One each in Early December, January, and February. I’ll take whatever comes in March and April, and from May on it’s pretty much a walk in the park. I am of coarse talking about bike time, nothing to do with sour dough baking, fountain pens, or lawn darts.
I ventured fourth on my monthly 200Km sojourn yesterday. There are many factors at play when I try this, all of which play a role in the relative satisfaction and ultimate success of the endeavor. This time of year, in this part of the world, weather effects can never be overlook and are often underestimated, to dramatic effect. Early in the week I began watching the weather. The forecast suggested rain, with ... rain, and frequent periods of, ... rain through the week except, it looked like a doughnut hole in the rain forecast for Saturday, our chosen ride date. A fool or a new comer would jump for joy at this forecast. Natives and veteran transplants know that a forecast for weather 6 days out is worth it’s weight in good intentions. As it turned out the weather was upside down; Monday through Friday were bona fide nice by November standards. Friday night the sky was clear and the stars were bright; it would be a freezing start in the morning.
I drove north at the ridiculous hour of 5:00am to be ready for a 6:30 am start. The freeway was deserted as I plowed through thick freezing fog.
(fog lifting on the Canal)Because the previous days had been dry the roads were fine. It did not occur me however that all that freezing fog hitting my handle bars and shifters at 70 miles an hour would result in a thick coat of rime ice when I arrived 45 minutes later.
It was cold and dark as 10 of us rolled out.
It seemed a merry band and in short order riders sorted themselves according to ability and affinity. Nice to say this ride had two first time rando riders and another who was on perhaps her second rando event. There is hope for those who start out on this crazy adventure on a frozen November mooring. On second thought, perhaps thee is no hope for these poor lost souls. I was shelled off the back of the pack about 10 miles in and rode the rest of the event essentially solo.
(who's crazy? The one on the bike or the one(s) out in the water?)
As I mentioned at the top, many thing s come in to play on these events and while the weather, the bike, the roads, and the gear were all on my side, my health was not ‘on the team’. I’d had a grueling road trip the week before to northeast Washington, a few miles from Canada, and fewer miles to the Idaho border. It all added up to a start with less than adequate rest and an upset stomach so I was slow start to finish. (I also made several visits to the bushes along the route)
This route passes by the place we lived when I was born: a little shack on the beach at Fulton creek. This part of Hood Canal looks no different than it did 60 years ago. It was remote then and is still a long drive (and a damn long bike ride) from any place that claims to be a place.
It's salmon time in Hood Canal. I stopped to take this photo which I think is both sad and hopeful. It may not be aparent but, this little pool is full of salmon, some dead, some nearly so, and all doomed but here with a common purpose.
Unfortunately low rains and low tide have conspired to trap them here at the mouth of th creekand ot of reach of salt water. Sad that most probably won't be able to spawn at the end of thier multi-year, muti thousand mile odyssey. Hopeful in that the rhythms of nature continue.
The turnaround at Brinnon is another of those places that is not much more than a highway sign and a gas station convenience store. The girl at the counter knew the drill and when I unloaded my V8, small Coke, and mystery meat sandwich at the counter she asked if I wanted a receipt. Before handing it to me she crossed out the time and wrote in ‘1 pm’. She said the time was an hour off. “Next spring it will be right on“ I quipped. She laughed at that.
The ride back was interminable. This route has no real big climbs but lots of rollers and my legs felt like lead. I spent lots of time in my small ring. My bike computer wasn’t working, but even so I knew I was bleeding time. Was it Winston Churchill who said “When you are going through hell, keep gong”? It’s far from inspirational, but useful when every cell in your body is chanting ‘QUIT!’ in unison. There is no drama here; I just kept the pedals slowly ticking over. As night descended I felt like I had ridden into a walk in freezer. It was stunning how quickly the freezing cold crept into my sweat soaked layers of wool.
There is a little climb just that the end, between the Mud Bay interchange and the run for home. It’s really not much but it felt like that steep pitch up the East side of Rainy pass through the North Cascades. Those who have ridden this know what I mean, those who haven’t can imagine.
At the finish the Starbux was closed so I padded around inside the Supermarket trying to think what would taste good and stay down. I soon realized that I had gotten a receipt so technically the clock was still ticking.
My lovely wife had driven up to congratulate me on my finish and provide any and all support she could. I knew I looked rough when she suggested I ride home with her and return for the truck the next day.
The wind is blowing sheets of rain sideways outside my window as I type. My quads and calves feel like they have been worked over by a hot flat iron, and the weather man is calling for heavy rain tomorrow morning.
I have scheduled my 100Km P-12 ride for tomorrow morning. I think I'll be making a hefty down payment for my recent good fortune.