My hopes of creating a fleche team were short lived as everyone had knee problems or other big rides coming up (Oregon Outback) that they were preparing for. Fortunately, Mark Thomas (RBA for SIR) headed up a new team of the stragglers that were looking for short notice teams. As a full pack of five, we started at 8pm from his neighborhood.
Only about an hour into the ride, we reached our first stop. I didn’t realize we’d be sitting down to dinner, and I had already eaten a bit before we started. With nearly as much break time as riding time, we set off with a time deficit, though it’s fairly easy to make those up on a fleche that needs several hours off the bike to reach ~230 miles in 24 hours.
Before 100 miles was over, we got to our hotel stop in Buckley. Fleche stops can’t be more than two hours long, so this would be the briefest time spent in a hotel. We packed five people and their bikes in the room, loaded up all the outlets with Garmins and phones, and crashed. I took a quick shower, changed my clothes, and slept for about 1.25 hours. I felt surprisingly refreshed getting back on the road after a good nap.
I was unlikely with a flat on this ride, although as a fleche riding together, there’s no worry of getting dropped, and to everyone else it’s just a 10-15 minute road side stretch break. We would stop again for breakfast near Alder Lake, and yet again for another meal a few hours after that. We’re now at three full restaurant stops and a hotel nap – pretty plush even for a fleche ride!
Mark got the second and last flat. We stopped at our 22-hour controle with a half hour to spare, which was relieving since we had several longer than expected meal stops with very slow service. The final leg from Centralia to Olympia brought us a significant amount of rain, just as nearly every other team had experienced (exception being one that rode nearly due west all day, starting from eastern Washington).
We finished before 8pm, to see a few other teams milling about. We had the latest start/finish time, but made it into town before all the restaurants closed. The next morning was the banquet, and it was great to see every team’s routes and hear their stories as well.
After a normal night of sleep, I put on my backpack that had been dropped off by a carpooler, and took a 55 mile route through Tacoma and back home to Puyallup. I felt fresh again with no saddle issues, and my back which was previously very tense after 230 miles of riding felt good again! This broke my record for the longest weekend of riding with 285 miles!
Strava link to the fleche ride
Strava link to the ride from Olympia to Puyallup