Sunday, September 16, 2007
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.