This year I'm better practiced through the winter season due to my R-12 attempt I started back in November of 2009. Coming into the Chili Feed this year, I already had over 600k in 2010 events under my belt, so I knew that I would be faster; and that was my only goal.
I pre-loaded all my gear the night before so I wouldn't have to mess around with it in the morning. I really dig the Thule Parkway 945 rack; it's so much easier than loading my bike into the back of SuperJeep and trying to find space for the rest of my gear. After a long ride, it's so much simpler to load, too. I made certain that I had all the crap I forgot last time... like water bottles, loaded up the night before. With a gear check completed, I set my alarm and got some rest.
The alarm wasn't too early, since the drive to Kent is a quick one; but like last year, I managed to roll into the starting line with about 15 minutes to spare. I got my kit together and was about ready to roll out to get my card, and Peter G. was having tire trouble. I helped him fix his mini-pump and let him use my Topeak JB-Pro before heading off to the start. I had just enough time to say "Hi" to a couple people and get rolling! I really need to learn better morning time management...
So, the ride was uneventful up to the first majour climb; light rollers, a zippy downhill, getting warmed up in the cool air, and then we headed up 1st Ave... a big ol' 18% wall of hurt. At the top, a couple other riders informed us of the turn at 292nd, down at the base of the hill. Apparently, if you printed the cue sheet yourself and didn't know to expand that line, the notation for the 292nd turn wasn't visible; only the instruction to follow the main route up the hill (which is what 1st looks to be.) On the table cues, it was printed as a separate turn line. Oh well: Bonus kilometers out of the way early, and I'm stronger for having climbed that hill. :-)
We got back on track, went up the correct 18% section of the hill,
and made our way to the first control. A quick signature from Amy P., a congratulatory smile from Vincent M. upon regaling him with the story of our bonus hill, and I was on my way again. I probably should have been eating more by this point, but I gave breakfast a little bit too much credit and decided I didn't need any excess chow just yet. It didn't occur to me that of all the things I packed, I didn't remember any Endurolytes or NUUN tabs, so I was drinking plain water. I stopped just past the first control and picked up a couple bottles of Gatorade and watered one down in my bike bottles, saving one for later on the course.
My legs felt good, but a little on the heavy side; but I was making good time, which would help out when it came to the Greenwater climb. I was riding with a Mike R. and a guy from the Oregon Randonneurs for a while on the way to the Black Diamond control. The photo car caught us getting our hill faces on, hamming it up for the camera:
I knocked back a Snickers, which held me over until getting to the bakery, where I destroyed a glazed apple cinnamon roll and a Gatorade before getting back onto the road. Peter G. was with me again from this stop, and we bounced back and forth with each other for the remainder of the ride. It's his first season with the club, and he's a strong rider. It was nice to have someone to pace with, to keep me from slacking off and slowing down.
Peter pulled a little bit ahead of me with the stronger climbers on the steeper bottom section of Rt 410 heading up to Greenwater, but my time management at the controls is better this year, so after I nabbed a signature and some snacks, we left together again. I was happy to have my dry gloves on for the descent; it was cold, the headwind meant that even downhill we fought to maintain 14mph at times, and it was drizzling again. The riders we had ascended with had left a few minutes early, so we didn't see them again for a while, until well past the bottom of Mud Mountain Dam at the Circle K control.
Mud Mountain Dam lived up to its name on Saturday, too! It was a horrible mess of light muddy runoff across the entire roadway. Everything ended up covered in mud, even with fenders and flaps on the bikes, there was a fine spray of mud mist which somehow managed to coat shoe covers, shins, and anything from the hubs to the ground.
My legs were feeling very heavy, and I was getting those cramp pre-cursor pains if I shifted around the wrong way, so I knew I needed to be careful for the last 20 miles. I had a Payday bar for the salt and protein it would afford me, washed it back with more Gatorade, and we were off again. Peter was itching to pick up the pace, and would shoot ahead and miss a turn, then have to wait for me to verify the directions; something I spent a lot of time doing early in my first season, too. But I have a feeling he'll get past that quickly with the cue-holder suggestion I gave him (zip ties and binder clips) and some of my navigation tips based on my bonus kilometers from last season. More than likely, he'll be finishing ahead of me when he nails down that navigation issue. Anyhow, for the final few miles after my slow climb back up to the Kent plateau we stuck together since the turns were short. We rolled into the final control at 9h 59m, so not only did I make my initial goal of beating last year's time, but I hit my secondary goal of going sub 10h.
It was a lot of fun seeing everyone again, I had a great time riding with Peter G., Bob something (IIRC) from the Oregon Randos, getting passed by Mark T's
The biggest thanks go to all the pre-ride, ride, and post-ride volunteers who help make the Chili Feed such a success. Greg and Mary C. especially, for opening their home and feeding a stinky army of randos after the ride. Mark T, Bob B, Vinnie M, Amy P, Robert H, and all the other randos working the controls. And the shop clerks at the Black Diamond Bakery, Greenwater Market and Circle-K for understanding, or at least tolerating, our crazy obsession and stamping our brevet cards.
Next weekend (03-20-2010): The Bellingham 200k