Sunday, July 26, 2009
TOUR DE WHIDBEY - BENDING STEEL
I was pleased when my daughter Tanya said she wanted to ride the 200K brevet I was going to do in a couple of weeks. Surprised, but pleased. We had ridden the Oregon coast a few years earlier and while it had been a positive experience, there had been no further interest in riding. True, she had been riding her bike out to UW periodically, but that is a far cry from a 125 mile ride. Last week we rode a 100K Permanent as a warm-up ... and she did great on that. But this was twice the distance and much hillier.
I suspect one of the bigger hurdles was the idea of leaving the house before 5:30 AM ... Tanya is not a morning person. But we hit the road about 5:20, driving to the Mukilteo ferry. We caught the 6:30 ferry and made it to the start point for the 7:00 AM start.
Now I don't think of myself as a talkative person, but I was pretty amazed at all the advice I had dispensed over the previous week about seat position, eating, hydration, elctrolytes, chamois butter, and so forth. Hopefully it wasn't too much.
Being properly prepared is pretty important on randoneuring rides. After all, it is unsupported ln distance riding. I should have paid more attention to my own advice. Since we were riding together on the tandem, that meant I wasn't riding my regular setup ... and I didn't have my regular tools & spares. I had put in the basic tools and spare tubes ... and the thought of some of the other spares/tools had crossed my mind. I was going to get to those later, and later never came. Oops.
So we were some 30 miles into the ride, heading up a good sized hill, when SNAP! We came to an abrupt stop as the chain broke. We had bent, and broken, the steel as we tried to power up the hill in the wrong gear. Now I normally carry a chain tool and a spare master link to reconnect a broken chain ... but those were items that I had thought about and then forgotten. Since we were miles from anywhere, my heart sank. I imagined DNFing ... and on Tanya's first brevet. What a bummer!
But no. SIR randos to the rescue. We were riding with Dave Harper, Eric Vigoren, Jason Duhl, and Chuck. Out came the necessary tools and even a master link. Thank you, thank you, thank you. A few minutes and some greasy hands later, we were back on our way. In Coupeville, some ten miles later, I was able to get most (well some) of the grease off.
Riding on the Tandem together worked pretty well ... at least from my perspective (mechanical issues aside). The logistics worked very smoothly. Tanya was able to pull out the control card & read the information control questions ... and then write the answers ... while we were riding. It was nice to have an extra set of hands to take pictures, open breakfast bar wrappers & Ensure bottle, etc. I suppose I had a slightly better view ...
But if we do another ride on the Tandem I'll have to get the bike regeared ... the front shifter didn't work well ... there is too large a range between the small and large front chain ring. The derailleur has to be adjusted just right ... and my mechanical abilities aren't good enough. So we only used the small ring once or twice ... but could have used it many more times.
This was a hilly ride. Advertised at a "mere 6,200 feet", my Garmin ended up with about 8,500 feet of climbing. An average 200K may have 4-5,000 feet of climbing ... so this was a challenging ride from that perspective.
I tend to be in & out at controls, spending as little time as possible there. Before the control at Deception Pass I had run through what needed to be done at the control - get the brevet card signed, go to the bathroom, apply chamois butter if needed, refill water bottles, eat, and then rest as needed. It seemed to go pretty well ... and I don't think I was too pushy ... and we were out in about 20 minutes.
My approach seems to have rubbed off. At the last regular control, as I was reaching for my umpteenth handful of chips, Tanya said ... we should get going!
Tanya did say that the seat was rubbing her the wrong way ...
It was supposed to be a hot day ... hitting close to 80 on the island ... but I only felt "hot" a couple of times ... and even briefly (very briefly) felt chilled and thought about putting a jacket on during the afternoon. In other words the weather was pretty much ideal.
We ended the ride with a bang. Really. After reaching the final control at Clinton, we rode down to the ferry dock. As we stopped to get off the bike ... BANG ! The front tire blew out. Now a blowout is never good, but if you are going to have one, what better time than the end of the ride ? Certainly a much better time than when you're goin 35 mph down a hill. I guess I should have paid more attention to that little thump, thump, thump with each turn of the wheel.
We averaged 13 mph while on the bike and burned 8500 calories (or thereabouts).