The Olympia Cycling Classic is a 112 mile organized charity ride with around 7,000 feet of elevation gain - including a wicked finish with a 1,000 foot climb at 8%+ grade paralleling the Elwha River at the 100 mile mark. Scenery is incredible - it is a figure 8 loop out of Port Angeles which is on the north ocean side of the Olympic National Forest, so you get the water views, mountain climbs, mountain lakes, Olympic National Forest rivers, ocean headwinds, and periodic rain. It really is a classic Northwest ride - you get every imaginable type of terrain - plus all the weather. If you can only do one Northwest ride this would be my recommendation.
I rode mostly solo and never had any drafting benefits. For the first 60 miles I rode with the only other fast person - a 14 year old "bandit" who couldn't officially ride because he was underage. He jumped on my wheel at the outset and we had a good ride together for first half. The funny thing was the kid weighed 105 pounds and is the top local junior racer. With joint consent our strategy was to ride side by side on what little flats there were, he would float up the hills ahead of me, then stick to my wheel on the long descents and whenever we had a headwind. Regrettably he dropped out at 60 miles (his longest effort to-date) so I did the rest on my own.
I finished in 6:22, with an average speed of 17.5 mph. For powermeter users I averaged 193 watts and burnt through 4,439 kj. I only stopped for a total of an extra 11 minutes for water and bio break. I was happy with this effort. My training really paid off. I had been doing lots of threshold interval work, hill interval work 1x week, along with a pretty hilly long group ride 1x week. My longest rides were in the 80 mile range - with around 6,000 feet of climbing. My training focus has been on hard, high quality efforts 3x a week, not focused on accumulating miles. I felt good even at the end - aside from the usual butt contact point discomfort.
In terms of bike set-up, nutrition I want to give a big thanks to all the BF folks who have posted helpful tips over last few months. I fine-tuned things over the last few months based on personal experience and preference (for example I ditched the CO2 cartridges in favor of a pump). The bike setup: I rode my Merlin Extralight. DuraAce wheelset in front, Mavic OpenPro in back with the powermeter hub. Michelin Pro2race tires (700x23). I did throw on some clip on fenders at last minute because of the rain. First ride on my new compact crank - a 50/34 with a 12-27 in back. Came in quite handy on all the climbs. Rest of components are mix of Ultegra and DuraAce. Very nice FSA Wing Pro handlebars. In my pockets I had powder mix (2 ziplocks with 300 calories in each) to refill the water bottles (prefilled with powermix), dried fruit and one powerbar. I also had a flask of EnduranceMax (flavored malodextrin - 700 cals) in case I needed a fuel boost. Total calories carried for 8 hours. I did grab a couple bananas and some trail mix at the rest stops - found the more the ride went on the more I wanted solid food and never used the Endurancemax. A small saddle bag for 2 tubes, levers, glueless patch kit. Because of the cold (at first), wet and windy conditions I was really layered - ended up wearing a very light wool jersey with pockets first layer, jersey, wind/rain vest and outer rain (superlightweight) jacket during the squalls. Full leg warmers and arm warmers.
The only problem I experienced was the rough road. The chipseal roads in this area are very rough. So I had a lot of vibration which I think takes its toll over this long a ride - I have no scientific evidence to support this -- but it felt like this vibration cost me some effort over the last couple hours. I can't put larger tires at less pressure on this bike - but it does make me wonder if it would be worth using my "winter" bike (a Soma Smoothie ES) with 700x28's at 80 psi for long, country road rides. It may have more rolling resistance, but maybe it would not cost the body and energy loss from all the vibration effects.
here's a pic of the bike.