Monday, July 02, 2012

Tim's tale of the Cascades 1200K


here is riding pal Tim Lucas' write-up of the epic loop of the pacific northwest known as the Cascades 1200K..
since I missed the ride, I had to share his story.  good show buddy!  way to go!! 

Cascades 1200K

Day One:  I stayed at the base motel in Monroe Washington Friday evening.  Breakfast at 5:00am and 80 cyclists from around the world roll out at 6:00am for an EPIC cycling adventure.  Cloudy, cool morning quickly turns into a cold rain that last for several hours.  I settle in, getting as comfortable as I can.  Pedal hard, stay warm, weather will change eventually.  Nice long climb getting into Mt. Rainier National Park keeps the engine warm.  Now exiting the park to the south we cruise beside a creek between cascading waterfalls on both sides of the road.  At times the sound of rushing water is so loud you can’t even carry on a conversation.  It’s a very mystical place.  We have lunch in Eatonville at mile 95.  I’m riding a bit with Ed from PortlandOR.  We stop at Subway with several others. Ed’s one of those guys that always carries a big smile no matter what’s going down.  Finally mid-afternoon it stops raining and we’re in Packwood, (mile 140) at the base of White Pass.  We now have a 17 mile, 2800 ft. climb.  3 hours later I reach the summit and take some pics to prove I was there.  Now it’s whee time.  This is my favorite descent on this trip.  Smooth asphalt, wide shoulders and easy turns make it fast and furious.  Clear Lake control, (mile 170) our final stop before the overnight control.  I’m frigid as well as several others.  I have the shakes really bad from that cold descent.  I have to hold my hot chocolate with both hands to keep from spilling.  Volunteers give us lots of warm stuff to calm us down.  I settle a bit but pedaling is the ultimate cure.  We go around the huge lake, then on to Naches.  (Sleep control, mile 208)  Arriving at 11:00pm, Shower, Dinner includes hot soups, then to sleep in the gym on mats and my air mattress that I carry in my drop bag that I have access to each night as well as a fresh set of clothes.  3 hours sleep the first night.

Day Two:  Up at 4:30 am.  Fresh made blueberry pancakes hot off the griddle.  This support crew is Awesome.  These pancakes are the best ever.  I’m rolling by 5:30am.  We’re doing an out and back to Lodgepole campground near the top of Chinook Pass.  We cycle 45 miles up to Lodgepole into the wind. We’re served more food and coffee from volunteers.  Back down to Naches.  Now we travel east of the mountains into the high desert plains.  In previous years temps soar into the 100’s here but not today as we settle in at around 85 degrees.  It’s very pleasant after yesterday’s cold rain. Long rollers to start and grades are shallow so some recovery riding for me.  I’m 305 miles into the ride when I have my first flat.  Some glass in the rear tire.  Pack up my stuff ready to go and notice front tire flat as well.  Dang it.  I remove a thorn from that tire; I think it came from the tumbleweed that blows across the road every now and then. It’s ironic that I have two flats from different objects at the same time.  There is a lot of snowmelt irrigation here and there are acres and acres of hops.  Now I’m getting thirsty.  Wow, this is a lot of hops.  Stocking up for those long winters I presume.  We have lunch in Fruitvale.  Afterwards we travel around the city on greenway bike trails.  We cruise back into the desert.  On the way to Mattawa we cross the Columbia Riverthen we turn right.  There is a road here but it goes straight up to the top of a plateau.  Surely this isn’t right. I unfold the cue sheet and it reads. “Yes, up that Hill” Ouch!  I’m in my lowest gear and I have to stand to turn the pedals.  Gotta be 15+ degrees.  This bites!  I’m finally over the top and more of these plateaus up ahead but none like that one.  Getting dark now and I see several bicycle lights ahead of me and several behind me.  The road is straight for miles.  I finally roll into Quincy around 12:30am.  (418 miles)  Another hot meal and a shower then to bed on a gym floor again.  Only 2 hours sleep this morning.

Day Three:  Up at 4:00am.  I chat with John Morris from Durham briefly before he takes off.  I grab a continental style breakfast this morning as the cooks aren’t ready yet.  I’m rolling by 5:00am.  Today we’re cruising around several lakes to Dry Falls.  We have a headwind and it is angry, very angry.  This is madness.  I have a hard time just holding on.  Dry Falls is another beautiful place but then we have to climb to the moon to get out of there.  We go west then north to Bridgeport, across the river to Brewster.  We have more spectacular river views.  We’re now in Malott at the base of the mountains. (Mile 535)  Loup LoupPass is a 17 mile climb and takes me another 3+ hours to summit.  I’m leapfrogging with several riders including my new Japanese friend who keeps reminding me how many meters of climbing we have left. We reach summit just before sunset.  Now we throw on everything we have for the cold descent.  2 deer cross my path within a mile.  I’m now riding brakes while others ride by.  Sunset is a bad time for dodging deer.  At bottom we have another 25 miles to the overnight control in Mazama.  I’m doing some sprints trying to stay focused.  I catch up with Matthew from southern California on his recumbent, and he appears to be struggling a bit on the last section.  I usually don’t ride well with others being I cycle a very inconsistent pace, but I chill a bit and make a friend.  We both stop a couple times and walk around to clear our heads.  It’s a beautiful evening and the summer Milky Way is brilliant in the night sky, glowing so brightly you could read a book by it.  It also brightens my spirits.  We’re now cruising the Lost River and it kinda sets the mood.  An hour or so later we make the control.  3 Canadians arrive shortly afterwards and we grab dinner, showers, and this time we have rooms with beds.  Yea!  2.5 hours of solid sleep this morning.

Day Four:  Breakfast call at 3:45, I crawl over there around 4:15.  I’m very sluggish this morning as yesterday took everything I had.  I’m hitting the pain pills early today.  I start rolling at 5:10am, thinking that I’m getting an early start.  There are like 20 or so bikes still at camp when I leave.  Fewer miles today but the event’s biggest climb is the first order of business for today.  Its 18 miles up to the top of the world,Washington Pass.  A couple hours in and I’m relaxed feeling great.  My pace is better than my previous climbs.  About 3 miles from the summit we ride past the snow line.  I have a flat shortly afterwards.  Did I mention that it’s like 36 degrees and raining?  I’ve kept warm by climbing but I quickly get the tire changed because the engine is cooling down.  The mountain peaks come into view every now and then so I stop to take some pics.  This is a wondrous place.  I am in awe and really enjoying being here.  I take a little too much time goofing off, posing my bike against a snow bank, taking some video.  All is good.  Finally I jump back on the bike and finish up the last mile to the summit.  A rider is there loading his bike into a support vehicle; his ride is over.  I pull over to take a pic of the sign.  Support volunteer, I never got his name so I’m naming him “Nick” because he reminds me of Nick Nolte.  Please forgive me if you ever read this report.  Anyway, he walks up to me and asks if I want to load up my bike.  “Why would I do that?” I respond.  “Because the next control is 56 miles away in Marblemount and you’re not going to make it before the cut-off.  I am the sweeper he claims and you, meaning me, is the last man standing and it doesn’t look good.  What about those 20 bikes I left at camp?  They are DNF’s going on the truck he responds. How could this be?  I am confused.  On top of the world one minute then my heart just sank below the pits of hell.

Tim’s Big Screw-up:  I did not follow up on my homework for this ride.  The course was shortened from a 1240K to a 1201K.  I was basing all my knowledge from ride reports and cues from previous years.  I had wondered why breakfast was so early today but didn’t put the pieces together until it was too late. (Almost) I calculated time and distance to the Marblemount control.  I knew some serious downhill’s coming up but also a climb up Rainy Pass, though this was only a couple miles long.  What about the last 30 miles to Marblemount I ask?  “Nick” claims rollers, and then some flatter sections.  There is my glimmer of hope.

Day Four Continued:  Physically, I’m feeling great.  I just need to put together the ride of my life.  It’s time for a little attitude.  I mount the Ridley.  Going to take your picture, “Nick” asks.  “No” I’m going to finish what I started!  The rain is making the descent a little hairy, plus I’m shivering now from cold and it transfers to some serious bike wobble.  Zoom the straights, knees squeezing the top tube to kill the wobble, braking hard before the turn, standing and pedaling through the turn to produce a little warmth.  Repeating several times.  I’m out of the saddle going up Rainy Pass.  Near the top, “Nick” rides up beside me.  I’ve changed my mind; I think you’re going to make it.  Down again.  Support truck ahead has food.  Matthew is pulling away as I approach.  My hands are frozen.  I brought the wrong gloves for this.  They find me some liners that help.  I get some fuel and I am off.  I’m now getting into the rollers.  I’m more into calculating numbers now than my surroundings.  Giving it everything I have.  Finally I catch another rider. (Hey/bye)  I ride up on the 3 Canadians.  They are changing a flat but seem to have things under control and about finished.  I roll into the little town of Newhalem just 14.6 miles from the control and Ed is waving me down.  You are still very short on time but this store has coffee.  Do they have gloves, I ask?  My fingers are frozen.  I have to use both hands to change gears.  “Grab some coffee and I’ll see what I can do”.  My friend Ed from earlier in the ride had to DNF the ride when he locked up his knee on a freak awkward pedal stroke and now he is helping others.  This is a great sport!  I grab coffee and Ed brings me his personal waterproof gloves and saves my life.  I wolf the coffee.  I now have 1 hour to finish this last 14.6 miles to Marblemount.  Please God, no serious hills and no flat tires, amen!  Thank You!  I get Matthew in my sights but I can’t catch him.  He is killing it as well.  We slide into the control 5 minutes before closing.  It takes me a couple minutes to dismount.  I am totally wasted but ecstatic.  My new Japanese friend shows me his pretty watch.  Nice, oh crap, sign in duffes you have 3 minutes.  Several others there and a couple more roll in just in time. 

Whew!  That’s it!  We can ride easy from here on.  No hard sections and the limits are now relaxed a bit. Just got to stay awake and focused.  I might add it’s still cold and raining but eventually the rain stops during the next section.  I’m riding again with Matthew, and we’re joined at times by team Canada and teamJapan.  Our last control is at Granite Falls.   We stop at McDonalds.  23 miles to go.  This international group stays together the rest of the way in.  Lots of minor issues, from my flat, number 4, a couple guys climbing really slow, batteries that need changing, etc.   It’s a slow trek but I’m happy!  We roll in together at 10:55pm.  750 miles, around 40,000 feet of climbing in 88 hours and 55 minutes. Then add some very cold rainy weather, and you have EPIC!  That totally rocked!  Post ride Beer and Pizza!  We then had a breakfast party Wednesday morning.  Western Omelet and a chocolate milkshake!  Packed up my bike, washed clothes and wasted the day away under beautiful 70 degree, clear skies.  Dinner with John fromDurham then departed for home.  THE END  

3 comments:

skiffrun said...

Thanks for posting Tom's story, Geof.

To Tim -- well done story, as always. Good job riding, too. Does this qualify you for that three-USA-1200's award?

...Martin

David L. said...

Indeed, EPIC!

From a member of the international "lanterne rouge" group that rode from Granite Falls to the finish.

David L.

bkoen said...

From a member of team Canada...

Good story. You did a good job of capturing the magic of riding close to the clock. All the interesting stuff happens at the back of the pack!

Bob Koen