Courage Classic came & went. I looked forward to riding it since last year when I finished it and now it's over. Sort of makes me sad. I was thinking this on the first day of it. "Here we are. Only two more days left." Perhaps it's telling me I need to do more multi-day rides. But it's more then just the ride. It's so well supported and I have such a good group of friends that do it. And most of them I hardly see until the next year.
The weather was pretty perfect. Oh it was HOT but I like the heat and I learned from last year how to keep a little cooler and more hydrated. Eight of us of team Kaibigan Lagi rode. Four did the "Fat" tire first day. The fat tire was just as grueling as the last time. Sixty five miles from Snoqualmie to Cle Elum via the Snoqualmie Valley trail and the Iron Horse trail. Five hours and 14 minutes of saddle time and 4000 feet of climbing. I drank no less then 8 bottles of water. The estimated calorie burn was 3600. Fortunately the Pierce County Rotary clubs were keeping us well fed.
The morning up to the summit/Snoqualmie tunnel wasn't bad. I made great time. I think I may have actually had a slight advantage over my friends on their mountain bikes with Tanager and her 700x35's. At least, until we hit the 5 or so miles of fresh gravel they laid out along lake Keechelus. That stuff was squirrelly. Then past Easton came the long flat stretches in the heat. Flat and straight. The trail just feels like it's going on forever and you're ready for the end.
About the last 5 to 10 miles of the ride I started to feel pain in my left knee. Not the typical pains. A pain I haven't felt since STP of 2010. The only way I can describe it is a strong soreness that feels like it's in all my connective tissue all around, above and below the knee. In STP I woke up with it on day 2 and I couldn't ride standing up for 2 days. On this day I was feeling it at the end of the ride. Not a good sign. I did what I had resolved not to do and that was to ride to hard the first day. When I got of the bike at the finish I couldn't hardly walk without limping. After sitting a while, eating dinner and setting up camp I made a walk for the showers. Hmm, knee feels better but the pain comes back after walking about 100 yards. Ugh. I was afraid for day 2 and 3 but I didn't dwell on it to much and made up my mind to get a good night's sleep.
The weather that night, as I had predicted, was no less then perfect. The temperature cooled quickly after sunset. Soon I was shoving my feet into the sleeping bag for warmth. At midnight I got up and walked to the privy for a nature break. A brilliant full moon had come up. Everyone was asleep. All was quiet. Magic.
The early morning was not as wet as years past. Definitely not as wet as last year when it rained and the two years before there was a lot of dew. I slept well that night. Probably the best sleep I've ever had on day 1 of CC. As we rode the 3 miles into Cle Elum for breakfast I was relieved to find my knee had miraculously recovered. It wasn't the disaster of STP 2010 all over again. Not to mention the typical knee pains I get on this ride were non-existent. Was it the P90X3? Was it the extra 6 miles of daily commuting after moving? Who knows but I like it. I rode a little easy up the first 1/2 of the climb up Blewett Pass but was not nearly as slow as years past.
We all regrouped at the summit lunch and started our decent down the other side. I always seem to get caught off guard when everyone takes off down the pass but I managed to catch up with Jason and Rosemarie just as Jason flatted out. Rosemarie and I did some sort of synchronized pit crew action on Jason's tire. It really sticks out in my mind as a thing of beauty. And away we went. The typical head wind was coming up the pass. I was feeling pretty good and pulling Jason & Rosemarie for several miles as the pass started to level out a bit. Finally I gave up the con to Jason who towed us into the sno cone stop. Oh how sweet a draft can be. Sno cones in the shade.
In the typical Kaibigan Lagi fashion we practiced our usual dip in Peshastin Creek a few miles down the road from Sno cones. The water was cold and refreshing. It was so hot out that it was hard to get out of the water. As we lay there, there came a old familiar "pow" from the area of our bikes. Tire blow out! Rosemarie got up to see who's it was. Marie. Blew out right through the bottom. Good thing it didn't happen coming down the pass. No patch job would fix this. She was going to need a new tire so she sagged into Leavenworth. I don't know how that could happen but I have some speculation. First of all her tires felt pretty thin. I'm assuming they were filled to maximum pressure in the cool air of the morning and that the pressure increased as the temperature went up through the afternoon. Compound that with the excess heat generated from braking down the pass. To much for the tire to handle.
Back on the road. About another 10 miles or so into through the muggy apple orchards into Leavenworth. Our usual stay at the Enzian Inn. Our great secret sag crew, "Bugsy" had to cut out after we got checked in this year. We missed hanging with him. Post ride swim, dinner, gelato with the team then Jason, Eric and I broke off for the beer garden. It was more tame then ever this year. We had another beer back at the hotel and then I crashed. It was hard to do. I could have just hung out for a few more hours but probably a good thing. No hangover for day 3 and some well deserved rest. Eric and I shared a room. He says I'm the soundest sleeper he's ever seen.
Now I put this post down and waited months to finish. Let me read through Ele's recap. Oh yes. We all wore robes from the Enzian Inn for the official team photos and 6am because, ya know, it's 6am! The ride to Steven's Pass was typical, I guess. I mean, beautiful, challenging, etc. The same as years past. Not nearly as hot as last year and the construction was done so the road wasn't all tore up. As is my usual tradition I hauled ass from the last rest stop before the summit to the lunch at the summit. The last 4-5 miles. Challenging Eric to do the same. He took off before me but I almost caught up with him. And though I beat him in time my personal record is 3 minutes faster in 2012. The temperature at the summit lunch was chilly and it was a cold ride down the other side. Each year that scary decent gets a little easier though. Iron Goat trail was beautiful as always and, becoming a tradition, Eric and I blazed in to the finish.
I haven't signed up for 2016 yet since we are planning to move to Austin in March and we'd like to make sure we are settled there first. However it looks like a good chance because of several factors. The "travel" bike is almost done. Marie, who works for an airline says she has a ticket for me. There are several people I could stay with. And they dropped the minimum fundraising to $500 dollars for next year although I always seem to be able to raise $1000 anyway.
Here's the stats for this years ride.
13 hours & 53 minutes
13.24 mph average speed
38.88 mph max speed