Sunday, February 8, 2009

R2, R not to?

Lacey-Raymond-Lacey - 112 K Permanent:

At the start it seemed colder than on the drive up in the car (funny how that works). We met for a quick cup of coffee and a receipt at Starbucks and were away promptly at 6:30. Josh lead out (he designed this route) and it was a good thing: I had printed my cue sheet in a font that was imminently readable sitting at my desk in my well lit office, but not so much in the dark, on a bike, in the fog, with mist covered glasses.

Though I could think of a dozen or more ways to get from Lacey to Littlerock, I wanted to ride the route and to hang with Josh and Brian as long as I could. Josh put up a good start pace. I need to ride with riders stronger than me (intensity training) and this was good. Though I usually take a little longer to warm up the joints at the start I seemed to be doing fine.

On the drive up it was very foggy but didn’t seem frosty, but at bicycle speed the roads were lit up with a thousand points of crystal light: good to stay off the white stripes and manhole covers. I noticed what I thought was condensation on my gloves, cuffs, and the bike frame, just about the time Brian said “Hey, there’s ice on my gloves!”

Sure enough, that fog was freezing onto our cold parts.

Before we started into the wilderness I stopped at the Pioneer cemetery to fill my bottles with water.

We made good time to the start of the gravel segment of the Brooklyn road. At this point I was averaging 22KPH. You might snicker but that’s a good number for me for nearly 40 miles in February. Thanks due mostly to Josh and Brian for keeping a steady, smooth pace.

It was a great disappointment to see that they road crew had been busy since last week. That smooth hard packed gravel road had recently been graded and in places new gravel had been added. The difference is similar to going from well worn chip seal to a dry creek bed. When you’re driving a dump truck loaded with two ton boulders it is probably a softer ride. When your pedaling your 20 pound bike on skinny little bike tires, it’s a step in the wrong direction. This was going to slow my already glacial climbing speed.

It was another surprise when we arrived at the construction site to see the boys working diligently.

Brian and Josh had waited for me to arrive. Once we were together the loader operator backed it off a bit and we made our way along the little trail above the construction. It was a gummy muddy mess. My fenders were packed and it was a couple miles before I could clip in. Instead of avoiding them, I headed for the water filled pot holes to wash the mud out of the fenders and I stopped a couple times to splash my cleats in the mud puddles.

Up on top it was clear and warmer, or maybe It was just the pounds melting off,
but back down in the creek bottoms it was cold and foggy.

This time I followed the route to Smith Creek road, another 11 mile stretch of gravel. The road was in pretty good shape with the exception of a couple washouts that had been patched with what looked like six inch minus rock.
By Raymond the sun was again losing the battle, but the day had warmed some. I was quick in and out of the control. I really wanted to take a break but there is a lot of climbing between Raymond and Monte and I didn’t want to get cold and stiff before I started in on what would be the last hard leg of the day.
Once up in the hills the sun came out for real. Even though I was working through the climbs the sun felt good on my back.
It was on this stretch that I had a near ride stopping mechanical; I had just come over the top of one of the climbs and was staring down a pretty good descent. I worked through the gears and shifted up to the big ring as I leaned into a curve to the right. This is one of those situations that is particularly fun on a bike ,... normally. My chain sucked up into the front derailleur cage and just like that it broke. It threw me off momentarily. I drifted toward the shoulder and all of a sudden I was fishtailing wildly. I shot out into the lane, almost to the center line and then instantly I regained control which almost tossed me (thanks you Lord, there were no cars coming either way). Think Joseba Beloki on the descent of the Cote de La Rochette in 2003. When the chain broke, it jammed in the front derailleur and chain rings, dangling tantalizingly close to the rear tire contact patch. As I swerved right, to move to the shoulder, the tire climbed up on the chain and I was skidding on steel.
At any rate I got to the shoulder and took a good look at the mess. The front and rear derailleurs appeared to be in OK condition at first glance. The chain was a mess.

I walked the bike the 20 yards down to the next guard rail (rando bike stand) and started to untangle the mess. Josh showed up and asked what had happened and what he could do to help. It appeared to be a one man job and I was hoping I had everything I needed to affect a temporary repair. I told him to get out of there, I’d catch up later … or not.

The chain had jammed backward onto itself in two places. One spot was so bad that I didn’t think I’d able to pull it back in line without breaking it. I knew I had one quick link but didn’t think I had two. So getting the chain straightened out without breaking it would be very important.

I got things straightened out and back together as good as I could. There were two serious stiff links that I could only do so much with. Back in the bike, I turned the pedals and moved forward. The bike is a wonderfully simple yet sophisticated machine. The chain now had an annoying skip every couple rotations. This was about mile 70 which meant that I was going to have to call on my Zen mind to make sweet music of this irritating KaKlunk for the next 60 miles.
Into Montesano I once again met up with Brian and Josh, where we noshed at the grocery store. It was still full daylight but we kitted up for night riding and headed out. From here we had 40 miles and 5 hours to ride. I was pretty confident that barring any more surprises I’d finish this thing within the time limit.

I kept expecting to see the 8:00 am riders descend upon me, swept up by the peloton and all that. Except for Eamon it didn’t happen. He rode up on me when I was in that slightly groggy bonk stage wolfing down apricots. We rode together for a bit and then he pulled ahead into the night.

At the finish I met up with Brian and Josh at Starbux. I got a coffee and they promptly booted us as they were closing. Out at the truck as I was putting stuff away the peloton descended. It was great to see old friends and new ones too. There appeared to be smiles all around. Maybe just glad to be off the bike but hopefully some degree of enthusiasm for this unconventional route.
I’m satisfied with my ride. These things are never easy for me, but I got through it with a minimum of drama. The old tried and true strategies got me through yet again: Keep your head down, ride within your limits, resist the urge to stop and dawdle when it is hardest, (ride through your low spot) and just make your way to the next control. I’m thankful that in early February I can get out on my bike for 13 hours, see some sun, and nary a drop of rain.

1 comment:

  1. It was good to see you