Saturday, March 15, 2008

SiR 200k Brevet: Success & Failure Combined

Executive Summary: I finished my first brevet! (Although it may not count officially since we missed one of the control's time-cutoff by 30 minutes or so.) We weren't the last to finish, but pretty damn close! I think about two more riders came in after Dennis & I - but hey, at least now we can (almost) call ourselves randonneurs and buy those stylin' Seattle Rando wool jerseys.

Congrats to all that finished! And even those who didn't finish, at least you tried.

My First Brevet - Seattle International Randonneur's 200k

This morning was the Seattle Intl Randonneur's first brevet of the season, a 200km ride in which you get 13 hours and 30 minutes to finish. This is plenty of time to finish such a ride (assuming you start on time & you don't get too lost, tired, or broken) for most long-distance riders, but the ride was surprisingly tough. Not so much the rolling hills or climbing, navigation is the hardest part of a brevet for me. (But Robert would be happy to know that I actually had my own cue this time around!)

The weather was also tough for the most part: 45-50F degrees with steady rain (not a misty/light rain that's nice to ride in), with lows at least 32F. When we were about 1,700 feet in the air in Greenwater, there was a lot of snow on the side of the road!

The ride to the ride was adventure in itself. I pedaled down to the starting point, which meant covering the 24 miles (in the rain) to get from Capitol Hill to the start of the ride in Kent. I didn't get out the door until about 5:30, so I knew time was gonna be tight!

When I finally got to Kent (via Rainier Ave & E. Valley Hwy) and took a left onto James St to get to the start of the brevet, I was met with a giant wall of concrete! A relatively gigantic hill awaited. At that point it was about 6:55, only 5 minutes until the start! On the Google Map this 1.5 mile stretch of road looked like no problem, but the 2D representation on Google Maps can only tell you so much.

As I was chugging up the hill I saw the peloton of 100+ riders enjoying the descent down the hill, parts of which were apparently 15% in grade! I figured I could catch up to at least some of them, and wondered if anyone I knew was in the pack or not.

When I got up to the start I saw my buddy Dennis setting up his bike! Hooray for some of my friends being late like me. We acquired our control cards and split, heading back down the same monster of a hill I'd just come up. (This was at 7:30, so we were already 30 minutes late)

There were a few other stragglers with us at first, but for the most part we rode the route alone. The route took us from Kent over to Federal Way, then to Auburn, Black Diamond, Ravensdale, Enumclaw, Greenwater. Lots of rolling hills, and then a 17-mile stretch of Highway 410 that took us up to an elevation of ~1700 ft.

A brief summary of the things we saw & experienced along the way - good and bad:

  • An amazing array of farm animals, especially along Green Valley Highway between Auburn & Black Diamond: goats, a pig, yaks, llamas, cows, horses, a cat sitting in a field. Lots of country dogs but none free enough to give chase.
  • We also saw a lot of other animals that had met unfortunate endings, and each one of the roadkill scenes we saw seemed to get worse and worse: a raccoon with its innards splayed; then an armadillo with its head squished; then (what i think was) a cat with its face peeled off and what seemed to be only a jaw with jagged teeth. Gruesome scenes indeed. You're lucky I didn't bring a camera!
  • A redneck in a jacked-up pickup truck called us "assholes" when we used a cross-walk while it was showing the walk sign! Not sure if he just didn't like the fact we were "not from around here" or what, but as we passed in front of his truck he rolled down his window to say "you assholes" as if we'd just spit on his windshield. We threw up our hands in both amusement & confusion, as in, "Wtf are you talking about?!" But my temptation to challenge drivers like that is inversely proportional to the probability of them carrying a gun - so in this case, I didn't want to push it.
  • A big brown van that swerved into the bike lane on Highway 410 at the bottom of the climb! He buzzed us with maybe a foot to spare, and kept swerving (most likely a drunk) as he went on. Hopefully he got to where he was going without killing anyone!
  • I bought some new wool socks at the general store in Greenwater - best purchase I've ever made. After having wet socks on since about 8 that morning, it was a welcome relief (it was about 4 PM at that point)
We ended up going off course by about 5 miles in Black Diamond, and this technically disqualified us (see Article 9) since we were out of the time limit for the control. The Bakery control closed at 12:12 or so, and we didn't get there until 12:40! There were a ton of things that led up to us not making it in time, but according to the official rules it seems like this was under our control and was basically our fault. The offcial word:

"If a rider arrives at a checkpoint after it has closed and the ride organizer is satisfied that the rider's lateness is due to the occurrence of something unforeseen and beyond the control of the rider (such as a road closure or stopping to help at a traffic accident), then the ride organizer may waive the fact that the rider arrived at the control late and allow the rider to continue. Poor bicycle or equipment maintenance, fatigue, lack of fitness, hunger, etc. are not unforeseen and beyond the control of the rider and therefore will not serve as a valid reason for being late. Subject to the foregoing, failure to make all checkpoints, even if the brevet is done within the overall time limit, will result in disqualification."

So I'm OK with taking the hit on this one, it's not like this 200k counts towards the PBP qualification anyway. And I'll still bang out the 300k, 400k, & 600k routes, and probably do the 200k again later on this summer.

Back to the ride: I made the Greenwater control by 4 minutes! When we started the climb I thought there was no way we'd make it in time, but after a little uphill sprinting I made it there at 4:04, and the cutoff was at 4:08. We made the Circle K control with 10 minutes to spare, and then made it back to Greg Cox's house in Kent by about 7:40, so there was maybe 40 minutes to spare on that one.

It's tough to swallow after having done such a long ride, but hey there's another 200k later on this year, and nothing is stopping me from still doing the 300k-600k series!

Start time: 5:30 A.M.
End time: 7:40 P.M.
Total distance: 126 miles of brevet + 10 miles of being lost + 25 miles to get there = 161 miles! (259 km)

[route map]

P.S. Robert wrote up a nice entry on this ride as well [link]


Robert H said...

I forgot to write about it, but we passed a truck in Auburn that had flamed on the tailgate with "Git R Done" written on it. I love getting out of the city.

Kevin King said...

Congratulations on finishing - I can't even imagine covering that distance in one shot, let alone 13:30. Great job.