Sunday, June 17, 2007

2007 Flying Wheels Century - Training for the STP

The plan yesterday was to ride the Flying Wheels 100-miler as training for this year's 206-mile STP (Seattle-to-Portland) ride, which I'm doing in one day. Century riders started early, between 8 and 9 AM, the course a kind of figure-eight that went from Marymoor to Carnation to Snohomish to Duval to Fall City and back to Redmond. The Flying Wheels ride attracts thousands of riders, all of them training for the STP, including me and Dennis.

We got there at about 8 AM and rolled out by 8:30, and our wheels were flying indeed. We held 22-24 mph for the first few miles and passed at least 100 bikers on the first stretch before the first climb, good ole' Inglewood Hill Drive, just off of Lake Sammamish Pkwy. 12% grade for a half-mile, it's not long but damn it's steep! Big-rigs can barely go up it at about 10 mph, no kidding (I almost beat one going up that hill last week).

Going up Inglewood , I felt great - the legs were fresh and nobody was passing me, most were slowing way down considering the grade! I've done that hill a few times, as recently as last week, so I knew what to expect and just how much I could push on it. Made it to the top and felt fresh, ready to go. This was only four miles into the ride, so luckily the lack of warmup didn't hurt me as I'm sure it did others.

The next climb was up Ames Lake Road, just off of Highway 202 out by Carnation. At the beginning I'm out of the saddle, pushing past many folks as the not-very-steep but long (two miles?) climb started. And then my problems began!

I heard a pop, figuring it's just a piece of metal on the ground.. but the guy behind is saying, "I think you broke a spoke." Indeed, I sure did, and my wheel was so far out of true it couldn't even get past the brake-pads... My Mavic rims have straight-pull, bladed spokes that I've always read are a pain to repair/find on the road. And shit, I didn't even have my spoke-wrench!! So here Dennis and I stand, watching literally hundreds of cyclists we'd passed earlier coming up the hill, passsing us.

All I could do was release my rear brake and 'hobble' at 10 mph to the next rest-stop, where hopefully we'd find a mechanic with my spokes. It was torture riding at 10mph descending down Ames Lake Road, having more and more riders pass me!! I should've been pushing 40 mph, blazing, not hobbling on the side of the fucking road!! But I guess that's what I get for not checking my spoke-tension often enough, and not carrying the right supplies and tools.

We finally got to the rest stop, and after 15 minutes of tinkering with the wheel, the mechanic didn't have the right size spoke! Fucked is what I was.... fucked. 15 miles into the ride and I've got an almost taco'd wheel.

So we detoured over Tolt Hill (I'm still hobbling this whole time) and back to Marymoor park. In total we did a whopping 30 miles! So much for a century... god dammit! Big ups to Dennis for hanging with me... next time we'll nail that ride.

Now that I'm not employed by the man any longer, I've got plenty of days to do centuries for fun and training, although not with the thrill of hundreds of other riders on the road with me. So remember kids, always carry the shit you need to fix your ride! Don't depend on the mechanics to fix it for you... I think for the STP I'm gonna carry spokes, an extra chain, everything I need.

[6/23/07: included pic of me before the mechanical breakdown.. I had no idea what would happen only 10 miles later..]


Dessa said...

Hi, I'm looking for people to do STP in one day, to ride with . All my friends are doing it in 2 days. Let me know if you are interested. I think we need at least 3-4 people for the pace line.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about the mechanical. Crappy way to end a ride. I came looking for a nice elevation profile for this year's course but now I know why it's not here. Pretty amazing to me you made it back to the start with your wobbly wheel.

Anonymous said...

Unlucky with your mechanical issues. There is no worse feeling that training hard for months only to be let down by something other than your fitness.

At least you have a bigger goal to aim for - the STP! Good luck