It was tough leaving the comfy bed at the Mazama Inn for the last day. I was on the road by 6:10am with few other randos behind me. Knowing that the day was starting with the climb up Washington Pass, I was excited to climb early in the day compared to the end of the day climbing on Loup Loup.
I caught up and passed a half dozen other riders on my way up. Strava seems to show that I was going awfully slow compared to a normal climb, but maybe that’s just life on a 1200k. I felt like I was flying uphill anyway, and the grade seemed easier than the past climbs for my sub-par 34×28 gearing. As I got higher up in the pass, the view only got better. There was snow ahead of me, a big switchback in sight with riders ahead, and I was in Cat-6 mode trying to catch the blinkies.I didn’t know where the top of the pass was, but looking back on my route was a great view through the valley. Turns out everyone took pictures from here! True to my cycling roots in NY, I still hadn’t gotten fenders on the bike. It was wet for a few hours in the morning, but never hard rain, and I stayed relatively dry. I also stayed in shorts all the way up and down the first pass. It was on the top of Rainy Pass that I put on tights, my spare jersey, and full gloves. Apparently those that started early in the morning had a rainy and frigid descent after Rainy Pass. Fortunately it was dry and decently warm enough when I was there. There was a non-controle station a few miles down the pass, where I stopped briefly to check my sugar and top up water. There wouldn’t be another stop for a while, though it was downhill for many miles at this point.
I leapfrogged with a few riders when I stopped to remove layers again after the descent. The California couple caught up a few times, and eventually while I was resting they passed and I caught up and rode with them again. We reached the tunnels, and while the first short one was no issue, we had a long line of cars pass just before and after the longer tunnel. I was afraid that the drivers wouldn’t see cyclists in the dark, but we got out before the cars had caught up.
The Californians were flying as usual, and I decided to take a little bit longer of a break when we reached the next town. There were a bunch of BC randos there, about ready to go while I was still getting my things together. I finally packed up and was about to roll when Graham rolled in. He decided that if we took pulls together, we could catch up with more people. We were flying along and caught up in just a few miles to get a group of half a dozen. From somewhere deep, I felt like I was recovering from the past days of riding and wanted to put some more effort in, and started pulling the pack faster. I found out at the next controle that they had trouble with that pace, but on the flip side, I was having difficulties with shorter breaks. I had to work to catch up again, only to have the sun come out and stop to put on more sunscreen. With only a little under 100 miles to go, I gave it everything and caught up again, but only stayed on the back for half a minute before passing them in the hopes of catching the Cali couple yet again since they were riding faster and a more steady pace. They were still flying along at ~18mph even though they were tired and suffering an ankle issue. They were some of the strongest riders I’ve met!
When we caught a pack of Seattle randos, I decided I needed to slow down. 80 miles to go now, and the road was rough chipseal. I had over-filled my tires on Rainy Pass after feeling like they were too soft, and I was paying for it now. I knew that stopping to fix that would probably be the start of a solo metric century on my own to the finish, so I kept on rolling. The Seattle guys were flying as well. They seemed to like starting early and taking a few longer breaks in the day, which isn’t a bad plan, but I just haven’t been good at waking up early enough for that.The familiar Centennial Trail was the final stretch. I knew once I reached that point that finishing would be no problem so long as the bike stayed together. Andy (Seattle) was leading the pack most of the time, at a pretty steady clip that was tough but still possible to hold onto. Thankfully the pack slowed a little as we got closer, because I was just about to ease off and take a break. Like the end of most rides, I think I tend to get sloppy at the end. When I know the finish is near, I don’t have a good cadence, and I tend to pedal and coast instead of keeping a steady pace. I’ll also blame the paths for having a lot of little bumps that make it hard to ride a steady cadence when I’m tired. Once we were off the trail, I was doing better with this, but I think that was because the pace slowed too.
770 miles down, 4 very long days of riding behind me, and we rolled into the hotel at 9:11pm. There isn’t much fanfare, but the hotel storage room that I had checked in at 5 days prior was filled with pizza and randos, all congratulating each other on completing the ride. I heard that 88 people started, and around 63 finished. I don’t know how that compares to other years, but it seemed reasonable.
I remember at the time feeling like I could be done with long bike rides for a while, though of course while writing this now I have to admit that I looked up future big rides this year. That probably won’t happen, though I am interested in a few crewing opportunities and maybe volunteering for upcoming brevets.