Supporting a 600 km Brevet – Part 2

Last week, I posted about the first day of the Seattle International Randonneurs’ Autumn 600 km brevet. When we sent our riders on their way in the early hours of this second morning of the ride, we did not know whether we’d see them again further down the road.

Ryan and I left our motel in Twisp at the crack of dawn and cycled on empty roads up the Methow Valley. It had rained during the night despite a dry forecast – thunderstorms are hard to predict. The roads were wet, but that is what fenders are for.

By the time we reached Mazama, we were hungry. There aren’t many places in North America where you can buy perfect croissants in the middle of nowhere…

It was  a glorious morning, but as we started the climb toward Washington Pass, we could see clouds over the mountains. Did this mean that it was raining on the other side of the Cascades? We hoped that it was just a remnant of the thunderstorm, about to dissipate, rather than a front moving in.

We met a rider from British Columbia coming the other way. We had passed him just before the first pass the day before. He had camped between the two passes, and he reported a little drizzle on the other side of the pass. He was visibly cold from the long descent in the chilly morning air, so we recommended the store in Mazama for breakfast.

Our worries about the weather were unfounded: The clouds soon dissipated, and we looked forward to another sunny day.

After a night’s rest, we made short work of the pass.

As I stopped to take another photo of the towering peaks, I heard a voice yelling my name. It was Brad, standing one switchback above (the blue dot in the photo), who wondered where the other riders were. He had taken a rest and fallen asleep, and they either were behind or had passed him as he slept.

Together, we climbed the last bit to Washington Pass (Ryan on the left, Brad on the right).

The downhill allowed us to work on our aero tucks. My digital camera isn’t quite fast enough to capture Ryan zooming by at 40 mph.

The North Cascades always are windy (read the sign), but on this day, it was extreme. Rounding the curves, the wind hit us with such force and noise that it felt like our eardrums would burst. Even on the steep downhill, our bikes almost stopped in their tracks.

I was glad for a bike that is affected only very little by side winds. Even so, I had to grip the handlebars tightly a few times to fight the wind trying to turn the front wheel. Having descended this road on a bike with less suitable geometry, I know it can be scary.

Diablo Lake’s dam is where Seattle’s electricity is made. We soon caught up with the second rider, Ian (wish I took a photo of him). After 50 miles in the mountains, we were close to civilization, and the thought of a cold drink and a convenience store lunch led us to increase our pace…

Leaving the control into a headwind, the other two riders preferred to proceed at their own pace, and Ryan and I went ahead. Above you see another control. Instead of sitting by the roadside to wait for riders spread over the better part of a day, I affixed the purple stickers to the signpost on the way out. On the way back, each rider put one on their control card to prove that they had come through.

The day before, I had noticed this bridge across the Sauk River. Now we had time to explore. It’s a beautiful paved two-lane road that winds its way to Concrete. We’ll have to ride that some day!

To our surprise, we caught up with our speediest rider, Ed, who had taken an afternoon nap on the bank of the river. We rode to the next town together, then Ryan and I stopped for more food, while he went ahead, since the finish was near.

We veered off the official course to head home. (The riders signed in at the motel at the finish and then mailed us their cards.) We stopped in Snohomish for dinner at a saloon, then covered the last 20 miles to Seattle and were home by bed-time. Another week-end well-spent!

About Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

I love cycling and bicycles, especially those that take us off the beaten path. I edit Bicycle Quarterly magazine, and occasionally write for other publications. One of our companies, Bicycle Quarterly Press publishes cycling books, while Compass Bicycles Ltd. makes and distributes high-quality bicycle components for real-world riders.
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12 Responses to Supporting a 600 km Brevet – Part 2

  1. jjriley3 says:

    Nice ride. What is the make and size of Ryan’s bike, please? About how tall is he?

  2. ted kelly says:

    Jan,

    Thanks for the nice articles. If you will indulge my curiosity, do you carry a lock for rides like this or do you just keep your bike in sight when eating at shops etc? If you do bring a lock, what type do you prefer?

    • It depends on where I cycle. If I carry a lock on a long ride, it’s a lightweight cable lock. Around Seattle, I use a U lock and often an additional cable lock.

      Generally, I am not too concerned about theft, as my bikes are too distinctive to be sold easily on the used market.

      • marmotte27 says:

        “Generally, I am not too concerned about theft, as my bikes are too distinctive to be sold easily on the used market.”

        Well, I wouldn’t sell it. I wonder if it would fit me though, how tall are you, and what’s your inseam? ‘Blague à part’, I don’t know if you reveal your ‘measurements’ somewhere, but I’d quite like to know, to better understand the geometry of your bike(s).

      • Our testers generally are about 183 cm (6 feet) tall and ride a saddle height of 74.5 cm to 79 cm. Ryan is 193 cm (6’4″) tall, and I have no idea what his saddle height is. We haven’t looked much at how to adjust geometries for taller riders, but when you think about weight distribution, you realize that a taller rider has more weight on the rear and less on the front, so it might make sense to slacken the head angle a tad to compensate, just like you might with a bike that has the handlebars higher than the saddle.

  3. Jim Duncan says:

    These posts are like discovering a new, wonderfully flavored chocolate in a box that you thought had no surprises. So informative and visually satisfying! Thanks.

  4. Steve Palincsar says:

    So what happens if those stickers at the control get lost — fall off, get blown away, or some prankster (literally) rips them off?

    • There is a question on the control card that riders answer in case the stickers are lost. Generally, if a control does not exist, you just note your time. It’s happened to me a number of times that the volunteers had not yet arrived, or that the business that served as the control was not open. It’s not the rider’s problem…

  5. Sam says:

    thank you for this nice ride. What is the reference of the handlebars bag of Ryan please.
    thanks

  6. Mark Roland says:

    Beautiful. Even the photograph of Lake Diablo gives me a touch of vertigo! Chapeau to you guys for not using cars in support of this ride.

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