The SIR 200K
March 23, 2002
a brief ride report by Kent Peterson
One the first day of spring, it was snowing in Seattle but just a couple of days later we had almost perfect weather for the SIR 200K. I'd been fighting off a cold all week but I felt pretty good for the 42K ride from my house down to Greg Cox's place. There were already quite a few riders getting ready when I pulled up to the registration area at 6:15 AM. The temperature was in the mid-forties and the sky was overcast but it looked like the day was going to shape up into a fine day for riding.
A lot of us were decked out in our fancy new blue wool Seattle Randonneurs jerseys and I must admit that we did look smashing and were extremely comfortable. Jan Heine had been the driving force behind getting together a minimum order of the jerseys last fall and they'd finally arrived from Italy a couple of weeks ago. Enough people who'd passed on the initial order of jerseys were now regretting it, so it looks like we'll be putting together another order soon.
Cars with bike racks kept pulling up and by the time Greg gave the final pre-ride instructions there were nearly sixty of us ready to go. Jan relayed the sad news that most of us had already heard; pedestrian and cycling activist Susie Stephens had been struck and killed by a tour bus on Thursday while she was crossing a street in St. Louis. Susie, a former director of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington and resident of Winthrop, Washington had been in St. Louis for a transportation conference. As Jan pointed out as he lead us in a moment of silence for Susie, her work and life had been devoted to those of us who walk and ride.
We took off at 7:00 AM with Jan establishing a zippy pace. After we navigated the suburban turns of Greg's neighborhood and crossed onto the Kent-Black Diamond Road, Jan began to pull even further ahead. Guys like Ken Carter and Mark Vande Kamp were also up there. I flipped my computer over from measuring distance to check the average pace. I was averaging over 30 kph at this point and those guys were going faster. I didn't think I was up to keeping a pace like that and as I eased back a bit a few more guys passed me. When I pulled into the bakery at Black Diamond, however, there weren't as many bikes there as I'd expected. Some of the lead guys pulled in a few seconds later, having missed the turn onto Morgan Road. By far the bulk of the riders were still behind us but some people paused only long enough at this control to get their cards stamped while others took a nice break for coffee and baked goods. I grabbed a bottle of juice and took a couple of quick pictures of incoming riders before heading out.
One advantage of being on a familiar route is that you don't have to expend any mental energy on navigation. The downside of course is that the ride seems pretty routine. This ride was very familiar to me since we'd used this route for our 200K for the past couple of years and it's one of my standard training routes. So I kind of locked into autopilot for the ride although I did get to chat with various riders enroute and at the controls. I met Stan Reynolds, a fellow who is new to our club. Stan was riding at about my pace for much of the time and he was curious about some of the longer rides and my equipment choices. Of course, I was riding a fixed gear and Stan was on a normally geared Lemond, so our paces didn't always match and we weren't riding together all the time but we did get to chat quite a bit. I also got to talk real briefly with Danelle Laidlaw at the control at Enumclaw. Danelle confirmed that not only is the Rocky Mountain 1200 full, it's over-booked. She'd been intending on limiting the ride to 50 riders but she already has over 70 registrations. It should be quite a ride.
Even though it wasn't a control on the way out, I stopped at the Texaco in South Prairie for a quick hot dog and a pint of milk. Ed Husted expressed the usual dismay at my choice of fuel and introduced me to his friend Patrice Vermillion. Ed and Patrice alleged that this was her first brevet but she sure looked like this stuff came naturally to her. Anybody who can hang with Ed is certainly no slouch as a cyclist.
The great thing about the day was that it wasn't windy, it wasn't hot, it wasn't cold and it wasn't raining. Heck it hardly seemed like a real SIR brevet! Wayne would later tell me that I didn't look like I was having a good time. Actually I think I was, but I think I'm actually happier when the weather is a nastier.
Unlike last year, the sign pointing to Electron was intact so I don't think anybody missed the turn onto Orville Road. I saw Danelle and John pulled over fixing a flat on the tandem, but they had everything under control so Stan, Ed, Patrice and I rolled on by. Our group kind of broke up on the ride into Kapowsin and after Kapowsin I started seeing the first of the riders returning from Eatonville. Jan Heine and Ken Carter were looking really good and Jan was far enough into the zone that he'd tell me later that he never saw me on Orville Road. But I have witnesses! And a signed control card. I was there, Jan. Honest.
I hadn't been looking forward to the climb up to Eatonville and I told Patrice that I fully intended to "weep like a man" when I hit the hill but it wasn't nearly as long or steep as I'd recalled it being. I did get to see Bill Dussler and Mark Vande Kamp descending as I was climbing and I got a real good look at a Rivendell Wooly Warm jersey as I slowly crept past a fellow wearing one on the climb. I was pleased that I still had the breath to ask the owner how he liked it and he replied it was the best thing he'd ever bought from Rivendell. So, wool fans, if you missed out on the SIR wool jerseys (I did mention how smashing they look and how comfy they are, didn't I?) and you don't have the patience to wait for our next order, Rivendell may be the place to get yourself a wool jersey.
It was actually getting a little warm and there was some kind of odd yellow light in the sky when I pulled into the bakery at Eatonville. The bakery was actually quite mobbed. I got my control card signed and bought and drank a couple of cartons of milk before heading out. Like a lot of folks, I debated about my clothes and how I should adjust for temperature. I kept my wind vest on over my jersey but I did stow my Possum wool earband. If you're placing that order at Rivendell, take a look at the Possum wool head tube. You'll have to put up with Vande Kamp calling you "Possum Head" but it's a cozy bit of gear for warding off the morning chill.
I was happy to see Eric Courtney pull into Eatonville. Last year Eric had been one of the people thwarted by the missing Electron sign and he has a history peppered with various misadventures. It was good to see him having a trouble free ride.
As I retraced down the hill and along Orville Road I got to see the rest of the rando riders. Ken Krichman and Jim Giles were both looking like members of some non-motorized chopper gang on their long and low Black Gold Rush recumbents. Of course there were lots of folks I didn't know, but if you ride enough of these rides, you get to know a lot of folks and learn their basic riding styles. While it's always a safe bet to figure Jan is off the front and Bob Magyar is going to be the red lantern, the middle sorts out differently depending on the day. And on this particular Saturday it didn't look like anybody was having too bad a time. I got to wave to lots of my friends.
My new pal Stan was ahead of me all the way to South Prairie and he gave me some of his Fritos before he took off from the Texaco. I washed the Fritos and Clif Bar down with a Frappicino and some Orange Sobe. Mark Thomas took off from the Texaco ahead of me, with the prediction that some of us would catch him on the first hill. I took off a couple of minutes later, while Wayne, Tom, Ed, Patrice and some others were still fueling up. Mark was right, I caught and passed him on the climb just north of South Prairie.
I cruised back through Buckley and the back roads around Enumclaw. Like the Eatonville climb, the climb out of the Green River Valley wasn't as bad as I'd remembered, while the run back along the Kent-Black Diamond Road was just as zippy as I'd hoped it would be. Frank Cordell caught up with me at the light by Lake Meridian Park and we rode the last part to Greg's together. Actually I think Frank was a bit faster than me for this section, but he had to keep checking the cue sheet while I knew the way so he just let me do the navigation.
As usual, Greg and family had a good supply of food and beverages on hand for the post ride party. I had some nice chili and rice and lounged around for an hour or so before I headed out for the ride back to Issaquah. My route home backtracked on the course for a bit, so I got to see some of the other riders coming in.