So long 200k, the season is moving up in miles and on to a 300k. There isn't much difference between a 200k and a 300k as far as mental or physical preparation. At the end, it just feels like a long 200k (a 400k feels much harder than a 300k). The Granite Falls 300k started in the U District of Seattle so we decided to drive up the night before and stay with fellow rando rider Andy S. He lives just a few minutes ride from the start so we were able to avoid the drive up to the start early in the morning. It seems that everyone has decided that this is the year to ride and the start seemed crowded with over 80 riders standing around.
At the signal we were all off riding through Seattle to the bike trail that would take us out of town. The major rando routes around the urban areas are starting to look a little bit more familiar after riding them for a few years now. Corey and I backed off the large mass riding down the trail and took our time out of town. The sun started to come up over the valley ridge as we hit the first control. The beautiful sunrise was a good sign for the weather to come for today. We met up with Millison who was on his first 300k and was enjoying every minute of it so far. Our small group turned into a lager group as we picked up other riders down the road through the Snoqualmie Valley.
The sun was shining and warm when we pulled into Sultan for a sandwich and water break. We got strange looks from the other cyclists who were race training and on super light race bikes. They had a hard time believing that we were going over 4 times as far as they were. After the break, we headed up to Old Pipeline Rd. I can remember hitting this hill at the end of the Mountain 400k a few years ago just at sunset. It felt much easier with a fresh set of legs. We continued north to Granite Falls for another snack and then headed north again. The miles slipped away but Conway didn't feel any closer. The legs must be getting a little tired at this point.
The open fields near Conway were a nice scenic change from the forested rolling hills of the rest of the ride, but a small gust of wind forebode of difficulty ahead. As soon as we turned south, our paced slowed and everyone groaned as we ducked our heads and dug down deep for some more energy. But, it was sunny, warm and our large group took turns leading us into the wind. Nothing last forever (ok sometimes the rain does last forever) but we made it back to the trail south and eventually bumped into Mark T and Vincent at a not so informational control. Rather than have us answer a question, they were signing cards and provided some snacks for the last stretch home. Vincent was showing off his new Boxer custom rando bike. Back on the trail, we caught our first whiff of the beer and burgers awaiting us at the finish and started into the setting sun. The Seattle locals showed us the way back to the Ram Brewery, saving the out of towners from some navigation. Food never tastes so good after a long ride. We devoured dinner and loaded our bike for the drive home.