There were a number of possible routes. Jean and I had decided on the 73 miler. But then, Ron made up a better route that was just 80 miles. His route kept us off Jackson Hwy, and from going through the industrial area of Chehalis. I had no objections to avoiding those things. I printed off a few copies of the cue sheet for Ron's ride, and gave them to the other gals that wanted to do the route.
Around 40 of us rolled out of Tumwater Falls Park at 10:00 (overnight bags having been dropped off for Scotty's wife Jen to ferry down to Centralia for us). The plan was the same as last year, going the quickest way, and staying together until Centralia. In Tenino we regrouped. Someone had pinch flatted going over the train tracks. Those of us not doing the hundred mile route (and, therefore, slower) opted to roll on out with the idea that we would meet at the coffee shop in Centralia, if they hadn't caught up by then, or we would regroup at the turn onto Centralia-Alpha Rd. Just as we reached the intersection where we would turn to go the one block over to the coffee shop, the guys caught up to us. So, no coffee shop stop. Not that I would want coffee, but I wouldn't have turned down using the restroom.
We regrouped at Centralia-Alpha. We let the hundred miler group go off ahead of us. Then, us 80 milers got going with a plan to regroup at the top of the upcoming 1 1/2 mile climb. At the top of the climb, I had an opportunity to pee...which I took without hesitation.
We continued along Centralia-Alpha, regrouping as necessary. We lost a few at some of the right turn options. All the roads to the right return to Jackson Hwy., providing many opportunities to shorten the route. Still, we continued to wait periodically for everyone to catch back on. We were down to10 of us when we reached Hwy 508. Along 508 in Onalaska we made a pit stop so some could refill their bottles. At this point, it was blue sky, sunny, and felt like Spring! Geraldine even removed her leg warmers! I had already taken the sleeves off my jacket.
Not too much further, we came to Jackson Hwy. Knowing we still had about 20 miles and a few hills, Debbie, Cindy, Karen, and Scotty decided to go ahead and ride back into Centralia on Jackson Hwy. on the original 73 mile route. That left me, Jean, Michelle, Geraldine, Andy, and new guy, Dave, to continue on Ron's 80 mile route.
We continued straight across Jackson Hwy., rode over I-5, and up the hill into Napavine. This was the only section I hadn't been on before of the entire route. Once in Napavine, we were on the STP route briefly, then the Two-County Double Metric Century route on Hwy 603 all the way to Hwy 6, and over to Scheuber Rd. We rolled back into Centralia at about 3:30. We did have to negotiate a new freeway interchange at Mellen (we rode on the sidewalk), but we made it. For me, since I started from my house, it was 84.6 miles.
After the Ride
Since Debbie was already back, she had taken my bag up to our room (a different room this year!). I just needed to get a key. We took showers, then headed downstairs to the Olympic Club restaurant for our usual pre-dinner appetizers (and almost-dinner for some). The hundo riders arrived not long after us, so Ron joined Jean, Debbie, Dave and I just as we were preparing to order. The other table--Derik, Michelle, Heather, Jeff, Cindy, Karen, Geraldine, and ??? Gave us their leftover Tots and Thai Sweet Potato Fries, even though we had ordered our own. When ours came, we ate what we wanted, then gave our leftovers to a table of total strangers! Just paying it forward!
Checks paid, we walked over to the Gibson House for dinner and the evening program. Jeff, Board Prez, went through some stats from last year's race season. Pretty impressive number of races and finishes (of which I contributed 8 races and three top 10 finishes) across all the disciplines! Chip had brought in pro racer, Ian Crane, to talk to us about his racing career, and what it is really like to be a Pro and get paid to race. It was quite interesting. In addition to his up and coming racing career, he spoke about his devastating crash in Colorado about 6 months ago. He was severly injured, and quite frankly, lucky to be alive (his jugular was severed when he went through the rear windshield of a car in the caravan...among a number of other injuries). This young man has an incredibly positive outlook. He will resume riding and racing as soon as he is cleared to do so. It is a testament to his perseverance that he has ridden either trainer or rollers everyday this winter...everyday!
After the program, many of us retired downstairs to O'Blarneys for dessert (it really is all about the food!). I give kudos to the waitress who kept everything pretty straight, even when we proceeded to pull about half the restaurant's tables together to accommodate the bunch of us!
Ready to roll on Day 2--The Chicks--Jen, Geraldine, Debbie, Karen, me, Cindy, Michelle, and Jean
Most of us met for breakfast at Berry Fields Cafe. Again, too much food, but nonetheless delicious! Back at the hotel, bags were packed and loaded back into the Hile's van for the return trip. Bikes were checked, tires pumped, routes decided, and we were on the road by 9:30. The fog was burning off, and it was shaping up to be another beautiful day.
There were, basically, two main routes, with a few people doing their own thing straight back to Olympia. The bulk of the gals, and a bunch of the guys (even some of the fast guys--Erik, Kirk, John, and Ron to name a few) opted for a route of about 50-55 miles. Ron, Jean, and I had kind of hashed out the route the night before. We would avoid Gerrard Creek, and the "Dog Bite" Rd. Instead, we went back south a bit to Cooks Hill Rd. Yes, there is a hill on Cooks Hill Rd....just a little 14% grade...wall. It's not really too long, but it definately gets one's heart thumping! The great thing is that, on the other end of Cooks Hill Rd, there is a 14% grade downhill! Well, that was just awesome!
Onto Lincoln Creek, the guys kept the speed in check so we could all stay together. If someone on the front would start zoning out and ramping up the speed, someone would shout to ease up. We got up and over Manners...then, Ron and Erik got on the front. They pulled all of us the entire length of Independence Valley to Moon Rd, and onto Mima/Gate. I was really beginning to think they were going to pull us all the way home! When they finally rotated off the front, those of us behind groaned a bit. They had been riding at such a perfect pace! It was okay, but we had to go back to shouting to ease up a bit now and then.
We had thought to continue up Waddell, but when we reached the turn to go down into Littlerock, we realized some of the group didn't need to do more hills than necessary. Down into Littlerock we went, and after a pee break, we decided to go up Littlerock Rd to 113th, to Case, and back to the Park that way.
I got home about 1:15, after 56.3 miles. It was a great weekend! With this kind of warmth and sun, it's hard to believe it is still February! Next weekend, racing season starts! Stay tuned to see how the Icebreaker Time Trial turns out...