. I’m going to run an experiment on the 600km (kids, don’t try this at home…) involving salt tablets and an energy drink with some protein added. Not to mention plenty of real food and dogging it. Will see how it goes.
• The LED light is an absolute champ. It works great. I might get another; for luck.