Tuesday, June 5, 2007

A Weekend Off?

Somewhere along the way on the second day of our 600km pre-ride last weekend, the motor on my bicycle gently recommended a week off. For the 18 weekends from January 27 to the SIR 600km pre-ride, I rode at least 200km of brevets, populaires, fleches, darts, or permanents every weekend. Over the last six weekends, I averaged a 400km each weekend. It's been a blast, including rides in other regions besides Seattle, but it has been a lot. A slower than usual recovery during the week merely reinforced the recommendation.

My passion for randonneuring would not go unrequited for the weekend. As my family and friends know, I derive nearly as much pleasure from the sport's off-bike activities as I do from riding. The SIR 600km would provide an opportunity for lots of that pleasure.

Sunday was committed to managing the finish line for the event, so Saturday was a chance for a fun ride. Long-time riding buddy Wayne Methner planned to staff a secret control south of Issaquah about 35km into the 600km and about 45km from my house. A rendezvous was planned. I'd ride to the secret control from home in Redmond; Peter McKay would ride from the brevet start after helping to sign-in all the riders; and Amy Pieper would ride from her house in Renton.

A lovely early morning ride along Lake Sammamish brought me to the secret control spot where Wayne was already setting up. Amy arrived a little while later (hubby Robin was one of the riders). Sixty-five riders would come through, many with Paris-Brest-Paris on their minds. Two riders (Dave Johnson and Richard McPoland) sported the rare SIR 1995 PBP jersey. Many other PBP anciens came through the control as well. Wonderful to see the vets, but even grander to see the many riders seeking to qualify for their first PBP. After packing up at the start, Peter arrived with the last few riders. We helped Wayne clean up, then considered our ride options.

Amy, who understands well the interrelationship of food stops and bike riding, suggested a new "cupcakes and coffee" place in Renton. A short, pleasant ride, much of it along the Cedar River trail, brought us there. Following the requisite baked goods and espresso fix, we headed off to our respective destinations. Next stop for me was another coffee shop closer to home; I was in the middle of more coffee and a newspaper when my son called seeking a companion for a late breakfast. He picked me up and my riding was over for the weekend, a grand total of 55 miles.

Saturday evening I headed up to Edmonds to scout out the start/end of the 6/17 400km brevet course (which would also be part of the 6/15 1000km brevet). The chosen roads, which had looked so straightforward on a map, looked like a cyclist's nightmare - climbs with no shoulders and busy main arterials ranking among the ugliest problems. A better path was found and the route sheet adjusted. Later I met up with Bob Brudvik at his house nearby for some promised help modifying a stock front rack to fit my new Serotta. A late ferry over to Kingston and short drive brought me to the 600km finish line. Following a quick shopping trip to the 24 hour grocery, I settled in for some sleep expecting some riders first thing in the morning.

Sixty riders made it to the finish over a 14 hour period on Sunday. With the nine finishers on the volunteers' pre-ride, we set a new record for finishers on a SIR 600km brevet. Most finished the tough course with big smiles, curses for the route designers, and effusive praise for the support along the way - especially that found at the overnight control in Elma and at the roadside oasis created by volunteers at Kay's Corner before the dreaded Tahuya Hills.

Fellow finish line volunteers Mark Roehrig, Joe Llona (and son Jesse), and Duane Wright shared with me the opportunity to congratulate the finishers and to hear their accounts of the ride. Ride organizers Peter Beeson and Eric Vigoren stopped by to check in. Kay's Corner day shift volunteers Greg Paley and Mike McHale showed up as well. Relatively new members and new volunteers, they had clearly enjoyed the chance to help and to meet a great group of riders.

A weekend off, but filled with randonneur fun. On to the 1000km organizers' ride next weekend.

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