If you're really super bored, here's the full ride report I sent to my Livestrong supporters...
(Includes some vaguely gross personal body details, nothing horrible, we all do it, you can complain if I ever get completely insane about triathlons and start relieving myself from a moving bike. Seriously, people do that. And if you didn't win, all you did was piss all over an expensive bike. I haven't lost that much of my mind. Yet. Anyway...)
Mid-50s and overcast before the sun came up over the giant Husky Stadium parking lot about a mile south of Casa Kamala. Woke up at 3 AM to get myself together in a leisurely manner, blend up some Hammer Nutrition drink mix, and meet a couple of buddies at the start line. Dropped a couple of starbucks doubleshots and was very pleased with the speed at which they did their necessary work. Filled the bottles, left the hanger bay, and aimed downhill for the E-1 parking lot. The 4:45 am start was a bit more subdued than the later two-day rider start last year, but not surprising given that it was 4:45 and the one-day rider group is generally much more experienced and with it. Threw my bag on the moving truck marked for Portland, found Bryce and Dan to say hi, then headed on over to the start line.
Bryce and I had a little mix-up and I found myself waiting for the second wave when it became clear that they had left with the first wave. Not that it mattered, Bryce and Dan are super strong and have been biking for decades, so I would have been toast before we got out of the University District. A few minutes later, I was off for Portland, cruising by Husky Stadium, over the very dicey steel-decked University Bridge, and then down to Lake Washington Blvd, which I've been up and down on my bike or running in event what seems like every other week lately. Probably because it has been every other week for the last month, plus it shows up on my training routes around the lake pretty frequently.
As planned, I bypassed the first rest stop in Kent, but ran into Bryce and Dan coming out of it. Cruised with Bryce for a few minutes and then it was me, the bike-mounted boombox, and random strangers for the rest of the day. Topped off my water bottles in Puyallup (super nice volunteers with pitchers, didn't even have to get off the bike) and headed for "The Hill." Cascade Bike Club (the event organizers) make a huge freaken' deal out of this thing every year. Last year, I laughed at it, but I did have super-low mountain bike gearing. This year, my rig still has relatively low gearing, but a good bit higher than the mountain bike, so I've had to work harder at climbing steep hills this year.
Still, The Hill was no problem. And leaving early with the one-day riders, I had a much safer, saner experience on the Hill this year. No one walking, no one bailing out unable to turn the pedals, everyone just cruising up. I don't begrudge anyone having to walk or bail, I was jumbo-sized and I know the feeling, but I don't miss being around very raw bike riders. As my Dad says, "The life you save could be mine!"
With full bottles and temps in the 50s, I passed up the Boy Scout troop that sells water on top of the Hill and turned south for my first planned stop at Spanaway JHS, about 53 miles in. Made it there before 8:30, averaging about 16 MPH. Picked up some fruit, a small square of fresh-baked pizza (very nice mobile truck, Papa Murphy's), reloaded the hammer nutrition, snapped a few pics, and headed down the road. Not to harp on the one-day over two-day experience, but the water horse I used had no one waiting for it. Spent maybe 15 seconds in the food lines. Last year later in the day at the same stop, sick monkey piles of people, waited at least 15 minutes in food lines. Only really nasty line here was for the can, which thankfully I didn't need at that point.
But this was one day and I was only 1/4 done! Next 50ish miles to Centralia were a great cruise. Only one annoying hill, managed to drop my chain like a rookie, and almost killed the guy directly behind me. But I can't help you if I don't know you're on my wheel! I know I'm a great windscreen and pretty much perfect for drafting behind and I'll let you do it. Just tell me you're there! I'm not likely to go down when you run into me after I stop short, but you're going to have a bad day. Etiquette people! Just a mild peeve, no biggie; definitely not the worst behavior I saw all day, but I didn't see too much riding ugliness generally. Stopped in McKenna with no lines for the can to shake what I was hoping the last of the starbucks effect.
Tunes were cranking and I was crushing miles. Crossing Fort Lewis early in the day before military traffic picked up made for a calm ride, then we hit the bike trail between Yelm and Tenino. Lots of fun mostly by myself especially in the forest tunnel sections. I may or may not have pretended that I was riding a Star Wars speeder bike on Endor. But look at the picture and tell me you would have done different.
Yeah, I thought so.
Hit the Tenino mini-stop, home of the second saddest little league sign in Washington
. First saddest little league sign is hanging in Seattle, on the right.
Topped off the bottles and rocketed out to Centralia on PR
pace for 100 miles. Made it to the halfway point just before noon, didn't catch the exact time, but a scorching pace for me regardless. Was definitely worried that I had cooked myself, especially knowing there was a good chance of heat and headwinds in the afternoon, plus an excellent chance of rolling hills with some nasty little climbs since the geologic/topographic forecast isn't subject to the same daily vagaries as the weather forecast. Got my free creamsicle from the Washington Dairy Ambassadors. Seriously, we have dairy ambassadors, they have sashes and everything
. By everything I really mean sashes and tiaras. Found another empty water horse off the beaten path (thanks volunteer guy: "there's a big water line over there or you could go in that back parking lot where there probably isn't anyone"), grabbed some more fruit, and Centralia was in the rear view. Only 10 miles until I passed last year's overnight point and ventured into my longest bike day ever.
That minor accomplishment would be denied by 10 minutes waiting for a train in "downtown" Chehalis. As I stood there, I noticed some rumbling that was completely unrelated to the train and wholly within my immediate vicinity. Nothing much I could do about it, so I kept on keeping on rolling through bucolic farm country.
Cruising through Napavine, the rumbling grew quite pronounced. But being me, I still stopped at the Banana Bread folks in Napavine. They have a giant table stacked two feet high with banana bread slices packaged up. Unbelievably good banana bread, but that could be the 130 miles talking. But now was not the time to dawdle or eat. The route guide promised cans in Napavine, but where the hell were they?! Very thankfully, they were a little less than a mile down the road and had zero line. My friends in long distance biking circles tell me that general intestinal distress is often a fact of life on rides over 8-10 hours, particularly when you're starting out and haven't figured out what works for you on long rides. Of course, short rides only tell you so much about food compatibility with your plumbing and other life-support systems, so the only real way to figure things out is to keep doing long rides and experimenting with what you eat until you stop having issues and hopefully remember what you did on the day you stopped having issues. Suffice to say, I have much more experimenting to do.
I wasn't slowed down too much even with my rumbling, still kept up 14-15 MPH, but I did have to hit just about every stop the rest of the way (Vader, Lexington, St. Helens, and a gas station about 15 miles outside of Portland). So although I was slightly slower, the large bulk of the extra 2 hours the second half took was spent sitting in a small plastic room. Nevertheless, the second half of the day was fantastic with mostly sunny and then clear blue skies. Frankly, my stomach didn't really effect how much I was enjoying the ride, I just needed to make good use of the facilities. I think Mr. Gump covered this: "When I got tired, I slept. When I got hungry, I ate. When I had to go, you know, I went." As for anyone riding too close to me after Centralia, I think we all know the horrible things that can happen if you leave your wingman and fly through someone's jetwash
Between Centralia and the river crossing, I did have my one serious mental issue for the day. Big hill, lot of testosterone and adrenaline, pretty hot out, and Al Pacino's inches speech from Any Given Sunday
pops up on the ipod. Got me a little too excited to get up the hill and I came close to completely tearing my legs up to claw for that inch! That's what living is, the six inches in front of your face!!!!
The giant bridge over the Columbia River in Longview/Kelso was completely nerve-wracking. That's a straight-up highway bridge with narrow shoulders. For two-day riders on Sunday, they shut down traffic on both sides of the bridge and gold wing motorcycles escort everyone over in groups of a few hundred. No such luck on one-day, all on your climbing a tough hill, but you get a huge reward of a great river view and then sweet long downhill into a 270-degree corkscrew exit ramp.
Highway 30 heading south into Portland on the Oregon side of the Columbia was much more fun than I remembered from last year. Might have been the sweet tailwind (very unusual for that section of the river where there is almost always a headwind). Temps were comfortable for the final 50 mile sprint as the sun was going down and we were mostly protected in the river valley. Nice rollers with some excellent wide-open downhills.
And then finally we were in the Portland city limits with the Kamala100 workout tunes blaring on the ipod! The only time I thought about walking all day was on the last big hill in Portland, steep little doozy, but only 2 blocks, so gave myself a giant dose of HTFU, stood up, and climbed. That wouldn't have even been an option last year because my massive weight (coupled with shoddy bike skills) carried too much lateral momentum to really jump on the pedals without falling over. Now I just stand and dig in. A lot of people beefed about the revised route through downtown Portland, but I thought it was fantastic to go through areas with lots of people around. We got lots of cheers and it was a vast improvement over the industrial wasteland we spent much of the last 2-3 miles in last year. Sure there were lots of stop lights and traffic, but it was pretty calm and mellow, especially compared to Seattle rush hour. Crossing the Steel Bridge on the pedestrian path was a bit gnarly, almost saw a few tourists taken out in front of me, then the path up to the streets by the Convention Center was steep with 180-degree turns. Bet there was some ugliness for trashed two-day riders on Sunday, very technical bit of uphill riding after 202 miles. And straight into the finish line to snag my one-day patch (yes, I still love merit badges) just after 9 pm!
At the line, I wasn't anywhere close to last (people were still streaming in 20-30 minutes behind me as we headed out) and the people around me when I hit the finish all looked to be reasonably athletic and finishing strong. Kind of nice to not be the last guy in! Was a little bummed that riding buddy Jessica was out with an injury and unable to make it. I poured one out for her at the St. Helens rest stop. But I did get to prove to myself that I could handle the distance without a paceline to help cut down on the energy expenditure.
Bryce and Dan were long gone from the beer garden having finished 2-3 hours earlier and the mosquitoes were out in force, so Little Schecky took my victory picture, we picked up my bag, and headed for the light rail stop, the hotel, room service, cold shower, and a great night's sleep.
I had said I would be done with Cascade events after one-day STP, but I'm changing my mind about that. The one-day ride gets you all of the fun of a big group ride with much less of the insane hassle that goes down at rest stops and on the road with many of Cascades large rides. The route is fun, not too challenging, reasonably scenic for much of it, and I know you don't already have plans for mid-July 2011. 363 days to get ready! Who's with me?!