June 3-4, 2006
A Ride Report by Kent Peterson
After work on Friday I ride my bike to the downtown ferry terminal and
sail on the 4:20 ferry to Bainbridge Island. I then pedal north
over the island and across the Agate Pass bridge. The cross-wind on the
bridge tugs at the rear of the bike, grabbing at my usual Rubbermaid
rear trunk and also at the Z-rest
I have strapped to the
rear rack. My tiny
down sleeping bag
is tucked snugly in the plastic
I make it safely across the breezy bridge, turn north and ride up to
Kingston. While many of the Seattle International Randonneurs will be
taking the ferry from Edmonds in the morning, several members of the
club opted instead to spend tonight in Kingston. Two of these
riders are Ralph
and Carol Nussbaum and I meet up with them and we have
a nice pasta dinner at Bella Luna. Ralph and Carol and several other
randos have booked rooms at Smiley's Motel but it is a warm, dry spring
evening and I seldom pass on a chance to sleep unroofed and unwalled.
Exploring the edges of Kingston in the fading light, I find a lovely
secluded corner of Arness
Roadside Park. On a tiny strip of grass
between a flowering bush and the beach, I unroll my bivy and my bag.
Listening to the waves and the sea-birds and the distant metal sounds
of the marina boats and the low pulsing rumble of a ferry sailing for
Seattle, I fall asleep.
I wake and pack up in the morning before the Kingston coffee shops are
open. Shore birds are wading in the lightly clouded morning light while
gray gulls and dark crows drift on the gentle morning breeze. The AM/PM
gas station has both biscotti and the machine that makes cheap caramel
lattes. I am blessed with a rather unrefined palate and am still
dazzled and delighted to awaken in a world that holds such wonders.
I take my morning fuel and head over to the parking lot where I sign in
with Eric Vigoren. Other randonneurs join us and when the ferry docks
the parking lot quickly fills with riders dressed in wool and lycra and
various bright bits of reflective gear. The randonneuring machines
sport an interesting variety of fenders, lights and bags and there is
the usual talk of gear and the weather and the road ahead.
Peter Beeson gives the standard pre-ride briefing with warnings of
hazardous bridge crossings, promises of spectacular scenery and
reminders that we are all ambassadors of our sport. Peter and the other
pre-riders had avoided all rain last week but the forecast does not
predict similar luck for the nearly fifty riders gathered here today.
The course loops out through the Hoh rain forest so the odds are quite
good that our rain gear will get a workout at some point in the next
At 6:30 AM we roll on down the road. At Port Gamble we pass by the
hundreds of tents belonging to mostly still sleeping
for some sort of Renaissance Faire. Turning onto the Hood Canal bridge
random good timing gives us an informal police escort as a local patrol
car drives along at a bicycle pace just behind my subset of the SIR
riders. The speedy riders, folks with names like Jan (pronounced "Yon")
and Urs, are already far off ahead while the rest of us persist at our
own paces. The hills and our unique natures divide the riders. Some
ride solo, some form alliances and stay with one group for the duration.
I roll into Port Angeles and get my control card signed at the Safeway
at 10:28 AM. I use a Jandd
Frame Pack as a feedbag
and I've been
munching Clif bars en route, so I don't need to get much here. Speedier
randos have left half-full gallon water jugs so all I need to buy is a
quick pint of milk and a banana before I set off again. I wind up
riding with Wayne
Methner, Bob Brudvik and some other folks on the way out of
Port Angeles and I get to quiz Wayne as to whether or not he is related
to some smiling insurance agent whose face graces a billboard that I'd
spied on the eastern edge of town. Wayne says that he's not sure but
there certainly seems to be a family resemblance.
The hills west of town break our little group apart and at the Joyce
General Store I stop for a cool drink and a chocolate bar. The skies
above are blue but to the south things are darker and that is where the
road will lead us. I ride part of SR-112 with Narayan
Krishnamoorthy. We both marvel at the good weather and wonder
it will hold. Narayan is a strong and cheerful rider but he's having
some hot-foot issues and I'm a bit faster on the climbs. I tell him
about a time years ago when Eric Courtney stopped along this
section of road to cool his feet in a stream. I also speak from
experience and recommend SuperFeet dress-shoe
insoles. These plastic insoles don't absorb water and are one item I
credit with my long-term lack of foot and knee issues. I also am a firm
believer in PowerGrips but I save
that sermon for another day.
Soon after I turn north at the SR-112/SR-113 intersection I see other
riders heading south I ride north to the Clallam Bay control point and
get my card signed at 2:25 PM. The friendly clerk tells me that she
made extra sandwiches in anticipation of our group's arrival. I wash
down one of the best turkey sandwiches I've ever had with a nice pint
of cold milk. Jon Muellner had gotten a bit of a late start and had a
flat tire en route, but Jon is a speedy fellow so he's caught up with
now. Jon is riding his single speed Heron today while I'm enjoying
riding with a couple of more gears. A couple of days ago I'd outfitted
Model G with an old Sturmey-Archer 3-speed hub.
I've often said that it really doesn't make that much of a difference
how many speeds you have, we are all here for some kind of challenge. I
don't think anybody is riding fixed today, but I know of at least three
single-speed riders on this brevet and we have folks with the latest in
thirty-speed drive trains as well. And I'm sure that Jan is somewhere
kilometers down the road on a bike with a few very old, very reliable
and very stylish French gears.
Jon and I leave Clallam Bay together but on the climb up Burnt Mountain
Jon drops me just like I'd dropped Narayan. It's nothing personal, we
all just ride at the pace that makes sense at the time.
It's still not raining when I pull into Forks at 4:38 PM. It's a rare
thing to see Forks in sunlight and there are many cheerful randonneurs
tops out my water bottles and I buy random items that interest me:
Tiger's Milk bars, a Frappuccino, Kozy Shack Flan, a small tube of
petroleum jelly and a can of Starbucks Double Shot. The Flan and
Frappuccino are immediate fuel, the petroleum jelly is lube for the
biological parts of the drive train and the Tiger's Milk and Double
are items that I'll save for a dark and stormy night. I roll south.
The miles now are a mix of hills, clear-cuts,
views and trees. Sometimes there are signs that say things
with an arrow pointing somewhere. Once there were lots of big trees out
here, now I'm reminded of the line from the song about taking all the
trees and putting them in a tree museum. The Big Cedar Tree sign isn't
the only odd thing I encounter. Pulled
over at a wide spot in the road I see a Ford Explorer SUV. Nothing odd
there until I notice a small sticker on the back window. I'm enough of
a sticker nerd that I recognize the font and can tell you who printed
the sticker, it's the Microcosm
folks out of Portland. The Microcosm folks are great, grass-roots
people who mostly run their business on human power. But this sticker
must have been issued out of their irony department because it reads "ONE
LESS CAR" I can't help thinking that maybe the Explorer
owners should've gotten one of the other Microcosm stickers as well,
the one that reads "Environmental
stickers don't mean shit when they are stuck to cars!"
I ride for a while with Matthew
Newlin. Matthew's bike is like mine, a silver Kogswell Model
G, but he's running his bike with a single-speed freewheel. Earlier in
the week I'd sold Matthew my old but still plenty good White
Industries single-speed freewheel as a replacement for his
alarmingly creaky, cheap and increasingly worn freewheel. So I'm
surprised when I hear his bike squeaking and groaning like an arthritic
hamster. Matthew confesses that he realized that he lacked the proper
puller to remove the old freewheel and lacking the time to get over to
a shop to get the freewheels swapped, he'd decided to just keep going
with his existing, problematic drive train. The squeaks don't seem to
slowing Matthew down to much and he pulls away, leaving me to enjoy the
relatively quiet sounds of my tires humming on the road and the waves
rolling into the beach.
At 7:18 PM I pull into the control at Kalaloch Lodge. The big
is here and many riders are enjoying the hospitality provided by Ted,
Bill and Lorene. Cup-O-Noodles soup and sandwiches are popular items
here and the comfy chairs are perhaps a bit too comfy. I avoid the
chairs but do down a bowl of soup before I once again head southward.
I meet up with darkness on the way to Lake Quinault and as the light
dims certain thoughts become clearer. I see a couple of riders up
ahead, one is wearing a yellow vest while the other is dressed
blue. The blue fellow does have a fairly bright tail light but
the dim light, the yellow vested fellow is far more visible than his
blue companion. The ideal would be a yellow vest and reflective gear
and bright lights. I've made similar observations over the course of
many commuting miles and my wardrobe features a lot of yellow.
There are small particles bouncing off my yellow
vest and at first I
think it's the start of the rain or maybe a swarm of bugs. It takes me
a few seconds to correctly identify what I'm riding through: it's
pollen. The lush plant-life of the Hoh Rain Forest is renewing itself
yet again and long after we have passed away to memories and rust, the
green world will remain. At least that's what I like to think as I ride
into the darkness.
My friend Max and her friend Yun are running the control at the Lake
Quinault Lodge. I pull in a bit before 10:00 PM. Max and Yun have all
kinds of food and beverages here and I feast on a great roast beef
sandwich. Other riders arrive at the control a couple of minutes after
I do. This is Matthew Newlin's rookie year of randonneuring, but he's
got the "quick at the control" thing down and he takes off about a
minute ahead of me. I watch his tail light fade into the distance as we
turn back onto 101 heading south.
I'd known all day that the rain couldn't stay away forever and the rain
is falling lightly now. Back at the lodge I'd pulled on my Rainlegs and
layered my Marmot
DriClime Windshirt under my yellow vest. I also have my Rainshield
O2 Rain Jacket tucked in my trunk in case of a real downpour but on
my trips I've been amazed at how well the DriClime works in the
persistent Northwest drizzle.
The rain keeps dripping down and I keep rolling south. I keep myself
occupied by trying to remember every song I can think of that mentions
rain. It's a pretty long list of songs. As I watch the miles tick on
by, I munch on the Tiger's Milk bars and think about how nice it will
be to get to Aberdeen. I also think about how smart I was to buy a can
of Starbucks Double Shot back in Forks.
This is the thing you have to understand about a Starbucks Double Shot:
it is not just a drink. It is not a performance enhancing drug. It is
not a mere mix of coffee and heavy cream and sugar. It is, instead, a
canned concoction that is capable of bending the space-time continuum.
Distances warp, space bends and my relationship with time is altered
upon ingestion of a Starbucks Double Shot. I was on 101 heading south.
I remember opening the can and now, now I'm at the Red Lion Inn in
Aberdeen. I remember something about some wet roads, some police cars
with flashing lights, some rain-slicked metal bridge decks but the
specific details passed by me in some kind of detached blur. I imagine
that this is the way a squirrel might interact with the world. It's
2:04 AM and I am in Aberdeen.
Trent and Melinda are running this control and it is warm and dry and
they have a working microwave and noodle soup and Kraft Easy Macs. If
you do not believe Easy Macs are one of the greatest foods ever
made by the hands of man then perhaps you have ridden too slowly or
perhaps not far enough. I feast on Easy Macs and know that life is
very, very good.
A major key to having a fast
time on a brevet is minimizing your time at the controls. Of course,
this must be balanced with the desire to have good
time on a brevet and when it is raining in Aberdeen and it is dark and
wet and kind of cold outside then the idea of good may take precedence
over fast. Experienced folks like Bob Brudvik are talking about
things like ibuprofen and sleep while speedy young fellows like Matthew
Newlin are blabbering about pressing on into the darkness. Other riders
are fumbling around in drop bags, looking for dry clothes and other
creature comforts. Some wander off to other rooms to sleep, Matthew
wanders off into the rain and I doze next to the now sleeping Mr.
I wake an hour later and it's still raining and still dark and I really
don't have to leave just yet. I go back to sleep.for another forty-five
minutes and then have a breakfast of Easy Macs before I head out into
slightly brighter darkness and slightly drier rain.
The road out of Aberdeen is is a soulless bit of concrete and steel and
rain-slicked bridge decks but in the early dawn hours of a Sunday at
least there isn't too much traffic. It is good to finally turn onto the
road less traveled by, Pioneer Avenue which soon becomes the road to
Elma and McCleary. Elma Elementary has one of those cheesy
saying that "The word of the month is Determination" but I'm full of
enough Easy Cheesy Macs to be convinced of this. Somewhere on the edge
of town I find a gas station with a coffee robot and some morning
I see some riders roll by while I'm having my coffee and later I ride a
bit with Greg Cox. Greg and I reach the AM/PM Control in Shelton at
8:22 AM and while we are not exactly riding together or at the exact
same pace, we leap frog each other for much of the morning. Twenty-five
more miles down the road and we are both at Eldon, stopping again for
food and drink. The sky is trying to clear and things are warmer so we
stow our rain gear. On the way to Walker Pass I see some comfy chairs
set out at the roadside, with cookies and refreshments and a sign
encouraging the SIR riders. That must have been a very welcome sight
for those who pressed on through without sleep.
The climb up Walker Pass is a sucker play and Greg and I are suckers.
The rain begins again lightly and we're warm from the climb so we keep
on and don't stop to put on the rain gear. We each have our vests but
arms and legs get soaked. Sure we could stop at the top of the pass but
it's only five more miles to Quilcene. It's best to push on through.
I have actually been colder on a descent, I've come down off Rainier in
but the run into Quilcene is definitely nippy. Greg and I are putting
the coffee robot through it's paces at Peninsula foods when Kentner,
Patrick and Thai roll in. Kentner is wisely bundled up in his rain
I unpack my DriClime, put it on and it does its magic trick of wicking
the moisture out of my wool. The thing that has consistently amazed me
about this garment is that it actually manages to dry itself even while
the rain is still coming down. It's really the damnedest thing but this
trick has made me extremely fond of this jacket.
I need to get moving to get warm and I leave the others behind at
Quilcene. I haven't spoken much of gearing until now, but the
three-speed has proven to be a fine choice for this journey.
My main cruising gear is 46/20 direct drive which works out 62.1 gear
inches. Lower than the fixed gear I'd grown used to but still zippy
enough for probably three-quarters of the miles thus far.
My gear for the dark times, the Burnt Mountain gear and the Walker Pass
gear is twenty-five percent lower, 46.5 gear inches. Low enough that I
can sit and spin and still have enough energy to curse. Perfect.
My favorite is the big gear, 133% of normal, 82.8 inches of crank
down the road and by golly it feels like you are doing something. The
gear for going down the passes, running with the wind or winding it out
when I need to get warm.
I'm on Center Road and I need to get warm. I click the forty-three year
old lever into it's farthest position and I don't downshift when the
road goes up.
It stops raining by the time I turn onto SR-104 heading east. The last
miles are warm and dry and quick. I pull into the final control at 3:11
PM. Karen and Duane and Peter are here and there is pizza. I'd figured
that Urs and Jan would have logged speedy times and sure enough they
finished about ten hours ago. I'm surprised to learn that Matthew
Newlin hasn't been seen yet but just as we are starting to worry,
Matthew rolls in. "I spent several wet hours huddled somewhere wishing
I was dead, but then I realized I could wish I was dead while
pedaling," Matthew says by way of explanation. We all nod knowingly. I
pizza, copy the times off my control card and then ride back down to
600 km Brevet
Results - June 3-4, 2006