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!

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