Monday, September 22, 2008

Oregon Rando's Desert River 600k - Finished With Three Minutes To Spare!

After DNFing two previous 600k's this summer (1, 2) I was eager to give it another shot. Yes the last attempt was only a week ago, but this was my last chance to do a successful 600k brevet and earn the "Super Randonneur" title for 2008.

It was one hell of an experience. At some points I was speechless in awe of the beauty of the route; at other points I was cursing south-eastern Washington, wondering why anyone thought it was a good idea to ride in this area. But the "randonesia" is now setting in, and good memories are starting to stand out.

Full photo set can be viewed here. Map here.

Highlights (out of order)

Reith Road - one of the highlights of the whole ride:

Funny Sign in Umatilla, OR. Most riders probably didn't see this, as it wasn't on the route! But after 100 miles I'd decided the route wasn't long enough for me, and that I needed a 5-mile detour! (Actually, I read the cue wrong and got lost..)

Along Highway 14 heading east:

Riders on Highway 14:

The Pacer had a great ride too:

Control in Prosser (I think), the morning of day 2

Awesome canyon road (near Goldenwater, WA I think):

Bickleton, WA - the only services in a 60 mile stretch:

Wind power - you know strong winds are in store when you see turbines in the distance:

A few notes about the ride:

* ~22 starters, ~5 DNFs (I think)

* Schedule:
day 1: 6 AM start, ~1 AM finish (220-mile mark, two hours of sleep at the motel)
day 2: 5:30 AM start, 9:57 PM finish.

* This was one of my first rides without using a cyclocomputer. On super-long rides like this it's nice to actually not know exactly how far you've gone or have to go. For reading the cuesheet, I used this formula: .1 miles means I should be able to see the turn already. 1 miles means wait a few minutes, then look for it. etc. So far the method works pretty well!

* The cue sheet had about four errors on it. Got lost a few times. Also got 5 flats! (And actually used my spare tire, which then got its own piece of metal lodged in it)

One such error was in Sunnyside; the cue said left on S 16th St, but we only say N 16th street. So we continued for a mile out, then turned around wasting valuable time (see below)

* A few other riders and I missed the cut-off time for the Goldenwater control (2nd to last). On the way there from Mabton, Jim & I knew we needed to keep roughly a 12 mph average over the next 60 miles. 

But with the hills and winds, we also knew it was going to be a challenge. I worked the hardest I probably every have on a bike the last four or so mles to the control, basically devastated when I could see the control yet it was already 6:20 PM (the cut-off time). 

I'm hoping that since the cue sent us on a few detours that this can be overlooked by the rando-gods; we shall see. Either way, I'm happy to have completed such a ride!

* My nutrition for the ride consisted of bananas, cheese, chips, v8 fruit juice, ensure, jerky, donuts, dinner at subway, breakfast at mcdonald's, and plain water (e.g. human food. or close enough to it).

* A few assumptions that I learned were wrong: 

1) This brevet would be easier than a SIR 600
2) The wind dies down at night
3) It's all downhill from Goldendale to The Dalles (I wanted to slap whoever said that!)

Thanks a million to Paul Whitney and the Oregon Randonneurs for putting on such a great ride!! Also huge thanks to: Jim for riding with me for a while and letting draft you forever; Narayan & everyone for talking me out of quitting at the 2nd-to-last control; Mike for giving me an Ensure, and staying with me while I fixed one of my many flats on the first night; Bill for the complements on the Pacer; R.B. for letting me take a shower in his room at the end; And a huge thanks to Gary for giving me a ride down there, making this whole trip possible!

Now having completed two 200k's, two 300k's, two 400k's, this 600k rounds out my first rando season nicely. Can't wait for next year! Until then, there's a big list of rides I'd like to do.


Jason Hall said...

Thanks for the post, I've been wanting to learn more about randonneuring and your blog has been a good source of info for this. I was wondering if I would have to be mentally ill to try some of the 600k and 1200k events - and I think the answer is 'a little'. I'm impressed how you took the cue sheet errors in stride.

matt m said...

Awesome - I'm just getting started in the rando world, and have much to learn myself.

But I'm always glad to bring more riders into our crazy world!!

I think you do have to be a little mentally ill to do rides like this; and when we were in gas stations and people would ask what kind of ride we were doing, I spared them the detais and just said where we were headed.

Had I explained where we'd come from, and how long we'd been on the road, they'd probably lock us up!

Vincent Muoneke said...

Share a permanent sometime?
Good ride.

Robert H said...

I was keeping an eye out for this while on my trip. I'm glad to hear that it worked out for you.
I love that train video.
Chris and I are planning on doing Permanent #52 starting at 10pm and riding through the night to try and make the road cleanup... or at least the beers at the Alehouse. Let me know if your legs are up for it. It is going to be a long cold night.

matt m said...

Vincent! Yes, we've got to ride together again some time.

Robert: You're inviting me on a ride by saying it's going to be a "long cold night [on a bike]"?!

I think we're officially Randos now.. we've gone crazy for sure.

It sounds awesome - I might be up for it!

Anonymous said...

39:59, ... challenging for Lanturne Rouge honors eh?

At least you've proven you know how to get your moneys worth out of a ride.

Job well done!

Yr Pal Dr C

Narayan said...


Great ride. Congratulations on your first 600 (and Super Randonneur award). It was great riding with you.... :)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Matt. Really glad to see you finished your SR series. I'll be watching for your application ... If a certificate number hasn't been assigned by the application deadline, don't worry, just send in the app with "pending" and I'll watch for the cert # to show up.