Realizing that I only had less than 2 weeks left in Washington, I had to fit in one last ride with the SIRs. I had briefly considered volunteering the Barlow control, but after realizing that just getting to Seattle and out there without a car would be logistically just as much effort as riding it, I signed up for the ride instead. I coordinated a ride up with Susan and Asta from Portland, and stayed with Andy just a few miles from the start. I couldn’t be more grateful for such generous randos helping others out!
In the hour before driving up, I noticed my bottom bracket was just slightly backing out. I honestly hadn’t looked at it in a year, so I had no idea if it was moving fast or slow, but figured it would be okay. Of course, upon mentioning this to Andy, he swiftly took off my cranks and snugged up the BB. I got about 6 hours of sleep, and awoke to Andy on his way out of the house at 5am, and I got out by about 5:20 for the 6am start.
As usual, my plan was to stay close to the front and keep up for the first 100 miles. The pack stopped in Snohomish for breakfast, but my sugar was still high, so I just topped off my water and continued up the trail at a reasonable pace with a few other guys at a slightly slower pace, knowing we’d be caught after a little while. Our group of 10 or so rolled along for a long time, until in the foggy mist some fast sprints started to break things up.
My latest ride-metric is how fast the first century is. My too-fast brevets seemed to do the first hundred miles in 6 hours, which lead to me running of out gas by the end. This ride hit the 100 mile mark at 6.5 hours, which felt much better for me. The town of Concrete was just a few miles later, where the lead guys (Theo and Steve) had stopped to refill. Steve had a BB back out too far to continue the planned route, and was going to roll back to a town with a shop and then home.
I continued on with some guys around my pace, but eventually ended up between a few, and rode alone. I briefly sped up to catch Ward, but was having a hard time pulling with just two of us. I would spend a little longer at the stop in Darrington, and while I was there I saw many more randos coming in. I left with just one though, and we were together until the gravel section. The gravel was nothing bad – just a few mostly avoidable washboard sections. I was on 32mm tires (Pasela and Compass).
All day I was wondering where the ultra racers were at, and they flew past on the dirt. I caught up for a moment, but just wasn’t able to hold anywhere near that pace for more than a minute, so continued on solo. At the top of the pass were two amazing volunteers making sandwiches and soup, and just a few randos. Theo had already left, on his mission to reduce stopping time. Several more came in shortly behind me, and we eventually began the hour and a half descent together.
Luckily we were well down the descent before the sun fell, as there were a few craters in the road to stay away from. With just a few moderate stops in Granite Falls and Sultan, the night continued. Doing some rando-math I figured we’d actually finish around 1am, which was better than my initial estimate of 2am. Like every long ride, I started to get antsy, especially for the last hour. My bum hurts so I tend to stand more, which makes my feet hurt, and my hands are no longer comfortable. I count down the miles to the next turn or hill. With just 5 miles to the finish, we hit what felt like the worst hills of the day to climb into Seattle. As others said, this ride didn’t have a lot of big climbs, just some punchy steep ones.
We reached the finish at 12:49am as a small group. Burgers and “recovery drinks” were prevalent. The celebrations were cut short by news of riders that had crashed, though I’ve since heard that everyone is okay. I hung out for an hour but didn’t see anyone else roll in before I left for one final climb back to my couch to sleep on for the night.
I may even retract my prior statements about avoiding 400ks. While I like sunrise-to-sunset rides best, longer group rides tend to be a better pace for me and can be more sociable than 20mph pacelines. So this was a great last SIR ride. I’ll be in LA for the next 3 months, and hope to join some PCH Rando rides down there for the end of the season. Thanks to everyone I rode with, and especially those that help carpool me to ride starts or offered a place to sleep – I couldn’t have done all these rides without that support!