Author Archives: Pat Leahy

Crater Lake 1000k – Jeff Loomis

Crater Lake 1000k
by Jeff Loomis,
photos by Noel Howes & Shan Perera.

Andy,   Jeff,   Noel and Eric Peterson at Crater Lake (by Noel Howes)

Andy, Jeff, Noel and Eric Peterson at Crater Lake (by Noel Howes)

Thursday before the ride

I took the day off to sleep late, get my bike ready, pack and nap before the 10:30 PM start.  In the morning I got my bike all tuned up and was ready to declare it “perfect” when I decided to loosen my pedals to make sure they weren’t stuck.  I knew I would need to remove them with a small wrench for the trip home from the finish.  Pedals were fine but I noticed what looked like a crack in the left crank.  Closer inspection revealed it was cracking from both sides.  I didn’t feel safe riding  this for 3 days and nights.  Uh-oh, panic time!  I called my buddy Andy who is a great mechanic with a large parts stash.  We were planning to do the ride together along with Noel and Shan, some other riding buddies.

Me:  I can’t do the ride, I just found my crank is cracked
Andy (paraphrasing):  You idiot, just take the left crank off another bike
Me:  duh, OK, I’ll call you back

The left crank on a neglected bike looked like it would fit so I made the swap.  Everything looked fine initially until I noticed the cranks wouldn’t line up with each other.  It turns out my TA Carmina crank (the cracked one) has the square taper such that the sides of the square are parallel to the crank arm.  Every other square taper crank I have encountered, including the Sugino I was trying to substitute, has the taper at a 45 degree angle.  I call Andy again:

Me:  I can’t do the ride (explain the problem)
Andy:  Your commute bike has 46-30 chainrings right?  (the same as the rando bike I am trying to fix.)
Me:  Uh, yeah (mumble, mumble some misgivings…)
Andy:  throw both bikes on the car and get over here

With the help of Andy’s fully equipped shop we swap the cranks and bottom bracket from my commute bike to my Boxer randonneuring bike in record time, adjust the front derailleur for a slightly different chainline, and the ride is saved!  We also notice my right crank is starting to crack as well.  Whew, that was a bullet dodged.  I’m not impressed with the design of the cranks because it seems to focus the stress in a way that will cause these cracks.  The original chainrings are still in good shape but the cranks are toast.

After a panicked pack due to all the wasted time my wife gives me a ride to the ferry dock along with the drop bags for the guys (they are riding to the ferry.)  Waiting for the ferry we run into most of the other riders, including Hahn, a super strong rider who decided to do the ride at the last minute.  The rest of us have booked train tickets for Monday or Tuesday after the ride finish on Sunday afternoon/evening.  Hahn is so confident he booked a Sunday morning train ticket.  He isn’t using a drop bag, planning to ride the entire way with only the contents of his handlebar bag.  He even forgot his water bottles but fortunately finds some water that fits from the ferry cafeteria.

First leg

We roll out at 10:30 and after a fast start south out of Bremerton the pack quickly divides into the racers and the plodders.  We decide early on to let the fast group go.  It’s a long way to Klamath Falls.  I run over some debris on the shoulder of route 3 and notice a rubbing sound.  I ignore it for a while but Andy is sensitive to any noise from a bike.  “Are you going to stop and fix that rubbing?”  I decide to stop and Andy stops too.  We discover a thick, stiff wire wedged between my rear tire and fender.  Andy can barely turn the wheel with it in there.  Yikes another disaster averted.  We are now all alone at the back.  A strong effort lets us rejoin the slower group but we notice that Shan is gone, having hung on with the fast group.  We joke that he will pay for that effort later…

Noel, Jeff & Andy on the long Astoria bridge crossing (by Shan Perera)

Noel, Jeff & Andy on the long Astoria bridge crossing (by Shan Perera)

It starts to drizzle as we ride familiar roads through the night, passing Belfair, riding along the Hood Canal then past the prison to the first control in Matlock.  We find tireless ride volunteer Vinny sleeping in the van with the drop bags, but he has left us some water and coke.  It’s nice to ride these roads with minimal traffic in the quiet of the nighttime rain.  The weather is warm enough I don’t bother with a rain jacket and it is light enough I don’t get really wet.  We are all happy for our fendered bikes and think about the faster crew who mostly removed them to save weight.  Somewhere around here we find Shan who has been shelled by the fast group and is now beat.  Leaving the control we notice Eric, a rider from Chicago, has left the wrong way going back the way we came.  He doesn’t hear our yelling and we hope he figures it out before putting in too many bonus miles.

After Montesano we head south towards Raymond.  Empty log trucks are passing on the way to their morning pickups.  They mostly give us plenty of room but one driver lays on his air horn right behind us and passes uncomfortably closely with the horn blaring the entire way.  The road is completely empty so I guess he just hates bikes and doesn’t mind possibly killing someone.  Entering Raymond around 7 AM we debate stopping at McDonalds or the Kosy Kitchen Café for breakfast.  I vote McD’s for speed but Andy hates it.  He is outvoted and we make an uncomfortably slow McDonald’s stop.  The tiny early morning staff prioritizes the drive through customers.  Conclusion:  always listen to Andy.  Somehow we never learn.

Jeff, Shan and Andy in McD's (by Noel Howes)

Jeff, Shan and Andy in McD’s (by Noel Howes)

The route continues south to Astoria where we make a scary bridge crossing and look for lunch.  Andy knows a great “hippie café” downtown but decides it will be too slow.  We settle for a bad burrito.  Our first sleep stop destination is Pacific City.  The route is hilly but nothing too crazy.  Sometime in the afternoon Noel jumps ahead.  We regroup in Cannon Beach and make a quick ice cream stop.  Unfortunately Andy and I end up dropping Shan and Noel pretty quickly on one of the many climbs along the coast.

We decide to look for dinner in Tillamook so we can just go right to sleep in Pacific City.  We crave Teriyaki but don’t find anything so end up settling for the Chinese steam table in the Safeway.  We look for Noel and Shan but they end up passing us while we eat.  We arrive around 8:30 to see them headed to the Mexican place by the motel where the organizer has booked some shared rooms.  Vinny is sleepy and confused about the room assignments but we eventually agree to get up at midnight and sack out for 3 hours.  400km done.

Second leg

Day 2 begins (by Shan Perera)

Day 2 begins (by Shan Perera)

We roll around 12:45AM after some snacking with a plan to stop in Newport for a real breakfast.  There is a detour to an info control up Slab Creek Road where the coastal bike route skirts some dangerous bridges on 101.  Near the top of the steep climb Noel’s GPS says the info control is here but we don’t see the described sign anywhere.  The mile marker matches the cue sheet also.  We hunt around for a while but eventually give up, figuring we will get the answer from another rider.  The other side of the canyon is a screaming descent down dark, twisty roads.  Shortly afterward we hit Lincoln City and get some rando gas station food.  I make the unwise choice to eat a microwaved Jimmy Dean egg and sausage bagel that burns my mouth.

The sun is coming up and the views are beautiful as we make our way to Newport.  Night riding is a good antidote to crazy 101 RV traffic.  Unfortunately our route takes us though a trendy district where everything is closed.  We see a bakery and beg though the glass but it doesn’t open until 7 and we are ignored.  Andy asks a local if there is a breakfast place in town that is open and it is a mile back on the main road.  We decide to press on to Waldport where we find an espresso stand with muffins and scones.

Traffic is picking up and we notice an incredible number of huge wheeled pickup trucks, often pulling boats or travel trailers.  Most people are willing to give us room when there is no traffic but we often get squeezed when there is oncoming traffic.  The giant motorhomes are the scariest.  We saw one tour bus sized motorhome pulling a pickup truck with an ATV in the back.  The traffic and noise are balanced by beautiful views.  Rolling climbs are pretty constant.  On one we are passed by a couple on bikes carrying small packs.  Andy chats with them to find they are doing a credit card tour of the coast.  He feels the need to leapfrog them on the next several climbs and I hang on too so we are feeling pretty strong.  Noel is just a little way back but Shan is out of sight.

There are a couple of pretty scary tunnels on this stretch.  It is a designated bike route but the shoulders are often narrow or nonexistent.  After the final tunnel I stop at a view point and put on sunscreen.  When I put my glove back on I get stung by an ant that was inside!  Andy finds my reaction hilarious:  “you were screaming like a little girl.”

Florence is a wasteland of strip malls and traffic.  We decide to press on to Reedsport to eat lunch right before the major climb of the day.  Now we are in full-on pickup truck pulling sand buggy territory.  101 is getting tiresome and I am fighting sleep from time to time.  It is unusual for me to get sleepy during the day on these rides but maybe the night start is taking a toll.

In Reedsport we go to a great local restaurant for sandwiches and milkshakes.  The staff is super friendly and quick.  Shan texts that he is at the McD’s.  I reply that we are heading out:  get over here.  We don’t see him as we leave.

The next section thankfully takes us off the main road.  We follow the Umpqua river which goes all the way to our next sleep stop in Roseburg.  That would be a nice flat ride, but we are not going that way.  Instead we turn uphill on Loon Lake road.  This is an amazing, fun climb along a beautiful stream.  Before reaching Loon Lake, we head onto an even smaller road:  Camp Creek Road.  We know we have to climb around 2000 feet but the road is very gentle.  Ominous.

We are startled by a pickup truck that pulls up with a redneck straight out of central casting at the wheel.  He has a beer between his knees, is chewing tobacco, wearing a trucker cap and overalls with no shirt and has a stereotypical hillbilly accent.  He is curious where all the bikes are going.  We tell him about our ride and he enthusiastically wishes us a good ride.  He and his buddies are fishing and bear hunting.  They have to keep moving camp because “the rangers keep hassling us.”  Currently he is on a beer run.  We wish him the best and head onward.

After several miles of gentle climbing we reach the elevation gain.  The road just heads up with one steep switchback after another.  We see only one or two vehicles in a two hour period.  The road has shifted in a couple places such that only a higher clearance vehicle could pass.  This is a climb I would love if starting on fresh legs but today I am just looking to survive.  I have to stand in my 30×32 granny gear on several occasions.  Andy is waiting as I reach the top and Noel arrives a couple minutes later.  The descent is crazy steep on fresh chipseal and loose gravel.  Andy is gone on his 42mm 650B tires.  I am a bit more cautious and Noel brings up the rear, stopping a couple times to cool his rims.

Once we reach the bottom we paceline it into Roseburg as the sun sets, anxious for sleep.  Entering town we decide to stop at Sizzler just as they are closing.  Noel has a slow leak so he fixes it in the Sizzler lobby while we finish dinner.  I have not been to a Sizzler in decades, if ever, but it is rando heaven.  The salad bar includes pasta, meatballs, dozens of salad fixings and a dessert bar.  We load up, knowing we will sleep soon.

Making our way to the sleep stop at the Travelodge we follow a cue that says “meander through park.”  Huh.  Good thing Noel has the route in his GPS or we would be screwed.  Mark the organizer is waiting for us and has saved a room with 3 beds.  Mark also reveals that Hahn is sleeping, having underestimated the course a bit.  We leave the bed by the door for Shan who is the last one left out on the road.  Deciding we have plenty of time on the final day we allow ourselves 3 ½ hours of sleep, setting alarms for 2:30AM.  730km done.

Final Leg

Andy and Jeff (by Noel Howes)

Andy and Jeff (by Noel Howes)

Today is the shortest day but we have to climb around 7000′ to the peak of the Crater Lake rim road.  There are a few downhills on the way as well to make a total of about 10000′ of climbing for the day.

We awake to find Shan has arrived during the night but only slept for one hour.  He was at least an hour back at the top of the climb and then made a wrong turn coming into town.  His GPS battery was dead and he had a miserable time but finally found the Travelodge after two hours of riding in circles.
Breakfast at Denny’s fortifies us for the day and we are on the road by 3:30 or so.  There are few turns between here and Crater Lake and we take off enthusiastically.  Unfortunately the lack of rest is catching up with Shan and he drops off the back on every climb.  Eventually the three of us left decide we are going to ride and hope he catches up.  He does find us when we stop for a snack at the Dry Creek store control but then he immediately decides to nap so we press on.

The scenery today is awesome and the roads mostly have decent shoulder to give us room when the RVs speed past.  I fix my only flat of the ride this morning.  We climb steadily and are making good pace when we find Mark waiting for us with cokes and snacks in the late morning.  I tell Mark I could kiss him when I see the cokes.  He isn’t enthusiastic about this idea.

We stop at the Diamond Lake resort for lunch.  Andy says, “This is a resort, but for working people.”  Noel thinks it is straight out of the ’50s “like everything in Oregon.”  It’s a pretty cool spot that I would like to visit when I have more time to spend.  I have a rueben, fries, and a milkshake.  Hopefully that will power me to the top.  As we leave the resort we pass the biggest campground I have ever seen along the shore of Diamond Lake.

Once we enter Crater Lake park we lose the shoulder but not the RVs.  Fortunately it is getting later in the day so there aren’t too many vehicles entering.  The speed limit is theoretically 40 but some cars still seem to be in an awful hurry given that it is a park road.  Some of the climbs are getting steeper but I am still enjoying the day.  Noel passes us when I stop for a restroom break and I fall behind Andy on one of the climbs.  Eventually I reach the rim road and stop to enjoy the views of the lake.  There is still some significant climbing to the highest point, and then a fast descent to the lodge and the penultimate control.

At the lodge we regroup and meet up with Eric and his family who had arranged to meet him there.  We get a photo overlooking the lake.  There has been a reroute on the final section to get us off US-97 into Klamath Falls and there are two riders from Vancouver who can’t read the cue sheet in English.  The reroute isn’t on the GPS route so we tell them to follow us.  We all head out and enjoy the winding descent from the lodge followed by a long, fast, straight downhill for many miles.

We enjoy a tailwind on some rural roads and make fast time to US-97 for the final stretch into Klamath falls.  It has high traffic and narrow/no shoulders in spots so I am designated to lead the train to the turn onto the dirt road reroute.  I memorize the turn info and as we take off a cloud of bugs appears.  They are so dense they are pelting me like raindrops in a thunderstorm.  I try to speed up to get out of the cloud but that makes it worse and I keep dropping the others.  They are getting in my mouth, jersey, helmet, glasses, everywhere and I am very agitated.  This is actually the worst part of the entire ride for me.  Later Noel tells me he just slowed down to keep pace with the wind and barely noticed the bugs.  Finally I reach the turnoff and we head away from the marshy lake with the bug clouds.

Everyone is thinking we have an easy 12 miles to the finish now but there is one more surprise in store.  We know about the 6 miles of dirt but it turns into a steep climb and it is now dark.  One of the Canadian riders loses traction on his skinny racing tires and goes down.  He is OK but very tired.  He also has no rear light, his battery having run down.  We try to keep him in the middle and flag down a car, asking how far to the end of the dirt.  The driver tells us only 500 feet of dirt and then “just one steep climb” before coming down in an old fort.  Well, cyclists know that when a driver tells you that a climb is steep, you better believe it is STEEP.
It turns out we have what amounts to a mini mountain pass between us and Klamath Falls.  Fifteen or twenty minutes of hard climbing get us to the top, where we start an incredibly steep, twisty downhill.  It is now completely dark and I drop my chain for the only time on this ride.  Everyone else is gone as I struggle with my inexplicably hard to remount chain, covering my hand with grease.  Finally I get back on the road and everyone is waiting for me at the bottom of the hill.

Ten minutes of easy riding later and Mark is greeting us at the finish motel.  The best cold pizza and local beer awaits us.  Mark even has a gojo wipe for my greasy hand.  He’s the best.  1000km done in 71:26.  Shan rolls in just after midnight, having skipped the optional dirt road reroute.

Many of the riders booked Monday morning train tickets or got rides from family.  We opted to sleep late, rest, and eat several meals on Monday before heading out on the Tuesday morning train.  Tales were told over beers as randonesia kicked in and we were already planning the next ride.

Andy had everything organized for us to have our bikes ready to go in the Amtrak boxes the second the train station opened.  He was first in line to get the boxes and we got all the bikes packed up just in time.  Then it was a relaxing twelve hour trip back to Seattle.


Andy and Jeff packing bikes for the trip back to Seattle (by Shan Perera)

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SIR 1240k – Debra Banks

Debra Banks originally posted this ride report on the Rivet Cycle Works Blog. Debra founded Rivet to design and sell saddles for endurance cycling.

SIR 1240k
by Debra Banks

It’s summer and that means longer rides. I have signed up for three 1200k brevets (not exactly sure why I have, but hope to figure it out while riding them) and the first is the Seattle International Randonneur’s (SIR) Cascades 1240k or 770 miles of bliss cycling around Mt Rainier, with abundant views of sibling volcanoes, Mt Hood, Mt Adams and Mt St. Helens. It’s beautiful countryside – the ride description promises mountains, desert, and hills. Plenty of hills.

I was up in WA earlier this year for SIR’s Crank and Brevet Week, and had a delightful if not windy time, so I was familiar with some of the landscape and the way in which the SIR folk’s design rides. They are… well, hard. This year’s edition of the Cascades 1200k was longer and had more climbing than the last two versions. Day one is longish and hilly, day 2 is longer and a bit less hilly, day three is our recovery day crossing the desert and day four is longer, but mostly downhill after passes in the early AM. We have 94 hours to complete the ride.

The big question prior to the ride was: Fenders? No fenders? SIR rando’s almost always have their fenders on their bikes – at all times. It rains up there. A lot. Fenders and wool, two things you can count on with an SIR rando. The weather kept reporting only a 10% chance of rain during the ride. It seemed like the weather gods were smiling on us, so after consulting a crystal ball and a tarot card reading, most of the out-of-towner’s skipped fenders.

Riding buddy Drew and I drove up the night before and met another rando-pal for dinner at his place in Seattle. We moved on up the road to the start and settled in after the hotel had given away our reserved room. After a bit of wrangling, we got ourselves set up for the oh-dark-thirty-wake-up and start.

Day 1 Monroe to Carson
Distance: 358.8 km
Elevation: + 3846 / – 3807 m

Day 1 – Monroe to Carson Hot Springs

Day 1 – Monroe to Carson Hot Springs

Up early and out the door, the start is a block away. I realize I have forgotten my water bottles, (had to be something) but this is minor. Two are quickly offered by SIR fellow randos – Thanks Shan and Michael! I see SIR friends and a bunch of SFR randos are in attendance for our cycling adventure. A few friends from Australia have also made the trip: I ran into Peter Donovan in the elevator, who’s home I went to for a post Sydney-Melbourne BBQ, and then on my way to the bathroom, walked right in to Danny, a very fast rider from Western Australia, who I lent my wheel to last October so he could finish Sydney Melbourne after I had DNF’d. The rando world is very small AND holds a very great group of folks.

Mark (the head of SIR) tells us to be careful and as we ride out, he yells to me to keep the rubber side down. I’m only a week out from having crashed hard on a gravel ride, La Ruta Loca Rando in the Marin hills. I am smothered in vitamin E oil, to help keep the wounds moist and on the mend. Nothing hurts while pedaling (yet) so off I go.

The group moves on down the road and there is a lot of chatter amongst the riders. I have already missed a light, which splits groups into smaller units, and I think I won’t see those folks until the rest stop this evening – 230 miles away. The weather is cool, no wind and the company is good. It’s a nice day for a bike ride. We easily move on down the road.

Drewski rides by with Mt. St. Helens in the distance. Photo: D. Banks

Drewski rides by with Mt. St. Helens in the distance. Photo: D. Banks

At some point, Asta Chastain, a very fast rider from SIR who lives in OR is in my little group. We hopscotch with each other and decide to hang with each other in our small rando posse. I have been on the same ride as Asta a few times, but rarely ride with her. She is much too fast for me, but today she wants to ride with us slower (and older) people, and she’s a pleasure. We talk about outdoor education and MBTI scores. It’s fun to get to know each other while riding along and she’s cheery and has a fast yet steady wheel.

Asta on the Green Machine. Photo: E. Larson

Asta on the Green Machine. Photo: E. Larson

Somewhere down the road we stop at a control and there is GP. I thought I’d be riding with him, but we had gotten separated at that first light. He says he’s burned some matches riding with the “fast boys” and I tell him to hang with us, we’ve got Asta! We’re not the slowest and we have plenty in the tank for what’s still to come.

Which is a really beautiful climb up into a forest that then traverses the mountainside providing stunning views of Mt Adams. It is really pretty and as the miles tick by we are graced with a great forest service road and a really nice ride. It drops us at a control where we tank up for the last work of the day, eating ice cream, chips and Drew has his first beer of the day. We ride up and over Elk Pass, which isn’t pleasant, but we get the job done.

Up next is Oldman Pass and it seems to go a bit easier. The descent is fast, and now it’s dark. We make our way down and I am reminded of one of the final stretches this past Spring in Wenatchee, when I didn’t know how long it was to the end and I kept thinking to myself, “Is it now? Around the next bend? Now? Where the heck is the town?” at some point every day, you are just ready to be Off. Your. Bike.

Finally we reach Carson Hot Springs, and there to greet us is the smiling face of Susan Otcenas and her merry band of rando-volunteers. Asta has assured us that Susan has bought good beer and there will be a lot of it at the control. We check in, take showers and drop into the dining room to eat. There is beer, but not anything close to good stuff. I buy two Bud Lites (pathetic!), and pass one to Drewski, who says, it’s better than nothing…but just barely better than nothing. It does the trick, we sleep, for 6 hours! A first for me.

Day 2 Carson to Ephrata
Distance: 369.3 km
Elevation: + 3377 / – 3086 m

Day 2 – Carson Hot Springs to Ephrata

Day 2 – Carson Hot Springs to Ephrata

We depart after a hearty breakfast. We are among the last to leave, the fastest folks can sleep longer as they will pass us. The slower folks have had less sleep and they are gone. It’s Sunday and we are in need of some caffeine. The cafes are closed; it’s too early for them to be open. In the meantime, we ride along the Columbia River and I realize we are across from the town of Mt. Hood, Oregon. We have already ridden from the outskirts of Seattle to the Oregon border. Mt. Hood is in the distance and town is right across the river. It’s a great town – I was there mountain biking a number of years ago. Super fun riding – much of it over my skill level.
We are on a flattish road and I am ticking out a pace to make some time. We start to skip past some of the other folks who left earlier, but who are operating on less sleep.

Looking across to Oregon on the great Columbia Morning breaks – day 2. photo: P. Auriemma

Looking across to Oregon on the great Columbia Morning breaks – day 2. photo: P. Auriemma

It’s one of the funny dynamics about randonnuering. If you are fast, you complete the day faster, which gives you more time to sleep. The more sleep you have the safer on the road you are. If you are slower, you take longer on the road and end up getting less sleep, which means you will be sleep deprived on the ride, which adds challenge and raises safety issues. There are some people who like to ride on minimal sleep, but I’m not one of them. I want to get as much sleep as possible, and by that I mean 3 hours if I’m lucky (which as I write this, doesn’t sound like much… and… it isn’t). I’ve worked harder this past year and have gotten a bit faster, which has yielded more sleep, and so to get 6 hours on the first night is HEAVEN!

Still sleep does not help when what you want is coffee and we are on the hunt for some in the early morning on Sunday. Our day is longer today, but has less climbing, and our small group is feeling pretty good. We stop in a small town past our turn to get some coffee and run into a couple of others who have the same idea. Ron Himshoot, a strong rider is leaving as we are drinking on the sidewalk, and he takes a wrong turn. GP yells to him to turn around. Then Ron turns up a driveway and is again going in the wrong direction, and GP again rights him. Finally, after much, confused route finding, he disappears in the right direction.

We get up to leave and the group takes off without me. I see a backpack sitting against the wall. I pick it up and find out that it is Ron’s. His brevet card and wallet are present in the top pocket. No brevet card, no credit for completion. I shoulder the backpack and scurry to catch up to my riding partners. Almost to them, I am cresting a hill and Ron zooms back our way.

“I’ve got it!” I yell to him and he stops. “ I realized it wasn’t there when I went for a sip of water out of the Camelbak”. He shoulders his load and says, “I’m having a bit of a low point here.” It will change, that’s one thing you can count on when riding these distances. Sort of like the weather. He asks me what kind of beer I like and I tell him IPA. “Alright”, he says and starts to trudge back up the hill.

I get up to our group and we head on. The topography is amazing. We climb out of the Columbia River Gorge and up onto a high plateau. The land is golden with wheatfields, and views of Mt Hood and Mt St. Helens are visible. The coffee has kicked in and we are enjoying the miles.

As the day wears on, the land heats up and we arrive at the control hot and hungry. Everyone is regrouping inside the air-conditioned fast food store, downing soda’s filled with ice. We tank up, as the next section is hard and exposed and it will be hot.
This section is rollers with an upward trend. They keep going and going and going. At one point, we top out on a longish climb to see the road traverse around the hillside losing all of the elevation we have just earned, and then it climbs back up re-gaining all of the elevation. Ugh! Who thought up this engineering feat?

We continue onward and upward. Today feels harder than the day before. Maybe it’s because we are already somewhat fatigued, or maybe it’s the heat, but getting to the Bickleton control is really tough. Once we are there it is an oasis. Ice cream, fresh strawberries, soda, cookies. The SIR volunteers are there with big smiles and helping hands. The locals are inside the store watching us in the midst of our weird processes – collapse on bench, rally for the bathroom, sit again and rest, re-fill water bottles, eat, rest. Rally to leave…

A number of rando’s throw in their cards in Bickleton, and abandon the ride. They are too spent to continue on. Our group carries forward. We drop down into a valley that we will cross and stop for another break. It is really hot – well into the 90s. Manny comes into the C-Store and looks absolutely trashed. “Would you all be willing to go 12 MPH and give me a pull”, he asks? “I need a break, but need to keep going”. We saddle up and put Manny in the middle. It’s hard to go slower, but he needs the rest (he’s only had an hour or two of sleep) and he’s asked for help. Of course, we’ll aid if we can. We scoop up another rider from British Columbia and Jaime stays with us the rest of the day into night.

We usher Manny to the next climb and then leave him to his own cadence and continue on. We make our way again down to the Columbia River. It’s wonderful to cross the water. The air is cool, a fly hatch and swarms of small flies are circling themselves like a mini-tornado, and the sun is setting. We head up a hill where a friend of mine severely bonked during the last edition of the ride and I think of Irene. There are large, very weird Mormon crickets on the road. They look pre-historic and give me the creeps as they hop around.

On the other side we continue on across the valley towards the next ridge. We’ll head there and then turn left, continuing onto the control. I flat and fix it, our group of riders strings out and regroups. It is well into night by the time we reach the control, and again we are welcomed by the SIR volunteers. Thank you Bill’s Gobie and Dussler and crew. Cup of Noodles, ravioli, soda, coffee, water, cookies, fruit. I want everything and nothing.

We still have 50 miles to go until the sleep control in Ephrata. It feels like forever to get there. We paceline as a group and now small things are irritating. Someone’s rear light seems to shine directly into my eyes, another person can’t hold a straight line and is wobbling all over the road. I’m sure I am doing something aggravating too. We ride in silence managing the irritations, but thank everyone for each pull they do as it brings us closer to Ephrata. We are all tired.

We have been passed by a strong rider from SoCal. His red blinky is way off in the distance, and I keep an eye on it. We are in the midst of endless rollers and that blinky keeps dipping in and out of sight. Most of us stop for a nature break or to adjust something, but GP heads off to catch up with me. I am behind him on the side of the road peeing, but he thinks I am somewhere between our group and the blinky. He kills himself catching up to the SoCal blinky, and he does, only to find out that I am back with the group. Oops!
We come by and scoop GP back up into our posse and finally reach Ephrata. There are still people trickling in as we eat and crash. Manny arrives just as we are turning in for a 4 hour sleep. Tomorrow is our “rest” day.

Day 3, Ephrata to Mazama
Distance: 231.1 km
Elevation: + 2597 / – 2334 m

Day 3 – Ephrata to Mazama

Day 3 – Ephrata to Mazama

Up and out by 7:00 AM, today is the “rest” day. Only 150 miles! Woot! We have thought that if we survive days 1 & 2, that there’s a good chance we’ll make it to the finish. We saddle up and head out into the sun. The morning brings us onto roads I traveled in April during the SIR Brevet week. We stop in Farmer at a fabulous community hall and sit inside in the cool shade, joking with fellow riders.
Drew, GP and I are strung out a bit, but stay together throughout much of the day. We have climbed up to the Moses Coulee; a high plateau of wheatfields. As far as the eye can see are golden waves of grain… We drop down to the Columbia River after taking a quick look at Chief Joseph Dam, and head to Bridgeport for lunch. We relax in the shade in a park and hang out. It has gotten really warm as we climb out of the river valley. Heat and lack of sleep is starting to take a toll.

Miles of wheatfields. photo: D. Banks

Miles of wheatfields. photo: D. Banks

We continue on to Malott and stop in the shade where the SIR vollies have set up shop. The help and support of this group is outstanding. They are smiling and cheerful (which boosts me enormously) and while chatting with us, I can tell they are checking us out to see what kind of condition we are really in.

The last piece of the day is to climb up and over Loup Loup pass. A long sustained climb that will drop us into the Mazama and Methow river valley. GP and I take our time but Drewski gets after it. We will see him at the sleep control in Mazama. I’m not a fast climber, slow and steady, but I love a great downhill. The SoCal blinky guy is up the road and we stop to talk with him. While doing so a cub and mother bear cross the road about 200 yards down and away from us. Very cool.

GP heads up the road, while I continue my steady slog. SoCal blinky guy sticks with me and we chat our way to the top. I sit down on the ground for a rest, but GP is urging me to move along. I snap at him, “I pulled you all the way to Malott, so I will sit here and have a break”. I eat half a sandwich and pull on clothes. In the meantime Ron Himshoot has joined us at the top of the pass.

We start down and just as we are picking up speed, a female moose pops out of the forest and stands by the left-hand side of the road. GP slows way down, me too. They are some of my favorite creatures, and they spook easily. Not something you want to hit, or have come at you. While we are sizing the moose up and the moose us, Ron comes barreling by yelling, “Don’t scare the moooooose!”

She disappears.

It’s a fun descent and at the bottom we are in a lush valley at the foot of the Cascades. GP and I hope to make it to the supermarket before it closes, but we miss it by a few minutes. We take the scenic road around the valley and as the sun sets, we cruise by farms and homes, corrals and gardens. Bucolic.

In Winthrop, I need a break. I’m starved and am running on fumes. We still have about 25 miles to go, so a break is in order. Unbeknownst to us, the wind picks up and of course, it is a pretty good headwind for the last stretch of riding. Trading pulls we make our way, stopping on a bridge at some point to get some relief from the wind. There aren’t any blinky’s in the distance to help us tonight and we slog to the control. Felt like it took forever to reach the Mazama Resort, and it’s too bad we didn’t get there early enough to enjoy the “rest” day, because the resort is exactly that, a full on resort. Hot tubs, pools, bar… Sigh. We eat and drop into bed.

Day 4. Mazama to Monroe.
Distance: 280.5 km
Elevation: + 2507 / – 3109 m

Day 4 – Mazama to Monroe

Day 4 – Mazama to Monroe

Breakfast is a feast. Everyone is in great spirits, we are finishing today. We chow down and head out… into a light rain. Dammit! No fenders.

No matter, we are climbing up to Washington Pass in North Cascades NP and it is beautiful. Big trees, left over snow, waterfalls, mist and a ribbon of road that disappears between cliffs. Sure our legs are sore and progress isn’t fast, but it’s so pretty that the pain is dampened. Up, up up, and through to the other side’s downhill. Another bump up and over a second pass.

Heading up to Washington Pass – AM on Day 4. photo: D. Banks

Heading up to Washington Pass – AM on Day 4. photo: D. Banks

We stop there to put on more clothes and an elder couple is walking along the road. They say hello and stop to chat with us.
“Ten years ago, we walked the entire Appalachian Trail. It took us 6 weeks.”
“That’s fabulous”, I say. “Do you mind telling me how old you are?” (they look 70ish)
“Sure, I’m 84 now”, says the woman.
Her husband adds, “She’s my older woman.”
She blushes, I’m three days older.”
“She’s my Cougar!” he blurts out with pride.
We all laugh.

How great is that?

Back on our bikes, we head on down the pass and lo and behold, there again are the SIR volunteers. They have stopped on the side of the road and set up a makeshift coffee stand. Bill D. hands me a French pressed coffee with half and half. Fabulous. We hang and chat, and I retell the story of the lovely couple we just met.

We need to continue on down the road because Monroe isn’t getting any closer, so we meander down the valley. There is water everywhere. Big waterfalls cascading off of cliff shelves (I’m guessing this is how the park came to be named?), dropping tons of water into the river, which is at near peak water levels. I watch the torrent below, trying to pick the correct line as if I were boating it in a kayak.

The water flows into the large dammed Lake Diablo surrounded by peaks. The water is aqua colored – glacial silt making it that special cold color. Three valleys extend in different directions here and we head downward out and towards Newhalem and flatter topography. Really, really, beautiful.

The new Dragonfly with a new Indy pose by Diablo Lake. photo: D. Banks

The new Dragonfly with a new Indy pose by Diablo Lake. photo: D. Banks

Drew has gone ahead, so it’s GP and me riding along, heading to Monroe. We stop for lunch at this whacky old style hamburger place in Concrete. Really? The town is called Concrete? Says so on the water tower…. Really?

The route goes across the Skagit River and winds down a tree tunnel. We stop for a 10 minute powernap on the concrete slab of the fire station. Good thing too, because 5 minutes after we have started to ride again, we are chased by a mean-sounding dog. I pick it up, and GP is left to fend for himself.

At the final control, we eat and have a beer. There are rando’s there who are relaxing before the final push back to Monroe. Manny and Glenn are there, Drewski and Phil have recently departed. We have about 50 miles left, and we have a beer and a cup of coffee and are on our way. The last 30 miles is on a bike path and we mosey along. I am fading and my stomach is upset, so we stop for a ginger ale and crackers.

Finally, we reach Monroe. We have finished in 90 hours, right around midnight. Asta, Drew, Phil and Ron Himshoot are there eating pizza, waiting for riders to come in. Ron hands me a paperbag, In it is a note and a large IPA! Woot!

In the bag along with a Ninkasi IPA. Woot!

In the bag along with a Ninkasi IPA. Woot!

I would highly recommend it if anyone wanted to do this ride as a tour. Three or four days would be a lovely pace and you’d get a chance to really enjoy the scenery. And for the rando’s out there – put this ride at the top of your list. It is a beautiful ride hosted by a great club. The SIR folks were top notch.

Many thanks to those I rode with: Drew, GP, Glenn, Phil and Manny, who completed his first 1200k. To the SIR organizers and volunteers – you are total ROCK STARS! You all seemed to be everywhere with helping hands, warm smiles and good cheer – at all times. To Shan and Michael for loaning me water bottles in a pinch. To Phil A. And Eric L. for letting me crib some photos. And, as always, thanks for reading.


Filed under Cascade 1200, SIR Rides

Crystal Blue Persuasion 300k Pre-Ride

Crystal Blue Persuasion 300k Pre-Ride
By Joe Llona

Orting Foothills Trail

Shan Perera, Bill Dussler, Rick Groth, Joe Llona and Jason Hansen on the Orting Foothills Trail. By Shan Perera.

The ride starts off through downtown Renton and on to the Cedar River Trail.  At Maple Valley the trail turns to hard-packed gravel and turns onto the Cedar River to Green River Trail.   The 4 mile section is really hard packed and riding it with 25’s was a non-issue, except for at three underpasses that get pretty dark.  No issues there either really except that I was guessing and the gravel was a little looser there.  Just go slower and maybe take the dark glasses off and you’ll be fine.

You get onto the highway for a few miles near Black Diamond and then turn left and go down to the Green River Gorge then climb back up to Cumberland, where the first control will be.  This will be staffed and water will be available.  Restrooms are available about a mile further down from the control at Nolte State Park.

Continuing onto Enumclaw and then onto Highway 410, which can be pretty busy at times.  This will be compounded by the chip sealing operation in that has been in progress for several weeks.  This is the case most of the way from Enumclaw to Crystal Mountain Blvd, with a few (very relieving) breaks. No loose tar to gunk up the frame, but lots of loose gravel scattered on the shoulders.  Tire size is not an issue, but tire durability is.  On the pre-ride there were three flats from the loose rocks on the shoulder.  What I would recommend is if you can, bring a bike without fenders.  Saturday I rode a bike with fenders with a tight clearance and had several times where a rock jammed between the fender and the tire, usually clearing itself in a few rotations but once I had to stop and remove the wheel to clear it.  There are no fog lines and the rumble strips are difficult to see but definitely still there.  There has been progress from week to week, with the road sealed in some places already (was not the case the week before) but still no striping.

After about 30 miles on 410 you turn onto Crystal Mountain Boulevard (CMB).  Before you make that turn though, take inventory of your water bottles.  There is water available 1 mile before the turn onto CMB at Silver Springs Campground on your right.  The climb is on a nice road, consistent 6% grade for first 4 miles then levels for a bit then climbs again.  If it’s warm it will be a two-water-bottle-climb.

At the top you will find another SIR staffed control.  There will be sandwiches, snacks and drinks.  Water and restrooms are available and there is a store and a food truck as well.

The descent is fast and easy, then back onto loose chip seal and headwinds on 410.  At Mud Mountain Road you are off the chip seal project for good.  The descent of Mud Mountain road to Enumclaw is exhilarating, but be wary of on-coming cars coming around the bends.

Back onto 410 (no chip seal project on this stretch) then through Buckley, Burnett, Wilkeson, and Carbonado.  The weather forecast is for it to be pretty warm, so I’d recommend stopping in Burnett or Wilkeson for water before the gentle rolling climb up to the Carbon River Ranger Station.  At the end of the road you will find the Old Ranger Station and an SIR control staffed by an old ranger.  There will be water and drinks available there.

From Carbon River you backtrack down to Wilkeson, and then continue descending to South Prairie, where you get on the beautiful Foothills Trail and parallel the Carbon River into Orting.  As you approach Orting, make sure you look behind you for some awesome views of Mt. Rainier.  The Orting control is not staffed, but there is a Safeway and a Subway at the shopping center along the course.

Continuing on the Foothill Trail towards Puyallup and Sumner the rest of the ride is pancake flat except for an overpass or two.  There are multiple unsigned crossings before your right turn onto Shaw Rd. E, which is clearly signed.  In Sumner the White River Trail should be easy to find from the cue sheet, but shortly after you get on it, there are two places that can become confusing, at least in the dark – just remember to take the left fork of the trail two times and keep the warehouse to your right and you’ll stay on course.

As you approach Pacific, you’re off the White River Trail and then eventually onto Interurban Trail, with clear sailing to Renton, but look out for track crossings, the last one’s pretty bad. In Renton you work your way back to the finish at Fred Meyer, where you began.

Steve put an awesome course together here and except for the chip-sealing on 410 I think you will find the ride very worthwhile.  See you on Saturday.

Clue Sheet:

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Olympia 300k

Pre Ride Report – Olympia 300k
By Ian Shopland

This ride links some of the most scenic, quiet, least traveled roads in southwest Washington. Even in the pouring rain, I was amazed at the solitude and beauty. Here is my ride report.

Four riders: Theo, John P, Corey and myself huddled in the Starbucks and watched as the morning dawn never came. Black clouds billowed out of the south and blocked all but the most faint of morning light. The umbrella awning outside the door spun like a top in the wind and sprayed water over us like a rotary sprinkler. We hardened our resolve and pulled ourselves away from the pastries and coffee.

Within the first few blocks, the route kicks up and climbs over Tumwater Hill. It felt good to get blood pumping in the cold rain. Our brake pads squeegeed off water from our rims on the descent as we rode through sheets of water on the road. We snaked through the westside of town, taking the back roads to stay off the freeway as long as possible. Just before the gas station at Steamboat Island, we turned onto the 101 onramp and headed north to Shelton. This is the busiest section of the route but the shoulder is wide enough to ride two abreast. Be cautious when crossing the on/off ramps. Just north of Shelton we spotted some patches of blue sky and then decided they were actually just patches of less gray sky. Before too long we were at the first control and filled up with snacks and more coffee.

The instant we turned off 101, the sound of traffic disappeared behind us and we were left to our thoughts on the small roads though the woods. The next info control is not far off, but takes us through the quiet valley of Little Egypt. I believe this road is new to SIR. This info control is at a bridge between mile marker 1 and 2. Don’t forget to stop and read the sign on the left. After the control, the route circles the valley and the next turn isn’t signed. It turns up a short unmarked intersection that is a connector to the main road (Highland). If you  miss it, just go down the 200m to the stop sign and take a left on Highland. It gets you to the same place.

At this point, the rain had nearly stopped and we were able to look around and enjoy the scenery: green leaves slowly unfolding, rippling creeks full to their banks, and bright yellow odorous skunk cabbage blooming in the ditches. As the route turned south, the winds picked up and brought driving rain with them. This would be the weather rhythm of the day. Patches of dry/almost sunny and then the water faucet would reopen and we would be soaked for a few miles.

We arrived at the Montesano Thriftway dripping and were thrilled to see the deli was open. Hot chicken strips and hot clam chowder made the perfect lunch meal. The break was much needed, but we spent a long time there trying to work up the motivation to go back into the rain.

The stretch between Montesano and Artic went quickly. I was glad we didn’t have to go all the way down to Raymond on the “normal” route south. I’ve heard the cafe called “Clark’s” is very good and is located just before the turn, but we didn’t stop. The Fire station is just around the corner from the turn off on 101. The answer to the info question is on the west side of the building, (that would be the left side when looking at the doors).

Our first real sun came out at the perfect time. The trees and bushes were dripping with diamonds of raindrops as we followed the North River on the only paved road to the town of Brooklyn. The tavern here is a legacy of the logger bars of the yesteryear of the region. The wood floors are well worn and the walls are covered in old logging tools. We walked into a live duet of tuba and piano serenading the locals. The bartenders were happy and welcoming and there were drinks and hotdogs within a few minutes wait. It was hard to leave the warmth and entertainment of the bar but the most difficult sections of the ride were about to come.

In less than a mile the beautiful paved road turns to gravel and begins to climb. It continues for 3.8 miles and gains 800 ft with a max grade of 12-13%. The gravel quality is mostly very hard packed. The climb is long and hard but the views are incredible. If you can hear your heart pounding in your ears, just stop for a moment and regroup. Walk a bit and try again. The descent is also steep 11-12% and looses about the same elevation in about the same distance. Keep your bike under control and don’t overstep your skills. Make sure you are having fun. Before you know it, the pavement starts again and before you know it, there is another steep (paved) climb ahead of you.

The next stop was Adna and we warmed ourselves again and were ready for some food. I warmed a burrito in the microwave and John heated up some canned soup in a coffee mug. PLEASE pick up after yourself. The manager Jason wasn’t happy that some rando’s left garbage on his table and outside on another ride. Be courteous and clean up and remember thank yous.

Don’t eat too much in Adna or you might taste it again as you are going up Curtis Hill, just a few miles from the control. Darkness fell as we crested the hill and on the descent, we were again pelted by rain so hard it stung my face. The Curtis store is closed, but the answer to the info question is on the building to the left of the door. The route heads back the way you came, but don’t worry, we’re not going up Curtis Hill again. The route turns right on Lake Creek and heads down to King Road.

King Road was one of those roads that Rando’s have passed on many rides and I always asked myself, “I wonder where that goes?” It is a beautiful road that connects Curtis to Winlock. The pavement ends long before the climb. The climb itself is less than two miles but it is steep 11-12% and gains 600ft. This gravel is looser than on Brooklyn Road. Riders with 23mm tires will be challenged to maintain traction at times. The reason we started the ride an hour earlier was to get most of the riders through this section in the daylight. Our journey put us through this section in the pouring rain in the dark. It was a serious challenge. Most of the descent is paved, however. There is a short steep section of gravel (.6mi) and 8-9% max grade and 150 ft down.

You almost don’t have to pedal to get to Winlock. The usual bridge on Fir St is closed so there is a short detour south one block to the next bridge. After a re-supply on food, coffee, and dry air. We began the final section of climbs. The route backtracks a few blocks and zig zags through town to Tennessee and follows a few roller coaster hills before you hit Pleasant Valley. The only thing unpleasant about Pleasant Valley is leaving it, but before too long the Hillcrest Food Mart appears.

At this point, the hills were over, the wind was at our back but the rain still pounded the pavement. We headed north to home wet and tired.


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Filed under Pre Rides, SIR Rides

Bahn Mi 300K Pictures

These pictures were uploaded to Flickr by Brian Hanson, Luis Bernhardt, Bill Gobie, yummygooey and others and tagged with 300kmar292014 so that we could find them.


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Filed under SIR Rides

The Bellingham Big Ring 200km

Pre Ride Report – The Bellingham Big Ring 200km
La grande boucle 200 kilomètres!
(for those who need their rides to sound French)
By Dan Turner

Imagine if you will… A scenic 200km ride with practically no climbing… No epic mountain passes, little chance of snow and light traffic. A civilized start time? A better than average chance of finishing in daylight, for an early season ride. Ok, I admit, I designed the route to be able to be successfully completed by a gimp (me) following major knee surgery back in November.
Bellingham200-3The ride start location is at Dan Turner’s house about 6.5 miles east of Bellingham. It’s approximately a 90 minute drive from Seattle or the eastside, so plan accordingly. The start time of the ride is 8:30 A.M. so you can leave the big city at around 6 AM and still have plenty of time for a leisurely time before the start. This year there are no big climbs… What you give up in long uphill slogs you make up for in forward progress made good.

The benefit of organizing a brevet is the ability to cherry-pick the weather within the allotted window. I managed to pick a day forecast for mostly clear and temps in the mid 50’s. I rolled out a little late with chilly temps in the upper 20’s and just a touch of frost. The high point of the ride is about 1.5 miles from the start and begins along a gentle downhill for a couple of miles and then flattens out along Goshen and Cedarville roads as you cruise past the Deming log show grounds. There’s a very brief portion on SR 542 to cross the Nooksack river taking the traffic circle North on Hwy 9 for a short bit, then continuing North toward Sumas on quiet side roads, north through the Nooksack Valley to Sumas.
Bellingham200-1In Sumas you’ll have a quick control at Bromely’s Market before heading South toward Everson. At Everson Park there will be a quick manned control point before heading back north toward the Canadian Border and then west toward Blaine and Birch Bay. There is an informational control across from the US Border crossing station, on the stop sign post at Boundary Road and SR 539. Next, you’ll head generally westward on many quiet side roads toward Birch Bay. There is a control at Yorky’s market on Drayton Harbor Rd where you can get some rando nourishment. There are a number of store, café and restaurant options between MP 55 and 59 in the Birch Bay area.

After Birch Bay you’ll cross onto a couple of the roads closed to cars near BP Cherry Point. The pavement past the closed gates is perhaps a bit rough, kind of like the cobbles of the spring classics. Then, you’ll head southward to the Lummi peninsula and views of Bellingham Bay. There is an info control on the stop sign post as you make the Turn to Lummi Shore Road. Food and Services are available in Ferndale between MP 91 & 92.
Bellingham200-5From Ferndale, you’ll head north to Custer, crossing I-5 and then onto more quiet roads toward Lynden. The final informational control will be at the corner of Loomis Trail Road and Sunrise Road before continuing East to Lynden. More food and services are available at Lynden between MP 108 and 110. You may need to cut a few blocks off course from Main Street down to front street for food. For more leisurely riders, Lynden will probably be a good place to get your reflective gear on and your lights working if it’s starting to get dark. The final push back to the finish is on quiet roads. There will be food and refreshments at the finish.

This ride is called the Big Ring 200, because it truly can be ridden in the Big Ring. Most of the climbing is very gentle grades and there are almost no steep pitches at all. The few that are a tad steeper are very very short. I admit I did use my small ring a couple of times, but hey, after my knee surgery in November, I still can’t stand and pedal. I forgot to start my Garmin a couple of times after stopping but I actually recorded closer to 2,400 feet of total climbing rather than the 3,010 feet calculated by Ride With GPS. We’re talking about 20 feet per mile average. This is a very easy 200km course!

Bellingham200-4Winds and weather will likely be the only real challenges on this ride, but the wind can be handled nicely by riding with a group. The forecast is for showers and temps in the low to mid 50’s with no snow. Riders should exercise caution when approaching cross streets and should be very careful not to ignore stop signs because cars can appear very quickly on those side or crossing roads.

So plan on doing this ride and maybe setting a new personal record for a 200k. Please pre-register on line to make things easier and more efficient at check in and to give us a heads up for food and refreshments at the finish.

Dan is hosting the The Bellingham Big Ring 200km on Saturday, March 22nd. To find out more and to pre-register see the SIR Web Site.

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Filed under Pre Rides, SIR Rides

Le 1000 du Sud 2013

Le 1000 du Sud 2013
By Hugh Kimball

Again I was the only U.S. finisher in le Mille du Sud, the same result as in 2011. One of the reasons I’m writing about this ride is the hope that some more SIR riders will ride this spectacular ride. True, there was about 55,000 feet of gain. But also true is that SIR has riders that routinely go faster than I. Another way to look at it is that doing the ride in the time limit is not important. The challenge and effort are more important. If you find yourself not going fast enough, you can slow down even more and enjoy France.

Hugh after le Col de Paruetout - by Michel et Christine

Hugh after le Col de Paruetout – by Michel et Christine

On Monday 2 September I left the apartment in Sisteron for Carcès. The ride is about 120K and I had all day. So I did not need to push it. I arrived at the hotel about 6pm and stayed there two nights prior to the ride. On Tuesday 3 September I took it easy and ate a lot. People were arriving and it was good to see old friends. That evening was a pre-ride banquet with lots of good food.

The ride started at 8am Wednesday 4 September. Leaving Carcès I was excited and stayed with a large group of riders who were going pretty fast. In the afternoon I was riding with Guy Bouillot and others. Guy and I finished together in 2011. Guy, Robert Kérautret, Michel Bailleul, and I had dinner in Crest. There were also other riders at that restaurant. I especially remember a German speaking group.  I was not hungry: a sign that I nearly bonked in the hot afternoon. I drank a great deal of ice water and nibbled at my pizza. But after dinner I felt better and the four of us headed into the night.

About 23:00 Wednesday we got to Pont-en-Royans (313km) where we all had un cola. Guy and Robert decided to get some sleep at a hotel while Michel and I continued. A little before first light at a stop on the outskirts of Grenoble (388km) we stopped for a one hour rest. We were on asphalt and in spite of the warmth of my space blanket I did not sleep. Michel and I found a bar for coffee and pastries. Food stops are always welcome but especially after a long night. At Valbonnais (437km) we stopped for a good meal. After the meal I continued on as Michel wanted to wait for Guy and Robert. A few km from Valbonnais is the start of the climb of Col de Parquetout. The climb is only 7km but it has continuously steep sections. Fortunately, I had the company of Henry Rijkenberg a Dutchman who speaks very good English. He stayed a little longer at the secret control as I continued on. Christian Handler was also at that control. Christian and I would play leapfrog on the course that day. I saw him at la Maison du Col du Festre, at Ancelle, and the secret control before Embrun.

It turned out that there were five secret controls. These controls were staffed by the excellent volunteers from Provence Randonneurs. The last one I passed on Friday afternoon was manned by Joseph Maurer, who must have spent a long time there.

As it was getting dark on Thursday I came upon the secret control before Embrun. I asked the control workers (Bruno and Maria) if there was a hotel near by. They said that they did not know of one, but I could use the tent. So I slept for 3 hours and was much better for it. I left the secret control about 22:30 and proceeded down a very poorly paved road to Embrun and to the control at Guillestre . I left Guillestre a little after midnight and climbed the Col de Vars. At first some sections were quite steep but it eased and the road was brightly lit as this is a ski resort.  Descending Col de Vars was like a bobsled run. The road was truly amazing. I did this at first light. It was now Friday. Thirty hours and 400K to go. That should be easy, but then I was tired and there were hills to climb.

I continued through the day keeping a steady pace. I was with no other riders and was glad to see Joseph Maurer at his secret control.

Then came the third night, I found myself very tired and my pace was slowing to a crawl. When I get tired I cannot steer straight. So I needed some rest. I found a comfortable place in grass on the side of the road. I wanted to sleep only an hour at most so I did not use the space blanket. I was asleep immediately and woke up in 45 minutes, as I was cold. At this point I knew I was behind. So I reacted by being mad at myself and pedaling hard to get my endorphins going and wake myself up. It worked! I woke up and I felt better that about my forward progress. And I was not having trouble steering.

Descending Col du Noyer

Descending Col du Noyer

At 886.5 km I miss read the cue sheet. I thought that I had missed a turn so I returned on my route to the last junction that I knew was correct. It had only cost me a couple of km. When I came to that junction there were Philippe Chassagne, Alain Séverin, and Patrice Courel looking at a map. I was so glad to see them! They cheered me up! We started off together and I was so glad I promptly picked up the pace. Well I slowed down a bit. Then Patrice got going. Patrice had Schemer’s neck, but his legs were still strong. So it was decided that Patrice and I would go on ahead. We were not much ahead for when we got to Castellane, Philippe and Alain were soon there. Philippe and Alain took a short nap in Castellane while Patrice and I proceeded to La Palud-sur-Verdon. There, Patrice took a 5 minute nap while I found a bakery. After waking Patrice up and giving him a croissant we finished the ride. I had a hard time keeping up with him at times. Shortly after we finished, Philippe and Alain finished.  We all made it in under 75 hours.

A week after I got back from France I noticed a rash on my arm. I did not think much about it, thinking it a spider bite. But twhen it did not go away for 3 weeks I became concerned. My wife Janet suggested I look up Lyme disease on Google. I did and one of the pictures on the web looked like my rash. The rash comes up about 8 days after being bit by a tick infected with the parasite. Eight days before the rash appeared I was on the last night of le Mille du Sud. I slept in grass at the side of the road with no tent, bivy sack, or even space blanket. I had been bitten by a tick and got Lyme disease. So I started antibiotic treatment and I am as cured as I am going to be. Next time I plan to bivy on the side of the road I will take my bivy sack, which weighs a little less than a pound.

What did I learn from this ride?

  1. Keep going! Yet a short rest can be good.
  2. One way to wake up is to pedal very hard.
  3. Use a bivy.
Water basin before climb of Col de la Cayolle

Water basin before climb of Col de la Cayolle


Davidson titanium bike, 28mmX700mm tires, front tire 80psi, rear tire 100psi, triple crank 52-30, cassette 12-28.

Small front bag and large Caradice rear bag to carry: wool jersey, raincoat, wool leg warmers, wool mittens, and extra food. 2- 28oz water bottles. There are many public water basins with good water, especially in the mountains.


Stores are usually open in the morning, closed around noon, and open again in the afternoon. So plan accordingly. Have a way to carry food.
Bakeries are often open early and supply bread, pastries, pizza, quiche, and flan. Grocery stores have yogurt, cheese, sausage, juice, etc. The old French grocery stores are fantastic. Unfortunately they are being replaced by Super-U’s.


Filed under Other Rides, SIR Members

2013 Winter Solstice Ride

Robert Higdon provides us with a second report on the 2013 Winter Solstice Ride. Robert is SIR’s resident graphic designer. You can view his professional portfolio and random musings at Bunnyhawk.

2013 Winter Solstice Ride
By Robert Higdon

Never too late to ride“If I get a flat, I’m going to bag this ride.” So stated Mark Thomas, one of the hardiest randonneurs I know. A man with roughly six zillion kilometers under his belt this year alone. That statement said a lot about the ride we were just starting. It didn’t qualify us for anything. It was overnight. It was cold and very wet.

Somewhere around 30 of us talked ourselves into at least starting the damn thing. We holed up at Peet’s Coffee in Redmond and drank coffee to build up our nerves. It was my first actual (paperwork legitimate) rando ride in nearly two years. After PBP, I decided to take some time off from the sport for a bit… maybe just keep it “200k and under” for a while. Somehow that turned into two years without a single ride over 100k. Regardless, I did need the time to recalibrate. It was damn good to see the old crew again, though. There are so many smiling (delusional?) faces in that crowd.

We got rolling at 8:00pm sharp. My only plan was to stick with Mark Thomas and Joe Platzner and catch up. If I could rope Hahn Rossman in with the slow group, all the better. On the ride through Marymoor Hahn dropped something from his saddlebag and I slowed down with him in hopes of keeping the group together. One turn later, Vinnie had a mechanical that Hahn and I stopped to help fix. It was maybe 45 seconds in total time off the bike. I never saw the “main group” again that night.

Hahn in from a cocktail partyI could have been in much worse company, though. Hahn is a talking machine and we had a lot to catch up on. There’s a lot of gossip to cover, between bike building, cyclocross, and rando culture.

On Mercer Island, Hahn showed me an awesome little gravel side cut to a road that I’ve taken probably a couple hundred times over my short cycling lifetime. Finding new paths is still a simple joy for me. If that ever stops entertaining me, I’ll probably stop riding all together.

We passed by my apartment for the first of two times on this ride. At this point, it was only 30k into the ride. I joked about grabbing a beer quick beer at home. Hahn had just come from a cocktail party. We kept rolling.

My usual commute to work followed—toward Renton. The Cedar River Trail led us to a much-needed manned control with hot cocoa. SIR really knows how to man a control, especially at night. We are coddled up here in Seattle.

Hahn and I hooked on with a couple other randos for the slog back up toward our starting point (but only the half way point) in Redmond. Most of our rides up here are loop circuits, but this one was a loose figure 8. It kept things fairly easy and well lit—great for an overnight ride—but with too many options to bail for my liking. We opted for any and all gravel routes along the way.

Once we finally got to our gas station control in Redmond, one member of our small group was talking about quitting. He had legitimate reasons to, but we egged him on as much as possible anyway. He rode along for the rest of the ride. Suffering loves company.

There is nothing quite like rolling back out into a cold, rainy night after just “warming up” inside a mini-mart. It’s really…character building.

The ride back down Lake Sammamish rolled right on by, but I really started to hit my wall (one of many that night, to be honest) around the East Renton Highlands. I seemed constantly on the verge of being dropped and I had no cue sheet on me. It was a rookie move. I constantly considered my bail out options. Certainly someone would pity me enough to pick me up in the middle of the night in Renton right? Hahn kept nudging me along though, both with words and general company. We finally hit the south end of Lake Washington.

We made a little bathroom stop at Seward Park. I switched out to my (soon to be soaked) third pair of gloves. It was a real test of my current cycling gear. Most of my old clothing is getting a little long in the tooth. My legs were warm with the exception of that part in my legging with the giant hole in it.

As if in a sick joke, the second time we passed my apartment was 160k in to the 200k ride. “Hahn, I’ve got a plan. We both stop at our houses tonight, and I’ll take you out in the morning to pick up your truck. Just imagine a nice hot shower.” He turned to me, “This is the home stretch man.” “I know…I’m…joking.” Passing by my apartment literally hurt my heart.

We eventually hit the Burke Gilman Trail. It was a long slog up and over the northern tip of Lake Washington. He was correct—it was the home stretch—but the ride never seemed to want to end. We passed the occasional super-early morning jogger, seemingly angry at the fact that they were up so early and exercising in the dark with headlamps on. They must have been thinking the exact same thing we were; “What the hell are those cyclists doing out here at this time?” I didn’t know. I still don’t.

Eventually, our beacon of light reached us. I’ve never been so happy to see a Peet’s Coffee open. We finished at 6:00am—the exact moment they opened for the day. The sweet women working the counter let us drip all over their floors and served us bathtub sized cups of mediocre—albeit delicious to me at this point—coffee. I had an awesome croissant with “flour flown in from Paris,” according to the barista. Fancy.

A week later, my shoes just finished drying out. Here I am again. Back in the thick of it. What am I doing?

Welcome to the 2014 randonneur season.

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Filed under SIR Rides, Winter Solstice Ride

Because the night belongs to Randos…

By Chris Heg

The Winter Solstice night ride is a 4 year old tradition invented by our own Joe Platzner. The rest of the world is slowly catching on.


Mark looks doubtful, Vinnie looks happy, James looks relaxed, and Robert, in pink, looks amused.

This year’s version was very wet – the rain never really stopped all night. Fortunately, it wasn’t too cold. Some of these events have been close to freezing. This time the temperature was in the mid 40’s and slowly rising through the night. Despite being wet through I could maintain a fairly comfortable equilibrium as long as I kept riding. Stopping caused a quick chill. Sort of like being a shark but instead of not being able to breath when you stop moving you just shiver a lot. Great incentive to stay on the bike though!


The start control. I would guess we had about 25 riders at the start.

One flat at 25 miles but otherwise no issues. Good times: riding alone, with old friends, and with new friends, on good trails and empty roads. Sign me up. 🙂

P.S. I have to put a plug in for my Busch&Muller Luxos-U headlight. The best light I’ve ever had by a long shot.


The “Rain Tree”, a decorated tree at Redmond City Hall that we passed near the finish. There was also a megawatt Christmas light display at a little house on Logan Ave. in Renton.


Filed under SIR Rides, Winter Solstice Ride

Black-Spoke The White Knight

SIR’s own Vincent Muoneke rode nine 1, 200s this year. Here are his recollections on the rides. When Vincent is not riding he writes prose and verse about riding at The Spokesong Blog.

Black-Spoke The White Knight
By Vincent Muoneke


With childhood heroes like Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart, with biplanes suspended from my ceiling, like Icarus I had a dream to fly, but dreams die first. No rules would keep me grounded while my thoughts could fly away, I was regressing to that childhood at the thought of finally seeing Kitty Hawk. I did not fly into Kitty Hawk, but limped in, not on two wings, nor even two good wheels. Having spotted a cracked rear rim earlier and benefiting from a loaner from ride organizer Tony Goodnight, any sense of redemption was immediately marred by problems with the loaner. Luke “Skywalker” Heller stuck with me, through hope and despair, finding the right spacer for the cogs, after the anxious ride to the control for the exchange. As we headed into the outer banks my senses were ablaze with foreboding,  the wheel was not up to the job. By Kitty Hawk the wheel was so out of true that the tires  rubbed the stays, I had broken a spoke, not even 100k into the loaner wheel.
Strange that 8 has always been my self appointed lucky number, no evidence, but are we not a superstitious bunch?  My eighth Grand Randonee of 2013 would crash in Kitty Hawk. Not if Young Skywalker had any say, he knew of a Bike Shop in Kitty Hawk. Young Wilbur (I have no idea if that is his name) looks at my bike, I look at his wheels. I am pretty nihilistic, I feel pretty powerless. He listens to my flight plans, he discourages me from buying his best wheel available, my best chance is the wheel I have. Yet we need a spoke, after an apologetic gesture that the spoke is not available, he pulls out a black spoke from a potpourri of parts and goes for a fit. No fit, he does not give up he modifies the spoke by cutting off a small piece of the threaded end and trues the wheel. I am now a true non-believer, but still powerless. At the Nags Head, Control Joel Lawrence has set up for us, I try but fail at not being a party pooper.

Why this intensity? it starts back at Port Campbell in Victoria, Australia in November 2012. I had as the Aussies would say “punked out” of the GSR. I termed it The Great Southern Debacle. I knew not in Port Campbell if I could ever fly again, it would not be from lack of trying again and again. Gary Wall had given me a ride to Anglesea and Peter Donnan had picked a good number of us Americans from Anglesea and kept us at his home in Melbourne. Peter and Family, Mark Thomas, Mike Dayton, John “Cap’n” Ende, and Spencer “Roomie” Klaassen, they all lit a candle in that poor heart of mine. I set my eyes on the Wagarratta Wahine but there was a lot to figure out, eek!
Nine Grands in 2013 was not a plan, it was like the falling of dominoes, a chain reaction. I commence the story at Kitty Hawk merely because it was the weakest link.
A frigid 600k in North Carolina with the NC Randonneurs in February is the first test, I bloom the first day but wilt in the wind on the second day, bitter-sweet uncertainty.

Taiwan in February, ready or not! A few hours after my arrival in Taipei I get hit as a pedestrian by a moped walking to the hotel from a soup shop. I am somewhat protected by my carry-on bag which takes the direct hit, my left knee and right shoulder are questionable, I religiously apply heat for the remaining days. I will be riding with my SIR buddies Mark Thomas and Rick Blacker. A bullet train ride and a bus brings us to the Pingtung Province. Amidst pomp and Pageantry from the local officials we kick off at night from “The Bridge” in Dapeng Bay in the South China Sea. It is hot and extremely humid, I am so so nervous. Mark looks at me and says “relax, this is what you do”. I drink two gallons of water as they go through their speeches, I stare at the mountains off in the distance.
The small island of Taiwan has 10,000 24hr convenience stores, they are the secret to any success, sleep and soup. We hit the Mountains in the heat of the following day and it takes its toll. At our first overnight the ride sponsor has a live band going, we are not going to make our planned sleep stop a little further down the road. Mark and Rick try under the circumstances to get a few hours. I stay awake and drink three gallons of dilute Recoverite, wake up the boys and we are off. Night riding had shielded us partly from the crowded islands traffic, after what seems like all night climbing I think we have obtained the admiration and respect of the Taiwanese riders, most succumb to sleep in a 7-11 store, we push on. We arrive in Taipei through a howling wind storm. Lack of sleep is weighing on me but I will not admit it. Traffic is just nuts until we go into the mountains again. Four hours of black nonexistence at the next overnight in the mountains, we start back towards Pingtung. We pass a completely different Taipei at night to find strawberry fields and then more mountains and then more traffic. I will take the mountains any day and it was still waiting for us, but this time with a huge wind and rain storm. The roads are closed for two hours due to fallen trees and branches, but we have already squeezed through. Back at Pingtung  I have to take off my shoes to dismount as I cannot twist to unclip, we know there has been carnage in the finishing numbers. Rick summarizes with the words; “Just because you can, does not mean you should”, but I will miss the duck with noodles.

Texas Stampede had a whole posse of gauchos in blue shirts this year. Dan Driscoll encourages me to join. I feel honored. We all show in Waxahachie Texas, Mayday! here come the cattle drovers, we move em out in one huge herd. Texas is big, Texas is flat, Texas is windy. Dan Driscoll and the Lone Stars, their hearts are as big as Texas. The herd covers the first 100k in just over three hours.  This is insane, the heat is killing me. I feel unworthy of my perennial K-hound status. Day two brings the Hill Country and temperate weather, I go for redeeming myself to myself, gotta quit all this me, myself and I. I find my spot back in the herd. Hiding in the Peloton with Bill Olsen I learn that he plans to pre-ride Endless Mountains, “sign me up” I chimed and then promptly forgot about it. Day three was perhaps a record low temperature in those parts in quite sometime. “Born and bred in the briar patch” I thought to myself, let’s pedal hard for heat. Day four was the big warm up, I am edgy about this and itchy to decaffeinate the ride. A crash splinters the herd and I broke off  and ride em in with the Olsens and Mike Fox. Now! Now! Vinny, life is a marathon not a sprint.


The “Two-Step”  loomed large and ambitious, it was definitely a dance, though not of Texas. Its originator I am sure, was Mark Thomas, though it all seems so blurry now. None of us brothers in arms (Mark, Rick and myself) had completed such a feat before, or so I believe, yet we embraced it like a long lost lover. We would ride from Belgium through Brussels into France, through Paris to the Champagne growing hills and back. Four days later we would start the Trans-Danube 1200k in Hungary. Mark arranged a great logistic through a lot of emails, the lime in the Corona would be the company of Spencer Klaassen, Cap’n Ende and Mike Dayton on the first step. Flying from Seattle and Kansas was easy enough, but the North Carolina boys had weather problems. Fortunately all arrive in time for a drizzly start in Herentals, I always have fenders. We had several flats that caused us to pull up the rear, not that we missed any of the beauty. We ride into Paris with the Brazilians, The Germans; Herr Kaminski and his stoker, Spencer and the NC boys. They have all slept a couple hours more due to our late arrival at the overnight just before Paris, but we will all sleep well on this one. We see Orleans, and on the way to the next overnight, the rain takes out my Edelux. I have a spare light but I fret this “two-step”. Day three was a day spent with my room-mate Spencer. He plays a fixie like a fiddle, he even rode back 13 miles to find his lost passport, no sweat. We rode through the Champagne grapes to dine and sleep just outside Eparnay, that was a good day. On the way back to Herentals we rode with Serge Maraquin and Alain Caron, seems I remember the Randos more than the Eiffel Towers or Moulin Rouges. The Mayor of Herentals and Organizer Jan Geerts has arranged a welcome for us, The Mayor’s secretary is to be our podium girl with two kisses for each rider. All the Americans have gone to our hotel to shower leaving me to collect their medals and their kisses, twelve in all. One day for Laundry and the next day we all fly out, but on laundry day I acquired Serge Maraqiuin’s Edelux, Lord Maraquin said; “let there be light”.

In Hungary a van took us straight from the airport in Budapest to our lodging in Vezsprem. The ride starts here, the gateway to Lake Balaton, the sea of land locked Hungary.  This is a beautiful tour of the great cities and monuments that speak to the lasting influence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. We feast on Goulash with Paprika of course. and our eyes feast on the natural beauty of this land. On the last day, Mark and Rick are ahead and I spend the day with Jan Erik Jensen. The next day Akos the organizer gives Jan and I a ride into the twin city off Budapest, We find a pension to stay in and he drops us off at Hero Square and we take in the city. Jan flies off the next day and I have a day to kill, some of it is on the internet, where I learn that my “Roomie” Spencer is riding the Big Wild Ride.

Alaska Randonneurs RBA Kevin Turinsky makes it so easy, “you are welcome” he writes, though the ride is now less than four days away, I am scrambled in time anyway with all the flying. With the help of the girls in my office, I find myself flying into Seattle, working one day and on the evening of the same day taking the last flight from SEATAC to Anchorage. At some point in Seattle I found time to swap out the contents of my bike case. I took out the Hampsten Travelissmo (Khaleesi) and packed the Thompson 650B (Wahine) . I get to the hotel in Anchorage in a cab just past midnight, after waiting an hour for a hotel shuttle that never came. I hurriedly put Wahine together only to find that the dynohub powered light does not work, so I break it all down to find where I have created a short in its internal wiring. By the time I fix this it is time to go get breakfast with Spencer, Rod Geisert and Joe Edwards.
I get a late bike inspection, check in my bike in the truck and board the train to Whittier. A picturesque train ride, the train is buzzing with Randonneurs, I am too pumped up to crash out at this point. Bill Olsen informs me that there will be no pre-ride of Endless Mountains, we will have to do the regular ride we decide. At Whittier we pick up the bikes and board a ferry to Valdez, we sail with whales and all kinds off marine wildlife, I crash out on the ferry in a most uncomfortable chair. I am dead to the world. Next day we flesh out the bikes and struggle to bank sleep, midnight we are off with what seems like the who’s who of RUSA. I am riding with Dan Driscoll, Pam Wright, Lois Springsteen, Kitty Goursolle, John Lee Ellis, Debra Banks, Greg Conderacci, Ron Himschoot, Karel Stroethoff, Jim Solanick to name a few of the Randonneurs I know, not already mentioned above. Heading north through a mountain pass in the dark to Delta Junction where there is barely any darkness past twilight. We roam with wildlife moose, bear, wolves and Randos. Next day we continue north to Fairbanks and turn south, from Fairbanks to Nenana is memorable climbing in the heat. As the day cools off we hit a long patch of bad road before Healy, I am glad Wahine is with me, Healy to Talkeetna is by the Denali Park and Mckinley is out. Last day through Wasilla, we are back in Anchorage.

Endless Mountains; “I remember a lot of climbing at night” I said to Mark. But four years ago it was in September, now it is in August with more daylight, this one will also be hotter and more humid. This will be my fourth 1200K in just over a month and my sixth for the year, caution is prevailing over exuberance by now. A pattern is emerging, I will add the first couple of days, to the recovery phase and exploit the training effect in the last two days. I resist any temptation to follow a very strong group in the first two days. Mark flies off with Joel Lawrence and Vinny Sikorski, I barely see them the whole ride. I ride with John “Endless” Pearch and Ian Shopland my SIR roomates also the Olsen brothers and Mike Fox. The last day I spend almost exclusively with Jos Vestergren (the Flying Dutchman). The climbing is unparalleled and endless, the support is awesome as expected of Tom Rosenbauer and his group of Volunteers. Jos leaves the next day to ride to Canada for the Granite Anvil, Bill Olsen will join him, I will pass on this one, I travel to Africa for family matters.

Last Chance was spent totally in the company of Theo Roffe. We mingled with other riders in random fashion, including the very impressive Andrea Matney. Our trip from Boulder to Kensington was uneventful enough, though I could not sleep much at Atwood on the way out. For a brief while in Kensington it got quite hot and humid, and I was glad that for cooling showers as we headed back to Atwood. At this time we ran into Andy Albershardt and Gary “Jens” Sparks. Sleep deprivation was a problem then, not much thought given to the weather. I had better sleep at Atwood on the way back, but still we did not prepare for the storms that lay ahead. By Bird City; another flat had us hiding in a dairy to fix the flat, when we saw Andy and Gary fly by, they were chasing us down. At the Bird City Diner the farmers asked where we were going in the storm, “I hope you have a canoe”, they joked, when they learned we were headed for Colorado. Then it got worse, at Idalia we bought thrift store clothes for reinforcement as 30mph wind gusts drove the rain in our face and sometimes stopped us in our tracks. At Byers we ate and slept a glorious four hours. Gary had skipped this and Andy rode in with us on a modified course through the flood devastation to Boulder, but I digress.

Before I digressed we were at Nags Head on the Taste of Carolina, we started in Lumberton and it was mostly wet the first day. We had done the first overnight and we were now headed for Engelhard. I thought; there is not much city form there to Lumberton, perhaps I should quit there, not in the middle of nowhere. Reaching Engelhard it looked pretty much like the middle of  nowhere so I went on with much of the wolf pack (Mark Thomas, Dan Driscoll, Rick Blacker, Greg Courtney, Luke Heller. Thomas Droege, Michael Shmit and Bob Bruce) to a sleep spot eleven miles down the road. Exhausted and exasperated I fell into REM sleep to find Orville Wright Admonishing me to “take this broken wing and learn to fly again, learn to be so free“, then he morphed into Leonard Cohen:
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in”
And that was it, I rode in with  Black-spoke and the wolf pack to Lumberton.

Next was the Sydney to Melbourne Alpine 1200k, the return to the scene of the crime.
“Just gotta learn to live with what you can’t rise above”….. Bruce Springsteen.



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