An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
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Monday, May 21, 2018

Elbe Multi-Strada Loop Ride, 2018 edition

It was a dark and stormy night... The eve of the 2018 running of the Elbe Multi-Strada Loop Ride saw the postponement of a family photo session due to torrential rains that parked over the area for a few hours. But the forecast said it was supposed to improve overnight and be "nice" all day Sunday.

This was the fifth year for this event, more loosely organized group ride than anything else.

Attendance has varied over the years, with a high of 17 to a low of 4, mostly weather dependent. The course has been steady since the 2015 event, so returning riders generally know what's in store (at least the parts that the brain doesn't lock away due to painful memories).

I drove out early to place the water stop cooler and to post the KOM/QOM prize (FREE BURGERS!). I had decided to do something a little different than the Strava segment this time, hammering a stake along the side of the road at a semi-random location with a paper plate sporting the ride emblem (a John Henry I'd used in the first two years) with tags stapled to the back -- in order to win, you had to be the first person by that sign to see it and stop to get the tag. I put it near the top of the last climb... yep, ON the hill. I'm cruel like that.

The riders started to roll in about 8:40 for the 9 am start. We rolled out 5 strong to tackle the hills and gravel.

This ride is "only" 47 miles, roughly. But included in that is 19 miles of gravel roads by the original route. With the addition of the Bud Blancher trail bypassing the run in to Eatonville, it adds more. I'm thinking I'll just make that the official route in future events, and forego the water cooler in town. Anyway, those gravel roads are where the really nasty stuff happens -- the real elevation gain, and one particularly heinous stretch of self-flagellation that tests traction and will. And that is thrown into the middle of the longest climb. Part of the post-ride conversation always includes the question of "did you ride the whole thing?" This year, I can humbly say I did not, as I walked the last 50 yards or so, not able to turn the pedals over any more. I tell everyone before the ride starts, there's no shame in walking that one. Frankly, it's not that much slower, either.

Vistas were fairly shrouded in fog on this day, but on a clear day you can see... quite a long ways.

The final roll back into Elbe is a gentle descent along the Mountain Highway, making you feel heroic from the high speeds after all that abuse. A quick change at the car, and then it's all about the BURGERS!

The Elbe Bar and Grill serves up the best post-ride refueling. On any other day it might be too much, but after a ride like this, it's perfect. And this year the free burger went to Nick Koops, who selected the Boiker (famous for the inclusion of peanut butter).

Much conversation about future events, trails, and hidden gems in the Pacific NW.

So... with the 2018 running of the Elbe Multi-Strada Loop Ride in the books, look for the Lucky Masochist's Gravel Deuce in July, and the return of the Elbe ride next May.

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