What could possibly motivate 7 otherwise sane, rational, adults to go to bed early on New Year's Eve - after having read the weather forecast that said "100% chance of rain. Winds SE 15-25 shifting to SW 15-30 in the afternoon" - so they could be sure and wake up at 3:30 in the morning to get ready for a BIKE RIDE. Really! This just all seems a bit extreme doesn't it?
Well, When Dr. Codfish
called for a ride on New Year's Day, riding the Olympia-Brinnon-Olympia RUSA permanent route #202 which is mostly on Hwy 101, I couldn't resist. Obviously, I wasn't the only one, since my friends Joe Platzner, Lyn Gill and Chris Heg also decided to make the 60 or so mile drive south to the start line. Two other guys from around the area were also foolish enough to brave the elements and I was mighty glad they did, since I would need each and every one of them to pull me along before the end of the day.
Lyn showed up with her customary huge smile and excitment to be out on the bike
Joe showed up hungry enough to eat the most brazenly decorative doughnut known to the human race
and the rest of us just showed up.
We all exited the parking lot at 0630 hrs prompt - well one of us (and I won't mention Lyn by name here) started at 0633 but quickly caught up to us - with about an hour to ride before it got light. Our first informational control came at about mile 6, where we had to answer one of two questions on the controlle card.
It had started to rain pretty steadily by this time, but we were all still in the dark about what was ahead of us.
This ride is really a 3-segment out and back. 35 miles to Hoodsport, 50 miles from Hoodsport to Brinnon and back (with a stop in Brinnon to get controlle card signed) and then 35 back to the finish line in Olympia. The first 35 miles went pretty fast, with most of us sticking pretty close together and a light tail wind pushing us along. I think James had a temporary moment of sanity at that point and decided to call it a day. Dr. Codfish was off the back a mile or so and as the other five of us rolled into the Hoodsport Coffee Company, Joe decided to forge on ahead while Lyn, Chris, James and I stopped briefly for quick refills and drainages. I have to say, the folks at this espresso bar are some of the nicest people I have ever met in my riding. They are always so warm and inviting, and never give us crap about making big puddles all over their floor.
After less than 5 minutes, we're off and rolling and it didn't take Lyn and Ken long to drop Chris and I off the back end, and not much longer before Chris dropped me. The rest of the way into Brinnon, I rode along content in the solitude, listening to the wind howl in the trees above me, thankful that the wind was at my back so the rain wasn't driving into my face except on the descents. This 50 mile stretch is never flat but never really steep climbs, they just keep coming at you. The rain really started to come down with a vengeance near Eldon and I was thankful that I'd made a decision to bring along an extra set of clothes in a pannier, knowing how good it would feel when I got to Brinnon to change into warm, dry clothes for the return trip.
When I rolled into the control, there were the gang of four all either eating and drinking or getting ready to. I decided to get another 25 miles out of the soggy set of clothes I had on and so made a quick trip through the mini-mart, picking up a Snickers Bar, bottle of chocolate milk, and then after making a beeline for the porta-potty and was back on the bike, but not before walking into the store and announcing to nobody in particular, "We're not nearly as intelligent as we look" and snapping this picture of Joe and Chris.
Lynn was still all smiles.
Everyone saw me roll out and quickly saddled up and chased me down. Chris was a little slower getting mounted up, and with the severe headwinds we were going to be faced with, I decided to let the other three go ahead and I pulled off into a nice little pullout where I was sheltered from the wind and waited for him to catch up.
We actually got a pretty nice reprieve from the hard winds, as the wind did shift and we got a little shelter from the hills and big trees, but there was still a pretty good headwind all the way back into Hoodsport. I needed to stop one more time just outside of Lilawaup to take advantage of a little immediate wild relief station, and parked the lovely Katrina in the shade so she wouldn't get sunburned
When I got into Hoodsport finally, I grabbed my pannier and made an immediate entry to the bathroom where I stripped down buck naked (sorry, no photos of that) and changed into a nice, warm, dry set of clothes. I even had an extra pair of shoes in the pannier. A harsh lesson in reatity began to soak in about this time, however. The dry clothes feel really good. The wet clothes now weigh about 5 pounds more than the dry ones, and they're in the pannier. Don't suppose I'll want to do that again any time soon.
The proprietor of the coffee shop loaned Lyn a hair dryer
and Joe pulled on the remaining dry layers of clothes he had with him (over the wet ones!) and devoured not one but TWO bagels - don't know what this affinity for round doughy things with holes in them is
We rolled out as a gang of five now, with the thought we should try to stick together the last 35 miles, as the wind was picking up and we'd do a lot better together than apart. The crew had to wait for me twice on climbs and I was mighty glad they did.
We made one more roadside stop so I could make a slight gear adjustment to put on my helmet light, and I noticed that the rain was finally lightening up a bit. It felt mighty nice to finally get off of Highway 101 and onto the back roads again, where we could actually hear what each other was saying again, and just as it was getting close to dark, we rolled back into the finish line, drenched but totally happy with the day.
I think Lyn has been riding with Vinny Muoneke a bit too much, though. There's just something way too similar about these smiles.
A: 13.5 or so