This was one mutha of a ride. It was my first ever SIR 600k. Now I know why I generally avoid them. But, the scenery was spectacular.
Six of us did the ride:
The course starts out meandering through the rural areas of Snohomish County, to go from Arlington to Sultan. A bit before Sultan, on a fast descent (with a sharp curve), there is a turn that is easy to miss. Andy and Mark were off the front, Andy missed the turn, Mark was busy calling out to him and didn't see the gravel. Mark took a spill, wiping out his new gloves, his new shorts and a crucial screw on his shoes. But, he pushed on, having wrapped his shoe with some string, and had Wayne Methner (the Winthrop support person) bring him another pair (Wayne met us at the Leavenworth control).
Anyway, I think we had a bit of a tail wind, on Highway 2. Andy announced that he would try to reach Winthrop (233 miles) by daylight, and off he went. He was merely doing this as a training ride for Mtn. Worlds (California). Mark was hurting a bit but climbed the pass (4,061') o.k., as did the rest of us.
Then we put on our windbreakers for the descent (actually fairly gentle) east of Stevens Pass.
The stretch through Tumwater Canyon was a spectacular as always.
The sandwiches in Leavenworth were large and tasty. The weather was sunny and, by our standards, slightly hot (maybe 80).
Wayne Methner met us, at Leavenworth, with another pair of shoes for Mark. We all felt better seeing him remove the injured shoe that he had wrapped with string to keep on his foot.
Just before Wenatchee we headed north, on Alt. 97, taking a lot of serious headwinds. The five of us took one mile turns at the front. After Entiat, Mark and Ron Himschoot separated from us a bit. The climb, to the tunnel, after Entiat, was quite serious. A thinking man would be tempted to take regular 97, instead, and hope there was no secret control!
After Chelan it was time for lights. The Pateros control was open 'til 2 something a.m., but the actual control (restaurant/gas/mini-mart) closed at midnight. We got there about 22:10 (10 mintutes after the restaurant closed, sigh). It was quite somber getting dinner from the mini-mart. Ron H. and Mark had just made it in time to eat from the restaurant menu. I dined on wheat thins, pudding cups, and hot cocoa. I was somewhat heart broken to not have more to choose from.
Then we headed off toward Winthrop, a 42 miles trip, along the Methow River, while we were all quite brain dead. It wasn't particularly steep, and there was almost no traffic. We were pretty wobbly (being brain dead) and didn't really draft. Its just that it was nice having someone be in front ... and no need for all of us to pretend to be thinking.
We stopped at Twisp, to sit on the sidewalk and have a communal shiver. Apparently I fell asleep with food in my hand! Then we headed out for the last 9 miles. Somehow I was elected to take the front for the entire stretch, which was actually o.k. because the slight nod out, on the sidewalk, did improve my mental clarity (be it ever so slightly). At this point I noticed light in the sky. I asked Lynne what city that could possibly be. She informed me that that was called the sun rise.
I remarked that we had had opposite goals of Andy Fuller. He had wanted to make Winthrop in the daylight. We, OTOH, had hoped to make Winthrop while it was still dark, in order to have enough time to get at least a little sleep before having to push on.
It took us from 23:10 'til 03:30 to cover those 42 miles. The group had two cabins at the Virginian in Winthrop. Wayne had a spread of food waiting for us. We proceeded to eat and or take showers. I ate, then layed down waiting for my turn to shower. Next thing I knew my alarm was going off (from the Saturday morning setting -- I'd told myself to unset the thing but had forgotten!). So, I had gone to sleep at perhaps 04:00 and was awaken at 04:33 (unnecessarilly). At 05:10 Wayne was stirring, so I got up to shower. When I came out of the bathroom, everyone had assembled in our cabin (site of the food). We had a bit of breakfast.
Ron H and Mark were down the road before us. Andy came up, a bit later, and chatted briefly before pulling away. He said his plan was to hammer on the climb, then take it easy on the rest of the ride.
From Early Winters the climb gets serious. The last 7 miles is a 7.5% grade. We all made it to the top of Washington Pass (elev. 5,477'). Wayne was on top (in his car!) with more food and drink.
Lynne was the last one to the top, lamenting that her horsepower seemed to be somewhere else.
Wayne mentioned he had fallen asleep, on top, and Andy had gotten by without noticing him.
It was truly amazing to see almost NO SNOW anywhere near the pass. I recalled doing some very nice spring skiing there, in mid June, once. The winter of 2000/2001 was truly a warm, dry winter.
Mark and Ron H started the descent. I asked Ron L and Lynne if it was o.k. for me to head down a ways as I was getting cold. They encouraged me to go on. I was certain they would catch up to me, as they were riding fine.
I started the descent but there was lots of chip seat on most of the pavement INCLUDING most of the shoulder. So I had to ride the brakes and keep way over to the right side of the shoulder. There also seemed a lot of turbulence. I squeezed the top tube, with my knees, but could hardly control the bike. So I had to descend quite slowly.
I continued the descent but couldn't stay awake. This seemed like a dangerous combination, so I pulled over, found a sunny south facing bank, and took a slight nap.
Then I headed down again. I went a few more miles but was again having trouble staying awake. I took another short snooze. By this time I assumed that Ron L and Lynne had passed me.
I had the lane to myself, on the Colonial Creek descent, but didn't really feel like stomping on it. Still, I got the bike up to 46 mph here. All of my single bike speed records have been set here. I think the fastest was 52 mph.
The Diablo climb caught my attention. Then I kept a steady pace to Marblemount (the last control before the finish). Here I dined on the terriyaki essential sandwich I'd been carrying (now a bit tart!), V8 juice, and banana bread.
Then I did the stretch down 20 to the Rockport turn-off toward Darrington. Somehow there is a state law that says it MUST rain any time one is near Darrington. This law was complied with, in spite it being a very sunny day. But the lone rain cloud only covered me for several miles, then it was sunny again.
At Darrington I caught Ron H. and Mark just before they were leaving. They said they had NOT seen Ron L. and Lynne. Alas, this meant that they were behind me.
Ron H. gave me some cantaloupe (which really hit the spot) and he and Mark headed off toward the finish.
I had a bit to more to eat, (macaroni, and some mango nectar) then set out, not looking forward to this last stretch (34 miles) as now I was heading due west, into the head winds.
Alas, somehow my rhythm started to develop. The saddle started feeling tolerable again (I *should* had taken the Brooks, but instead had been lazy and just left the 24 year old Ideale on the bike!).
Gradually I realized that I was TTing this last stretch. I was a little worried that I would run out of energy but kept cruising along.
At one point I noticed a very large frog, hopping across the road. He stopped to hang out on the painted median. I was tempted to go back and shoo him across the road ... but I had a mission. I hope he made it.
As everyone agreed, that last 3.7 miles, from Arlington to the motel, seem to take forever. But, I was cruising, so it went o.k. About 1/2 mile from the finish, Mark passed me, driving the other direction.
Then I finished and a dapper looking Ron Himschoot shook my hand. He said that Mark had to get home 'cause it was father's day and the kids were waiting to do stuff with him. This gave the kids a chance to stay up late!
Lynne had asked me to grab her room, so I did that. The clerk gave Ron and me a funny look at said "You know this is just one queen size bed, don't you?"
I explained to her the randonneur bonding process! Actually, I clarified that the room was for others.
Ron and I went to the room and were sitting, pondering getting a pizza or something, for the last two riders ... when they arrived!
We agreed that there was no time for showering because IF there was even a restaurant still open (in Arlington), it most likely would close at 10:00 p.m., so there was a mass activity of throwing clothes everywhere and putting on clean civilian clothes (over dirty bodies).
Lynne excused herself, for a moment, went into the bathroom, and heaved her guts out. Ron L said that she had been heaving all day long. Then she came out and announced "I think that dinner would be an excellent idea. Just let me brush my teeth first." Randonneurs are NOT without propriety.
We jumped in the two vehicles and zoomed to the Mexican restaurant in Arlington. It was still open (closes at 10:00 p.m. on a Sunday night). Ron H asked me to NOT let him have a beer! I had an O'Douls because I figured I would need to make conversation with him to keep him awake.
After dinner we said good bye to Ron L and Lynne. They would be spending the night at the motel (our base of operations for the ride).
Ron Himschoot managed to drive home, dropping me off at my place. How he was able to stay awake, to drive, I do NOT know. I did a fair amount of nodding off. Once home I fed the creatures ... and went straight to bed!