200k: a chip seal odyssey (sort of)

After the
100k populaire two weeks ago, I was feeling very optimistic about my success at completing the 200k brevet.

I arrived in Tumwater right at the 6:00 start time, but there was still a crowd of cyclists. This was odd, because the randos are very prompt. A few minutes later, the ride organizer showed up: there was some confusion on when the event was supposed to start. (At the 100k, they discussed moving the start time to 7 a.m., though the web site still reflected a 6 a.m.) It was agreed they would officially begin at 6:30, which I was glad to hear as I needed the extra half hour to collect myself.

The route to Rainier was much improved over the option we did on the 100k. I was also fortunate to meet Susan France of the Oregon randonneurs, who provided a wealth of information on the local rando culture and routes. We arrived in Rainier about 27 minutes ahead of the checkpoint cutoff.
She continued on while I went inside the store to buy a box of Fig Newtons in hopes of nudging my body into waking up.

We are the chip seal. Resistance is irrelevant. You and your bike will be assimilated.

The second stop, mile 43, was in Teitzel, and comes after working around the TransAlta mining/power generation facility. It’s a weird place because there’s a lot of large machinery and a Lorax-like stack billowing white smoke into the sky, but no people are visible.

The roads past the plant were b.b.b.b.b.b.umpy ch-ch-chi-p-p-chip sssseal. As Patrick Gray wrote, “Chip seal makes you slow. Chip seal makes you crazy.” Although when he was thinking about it, it was more like “ch-ch-ch-i-i-i-chip.” I checked in an hour ahead of cutoff.

The third stop, mile 49, was in Centralia. Its busy roads were a bit of a shock after the previous miles on country roads, but the chip seal wasn’t so crazy. I was still an hour ahead of the cutoff, which meant I was starting to slow down.

Susan, who had stopped at Starbucks in town, passed by again. I couldn’t keep up, and watched the neon orange jersey vanish into a dot far, far ahead. I plodded along for the next several miles, downing Fig Newtons, drinking and releasing it back to nature. The next official checkpoint was at mile 86 in Porter (which would imply a “secret” checkpoint next). I stopped for about 20 minutes, ate, drank and calculated how long it would take me at my new, slower rate and whether this would be wise to undertake. Doubt set in, and I fiddled with the GPS, which just told me what I already knew: if I went to Porter, I’d be committed to doing the full 135 miles (and a potential ride in the dark) whereas if I headed back, it would be closer to 90. I had lights, but didn’t relish the late return then realized I still had to pack for Austin. Cascading doubt and rationalization win.

The improvised segment back worked out pretty well, almost as the crow flies, except the road lacked shoulder in many areas. Traffic whizzed by me as I chanted the Chip Seal song. I got back to Tumwater around 3:30pm, dog tired, and near embarrassed to concede I didn’t finish. 93 miles (about 150k) were logged.

Since it’s just one bad ride, I’m chalking this up to being worn out and not listening to my body. I’m traveling to Austin tomorrow for a week-long show and have been putting in a lot of hours trying to pre-do stuff that would otherwise stack up in my absence. It still will, just in fewer piles’ worth.

Because of the long hours, I’ve felt run down all week. I actually went to bed at 9:30pm Friday night, that’s how tired I was. Saturday morning, I woke up five minutes before the alarm, and sat on the floor in the bathroom in a quasi-conscious state balancing the conflicting interests of doing the ride versus going back to sleep. “Now or never” won.

I was sluggish driving there and it just got worse. I’m not sure if this was technically “bonking,” as I never felt I had a good rhythm. It was striking to look at the HRM data later and see just how little metabolization was going on. Today, I averaged 116 bpm, never getting above 140bpm for a sustained period. On a typical mid-season ride, I’ll average 130 – 140bpm with bursts into near-aerobic zones as I push hard at the end. For example, on the last part of the 100k, I was sprinting back. Today, it was nothing near it.

So I dunno. Maybe I’ll feel a little better when the endorphins kick in.

For you SIRers manning the “secret checkpoint,” I apologize for not being better about calling. There was no coverage the first two tries (on “Manners road” or near “Independence”). After I crossed the Chehalis river, I forgot to try again and was just zoning to get back.

2 thoughts on “200k: a chip seal odyssey (sort of)”

  1. Is your metabolization “shit-happy”, already, Jim? ;-o)
    Oh! Do endorphins kick? The things that I learn with you…. :-o))))))))))))

    Hug’n’a *

  2. My metabolism is going back to normal, especially after last night’s fiesta.

    (I forget how many idioms I use in my writing until someone points out a weird phrase, metaphor or allegory. 🙂

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