An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
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Monday, April 16, 2018

Daffodil Classic Ride, 60 miles in the mist

I'd been waffling for over a week on this ride, keeping an eye on the weather forecast.

Rain. Rain and drizzle. Cloudy and rain possible. Cloudy with a touch of rain.

At that point I figured I'd survive and most likely even enjoy the ride, so I kind of committed to showing up by telling my day-job boss that I would be there if the forecast stayed that way or better. The final weather outlook said "cloudy with rain possible" on the morning, with temps in the low 40's, and I loaded up the car and headed out a little early.

I had originally hoped to use the newly-revised road bike for this ride, having moved the (corroded) top tube cable stops and added a pump peg. I ended up with the gravel bike, opting for the larger tires and less care about grime, adding the rear clip-on fender from my wife's mountain bike to protect the Kinekt seatpost mechanisms from gritty road spray. That turned out to be the right call for the day, about the only improvement would have been a full front fender.

I got to the ride site, a small-town middle school, with plenty of time to spare. I lounged around a bit, finally paid my fee and got my number, then back to my car for the final prep of pinning it on, and piling on the layers.

I hooked up with my boss and four other riding buddies of his, and we headed out into the falling mist. At least there wasn't any wind.

I led out the train, as I was very familiar with the ride course. The pace was easy, and the group stayed loosely tied together through the first few miles. I drifted back to chat a bit, then saw that two of the riders were up the road a little. I chased in, and the three of us rotated a bit...

One dropped back, and I though he was going to pull in behind me. When I looked, he was nowhere to be seen. I continued on with the other rider. Once the road tilted up, he started down-shifting, and just before it leveled off he pulled left. Again, I thought he would slip in behind me. But instead he dropped back entirely, a huge gap opening within a few yards.

At that point I knew it would be a long and possibly frustrating ride if I stayed back, so I continued on. That's the last I saw of them for the day, just 5 miles into 60.

The rest of the ride was a solo effort punctuated with overtaking riders in ones and twos. It's not that I was really pressing the pace, but I didn't dally by any means. At the 25 mile mark I abandoned the glasses, as the mist and road spray had rendered them a detriment, and I had nothing dry or particularly clean to utilize for wiping. The stretch along Mountain Highway is 10 miles straight south, and seems a lot longer than it is. Finally we get to turn off the main road and onto the chip-selaed backroads. Definitely the roughest stretches of the entire 60 miles. Between the rear clip-on fender and the Kinekt seatpost, they quite literally saved my backside.

From the 35 mile mark to the second food stop at 40 the road has a steady incline, and this stretch tests my mental fortitude every time. To put it bluntly, it sucks. But like all the other miles of road, it passes, and after a few minutes to fill a bottle and grab some snacks in Eatonville, I was on intimately familiar roads again and knew at any moment just how far I had to go to the final incline, and the finish.

The final downhill is a thrill. The rains had stopped some time prior, and though the roads weren't dry, there wasn't standing water. On previous iterations of this event I've had to hold up for traffic on this descent, but not this time. I could completely open up and fly. It makes all the miles before worth the effort.

The only picture I got for the day before my phone
decided to shut down.
Cruising the last two miles to the school again, I looked forward to dry clothes and strawberry shortcake. Got the Strava tracking saved (whew!), snapped this picture, and then my phone decided to self-terminate (shut itself off, despite the 26% charge remaining).

I took my time changing, waited around a little, had my shortcake, but finally headed back home. Tired, definitely. Glad I did the ride, even if it was mostly a solo effort.

A couple hours later I got a text from my boss: "How long have you been home?"