Starting a few days before the ride, I laid out what I was planning on bringing. A few jerseys, jacket, pants, gloves, with baselayers & socks for each day, and a good supply of food would follow me. Much of that would go in a “drop bag” that gets transported by box truck to each overnight stop. My front bag on the bike would carry the day’s food and extra jersey and jacket for changes in the weather, and the rear seat bag would carry tools and cold weather clothes for descents.
The starting line up would shrink over the week, but a whopping 88 randonneurs started the 1240km route on Saturday June 21st in Monroe, at 6am. Excitement was ramping up here just a minute before the start!We moved along smoothly in relatively larger groups for much of the first day. Here’s a few of the Massachusetts crew (we had a mutual friend I knew from Ithaca and crewing long races), and Theo in blue who had been on all of the same rides I had in my series leading up to now. At some point I left the pack and was on my own. I missed one turn briefly, and backtracked a quarter mile to find them again (although somehow they went from ahead of me to behind, so they must have stopped or missed a turn too). This was the beginning of the snowy peak views, with my familiar Rainier view from Enumclaw where I had ridden several times before when I was living in Puyallup in the spring. Approaching Randle, I knew there was a Subway. People scattered between Subway, a Mexican restaurant, a bakery, and convenience stores. Not every controle point would have this many options as we ventured deeper into the state in less dense areas. Since we had been rolling swiftly, I took a good break at Subway to eat a real meal and rolled out with the Massachusetts guys (Jon and Matt). We didn’t stay together long though, and I would spend quite a while alone along Route 25 climbing up Elk Pass. It was relaxing in the forest, climbing for a long time. I put music on to keep a steady candence, and there were few cars around in the forest to worry about. I set the GPS to show elevation instead of speed to be a little less depressing. I like reaching milestones – 2000ft, 3000ft, and 4080ft at the top. I had no idea what to expect with temperatures and layers needed, but it was still daytime, still warm, and no need for winter preparations on this descent. There was no summit sign, but on the backside there was a clearing, and this great view of Mt. St. Helens. There were half a dozen randos already there, and I only made a brief stop before continuing the descent slightly before them, knowing I’d be coasting most of it and seeing them catch up soon. After passing the Swift Reservoir would be the Northwoods Eagle Cliffs store. This was literally the only thing along the road for a while, and a welcome stop after many miles of forest roads with no services. The store employee seemed to love that so many people were stopping to buy food in this otherwise sparse area!
The climbing wasn’t over yet though – there would still be the shorter pass up Curly Creek Rd. to Oldman Pass. I rode with a couple from the San Fransisco area briefly, before climbing a little faster up the pass. I turned off the road for this nearing-sunset view of Mt. St. Helens:
With the last bit of sun left, the pictures would end for the day. Being near the solstice, the days were incredibly long which was a great benefit since I was also riding incredibly long. It cooled down a bit with the sun gone, and with a slight downhill I decided to roll faster for the remaining twenty miles to the overnight controle in Carson at mile 223.
I was happy to see many randos milling about, and parked my bike alongside the building. I didn’t stop for dinner, but I had been snacking all day, and just needed to sleep at this point. It was around 10:25pm when I got in, and took a shower before going to bed with my alarm set for 4:30am.
Strava data for day one: 06/21/2014 Cascade 1200 day one – Monroe to Carson 225.1 miles ridden, 13,877ft climbed.