Saturday, March 21, 2009

SIR's 200k "Chili Feed" Brevet: 2009 Edition

Ride to ride:

Well Saturday was the Big Day after all this waiting. Unfortunatey I forgot/didn't have time to eat a Big Breakfast, so a bagel with cream cheese and some coffee would have to do it for now. Grabbed some bananas and ensure on the way out, and hit the road (on Capitol Hill) for the ride down to Kent at 5:15 AM or so. (I was happy to already be making better time than last year at this point).

When I was in Renton on Rainier Ave, a van pulled up along side me, slowing down. All I could think was, "at this hour, this should be interesting!" Turns out it was Dan Boxer and Andy Speier, offering a ride to Kent! I turned it down, not wanted to "give up" on the extra effort I'd already signed myself up for on this day.

But it got me thinking that maybe I wasn't making such great time after all, given that they were headed to the same ride I was, only they were about to be there much faster than I was. With about 10 miles to go, and 45 minutes or so to do it, I figured I still had time.

The ride down to Kent is pretty flat and uneventful. At least this year I knew to expect a nice size climb just before Greg's house (this was a surprise last year). I ended up averaging 19 mph over this stretch, probably burning too many "matches" with such a long day ahead of me. Note to self: next time, start earlier so you can softly pedal to the ride!

I usually think of riding to the ride mostly in terms of extra time, not extra (wasted) energy. I'm a pretty patient person, so an extra hour or two isn't a big deal. But if I end up pedaling that extra hour or two at a fast pace, it can turn into "wasted" energy. Oh well.

At The Ride Start

I made it to the start in Kent at 6:45, with time to spare! Robert et. al. were sure to take note that I was actually on time, for once. There was a huge sea of bikes & people, and a big line for getting our control cards. We sat around and chatted for a few minutes, everyone antsy to get started (I know I was).

Riders waiting to start in Kent:

Kent to Dash Point: Soon enough it was time to go, and we all rolled out in a gigantic group of 100+ riders. On the downhill, Robert & I ended up with the front group (split up by stop lights), and stuck with them until just after the first control at Dash Point.

Our lead group for the first 40k or so: We knew it wasn't a tenable pace, but we held on just the same. It was fun to be out in front, but it was only a matter of time before we were to be let go.

Dash Point to Black Diamond: When we hit the big climb up to Black Diamond, I ended up in a 5-7 mph pace, and was dropped by the group. Damn. I saw it coming, and had to make a decision. Should I fight to keep up? It's a good-size climb, after all. Or would red-lining to make it be too much, and kill the ride?

My body made the choice for me, and I eased off and watched the pack of 5-6 riders disappear into the fog. Oh well, maybe I'd see them later, maybe not.

Foggy morning on the way up to Black Diamond:

Black Diamond to Greenwater: I rolled off alone from the bakery, after getting two donuts & some water. Thinking of catching up to Robert, but he must've been far off by that point.

Jan caught up to me and we rode together for a while. I asked him about his new Cycling Montagnards club (oh, how I minced the pronunciation!) - you join by doing a roughly 500km (300 mi) route, including a few passes, in less than 24 hours. Sounds like... a nice challenge! Might be something to shoot for in a lull between brevets or something. But for now, the goal was to finish this 200.

I hadn't quite bonked, but I was definitely riding slow. Too many calories burned, too few taken in.. The best I could do on flats was 25-28 km/h.. It seemed that Jan wasn't having the best day either, so we were a good match, at least for a little while.

Eventually he and a rider from Oregon Rando eventually passed me, as we first began the climb on Highway 410, near Enumclaw. Greenwater was about 16 miles up the road, but on the first sections of 7% or so, I was only doing 10 km/h, or 6 mph. Ugh.

A little while passing Mud Mountain Rd, I started seeing returning riders coming down the hill. These were the riders Robert & I had rolled with to Dash Point! But it was no surprise that they were about an hour ahead of me, I knew I coulnd't hang with them forever. I think Brian O. was the first rider I saw coming back - whoever it was, damn they're fast.

(On one of the training rides last month I ended up finishing the 44-miler with Brian, Thai, and a few other fast randos. Brian asked at one point if "they'd see me at the front of the pack this year?" Well, I think the answer to that is NO! At least not this time around..)

Highway 410 heading to Greenwater:

The climb up to Greenwater wasn't half as bad as I'd remembered from last year, and it seemed to go quickly.

Greenwater - It was about 1 PM. (three hours earlier than I got there on last year's edition of this ride). Oh man was I happy to get to Greenwater. I'd needed to go to the bathroom pretty much since the beginning of the climb, so that was a relief.

Up to this point, I'd kept the time spent at controls to at most 5 minutes, but this one was a bit longer. Ok, a lot longer. I think at least 30 minutes or so, and the reason for that was that I had that sick-stomach feeling, even to the point that my forehead felt cold & sweaty, and I felt like I could easily spew green water on Greenwater, but at least that didn't happen.

Chris & John were nice enough to wait for me to get going - they could tell I was in bad shape. At the end of the ride, more than one person said I looked rough at Greenwater. So much for my rando poker face..

But looking (and feeling) "rough" is a part of pushing yourself beyond the limits of what you normally should be doing. And that's certainly what this day was all about. Pushing it.

The Greenwater control:
Greenwater to Enumclaw - At least this part is mostly downhill, but I was still "coming to" in this section. Some fresh Sprite in my bottle was a needed shot of sugar and calories, but I still didn't feel 100%. Chris & John threatened to drop me on the downhill, but I eventually latched on to them.

We passed Greg, who was fixing a flat and eventually caught up to us. He rolled with us pretty much to the end, and was good compnay.

Circle-K in Enumclaw - I bought what I like to call a "mystery-meat" burrito thingy here, oh boy did that hit the spot. I hadn't really had any warm food all day, so this was much needed, even if it's horrible for your body, etc. Some green tea/honey drink (read: sugar-water) also hit the spot here, and I put most of it in the bottle.

Back to Kent - it was refreshing to know there were only twenty or so miles left at this point. Chris, John, and Greg rolled out from Circle-K, trying to catch a large group ahead of us. We came close to catching that group on the Whitney Hill Rd (?), a decently-big climb.

But right before that climb, a small miscommunication sent John into Chris' rear wheel, almost sending John to the pavement. But he kept himself upright, and after a short adjustment of his front skewer we were rolling again. Heading towards a one mile climb at 10% or so, but rolling nontheless.

The climb wasn't quite as bad as I remembered from last year, so that was nice. Not to say it was easy, but last year it felt soul-crushing. This year it was more like "this is going to burn all that extra energy, but not kill you."

A tiny bit of rain - the first of the day - started coming down as we neared the Cox residence. But none of us cared enough to put on more clothes, it was time to finish! I was happy to do a sub-10 hour 200k for once as well.

The Chili Feed At The Finish

Tired bikes at the finish:

Feeding randos:

The food at the end was great, huge thanks to the Cox family for organizing all this! And thanks to the volunteers along the route as well. See you all on the 300!

Ride Stats

Riders total: 118
DNFs: 5
Total gain: ~6,200 feet (WKO+ calcs ~9,000 ft)
Fastest finish: 7 hours, 35 mins
Slowest finish: 12:44 (I was one minute slower than that last year!)
Averge time: 9:53
My time: 9:40 (fastest 200 so far, woot!)
Results: here

Also here is the graph from WKO of my ride. The red line is Heart Rate, blue line is speed. See how the red line is really high for the first 2-3 hours of the ride? That was me not pacing! For the next brevet I'd like to see the HR graph stay level, we'll see.

More photos here & here. And Robert's blog post here.


Robert H said...

Good job on the time. I didn't realize it was your fastest to date, sick and all.

Keep them coming.

Anonymous said...

Nice write up and it was great to ride with you Chris and John to the finish. See you on the road.

Dan aka "Greg"