Friday, October 11, 2013

Courage Classic 2013

I was going to do a little write up about Courage Classic 2013 but my team mate, Ele, did such a good job I decided to just copy her's into my post. With her permission, of course. Everything she wrote is in black and my added comments/perspectives are all in red. Some of her original pictures I've omitted. Some I've replaced with my own. I'm just not sure certain people want their photo blogged all over the world.

"August 29, 2013
RE:     2013 Courage Classic – THANK YOU!!!
Dear Friends and Family:
Thank you so very much for your sponsorship for Courage Classic 2013.  This year you helped raise $4,045 to benefit Mary Bridge Children's Hospital Rotary Endowment for the Intervention and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect Clinic.  And best of all, every penny goes to Mary Bridge to benefit kids in our community." I raised an even thousand. Thank you very much! Our entire team raised over 9000! The entire ride raised nearly 500,000.

"This year I managed to ride nearly 100 training rides and 2,000 training miles since January.  Our last official training ride was on Vashon Island for both team members and guests.  As you can see, our training styles vary as we posed at the “bike cemetery” on Vashon.  From the left is Jason, Dominique, Brian, Rosemarie, Annie, Marie and me." (Pictures omitted.) My training consisted of my daily rides to work, a few rides with my STP team, Chilly Hilly, the Flying Wheels Summer Century, and Seattle to Portland. I average 2000 to 3000 miles commuting a year but it's only 12 miles a day. 

"We had so much fun on this training ride, stopping to pick blackberries, Dominique singing in French to Marie as she struggled to climb the hills despite her declaration of a “no social” climbing zone which he playfully ignored. 
This was my eighth year riding Courage Classic (only my second) and my eighth season of riding.  In fact, I bought my first road bike specifically for Courage Classic.  My best guestimate of miles ridden over the last eight seasons is somewhere in the neighborhood of 15,000 miles." I'm sure she is really close with her mileage. Since 2006 I've kept a very strict record of my mileage and as of this moment it's sitting at 21,742. In fact, on the first day of CC I rolled Tanager over 10,000 miles. That's 10,000 miles in just over 3 years. 

"Training started early this year in January and February riding my commuter bike on the trainer for 20 minutes three mornings per week.  Following the early morning bike trainer rides, in March I began the transition to outside (commute to work) rides by driving to the Kenmore Park & Ride and commuting by bike along the Burke Gilman trail to downtown Seattle.  I have a headlamp mounted on my helmet, and a front headlight.  There are three flashing taillights in the back and I wear bright colors for visibility.   

My 2,000 training miles are 95% commuting miles.  With my work at the law firm, Yoga teaching, and Yoga teacher training schedule, commuting is the most efficient way for me to get a lot of time in the saddle. This prepares me for Courage Classic as we ride for three days through three mountain passes.  Snoqualmie on day one, Blewett day two, and Stevens day three." Her commutes are quite a bit longer then mine and involve a lot more climbing. I'm glad I did those extra group rides.  

"Saturday morning (day one) the alarm clock went off at 4:00 am. (Nooooo, no. I don't recall getting up nearly this early.) My mom and sister were in town so it was a lovely sendoff.  This year Marie’s nephew Bugsy would not only drive us to the start, but would follow us over those mountain passes in Marie’s van along with Jason’s son Marcello.  It’s really a luxury to be a part of Marie’s entourage.  This year our team is much smaller but we know a lot of people on this ride – so each year it’s much like a reunion – we are all family on this ride." I just met the rest of the team last year on the ride. It is like a reunion and IT IS a luxury being part of Marie's entourage. These are all good people. If I hadn't met them I probably wouldn't have done this ride again.

"There were about half the riders this year than last year – it was really noticeable at the start.  Our team is called Kaibigan Lagi which is Tagalog for “forever friends”.  Our small (but fierce) team this year consists of (from right – Brian, me, Marie, and Marie’s son Jason.  Before rolling, we all posed for a quick team photo.  Brian is Jason’s buddy and our newest team member - we’re a crazy bunch.  I laugh more on this ride than I do all year – it’s nonstop hilarity from start to finish with this group.  All of us riding this year are married and while none of our spouses ride, they continue to support us in our endeavors.  Thanks honey!

This year everyone was at a different speed and strength which caused us to be very creative in riding as a team.  Marie currently lives on a sailboat in Guatemala with her husband and small dog Angel and was able to return a month prior to log 340 training miles.  We opted to meet up at rest stops and along the route so everyone could ride at their own pace and to use sag wagons as needed.

With few exceptions, the first day on this ride is loud as we spend a lot of time on the I-90 highway.  A lot of riders were getting flat tires and I noticed an unusual amount of exploding tires as well.  The exploding tire sound is unmistakable and almost sounds like a gunshot.  The cause?  Perhaps overfilling your tires and then rolling into the heat could have something to do with it?  I didn’t want to judge that one too much, lest my tires would start exploding…." By now you all may know my rap on tires. This doesn't surprise me in the least. No flats for me again!!!

"After meeting up with the team at the first rest stop, Marie insisted that I climb up on the cow for a team photo.  That cow is made of plastic – I expected it to collapse under me but it managed to stay intact.  We next climbed to Snoqualmie Pass on a beautiful paved logging road.  At Snoqualmie Pass we met up with the team and ate lunch together." I don't have the picture of her on the cow but here's the cow and my bike.

"Follow lunch on Snoqualmie, Jason and Brian took off to ride another section of Snoqualmie Pass while Marie and I stayed together. (Actually we just hitched a ride with "Bugsy" and the "super secret sag wagon" passed the construction.) Because of the dangerous road conditions due to construction just beyond Snoqualmie Pass (construction that has been going on for years), after lunch our bikes and bodies were to be bussed to Easton.  The bikes went onto rented trucks, the riders when onto a bus.  After retrieving our bikes off the truck in Easton, Marie and I took to the highways but got a little break through the farmlands before arriving at Suncadia.  The smell of fresh hay, horses, and seeing little butterflies all over was a nice break from the highway noise. Many newer riders were pulling over due to leg cramps – hydration, proper training, and electrolytes can help with cramping but this is something every rider must learn for themselves.

Marie and I rolled into the finish line at Suncadia to see Brian and Jason working on their third beer. (Oh yeah!) We opted to join them for an ice cold “liquid Advil” before rolling off to our hotel at the Timberlodge in Cle Elum.  The Timberlodge is clean, cheap, and user friendly. (I camped right there about 100 feet from the beer tent and the chow line.) In fact, when I forgot our room number discovered my key worked on every other room I tried.  Wow!  No worries, the hotel was filled with bikers and we’re all a trusty bunch.  At dinner we sat with other bikers and shared funny stories about our experiences.  Lots of laughter is common on this ride.  After dinner, we were all tired and ready to retire early. I tried to take a short nap about 19:00, after dinner. I wanted to see the stars away from the city. I slumbered for about 2 hours and then stared at the sky for about 2 more. I deliberately left the rain fly off for this reason. Out here, away from the city, there were so many stars. The moon rose late so it was dark. You could see the whole milky way! I counted at least 3 passing satellites and one brilliant meteor. An hour before midnight nature called and I made my way to the privy. Everything was covered in dew already. As I stepped out of the 'loo' I could not help marvel again at that brilliant canvas of stars laid out between several dark, high rising pine trees. I felt myself transplanted back to time of ancient cultures, shaman's and gods. Gods of the woods, the sky, the Earth. Far away from the city, politics and the BS. This is one of the main reason's I love this ride so much. It smooths me out inside. It grounds me again with what I feel is really important in the world. I knew I should be sleeping but it was worth a little groggyness staying up. Before sunrise the entire campground was slightly shrouded in a mist. It just hung from about 1 to 6 feet in the air.

"Day two at 6:45 a.m., the team met up and rode to the Sunset CafĂ© for a hot breakfast.  Courage Classic feeds us so well that many riders gain weight on the ride.  After a hearty breakfast of eggs, pancakes, fruit, and oatmeal, and juice, we were back on the bikes rolling towards Blewett Pass. 

Got hills??  As we left Cle Elum it was a beautiful 15 miles through the farmlands before our climb began towards Blewett Pass.  We stopped at the latte stand a few miles from Mineral Springs to regroup.  This was the year of the “selfie” as we were keeping in touch with our team and Rosemarie and Annie who were climbing 16,500 feet and 135 miles on this day.  A selfie is a genre of self-portrait photograph typically taken with a phone camera  planned to be uploaded to a social media site. Jason explained the secret to a great selfie is looking up to the photo making it more flattering.  Clearly, we didn’t heed his advice and had more fun goofing around.    

We then climbed and stopped at Mineral Springs for a quick snack and regroup.  Our beloved driver Bugsy and his co-pilot Marcello were waiting for us.  We sat around, snacked, chatted with the Rotarians and posed for another quick photo.  Jason and I decided to show off our big biceps (aka our “guns”). 

I rode the last leg to the summit with the boys listening to DJ J spin his tunes while Marie opted for an easier pace.  At the summit we met up with the team and had lunch.

As this was Brian’s first year on our team, (we needed an official team photo by the Blewett sign.  If you look closely you can see that Brian has a camera on his helmet as he planned to film the descent.  Jason and I are hosting yet another “gun show”.

Next we began the 13 mile descent down Blewett – my favorite descent!!  Marie was hanging behind pulling her brakes a bit while me and the boys were flying down the pass - Brian in front, me in the middle, and Jason behind.  As they were both filming the descent, essentially, Jason has 10 minutes of my butt going down the pass (sorry dude).  The wind was kicking up a bit which meant we had to spin our legs from time to time and my shirt was blowing up all over the place. (This truly is my favorite downhill of the entire ride. In fact the second day is really the best from start to finish.) At the bottom of the pass we stopped at Ingalls Creek with the Fife/Milton Rotary for snow cones and ice for our water bottles.  Marie and I posed for another selfie with our snow cones.  We were really excited about the snow cones as last year they had otter pops instead and, well, I’m not a fan of the otter pop.  Snow cones rule!" It's true. Sno cones were definitely better and they last longer.

 "After the snow cone stop, we were off to the river before heading through the orchards to Leavenworth.  We traditionally stop off at the river each year to cool off, stick our feet in the cool water, and oftentimes completely submerge to beat the heat. 

One of our dearest friends on this ride is Tom, a hospice nurse by trade.  Each year Tom and his girlfriend Leigh Ann always catch up with us on the river.  Our new custom is seeing Tom demonstrate the athleticism required to ride Courage Classic.  Tom works all year on building up reserves for this ride with significant amounts of nutrition and moderate amounts of physical activity.  This is the 2013 CC “money shot” of Tom – way to work it! A classic picture worth a thousand laughs but I won't post it here.
The river was freezing but after a few minutes I found myself completely submerged and refreshed. Again like in the woods I found a peaceful place laying under the water, feeling it flow across my body, listening to the sounds. Be one with the river. I know cheesey right?
After cooling our bodies in the river and overhearing the sag wagons refer to our group as the “otters”, (<---love span="" this=""> we were on our way Leavenworth through the hot orchards towards the finish line. (This is the point where Jason got a flat and we were, literally, the last two riders of the day to cross the finish line. Quite amusing. No one in front of us, two SAG wagons following behind.) After finishing for the day, we jumped in the indoor pool at the Enzian (hotel) to get out of the sun and cool our core temperature. 
That evening we gathered for dinner to listen to stories of children who receive services at the MB Clinic.  We eat dinner first then follow with the program .  This year just as the program was getting started, a lightning storm moved in to Leavenworth so the program ended abruptly as the volunteers scrambled to get the electronics out of the incoming rain.  We were all so thankful to not be on the road when that lightning storm hit.

We opted for our traditional gelato stop before heading back to hotel.  Brian had us in stitches performing impressions of Arnold Schwarzenegger getting struck by lightning.  I laughed until I cried, it was that funny.  (I never really know when Elle finds something funny or if she's just being nice. This time I pretty much knew. The best was when I was challenging the "thunder gods" in the Arnold voice and then let out a not so macho scream after a close one.) After gelato Marie and I opted for hotel and sleep and Jason and Brian opted for the beer garden.  We knew the boys were going to be out late.

And late we were. The hosted biergarten lasted until 10. We heard some people were heading out to a place called the Ally bar but we opted for sleep at the hotel instead. At least that was the plan until we got to the hotel. (Oh yeah I crashed on the floor in the guys room this night because of the impending storm and the fact that the hotel, biergarten were on one side of town and the campground was on the other.) We kept debating weather we should sleep or go out. Going out won and we were off in search of the Ally bar, on a quiet Sunday night, asking and receiving crazy directions from the locals. Eventually we found the place. There were a handful of people in there, 90% from the Courage Classic, both staff and riders. Highlight of the night was when Jason accidentally programed Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" into the digital juke box about 5 times in a row. We never fessed up to that and joined in the angry screams as it came up again, and again ... and again. I think we hit the sack about 1am.

Not surprisingly, day three we had a hard time getting Brian and Jason awake and motivated for a team photo as they had been out past midnight the night prior partying with a bunch of other cyclists.  We finally rousted them up and out for the team photo.  Gee…. 
can you tell Jason is just a little bit hung over???

Check out Brian’s sweet ride.  His custom steed has become quite the rock star with many fans as we witnessed crowds forming around his bike pretty much nonstop. (Yes, this is true. People were constantly asking questions about it. I've watched people admiring it from a distance and even thought about taking pictures it's so funny. And yes, I love it.) Following our photo we had a wonderful breakfast at the Enzian - omelets made to order, oatmeal with cranberries, and pastries for my bike bag.  Jason was still struggling to get his game on.  Marie and I rolled out of Leavenworth ahead of the boys to ride slowly and warm up.  There was no way I was riding behind the boys today (no way).

After a short climb about 9 miles out of Leavenworth, the boys caught up with us and we had a wonderful descent and stopped at the Plain rest stop.  The light headwinds were very favorable as we left Plain so I stepped up the pace cruising towards Nason Creek with the boys in tow while Marie opted to ride a slower pace to the next rest stop.  My decision to ride in front of the boys paid off as I stepped up the pace to Nason Creek, Jason’s Enzian breakfast liberated itself from his stomach. Jason didn't even stop or tell us this was happening! He just hurled on the fly and kept riding warrior style. We had no clue until later.

The next rest stop in Nason Creek rest stop (aka the “hula” rest stop) is the last stop before the 17 mile climb to Stevens.  I inhaled three Enzian pastries and a handful of salty trail mix calculating this was enough calories to climb Stevens.  This is where Jason earned his nickname “chunks” as we noticed part of his liberated breakfast was still stuck to his arm, and even more humorous was that it matched his jersey.

Marie arrived shortly thereafter and we dressed up for one last photo opportunity.  Check out Brian’s arm parfait tan.  He’s a great sport for wearing a women’s jersey!  Jason looks like he is feeling a whole lot better, doesn’t he??  Welcome back to the gun show Jay!!

After filling up our water bottles, we were soon back on the road climbing 17 miles up to the summit of Stevens.

We waited about an hour at the last rest stop before Stevens summit for Marie – she was climbing slow and strong.  Once Marie arrived safely and we confirmed our summit plan, we hopped back on our bikes for the last 4 miles.   This is where training pays off or comes back to haunt you.  Brian blasted ahead while I rode in front of chunks. (Knowing it's only about 4 miles from the rest stop to the summit I pound this climb! By now I'm REALLY done with climbing.) The hour break and my training paid off, we averaged 6 mph instead of the normal 4 mph.

We stopped mid-way for a quick stretch and just as the biting flies were all over us, hopped back on our bikes to the summit.  My calories from the hula rest stop were wearing off towards the summit and I could feel my blood sugar dropping.  I was wiped out physically at the end at the Stevens summit but some raspberry lemonade perked me up enough to get my potato bar lunch.  Although we were among the last riders to summit this year, we still had a nice lunch waiting for us – thanks Rotarians!!  Leigh Ann noticed I had one earring missing.  Tom thought my missing earring will likely be decorating a Raven’s nest somewhere.  My remaining earring went on the bike bag – a girl can always use more bling on her bag – those riding earrings served their purpose.

After lunch we got back on the road for the last stretch of the ride – the descent.  The wind can be nasty on the descent off of Stevens Pass, and true to form, it was again this year.  It is the only part of the ride that still scares me after 8 years but I always get through it.  My courage was better this year – I had better focus on the road, braking, and negotiating the terrible wind and the credit for my new found courage is attributable to the art and practice of Yoga.   Courage is the ability to be afraid but still act.  By exploring our courage, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to grow.  

Yes, unlike Blewitt pass, Stevens for the second year in a row, scares the hell out of me. I ride the brakes nearly all the way. The rest of the team leaves me in the dust but I found them waiting for me at the start of the Iron Goat Trail. Of course, shortly into that trail dust flew in my eye and then a bee flew into my open jersey. I had to pinch the bee within the jersey with one hand and brake with the other. In the end neither myself or the bee took to much damage. But the team was, once again, gone. Tom and Leigh Ann rode up behind me and we stopped for a few pictures. A lot of great people on this ride.

One of our favorite parts of the ride is at the bottom of the pass on the Iron Goat Trail riding through the beautiful canopy of trees, creeks, and waterfalls.  We formed our own pace line to the finish at Skycomish – I led the group through the headwinds to the finish – another year in the books!
Courage Classic funds the important work the Mary Bridge Clinic performs on behalf of children of our community and gives us a reason to ride.  You are a key element to my continued participation in this event.  Remember, every penny counts and means so much to the kids in our community for the intervention and prevention of child abuse.   

Thanks again for your support; you rode with me in spirit every mile – 3 days, 160 miles and 14 hours on my bike!!  I participate in Courage Classic each year so that every victim of abuse can obtain services in our community.  By riding the Courage Classic, we hope to end the cycle of abuse.  See you next year!  
From the bike computer I got an average speed of 12.94 mph, a maximum speed of 39.4 mph and a trip distance of 164.92 miles. The few extra miles must be from a short ride into Roslyn from the campground on the first day. I became REAL hungry before dinner and needed a snack.

Day one - 2600 calories burned and 3252 feet of climbing from Strava - and
Day two - 3100 calories and 2973 feet of climbing- and
Day three - 3490 calories and 4600 feet of climbing - 

That's over 10,000 feet of climbing over all and nearly 10,000 calories burned. Whew!