I thought I had ridden most of the roads that I would be riding today in the Lewis County Historic Ride. Much to my delight, I was on several roads that I had never been on! I love that feeling of not knowing where I am. Although, I had a general idea most of the time.
Cindy picked Karen and I up at 6:30 this morning. We got to Stan Headwall park in Chehalis with plenty of time to register ($35 and, even though we didn't pre-register, we still got a t-shirt--see photo above--it's the brightest orange t-shirt I've ever had!). We hit the potty shack, and got changed. The other group (Bill and Melody, Steve, and Dennis) arrived shortly after us.
Our group of 7 took off just before 8:00. There were plenty of clouds, but it wasn't raining. I had my rain booties over my shoes as a little insurance that it wouldn't rain. For the first few miles, I was on familiar roads (the STP used to go this way), but then we crossed under the freeway to Rush Rd where we turned right. Whaddya know??? A new road for Colleen! SWEET! We eventually popped out onto Jackson Hwy in a spot that I had ridden before on the Team Camp ride. Then, we turned off Jackson to another new road! This continued for most of the first half.
Since the first rest stop was only 15 miles in, we skipped it. We continued on riding along pastureland and through forested places (rode by Lewis and Clark State Park--a potential Bike Overnight spot). We saw lots of cows and quite a few horses. The rain continued to hold off (even though I was wearing my sunglasses).
At about mile 36, we had just come down a big hill. Bill and Melody (on their tandem) had to stop. Bill had lost all four of the screws that attach his cleat to his shoe. Fortunately, he had not lost the cleat itself. Dennis went back a bit to try and find the tiny screws (yeah, that wasn't happening--black screws, black chipseal road--nope). According to the cue sheet, we were not far from the second rest stop. We decided to continue to the rest stop where Bill would take one screw from each of their other cleats (leaving all four cleats with 3 screws each) and reattach the cleat to his shoe. Although the rest stop was much further than the cue sheet led us to believe, Bill did a very good job of turning the pedals with just one foot clipped in. The only thing that slowed them down was the hills. Bill was unable to stand up to pedal. Of course, it only slowed them to the point that they went up the hills at the same speed as me! As soon as we would get to the top, they would be back up to their usual speed in no time.
Finally, we reached the second rest stop. While Bill fixed his shoe, the rest of us chowed down on PB&J bagels, trail mix (someone had the most awesome idea of putting jelly beans in with the trail mix--my favorite!), bananas, and Gatorade. As we were eating, a dark cloud began to let loose with a bit of rain. Now I had to beef up my insurance policy. I swapped my sunglass lens for my clear lens. We were all chilled when we left the rest stop, but warmed up quickly. The rain continued for a few miles, but then let up. Eventually, the insurance worked and the sun even came out...now and then!
At around the 80 mile mark, I was starting to drop behind (we had dropped Cindy and Karen much earlier). I was okay as long as the road was flat. As soon as there was a hill (or even just a slight rise), I would drop back. Then, because I was getting tired, and not recovering as quickly after the hills, I would be unable to catch back up. At an intersection, they waited up for me. I told them they didn't have to wait. Dennis said we were almost to the next rest stop anyway. So we stayed together.
The third stop was in the only still-operational 2-room schoolhouse left in Washington--Evaline School. We had to remove our shoes before going in (I might not have had to as my cleats are recessed, but I have to say, it felt good to take my shoes off!). They had more bagels, but they also had strawberries, grapes, apples, and watermelon. Best of all, chocolate chip cookies! I refilled my Perpetuem bottle with Gatorade, and drank about half of it. In the past when I've done supported rides, it doesn't really matter what I eat or how much of it--I do fine. When we got back on the road, and up to our cruising speed of 19-20 mph, I got a side ache. Note to self: Don't drink so much at one time, then go out and ride as hard as you can!
I kept up good...for awhile. Again, the hills were my undoing. Dennis dropped back and pulled me at a pace I could maintain. That was mighty nice of him! Of course, the others slowed up at the next turn. Because I had not had to go all out to keep up with Dennis, I was a little bit recovered. I stayed with them.
Prior to the final rest stop (at which we did not stop), Bill and Melody pulled off for a pee break. Steve, Dennis, and I continued slowly. We made the turn for the loop that would take us by the rest stop. We came back out to the road we had been on. It continued down to Hwy 6. Bill and Melody hadn't caught back up yet. We rode out onto the Hwy, then made the turn off the hwy a short distance later on to Schueber Rd. About a mile on Schueber, Steve asked to stop so he could check his rear wheel. Turns out the rear tire had a bulge in it. I suggested he boot it before it blew a hole that he would, possibly, not be able to boot. Also, it would save the tube. So, he did that. In the meantime, Bill and Melody had still not caught up. By the time Steve finished fixing his tire, we realized they should have caught up to us long before. We decided to ride back to the beginning of Schueber. We asked other riders as they went by if they had seen a tandem. No one had seen them. Steve called Melody's phone, but was only able to leave a message. By then, we figured they had made a wrong turn. They knew how to get back, so we opted to go on and finish. Besides, there wasn't anything we could do.
We were still on Schueber, when my phone rang. It was Melody. They were already at the park! They said they had followed the signs. Hmmm...a mystery. But, then Dennis figured it out. Where we turned to go by the rest stop, they had probably gone straight and bypassed the loop that we did. In that half of a mile, they must have gotten ahead of us.
Sure enough, what Dennis suspected was correct. Since Bill and Melody thought they were still behind us, they hammered the pedals going 30 mph! All the while, we were behind them! They thought I had been sandbagging up until then! Yeah, that's right! I ride like a slug up the hills until I get close to the finish, then I lay the hammer down, and not even a tandem will catch me! Uh...sadly...no.
The guys were kind enough to keep me in the middle until we came into Centralia. Then I took the lead for the last few miles back to the park.
101.1 miles in 6 hours for an average of 16.8. Not bad for almost 2700 ft of elevation gain. Best of all, I managed to stay with my friends (most of the time as they were kind enough to wait for me), and rode lots of new roads!