After a successful 200km, I was feeling good about the idea of riding 300km. While I’ve done this distance before, the forecast was for pouring rain all day, and it’s also March. I was still commuting in NY for Jan/Feb, but since then I only get out for a few rides a week, and mostly just when the clouds have parted long enough for a nice ride.
This 300km started at 6am, which meant getting up around 4am to prepare and drive to Seattle. I found that I need to plan 30 minutes to get ready if I haven’t already loaded the car. Driving to Seattle is about 45 minutes, but I also had to loop around to find parking for this ride. I got my clothes on, bike out, and rolled to the start with only about 5 minutes to spare. It was still dark at 6am, but I knew twilight would come shortly and lights weren’t necessary for long.
Apparently about 60 people were at the ride. I started with the front, which had 20-25 people for a while. At one traffic light when I thought I had a moment to adjust my insulin pump, I got tangled and had to sit through an extra light cycle to get that worked out before sprinting to catch the group again. Shortly after, someone had fallen and the group stopped. I think it was right after this that there was a small climb and the group split in two.
I stayed with the front dozen or so riders. The pace stayed high, but was what I was used to from speedy group rides last summer. The rain had started shortly after the ride did, and it was only getting harder. By the first control, I realized just how soggy my gloves had gotten when I wrung them out. I was also being passed by everyone, since as the only person without fenders, no one wanted to ride behind me – and I don’t blame them. I’ve since ordered fenders to fit this bike.
We rolled on to Camano Island, and other than one small city we went through, traffic was low for most of the day. The island riding was nice, and the group would split up a bit on the climbs allowing me to ride my normal pace which is generally a bit faster than others on climbs (I’m slower on the flats comparatively). One memorable spot without a photo was the driftwood beach, which was chocked full of logs without much sand showing.
Off the island, I think we were down to about 8 people. I heard there were three climbs remaining, but the heights all sounded easy compared to Ithaca’s big climbs. It was almost a struggle for me to ride fewer hills then I’m used to, since I do struggle to keep up with the fast packs on level ground. We rode on more trails, and the sun actually came out briefly some time around 5pm.
With about 40 miles to go, my mind was struggling. It was raining again, there wasn’t as much in terms of views, and the paths cross intersections very frequently, so I can’t just pedal on without knowing what’s ahead. All the fast flat pack riding meant I was starting to struggle more than the leaders. We did lose a few people out of the pack that couldn’t keep up either, but I continued pushing in hopes of not finishing the ride alone.
The ends of the Seattle rides for me seem to be the most difficult part. There’s more traffic on both the trail and the roads. The trails are paved, but covered in bumps and cracks that make holding on the handlebars painful after a long day of riding. The constant trail intersections require full attention at all times. And the strongest riders make it look easy, while I’m panting on the back. I remember with 4 miles to go thinking I really should just stop to check my sugar, eat a bite, and take my time to finish. I drank the last of my juice, popped a few dex4 tabs for pure sugar, and felt my glucose come back up to help me finish the ride.
Just a few minutes after 7pm, with moderate rain again, and the last bit of sun now in dark clouds, I made it to the finish with the 5 others remaining from our pack. I saw a few of the others I had ridden with roll in as I was leaving to get back to the car, so they couldn’t have been far behind.
For a 300km ride with quite a bit of rain, it was actually very enjoyable. New roads and new people to meet makes these rides go by in good time. I was thrilled to finish with the strongest riders, even if I was struggling to stay with them during the last two hours.