The SIR 300K
April 10, 2004
A Ride Report by Kent Peterson
April 10th, 2004 turned out to be
one of those terrific days for a bike ride and as luck would have it
April 10, 2004 happened to be the scheduled day for the SIR 300K. It
was 48 degrees at 4:20 AM when I leave my home in Issaquah and the 29
kilometer ride to the Seattle ferry terminal passes quickly. A quarter
moon hangs in the clear sky and I startle a few pre-Easter rabbits near
the Bellevue Slough. As I approach the ferry terminal, I see the
familar sight of cyclists clad in reflective gear, perched on well-lit,
well-fendered instruments of elegant mobility. The Seattle
International Randonneurs are ready to ride.
We wait for the ferry to dock. My pal Mark Vande Kamp is here just to
be social. Pressing domestic duties prevent him from doing the whole
ride but he'll ride out to the first control just to just to stretch
his legs and log a few kilometers for the day. Since Mark is a member
of the Shiftless Bums Fleche Team, he's naturally riding his bike as a
fixed gear today. Another shiftless fellow is Will Roberts, who'd
cracked the frame of his fixed gear on a ride last week. Mark has
provided Will with a loaner frame so he can still ride fixed. As Mark
had told me earlier in the week "I had to do something, the poor fellow
showed up on my doorstep riding a kickbike scooter!" Will informs me
that he'd been inspired by the Finnish fellow who rode PBP on a
kickbike and had to get one of his own. Will also tells me that the
kick bike has "absolutely no mechanical advantage whatsoever" and that
while riding PBP on a fixed gear or any kind of bike might be a
challenge, anyone who can ride it on a kickbike is "by Gawd really
Today I'm riding my current favorite fixed gear, the Schwinn Madison.
At February's bike swap I'd traded some clothes to my buddy Tony for
the Madison. Tony had gotten a custom Seven fixed gear bike and had
insisted I take the Madison. It turned out to be a good trade for both
of us -- I've ridden no other bike sice I got the Madison and it seems
that every time I see Tony, he's wearing some bit of my old wardrobe.
Today I notice he's wearing a GoLite Zen jacket that looks rather
Adam Stritzel and Wayne Methner are also members of the Shiftless Bums
and are riding fixed today and our non-bum friend Ken "Dr. Electron"
Krichman is shiftless but not fixed, choosing to ride his decrepit
ancient French bike as a single-speed. I'd quizzed Ken about why he
favors the old bike over his much shinier, much newer, much more
option-filled Mariposa and he'd replied "you know me buddy, I'm not
fond of having too many choices!"
On the ferry ride over to Bainbridge Island we all file our
registration papers and get our control cards. At Bainbridge we wait
until 7:00 AM and Peter Beeson registers a few other riders who have
opted to meet up with the ride on this side of the water. After the
usual pre-ride briefing, Peter sends us on our way.
It's a quick ride across Bainbridge. At one point, I watch as Wayne,
Mark and Adam descend a hill a bit ahead of me. Wayne and Mark are
spinning smoothly on the decent, but Adam's hips are rocking wildly.
"Crap," I think, "his saddle is too high. I should catch up with him
and set him straight."
Thought is one thing, action is another. Even with a less than totally
efficient power stroke, Adam is motoring along at a good clip. I'm not
quite sure that I can catch him and I'm not willing to go into oxygen
debt in the first hour of a 300K ride just to pass along my biometric
advice. I kick my pace up a bit but the gap between us doesn't close.
Outside of Poulsbo, I see Dan Turner pulled over. "You OK?" I ask,
slowing slightly as I roll by. "I'm fine," he replies, "it's just a
flat." I roll on with a mostly clear conscience but I'm still wondering
how Adam is doing.
I don't have to wonder for long. In Poulsbo, just past the turn onto
Little Valley Road, I see Adam pulled over. "Do you have a 14 mm crank
wrench?" he asks. This would be a ridiculous question to ask most
people, but I am not most people. In fact, just yesterday at the shop
I'd shown Adam one of my recent purchases, a Lifu crank/pedal wrench.
Fixed gear bikes often have bolt-on rather than quick release wheels
and these wheels usually use 15mm track nuts, so a 15 mm wrench is a
handy thing to have. Lifu makes a wrench that on one end is a 15 mm
pedal wrench while the opposite end other features 14 and 15 mm
crank sockets. Of course, I'm carrying this handy little wrench in my
And it's a good think I'm so prepared because Adam's left crank bolt
has come loose. I stop and we use the handy little wrench to tighten
down the crankarm. "I was watching you spin on a descent back a ways
and I think you're saddle is too high. Did you change things around
recently?" "Well," Adam says, "I did just put this Brooks Pro saddle on
last night and but I didn't change the seatpost height." "Yeah," I
counter, "you're looking too high, though. Brooks sit higher on the
rails than a lot of other saddles." Adam begins to lower his saddle a
bit and then another thought hits me, "Didn't you just change cranks
recently as well?" "Yeah," Adam says, "I went to those Shimano
cranks..." "And they're 170s and your old one's were 165s." I say,
completing the thought. You shouldv'e dropped your saddle by five
milimeters when you swapped the cranks." Adam gives me a
boy-do-I-feel-like-a-dope look and sheepishly drops his saddle another
While we've been stopped doing these roadside modifications, quite a
few other SIR riders have rolled on past. A few have asked if we're OK
and we've returned various positive replies. While Adam finishes his
final adjustment, I peel off my wind shirt, munch a granola bar and
then take off. Adam asures me he'll catch up and by the time Little
Valley Road turns into Big Valley Road, we are riding together again.
At the llama farm I glance to the left and see one of the camels
basking in the morning sun. I've been out on this road many times and
I've seen the camel enduring weather much worse than this, so I know
he's made of hearty stuff. Still, I think, it's nice he can enjoy a
warm day every once in a while. As I roll past I have the odd thought
that maybe the camel is thinking the same thing about us, "there go
those rando bikers again. It's nice they can have a decent day once in
Just before the turn onto the Hood Canal Bridge Adam and I catch up
with Ken Krichman. A few years ago on a very blustery day, Ken crashed
on this bridge, so now he's very careful going across it. "You lead,
buddy!" he says to me as I pull around him and we roll onto the bridge.
We all cross the bridge without incident.
Paradise Bay Road goes up but not unbearably so. We all roll over the
hills at our various paces. Ken coasts on the descents. Wayne, Adam and
I spin pretty smoothly on the descents and take the climbs at a pace
that is somewhere between dancing and grinding. Mark and Will are
somewhere out ahead -- I haven't seen either of them since Bainbridge
Island. And then there is Pete Liekkio.
Pete is riding his titanium Bacchetta recumbent. He has to gear down to
crank this thing up the hills, but he's a pretty fast twiddler. And on
the descents the Bacchetta is an absolute rocket. As he blows by me on
one of the longer descents I hear him mutter "I hope those cars get out
of the way." This is only a slight exageration as I watch him quickly
chase down a couple of cars that are only doing about 45 mph on the
As we're coming up toward the Port Hadlock control Adam asks me if
having his saddle too high could cause knee pain. I assure him that it
certainly could. I realize that this is not exactly a hypothetical
question for Adam right now. I try to reassure him that lowering his
saddle should help things out, but I think we're both wondering how his
knees will hold out for the rest of the day. It's one thing to correct
a problem and relax and recover, it's another to push on through
another several hundred hilly kilometers.
I don't linger long at the Port Hadlock control, pausing only long
enough to grab a pint of milk, a PayDay bar and to get my control card
signed. I'd started the day wearing a nylon windshirt over both long
and shortsleeve wool jersies but here I stow the shortsleeve jersey
into my always handy Deuter Race-X bag next to the windshirt. I also
stow my legwarmers and apply some sun-block before heading off down
Center Road. Adam is a little slower through the control, but I figure
I'll see him somewhere down the road.
I ride some with Wayne and Pete on Center Road. Center Road is a great
example of why road surface matters. Much of it is chipseal and
chipseal really does slow you down. My Madison is usually a silent bike
but the constant buzz from the chipseal makes my brake cables chatter
against the frame and little chips from the road chirp constantly
against my coroplast fenders. When I finally roll onto normal asphalt a
bit north of Quilcene, the silence is almost eerie.
Quite a few riders are stopped in Quilcene but I decide to press on. I
know there is a market in the micro-town of Eldon and my plan is to
fuel up there.
There's a decent sized climb south of Quilcene followed by an equally
decent descent down to the canal. Now the road mostly follows the water
with a mix of climbs and descents. At one point another rider comes
along side me and asks me how fast I can go on the descents. He
obviously understands one of the limits of a fixed gear: since it only
moves when you pedal it, you can only descend as fast as you can pedal.
I tell him that my top speed is around 50 kilometers per hour. Just as
I'm saying this we happen to hit a descent and I wind up spinning
along. When things level out, I hit the button on my computer to check
my top speed. Yep, 54.5 kph.
At Eldon I stop at the market and buy a microwaved double cheeseburger,
a large Frappicino and a bottle of iced green tea. I eat the burger,
drink the Frappicino and pour the tea into my water bottle. While I'm
stopped I see various randonneurs roll on by.
I stop briefly in Hoodsport to get my control card signed. I also buy
another PayDay bar which I wash down with a bottle of fruit punch.
While I'm stopped I switch from my longsleeve to shortsleeve jersey and
I apply some more sunblock.
One of the other riders at Hoodsport is Mitchel Schoenfeld. This is
Mitchel's first year of randonneuring and he and I had been having
various discussions previously about lights. Mitchel uses a handlebar
bag that doesn't work well with his handlebar-mounted lights so he'd
been trying to figure out a solution. The plan he'd came up with was to
stow his handlebar bag in his rear bag once it got dark and then mount
the Cateyes. It's 1:30 PM now and we're 148 kilometers into the ride,
so Mitchel says to me "hey, maybe we won't even have to use our
Cateyes." I look at Mitchel and think "oh man, you've never been
through the Tahuya Hills have you?" but I say something less foreboding
and quote Han Solo: "Don't get cocky."
Since I'd done the bulk of my eating back at Eldon, I'm quicker out of
the Hoodsport control than some of the other folks. I roll south down
101, make the turn onto 106 and roll on toward Belfair.
A few kilometers before the turn up SR3 to Belfair, I see some riders
in my rear view mirror. I've been riding solo for quite a while now and
they look like they're rolling along at a pretty good clip. In a few
minutes they catch up with me. It's Corey Thompson, Mitchel and Ray
McFall and they're riding in a loosely configured paceline. As they
come alongside me Corey comments that this sure is different than last
year's 300K. I have to agree with him. Last year's 300K was wet and
cold and I certainly wasn't feeling my best. Today, on the other hand,
is a great day to ride.
There is one problem with the Corey-Mitchel-Ray paceline and that is
that it isn't running at a fixed gear pace. When you ride a fixed gear,
you find that the bike has a certain speed that it wants to go and
right now that speed is something faster than the paceline speed. Maybe
they've burned too much energy chasing me down or maybe the road has
dipped up again but for whatever reason, I quickly realize that I can't
sit in behind them. I take a quick glance in my mirror, see that there
are no overtaking cars, pull out and punch the pedals. I think that
maybe they'll latch on behind and I'll tow for a while but instead the
Madison does what Wayne Methner describes as the "jump to hyperspace".
When I look back in the mirror the group is a rapidly shrinking cluster
At Belfair I follow the exact letter of the cue sheet and turn up at
the Safeway and then loop back and stop in at the QFC. We always stop
at the QFC on this ride and it is wise to maintain traditions. The
tradition in this case is a well-founded one. It is very unwise to
enter the Tahuya Hills without sufficient supplies and this is the last
grocery store between here and Seabeck. I really don't need any food,
but I stop to use the bathroom and to fill up my water bottles. Wayne
and Pete are here and we leave at the same time. As we are leaving,
Ray, Mitchel and Corey pull in.
On the rolling hills of North Shore Road Wayne, Pete and I make an odd
group. With Wayne and myself both riding fixed and Pete on the
recumbent we are almost perfectly out of sync on the hills. At one
point I comment to Pete that if we could only merge our two machines
we'd really have something. Of couse exactly what that something would
be is a bit hard to imagine. It would either be something human powered
that quick at both climbing or descending or it would be slow at both
kinds of terrain. But while we can imagine other machines the reality
of the day has the three of us on our three distinct machines rolling
into the Kay's Corner Control at pretty much the same time 4:25 PM.
Mr. Don is manning this control and he's got bagels, chips, pop, water
and other good stuff. Bill Dussler is here dozing in a chair. Bill has
adopted an interesting strategy for this brevet -- go out fast and nap
enroute. While this is something we've all done on longer brevets, it's
odd to see the technique employed on a 300K. But there is something
about a sunny afternoon that makes a nap mighty appealing. While we are
here Wayne informs me he knows exactly how hot it is. Sounding like the
straight man in a Johny Carson skit I ask "exactly how hot is it?" and
Wayne tells me it's hot enough to see a lizard basking on the road and
he'd seen one back on North Shore Road.
While Bill and certain lizards can bask the day away, some of us
remember that we have miles to go before we sleep. I quickly fill my
bottles, chomp down a handful of chips and head out. Wayne nearly runs
me over when I stop a few feet past the control do do my paranoid
double check to make sure I had a signed control card in my possession
but we quickly get everything sorted out and head off into the Tahuya
Much has been written about the Tahuya Hills. Some say the Tahuya Hills
are part of a geographic anomolly, like those roadside mystery spots
where water flows up hill, compasses spin in crazy circles and houses
are built entirely without the use of right angles. Some say that every
time you visit the Tahuya Hills there are more of them, they are
steeper and that demons in the form of dogs live at the base of the
worst of the hills. Some say that riding a bike in the Tahuya Hills is
like going to fat camp with Richard Simmons -- maybe not all that
painful but most assuredly relentlessly annoying.
Well, I'm here to tell you that those hills really aren't that bad.
Today we take the right fork on Tahuya River Road instead of taking the
left fork. Taking the right fork leads you up and down and up and down
and up and down a series of hills that makes you feel like you're being
hammered with wooden mallets. If you were foolish enough to take the
left fork, like we have in certain other years, you would have gone up
a hill that would make you feel like someone has dropped a piano on you
from a great and gruesome height. Compared to a piano, mallets aren't
Rains have washed away part of the road so it is technically closed.
Peter Beeson is here, directing us safely past the closure and around
the washed out section of road. Wayne is off ahead now but Peter
Liekkio and I clamber over the mounds of dirt.
Aside from the mounds of dirt, I don't walk up a single hill. My
Madison has 165 mm cranks and 42*17 gearing. I was wondering if I'd
stall out on any of the hills but today I'm able to keep the cranks
spinning. At times they are spinning rather slowly but I manage to keep
them spinning. I ride the brakes on the descent to Dewatto, climb
another bunch of hills and eventually turn onto Seabeck-Holly Road.
I remember Holly Hill from previous years and today there is a dog
stationed at the base of the hill. This does not surprise me. The odds
of going through the Tahuya Hills without seeing a dog are
approximately the same as the odds of passing through Seattle without
seeing a Starbucks. What is surprising is that the dog is passive. He
looks at me as if to say "fixed gear, eh? Let's see if you can make
this hill." I watch the dog as he watches me and I climb the hill. The
song that's going through my head is Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb".
"There is no pain you are receiving..."
I crest Holly Hill and roll on toward Seabeck.
At 7:00 PM I roll into the Seabeck control. I buy a Snickers bar, a
pint of chocolate milk and some salted cashews. As I'm eating my
healthy supper and refilling my water bottles a fellow randonneur asks
about my choice of the fixed gear. "It doesn't really go slow," I
explain. That's what I like about it. That and the fact that I've
concluded that I like to pedal. With a fixed gear, you get to pedal a
I'm also asked about why I prefer PowerGrips to clipless pedals and I
explain that they work well for me. On long rides, I like to wiggle my
foot fore and aft and while clipless pedals have float, none let you
really move your foot in the front to back direction. I don't claim
PowerGrips are the solution for everyone, but they are my pedal system
It's getting dark now and cooling off so I pull on my longsleeve
jersey, leg warmers and reflective gear. I flip on my tail lights and
head on down the road.
I haven't walked any hills today so I'm not about to let Anderson Hill
get the better of me. I chug up the first hill, spin as fast as I can
down into the valley and then chug up the other side. Then things level
out for a bit before going up again. When I get to the top, I know that
all of the day's serious climbing is behind me. I feel great.
I turn onto Olympic View Road and follow the turns to SR-3. By the time
I roll onto the SR-3 entrance ramp it's dark enough for me to flip on
my headlight and helmet light.
It's a nice ride in through Poulsbo and onto Bainbridge Island. I pull
into the Bainbridge control at 9:19 PM and Ted Vedera signs my card.
Some other riders are there and Wayne Methner and Mike Richeson pull
in a few minutes behind me. Ten minutes later Ken Krichman and Bill
Dussler finish. It's very comfy at the finish control and we're all
glad to be done. The ferry will be here at 9:45 PM and we're all
pulling for our fellow riders, hoping a few more will make this ferry.
Pete Liekkio and Dan Turner finish with a few minutes to spare.
Jan Heine and Kenneth Philbrick finished the ride with a quite zippy
time of 10 hours 22 minutes. I was perfectly happy with my more
leisurely pace of 14 hours 19 minutes. Will Roberts was the fastest
fixed gear rider of the day with a total time of 12 hours 23 minutes.
I hadn't seen Adam since Port Hadlock but I'd been hoping that he'd
managed to slip by me while I was lunching at Eldon. Alas, his knee
continued to bother him after Port Hadlock and after a ten minute rest
in Quilcene, he'd decided the smart thing to do was bail out and ride
slowly back home. He didn't want to push things since he wants to be
fully recovered for the fleche in two weeks.
Dan Turner had two flats for the day, one early on and one not to far
from the ferry. He was glad he got the second flat changed in time to
make the 9:45 PM ferry.
Mitchel Schoenfeld wound up using his Cateye lights. He just missed the
10:30 PM ferry and wound up taking the midnight boat back home.
My pal Tony finished the ride in grand style, meeting his goal of
finishing in time to catch the last ferry home. His time for the ride
was 17 hours 51 minutes.
Pete Liekkio at the ferry dock on his
titanium Bacchetta. Photo by Tony Licuanan.
At the start. Photo by Tony Licuanan.
Peter Beeson delivers the pre-ride
briefing. Photo by Tony Licuanan.
Mr. Don -- The Kay's Corner Control
Master: cold pop, great snacks and words of encouragement. Photo by
Jan Heine -- A Man in Motion at the
Kay's Corner Control. Photo by Peter Beeson.
Kenneth Philbrick pausing momentarily
at the Kay's Corner Control. Photo by Peter Beeson.
Karen and Duane -- Good Cheer and
Delicious Cookies at Seabeck after 9:00 PM. Photo by Peter Beeson.
Ted Vedera: Finish Line Coordinator,
SIR Veteran and Great Company for the 5:20AM boat! Photo by Peter Beeson.
Christoff Irran: Lounging at the
Finish. A quick break before catching the 1:20 AM boat home. Photo by
Jim Giles: Happy at the Finish --
another 300K in the books! Photo by Peter Beeson.
| SIR 300 km Results - April 10, 2004
|E. Max Maxon