Saturday, December 29, 2007

With a Whimper

The long time since my last post matches the time since my last successful randonneur event. I’d like to report that my 2007 season ended with a bang, but it didn’t.

After returning from France, I decided to abandon my normal strategy of ignoring corporeal signals and finally see a doctor about my angry ankle. The discomfort and swelling stemmed from injury to the peroneal tendons in my right foot. (Apparently, tendons are supposed to be black in an MRI film; mine had a lot of white patches, indicating the places where the tendons were damaged).

Accepting the need for medical intervention was one thing; actually resting the ankle by laying off the cycling for a while was a tougher task. In addition to the Mount Baker 200km, at the end of September I took on our 1000km ride, a challenging jaunt from Seattle to Carson along the Cascade 1200 route, then a loop around Mount Hood to Portland, then back home.

I made it 520km to Government Camp, followed by a nice meal, and a car ride back. Not one of my more stellar efforts. Maybe the weather, but more likely just weariness. We had a cold Friday (rainy and low 40s descending Skate Creek and low 30s over Elk & Oldman passes, but dry) and that may have taken something out of me. I was also a bit sick and somewhat short on sleep the week before, which couldn’t have helped. Nagging concern for my ankle did nothing to improve my mental conditioning either. I had almost nothing to climb Dufur Valley Road to Camp Baldwin, not to mention the climbs after. I think I only made it up over to Government Camp because I knew there would be food there.

In the car on the way home on Sunday, I didn’t think about what I could have done differently or about whether I should have kept going. Normally that’s what I think about after a DNF. Not having those thoughts was another sign that I just needed a rest.

Rest came after the ride. In consultation with two doctors and two physical therapists, I developed a strategy to deal with the biomechanical issues that may have led to the ankle injury (orthotics in regular shoes and wedges under the cleat of my cycling shoes). In addition, my orthopedic doctor, an avid cyclist himself, strongly urged some time off the bike.

Two full months passed before I remounted the bike. On December 1, I met dozens of SIR friends for a “meet the teams” ride. At the end of the year, the Washington State Bicycle Association (the local racing association) sponsors a series of rides for prospective team members to check out the local racing teams. As we did once before a few years ago, SIR sponsored a subversive ride to lure racers away to randonneuring. As before, a few new riders joined us for a nice ride around the south end of Lake Washington, but the ride served primarily as a nice riding get-together for SIR.

Since then, I’ve been riding relatively leisurely weekend rides of 100km or less with good friends. The ankle seems to be mostly ok, so I’m looking forward to longer rides in the new year. A sad consequence of the layoff was a conversion of fitness into weight, so I now have too little of the former and too much of the latter. On the bright side, this provides great material for new year’s resolutions.

Wishing a happy new year of cycling to all.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tough Day

Bob Brudvik (coming down from Artist Point): "You ok?"

Me (heading up): "I'm a little sick, Bob."

Bob: "I can tell."

Today I offer a break from the relentlessly cheerful series of posts about brevets and permanents that litter this blog.

Yesterday SIR held a 200km brevet. Dan Turner hosted the start and finish at his house near Bellingham. The route took us through Glacier, where Steve Hameister lived. Steve passed away on a brevet earlier this year (see posting below) and we planned this ride as a memorial to Steve. The beautiful course, similar to the Mount Baker Climb permanent that I rode in July, took in some of Steve's favorite roads.

The day started well enough, if a bit early. I met Peter McKay and Bob Brudvik at a park & ride in Lynnwood for the drive up to Bellingham. At Dan's house we saw a good turnout of 44 riders, some of whom had spent the previous night there. On the relatively flat terrain of the first 45km or so, most of us rode together, offering a good chance to catch up and chat. (Picture below by Peter McKay, before things got ugly).

I started to worry when we hit the first good hill (Reese Hill) just east of Sumas - I had very little energy available for the climb. At a refueling stop in Glacier, it was pretty clear that the day would be a struggle, and I gave my car keys to Peter and Bob, so they wouldn't have to wait for me at the finish to retrieve their bags from my car.

I'm not sure what went wrong - maybe a combination of things. Maybe because I'd been feeling a bit under the weather all week. Maybe because I only slept for about three hours the night before the ride. (Chris had just come home late from a weeklong hiking trip in Arizona and I was eager to hear of her adventures). Maybe because I'm still recovering from PBP and from all the riding beforehand. Maybe because of something I ate. Maybe because I didn't eat enough at the start of the ride.

For whatever reason, I just felt lousy. Twenty miles of uphill did nothing to make me feel better. Two bouts of nausea on the way up took a toll on my attitude as well. Many riders passed me on this climb. I spoke for a few minutes to Albert Meerscheidt on the way up, before I had to tell him that I was having enough trouble being good company to myself and that I really couldn't be sociable at all.

On the way up I contemplated quitting twice. At one point I came very close to turning around to ride back. A bit later, Mike McHale came by in his car. He had dropped out with knee problems (related to a bike-car incident a couple weeks back) and was cruising up the hill taking pictures. He offered me a ride back to the start. Despite the temptation, I declined, muttering "I think I can make it." At that point, making it up to the turnaround at Artist Point became the grim focus of my afternoon.

SIR riders are generally friendly and encouraging. As I started to see descending riders, they almost always called out a cheery "you're looking great" or "almost there" to me. In my grouchy state, however, this just annoyed me, largely because I knew perfectly well that neither statement was true.

Eventually, I made it to the top. In addition to SIR member Vic Ringkvist, the stop was manned by Anita Hameister, Steve's widow, and friends. I was looking forward to meeting her and that had served as extra motivation during the miserable climb. Instead of a nice conversation, however, all I managed was a brief hello and introduction before I collapsed on the pavement in a light-headed fog. We agreed that we'd talk more at the finish, when we both assumed I'd be feeling better.

Sunshine, food, drink, friendly ministrations, and the promise of a great downhill worked together to generate a revival of body and spirit. I headed out with Don & Elaine Jameson's tandem, thinking I'd catch a draft back to the finish. They descended like a rock falling off a cliff and soon I was behind. Apparently they waited a while in Glacier, but I was too slow to catch up, especially because I succumbed to another wave of nausea on the way down.

It was a long, slow stretch into the wind from Glacier back to Dan's house, but I was feeling a lot better and arrived to a happy gathering of cyclists. With some trepidation, I partook of post-ride pizza and beer. Luckily, it was not only tolerated but welcomed. I took advantage of Dan's house for a shower and started to feel human again.

We presented Anita Hameister with a framed display of SIR memorabilia. Peter McKay and Bill Dussler had created a really nice display with a backdrop of the new Seattle jersey along with the medals that Steve had earned this year (200k, 300k, 400k, 600k, 1000k, fleche, and Super Randonneur), his official PBP brevet card, his PBP frame plate, and his PBP scan card. In addition, the case contains two items that I had carried over to France and had taken with me on the ride from Paris to Brest and back: Steve's SIR PBP name plate and a small sachet of Steve's ashes. Jon Muellner, Bill Dussler, Peter McKay, and I each carried some ashes on our bikes at PBP to honor Steve's dream of Paris-Brest-Paris.

Anita appeared to appreciate the gift and the opportunity to meet and talk with many of Steve's fellow riders. For me it was a nice ending to a less than perfect day on the bike.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mountain Populaire

A few years back, Jan Heine and Kent Petersen put together a ride just east of Seattle that climbs up a down a devilish collection of hills. The ride starts with a tough climb up Cougar Mountain and ends atop Squak Mountain. With around 6000ft of climbing in 70 miles, the ride is often called our Un-populaire.

On Sunday, around 50 riders turned out on a beautiful morning. I rode down from home (with a coffee stop, of course) and met the others at the park & ride where we started. This year, Jan is still in Europe, so Kent was there with help from Matt Newlin and Narayan Krishnamoorthy to start us off.

Other than the searing pain in my lungs and legs, the first climb was spectacular. Certain turns rewarded us with views of Lake Sammamish below and Mount Baker in the distance. My hill climbing "prowess" also afforded me the opportunity to see most of the other participants as they passed me on the way up. At the top, Bob Brudvik, Greg Paley, and Mike McHale were waiting for me (as they would throughout the day). Mike rode strongly despite a recent encounter with a car that left his leg battered and torn. Bob and Greg are always strong.

Descending back down to Newport Way merely set the stage to climb back up again. As with the prior climb, Matt Newlin was at the top (on the other side of the street this time) to mark our cards. Some nice riding took us to Tiger Mountain for climb 3, where Rene Comeaux was waiting, signing our cards, and offering a new rando delight - gummy Life Savers.

Up and over the Sammamish Plateau we went, followed by a nice ride through the Snoqualmie Valley to Carnation. Sandy's Espresso in Carnation is one of our favorite coffee stops anywhere. Their hospitality and coffee did not disappoint. The omnipresent Matt Newlin signed our cards. Bob Brudvik (new caffeine addict) and I (old hand and pusher) ordered triple shot espresso drinks to fortify us for the last two climbs. (Photo courtesy of new rider Brad Bleck - blog).

The climb over Tolt Hill Road is steep but not too long and the climb up Duthie Hill Road is relatively gentle and soon we found ourselves back in Issaquah. The cruelty of this ride is highlighted when you pass the delightful Issaquah brewpub at 100+ kilometers on your way to the dastardly hilltop finish. As you climb up Mt. Olympus Drive, the cross streets have mountain names. A final twist of the knife is when you pass Mt. Everest street, which should, by all rights, mark the high point. But no, more climbing awaits. Kent was at the top with cold drinks, SIR 100km populaire pins, and hearty congratulations.

After riding back down the hill to the park and ride, we retired to the aforementioned brewpub for some food and carbohydrate replenishment, accompanied by the telling of many PBP tall tales. A good day!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Paris-Brest-Paris 2007

For the eight years since my first PBP in 1999, I've told anyone willing to listen (and some who weren't) that Paris-Brest-Paris offers a unique and wonderful cycling opportunity - promising great challenge, wonderful people, and a great experience. I hope that I never promised fabulous weather. I had a wonderful ride (see article below), but there was much more to it for me.


As always, the experience of PBP started long before the event. I had the privilege of working with some great people at Randonneurs USA involved in getting the largest group of US riders ever to the event. Over 40 RBAs worked hard to offer qualifying rides and to prepare their riders for PBP. Through my travels, I witnessed first-hand the efforts of Mike Berry in San Diego, Susan Notangelo and Lon Haldeman in Arizona, the Davis Bike Club folks in California, Susan Plonsky in Arizona, Matt Settle in DC, and Susan France in Oregon. On these rides I also saw RUSA members assisting their RBAs and their fellow riders by volunteering. At home in Seattle, the usual outpouring of rider-volunteers brought us a great series of qualifiers. I rode some pre-rides with organizers (300, 600, 1000) and enjoyed the camaraderie of the larger group on the 200 and the 400.

I was proud to be part of a team of sixty SIR members and of a team of six hundred RUSA members bound for Paris. The tireless efforts of Don & Phyllis Hamilton to process memberships, of Don Bennett to keep the website updated, of Lois Springsteen to handle brevet results processing, and of Jennifer Wise to get our applications to the ACP benefitted us all and were impressive to watch. Equally impressive was the work of the ACP to register more than 5000 riders - many were involved; in particular, we saw the work of Jean-Gualbert Faburel as he processed results and helped us find an efficient way to register US riders and the work of Claude Lepertel as she registered all of us.

Old friends

In Saint-Quentin en Yvelines before the ride, it felt like a reunion of old friends. Riders from Seattle were all over the place. A non-participant from Seattle called out to us in line in Paris at the Musee d'Orsay. I chatted with many RUSA members that I've known and I made the acquaintance of many more that I had not met before. Leroy Varga, the oldest member of the RUSA team, and Johnny Bertrand, the most experienced, were staying at my hotel. Puerto Rico RBA William Medina and some friends bumped into us at the Eiffel Tower on Thursday.

RUSA's board of directors was well represented. Treasurer Tim Sullivan, VP John Lee Ellis, and brevet coordinator Lois Springsteen were there to ride. Jennifer Wise and Don Hamilton were non-riders but on hand to help. Webmaster Don Bennett and newsletter editor Mike Dayton were there to ride, as were medal/award volunteers John Kramer and Peter Beeson. Super-volunteer Bill Bryant offered advice and assistance as always.

In addition to SIR and RUSA members, the reunion included international friends as well. Over the years, I've had the pleasure of participating in a few major international randonneuring events - two prior PBPs, two Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200s (2002 and 2006), London-Edinburgh-London in 2001, the Great Southern Randonnee (which I DNF'd in 2001), and the Rocky Mountain 1200 in 2002. So, in the days before this year's PBP, I ran into old friends from Canada, the UK, Denmark, and Australia.

Delighted to spend time with fellow randonneurs, I barely spent time riding or sightseeing before or after the ride. One day in Paris before the ride, we saw a couple museums, walked a lot, and met some friends for sunset pictures by the Eiffel Tower. A shakedown bike ride took a few of us to the grounds of the Palace at Versailles. After the ride, Bob Brudvik and I spent a great day riding around Paris on the rental bikes, drinking coffee and enjoying the atmosphere, before meeting the Dusslers and Greg Cox for dinner. Other than these excursions, however, I spent my time in SQY with other randonneurs.

Behind the scenes

Unlike my prior PBPs, this trip exposed me much more to the organization of the event. On Saturday, I joined Jennifer Wise and her husband Pierce in offering help to the ACP in setting up at the gymnasium. With her good French and winning personality, Jennifer is an amazing ambassador to the ACP from RUSA. I met the first family of the ACP - Bob and Suzanne Lepertel, still running strong, as well as their daughter Claude, who handles all French brevet results in addition to her PBP duties. Also present - president Pierre Theobald and do-it-all Jean-Gualbert Faburel, who processes all non-French brevet results. We liberally distributed gifts from RUSA and pins from SIR.

On Sunday, the volunteers at bike inspection and rider check-in included a strong RUSA contingent. Don, Pierce, and Bill working outside directing riders. Inside Phyllis and Jennifer handed out registration information and brevet cards to US riders. In addition to checking myself in and joining my SIR teammates for a picture at lunchtime, I spent much of the day inside the gym offering what help I could to US riders. Late in the day, many of the RBAs present gathered for a meet-and-greet and picture outside the gym. Afterwards, the board and volunteers gathered at Pizza Pino for a nice dinner.

On Saturday after the ride, I represented RUSA at a meeting and lunch of the Randonneurs Mondiaux. This is the association of correspondent organizations that sponsor brevets around the world. Specifically charged with the sanctioning of events of 1200km or more (other than PBP), the RM also promotes randonneuring around the world. Although I could probably have done without 7 hours of chair-riding after spending 4 days on my bicycle seat, I enjoyed meeting randonneur officials from around the world.

Back home

On Monday, I flew home still high on the experience. I can hardly wait until 2011!

PBP - The ride

Much has been written (and will be written) about the tough conditions on the 2007 edition of Paris-Brest-Paris. The old-timers I met at the Randonneurs Mondiaux meeting after PBP called it the worst conditions since 1956. Others thought 1987 was worse, but the bottom line is that the rain and wind made this a tougher than usual PBP. The non-finish rate - for SIR, for RUSA, and for all riders - was quite high - probably in the 30% range all around.

Under the conditions, some great stories of perseverance emerged. Riders fought through sickness, mechanical problems, exhaustion, etc to complete the ride - some even soldiering to the finish long after time had run out for an official finish. Mine is not one of these stories. I had a great time and a great ride. I felt well prepared and well rested. Although I didn't train for strength and speed, I rode an awful lot of miles this year, including two long brevets of 1000 kilometers. In addition, the experience of two prior PBPs helped me plan how to approach the ride. And I had the company of riding companions Peter McKay, Greg Cox, and Bill Dussler. This was our third PBP together.

Not a fast rider, my time goal was simply to finish. (I carried Steve Hameister's name plate and some of his ashes with me. Although I did not need the extra incentive, I wanted to give those mementos a Paris-Brest-Paris finish as well.) My overall goal was to enjoy the ride. From my previous trips, I expected to enjoy the company of friends, the international camaraderie of my fellow riders, and the great support from the ACP and the people of Normandy and Brittany. In these I was not at all disappointed. Maybe I even got a perverse pleasure out of facing the challenges of the windy, rainy conditions.

Luck plays a role in these things, of course, and mine held throughout the ride. Unlike some other riders, my bike and all my luggage arrived on time and intact. Nagging foot and ankle problems caused some pain, but did not impede progress. Although mechanical problems did not stay away completely, they did not present any show-stopping issues. My biggest weather fear - hot weather for which I had done little training - did not materialize.

Although three PBPs do not create a huge sample size, I enjoyed some personal bests:
  • Most sleep on a PBP - 10+ hours.
  • Most nights in a bed - 3 (more on this outrageous luxury below).
  • Most ham sandwiches - I lost count, but this readily available and quick control staple helped me stay fueled throughout the ride, along with
  • Most chocolate croissants consumed - at some patisseries and controls, I was eating them two at a time
  • Most pins distributed - Bill Dussler created some wonderful SIR/PBP 2007 pins. Offering these to control volunteers, fellow riders, and the supportive children and adults along the road brought plenty of smiles in return.
  • Lightest load on the bike - although I saw many riders with less, my load of supplies, spares, tools, clothes, and food was the lightest of my three trips (see posting below for more details).
  • Most beer consumed - three 0.25cl beers, one before each bedtime. Not quite the consumption of the local riders, but a great way to relax and fall asleep.

After checking and rechecking the forecast and observing the sky on Monday, we resigned ourselves to a rainy beginning to PBP. From past experience and current estimates of the number of riders, we knew that the 90 hour start would be a mob scene and would involve a lot of standing around. Although 9:30 was the nominal start time for this largest group of riders, the ACP planned to send the riders out in waves. As president of Randonneurs USA, I had a VIP pass that would have allowed me to move to the front of the line for the first start wave. Instead, I joined a fairly large contingent of SIR riders bunched up in the circle a bit before 8PM for what would be marked as the 10:10PM wave (although the start signal for this group was not given until 10:20).

For fun, a couple of us bought cheap umbrellas to protect us from having to stand in the rain for hours. Happily there was no deluge, but when the rain started as we stood on the stadium track, our umbrellas went up to the the chuckles of our fellow riders.

The first 200km of the ride went by in a blur of taillights. Less than 20km from the start, I noticed a flat tire. After a brief foray into a very muddy field, I pushed the bike forward to a paved sidewalk in Jouars. I considered replacing the tire, but Peter suggested instead a boot cut from a piece of Tyvek that he carries. The boot would last another 1200km to the finish. Our stop split us off from the rest of our group, including Greg and Bill. We chased along the country side, hopping from group to group in search of them. Bill would stay ahead of us all the way to our stop on Tuesday night; Greg followed another group of riders on a 15km detour and would not see us for another 1050km until Mortagne au Perche on Thursday night.

The bunching of riders in the 90 hour group creates large crowds at the refreshment control at Mortagne (140km) and the first real control at Villaines la Juhel (222km). We brought enough food that we could just stop for water at Mortagne. In Villaines, we stopped before the control at a patisserie known from prior PBPs - delicious pastries (pain au chocolat, of course) and quick service. Just before the control, we restocked from our bags at Dave Jordan's bag drop truck (ride "food" and a spare tube). At the control, we took care of our control cards, filled our water bottles, and moved quickly down the road. The relatively short time spent in Villaines moved us fairly far forward among the 90 hour riders.

As a Seattle randonneur, I've accumulated an awful lot of rainy kilometers over the years. The off-and-on rain on Tuesday remained well within the bounds of comfort for this wool-clad rider. The wind was less pleasant. We never really found a group of riders that fit comfortably with our riding style, so we pushed into the wind without rider shield for much of the distance.

One fun part of Tuesday was crossing paths multiple times with the motorcycle carrying our friend Gregg Bleakney, who was photographing riders for RUSA and SIR. He and his buddy Sebastian clearly enjoyed being among the riders and documenting their progress. In one small town, we stopped at a bar for some coffee (right) and spotted their motorcycle out front. Inside they had made friends with the staff and patrons, who then greeted us as riding heroes when we arrived.

We reached Loudeac around nightfall and pushed ahead toward our overnight stop in a nearby farmhouse rented by our friends Rick and Barbara Blacker. This turned out to be one of the great luxuries of this PBP. Twelve Seattle riders shared the two buildings, which had nice beds for all and three(!) separate showers.

Bill was there already when we arrived, but no sign of Greg or the others - Rick Blacker, Rick Haight, Joe Llona, the Jensen tandem, the Jameson tandem, or Lew Meyer. Later that evening, Rick Haight apparently rescued Greg from wandering around lost. After a delicious dinner, I slept for more than four hours - a real luxury.

Other than the headwinds, most of Wednesday was a nice day for a ride. A baker in the secret-control town of Corlay offered the most wonderful, flakiest, buttery-est pastries of our entire visit to France. Stoked with at least two of these, we headed out to Carhaix and Brest. Along the way we traveled over the Roc Trevezel, the "big climb" of PBP. At about 1250 feet or so, this pales in comparison to any climbs of the Alps or Pyrenees, or for that matter, to any of our pass climbs in Washington. Nonetheless, it can be a bit of a slog coming at 550km into the ride. This time, however, I felt great and I enjoyed every minute of the climb.

The route leaves Brest and the turn-around control by a different route than it enters. As a result, you don't get to see all the riders ahead and behind as you would on a true out-and-back. The routes do converge, however, before Sizun and we had the opportunity to see many of our friends as we returned. Lots of smiles and waves and cheers. Riders were enjoying the best weather of the event and the satisfaction of nearing the half-way point.

Sizun is a lovely town and it was filled with 90hour cyclists returning from Brest and 84hour cyclists on their way out. We hung out for a while to chat (and, of course, to eat). Steve & Peggy Rex were there; Will Roberts was there; Kevin Main was handing out ice cream cones (he wanted one, but could only find a multi-cone box).

The nice weather would not quite hold for the rest of the day. A couple hours before reaching the gite on the return, the rains returned - real gully-washers for part of the time. Peter and I were quite happy to see the gite again. Warm showers and another four hour sleep fortified us for what we suspected would be a long Thursday.

In the pre-dawn confusion of the secret control after Loudeac, Peter and I split up. (I thought I was chasing him back out on the course, but he was taking care of business at the stop). Eventually we regrouped and rode together to the controls at Tintineac and Fougeres. At Fougeres, we saw Amy Pieper and her friend Lola Jacobsen. They were out enjoying the French countryside and cheering on Amy's husband. Robin, an 84hour starter, arrived while we were there, having erased our 7 hour headstart. (He would later finish with Bob Brudvik from the 80 hour group).

Not far from Fougeres, my right shifter (relatively new Campy Record ~5000 miles) decided to abandon. I could shift to larger cogs, but not back down to smaller. (Occasionally I could coax a shift the other way, but mostly I just needed to pick a cog and leave it there). As a result, I rode the rest of the ride on what was basically a 3-speed. Happily, I had spent a lot of time over the past 13 months on a single-speed bike, so I wasn't overly intimidated by the prospect. Plus, I was still feeling pretty good.

The next stretch brought the fun of revisiting nice memories from prior PBPs. In the little town of La Tanniere, Paul Rogue and his friends and family quadrennially set up an oasis for PBP riders. He serves crepes and coffee (and offers sleeping and bathroom facilities). In thanks, all he asks is that the riders send him a post card from home. We spotted the postcard that Peter sent in 2003, with Mount Rainier rising above Peter's home neighborhood of West Seattle. Shortly after this we descend to the river town of Ambrieres, where we've stopped in past (warmer) PBPs for ice cream. This time we had coffee and found the answer to the age-old question - does dog drool smell better or worse than a randonneur? As we were getting ready to leave, the barmaid comes out with my headband, just retrieved from the resident dog's mouth. I wipe off the obvious slobber and give it a quick sniff. Can't tell that it's any worse, so on it goes.

Peter and I have approached each PBP with basically the same ride plan - spend Tuesday and Wednesday night in Loudeac and then push on to the finish. In 1999 and 2003, we ran out of gas at Mortagne au Perche and grabbed some unsatisfying sleep at the control. This year, I planned for this by reserving a hotel room in Mortagne, just in case the inevitable happened again. We picked up clean shorts and shirts from our drop bags in Villaines and rode to Mortagne. As expected, this turned into quite the long slog. For amusement, Peter gave me a running status on the steadily expanding hole in the back of my shorts. (Silver lining - I had the excuse just to throw them away at Mortagne and not carry them into the finish).

Although we weren't there long, maybe 2.5 hours total, the shower and bed refreshed us well. Our pre-dawn ride to the penultimate control at Dreux was still challenging, but we had the good company of Will Roberts for much of the way. Will has been a graduate student in Seattle and has ridden with SIR for the past few years; he's just moved back to his native England after graduation. Being a little sleepy, I talked incessantly to keep myself awake. Perhaps I should have offered Will my earplugs. On the way into Dreux I picked up speed and rode with some different folks, including a fellow from the Carolinas who thanked me later for riding with him. "You know those white lines on the side of the road?" he asked. "They were starting to open into chasms and I was afraid I'd fall in." Ah, the joys of randonneur hallucinations.

At Dreux, Bill Dussler decided to nap, but Peter and I smelled the barn and pushed hard over the last 70km, in the company of Will and another AUK rider and a few others. We arrived, happy, at the finish at around 11AM. Unofficially, my time was 84:50, remarkably consistent with the 85:42 of 1999 and the 84:29 of 2003. Although the times were similar, I think this was my best ride of the the three. This time, I felt stronger throughout the ride and better after the finish. Unlike 2003, I never tossed myself into a bed of thorns (see story here).

After a shower and some lunch, we returned to the finish to watch the remaining riders come in. It was inspiring and humbling to watch those riders who had persevered through much adversity arrive happy and exhausted at the finish, some with evident makeshift repairs to their bikes or their bodies. Even after the time required for an official finish, riders continued to arrive.

PBP - Lightening up the bike

All year, riding buddy Bob Brudvik has encouraged me to try to pack more efficiently and to carry less stuff on the bike. I've used handlebar bags, underseat bags, frame wedge bags, rack trunks, and panniers in different combinations on my brevets and permanents this year. For PBP, I planned to ride with a jumbo sized Berthoud front bag and (possibly) an Ortlieb underseat bag.

In St-Quentin en Yvelines before the ride, I fussed around extensively and perhaps obsessively with my packing. In the end, I decided to use just the front bag. As with many randonneurs, I tend to fill whatever on-bike storage that I have available. Omitting the underseat bag would make me pack less stuff. Purists will note that I had restock available at drop bags in Villaines and Loudeac; I'll readily admit that the drop bags aided the gear choices.

Here's what I carried. (The bike and the body offer additional places for stuff.)

On the bike at the start:
  • Two large water bottles
  • Generator hub and Schmidt light
  • Battery powered backup light (DiNotte)
  • Frame plates (PBP number plate, SIR name plate, SIR name plate for Steve Hameister, Maindru photo plate)
  • Fenders & courtesy flap
  • Two taillights
On me at the start:
  • wool t-shirt
  • wool jersey
  • armwarmers & knee warmers
  • bibs
  • headband
  • reflective sash & anklebands
  • wool socks
  • shoes
  • gloves
  • SIR wind vest (with pockets - very handy to store arm/knee warmers and to carry day 4 change of shorts & undershirt from Villaines drop bag to Mortagne sleep stop)
  • helmet with headlamp and taillights (I had a button light and also clipped a Planet Bike light to the strap across the back of the helmet. This came in later when I discovered that the matching taillight on the bike had broken off. I just moved the light from the helmet and had two on the bike again.)
  • Sunglasses with light yellow lenses and mirror
In the bag:
  • Clothing
    • Rain jacket (never used)
    • Wool liner gloves (never used)
    • Cap (never used)
  • Nutrition
    • Clif Blox (used and restocked from drop bags)
    • Ensure (used and restocked)
    • Nuun electrolyte tablets (used and restocked)
    • Endurolytes (not used)
  • Repair stuff
    • Spare tire (never used)
    • 3 tubes (used 1 on first night and replaced from Villaines drop bag)
    • patch kit (never used)
    • tire boots (not used; used a piece of Tyvek from Peter McKay instead when I flatted; boot held for 1150km)
    • multitool (used twice to tighten fender bolts)
    • chain quick links (never used)
    • 2 fiber spokes (never used)
    • zip ties (never used)
    • 2 spare bulbs (used one)
    • 4 spare AAA batteries (used)
    • Swiss army knife (not used)
  • Personal care
    • Sun screen (never used; but gave some to Peter when sun came out outside Brest on Wednesday)
    • Lip balm (used occasionally)
    • Ibuprofen (used lots)
    • Vivarin (used twice)
    • Neosporin (never used)
    • Ear plugs (used at sleep stops)
    • Bandages (never used)
    • Toothbrush; toothpaste (happily used)
  • Other
    • Space blanket
    • Dark lenses (never used)
    • Camera (never used; I don't know why I continually carry a camera on rides and fail to take pictures)
    • Wallet
    • Phone
    • Brevet card wallet with brevet card, mag swipe card, and passport
    • SIR PBP2007 souvenir pins (handed out and replenished from drop bags)
Overall, I was pleased with what I had with me and felt reasonably confident of my ability to make it to the next control in case of any mechanical adversity. I used the drop bags for clean clothes and bike food replenishment. I also restocked the tube I used on first night and changed headlamp batteries on Thursday morning.

Sunday, August 5, 2007


Goals are funny things. In general, I've always focused more on the road than on the destination, but goals do arise. In 2007, randonneuring has been the road. Whether riding brevets, organizing brevets, helping on brevets, riding team events, riding permanents, or readying the SIR or the RUSA teams for PBP2007, I've been reveling in the sport this year to the point of excess or obsession. Chris has looked at all my riding and told me that I'm overtraining for PBP. I've tried to explain that the rides are not PBP training rides. The rides are the goals. Each ride becomes its own goal - to get on my bike and test myself against a new course, a different distance, or different conditions.

Sometimes the road itself starts to suggest a destination to me. I didn't start the 200km brevet up Chinook Pass last month with the idea of setting a personal best, but as the ride wore on and the possibility grew, that idea became a motivator over the last 50km. A similar thing happened over the course of this year. As the randonneur events mounted for me, I noticed that I could reach 10,000 randonneur kilometers. Almost without my realizing it, completing 10k in my 10th season of randonneuring became a goal.

Yesterday, I met a few friends in Duvall for the Stevens Pass 300km permanent (RUSA Permanent #82). After last weekend's rides in Olympia, I had just over 9700km for the year, so this would be the one to put me over. Although we had a few last minute cancellations, five riders met me in the Safeway parking lot. The group included Geoff Swarts, who has done a number of permanents and brevets with us, both before and after his cross-country tour, James Sprague, a PBP veteran with whom I hadn't cycled in a while, Ryan Schmid, a strong cyclist who's been away from randonneuring for a while due to other demands like graduate school, Frank Kaplan, who joined me for all the rides in Olympia last weekend, and Joe Llona, who rode out to the start and let us know (later, when declining a ride home) that riding from his house to Leavenworth and back had been "on his list."

We had learned that US2 west of the summit was under construction. Ralph Nussbaum had recently driven over the pass and reported that the road to "be not only extremely uncomfortable but probably dangerous for bikes" and Will Roberts, with his typically British understatement simply called it "unpleasant." I arranged with Mark Roehrig, the route owner, to modify the route onto back roads as much as possible.

The eastbound ride was terrific. We detoured onto the back roads in Gold Bar. We enjoyed May Creek Road and Reiter Road despite their gratuitous extra climbing. Reiter Road took us into the town of Index, where we stopped at the nice little store there for refreshments before rejoining the highway. James noted that he used to pan for gold in this area and that one of his favorite campsites was up Index-Galena road, but had been heavily damaged in the past winter's flooding. Indeed, signs indicated that the road itself was closed about six miles west of Index. We avoided the narrow tunnel west of Skykomish by taking the back road past Money Creek Campground, rejoining US2 east of the town.

The Old Cascade Highway takes you off US2 for all but about half a mile of the last 10 miles to the Stevens Pass summit. The lower section is a narrow but well maintained road that is a joy to cycle. Heavily shaded and nicely situated along the banks of the stream, this would be one of the highlights of the ride in both directions. The upper section climbs over the entrance to the 7+ mile long rail tunnel (built in the 1920s after an avalanche killed almost 100 people in one of the nation's worst rail disasters) and winds its way to the summit. At one point the road becomes impassable to cars with only a pedestrian bridge crossing a stream. Although the road conditions are less than ideal, with potholes and stretches of gravel, the almost complete lack of cars and nice scenery make it a great alternative to the highway.

We bombed down the east side of the pass and through the pretty Tumwater Canyon on our way to a lunch stop and turn around in Leavenworth. On the way back, we were plagued by a few mechanical issues. A broken spoke was trued around and made rideable. More problematic was Geoff's freewheeling rear hub. If you don't have any better ideas, he announced, "I'll be sticking out my thumb." We didn't, so he did. Not long after, a ratty pickup truck rolls by with window down and a smiling Geoff lets us know that he had a ride. Although I haven't heard the details, an e-mail today described his afternoon as "a bit of an adventure, . . . enjoyable and memorable." I'm sure we'll hear the details on a later ride.

Joe Llona, riding very strongly, waited for us at the summit. Frank went on ahead, not wanting to chill down. The rest of us (now just Joe, James, Ryan, and me) picked our way down the poorly paved eastern section of the Old Cascades Highway and then just blasted down the next section. "What a rush," Joe exclaimed partway down that stretch.

We refueled at the Baring Store. James let us know that he'd rather drop off than work too hard to stay on. Joe continued to push the pace, with Ryan close behind. The combination of Joe's speed and Ryan's size made one of the best drafts that I've ever had the pleasure of riding in. But for the narrow shoulders and idiots in cars, this would have been a great run to the finish. Unfortunately, it was marred by two incidents where car occupants hurled stuff at us - first a glass bottle, then a full soda bottle. Luckily they both missed, but we rode angry for a while anyway. The road south from Monroe to Carnation had generally good shoulders and gave us the opportunity to regain our equilibrium and finish strongly, catching Frank just as we turned into the parking lot at the finish. James would arrive about half an hour later.

Another challenging and scenic ride in the good company of fellow randonneurs. And my new goal accomplished - 10,000 kilometers of randonneur events this year. The road continues, however. The goal is only a waypoint, not a destination. Next up - Paris Brest Paris. And I see another waypoint up ahead. I have 48,300 lifetime randonneur kilometers, so there's another milepost not far ahead at 50k!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

A note from Anita Hameister

I received a very nice e-mail from Steve Hameister's wife last night. It says a lot about Steve and about randonneuring.


The farewell took place tonight for all family. It is yet so surreal. I went thru his belongings and saw his passion yet again.

Steven drank in nature, didn't enjoy loud machines. Sailing, biking, hiking...never snow mobiles, power boats......He didn't get it why someone wanted to disturb the amazing sound of the natural world. He told me to try to imagine riding in the middle of the night in silence. Watching stars when the road felt safe to look away. He said the stars were intoxicating. Oh, and seeing Eagles and Hawks soaring, wow.

He only called me once when he said he was in Aberdeen and felt he couldn't finish, needing me to come get him. Next morning he was chipper and had finished. He felt good about his personal best. The journey and completion was his deal.

His journey in this place of time and space were authentic. He felt a kinship with all riders. Raw effort, compassion for the struggle I believe kept him in the sport. His competition was with himself.

I thank you all for being part of his joy. I am sad to lose such an amazing man. He was a good Husband, Father, Grandfather...he was gentle and caring a very deep way.

If any pictures of him are floating around in the past rides, please forward them.

With Gratitude to all RUSA........Keep it up. There are lots of guys you make a difference to.

Anita Hameister
Glacier WA

Olympia 3

Sunday brought out another good crowd of 50+ riders for the Olympia 200km brevet. The Piepers - Robin and Amy - were a particularly welcome sight. We haven't done much riding together this year - Robin is a much faster rider and Amy has largely sat out this randonneuring season. In fact, I think Amy indicated that the 200km would mark her longest single day ride of the year. We had had a great time on the Dart earlier in the year, and looked forward to riding together again. The Piepers had just returned from a week-long tour in British Columbia with Danelle and John's Tour BC. Robin had made a solemn promise to Amy to ride with her all day and Peter and I were happy to draft along behind him for the ride.

Nine and a half hours of great company, nice roads, and good riding - an excellent conclusion to my "too much is not enough" weekend of randonneuring. I felt tired but good after three days of riding. Looking forward to Paris-Brest-Paris!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Olympia 2

Sometimes the ups and downs come from more than the terrain. On a day marred by tragedy (see note about Steve), we rode the Olympia 300km brevet. Brian List, Dave Read, and Peg Winczewski developed a nice route through the back roads of Thurston and Lewis Counties. More than 50 riders showed up - probably a record for one of our summer brevets. Gregg Bleakney came out to take photos, which can be seen here.

We started with a blistering pace out to the first control (less than 10 miles out). Corey Thompson, back from teaching in France, signed cards for the riders. We started to settle down after that - still making good time out to Steamboat Island. The 9 miles out to and 9 miles back from the turnaround at the end of Steamboat Island afforded a nice opportunity to see all the riders. The long gentle climb up SR-8 felt terrific. I saw Steve Hameister, who was having a terrific ride. After the control at Malone, the tougher hills started.

At the top of Gerrard Creek road, we encountered the usual Olympia brevet oasis - Peg and Brian with food, drink, and chairs. Brian noticed casing showing through Peter McKay's rear tire, so Bob Brudvik and I (right) took advantage of the repair time to relax. On the way down the hill, we encountered the PBP-bound tandem of Peter Beeson and Max Maxon coming back up. Some mechanical problems would take them out of the ride at this point; later in the afternoon they would get the bike fixed in Olympia and would be back for the 200km brevet on Sunday.

The climb up Curtis Hill is a tough one. Last summer, I had struggled up on my single speed. I was very happy to have a full complement of gears this time, especially as I watched Bob grinding up the hill on his single speed PBP steed. Bob was having an uncharacteristically tough day, and the steep hill was no help.

At the bottom of the hill we stopped at the Curtis Store for a break - ice cream, sandwiches, ice, and drinks. Here's where we first heard about Steve - a driver came by to let us know that there was a cyclist in the ditch on the other side of the hill. She was not from the area and a little vague on location. We hoped/assumed that riders behind would be able to help. As we were trying to figure out how to get help to the cyclist (no cellphone service there for at&t or T-mobile and virtually unusable service from Verizon). At that point, the driver of another car indicated that aid was on the scene. We were eventually able to contact Brian List and Peter Beeson, who let us know that aid was indeed at the scene, that the rider was Steve Hameister, that Steve’s wife had been contacted, and that Steve would get care at a hospital in Centralia. We were at the Curtis Store for quite a while and received reports that extensive CPR had been performed at the scene and that defibrillator was used to get a pulse. Frankly it didn’t sound too good to us, but with Steve in professional care, a somber group headed out.

I would finish (130km later) with the group that formed at the store - the Jameson tandem (Don & Elaine), the Jensen tandem (Jim & Ann), Bob Brudvik, Peter McKay, Bill Dussler, Rick Haight, and I. We're all headed to PBP and really enjoyed each other's company. The Vader store provided the next ice cream stop. After Winlock, we climbed a series of rollers to some high farmland. At one point, Bill and I passed two little girls by the side of the road with notebooks. It took a moment, but we realized they were looking for mememtos from the riders, so we turned back. The whole group signed and wrote notes in their books. That was a sweet and uplifting thing, but when I used my cameraphone to take a picture I noticed a voicemail from Peter Beeson. Frankly, I assumed that it was an update on Steve and that it wouldn’t be good news. Unfortunately, that was correct. For the next 10 miles or so, I rode like someone had punched me in the gut and let the air out of my tires. I tried comforting thoughts out on myself (like, “he was doing what he loved”), but it wasn’t helping much. Peter McKay did much to help me then – drawing in part on how he dealt with the loss of his brother in a jet ski accident. Good friends, good cycling, and the thought of the smiling little girls reminded me that life is good, even with all of its messiness, unevenness, and tragedy.

Steve Hameister 1954-2007

Lost a friend on Saturday. SIR member Steve Hameister suffered a heart attack during our 300km (not long after this picture). Efforts to revive him at the scene and in the hospital were ultimately unsuccessful.

Steve started riding with us in 2005. Never one of the fastest riders, he was always one of the most determined. He rode his first full series with us last year, combining it with rides in CA and OR for a RUSA 2000km award. This year he rode a difficult 1000km in poor conditions as part of his training for Paris-Brest-Paris. I supported that ride; Steve was matter-of-fact about the challenges and determined always to finish, which he did - one of six (of eleven starters) who finished that weekend. He came in wet, happy, tired, and proud.

Steve gave back to the club as well. For last month's 400km, I needed a volunteer to sit at the top of Stevens Pass all night to man a control. When I put out a last minute request for help, Steve was the first to respond. Manning a post over 100 miles from home, Steve was a welcome sight to the riders at the end of a difficult climb.

Paris-Brest-Paris was on his agenda. He'll be there next month, but only in our thoughts and memories. Thanks, Steve.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Olympia 1

In part to help riders prepare for Paris-Brest-Paris, SIR scheduled two days of rides in Olympia at the end of July - a 300km brevet on Saturday, July 28 and a 200km brevet on Sunday, July 29. Proponents claim the benefit of two successive days of riding in a row before the 3-4 day PBP. Others suggest that a 500km weekend less than 4 weeks before PBP might be too much. I take the Deep Purple view of this: "Too much is not enough." So on Friday, I headed down to Olympia to add a 200km permanent to the weekend's festivities.

Frank Kaplan carpooled with me from Redmond and John Vincent joined us in Olympia. The route was RUSA Permanent #202 from Olympia to Brinnon to Olympia. Frank and John will be first-timers at PBP next month; I enjoyed their infectious enthusiasm for the upcoming event.

The course is good PBP preparation with similar amounts of climbing and types of climbing. Great weather, nice Hood Canal and mountain views, and good coffee shop stops enhanced the experience. Somehow, in all my previous stops at the Hoodsport Coffee Company, I had overlooked the fact that in addition to friendly folks and good coffee, they also have ICE CREAM (good ice cream, too). Today I remedied this oversight.

Good riding pace and relaxed stops and regroups brought us back to Olympia in just under 10 hours, followed by dinner with Peter Beeson and Eric Vigoren for dinner. Looking forward to the 300km tomorrow.

-- "You've got it bad, you're hopelessly addicted"

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Mount Baker Climb

Sometimes you just get lucky. A weather system full of rain decided to park for a week over the Pacific Northwest. (Believe it or not, rain in the NW in late July is news). Dan Turner and I decided to take the best looking day and ride the Mount Baker Climb permanent today. Geoff Swarts joined us. We rode 150 of the 200 kilometers including all of the Mount Baker climb and most of the descent with no rain. Very nice.

We couldn't quite get to Artist Point (end of the road) because of ice and snow still on the roadway, but we did get within about a half-mile of the end (about 5000ft elevation).

Looking forward to our gathering of PBP-bound SIR members tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hey Mambo!

Running a bit late, with a ferry to catch, I picked up Wayne Methner at his house in Lake Forest Park on Sunday morning for the drive to the ferry at Mukilteo. Arriving at the ferry dock at the last minute, we see a great sight - we're among 20 SIR members waiting to board the boat. Earlier in the week, Peter McKay and I had decided to ride the 250km Whidbey Mambo permanent, named for the Mambo Italiano Cafe - the nice restaurant at the northern point of the route in Bellingham. We let word out on the SIR mailing list and e-mails streamed in from riders interested in joining us.

Sixteen riders would ride the permanent. Erik Andersen, recovering from a nasty recent crash, came out to test his fitness before next month's PBP. Two of SIR's four PBP-bound tandem teams were present - Elaine & Don Jameson and Ann & Jim Jensen. Riders eagerly sought their wheels all day, with mega-mileage man Rick Blacker being the most successful. Michael Norman showed up on the correct day this time (in the fall, we rode a Sunday permanent for which he showed up on Saturday). Galvin Chow worried during the week about the possible fast pace of the ride, but had no trouble at all other than an early-ride flat. Frequent SIR riders and volunteers Shane Balkovetz, Peter Beeson, Bob Brudvik, Ray McFall, Peter McKay, Albert Meerscheidt, and Mike Richeson rounded out the permanent group. In addition, Jan Acuff, Ken Krichman, Pete Liekkio, and Wayne Methner came to ride the hills of Whidbey Island, but not the whole permanent.

Physically, I had a tough ride, starting with a "rookie" mistake of not eating or drinking at all on the way to the first control in Coupeville, while riding hard. I never really dug myself all the way out of that hole. At one point, I observed to Peter Beeson, "You know how some days are better than others? Well, this is one of the 'others' for me."

Nonetheless, the Mambo was a treat. Friends waited for me to catch up along the way. With most of the group PBP-bound, conversations readily turned to our plans for next month. The ride north up Whidbey Island was fast, aided by tailwinds and pleasant temperatures. Scenic highlights included Deception Pass at the north end of the island and Chuckanut Drive along the water into Bellingham. The friendly folks at the Mambo Italiano Cafe tolerated sixteen sweaty, hungry cyclists and served us wonderful food. Equally scenic on the return, Chuckanut drive provided the treat of a Kent Peterson sighting. Kent was on his way to Bellingham on leg two of his around the state bicycle odyssey for the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.

In a stroke of unexpected good fortune, the winds shifted over lunch and our expected headwind turned to a somewhat inconsistent tailwind, but a tailwind nonetheless. Blew us right to a huckleberry ice cream stop in Conway. Fifteen of the last 20 miles of the ride in from Arlington have little to recommend them, all the worse this time for a detour onto I-5 because of a bridge closure. But after a nice stretch from Everett back to Mukilteo with great Puget Sound views, we regrouped at the finish for beer and food at the Diamond Knot Brewery. The tandem led group were in at 5:40PM (11:10 ride time) and the rest of us arrived at 6:00PM (11:30 ride time).

Tailwinds, good friends, a great lunch, beautiful scenery, and beer at the finish. As Rosemary Clooney would say - 'Ats nice!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Chinook Pass 200km

What a wonderful day for a ride.

This morning 14 riders set out from Yakima for a 200km to the top of Chinook Pass and back. PBP Ancien Mark Roberts (1991 & 1995) brought his son Sean and his son's friend Luke Armistead. Mark Roehrig came out for his first brevet after his hip injury. Ward Beebe, John Morris, and Sal Ortega made this their third ride of the Yakima camp. Shane Balkovetz, Matt Dalton, Ken Krichman, and Ray McFall were on their second brevet of the camp. Alison Bailey and Peter McKay came over for just this ride. After supporting the first two days, I was a rider today. Paul Johnson and Owen Richards managed the brevet.

I'm not sure how it could have been a nicer day for a ride. Although we rode out into a headwind, the temperatures were moderate this morning for the climb to the summit. We rode out of the west end of Yakima on backroads (Powerhouse Road and the Old Naches Highway) with a brief stop in Naches where Owen had a secret control set up.

The climb up 410 was marred by a few flats - Sean Roberts, Peter McKay, Ward Beebe, and Ray McFall. The scenery, however, along the river was simply marvelous. We stopped at Cliffdell (27 miles from the summit and the last services) for water and food. I had left Peter to fix his flat (with my pump), but compensated by shopping for him at the store. Peter and I left the Cliffdell store first, but were overtaken within 10 miles by John Morris (who had had awesome rides on Friday and Saturday) and Mark Roberts and the teenagers. About 4 miles from the top we encountered Sean who had pulled up with an angry knee. He and his dad would end up walking to the top. (Stubbornness must run in the family).

Peter and I reached Paul Johnson's control at the top before noon. John was there already. We also ran into Pete Rankin and a few friends who were riding from the west with plans to do the Chinook summit and Sunrise today. While we were up there Luke and Ward came in. We learned that Mark Roehrig had turned around after about 50km with some pain in his hip.

John, Peter, and I left the summit at about noon. Ray McFall was almost to the top and was stopped to take pictures of riders descending. John soon left Peter and me behind. In addition to Ray, we saw Allison, then Ken, then Sean and Mark on foot, then Sal, then Shane, then Matt. The descent just screamed - lots of elevation to give up and a brisk tailwind to boot. Peter and I were just loving life and congratulating each other on choosing this ride on this day. Once again, we declared that "It's a beautiful day. And we're on our bicycles."

We could see John in the distance as we approached the SR-410 / US-12 intersection. The tailwind remained consistent along most of US-12, but it was hot and there wasn't much downhill left. We kept pushing, however, and when we passed John stopped at a store in Naches, we were shocked to realize that we were in a very unaccustomed position at the front of a brevet. We found Owen at the Starbucks at 2:35PM. For me this was a personal best 200km (8:35). I've been riding brevets since 1998 and my fastest 200km time was my very first brevet - until now, sixteen 200km brevets later, when I cut two whole minutes off that time.

At 4PM as I write this, John Morris (8:42), Ward Beebe (8:49), Ray McFall (9:09), and Allison Bailey (9:55) have all finished. I'll post updates as the others arrive.

Shane arrived in 10:02, Matt, Mark, and the teenagers arrived in 10:11, Ken arrived in 10:16, and Sal arrived in 10:37. A great day!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Yakima 400km/300km

Last night at 10, five riders headed north on the 400km ACP brevet. The route would take them through the Ellensburg canyon to Ellensburg, then over Blewett Pass (where Ray McFall mans a secret control) to Leavenworth, up to Stevens Pass (where Steve Hameister awaits them), and then back. The riders were Ken Carter, Ryan Hamilton, Chuck Hoffman, Brian Ohlmeier, and Paul Whitney.

This morning at 6, eight riders started the 300km RUSA brevet on the same route, but without the Leavenworth-Stevens Pass-Leavenworth segment. The starters were Shane Balkovetz, Ward Beebe, Matt Dalton, Ken Krichman, Ted Lundin, John Morris, Sal Ortega, and Owen Richards.

Steve Hameister reports that 400km riders Brian and Ryan came through the Stevens Pass control at 6:50 this morning, Ken at 7:45, and Paul and Chuck at 11:40. All were doing well and should make up time coming down the long hill.

Ray returned to Yakima a little while ago. All the 300km riders made it to the Blewett Pass summit outbound by 12:30 or so.

Ryan and Brian finished the 400km at 3:13PM looking hardly the worse for wear (17:13 finishing time).

4:31PM - Ken Carter just finished the 400km.

John Morris is the first 300km finisher, arriving at 6:53PM for an great time of 12:53. Ward Beebe came in less than an hour later at 7:51PM (time = 13:51).

Shane Balkovetz, Matt Dalton, and the esteemed Dr K (Ken Krichman) finished the 300km at 9:42PM (time = 15:42). Still waiting for Chuck Hoffman and Paul Whitney (400km) and Ted Lundin, Owen Richards, and Sal Ortega (300km).

Paul Whitney (400km) arrived at 11:15PM (25:15 ride time) and Sal Ortega (300km) came in at 11:25PM (17:25 ride time) after a bit of a misdirection adventure on the bike trail close to the finish. Owen Richards and Ted Lundin (300km) finished at 11:42PM (17:42 ride time).

At about 1:30AM, Chuck Hoffman came in. After struggling with stomach problems all day, he was happy to have finished (even though outside the time limit).

Friday, July 6, 2007

Yakima Valley 225km

Six riders decided to brave the heat today and try out our new Yakima Valley 225km RUSA brevet route to Bickleton and back. Sal Ortega and Ted Lundin from OR and Ward Beebe, Ray McFall, John Morris, and Owen Richards from WA started off at 6 this AM.

By 10am all riders made it to the secret control / water stop at mile 53. With temperatures still reasonable and a cooling breeze, all were in great spirits.

4:06PM - Ward Beebe and John Morris finished. Current temperature 96F.

5:59PM - Sal Ortega and Ted Lundin finished. Still 95F.

6:35PM - Ray McFall and Owen Richards finished.

Thursday, July 5, 2007


Always full of good ideas, riding buddy Peter McKay decided that a 200km permanent would be just the way to celebrate the fourth of July. We decided on a new one - Black Diamond to Sunrise. Mark Roehrig had established Randonneurs USA Permanent #243 this past spring, but the road to Sunrise had not opened until mid-June, so ours would be the first ride of the permanent.

The Sunrise lodge and visitor center perches at 6400 feet on the side of Mount Rainier. The road to Sunrise may be the highest paved road in Washington state. Black Diamond is at about 600 feet (and you go downhill to the Green River right after the start), so there's a very good climb built into the route.

Peter advertised our plans on the SIR mailing list. In keeping with the holiday spirit, we picked 7:30 as our leisurely start time. Five other riders met Peter and me at the start in Black Diamond on Wednesday morning. Peter Beeson joined us fresh from his RAAM-qualifying 17-day ride across the US with PAC Tour's Elite Transcontinental Tour. Geoff Swarts had also completed a transcontinental ride earlier this spring. Bob Brudvik, Rick Blacker, and new randonneur Tim Hennings filled out the group.

After playing with my new iPhone (source of this picture of Peter M. and Bob), we headed off to Cumberland via the Green River gorge. Chatting away, we blithely missed the turn at the bottom of the hill and found ourselves back up on SR-169 not far from our start point. We considered ignoring the mistake and chalking up a no-credit ride to Sunrise, but Tim mentioned that this permanent was part of his R-12 award quest, so we headed back down the hill to go up the correct direction.

The day could hardly have been more spectacular. Great company and great scenery. As usual, I brought the rear up the climb, but most of the guys were waiting at Sunrise Point. Peter Beeson lied nicely and said they had only been there for a few minutes. A bystander took our picture with Rainier in the background and we headed the rest of the way up to the lodge. On a permanent with friends, we tossed all our well-practiced brevet time management skills out the window and had a nice lunch (including ice cream at the top). Geoff and Tim realized that our casual pace was likely to interfere with planned evening activities, so they hustled down the mountain ahead. The rest of us high-tailed it down the hill after lunch. We spent nearly 7 hours reaching the top and just over 4 hours to have lunch and come back down.

It was a beautiful day! And we were on our bikes.

Friday, June 29, 2007

My first 1000km

The 1000km to Montana reminded me of how much fun and challenge I had on my first 1000km brevet eight years ago. I wrote a story on it at the time, which can be found here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Montana 1000km

Portland, OR to Whitefish, MT. From the time that Susan France, Portland RBA, described her plans to create a one-way 1000km brevet to Whitefish, I knew that I needed to ride it. (In the lexicon of my randonneuring obsession, "need" means that resistance to the urge would be futile.) Scheduled for the end of June, the brevet would take advantage of long daylight hours to provide ample opportunity to sample incredible scenery. Along with Paris-Brest-Paris, this would be one of the not-miss events for me in 2007.

A few weeks ago, I helped Wayne out with a control on the SIR 600km brevet. (See A Weekend Off). Greg Cox came into the control and tossed out a tantalizing suggestion: I should join him for the scouting pre-ride of the Montana 1000km a week before the event. Of course, this would be insane. Riding unsupported would only add to the challenge. Doing 1000km with only 12 days off from my planned pre-ride of the SIR 1000km brevet might be pushing it. "Don't you think you might be over-training?" asked my tolerant but concerned spouse. I tried to explain that it was not a training ride, it was a goal in itself. My teenage daughter would say "whatev", but Chris just used a look to convey the same resigned disbelief. My family has no faith in my sanity.

"Insane" translated to "need" pretty quickly, and by the next afternoon, when I saw Greg at the 600km finish, I was in.

Riding with Greg would be a blast. We met in my first season of randonneuring (1998) and we've rode many events together since. In 1999, Greg, Bill Dussler, Wayne Methner, Peter McKay, and I rode most of PBP together. At controls, we'd meet a big van with spouses Mary Cox, Bonnie Dussler, Anita McKay, and Chris Thomas, along with children Alaina Dussler, Philip Thomas, and Elena Thomas. Although Greg is a much stronger cyclist than I am, he's a great riding companion and really helped me keep going toward the end of that first 1200km. We did the Rocky Mountain 1200km together in 2002 and PBP again in 2003. We've been on numerous fleche teams together as well. Greg and I also share a similar sense of humor (tending to the sophomoric as the miles pile up), and if you're going to pedal over 600 miles, it helps to laugh.

I would need to sort out the logistics of transportation to Portland, return of rider and bike from Whitefish, and a family vacation, but those were just details. Although I'm sure easier ways exist, they didn't occur to me during the busy couple of weeks (1000km pre-ride and managing the 600/1000/400 weekend), so with inspiration from Rube Goldberg, I came up with the following. Drive from Redmond to Troutdale (start location) Friday night, drop off bike and stuff, drive to Portland airport and leave car in long term lot, take cab back to hotel, ride bike to Montana, take bike to bike shop in Whitefish to be shipped back to Redmond, fly from Whitefish to Alabama to join the family visit in progress (where I am now), fly back to Portland, pick up car, and drive home. In addition, I would rely on the US Postal Service to send stuff ahead to our overnight stop motels and to the motel in Whitefish.

We drove to Portland Thursday night, had a nice dinner at the Edgefield Lodge (start location), and prepped our bikes for an early departure. Greg's plans included a Sunday night train back from Whitefish. We pushed the start time to 4AM to give a little extra margin for him to make the train (64 hour finish instead of 63). Even 64 would be too fast for me - my previous fastest 1000km was 65:28 - but we'd figure that out later.

After about an hour of pre-dawn riding on Saturday, we descended toward the Columbia River Gorge (past the information control at the Crown Point Vista House). The vista did not disappoint. The simply spectacular view of the gorge with the sun just starting to rise upriver marked only the beginning of the great scenery that would characterize this ride.

We passed great waterfalls on the way to our crossing of the Columbia River on the Bridge of the Gods. (We also walked our bikes down a long flight of steps, which might be a brevet first for me). The tollkeeper on the bridge waved us through without charge. Despite the warning on the cue sheet, I looked down through the steel grated bridge to the river below. Briefly.

Once on the Washington side, the route follows SR-14 for 200km along the Columbia. A beautiful stretch of road, but unlike the river, it's not flat. Here we were introduced to the tailwind that would assist us for most of the rest of the brevet. (Note to this weekend's riders: The road goes through quite a few tunnels between the bridge crossing and the US-97 intersection. I recommend leaving a taillight on for this stretch and also stopping to activate the "bikes in tunnel" warning lights.)

We fueled up at the control in Lyle and continued up the river. I insisted that we take a detour (just past the US-97 intersection) to see Stonehenge. We rode down to the bluff where early 20th century railroad executive Sam Hill built a full-scale replica of Stonehenge as a monument to WWI soldiers. It's weird and worth the short detour. We also got water and sodas at the gift shop there, which probably helped us get through the next section.

At Roosevelt, the control was at a nice little market. The lady inside signed our cards in return for us making entries in her guest book. She had realized early in her tenure there that cyclists seemed to come through often, and she started a book for their notes. (Note to this weekend's riders: Not much is available from Roosevelt to Kennewick, a distance of 120km. The cafe at Patterson 54km from Roosevelt was closed on Saturday. A short ways up from the cafe was a church with a nice hose bib on the front. We got water there after Greg observed that the spigot behind the cafe was nasty. The route sheet indicates a part with water on the right near the turn to Plymouth Road, 75km from Roosevelt. This appears to be some ways off the road. There is an RV park on the left after the turn which may have water).

We left the river on Plymouth Road. A long climb was rewarded with a nice descent toward the Tri-cities. The Burger King served as our control stop at about 7:30PM. There Greg called ahead to our overnight motel in Connell and was treated to some less than welcome news. Although the motel had received slips from the post office informing them of arriving packages, those packages had not been retrieved. As a result, nothing would come of our efforts to have a change of clothes, more food, toiletries, etc. at the first overnight. We quickly concluded that this was not the worst thing that had ever happened to us. Assuming (correctly, as it turned out) that not much would be available after we left the Tri-Cities, we stopped at the grocery store for extra food and at a drug store for some overnight essentials. Night fell on the way into Connell, where we arrived at the M&M Motel just before midnight.

Saturday found us rolling through the Palouse area of Eastern Washington. In addition to the rolling wheat fields, we started the day riding through one of the canyons (Washtucna Coulee) formed by the sudden drainage of glacial Lake Missoula when ice dams burst during the last ice age. (Similar features exist further west in Washington and are a feature of day 3 of the Cascade 1200 route). A handout at one of the stores along the way provided this geological backround, as well as the welcome news that the term "channeled scablands" refers to the local geology, not to the likely state of our posteriors after 1000km.

We enjoyed breakfast about 50km into the day at the store in Washtucna at the intersection with SR-26. Good espresso and a nice porch. A detour about 30km later took us into LaCrosse and up a gratuitous hill, but rewarded us with a fine view before we descended back to rejoin SR-26. More snacks and refreshments at the Dusty Market were welcome. (Rider note: From the overnight to the full control at Colfax is over 135km. No services exist at the information controls. Stopping at Washtucna after 50km and Dusty after another 55km worked well for us).

We came down the steep hill into Colfax and made our control stop at the local Arby's at about 1PM. From the control was a pretty good climb out of town into more farmlands. At one point, the scenery looked familiar even though I'd never been to this area before. It came to me when I looked left and saw the Microsoft Windows XP default screen background. We skirted Steptoe Butte and passed through the farming towns of Oakesdale and Tekoa. In the nearly deserted downtown of Tekoa (at least on a Saturday afternoon) is a nice little pocket park with a water pump.

A couple miles of gravel and a good steep hill led us to US-95 into Plummer for another control. It was about 5:30, so we made a dinner stop at the grocery store. From Plummer, the 1000km route crosses the panhandle of Idaho on the Coeur d'Alene bicycle trail. In service of Greg's plan for a Sunday night train, our plan was to cycle 106km along the trail to Wallace, ID before stopping. (Most riders on the regular brevet will stop after 88km in Kellogg, ID).

The Coeur d'Alene trail provides a beautiful, no traffic route across Idaho. The first part of the trail descends to Lake Coeur d'Alene, crosses the lake on a bridge, runs along the east side of the lake, and then heads up the Coeur d'Alene river past a number of lakes. After about 80km, it starts to parallel I-90 and is a bit less appealing, but the first 80km were spectacular. With railway grades, this should be easy riding. With 600km done, however, I was having trouble keeping up as Greg effortlessly spun up to 30kph & more. After Kellogg, Greg rode on ahead (as he had Friday night into Connell), allowing more efficient use of the motel room & shower.

Finding the Ryan Hotel in Wallace took a while, but the old hotel offered a charming room and the very welcome sight of a USPS Priority Mail box with my name on it. After 715km, I would have fresh shorts (among other delights). Greg indicated his plan to leave by around 4AM to make his train. We agreed to ride separately - with two big passes at the start on Sunday, Greg would need to wait around for me and might miss his train. I was happy to ride at my own slow pace for the last 300km.

After the beautiful weather of the prior two days, the sound of rainfall (sounding more like a garden hose on the window, really) in the middle of the night was less than soothing. By our 4AM departure, it had settled to a steady drizzle. The climb up Dobson Pass starts right out of Wallace and ascends 1400 feet in 6 miles. Despite the rain, the climb was beautiful. The pre-dawn light, the clouds and fog nestled in the trees, and the sound of water in the creek alongside created a prehistoric forest atmosphere. Not moving quickly, I made steady progress nonetheless and enjoyed the quiet solitude.

The descent from the 4090 foot summit of Dobson Pass was a rude shock. Last year at this time, temperatures well over 100 degrees forced me out of the Cascade 1200. A year and a day later, I had the opposite problem. Despite my usual wool togs, I was chilled to the core. I'm not sure how much of the next 30km was downhill, but I was not generating much heat as I lost 170o feet of elevation. Being 750km worth of tired probable didn't help either. I pulled off the rainy road into the shut-up-tight town of Murray. The Sprag Pole Inn might have been a great place for breakfast, but they aren't open on Sunday. I opened a never-before used space blanket and wrapped myself up on the porch. I may have napped briefly as I warmed up. When a break in the rain came, I headed off to Thompson Pass.

A long slow climb (9 miles, 2500 feet, what seemed like hours) led to the Idaho-Montana border at the summit of Thompson Pass. Fresh snow in the hillsides probably not more than 500 feet above the pass elevation proffered a further explanation for my morning chill. By the time I reached the town of Thompson Falls in Montana, hunger and weariness led me to refuge in Minnie's Montana Cafe. An enormous plate of food (some sort of breakfast scramble), two cups of hot chocolate, and a good nap in the booth later, I was finally ready for more. Safe traveling wishes from the waitress and the couple at the next table helped too. It was nearly noon (now in Mountain time) and with stops I had spent almost 7 hours covering less than 100km from the overnight. I hoped to make quicker progress over the remaining 200km.

Much of SR-200 from Thompson Falls to Plains has minimal shoulders. Although the traffic was not heavy, the rumble of approaching 18-wheelers detracted from the beauty of the Clark Fork River to the right. Along the way, I found a nice rocky spot to sit and look at the river. I thought of a Dylan lyric: "I'll just sit here so contentedly and watch the river flow." On most of the 1000km brevets that I've done (this was my eighth), I start to lose focus on making good time on the third day. I'm not sure why, but maybe because the pace requirements for brevets slow after 600km, which helps me relax about finishing in time, or maybe because I'm tired and find it easier to justify rest stops. For whatever reason, between Wallace, ID and the first real control of the day in Plains, MT, I had my rando burrito act in Murray, my long breakfast in Thompson Falls, this stop to watch the river flow, and then just before the Plains control, a nap on a picnic table outside the towns old historic schoolhouse.

Restocked at the grocery store in Plains, I left at around 3PM for the last 150+km to the finish. Right out of Plains on SR-28 is a five mile climb that I could have done without. It would be a total of 80km to reach Flathead Lake. Happily the store was still open at Lonepine when I came through. The friendly proprietor made a hamburger for me and asked about my ride. He mentioned that another rider a couple hours earlier had been on the same ride and that he thought the other guy would make his train (but I wouldn't). I was happy to hear good news of Greg's progress.

Through Lonepine, SR-28 heads almost due north for a ways. Thinking that I was eastbound, however, I spent a lot of time worrying about how the strong crosswind from my left would be a headwind when I reached the lake and turned north. Relief came when I turned again and a strong tailwind pushed me toward the lake.

Flathead Lake is beautiful, but the next 40km were tough for me. Following a pattern that will be familiar to many NW riders, the road along the flat body of water was anything but flat. On fresh legs, I might have enjoyed these, but instead I gave my granny gear a workout and whined to myself a lot. My last refreshment stop came in Lakeside (50km from the finish). (Note to this weekend's riders: It's a long 110km from Plains to Lakeside. I'd recommend fueling up where the opportunity presents itself - at Hot Springs or Lonepine on SR-28 or at Rollins or Lakeside along US-93).

After Lakeside, only a couple more hills before the route took us on a bicycle trail paralleling US-93. The last 40km used the bike trail, a flat section of US-93 after the trail ends, some side streets in Kalispell, and the Whitefish Stage Road from Kalispell to Whitefish. This section was quiet and uneventful (and, for me, slow). I arrived at the finish motel exhausted and exhilarated at 11:40pm (total brevet time of 66:40).

Reflecting over the ride, I realize that this was a special cycling experience. Certainly one of my favorite long events for scenery. The views delighted over and over and offered substantial variety. Riding with Greg for two days was, as expected, a blast. The challenge was substantial and rewarding. Honestly, I had underestimated the brevet, thinking that it would be a fairly flat 1000km with a constant tailwind. The tailwind did not disappoint, but the route challenged me nonetheless. With about 26,000ft of climbing (6000ft in the first 200km, 4000ft in second 200km, 6000ft in the next 300km, and 10,000ft in the last 300km), the route was not flat. Over it's length, the route gains 3000ft of net elevation and it saves much of its climbing for the last day. Riding unsupported (and 1 for 2 on packages at the overnight stops) and riding without a lot of rest added to the challenge. For all these reasons, and probably more that remain subconscious still, I loved this ride. Thanks to Susan and friends for putting the route together. Bonne route to the riders this weekend. I hope you enjoy it too.

A footnote - I rode without mechanical incident; not so much as a flat tire. A very good thing too; I discovered on the second night in Wallace that despite the tons of stuff in my bags, I had left all my tools at home.

Monday, June 18, 2007

600/1000/400 Recap & Consolidated Posts

The skies are clearing Monday morning. As always, I enjoyed supporting the rides this past weekend. Although the rain and the DNFs were disappointing, watching great riders finish these challenging brevets inspires me anew. Rookie and veteran riders persevered through rain and hills. Several riders, including a few riding with injuries, fulfilled their PBP qualification dreams. Steve completed his first 1000km.

Many volunteers worked to help out with the ride.
  • Thanks to Dan Turner, Mike Huber, Duane Wright, Wayne Methner, and Geoff Swarts for their assistance in scouting out the course on the organizers' pre-ride last weekend.
  • Thanks to Michael Huber for helping out with the start of the 1000km and 600km rides on the ferry and in Kingston.
  • Thanks to Jon Muellner and family for outstanding support at Kalaloch and to Kevin Humphreys for late night support at the Lake Quinault Lodge on Friday.
  • Thanks to Don Duprey for all-night assistance at the first overnight control in Aberdeen.
  • Thanks to Geoff Swarts and John Vincent for setting up and manning the finish line for the 600km in Kingston.
  • Thanks to Mark Roberts and daughter for all-night support of the 1000km riders in Darrington.
  • Thanks to Charlie White (with a guest appearance by Dave Johnson) for providing support at Colonial Creek Campground
  • Thanks to Don Jameson for much appreciated late night support after the store closed in Concrete.
  • Thanks to Dan Turner for running another late night support control at Big Lake.
  • Thanks to Duane Wright for assistance and company at the finish in Edmonds.
  • A very big thank you to Amy Pieper for organizing all of the above volunteer help.
Thanks also to all the riders who joined us, including out of town guests.

Results recap:

600km Brevet - June 15
Barocan, Tom 38:40
Blacker, Rick 34:38
Carter, Ken 30:43
Dalton, Matt 38:27
Graham, Doug 34:38
Harper, Dave DNF
Hawkins, Brad DNF
Huber, Michael 35:53
Kramer, John 32:20
Lagasca, Bob 31:39
Ortega, Salvador 34:59
Sahl, Todd 31:39
Schell, Bill DNF
Smith, Don 34:59
Tilden, Jeff 34:59
Vigoren, Eric 38:45
Williams, Maggie 38:45
Winczewski, Peg 34:38
Wright, Duane 39:54

1000km Brevet - June 15
Balkovetz, Shane DNF
Coldwell, Charles DNF
Coldwell, Robert DNF
Hameister, Steve 71:38
Johnson, Paul DNF
Martin, Thomas 59:05
McFall, Ray 66:31
Ohlemeier, Brian 59:05
Richeson, Mike 64:56
Thomas, Mark 67:34
Turner, Dan DNF

400km Brevet - June 17
Bailey, Allison 25:57
Beebe, Ward 20:05
Fender, Dan 25:57
Groth, Rick DNF
McKee, James 24:00
Methner, Wayne 21:04
Prince, Gary DNF
Swarts, Geoff 21:04
Winczewski, Peg 25:57

Here is a consolidation of all the posts during the ride:

All done / 400km Results - Monday 7:45AM

Allison, Peg, and Dan arrived at 7:27 (25:57 total time). Congratulations to all.

400km Results:
Bailey, Allison 25:57
Beebe, Ward 20:05
Fender, Dan 25:57
Groth, Rick DNF
McKee, James 24:00
Methner, Wayne 21:04
Prince, Gary DNF
Swarts, Geoff 21:04
Winczewski, Peg 25:57

600km Results - Monday 7:00AM

Still waiting for the last 400km rider group. Here are the results from the Fri-Sat 600km brevet:

Barocan, Tom 38:40
Blacker, Rick 34:38
Carter, Ken 30:43
Dalton, Matt 38:27
Graham, Doug 34:38
Harper, Dave DNF
Hawkins, Brad DNF
Huber, Michael 35:53
Kramer, John 32:20
Lagasca, Bob 31:39
Ortega, Salvador 34:59
Sahl, Todd 31:39
Schell, Bill DNF
Smith, Don 34:59
Tilden, Jeff 34:59
Vigoren, Eric 38:45
Williams, Maggie 38:45
Winczewski, Peg 34:38
Wright, Duane 39:54

SIR 1000km Complete - Monday 6:20AM

Steve arrived at 6:38AM (71:38 total time).

Balkovetz, Shane DNF
Coldwell, Charles DNF
Coldwell, Robert DNF
Hameister, Steve 71:38
Johnson, Paul DNF
Martin, Thomas 59:05
McFall, Ray 66:31
Ohlemeier, Brian 59:05
Richeson, Mike 64:56
Thomas, Mark 67:34
Turner, Dan DNF

Congratulations to the six finishers and to all who participated. Shane, Charles, and Robert completed the full 600km course. Paul did that and more. On the pre-ride, Dan completed 400km before retiring with a broken rear wheel (cracked across the rim in 3 places).

Two more in on 400km - Monday 5:40AM

Ward Beebe at 1:35AM and James McKee at 5:30AM.

Monday Monday - Monday 1:15AM

Just after 1 o'clock Monday morning: Ray McFall finished his 1000k sopping wet in 66:31. Dan Turner called to report that he was closing up shop at Big Lake - Peg, Allison, and Dan left at 1:05AM for the 90km home stretch.

Edmonds 11:30PM - Sunday 11:30PM

Mike Richeson finished the 1000km in just under 65 hours.

Don Jameson came by and reported that all were through Concrete, with the last riders leaving the control at 9:20PM.

Dan Turner reports that Steve Hameister (1000km) and James McKee (400km) just left the Big Lake Control.

Reports from the Field - Sunday 7:00PM

Charlie White called after reaching cellphone coverage. All riders had made it through Colonial Creek, with the last group (Peg, Allison, and Dan) leaving there at 5:30PM, 12 hours after starting. Colonial Creek is 214km from the finish in Edmonds. James was ahead of them and Ward was the leading 400km rider.

Dan Turner reported in from Big Lake. Ray was there at the time, having arrived at 6:30PM. Mike had come through about an hour earlier. Steve was reportedly an hour or so behind. Big Lake is 90 kilometers from the finish. Last week on the pre-ride, it took me 6 hours to cover that distance, including the dinner stop there at Big Lake and a stop at the Haggen in Arlington as well as a brief stop at the control in Snohomish. Today Tom covered that distance in just under 6 hours (also including a dinner stop there at Big Lake) and Brian covered it in 4.5 hours (with a minimal stop in Big Lake).

I expect to see additional finishers around 11PM or so.

First Riders In - Sunday 6:15PM
At 5:35, Tom Martin and Brian Ohlmeier arrived at the finish (in 59:05 total time for the 1000km). Both looked great, if a bit waterlogged. Tom had left Darrington last night and then slept for a while in Charlie White's camper (now known as the White House) at the Colonial Creek Campground. Brian slept in Darrington and left before dawn this morning. They met up within 5 miles of the finsh and came in together. Lots of rain was reported!

Another out - Sunday 4:15PM

Gary Prince (400k) has called it a day.

Just Waiting - Sunday 4:00PM

Sunday afternoon at 4PM: All quiet on the Edmonds front. Rick Groth came by to report that he had reached his limit on fixing flats in the rain and had turned back after about 40 miles on the 400km. Paul Johnson stopped by to pick up his drop bag and to take a shower and a nap before heading home. Shane came by to chat and pick up his drop bag. Don Jameson picked up some supplies for late night duty at the Concrete control. No word yet from any of the continuing riders (5 on the 1000k and 6 on the 400k). I expect to see Tom Martin and Brian Ohlmeier in the next few hours and to see the others trickling in until morning.

Sunday Morning - Sunday 10:00AM

As of 9:30 Tom Martin, Brian Ohlmeier, Mike Richeson, Ray McFall, and Steve Hameister have all left Darrington for the last 300km of the 1000km brevet. Paul Johnson called to say that he had decided not to continue and that he was heading back from Arlington to Edmonds.

5:30AM Sunday - 400k - Sunday 6:00AM

A grey, drizzly morning greeted the start of the 400km brevet. Allison Bailey, Ward Beebe, Dan Fender, Rick Groth, James McKee, and Gary Prince set off with Peg Winczewski, who was planning to add the 400k to her 600k adventure of the prior two days.

9:30 Sat - 600km Finished - Saturday 9:30PM

Tom Barocan, Matt Dalton, Maggie Williams, and Eric Vigoren all finished the 600km. Congratulations to Matt and Maggie for qualifying for Paris-Brest-Paris. Well done!

Best of luck to Tom Martin, Brian Ohlmeier, Mike Richeson, Ray McFall, Steve Hameister, and Paul Johnson as they continue their 1000km quest. Shane is calling it a weekend at Kingston, with knee pains rendering another 400k inadvisable.

Edmonds 7PM Saturday - Saturday 7:00PM

Ken Carter, Bob Lagasca, John Kramer, Todd Sahl, Rick Blacker, Peg Winczewski, Sal Ortega, Doug Graham, Don Smith, and Jeff Tilden have all finished the 600k. John Vincent is manning the finish at Kingston, relieving Geoff Swarts. He's still waiting for Tom Barocan, Matt Dalton, Maggie Williams, and Eric Vigoren. Bill Schell got sick today and abandoned the ride.

As to the 1000km riders, Mark Roberts at Darrington reports that Tom Martin just arrived there in the past hour and is off in search of food. Brian Ohlmeier, Mike Richeson, and Ray McFall are all riding between Edmonds and Darrington. Steve Hameister just arrived in Kingston and is planning on a nap there before the ferry. Paul Johnson and Shane Balkovetz are still on their way into Kingston.

I'm planning to catch up on sleep before the 400km start tomorrow.

Everyone out of Aberdeen - Saturday 1:00PM

By 9:20AM all riders had left the overnight motel in Aberdeen. I'm heading back to Edmonds. Unfortunately Brad Hawkins called it a day shortly after leaving Aberdeen, giving heed to the screaming of his knees. Also, I received a call from Charles Coldwell, shortly after I passed him and his father on US-101 going into Shelton letting me know that they intended to halt their ride at Kingston and not finish the 1000km. So we have 15 riders still on the 600km course and 7 riders still on the 1000km course.

Everyone in - Saturday 5:00AM

As of 4:47, all the riders (except the one DNF) are in to Aberdeen with 4.5 hours in hand. Riders are trickling out as well. In addition to Mike and Bob, Brian Ohlmeier, John Kramer, Ken Carter, and Todd Sahl have headed off into the early light.

2 more in; 2 out - Saturday 4:15AM

Brad Hawkins (600k) and Steve Hameister (1000k) came in about 3:40; Mike Richeson and Bob Lagasca were the first riders to leave after a sleep stop.

Rush hour - Saturday 3:30AM
From 2:12 to 3:05, eleven more riders came into Aberdeen. Rick Blacker (600k), Peg Winczewski (600k), and Salvador Ortega(600k) were the first group at 2:12. A half hour later, we saw Doug Graham (600k), Ray McFall (1000k), and Charles & Robert Coldwell (1000k). At 3:05 Don Smith (600k), Jeff Tilden (600k), Eric Vigoren (600k), and Maggie Williams (600k) arrived. Six more are still on the road, but doing well; all left the Lake Quinault control 3.5 hours or more ahead of the control closing time.

The next 4 - Saturday 1:10AM
Bob Lagasca (600k), John Kramer (600k), Todd Sahl (600k), and Mike Richeson (1000k) arrived around 12:40AM. Todd was able to find a bike shop in Port Angeles to fix a balky headset and continue. All reported some beautiful riding and great weather after the rain stopped for them between Sequim and Port Angeles in the morning.

Aberdeen midnight - Saturday 12:20AM

Three riders in between 10 and 10:30. New rider Tom Martin (1000km) and veterans Brian Ohlmeier (1000km) and Ken Carter (600km) arrived looking strong. After the very best of motel room dinners (cup of noodles and sandwiches), Brian and Ken went to bed. Tom cleaned up and headed out again at 11:10AM. David Harper called earlier to say that his stomach had gone south on him by Forks and he was heading home. The other 22 riders are still wandering around the Peninsula.

Off they go - Friday 7:00AM

It was a rainy morning in Edmonds and Kingston for the start of the 1000km and 600km brevets at 6:30. Michael Huber and I checked in riders, took drop bags, and handed out brevet cards and route sheets.

Nine riders set off on the 1000km - Charles Coldwell, visiting from Boston, and his father Robert, a Seattle native visiting from Florida, joined seven NW randonneurs - Shane Balkovetz, Steve Hameister, Paul Johnson, Tom Martin, Ray McFall, Brian Ohlmeier, and Mike Richeson.

Seventeen riders came for the 600km brevet: Tom Barocan, Rick Blacker, Ken Carter, Matt Dalton, Doug Graham, Dave Harper, Brad Hawkins, John Kramer, Bob Lagasca, Salvador Ortega from Oregon, Todd Sahl, Bill Schell, Don Smith, Jeff Tilden, Eric Vigoren, Maggie Williams, and Peg Winczewski.

Several of these are working on their last PBP qualifiers, including at least Matt Dalton (recovering from early season hip fracture), Dave Harper, Don Smith, and Maggie Williams.

I'll see the riders again in Aberdeen tonight, 400km into their rides.