08 May 2011

A Fast Chilly Wet Sunny Windy Beautiful 190 Mile Ride

Ah, gotta love the Greater Pacific Northwet. We're still stuck in this cool damp (even for HERE) stretch. After the coldest (and one of the dampest) Aprils in history, we're at it again for May. Raleighdon, however, refuses to let the weather win. Despite forecasts of 'showers and sun breaks', he ventured out for a 300k yesteray, leaving the house at 3:33 am to get to the start line by 4:00 am. It's always nice leaving from the house since I can get all sorts of inspiration, like this wonderful art that my sis-in-law made for me:

I never really know what I'm gonna feel like doing on the bike when I get out there. Sometimes I just want to dawdle along, taking pictures, enjoying the scenery, playing with bugs in the moss or whatever, other times I just get a wild hare up my you know what and want to see just how fast I can do a ride. Well. By the time I was 40 miles into it yesterday, I knew I wasn't gonna have trouble making the 7:50 ferry out of Bremerton, but started wondering if I could make the 6:40 boat? That would mean hitting a time of 14:30 and my 300's this year have been taking me 15+, so not real likely. But I decided to at least make it a day just minimizing my time off the bike. Riding through lots of showers - when it rained, it was sudden, very hard and then suddenly gone. Blew right past my coffee stop in Tenino, did a 5 minute stop at the Rainier control and wrestled with blowing through Rochester, knowing I had everything on the bike I need except water and I can get that at a park. Somehow, though, the word PIE begs my attention, and I find it irresistable, much like the siren's song. There's just something about the Highway Diner in Rochester that makes it impossible to pass by.

and who wouldn't be tempted by something that looks THIS GOOD? (this is from a week ago, but you get the point):

Having rolled into Rochester before 10:30, even with all the rain and headwinds, I was totally motivated now. I spent almost a half hour sitting anc chatting with the locals, before heading off toward the next (and very, very informational) control where I was asked what the tandem axle weight limit for a bridge was.

Shhhhhh, don't tell anybody I gave up the secret:

The view of the waterway(Garrard Creek?) was nice, although still very very gray:

As I was rolling along, I came to another bridge over a small creek and found this concrete column standing out in the field, covered by moss and ferns. It reminded me of Bozo the Clown's hairdo

Seems like the moss and ferns have pretty much taken over this spring.

For a little while, the sun tried to come out and the temp finally got above 50 degrees for the first time:

Now, as I'd been rolling south and west, I was riding headlong into and through the little squalls, so they were there and gone followed by periods of either sun or just gray with wet pavement. But When I left Elma heading finally to the north and east and the tailwind started to push me, I found myself riding right about the same pace as the rain, so it just dumped on me for about 35 miles. HARD. All of a sudden, though, I got to Potlatch and the sun came out. Temp jumped to 55 and I was actually forced to take my raincoat off. But not before I visited a couple of my friends:

and took the time to set up a self-portrait

As I left Potlatch, I picked up a really fantastic 15 mph tailwind most of the way back to Bremerton. The views were spectacular, the pedaling almost effortless and I was treated to another beautiful day on SR-106.

and the mountains were simply amazing. Haven't seen them for a while. Here it is May and they're still showing fresh snow!

And I always love coming past the historic Dalby Waterwheel, relocated to its current location about 5 years ago by local preservationists. This waterwheel is said to have provided the first hydroelectric power in Mason County.

I don't think that gasoline was quite this expensive when that waterwheel was first built:

After rolling through Belfair non-stop (I usually stop for coffee cuz there's a really cute barrista I like to visit), deciding I probably had just ebout exactly enough liquid to get me the final 15 miles, I let the wind push me up the final 300' climb on Old Belfair Highway and rolled into Bellingham before 5:30.

Even with a sudden shifting of the wind, a sudden thunderstorm and a 4-block 125' climb, I made the quick descent to the finish line, ending my 300k in 13:42, the fastest I've ever done on that distance (at least for a brevet). Even had time to head to Fritz's for a german sausage and kraut sandwich before heading to the dock where I had to wait for my ship to com in.

And as they finally got ready to let me aboard the skies opened up one more time to remind me that around these parts, Raleighdon may be fast, but the weather is still boss.

After 190 miles, Katrina was mighty happy to take a little rest.

and that's just about all I have to say about that.