Sunday, January 18, 2009

Not As Planned

Had a wonderful 100km ride today. Unfortunately, I had embarked on a 200km permanent. Fourteen riders showed up in Arlington for the Three Rivers Cruise. A bad accident on I-5 delayed a number of riders, but soon we all had coffee and were ready to roll. With temperatures near freezing and a bit of frost on the pavement in the parking lot, Rick Blacker opted to pass on the ride. He sustained a broken hip a few years back after a slip on ice and had no desire to repeat the experience.

So the other thirteen of us - Amy Pieper, Bill Dussler, Bob Brudvik, Charlie White, Eric Vigoren, Martin Knowes, Ole Mikkelson, Peter Beeson, Ralph Nussbaum, Robin Pieper, Thai Nguyen, Wayne Methner, me - headed off. The roads and the skies were clear and the riding was terrific - fast pacelines and good conversation. We saw quite a few bald eagles along the Skagit River and stopped in Marblemount for a nice lunch.

At 100km near Rockport on the way back, I decide to shift to small chainring on my compact for the first time this day. I wrap my chain into multi-pretzels in my front derailleur. About the time I figure out it's not an easy fix, I look up to tell my riding buddies, but I see the last of them disappear into the distance. After much time invested in useless futzing, I end up having to break the chain to fix it. In mid-repair, Peter shows up. I was thrilled that someone had come back. We rode a little ways and then I discover that if I shift back to the large chainring, my crank rubs on the front derailleur. So back to the small.

Given my notorious lack of leg speed, I spin out on this at a low speed. Peter is patient, and we make it to Concrete and turn onto S Skagit road. Happy sight: Robin, Charlie, Bob, and Eric are there waiting. After a few miles of my pathetic spinning they stop me and figure out a way to get the big gear working again.

A couple miles farther, we encounter ice on the road, a bit of a surprise, because the sign in Concrete had said 50 degrees. But all climate is local, I guess. In the shadow of the mountain along the river, a film of ice covered the road.

In front of me, Eric and Robin go down. I try to avoid Robin and I go down. Bob tries to avoid me and he goes down. Charlie goes down. Five bikes and riders skidding down the road on their sides. Peter, at the front, manages to stay upright. Batters, bruises, cuts, and scrapes, but no major injuries are immediately apparent. We walk for a while. We hurt. We try riding. Not a good idea. We walk some more. Finally we flag down a pickup, with a friendly, albeit puzzled, local at the wheel.

We put six bikes and three riders in the bed (along with the guy's scrap wood) and three riders in the cab. He takes us to Day Creek fire station and then alerts Wayne, Amy, and Bill at the church, who come back to meet us. Bill has also gone down and is not happy about it. Ralph and Thai, who have both tumbled more than once, have hitched a ride and are on their way back to Arlington. The gang of six is already DQ. Wayne, Amy, and Bill are actually still in it - having reached Day Creek with a combination of walking and riding - but decide to abandon. Soon SIRs Dave and Nina Johnson show up (called by Charlie). They start ferrying riders and bikes to Clear Creek (nearest tavern!). They take some riders and bikes back to Arlington. Thai comes up to Clear Creek and takes more riders and bikes back to Arlington. Ralph comes all the way to Day Creek and takes Peter and me and a few bikes back to Arlington.

Back at the start, we regroup and see Ole and Martin, who have finished the permanent under their own steam. Impressive.

I have raspberry on hip and mini-raspberries on shoulder and lower leg. Other than that, fine. The other fallen riders have similar aches and pains and some shredded clothing. If that's still the assessment in the morning, we'll consider ourselves lucky.

It was a lovely 100k. The rest - ugh.


Jack said...

Wow! That pretty much sums it up.

Hope you guys are OK.

Robert H said...

Perhaps as importantly, how are the bikes?

Mark said...

Bikes mostly ok. Possible damaged left shifter on one bike. Some shredded handlebar tape. Scraped skewers and pedals. One helmet being replaced.

Two fallen randos had brand new Edeluxe headlights mounted to their skewer on the right. Both carefully fell to the left in order to preserve the fancy-pants lights.

bmike said...

Glad you are OK. I only made it 6 miles from home before I went down on Sunday, with studs on the FG. First time I've hit the pavement while moving 15+. Not something I recommend on a regular basis.

Paul Johnson said...

South Skagit Hiway: Notorius for never drying out or warming up, even in summer. But a great way to sneak back up river after the taverns of Sedro and Mt V have closed (so they say).

Gald there were no serious injuries.

brad said...


You guys are so badass!!!! Ferrying bikes in the back of trucks over ice, multiple bike pile ups, carnage on the highway.


Donald Boothby said...

I'm glad to hear none of the group sustained any serious injuries, and even more glad that I did a different route! I've had problems on S. Skagit Highway before, when it was drier and warmer everyplace else (except Darrington!).

Let's be careful out there, guys. We're getting too old to be falling on ice. Well, at least some of us are.