That pretty accurately describes how I rode the SIR 200km yesterday. But I finished, which means I'm now officially a Randonneur. In case you don't know, Randonneur is a French word that basically means "crazy person." I also rode a solo century a couple weeks ago, but I'm counting the SIR 200km as my official March entry in my Century a Month bid for 2009.
The 200k started in Kent at the organizer's house at 7:00am. It was pretty amazing to see 115 other cyclists, gathering in the dark with the temperature well below freezing. But the stars and the moon were out, so the weather looked promising. Here's what the start scene looked like:
As we rolled out the sky was starting to lighten up. About 1/2 mile into the ride I had to stop at the first gas station I saw to "offload some excess baggage." This pit stop put me a few minutes behind everyone else in the pack, which turned out to be kind of nice because as I worked my way back past the other riders I was able to get a good idea of who these Randonneur types are. Ages range from 20s to some maybe in their 70s, but most are probably between 35 and 50. This crowd wears wool, rides steel bikes and sits on leather saddles. No carbon fiber and lycra for them, thank you very much.
The ride headed out to Dash point, with beautiful views of the water with the Olympics in the distance. By the first control at 20 miles I had worked my way up to about first third of the pack. We then headed inland through Kent and Auburn on our way to the next control at the Black Diamond Bakery.
Black Diamond was about 50 miles in. By this point I had hooked up with a guy named Michael who seemed to be riding about my pace, so we worked together for most of the rest of the ride, trading pulls every mile or so. Here we are pulling out of the "secret control" somewhere between Black Diamond and Enumclaw (Michael is the one with tree trunk like thighs).
The ride went through some scenic but smelly farm land on it's way to Enumclaw where we got on Hwy 410 and continued on up to Greenwater. Greenwater is a turn around point, so we were able to see that we were only about 20 minutes behind the lead riders. After getting our Brevet card stamped at the Greenwater store and gulping down a Coke (shameless product placement), we started back down the hill into a headwind.
Somewhere around the 100 mile mark Michael and I missed a turn. Michael decided to take a short cut back to the start since he knew the way. I turned around and started retracing our path to find the missed turn since I wanted to be official about riding the course. After about six "bonus miles" I got back on track and caught up to a group of five other riders who looked like they knew where they were going. The rest of the ride was uneventful and was ridden more in the traditional randonneuring style, which is to say slow.
At the finish they had plenty of cold beer and hot chili, the perfect recovery meal.
Overall it was beautiful ride and I really enjoyed the Randonneuring thang. I ended up finishing in the top twenty, and without the bonus miles I most likely would have been in the top ten (although, I think polite Randonneurs aren't supposed to talk about their finishing times).
The SIR 300K is in two weeks. Stay tuned...
Distance: 135 miles (217 km)
Time: 7:47 saddle time (8:35 total)
Climbing: 6,153 ft
Road Kill: 2