Today’s ride to the Tacoma Narrows bridge and back marked the end of my 60-hour 3-week strava.com challenge. Am I ever glad that is over. I cannot imagine trying to keep up a 20-hour per week training regimen. I’ve technically only been riding, not training. To consider putting in 20 quality hours of training seems unreasonable for anyone with a full time job. I’m sure there are those who can pull it off though. Who knows, maybe with enough base and fitness I could do it!!
Too many hours in the saddle makes for fuzzy brain matter
It took what seemed like an epic day to finish the last 5 hours, 35 minutes. Leaving the house at 9:30, I figured I’d be back in the mid to late afternoon. At some point, I think it was around the 50 minute mark I must have been thinking to myself, only 4 1/2 hours to go.
Unfortunately, my thoughts manifested themselves into a belief I only needed 4 1/2 hours. Something I would not see clearly until the 3 1/2 hour ride mark, which was also about 5 hours in, because I’d spent way too much time sight seeing, taking photos and talking to people. The route
turned out to be 87 miles, which was completed in a mind (butt numbing) 5 hours 50 ride time and 7 hours 38 total. All of this came after spending super long days riding on weekends, commuting to work everyday and then putting in 3 hour rides in the dark and rain for a two weeks.
Train heavy and race light, so go ahead and pack a few extras on that 6 hour training ride!
The scenery from Stielacoom to the Narrows along Birch Bay and Titlow can be quite scenic so I decided to pack the dslr camera. This meant a saddle bag, which added weight and wind resistance. That wasn’t a big concern due to the fact I was really only after time. And it makes for a good workout too. Unfortunately, nothing really sprung out at me today and the light was not great. I tried staging a couple shots on the bridge, but I think the sense of feeling I need to keep going, cut short my attention span, which left me with nothing more than documentary shots. I got an okay photo of Espresso by the Bay.
The road (pathways) less known
This was the second time riding to the narrows. The first time I didn’t know there was a back way from Mounts Road and jean and I took a short jaunt on the freeway shoulder. Fellow teammate Dave Chipchase had told me about a cut in the fence from Mounts Road to the housing tract in Dupont. It was an easy find. It took a bit to negotiate my way to the hwy leading from Dupont to Stielacoom, but I eventually found it. And on the way back I discovered the most direct route. It begins with a right turn at the traffic light just as one heads back from Stielacoom on the hwy. Take this road, which the name I forget until Hooper Road. Take a right and proceed to Hoffman Hill and take another right. This leads over and down, back to the fence cut.
A day filled with little surprises = Anyone for super light touring from San Fran?
As I reached the far end of the Mounts Road overpass on the way out I spotted a cyclist sitting on the curb, bike propped against the railing. I stopped to ask if he needed assistance. He said no, he was waiting for a ride, while reviewing pics on his Nikon d300. We began chatting and I learned that Dallas (late 20s/early 30s maybe) had ridden from San Francisco in 9 days up Hwy 101. He had intended to go all the way to Seattle, but the sudden cold and uninviting scenery and route finding chained Dallas’s mind. His parents arrived shortly after to gather him up. The amazing part was his approach – full on credit card tour. Just a steel frame bianchi, no fenders or racks and a medium-sized backpack that weighed about 20 pounds, maybe a bit more. His approach was to ride each day as a work day. “I work 8 hours, so I might as well ride 8 hours.” I think he averaged in the mid 100’s each day. I’ve often thought of a similar trip, maybe not as long. This may be the inspiration I needed.
Espresso by the Bay
After spending way too much time on the bridge taking really bad photographs, I stopped at Espresso by the Bay in Stielacoom on the return. After a brief chat with a young couple inside who had inquired where I was from, where I was headed, lovely day, cold and so on, I gave my order to the woman at the counter. “12 ounce Cappucino please.” “Would you like that wet or dry?”… she asked. I thought to myself for a moment. I did say cappuccino, not martini… I’m sure of it. I replied that I was not familiar with this term. She responded with, “oh you normally go to Starbucks?” “No”, I replied back. I thought to myself, Actually, I do, but not always. And if I go to Starbucks I just order an Americano. I get something more worthy from a small private cafe/espresso stand. She explained a wet one has more milk and less foam. A dry one has a lot of foam. I order a wet one. Stirred, not shaken of course!! I also got a homemade mixed berry scone, that was still warm and very tasty. We ended up talking for at least 30 minutes. I learned she and her husband bought the place two years ago and the changes they’ve made and considering. They live on Anderson Island and she is also active in recycling education on the Island with kids. Somehow we ended up discussing our germaphobic tendencies, sharing war stories. It is great to hear stories of people out there living the American dream, getting into small business. I hope they do well. It seems they are on the right track. They have a Facebook page, but doesn’t seem to be much action. I think they could benefit from a more active Facebook account and possibly a website. But, running a small business like this, I’m sure is a 60 hour a week job in itself, let alone adding more to the plate.
Too much dilly-dally makes for long days
I had just gotten back on Mounts Road when I began thinking. Crud, I need 5 1/2 hours not 4 1/2. But then I just wasn’t sure. It was already after 2:00. Uh oh! I decided to go back via Salmon Lane. At the top I pulled out the iPhone to double check Strava. Yup. 5 1/2 hours needed. I was at 4 hours ride time. Not good. I texted Jean and began riding. I took a route via Jubliee, Marvin Road, Puget Beach, South Bay and downtown Olympia, around the lake and home. It was about 5:30 when I got home. Basically dark. I had the little Flea light on front. It was enough to help me be seen and fortunately there was still enough ambient to ride. My rear blinky died coming around the lake, so I had to turn on my back up, which is on my helmet.
I was quite happy to download the route and fine I had ridden 16 more minutes than necessary. Whew! Make it. I can have the weekend off the bike. At time of download I was 159th. There is actually one more day left. But that makes 22. 3 weeks is really only 21 days. As Jean said, one’s rank at 60 hours should hold. It should not change if someone decides to ride extra. The challenge was just for 60, not as much as one could do.