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What it Takes to be Super, pt. 3; the 400k

This is the third in a series of four articles I am writing for Ryan Warkentin's blog, Bicycle Smile, out of Vancouver, B.C. The articles will chronicle my run at the Super-Randonneur Award during the summer series.

A precursory warning. Much of the following account is the dismal tale of a randonneur in the throes of sleep deprivation, mental fatigue, mild depression, and a dark urge to cause himself physical pain as a means of purging his personal demons. It is not a gentle story. It does not paint randonneuring in a pretty light; but it is an honest account of what can happen on a mid-distance brevet. If you are disinclined to read about descriptions of physical trauma and mental breakdown, then stop right here.

The 100k Populaire is a fond memory. The 200k was a walk in the park. The 300k kicked your butt, but left you wanting more even before you recovered fully... So you signed up for the first real venture into the middle-distances of randonneuring; the 400k. A 300k is less than a double century, and there are plenty of supported club ride doubles all across the States. The 400k steps it up another 25% over the distance of a double century, and yanks the safety net: No SAG, no rest stops every 20 miles, no Dan Henry's on the street to tell you where to go. The 400k is what I consider to be the official call up to the majours; a time limit greater than 24 hours, and the definite chance that you'll be riding clean through the next morning's sunrise.

The Bellingham 400k was my second 400k ride with the Seattle International Randonneurs, and my true test of whether or not I was prepared to tackle the rigors of the upcoming North Cascades 600k. I'd like to say that things were a smashing success, but unfortunately this ride is the finale of my attempt at the Super Randonneur Award this season, and I will be making a second attempt next spring after recovery from medical issues.

My week for the Bellingham 400k could have gone better. On August 18th I was relieved of my employment duties at Bio-Rad Laboratories. I expected this, based on some previous remarks from my Supervisor, so I had already been looking for other employment (and receiving decent offers), but it still came as a mental blow that I did not get to leave on my own terms.
Regardless of my lack of employment responsibilities, I still had difficulties with making it to the start location on time: There was a work conflict with my dog-sitter that set my schedule back by an hour, which meant that I’d be hitting Everett traffic on the I-5, putting me in Bellingham about 3 hours past my original plan. Meh… “It just goes to show you. It’s always something.” Anyhow, I ended up finding Dan Turner’s house without any problems thanks to Bing Maps and I set up my tent in the backyard with another 400k rider who arrived around the same time I did.

Dan Turner hosted the event due to schedule conflicts with Mark Thomas who originally planned to host the Summer 400k, and Dan allowed riders of the 1000k and 400k to camp on his vast expanse of land (seriously, Dan's got a big yard) before and after the event. Many kudos to Dan for not only allowing people to camp out and park on his lawn, but also for his (and his wife's) efforts in preparing food for the ravenous riders both before and after the rides. I was only present for the pre/post ride pancakes for the 400k, but I understand there were grilled hot dog and burgers for earlier arrivals of both rides. That is some true dedication to the brevet, and Dan & Marguerite (sp?) deserve some big ups for it.
I arrived at the Turner house around 20:15 and unloaded my gear into the backyard before hanging out on the porch with a few of the randos already in attendance. Dan was there to greet people and give the lay of the land, and finally I met the infamous Dr. Codfish, Paul Johnson. I've "known" Dr. C. via Facebook and LiveJournal for quite a while, but we've never managed to cross paths at an actual brevet until the night before the 400k. I did some catching up with everyone and enjoyed the cackling serenade of the coyotes before heading to the backyard to put up my tent and finally drift off to sleep for a few hours.

Waking up for the brevet, I realized that I was chilly. Even in my tent, with fly, and in my 35-degree sleeping bag on a ¾" insulated pad, I was chilly. Dang, this was not going to be an easy start…
I peeled myself out of my sleeping bag and started to get dressed: PI Ultrasensor bibs, PI insulated knee warmers, Novara insulated arm warmers, Seattle Randonneurs short sleeve wool jersey, my new "lucky" socks (from the Seattle Tour de Cure), and I dragged the rest of my gear up to the house for some breakfast. I could smell the pancakes and bacon as I exited my tent; this was a good omen. Slightly warmer with my gear on, I made my way to the garage to get registered and grab some breakfast. Many riders were already awake and ready to roll. I'm not sure, but some might have actually been 1000k riders finishing after 2 nights without sleep. I heard some people talking about riders that went 2 straight days on the thousand right through to the finish. Ouch!
I chomped down a few pancakes and prepped myself for the start. Somehow, even though I gave myself what I thought was ample time, I was running within 5 minutes of the official start at the end of Dan's gravel driveway. I did a final gear check, tossed on my shoes and helmet, and made it out to the freshly chip-sealed street for the final ride announcements. There were a whopping 16 of us out there for the start… Sort of surprising on a PBP qualifying year, but maybe people were holding out for longer distances or did an S-R in the spring as preparation. I managed to remember all my gear this time (unlike the 300k) and got off to what I felt was a decent start. I was riding toward the rear of the pack with Dr. Codfish, but enjoying the ride and the conversation for the first 10 miles or so. Dr. C's allergies got the better of him (I think) and he needed to pull off to hit his inhaler, and I forged on ahead, following the taillights in the distance.

Regardless of my status with the pack, I was still smiling.

The temperatures started rising a bit and the sun poked out from behind the clouds to warm things up a little and introduce me to my ride partner for the next few miles.

Sometimes, this is your only friend.

The first section of the course rolling up to the Canadian border was very nice. Mostly backroads, the chip-seal wasn't too horrible (although that might just be my comparison to the loose gravel on the 3 Volcanoes ride), and the weather was being cooperative. A couple of the riders from the B.C. Randos caught up with me along the way, and I picked up the pace to hang with Tracey B. for a while while his ride partner Barry C. pulled ahead. I rode with Tracey all the way to the Peace Arch control station and then he picked things back up while I was snapping some pictures, and I was back to riding on my own for a while.

"We" headed down the coast through Birch Bay, along the shore and through a beautifully repaved park to the next control.

I grabbed a banana and some cookies, had a bit of conversation with the volunteers and a guy who was there asking about the whole concept of the ride, then took off for the next control back in downtown Fairhaven. Aside from there being some confusion about the route where Marine Drive takes a wayward turn and I had to stop and ask a woman tending to her flower garden if I was still on the proper course, things were pretty smooth. I arrived at the Fairhaven Haggen grocery and saw a few other rando bikes in the front rack, so I knew I wasn't too far behind. I went inside, hit the head, and nabbed something to drink to accompany my sandwich. Lyn G. and Elaine J. were both inside finishing lunch, so I took a table near them and we had a bit of a chat before they took off. As I was finishing up, Albert Meerscheidt was on his way in, so I stuck around for an extra few minutes while he waited for his sandwich from the deli. This was probably the best decision I made all day, as Albert ended up being the reason why I was able to finish the ride at all.
Five minutes, one sandwich and a quick conversation later, Albert and I were on the road and discussing the merits of the Edelux, the IQ Cyo and the E3 Triple, funny things which had happened along Chuckanut Drive during various rides, and struggling with the navigation through the plains of La Conner. (OK, it wasn't really struggling… We just second guessed 2 turns and had to go back after less than 100 yards.) We made quick work of the Pioneer Market control and kept on our way as the temperatures rose along with our pace. Albert is a stronger rider than me, and I was doing my best to keep pace with him.

If you're not the lead dog, the view never changes...

Eventually, we rolled into the town of Conway and took a slight diversion at a corner market where we nabbed some ice from the soda machine (to the apparent dismay of the register clerk… who knew ice was at a premium up there?) and bought ice cream cones to enjoy on the deck as we slathered on some more sunscreen before hitting the Pioneer Highway and heading down into Arlington for the halfway mark and a "real" lunch.

I was barely through part of my sandwich and taking off my shoes when Albert announced that it was time to hit the road again.
"Wha?" I had actually just taken a few bites, drank part of my ginger ale and put my head down for a second when this information was proclaimed.
"You can either be fast on the road, or efficient at the controls. And I'm not fast on the road." Albert told me. And with that, I was putting my shoes back on and polishing off the remainder of my lunch. The ginger ale was in an attempt to settle my stomach, which was slightly rebellious against the mixture of pancakes, Ensure Plus, Clif Bars, salami sandwich and Accelerade which usually causes me no malaise. I topped off my lunch with some Endurolytes, an ibuprofen and an ephedrine before filling my bottles with PowerAde and heading off at a rather brisk pace towards Darrington.
When I say rather brisk, I'm not kidding. The route from Arlington to Darrington is a 27 mile uphill slog along SR-530. It's a beautiful route if you aren't painstakingly familiar with every meter of it. Unfortunately, I've ridden that segment at least 6 times in the last year, so I know it all too well. I spent the majourity of the time chasing Albert's 19mph pace and trying to hold down my lunch.

Sure, we were making great time, but at what cost to the remainder of my ride? I didn't bother to think about that very much. I just kept thinking that we were past the halfway mark and that the better part of the climbing was behind us so I could just keep hammering away… It was only 27 miles to Darrington where we'd take a quick pit, and from there it was only a century to finish out the ride; and I could finish a century in my sleep.
Or so I thought.

The pace out to Darrington proved to be more than I could handle for all 27 miles and we had to slow down to a less than reasonable pace while I dealt with some dry heaves. It wasn't a product of my dietary choices, because I've survived many rides on the same combination of food. This was a stress manifestation: While jamming along at 18 – 19mph, Albert and I weren't talking. While drafting and not talking, all I did was turn up my music and let my mind drift. When my mind drifted, it turned back to what went down on Wednesday. As much as I didn't want to admit that it got under my skin, being let go rather than leaving on my own term was eating a hole through my stomach. I'd been corking back a lot of anger and frustration over the situation for 72 hours, and finally had the uninterrupted time for my mind to process what actually happened.
Dammit, I was angry and sad and disillusioned and frustrated and scared all at once… On top of a 200k, ice cream, salami, stimulants and everything else I had piled into my gut which was not properly processing things. Hurp.
I didn't stop entirely, but I did slow down to a sluggish 12mph for a mile or two before getting my stomach back under control and feeling like I could pick up the pace again. Albert let me set the pace for a while and we took it up to 15mph for a while before he took the lead again and brought it back up to 18mph again and we were officially hauling ass again. I swallowed my pride, pain and some bile to dig deep and keep up the pace with him until we reached Darrington and took a break at the Shell station.
At the Shell station we took a quick shoe-free break on the picnic bench while enjoying a quick bite of grub and putting our cool weather gear back on since the sun was dropping. Albert went around back to hit up the port-o-let (a change from the usual, because I've always used the restroom inside at this control) and I put my head down on the picnic table for a quick couple minutes of shut-eye. I awoke to hearing my name as Lyn and Elaine rolled up. They had stopped just up the street at a restaurant for what they described as a "disappointing" meal; bummer. They made quick work of the control and headed out, which was the last we were to see of them. I slammed down another quarter sandwich, some more Endurolytes and another couple ephedrine tablets. After filling my bottles with the remainder of my Gatorade and getting my arm warmers, leg warmers and reflect gear on, we were ready to roll out towards Rockport.

Now I'm about to get brutal, because the ride started to go sour for these last 100 miles. If you've ever ridden a century, imagine starting one out in pain and after having just completed another 150 miles immediately previous. We'd been riding for around 13 hours at this point: The first 200k took us about 11 hours and I was feeling good about it… Hey, that's a 22 hour finish if we could keep it up, right? At the first 27 miles only took us another 105 minutes with a 15 minute break at the control. I'm well hydrated, well fed, stimmed up and ready to go, yeah? Not so much.
I was starting to re-irritate the chafing problem that I experienced on the final 40 miles of the 3 Volcanoes ride just 2 weeks previous. If you recall, I had damaged myself something fierce on that ride and I was about 95% healed up for the start of this ride. In an attempt to alleviate any further irritation I had slathered my chamois pad with Assos crème and my personal undercarriage with Bag Balm right from the beginning of the ride. It worked well enough for the first 150 miles, but I probably should have brought a change of shorts for the final 100 miles. My sweat was saturating the chamois pad and the salt within was once again working its way past the ever thickening layers of Assos chamois crème and Bag Balm that I was glooping in there to try and combat the problem. We were barely 10 miles into the 26 mile stretch to Marblemount, and I was already starting to consider pitching the ride. This was the first of a long series of bad places that my mind went that night.

Darkness was starting to fall and Albert turned on his magnificent E3 Triple headlamp, casting my shadow ahead of me and lighting up the chrome on my bike. Apparently there is too much chrome on my bike for someone with a skewer-mount headlight, and we ended up riding side-by-side along the majourity of the route from that point on. The traffic from Darrington on north and west was nearly non-existant, so it didn't matter that we were taking the entire lane. Whenever there was a car, there was more than ample time for us to scoot back over single file for a moment.

We were still managing a decent pace at this point, and Albert mentioned that I must have gotten my second wind. I certainly hoped that was the case, although I knew I was mostly just forcing myself to push through a heap of pain in an attempt to make it to the next control in Marblemount. I was wincing as I shifted on the saddle. Standing helped for a moment, but before long I had to sit back down and deal with the pain again. It wasn't just the front-of-saddle pain I was experiencing at this point; something was going seriously wrong with my bumside and I wasn't doing the problem any good by continuing to ride. I was a combination of worried about my worsening condition, amped on endorphins, amped on ephedrine, dulled by ibuprofen and still wrought from the week's transpirations. Hammering along as the sun went down we got quiet again and my mind started drifting to some dark corners…
I can't believe I got fired. Did I really decide that the 400k was a good idea 3 days after that? What the hell was I thinking? I hadn't even healed up fully from the 300k yet. I've never done these kinds of distances back to back. Did I even train enough in between? What the hell is wrong with my arse, anyhow? I should have gone to a doctor before the season started. I can't even go to a doctor now because I've got no insurance. Shit, I don't have insurance. What if I crash in the middle of the night because I'm too tired and fall asleep while riding? What if I can't finish? Is there even another manned control to hitch from? I don't even get cell service out here to call anyone. That means no one does, I bet. Damn, I'm fucked if anything happens.

We made it to the intersection of SR-530 and SR-20 to head east toward Marblemount. Albert needed a quick bio-break, and I took the opportunity to soft-pedal ahead a little bit just to keep my momentum, afraid that if I got off my bike I wouldn't get back on again. Shortly up the road, Albert's headlight appeared in my mirror and before I knew it he was ahead of me and setting the pace for the 8 miles to the next control.
We rolled through the pitch blackness of the North Cascade Highway and finally made it to the far side of the bustling metropolis that is Marblemount. The Shell station was thankfully still open, and I lurched myself off the bike and stumbled inside with a wide stance swagger like a drunken cowboy. I must have looked a fright to the Russian (I think they were Russian. They sounded Russian.) tourists making a pit stop there. I let them use the bathroom before me, because I was going to need some time to tend to my wounds. I could tell that things "down there" were just not right, and sadly I was correct. Sparing you the gory details of it all; I was bleeding from someplace that blood should never come from. After regaining my wits and gathering the small bit of strength I had left, I managed to drag myself back outside to talk to Albert.
"I don't know if I can finish. I've got a problem, and I don't think I can get back on the bike, Albert."
"Well," he replied, "unfortunately, home is that way." as he pointed west, down SR-20.
Just as I feared, there were no more manned stations, and the only way back to Bellingham was to ride out the final 75 miles, come Hell or high water. I was nearly in tears, and Albert realized that I was on the verge of a breakdown. I put on my wind pants and my jacket and laid down on the sidewalk next to the building while Albert went back inside. I didn't care what anyone thought anymore; I just needed to be done, if only for a little while.
I didn't know how long I was out for, but Albert woke me back up. He had the wherewithal to set an alarm when he laid down for a nap. He also had the good sense to dig deep into his extensive trove of randonneuring knowledge and pull up a bit of information that some riders traded with him on a 1200k: If you rub your bits raw in the middle of a ride and there's apparently nothing you can do, the last option you've got available is to purchase some teething gel. Yes, you read it right: Fucking teething gel. It contains Benzocaine, and you can put it directly on the ahem "affected areas" and numb them up so that you can put your busted ass back on a saddle and keep pedaling. It does nothing to keep you from doing any further damage. As a matter of fact, it's probable that you'll do more damage since you can't feel anything anymore… But when it comes down to "finish the ride or sit your sorry ass in East Nowhere on the North Cascade Highway in the middle of the night", you do what you have to. Albert had purchased a tube of Orajel® Maximum Strength Relief Gel while I was passed out, and he handed it to me when I finally managed to drag my sorry corpse off the sidewalk. Even though we were in a deserted parking lot in the middle of nowhere, I still had the decency to hide behind the dumpster while I applied some of the gel to my tenders. The numbing was almost immediate. Within 30 seconds I couldn't tell that my arse was in no shape to get back on the bike, and that's precisely what we did. Somewhere in the back of my groggy mind I found myself wishing that the Shell station were still open so I could wash my damned hand, but that was the least of my worries as we headed back into the darkness with a renewed vigor.

We trudged on towards Sedro-Woolley, knowing that this was a 40 mile stretch of road until the next turn, and we wouldn't be getting a whole lot of change in scenery. SR-20 rolls westward from Rockport, which is about the spot where we saw Dr. Codfish heading east. We gave a hearty "Whooop!" and kept on rolling, knowing that we were soundly 15 miles ahead of him at that point even with having taken a 40 minute nap at the last control. From the intersection of SR-530, it was another 16 miles to Concrete and our next chance at services… if anything was still open when we got there. It was around 23:00 hours at that point, and we had low hopes that anything along the highway would still be open, much less anything in town. Incedentally, we asked each other if we'd ever actually been to downtown Concrete; and neither of us had, so when we passed a couple of closed grocery stores and quickie-marts we decided to head up the incredibly steep hill that leads from SR-20 to the neon glow of downtown. There's not a whole lot there, but what is there is packed. Concrete isn't a huge town, but it's the biggest one for about 20 miles in any direction so the downtown strip has a movie theatre, a few restaurants, and a couple of bars. The bars were the only thing that seemed to be open, and we made the decision to head for the one with the attached diner up front rather than the one with a bunch of people hanging out front. It turns out we made a good choice because aside from the incredibly intoxicated dude out front who gave us a little bit of drunken "good natured" ribbing, this place was actually quite cool. It turned out to be a karaoke bar and it was jam packed with people singing, dancing, attempting drunken handstands on the dance floor, and generally having a good time… and not hassling us for rolling in there clad in bicycle clothes. A couple people were even impressed with how far we'd already gone, and how much further we had to go, and they wished us good luck. We filled our bottles, hit the can, I glooped on more Orajel ® and we snapped a couple pix before hitting the road again.

The road from Concrete keeps on rolling steadily, so we alternated between slow climbing for a mile and then a quick mile of high speed descending in the dark, and the drizzling rain… because it just wasn't fun enough yet. *snerk* I have no idea how much further we went before Albert pulled off to a gas station for something or other, and I suggested that maybe, while we were stopped anyhow, we could catch a few Zzzzs under the front awning of the grocery store just across the lot; so we rolled over and used a couple sacks of wood stove pellets for pillows while grabbing a quick nap and waiting out the worst of the rain. We nabbed 30min of sleep under the watchful eye of a curious police officer who deemed us no threat after we replaced the bags of stove pellets and headed back out onto the road.
Each time back onto the road was a little bit worse; the cold seemed colder, the rain felt wetter, and the hills felt steeper. Nothing was alleviating the pain at my backside; not the Orajel ®, not ignoring it, not my music… nothing. It became apparent that this pain was with me for the remaining 35 miles. As we rolled into Sedro-Woolley, I was determined to finish the ride no matter what the situation. The glow of the Sedro-Woolley lights approached as we neared the Township Rd. intersection (SR-9) and what I thought was a control stop. I suggested to Albert that we stop into the AM/PM station for a signature, and he questioned my logic, but not the general idea of stopping for a couple minutes. The Sedro-Woolley AM/PM was not a control; merely a refuel stop along the way back to the finish. Regardless, I needed to hit the head and reapply some Bag Balm and Orajel ® to finish out the final 35 miles of the ride. I headed inside to the bathroom (I was familiar with the layout from the Baker Lake 400k last Fall), and took care of my business before heading out into the parking lot for what might have been the worst part of the entire ride…
I felt queasy for a while before the pseudo-control, and I finally decided to take care of things at the AM/PM lot. I propped my bike against the trash can, sauntered over to the fence by the dumpsters, and gave in to the reverse gastronomic urgencies my body was fighting back. HURCK… and there was nothing there but pain and another wracking wave of convulsion. Albert was inside using the can, and I continued to heave in the dark corner of the parking lot until something finally made its horrible way out of my body. I really don't know where the hell it came from, but I eventually threw up some strawberry Ensure Plus and the better part of a berry flavoured 5hr Energy shot. If you never get the opportunity, consider yourself lucky; it is truly horrifying. I went back inside and filled my bottles with plain water, rinsed out my mouth, and when Albert was finished in the bathroom we headed back onto the road for out final 35 mile stretch. Albert was amazed with my apparent efficiency at the previous stop when I told him of my digestive mishaps; to this day, I'm unsure if he was amazed at the short time it took me, or the volumetric expulsion and its rapidity. I don't know exactly when he walked out. Either way, I felt like a can of squashed assholes, and the remaining course was not going to help that any bit.
SR-9 heading north from Sedro-Woolley is a rolling bit of road until you hit SR-542, which rolls until you hit the side road leading back to Dan T's house. The very first bit of SR-9 leading out of town is a steep climb, and from there is turns into a continuous rolling (although smooth) section of road for the next 22 miles. Ugh; 22 fucking miles. I could barely envision what that meant at that point. We were averaging 13mph, so 22mph meant we wouldn't be off the godforsaken SR-9 stretch for another two hours, and my mind started going back to very bad places… I hadn't eaten anything since the last time we slept, over an hour and a half ago. I threw up most of that back in Sedro-Woolley. I couldn't hold down more than a sip of water and a single Endurolyte tablet. The thought of anything more substantial was turning my stomach. I had the dry heaves due to my post-nasal allergy problems and the thought of food. There was at least 2h 30m left before we were finished and we weren't talking much. I hit a wall and something inside me broke; my vision went crooked and I couldn't get it back again. I started to drop behind Albert and not catch up. He recognized what was going on about 15 miles into the segment and suggested that we pull over for a quick break. The "quick" break turned into a 30 minute nap in some dude's driveway. Once forward motion ceased, I couldn't manage to keep myself upright. I dumped my bike on its side, dug around in my handlebar bag for a can of Ensure Plus, and sat on the ground in the drizzling rain. I was able to choke down approximately ½ bottle of Ensure Plus (150 calories) before I felt sick and laid down to sleep. Thankfully, Albert set his alarm for another 30 minute period and we woke up a half hour later; I was freezing again, teeth chattering, mind fuzzy, and generally feeling like a rando-zombie. It was less than 24 hours into the event, and I had to question Albert: "How the heck do you super-long-distance guys handle a 1200 kilometer ride? I'm not even through a 400k, and I'm falling apart!" He replied that the trick is to break it down into smaller bits; either control-to-control, or when you start getting really beat, turn-by-turn and just keep watching the cue sheet. So that's what I concentrated on. Just like the final 7 mile segment of the 3 Volcanoes ride on SR-12, I started watching my odometer and ticking off the over/under for the current leg: 15 miles down, just 7 more to go. 16 miles down, I can do 6 more miles. After those 6, it's only 7 more on the next turn. Then 1.5 to the finish. I can do this. I CAN do this. I CAN DO THIS! My speed started to pick up as we headed back toward SR-542. Somewhere I dug deep and managed to bring the speed back up to 16mph. The sun was starting to peek over the horizon at this point and I was feeling strangely renewed. I get a weird second (and third) wind when the sun drops and the darkness takes over, and again when the sun comes back and daylight approaches. Something about those transitions gives me the power to forge ahead with the idea that I'm stronger than X percentage of riders who will never see the sunset transition, or experience the beauty of a sunrise on the road. It makes me feel like a badass, regardless of how many ditch naps I needed to reach that point, or how slow I end up riding.
Speaking of which… The 16mph burst of awesome was short lived. I hauled ass along SR-9 until we hit SR-542. I managed to keep the pace for a few miles of doing the over/under mileage count and announcing it (loudly). I think it started to annoy Albert around the 4 mile mark when I hollered, "4 miles down, 3.1 left to our turn" and we were approaching the base of a climb. Around that time, I was starting to burn through the whopping 150 calories I'd been able to hold down in the last 3 hours, and my legs were feeling like crap. There was less than 10 miles to the total course, but I needed a quick break at a side road, so we pulled off at an intersection before a slight climb (that might as well have been the Col du Tourmalet for me at this point.) Seriously, even after cresting the climb, I could barely drag my pace over 8mph. I was drained, and couldn't manage to bring the pace over 13mph on a 4% downhill slope to the penultimate turn. When we hit the chip-seal for that last 2 miles, I could have dropped down and kissed it if it didn't mean having to stop my forward motion. OH, the joy of knowing that we were on the final side streets. The chip-seal didn't bother me. The lack of calories wasn't a concern. The cold morning wasn't as cold. Nothing was as horrible as it could be, especially as we rounded the corner onto the final 0.5 mile segment back to Dan's house where breakfast was waiting for us. Not even my 10mph pace could sour the enjoyment of reaching the finish at Dan's driveway. We turned off the chip-seal and down the loose gravel driveway to the waiting accolades of Dan T. and John V. (who finished the 1000k earlier.)
I disassembled my house out back, hauled my gear around front to SuperJeep, and asked Dan about using the shower. Albeit painful to certain parts of the anatomy, a shower was exactly what I needed to ease the strain in my shoulders. All the shifting around on my saddle for the last 7 hours, along with sleeping on the ground, had knotted them up something fierce and the hot water felt great. I dried off, dressed myself and gathered up my horrifyingly stanky ride gear to load into the back of SuperJeep. After loading in my gear, I was ready for some pancakes and honey, and a much deserved cup of coffee.
I sat and enjoyed the carbo-load and other riders stories of the 1000k from Vim, who had come down from Alaska for the ride, before calling an old college friend to head out to a second breakfast and an earned session of catching up on the last 10 years. (Yeah, it had been that long since I saw her! Geez.) After breakfast (where I forgot my camera and didn't manage to get any pictures of us) I headed back down I-5 to pick up my pupster. I made it as far as Everett before pulling off at a rest stop and taking another 30 minute rando-nap in the parking lot. I caught myself zoning out at the white lines, and decided that I needed a quick recharge before heading back onto the road safely. I woke up, grabbed a free cup of coffee (thank you Washington Veteran's Association volunteers!) and headed onward to Kent, and eventually back to Redmond.

It's now 13 days post-ride, and I'm not yet healed up. I've got a doctor's appointment on Tuesday to determine what exactly is wrong with me; but I know one thing for certain… This was the end of my S-R attempt for this season. I am discouraged about this fact, but reassured that with medical treatment and a renewed training effort over the winter that I will be prepared for the Spring Series with SiR, and I will complete both my Super Randonneur and my R-12 in 2011.



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 7th, 2010 07:04 am (UTC)
Slouching toward Gomorrah
Great read! As I've said in the past, winning ugly is extremely underrated!

Yr pal Dr C
Apr. 12th, 2011 05:35 pm (UTC)
great post as usual!

Apr. 15th, 2011 01:08 pm (UTC)
I am doing research for my university thesis, thanks for your great points, now I am acting on a sudden impulse.

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )