Sunday, March 25, 2007

SIR 200k March 2007

The Seattle International Randonneur’s March 200km is typically the first organized ride of any type that I get to do in year. This year is no different. I’ve been looking forward to this for a couple of months. This ride has already been multiply documented. Here's some verse, pictures and prose.

I drive to the Seattle and Oregon rides from the East side of the state. I either stay with someone or get a cheap hotel – this time it’s the Motel 6 on Military road near SeaTac. I’d never tried to get there before, but, I find it alright. It’s UP a steep hill as one comes from the East. It’s a nice Motel 6. $3 WiFi! 24 hour Coffee Stand! I can finish my evening’s work w/o having to track down a WiFi sight or suffer through a phone connection. I do the work and am in bed by 10:10. Five minutes later I get a call from my daughter and her husband; they’re stuck at the airport (all kinds of flight challenges around the country that day), and calling me. I get another room, and then go get them. The airport’s nearby, and I get to see my daughter and son-in-law. They look tired but rested, the sign of a good vacation. They figure out how to get back to their home fine; they’re heading back across the state East the next day. I’m in bed and asleep by midnight. Plenty good enough rest for a 200km ride.

Up the next day. Gas up the car, visit the mini-mart for breakfast (cinnamon role and coffee - the breakfast of mid-pack riders). I have a heck of a time finding the starting location; I’ve been there before, but, manage to get spun around good in Kent. Eventually the strategy is: Leave Kent. That works. I get oriented and to the ride start. There are a ton of vehicles parked with bikes and bicyclists putting them together. It’s dark. Chat with some folks I know while waiting for the 7:00am start, and then we’re off.

The bunch starts; a large number of riders. I almost hit a guy while heading down the big hill into Kent; he’d stopped to pick something up. It would have been very nasty. Good weather to start with (but a dark start, due to the vagaries of daylight savings time).

So I end up climbing up the same hill I drove up and down. Haven’t yet estimated how close I came to the Motel 6 where my daughter and her husband were staying (now I have: 3 miles). It’s still steep going up there; so of course we go up.

I was having some trouble remembering the ride details from last year (I must have been lost in discussion last year while riding this part, yeah, that's it) – even though it’s the exact same route as last year. Eventually it clicked in. There are some good downhills to go with that uphill; then we’re at the first control. I had the Starbucks coffee/sugar/fat in a bottle (this can be chugged, and is a good food mix for me on a long ride). The card is signed by the proprietor and then I’m off. There’s more hill-work, then down into the valley.

Managed to do some major wheel sucking through the green river valley; thanks to Don and Elaine on the tandem (I owe them for that and a couple of other times; what’s the proper response: Flowers? Chain lube? Some Ripping Yarns?). Then there’s my favorite ‘bridge to nowhere’ off to the side of the intersection of the Green River Valley Rd and 218th Ave SE. We get a good view of the river and then it’s up a hill.

I’m with John Kramer and RB for most of the way to Hwy 410. Talking as best we can given the vagaries of traffic, shoulder width etc. I like the rear-view mirror a lot for seeing what’s coming up from behind.

During the rider a popular discussion topic is goals for the year. It’s a PBP year, so a lot of folks have that as a target. The other popular target seems to be the ORRando 1000km from Portland to Glacier Natl Park (my personal long-ride goal for the year).

Next up is 410 to Greenwater. I get dropped by John and a few others. It’s uphill. It happens. I keep going, and get there to see those who dropped me idling pleasantly outside a convenience store. Head inside for my Fritos and other items (Gatorade, water). And then back on the bike and down – this was a quick control for me, so I dropped my droppers by being quick in and out at this control. Oh yeah, I also put on the windbreaker here for the downhill. I’ve frozen before down a hill and prefer not to again. I’m toodling down the hill, taking it easy and munching Fritos. I figure that the folks will catch me from behind soon enough. It turns out they don’t; but, I jump for awhile into another group, until even drafting they’re going faster than I want to. I let them go. It’s starting to rain pretty good.

There are a lot of folks at the Circle K; the last stop before the end of the ride. I’m not efficient at this control, but, there’s no hurry. Call home and put on a bit more garb against the rain. I end up riding with John Muellner and John Kramer the rest of the way in. We’re more or less taking it easy and chatting. I regale them with stories of the first time I did this ride, and managed to get lost w/o ever actually getting off course. Clearly I need better stories… Anyway, it’s wetter and wetter; but, an easy and good finish for a good ride.

Ride stats are below; my total elapsed time of 9:51 turns out to be a PR for that distance. A lot of that is related to efficient behavior at controls.

What I learned about the rain:

  • Wind jacket and wind pants aren’t enough, not even close, in the rain; I should have taken the actual rain garb.
  • Some other kind of gloves are necessary (wool?)
  • My glasses aren’t rain worthy – I was riding blind with them, and w/o them I couldn’t go very fast
  • A pretty good case can be made for Mudflaps, especially for people following me in the rain (apologies to Muellner and Kramer); not to mention the bike. See the picture at the end.
  • I might look into different brake pads – stopping power was dicey down the steeper hills in the rain
  • My current front bag isn’t even close to water resistant

Here's the bike the next day; took an hour or so to clean it up:

And here are the ride stats: