Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lets Go Fly a Brooklyn

Working at the Bike Stand has allowed me to meet hundreds of cyclists. As I have become a more proficient randonneur, word has spread around our regular group of customers about the crazy riding I enjoy. Every now and then people start asking about how to get involved with the sport and I start giving them the rundown of the rules, how a ride works and what to expect. Eventually some get up the courage and ask if they can tag along on a ride to see what it's all about firsthand. Instead of riding on a brevet for their first rando adventure, I usually suggest riding a permanent instead. This gives us more educational time rather than the chaotic excitement on a brevet. The permanents are also ready to ride at any time a allow us to pick our own difficulty and distance.

It was under these circumstances that we set off from the Lacey Fred Meyer with a small group of riders, ready for the adventure to Brooklyn and beyond. As I have said before, this is one of my favorite rides into the small logging community of Brooklyn, Washington. We set a moderate pace out of town and easily navigated the route to Littlerock, WA. Not much was going on at the gas station this morning and after a quick drink and snack we were off chasing the sunshine to stay warm on the brisk morning. After a few minutes of riding in our pace line, I glanced down at my speedometer and was surprised to see it reading 19 miles per hour. I wasn't working hard enough to be going this fast at the front of the line. At this point I few past a flag that pointed out the blasting tailwind. Feeling warmed up, I decided to push a little bit and enjoy the wind. The speed crept up to 21, 22, 25, 26 until I started to hear complaining behind me. We settled into about 24 mph and enjoyed being blown down the road. Somewhere in the back of my head, I thought this wind might bite us later in the ride, but the sunshine melted my worries away.

Finally we hit the gravel section, my favorite part. I love taking my bike places that most roadies don't go. It was interesting to see how our group of riders handled the terrain. After multiple flats and problems with fenders clogging, it was evident that those of us on wider tires and more fender clearance were having an easier go of things. Everyone was smiles at the top of the first large climb and we rocked down into Brooklyn. Sharp gravel caused a few more flats and delayed our descent, but we were ready for more as we approached Smith Creek Road, the second climb. The second section of gravel is even less used, and easier to ride. Back on pavement on the other side, Corey and I cruised along with Rick and chatted about rides to come.

My growling stomach indicated we were getting closer to 101 and Raymond. It was warm enough that we took our sandwiches outside and enjoyed the calories after the difficult climbing. The moment we turned north out of Raymond, we were hit by gusts of wind, this time from ahead of us. We followed the headwind for the next 60 miles. Each of us retreated in our heads and worked hard to stay together as a group. The winds swirled around our pace line forcing everyone to work hard to maintain even 13 mph. We all rode in silence; it was too windy to hear each other well. The end of the ride passed without any major events and we struggled up the final hills into town. We were blessed with a fantastic sunset, coming in just before it dipped below the black hills, ending an exhausting but rewarding day.

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