|Riding the Raleigh Super Course: |
On the way to the big hill.
From Vicious Cycle.
Its good to be alive and riding in such a beautiful landscape, with evidently lots of snow still in the alpine. (On the way home, Edelweiss bowl at Alpental and the bowl beneath Silver peak seemed to be filled with heaps and heaps of snow.)
My wheels and my Compass Bon Jon Pass 35 mm tires in tubeless mode worked beautifully. At about 43 psi, they felt very good - fast on the road, fast and efficient on gravel when going straight, and not bad in on the gravel corners. My sense is that a little less psi would have made them even better on the gravel corners. After the ride, I checked the tire pressure on both tires. No change! So, I'm very glad that I persisted with these tires and learned to make them work on my DT Swiss R460 rims. They work great on my 50 year old Raleigh Super Course.
I left from Bothell at 5:00 AM, after my usual big day breakfast: Oatmeal, yogurt, walnuts, banana, two eggs, and two pieces of honey toast. The drive was good. I arrived at about 7:15 after a brief stop at Indian John Hill - what a beautiful view of the valley.
We took off under clear skies. I was wearing my long sleeved jersey and knee warmers. That seemed like a little overkill especially since almost everyone else seemed to be dressed for a hot day. The expected high was 75. I was glad for the extra little warmth, especially during the first hour of riding and on the descents. The long sleeves didn't seem to make me too hot on the climbs and it was easy enough to open the zipper.
The ride followed the rhythm of 2015 and 2016. There was the relatively relaxed 30 mile section from the start until the big hill. As the group of 50-75 riders (107 riders finished) went into the wind there was the usual changes of pace with some slowing and speeding up and so on. One needed to pay attention. Staying toward the back, I tried to be as efficient as possible.
At one point, as we crossed a busy road at a stop sign, the group divided. I was way back. So, I had to expend a fair bit of effort to get back to the front. Fortunately, the front group seemed to keep a fairly steady pace so getting back on was not too difficult.
By the time we got to Cle Elum, I had eaten a cliff bar and a rice cake and I had finished a bottle of Gatorade. So, all good on the eating and drinking front.
Then, the big hill. It demanded a very, very hard effort. Just after the first steep climb on the road, I began my effort. In finding my own hard but sustainable pace, I moved to the front of the group. No jumping or hard efforts this year. Once on the gravel, some riders passed me. I continued at a good pace, mostly in a 34x32. I tried to peddle well. I figured I was among the first ten riders or so and I followed wheels where I could.
About 1/2 way up the hill as I found it harder to stay stable on my seat I said to myself "Hmmm. I guess I should have done a more core work - planks, bridges, hip flexors, and sit-ups!!" Still, I tried to relax and tried to focus on smooth peddling. Soon enough I passed one rider and I was pretty much on my own.
After filling 1.5 bottles at the rest stop, I continued, and the ride along the ridge was great. I ate another rice cake and drank some water. I tried to keep the bike going, seeking out opportunities to develop or maintain momentum. I rode the descents conservatively and tried to be as efficient as possible. Without problems or even scary moments, I safely got by the big potholes under the trees as we veer left - I think at Butte Creek at mile 39. As regular readers know (ha!), these potholes almost ate me and my bicycle in 2015 and 2016. Not this year! I started the climb up to the high point.
Up ahead I saw Thomas Baron, and I tried to move up to him. I went by Thomas. Then, 5 minutes later he went by me! I thought that was a good sign since perhaps we could work together. I noticed that Thomas seemed to inexplicably speed up from time to time. Later, I realized that perhaps he was using his GPS mapping device to anticipate the top of the climbs. That was cool!
By the bottom of the long descent at the second gate, Thomas and I were even. I passed by the gate on the right; he got through on the left. I like this section, from here to the yummy aid station. Its rolling and mostly downhill. I tried to work hard on the uphills and recover on the downhills, aiming to be as smooth and efficient as possible.
At about mile 55, Brig Seidel went flying by me! "On your left, David," he shouts. I saw him for all of 20 seconds and he was gone, just like that. It must be said: There's no following Mr. Seidel on the downhills!
Meanwhile, Thomas was close by - from time to time I could hear the distinctive sounds of his brakes. I did the best I could on the extensive washboard and many corners, staying right, since I did not want to encounter an unexpected - and definitely unwelcomed - car or motorcycle. I braked quite conservatively, changed gears frequently, stood on the peddles from time to time, while all the time trying to be smooth through it all.
Thomas and I got to the aid station at about the same time. I filled my bottles and took off. I didn't see Brig - I figured he was long gone! On the way down to this point my eating and drinking were good.
The second climb was really good. I found focus and a good rhythm and I was able to ride well. Thomas went by me on one of the steep parts near the bottom. I kept at my pace. Toward the top, where it gets less steep, I found that I was able to peddle quite well. I was generally in my 34x32 or 34x26. I think a 34x28 would have been the perfect gear. Anyway, I slowly got back to Thomas.
And, we started the downhill together. I don't much care for this descent because the surface is so inconsistent and it is very steep in places. Mostly, the surface is fine, but then all of a sudden it gets rough and dodgy with potholes or bumps or loose gravel on hardpack. I stayed with Thomas for about 5 minutes, I'm guessing. It was great following his wheel and watching his lines and when he bunny-hopped potholes. He was faster than I and he moved ahead. I didn't want to push and make a mistake. I'm quite uncertain about my ability to appreciate my limits and act appropriately. So, I didn't try to stay with Thomas - instead, I tried to be controlled and fluid.
On the way down, I experienced the first of two scary moments on this ride. All of a sudden, just ahead of me, I saw a drop-off. As best I can remember, it was a massive hole of some kind and it awkwardly appeared in the middle of the road out of no where. What! I really didn't know what to do! I was going too fast to dare try to stop and I didn't see a way to go left or right. So, I just went over it and got bounced around. I was able to maintain my balance and all was good in the end. As I was in the air, however, I had that crappy feeling of "Oh no - this isn't going to end well." I didn't like that. Nevertheless, I did get over it drop-off and I continued, determined as ever to be controlled and focussed and within my limits.
I got to the bottom! Back on the road, safely. I wasn't sure where Thomas was - he was faster than I on the downhill but I wasn't sure how much faster. Could I ride up to him? I was hoping that he wasn't too far up ahead, so I was prepared to work very hard for the next few miles on the road.
|I finished and got a badge!|
Then, Thomas and I rode together all the way to the finish. I came in with a time of 5 fours 48 minutes, good for 5th place. Thomas was 5 seconds ahead me. We were about 5% behind the winner, Evan Plews, an extraordinarily accomplished rider. Here are the results.
So, all in all, it was a terrific day out in the sunshine and beautiful countryside. For making these rides super awesome, thanks to Jake and the all the people at Vicious Cycles.
|Compass Bon Jon Pass 35 mm tires work great,|
on a 50-year old Raleigh Super Course.