Chili Feed 200k ride, unlike many others SIR members who had been participating in this event for many years. Last year I enjoyed the opportunity to hang out with many different riders rather than just the few that finished within the 2 hour time that I did. This even has turned into as much a social gathering as a regular event. One can imagine that the grand finale year of this event would bring just about every rider out to participate. Rick, Barb and I made it up to the start with lots of time to spare. This was a much different affair than last weekend in the desert. There were over 120 people at the start; the roads around Greg's house were packed with cars. This also marks the first route over 100k that I have done multiple times. It is interesting how your memory changes about a ride depending on how the weather, company and your body feel.
Traffic lights split swarm of cyclists into smaller groups as we made our way west through Kent to Tacoma. The weather was beautiful with patchy sun and clouds moving through. I got my legs warmed up on the first climb and continued to ride in various groups through the hills around Dash Point. This year they changed the route slightly and added a "bonus vista" (also read hard climb) through some neighborhoods in the area. Even though they were steep, 18%, they were short and early enough in the ride to not be a problem. My low gear of 30-32 also helps when the grades get really steep. From there, it didn't take long to get to the first control. I wanted to ride with Millison for his first 200k brevet and waited for him at the control. After no more than 5 minutes he showed up grinning and was ready to go.
Adrenaline pumping, I pulled a small group south toward 410, ready to get on the way to Greenwater. At that point a small shower opened up over us and started raining hard enough to put on the rain jackets. Within 10 minutes it had stopped and the sun was shining again. The climb up to Greenwater isn't steep, but mentally it is challenging. The road winds up and sometimes down as you gain a significant amount of total elevation. It looks like you aren't gaining much, but your slow speed indicates otherwise. Even with 120 riders on the road, I still found myself riding alone for parts of the climb. I didn't mind, though, it was a beautiful day with a tailwind and the White River rushing beside the highway. I was glad to get to the turn around point at the store just as it started sprinkling again. At about 1800ft above sea level, the temperature was colder than anywhere else on the ride.
Millison and Rick left the store with me and we bundled up for the long decent into the wind and light rain back down into Enumclaw. It was at this point I realized that Millison's mud flap on his fender was not long enough to protect me from his spray. Spitting out a few mouthfulls of dirt made me give him some more distance behind his rear wheel. The sand a dirt from the snowplows of the winter splattered everyone and their bikes with a fine coat of mud. By the time we reached the turn, the sun was shining again and we were quickly dry.
Just after we left the last control, it started to rain lightly again on us. In an instant the wind picked up and started dropping small hail on us while we were riding. Weather in Washington can be dramatic sometimes. We kept on track and made it back into the urban area without any more events. Careful navigation through the final 10 turns (in 4 miles) and we were back at the start. Mark and Greg greeted us with hot chili and cold beer, some of the best recovery food there is. We spent the next few hours telling lies and making plans for the summer with old and new friends.
Here is a link to the Smiling Faces that Mark found on the ride.
Here is the Flickr link to the Ride.