Saturday, August 23, 2008

SIR Fall 400K Revisited ... Certifiable ?

Well, not a complete revisit of the 400K. With the Green Hornet in the shop getting checked out after my Tuesday morning upclose inspection of the bridge deck on Baker Lake Road, I didn't have the right lighting setup for extended night riding, so I couldn't do the full ride. However, I figured out I could ride to about Sedro Woolley before it got to dark. So I drove to Sedro Woolley this morning, getting there about 6:15, then rode to Arlington where I met up with the riders, then rode with them from there back to Sedro Woolley. I figure I got in about 255K of the 400K. It was a fantastic ride - at least my portion.

The forecast was for a nice day ... in the 70's ... and it didn't disappoint. Lots of blue sky, a few high clouds, warm but not hot, and a bit of a breeze. The kind of day that helps make the mountains stand out that much more ... the green greener and the snowcaps whiter. While the ride from Arlington to Darrington, then Marblemount, then Concrete was very enjoyable on the pre-ride, since we did that stretch in the dark, we missed out on the scenery. Revisiting the ride today during daylight hours would have been worth it for the scenery alone.

There was a tragic note to this part of the ride, as the road between Darrington and Rockport was closed due to a fatal traffic accident. Most of the riders were permitted to get through the closure by walking their bikes through the ditch to get around the accident scene. However, a few were diverted along the Concrete-Sauk road and ended up with adjusted routes.

I rode from Arlington to Darrington with Joe Llona. Along with Mike Richeson, we had ridden last fall's 1000K preride together, so it was nice to ride together again. From Darrington to Marblemount, I rode with Mike ... and we caught up with Matt. Aside from the accident, it was a pleasant ride.

At Marblemount, we stopped and ate a bit of lunch ... several other riders joined us ... Joe, Andy, Ole, Frank, and Sharon Stevens from Texas. We ate in the shade as it was too warm in the sun ... at least for this almost native northwesterner. Knowing what was ahead of us, we didn't want to sit too long, so Mike, Sharon, and I headed out towards Concrete.

We quickly made it to Concrete, where we turned off and headed towards ... the hill. Having ridden it earlier in the week I knew what we were in store for. However, since we had done it in the dark and fog, I didn't know what it looked like. In the daylight it was more intimidating. The one bright spot was there was less gravel - 4 more days of traffic had packed it down a bit more. My Garmin Edge 705 recorded the climb ... the initial mile or so was generally 11-13 % grade, getting up to 15/16 % occasionally ... and looking at the elevation profile afterwards was entertaining ... it looked like a wall. Nonetheless, we did finally make it to the top. Afterwards it was suggested that anyone (i.e. me) who would knowingly do this hill twice must be certifiably insane. My only defense was I had landed on my head (in part) earlier in the week.

Once we got past the hill, the rest of the way up to Baker Lake was quite enjoyable. I rode much of the way with Sharon from Texas, who was up in the Seattle area visiting her sister and mother. The scenery ... the lush, green forest, the snow caped mountains ... and the sounds ... the babbling brooks and cascading creeks, along the otherwise quiet, smooth, and shady road were definitely enjoyed. The bridge where I crashed on Tuesday was not nearly as intimidating dry and during daylight ... I wondered how I had managed to find the gap and fall in? In any case I easily avoided the gap today.

We made it to Baker Lake Resort, but I almost didn't recognize the place. 7:30 AM on Tuesday it had been almost deserted. Saturday afternoon it was packed ... practically wall-to-wall. I can understand why, as the weather was perfect as was the setting, but it was quite the contrast. As Randannours are want to do, we sat and ate ... although not for long. While there were going to be a few hills on the way back to SR-20, for the most part they were downhill!

The ride from Baker Lake to SR-20 and then Sedro Woolley was fairly easy (aside from an occasional annoying head wind on 20) and took a couple of hours. Sharon and I pulled into the AM/PM, joining Mike, Joe, Andy, Oley, and Frank. I was done, but they were soon preparing for night riding, as dusk and then night would soon be approaching. Then we were off ... they headed off towards Arlington, I went to my car. I wasn't done yet though ... it was time to find Dairy Queen ! I found one in Mt.Vernon and celebrated a great day of riding with a Cherry Blizzard.

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