Thursday, April 22, 2010

Another 300k

Even though the weather forecast wasn't looking pleasant, Rick and I decided to venture north to the Bellingham 300k. After riding a 300k in December, this couldn't be any harder, especially when they were advertising a flat course. The flags in the parking lot looked awfully stiff when we showed up at the start. The wind was whipping across the tulip fields and the clouds were racing across the sky. As I was organizing things in my handlebar bag before the start I realized that I forgot a hat and my helmet light. Last year I was able to finish a flat 300k before dark, so I guess I'll just have to repeat that sub 13 hour time again. We formed a huge pace line from the start to battle the headwinds south to LaConner. There weren't any tulips blooming but a few fields of daffodils gave the gray day a splash of color. Finally we made a critical turn and felt the wind pushing us from behind rather than holding us back. We road the tailwind at over 20 mph for an hour until we hit the rolling hills of Chuckanut Drive, a popular ride south of Bellingham. I enjoyed this road even more today without the regular stream of traffic this road gets on sunny days. Just outside of Bellingham the drizzle we have been having turned into heavy rain and then into hail. Spring storms can bring all kinds of weather. I was glad to not have to worry about tornadoes in this part of the country.

The tailwind blew us north out of Bellingham and up to the Canadian boarder. Even though the winds were fun, we knew it was only a matter of time before we were going to battle the wind again. The sun continued to break out between the storm clouds every few minutes and the day stayed relatively warm and the roads relatively flat. After another brief control, we turned into the strongest winds of the day. Another storm cloud opened up and flooded us with driving rain. Luckily our route turned away from the wind but up an incredibly steep road. Roads with names like South Pass, Summit Ridge or North Slope always give a good warning about oncoming hills. This South Pass was no exception. I shifted into my low gear (30x32teeth) and spun up the hill.

The steep climb did take us out of the farmlands around Bellingham and into the rolling forests. This drastically improved the wind conditions as we looped around Lake Whatcom to Cedro-Wooley. I got to demonstrate how to fix a flat tire to a man reading his paper on his front porch. He came over trying to figure out what I was doing in his driveway as I pulled a few large chunks of glass out of my tire. Inflated, I pushed on alone after my group passed me by. I caught them again at Subway in CW and we pedaled off to the metropolis of Concrete. I think more Randonneurs go to Concrete than actually live in the town. Instead of the regular route up Hwy 20, we followed some beautiful rural back roads along the river. As we climbed up to Concrete, the weather got colder and the clouds gathered together. It started misting just as we arrived.

I was in dire need of calories and coffee and took a beeline for those two things. I told Rick and the group to go on ahead so I could take a moment to eat and stretch. A few minutes later, I felt energy rising up through my body again. I plugged in my iPod and took off into the cold rain that was now drizzling down. It's amazing what food will do for your mood on a ride like this. By the time I got back to Cedro-Wolley, I was warm and happy again. I met up with 2 other riders and we headed back home. The sun had been behind clouds for the last few hours, but it was just starting to get really dark as we pulled into the final control. I made it without needing my helmet light. I shaved over 2 hours off the ride from the previous weekend and finished just over 13 hours. Another wonderful ride.

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