Northwest Fleche - 2010. OK, now let me get this straight. Pick a team of 3 to 5 people who you don't mind spending all night with but most who you probably wouldn't want to sleep with and go for a bike ride. A really LONG bike ride. No. Let me re-phrase that. A really TIME CONSUMING bike ride. No need to ride really fast, because you aren't allowed to finish too early. Don't stop for any more than 2 hours and don't get yourself too close to the finish line until just the right time, no matter what you have to do.
For me, it all started out on January 1st when Joe and I were riding along in the rain and one of us (must have been him, since I'm far too sane to ever suggest it) said, "so, should we do a fleche team this year?" He kept talking about wanting to name his team last year "Weasels Ripped My Fleche" but couldn't get people to go along with it. I'm easy. I don't care what we call ourselves. I just want to ride my bike all night, practice my sleep deprivation skills, fight off grizzly bears and wolves in the middle of the night and listen to people tell me about zombie truckers, whatever the hell those are.
"Weasels Ripped My Fleche" consisted of Greg Cox (c), Joe Platzner, Bill Dussler, Ken Ward and, of course, Boothby. We had a really nice route selected by Greg:
Greg failed to tell me I’d need to bring crampons for the climb up to his cabin or that I’d actually need to rappel down from the road TO the cabin, but otherwise, it was pretty doggone nice. Chipseal? What chipseal? With my tires, I just never notice. Of course, maybe that’s because I’m usually too busy enjoying the scenery, communing with nature and trying to engage my team in meaningful dialogue every once in a while.
It all started out for me like this, having taken a day off from work to ‘rest up’ before the ride:
After a nice ferry ride in the warm April afternoon sun, a relaxed pre-ride dinner, a tour of the local bicycle museum in beautiful downtown Winslow, we rode out. As we turned the corner onto SR 305, I felt a few little sprinkle-drops. Not to worry, I thought. Its only a 30% chance of rain after 6:00 pm, and supposed to be nicer tomorrow. Before long, however, the evening had turned to this:
We did manage to have plenty of time for this:
not a whole lot of time for this:
but a whole lot of this:
a few old buildings like this to look at:
and a surprise visit from our faithful organizers who set up a secret control outside of Montesano:
and then a whole lot more of this:
which resulted in a little more of this:
and a need for a bit of this:
before getting to our 22-hour control at the Hiway Diner in Rochester, about 20 miles south of Olympia.
that became our own personal locker room:
.....and just happened to have great cheeseburgers and fries......
.....and homemade cinnamon rolls that were simply to die for:
The waitress was one of the most wonderful people I've met out there in a long time. She wouldn’t cut the beautiful peach pie for me because it had just come out of the oven and needed a while to cool, but did talk me into one of those scrumptious cinnamon rolls (I needed a whole lot of convincing, too!) It had been raining really really hard for the last 6 miles, Greg was nursing a sore elbow and bum from a fall on some nasty tracks near Elma, Joe was falling asleep, Bill looked like……well, Bill just looked like Bill. And Ken? How do I describe what it was like to watch him as he started disrobing in the middle of the place. What can I say? That poor waitress just let us take over, sit around and stink up the place for an hour and a half until we could leave right at the 22 hour mark. She kept filling me with more excellent hot coffee, asking questions about what we were doing, “enjoying” the odd group of cyclists who have filled her restaurant at the slowest time of her day, and even offered to let us use the back room where there were bigger benches, promising to wake us up at the right time. How sweet is THAT? I left a good tip. As we were leaving, she said she hopes to see us again next year. I think she was serious. I do have to go back and get some of that home-made pie, though. It looked so pretty, smelled so delicious, and it was PEACH!!!
And then it was a little more of this:
pulling into the Red Lion in Olympia at 5:10 pm, with a 50 minute cushion. Of course, 5 minutes after we got off the bikes, it turned to THIS:
BUT WAIT!!!!! THERE'S MORE!!!!!! We got major awards!!!!! After all this riding, we got to relax, get a good night's sleep and get up the next morning to take part in a great finish line banquet hosted by our wonderful organizers (or were they cat herders?) Ralph and Carol Nussbaum where we all got to swap lies, I mean, give our respective ride reports.
WRMF won the LOWBALL award, beating out the second place team by a mere 3/10 of a kilometer for coming the closest to exactly 360K. That's just about 1,100' less we had to pedal, and I'm sure glad we didn't take any wrong turns! It could have made a lot of difference.
AND we got medals! Bright shiny medals with a slightly off balance rendition of what I'm assuming is the State Capitol. I figure it needed to be just slightly off balance to match the recipients.
and my sweetie to drive us home:
Fortunately, I have a really good watch cat who will stand guard over my truck while I'm unloading all of the gear.
Anybody want to go for a ride?