Since the beginning of Mountainstroh the cyclist, I have had the opportunity to ride the Lung Association’s Reach the Beach (from Portland to Pacific City) twice.
Both times have been fun! So this year when I got an email early on saying the same group was going to do an inaugural ride in Washington, Michelle told me (and I agreed) that I had to sign up! The day of the ride was September 30th….
Now, it did occur to me that a ride that late in the year could be a bit damp. It is the Pacific Northwest you know, but then in both the Oregon rides I have gotten wet, so what the hell!
Friday, I left work early, we loaded the bike and headed south. Traffic of course sucked, but we got to Lacey about 2:30, and we were able to get checked in. I swear most of the people staying there that night were cyclists! The lady checking in ahead of us was relieved to hear the bike could be in the room with us. She asked me what I would have done if there was a rule against it. “Snuck it in, of course!” was my answer!
After a great dinner at Casa Mia (our server Alexis was amazing, as was the food) I spent the next hour finding the starting line and then traveling clear across town to get my number and jersey. But in the end I was rarin to go!
The alarm went off at 4:45, and I went about getting ready via headlamp (letting Michelle sleep!) We were out the door at 545, and she dropped me off at 6:15. And of course, it was raining. and HELLA dark!
however, that spot of blue in background gave me hope of things to come!
I took off with a group in dark and wet. We all had the lights on, and the route was well-marked. About 10 miles in I noticed the rain had stopped and there was a chance of sun
Sure enough, for the first 25 miles or so, it rained off and on and I was dodging rooster tails from bikes without fenders. Some of the riders did NOT look happy about this. I was geared up, and dry as can be. The rain didn’t bug me at all. Plus, I noticed early on that we had a great tail wind! I was flying down the road! At the 25 mile mark, the skies cleared and it was sunny. A great day to ride.
I was a bit worried about this ride. Since it was the first ever I was wondering how well the route would be marked, and whether it would be fun overall. I will tell you both worries were unfounded. Easy to follow and GREAT route. I would travel miles without a single car, rural farmland, no real hills, just a fun ride. Plus, with only a 1000 riders quite often I was on my own!
This poor thing was so old and decrepit that it was gorgeous! I wonder if I could fix it…
Any rider on a century ride knows that food is a must. The rest stops before the halfway mark did great with PB&Js (my go to bike food) bagels, fruit, cliff bars and assorted snacks, but by 55 miles I was hungry. In Oregon, they put out a pretty damn good deli meat and cheese lunch spread, so I was expecting something similar. This is what I got…
Ziti, you choice of 3 sauces, salad (not seen here) and Top Pot donuts!! OMG YUM!!! One rider shouted. “For all of you here who brought this food, I LOVE you!!!” If my mouth wasn’t full of pasta I woulda echoed him!
Up and until this point, I was rocking the tailwind. I was way ahead of schedule. However as soon as I left, the winds shifted. A good double-digit headwind from the ocean was blowing. Add to that chip seal roads. But with all that, my tummy was happy, legs were feeling good, and I was enjoying the ride!
We ended up on a busy HWY 105 to Raymond for a bit, but it had a wide shoulder, and soon we were able to dive off onto a side road along a slough for the last 4 miles to Cosmopolis. As I cruised along, seeing maybe 3 cars total, I spotted “Road Cleaning Crew” signs. As I came up on them, something seemed strange. It took me a second they were all wearing black and white prison stripes! It looked like something out of an old 70s prison movie!
I didn’t want to stop and take a picture, that woulda been rude, and my GoPro mount had snapped off earlier in the day (saved the GoPro) so no photos. But they were there! Also talking about things I hadn’t seen before, category road kill: A turkey vulture and a huge frog! Plus I rode past my first (although never opened) Nuclear power plant in Satsop.
You just never know what you will see when riding…
Cosmopolis was my last food stop. Two more PB&Js and I was ready to go. Just as I left a damn MONSOON hit! Heavy rain, serious headwind, and cold! I half considered turning around to the rest area and waiting it out but as soon as the thought hit, this went through my head,
As it went through my mind, I said outloud, pretty forcefully actually. “I AM the storm!” (The guy next to me looked at me as if I was nuts, but who cares!) So I ducked me head and kept going. The wind and rain ended 10 minutes later, and the sun started to come out to dry me out.
At 80 miles, my legs started talking to me, so I started the countdown each time a mile ticked off. It seems to help me mentally near the end of a long ride. At 18 to go, suddenly a really hot chick in a black SUV slowed down, checked me out and gave me a shout! I love when Michelle catches up to me on a ride!
With 4 miles to go I pulled over and shucked off the jacket I was wearing. The sun was out, it was warm and I was going to cross the finish line flying my Cougar Colors after our big win the night before. I also took the opportunity to text Michelle and let her know “I am coming in hot!” as I planned to push it. It was time to be done with the ride!
Soon, I was rounding the last corner and Michelle was there to cheer me in. I stopped, got a quick kiss, and went on the finish! 102.2 miles!
Afterwards, we went to our VRBO (TOTALLY cute) so I could shower and change, and then head back into town for dinner! As we sat in Bennet’s Fish Shack waiting for dinner (I had an amazing Dungeness Crab Melt sandwich!) the skies opened up. It was pouring out there. A thought went out to all the riders still on the course.
We had to wait a while for the food (LOTS of my co riders were there) and then eat. As we left there were still riders coming into town, They looked wet, cold and tired. I rolled down the window, honked the horn and Michelle and I shouted encouragement to each and every one! I know how hard those last miles can be and I saw more than one perk up a bit with our shouts!
The rest of the night was relaxing, a bit of wine, oh, and signing up for next May’s Reach the Beach Oregon! Yep I am a glutton for punishment! I had one helluva ride, and would do this one again!
Like the wind!