Category Archives: SIR Members

PCH Randonneurs Five Rivers 300k

A trip and ride report by Andy Speier with a few comments from Jeff Loomis

Andy (L) and Jeff (R) enjoy some sunshine.

The opportunity to ride 300 km in weather above 40 degrees sounded good. After riding several sub-40 degree rides in January, I was in need of some re-warming. The flat 5 Rivers 300 out of Corona sounded like it would do the trick. I sent out an email to my local guys and Jeff responded back. Yes, he would love to get a 300 in early in the season but did not want to sacrifice a day off from work. Ok. Less than ideal, but, with a flight out of Seattle at 5:00 P.M., we could do it and be in bed by before midnight. With an 0600 start we could get 5 hours of sleep. More than an overnight control. Perfect.

As with all plans, they started to crumble a bit on the day of the departure. Alaska Airlines alerted us to a delay of 45 minutes. As the day progressed, it became 90 minutes. No harm done. We arrived and waited for our rental car. Jeff had spoken to me at length about the advantage of using Avis and being a “Preferred Member,” so I have reserved a car and enrolled in their program. There is only one Avis guy on duty. A family of 8 is working through the details of their reservation with 4 children running around. The insurance liability conversation seems to go on forever. Jeff is lecturing me on the virtues of the Preferred member status and that I have not attained that designation. [Jeff:  Unfortunately this is an accurate accounting.]  At one point a second clerk appears and he inquires whether any of us are Preferred Members. I say I am. He asks if my name is Chappman. It is not, so he calls the next person in line. When it is my turn, he asks to see my ID, hands me a car key and calls the next person. Apparently, I am in the club. They are just a bit less organized at John Wayne Airport.

Our transportation is an SUV that swallows up our bikes and bags with room to spare. Off to Corona. A 27-29 minute drive on 55 and 91. There is some mention of a toll road, but it is now 11:30 at night. Traffic is flowing quite well. Off we go. After about 10 minutes the traffic slows and then STOPS. Jeff consults his mobile app. There seems to be a long red line. How long? Very long. I will spare you the details: our 29 minute drive becomes 2 hours. Wow. We arrive at the hotel at 1:30. The bad news is there is only one bed. The good news is that it is a king and there is plenty of room.

Now the fun stuff: build up the bikes. My bike is done in an hour. Jeff finishes soon after. [Jeff:  We made the decision to go fender-free because it is California and it speeds the assembly/disassembly process.]  I am in bed by 2:45. Jeff by 3:00. Up at 0500. 2 hours in bed. Yes, this is a 300 with an overnight control.

Morning upon us, we check in with Terry, the ride organizer, at 0530. There are around 14 participants. Nearly all from the LA and San Diego area. Michelle has flown in from Minnesota. The CA folks are bundled up. Jeff and I not so much. It is 54 degrees at the start. Within the hour we will be stripped down to short sleeve wool jerseys, shorts and fingerless gloves. At one point sunglasses are critical to being able to see. [Jeff:  We received many comments during the day about our lack of clothing.]

The route is 80 percent on paved bike trails. Though there has been recent rain and local flooding,  there is little sign of this on the trails. [Jeff:  A few puddles early in the day make us briefly regret the lack of fenders.  Andy rides straight through some of these, having forgotten his bike is naked.] The trails mostly follow rivers, waterways and freeways. This would not be described as a beautiful cycling adventure on rural quiet roads. Often there is the sound of highway traffic. When not along a highway, the trails run alongside rivers and waterways. Most are empty or trickling and filled with debris along the sides. There is much garbage in the trees.  [Jeff:  many of the trails are bordering older neighborhoods that now appear to be low-income areas.  Interestingly, there are large clusters of shacks and paddocks housing horses right here in the city.]

I did this ride last year and saw several homeless tent sites. This year there are tent cities along the trail. Most of these we pass by during daylight hours. There are large cities under the overpasses and at night this will resemble a scene from a Mad Max movie. The good news is that there appear to be several bike repair / replacement shops within the cities. Enter at your own peril.

Andy on top of the Santa Fe Dam

[Jeff:  Heading into Long Beach we chat with a new randonneur from the area.  He is interested in our bikes and has clearly been reading Bicycle Quarterly.  A new recruit!  Andy has much to share…  A bit later Andy is stopped to answer nature’s call and a guy riding the other way on the trail sees our bikes and asks if we are on the Five Rivers ride!  It turns out he has ridden in in a previous year.  He offered to take our photo (at top of post.)]

Across the River from Compton LA River and bike path

[Jeff:  Near this point we also pass a small convoy of mini-bikes and maybe one full-on motorcycle riding the other way on the bike path!]

We hit the Pacific Coast Highway and cycle through towns of Sunset, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach. There is an option to ride the bike trail along the coast and that is a blast. A bit slower than the highway, but it is the beach. The ocean. Waves. Did I mention we were cycling in shorts? Though it becomes windy, it is not a blow in your face knock you down wind, and we are quite happy. It has got to be one of the flattest 300 routes you will find. Terry has done an awesome job of linking up the various trails.

Between the route sheet and Jeff’s ride with GPS app, we get around quite well. We, of course, blow a couple of turns in the dark and add a few bonus miles here and there. “No flats or mechanicals,” I’m thinking as we are 6 km from the finish, topping the hill on a bike trail with a small group of randos. I hear something fall off my bike, but write it off to a stick, as everything on my bike is packed up well. The bike is still functioning and we are beginning to descend. (Note to self: stop and check the bike.) Jeff notices that my chain has too much slack and that something is wrong. I continue to pedal thinking I am not in gear. Then it dawns on me. I stop and investigate and, sure enough, I have lost the lower rear derailleur jockey wheel. Hmmm. Not good. Jeff is upset. We are so close to the end.

I tell Jeff I’m going to go back to look for it. Jeff is skeptical. “You’ll never find it in the dark,” he tells me. [Jeff:  Andy reminds me I am a “naysayer.”  Guilty.]  We turn around and start to ascend the hill we just descended. My bike does not want to go up hill so I run up the hill. I pull out a spare light and begin searching. Found the jockey wheel. Ok. So far so good. How about the bolt? Found it. Jeff is shocked. So am I. Jeff looks for the bushing and side plates, but I’m good with what we found and re-assemble it. A bit of friction, but it actually works. I can use all the gears and I can stand up and pedal going uphill. The bonus is, on the way bac,k I find my spare gear cable and the hotel room key, which I  lost when getting my light out.

We are a couple of km from the finish when we come upon road construction. Road closed. The Police Officer gives us directions and, after climbing a fairly long multi-block hill, we check Google Maps directions: we are now 4 km from the finish. Nothing ever comes easy. At this point it is downhill and flat with more downhill. We arrive at the Best Western Hotel, but don’t know what room Terry is in. The hotel clerk is not allowed to tell me, so I ask him to call. Done. Room 116. Pizza and snacks are waiting. It is nearly 10:00 pm. Not as impressive as our finish just after 7:00 last year, but it was a comfortable 300 in good weather and company.

Back in our room, we take our bikes apart and, just after midnight, we are back in bed. Bikes packed with an afternoon flight, we are all set. Real sleep tonight.

We receive an alert from Alaska airlines of a flight delay. We arrive at the airport and it is delayed yet again. Again, a 90 minute delay. Such is life. If all goes well, we’ll land safely and be home by 6:00 tonight…



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Doug Migden’s Transcontinental Race

Doug Migden on his bike with flags of Turkey and Greece behind him, showing that he has just crossed the border into Turkey.

At the border of Greece and Turkey with less than 300km to go…

Doug’s goals were simple: ride all the way to Istanbul, and finish the race. Doug was clueless about what he was really getting himself into; but why not give it a go?

Doug Migden started randonneuring in 2010 and the distance bug bit him hard. 1200km PBP 2011, 1600km Miglia Italia 2012, 2200km Giro Ciclistico delle Repubbliche Marinare 2014, 15, 16…

What’s next when you’re riding that kind of distance? For Doug, the Transcontinental Race (TCR) from Belgium to Turkey presented an attractive answer and an irresistible challenge.

You can read about Doug’s 2015 TCR in a piece by David Longdon on The Seattle PI Blog, which also includes Doug’s detailed ride report and photos. Check it out here:

Doug will be riding the TCR again this year, starting on July 29th.

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The Boothby Challenge

In 2014, four SIR members completed an unofficial challenge that they’d started twelve months earlier to honor SIR rider Donald Boothby, who passed away in 2012.  The four finishers are Keith Moore, Mick Walsh, Hugh Kimball, and Joe Llona. Along with Don’s wife Mimi and challenge-instigator Narayan Krishnamoorthy, the finishers discussed the challenge with George Thomas on his excellent podcast Over the Top Cycling. You should go listen to it, I’ll wait right here. OK, welcome back. Now scroll on down to read some Q&A with Keith, Mick, and Hugh who were kind enough to talk to me about the challenge.

Boothby Challengers

Keith Moore, Mimi Torchia, Joe Llona, Mick Walsh (L to R, back row), Narayan Krishnamoorthy, and Hugh Kimball (L to R, front row)

What is the Boothby Challenge and why did you decide to attempt it?

Keith Moore: Don had the crazy (crazy!!) idea to do a 300K R-12; he started his own personal challenge in 2011. About half way through the year, he was diagnosed with cancer. Treatment and surgery didn’t completely keep him off the bike, but it prevented him from riding long distances. Don died the following year. I guess you could say that we finished what Don started. We weren’t trying to raise money or awareness, we just rode to honor the memory of a friend.

Don died before I became active in SIR. That said, given the stories I’ve heard from other riders about his sense of humor, his love of riding (and his love of pie!), I know he & I would have been friends.

As to the “why” part, that’s more complicated, and I’m not sure I have a definitive answer. I like a good challenge, and even though I had not yet completed a “normal” R-12, this seemed like it would be “fun” (for some definition of the word).

Mick Walsh:   It’s an R-12 with 300k or greater ride every month instead of 200k.  Why? Because it sounded like a great way to honor the memory of a wonderful man.

I don’t think I ever rode with Don, I’m a newbie to Randonneuring, just hearing all the support he was getting during his illness showed me how well liked he was.

Hugh Kimball: The Boothby Challenge (BC) is a 300k ride every month of a year. It’s like the R-12. Maybe we should call it the B-12. It was proposed at the end of 2013. So I looked at my record and I had done it in that year (2013) except for November and December. So I decided to do it in 2014.

A number of my 300’s are for riding Seattle to Portland or the reverse. I have a new grandson in Portland (Dec 1, 2013). So it’s an excuse to ride there and back. For example to get October and November done I rode to Portland on 29 October and returned on 1 November.

Unfortunately, I did not know Don. But my son Todd and his son Josiah played in the Garfield High School Orchestra. Todd played a trombone and Josiah the French horn. It was not until Don’s memorial party that I connected the dots. It was really sad that I had not done so earlier when I could have ridden with Don.

Don Boothby ecember 3, 1950 --July 18, 2012

Donald Boothby
December 3, 1950 — July 18, 2012


What is the best moment you remember from the challenge? The worst?

Keith: Maybe it’s the randonesia, but I can think of mostly great moments. The only bad moment I can think of is missing the ferry for the November 300K [on 11/8, which Mick and company finished in 11hours].

As far as great moments, there are many, including:

  1. Finishing with Joe Llona on 12/13 with a sub 15 hour ride.
  2. Reaching my K-Hound point on 11/15.
  3. Riding the Crystal Blue Persuasion 300K two days after my first RAMROD.

By far the “strangest” moment occurred 02/15 when a few of us rode the MI-3 300K. The weather was horrible — windy, rainy, cold, dark. Everything you don’t want in a 300K.  We rolled into Carnation just after 7pm and stopped at the IGA grocery store for hot food and a little rest for the final 28 mile push back to Mercer Island. Inside the store we were accosted by a very drunk woman. She tried to warn us to stay off the roads, mostly because of drunk drivers (people such as herself). I’ll never forget her words: “If you guys were my kids, I’d kick your asses!”

Mick:  I think the Race to the Border 400k preride was the best memory, we had a great group and went so fast! Though the November 300 in 11 hrs was special too 🙂

Feburary and October rides ended up in vicious wind storms and torrential rain, they were ugly.

Hugh: One of my best moments was when Ken Ward accompanied me to Portland. And one of the worst was riding by myself toward Portland along highway 30 when it was 38 degrees and raining.

Keith: One more anecdote, then I’ll stop:

Before the December ride, six of us met for breakfast at the Twin Eagles Cafe in Snohomish. As I was paying my bill the waitress asked about our ride. I told her a little about Don, and explained the Don Boothby Challenge. I told her we were riding for Don. She told me that the cafe’s owner, Sue, had died from cancer only two days earlier. She asked if we could ride for Sue as well. Of course we could.

Would you do it again and would you do anything differently?

Keith: “Never” is a long time, but I have no plans of attempting this next year. For one thing, I want to focus on PBP. Ask me again in 2016. 🙂

I’d do more research on downtown Seattle parking before trying to catch an early AM ferry.

Other than missing the ferry for the [11/8] November 300K, everything else went as smoothly as one could hope for. My bike performed flawlessly (modulo the occasional flat), I kept on top of my nutrition (no bonking), etc.

Mick:  Yes, I might. Never say never.

Um, I would do the first 2 and the last 3 in warmer climates. No, riding in the miserable NW weather is what makes this a worthy challenge.

Hugh: I would do it again but it would be nice to do more riding with others- not so much solo. That being said I am retired and can often ride depending on the weather. Not many riders have that flexibility. I admire riders with full time jobs that did the BC.

Pies for the Challengers

“There are some crazy bicyclists who like riding long distances who decided to try my father’s bike challenge: at least one 300 kilometer ride (186.4 miles!) per month for a year. Here’s some pie to celebrate the people who took this challenge on!” — Josiah Boothby


Photos from the Challenge:

Keith: This is a self portrait I took when you and I were at the Shell station in Sumner, WA — our last control before the finish of the November 300K [11/15]. I think my face exactly expresses my feelings at that point in the ride:

Keith Moore

“Woof” – Keith Moore


Mick:  [At the Barlow Pass control on the Spring 400K] with Adam Morley, who, like me just completed his first R-12

Adam Morley and

Adam Morley and Mick Walsh (L to R)


Hugh: “Everyone is getting older, but just because you’ve gotten older doesn’t mean you can’t do things.” — Derek Jeter

Hugh Kimball Rolling Out

Hugh on the Volcanic Arc 1000K – Photo by the editor



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New Record: 13 SIR K-Hounds

If you’ve been hearing howling, that’s our record-setting pack of 13 K-Hounds! 

K-Hound Logo

The K-Hound award represents 10,000K of randonneuring in one year. A few of our beloved overachievers rode 1.5x or 2x that distance. In total, they rode 149,880K+ (some results still pending) — that’s enough for a Galaxy and a Mondial award, or to wrap around the equator 3.75 times.

Last year, SIR took the lead for most K-Hounds in any one club with 10 members riding the required distance. This year we bested ourselves with 13, thanks to several repeats and a few first time K-Hounds.

Here are the K-Hounds and their distances as of (12/28/2014 at 23:24). And a hearty congratulations to all!


Jan Acuff (#2163) 11,134K

Rick Blacker (#2806)

Rick Blacker (#2806) 10,094K


Jason Hansen (#6652) 10,026K (first)

Hugh Kimball

Hugh Kimball (#4914) 22,651K

Joe Llona

Joe Llona (#3439) 10,128K (first)

Audunn Ludviksson

Audunn Ludviksson (#7563) 10,840K


Keith Moore (#5355) 10,391K (first)

Vinny Muoneke (#5004)

Vinny Muoneke (#5004) 15,086K

John Pearch (#5290)

John Pearch (#5290) 10,358K


Theo Roffe (#5988) 10,006K (first)

Andy Speier

Andy Speier (#3911) 10,202K

Geoff Swarts

Geoff Swarts (#4089) 13,953K


Mark Thomas (#64) 15341K


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Thoughts for the new rider

By John Kydd
I’m a new rider.  I just did my first 300 and 400 so I am your guide to clueless riding.  I don’t have any Rando buddies save for the fact that my little sister rode many years ago.
Here are my “newbie” observations.
1.   These are good people.  They watch out for each other and you if you can keep with their pace.  Find a group that goes at a pace that is comfortable for you.  Introduce yourself and see if it’s reciprocated.  Then you’ve got some one to talk with.  Figure out what they eat at rest stops and buy stuff to share. 
2. Try to be quick at the stops ( I am not quick).  Do what you need to do and then you can relax and not slow the group down when they decide to leave.
3.  If you flat or something else just take it on and fix it.  Pick up the next group that comes by so you are not stuck out there alone.  Be sure to program in the brevet director’s phone number into your phone speed dial in case you can’t fix the problem.  If you are outside of cell reception then try to get to the next rest stop or wait for another rider. Be sure to pack a space blanket.  Hypothermia is no fun.
4.  Read the RUSA Handbook articles.  They are fantastic:  one hundred seventy four pages of wisdom and experience.  Skip around and sample the articles you like the most until you get to all of them..
5.  Consider joining the Seattle Randonnneurs mailing list at – There is a ton of great information and you can meet the interesting writing personality of many of the riders.
6.  If you have not ridden in pace lines and such then try your best to hold your line.  Avoid sudden moves (particularly braking) until you alert the people behind you by shouting “slowing”  or “stopping” before you do so.  If I start to ride wobbily then I head to back of the group so I do not put anyone else at risk.
7.  Don’t worry about getting dropped by your group.  It happens.  It is not intentional as folks just ride their pace.   Slow down, fuel up and a another group will meet you or you can wait at the next rest stop.
8.  Garmin’s are not enough.  On the Crystal 300 I would have ended up in Tukwila if I followed my Garmin.  I later figured out that my Garmin confused the route out with the route back when the same road was used.  Go figure. Or maybe it was aliens.  I pulled out my cue cards and used them to find my way back to one of those wise riders (Hugh Kimball) who was kind enough to rescue me (from myself).
9.  If you have not ridden the route then study it.  I relied on my Garmin the first time: big mistake.  Highlight the controls and other important stops.
10.  Have fun.  Enjoy the beauty, the stories and all the mordant comments as the miles pile on,   Fun means not having to impress or win.  Fun also means safe.  If you are nodding off then it’s time for a quick nap.  No shame in that. Fun is not riding yourself senseless but listening to body instead of ego. Fun is taking good care of you so you make it home intact where that cold beer has been waiting for hours just to greet you.


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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)

Ride details here:


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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.


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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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