Thursday, June 30, 2011

Looking Forward to a Bumpy 400k

The past month, since I rode the Tahuya Hills 600k, has felt like a vast empty Randonneuring desert. This time of year is generally pretty densely packed with brevets. Just as I'm beginning to feel recovered from one brevet I'm usually gearing up for the next. But for the past three and a half weeks I've been staying close to home and doing just enough riding to keep myself from getting fat.

So, it feels good to finally have another brevet on the horizon. On Friday, July 8 at 10pm I'll be starting a 400k over in Yakima (aka, "Yaki Vegas"). Yes, the ride starts at 10pm. At night. I guess the idea is to get some practice with a night start since most of us bound for PBP this summer will be starting in the late afternoon or evening. I've done a couple long rides that started at night and thoroughly enjoyed them both. Of course, I mean "enjoyed" in the Rando sense of the word, which is to say I finished the rides alive and didn’t suffer too horribly. I usually have enough adrenaline pumping during the first few hours of a ride to keep me from getting sleepy, and by the time that wears off the sun should be up. Also there is something magical about riding on remote roads in that space between when the last drunk has finally made it home (or at least has passed out in the back seat somewhere), and when the darkness loses its grip on the night to the sound of birds and the eastern glow. Many of my fondest Randonneuring memories come from times like that.

This definitely won’t be an easy 400k course. It’ll start in Yakima and head north through the Yakima Canyon to Ellensburg. I’ve ridden the Yakima Canyon before and it’s a beautiful road along the river, deep in the canyon, that climbs ever so gently as you head north. This should put me in Ellensburg around midnight when hopefully most of the drunk drivers are still safely in bars (or behind bars). From Ellensburg the route climbs up and over Blewett Pass to Leavenworth. I’m really looking forward to the run down the north side of Blewett in the wee hours with no cars on the road. If all goes well, the eastern sky should just be beginning to blush as I roll into Leavenworth. From Leavenworth it’s on up Highway 2 to the summit of Stevens Pass, definitely not my favorite cycling road with semis and motorhomes blasting by every few seconds. At Stevens Pass summit we’ll turn around and head back to Yakima basically doing the same route in reverse, except that we’ll use the Old Blewett Pass highway on the return trip. The old highway is a little shorter, but also a bit steeper and windier. I’ve never ridden the Old Blewett Pass highway and I’ve wanted to for a while, so that’s the other part of this ride I’m really looking forward to. I should be pretty wrung out by then, but at least from the summit the remaining 65 miles into Yakima are nearly all downhill.

Ride Profile

I’ll consider any finish in less than 27 hours (that’s the limit) to be a win for this ride. With three big climbs (over 12,000 feet total) I definitely won’t be trying to do a time or keep up with any fast groups. This will be an at-my-own-damn-pace ride.


  1. Damn that's a profile! Our 400 that night is nothing by comparison.

  2. Yeah, it's sort of evil looking, isn't it?

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