Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Moving Targets

At one time or another you have probably seen bench rest target shooters squinting down the scope of a high powered rifle drilling holes into a bulls eye somewhere down range. As it happens my dad was a shade tree gun smith and as a little boy and young man I grew up with guns. We used to load up the guns and head out to the Seattle Policemans Guild shooting range, (my dad was a Seattle cop for a brief period) way out in the country (now buried beneath an I-5 interchange and a huge shopping mall called South Center) and shoot and shoot.  I was never a great shot but he was a damn good gunsmith and hand loader. He had all the guns pretty well sighted in and stocked (he made custom gun stocks for sporterized military actions). These things count for a lot when it comes to consistency. He coached me a little on breathing technique and how to squeeze, not jerk the trigger.

I was mostly relegated to the .222 and the .243, but he would often let me shoot at least one group with his favorite rifle: the 300 Weatherby Magnum.  He'd shoot and fiddle and then he'd say somethgnlike "come over here and give this thing a try".  It was like a call up to the bigs.  When this gun goes off people up and down the line know it: other guns bark, but the 300 roars, and the spotting scopes almost always swing over to the 300 yard target just to see. When a little boy is drilling holes in the 10 ring other folks look down the line and it makes a kid sort of puff up, and I think it gave him a chuckle.

Moving targets are a game changer, in life as much as at the gun range. Back in the dreamtime (last winter) as I was mapping out my ride calendar I thought my ‘A list’ ride might be the Colorado Last Chance 1200. I’ve never done it and since I hoped to get a long ride in this season that seemed a reasonable late season ‘target’, so I got myself on the wait list. In the interim our SIR late September 1000K to Klamath Falls started materializing out of the fog and well, the target moved. This would be a pretty challenging ride for me but it will certainly be a great event. It was billed as something a little different for SIR: A minimal to no support point to point ride, however much of the route has services fairly well interspersed so I wasn’t too worried about carrying three days worth of Spam and Ensure. I’ve jealously guarded my calendar to assure that those dates stay open and though my ride prep has been spotty it still seems within my grasp.

The club also has another 1000K ride on the calendar, later this month, a couple weeks off actually. I assumed this would be through the Cascades, which would be fine but just did not appeal to me too much. It turns out this is shaping up to be a ‘lowland’ ride that will run from the Canadian border down to the Oregon border and back. Not so scenic, not so challenging, I know most of these roads, but two weeks off, I’m not ready for that.

So, I’m thinking the target may once again be on the move. On the plus side the August 1000K is an out and back which eliminates a certain amount of logistical gymnastics on both ends, and given that it has considerably less climbing it would probably be easier for me to finish. On the down side it is also likely to be hotter and possibly a little more fraught with traffic issues. I don’t have to spend a whole lot of time weighing the options because the August ride is just around the corner.

Regardless, I want to say a hearty thank you to all the SIR volunteers who have put themselves 0n the line to offer 3 1,000 K brevets AND the Cascade 1200 in this pre-PBP season. If any of us PBP wannabe’s don’t get the riding in the bag that we wanted, it won’t be for lack of support from the club.

In the short term, I’m getting excited about the 3 Volcanoes, BUT as so often happens, there is a wrinkle in the plan: Right now I’m in a little speck of a spot on the map called Ione, Washington, less than 20 miles from the Canadian border and just a couple miles from the Idaho panhandle. I’ll work here tomorrow with community groups, then the mad dash back to the west side. It’s a long drive, over 400 miles. 

This of course is not the best pre ride prep, sort of like running a half marathon to get ready for a 10K.  But if I have to be somewhere else this is a pretty good somewhere else to be.  This is one of the most beautiful, forgotten spots in the state. The motel I’m in is on the banks of the Pend Oreille river, peaceful, wild, and idyllic.

Midsummer in Ione, WA:

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