Wednesday, April 11, 2007

SIR 300km - Tahuya Hills

Last year this was the ride that did in the knee, essentially derailing my season. So, the goal this year was to finish, having a good time all the while. I'd also made a commitment to not attempt to set a PR on this ride. In honor of the knee, I'd made some changes since last year. Shorter cranks. Pedals with more float. No stuff in the way of the knees (moved the map case from the rider side of the handlebars to the other side). Spent more time sitting while climbing, as opposed to standing. So, with those changes (who knows if they were effective), and a couple of 200km rides recently accomplished, the 300km Re-Knee-Match was on.

Spent the night before in the Motel 6 at Issaquah. Close enough to get downtown in 20 minutes, when driving in the middle of the night. Got there, parked on Alaska near the dock. Saw some folks I know. And, then we're on the ferry crossing over. It's a nice ride. A lot of folks are at the start for this ride. The most I've ever seen on a 300km. I let most of them head off first, as I don't like riding in a crowd. And, eventually I'm riding with Narayan. We end up riding most of the way together. This turned out to be a good, easy enough, speed for me for the distance. And he's a great riding companion.

The first leg was pleasant. Good. Up and down. Nice views of water and mossy forests. Ended up seeing a fair number of folks at the first stop, many of which I never saw again on the ride (they ended up way ahead or somewhat behind). It was raining for the third Brevet in a row. The climb up Walker pass was quickly over, and then downhill to coffee. We were trying to be efficient at controls, so I ended up tucking most of the coffee into one of the water bottles. Coffee to go.

The next phase was flat and fairly ugly, road-wise. Lots of bumps along the road. For a brief while, Narayan and I were with the 3 legged tandem, then they dropped us like a brown banana peel. Somewhere along here I paid the price for discussing my flat resistant tires. Stopped and fixed the flat. I asked Narayan and David to press on, I'd catch up after I dealt with the tire. My thinking here was that would give me a chance to work at a higher heart rate for awhile. Wrestled the tire into submission eventually (small embedded rock flake; good thing I had the swiss army knife with to dig out the flat inducing flake) and caught up just as Narayan was done fixing his flat. So, we continued on to Kays corner. Sometime together and sometime not. We ended up there more or less at the same time. I had the cup'o soup.

Narayan hit the hills first, then David and then me (I was working on the soup thing, and maybe too comfortable in the lawn chair). The 3-legged-tandem left about the same time. I'll admit I kind of like these hills and this stretch of road. Not so much for the hills but for the lack of traffic and lots of trees. So, we're climbing. Narayan has one flat too many for his mental comfort (raises the ever-popular question: what's stuck in my tire, still?). He gets a tire from our tandem companions, and we get it changed in a good impromptu tag-team (he, David and I). Then we head out. The tire looks good on his bike, and I make a mental note to get something like that next time. David has kindly taken on the old tire to be delivered to Narayan at the end of the ride. And, to my surprise, we eventually reconnect with the tandem folks. Which is great for us. We get to chat more. Eventually we lose the tandem awhile. And get to the river valley part of the hills. Very very nice, my very favorite piece of non-Hood-canal-scenery in the ride. More hills. Reconnection with the tandem. Darkness: so... Time to dork up! Reflective vests. Reflective ankle bands. Lights on. Then on to Seabeck. There's a really steep part of the hill that I ponder as we approach it. I might have set some kind of record for going up it slowly. Took my time. I'm liking the new headlight (the EL-530 - replacing the EL-500 that I accidentally (no, really) dropped on the concrete garage floor). Lots of light. In retrospect, a lot of interesting parts of the ride from Kays corner to Seabeck.

So, there we are at Seabeck. I planned to not be there too long, and still had a dream of making the 12:10AM ferry (second to last ferry of the night back across to Seattle). So, I accept the half tuna sandwich and pick up a couple of liquid items. The proprietress was pushing the sandwiches; she was right, they were good. The sandwich disappears fast enough (even though it was tuna, figured it was just a half and would burn fast enough in the stomach), and I'm off before Narayan or Dave or the 3-legged-tandem.

I'd never ridden this part of the Brevet before. At this point last year, my ride was over, I'm in a pick-up truck admiring the reflective tape on the back of some of the riders' bikes. So, when I get to Anderson hill. I take quick look up, and start walking. It was a good call, this walking concept. I get to repeat this twice. Even with that, I'm right on the edge of time for the ferry. I saw no lights behind me. And so I wander in. The cue sheet is accurate, and I have a compass in a pinch. And then it's over. I've missed the ferry (it's 12:00, not 12:10 for the ferry; and my official finish time is 12:01). This turns out to be great. I have a beer, a couple of pieces of pizza, and get to chat with folks over the next hour as they come in and with Mark as he signs cards and passes out pizza, drinks and information. Narayan, David and the 3-leggers come in. As do others. It's a fine end to a great ride.

Next up: the May 12th 400km. Can't wait.

Equipment and food notes:
- The handlebar bag (purchased back around 1992-3) saw its last Brevet. Not being water resistant is too much to deal with.
- Wool socks are good
- The new headlight was fine for fast descents in the dark (fast means about 20-25 mph in this case. Dark is really dark)
- The sack of French rolls, crammed into the previously mentioned handlebar bag, made for a nice food variation during the day. Mixed nicely with the Luna bars and Clif Gel Cubes.
- Should have used the camel-back; needed to be drinking more.