Wednesday, October 15, 2008

About "Issaquahs Rain"

Perhaps it is pretty much passé (no pun intended) blogging now about "Issaquahs Rain". Perhaps most of us have at least in spirit moved on towards 2009. I learned from Tom Peters, who I found from Peter McKays blog about the folly of wishing time away especially at my age. So lets squeeze out more miles, fenderless runs with beer and pizza après ride, and of course memories from the fast escaping 2008.
Born of the June 7th and 8th, 2008, 600k organized by the Tilden brothers, Don Smith and Ray Mcfall, "Issaquahs Rain" is melancholy soliloquy on crossing the line. The point at which the Seattle RBA declares to me with the certainty of experience, "you are addicted Vincent". The point at which I realize that specialization is for insects, after all if we specialize we are merely learning more and more about less and less until we know everything about nothing. Conversely for an academy without walls the world is a classroom and my Brooks saddle a front row seat. The point at which things close to you begin to struggle with the unprecedented inattention to the "usual suspects". The point at which you have been hit with a missile hurled from the car of a "hater" or perhaps the moron behind the wheel turning the vehicle itself into the missile. At this point a bad day on the bike is better than a good day at work.

Who can forget that morning in Issaquah? The pre-ride anticipation, the fear of the unanticipated. Stories had been told about the reverse of this ride in 2002. Once I committed to the ride, research had suggested that a major challenge would be the various weather conditions to be experienced. I believe that it was Matt Mikul that once wrote "there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear" so I had hurriedly invested in a Gore soft shell to add to all the other warm gear despite the fact that the last time I was up Stevens pass three weeks earlier on the 400k I had seriously overheated. It follows that the next logistics issue was how to haul this gear. No time for major changes in bike setup I opted for a large bag in the back suspended from the saddle, light in motion would provide battery and lamp for illumination. I had spent a number of hours the day before putting all my gear together, but just before any big ride I always experience some anxiety that I have left out something. This being my biggest ride so far the anxiety was multiplied and I had no Idea how my setup would work. My biggest source of concern that morning however was the cold rain that was constantly dripping down and at some point actually pouring down in sheets. This concern would be soon forgotten as the pack left without as much as a nostalgic glance backwards, almost immediately breaking into smaller subunits and sometimes recombining with a randomness that brings to mind the math of fractals or qauntum theory as we worked our way through the Snoqualmie river valley. Climbing Stevens pass I found myself in the company of Bob Brudvik. Bob rode up to me and started a conversation in french, english would have been difficult at this point but he inspired me up that pass and I know he dropped it a notch so that I could stay with him, leaving me to wander how love and hate could co-exist so, or maybe not so perfectly. Before I knew it Stevens became even and we commenced the cold descent that warmed up and dried us up as we hit the Subway at Leavenworth. Heading up to Blewett pass, I believe it was Geoff Swarts that rode up and notified me that my brevet card had blown out of my Bento box in that stiff breeze of Eastern Washington. I lost Bob there but fortunately caught my card before it was blown away. I started pushing up Blewett alone now concerned about the rising heat. I was struggling a little bit and unknown to me the stuffed bag suspended from my seat was rubbing, Robert Higdon seemed to fly by me dropping encouraging words, I stopped tightened up my gig and kept ascending. About 1500 feet to climb I heard my name from behind and behold Thai Nguyen, Eric Anderson and James Mckee, I hastened to join them regaining some of my old form. Thai looking as peaceful as the Dalai Lama as he stroked his single speed, kept promising us the crest of the pass but it was still a while in coming. 300 feet from the crest I started struggling again and after another 100 feet it was clear, my back tire was flat. I assured the guys that I would be fine.

I rode essentially alone from that point and through a memorable wind storm to the over night at Naches; plenty of time for soliloquy.
Good morning to the coldest descent ever in my limited experience down White pass followed by a very gratifying (the fourth and last pass) climb up to Cayuse. Sharing that last continuous climb with Charlie White. After breakfast despite a poor appetite at Green water I drifted towards Issaquah until Beebe Ward picked me up near Redmond and we ran to the Finish at numbing speeds. Where we were fed and watered by a very gracious host.
I also particularly remember the Kramers video report on that ride;
"If I dont get some shelter
I think I'm gonna fade away"

So! read the poem again