|2004 Off Pave Populaire Ride Report|
Finally I make it to a ride this year!
Because of the very civilized 9:00 a.m. start, I got to sleep in and caught the 7:10 a.m. ferry at Edmonds. Another hour through the big city and I realize I've forgotten the directions to the parking lot in Fall City where we were to meet. I see a pickup truck with two cyclocross bikes looking like they are heading in a likely direction just ahead of me and I follow them in. They are Brian and Steve and soon I see Jan, Mark, Robin and Fred who I chat with a bit about his frame bag. Another fellow named Saul and two more folks whom names I missed.
The sky is looking a bit leaden, but it's good to see some brave souls for this first "off-pave" experience. As a long time mountain biker who has spent the last few years on the road, I have been aching to get in the dirt again. This was a golden opportunity to join my two passions of randonneuring and off road fun!
After everyone is ready, Jan gives us a brief rundown and Mark hands out a cue sheet and a map that appears to be some sort of Rorschach inkblot test. I just stuff it in a plastic bag and figure I'd rely on the cue sheet. I have no computer and have decided to ride the Quickbeam single speed with fenders, so I'm ready. I also have fig bars, triskets, a bagel with peanut butter and a host of other snacks plus enough water for a long day (if necessary).
We all leave together and begin the ride on this lovely path through the woods where soon everyone is off at their own pace and Robin and I ride together chatting about everything. With this season being so sparse for me riding-wise, I realized how much I enjoy the camaraderie of these SIR rides. We all get strung out even further and then the rain starts falling. As I'm wearing all wool, I ride in the fairly warm rain for over an hour enjoying the quiet woods. We have a long gradual climb up to a valley vista in the mist and four of the riders are there donning rain jackets. I opt to get going for a bit without, still warm enough. A nice downhill and then another gradual climb where I decide to don the rain jacket. Up ahead is Steve who's stopped for a banana and then it's off again. I have the sinking feeling we've missed an unmarked turn and sure enough, a few miles later we have confirmed it. We return where we came and find Robin who was looking for us. We head back again the way we came and turn onto a gravely road with little troughs of moderate smaller gravel. Good place to pay attention.
We soon arrive at the "control" where Mark sits in the rain with an umbrella and a water jug. Anyone driving by must have thought he was a pathetic sight; some wayward bird watcher?
With Robin now with us we headed back down another path and into the "foreboding hollow". A fantastic fast spin through the water-soaked track surrounded by vegetation. Truly sweet! A few short steep climbs followed and we entered the final smooth gravel track to the finish. We motored along at speed coasting through the turns and popping out at the Fall City Grill.
After cleaning up and changing into dry clothes we went in for lunch and beer and finished a great day. My advice would be to not miss another one of these unpaved populaires, they are a perfect anecdote to traffic and noise.
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