I'm just going to start off with this challenge - let's get a group and sign up for 2014! (Yeah, it was really fun and we need to do this again soon.) Dan and I are working on a scheme that will make you all want to join, there will be more details later!
Big thanks to Aaron's friend for letting us crash in his basement (which was close to Husky Stadium) and Jon for driving support and a place to crash in Portland.
We arrived in Seattle late - only 4 hours sleep! Probably not the best way to prepare for a day on the bike, but we rolled with it.
Crazy traffic at 5:30 near the start. But good news - we had bikes and Jon dropped us of where the traffic stalled and we just rode past a bunch of cars to the start. :)
Chris' advice about the Nuun really helped, I started adding Nuun to my water bottles on Thursday. I've never been so hydrated before! This may not be a good thing - the whole ride down to Portland I had to keep pulling off for rest stops! But seriously, I think this was the first really long ride where I haven't gotten dehydrated. I started full and then made sure to drink a lot, and this was great.
Crazy rest stops, it was fun to ride with 10,000 other people. There's nothing like rolling into a stop with hundreds of folks milling around. At a stop at about 45 miles, there was just a crush of people. As I was snagging some food and water, I heard a volunteer going around to rally the troops in preparation of "the rush" which was about 45 minutes away. Awesome!
We met a lot of interesting riders along the way - like the 300 lb guy (was he on a custom frame?) or the guy carrying fenders zip tied to his Camelbak!
The ride starts by riding along Lake Washington, and that just sets the tone for a fun, beautiful ride. Aaron and Dan didn't need anything besides a standard team kit. I started with arm and leg warmers, and a wind vest. Overall, we had perfect weather and it's a beautiful route. Just watch Chris' videos to see how amazing this place is.
At about mile 45 (after the only measurable elevation change - it even gets a special name: "the hill") we ran into Matt F! We ended up riding on and off with his group, and it was fun to see another Team Reel kit.
At one point Aaron was having so much fun that he added a few extra miles. :) We noticed that all of a sudden we couldn't see any riders ahead of us, and none behind us, besides the 5 folks hanging on our wheel. Luckily, one of those folks had the route map so we knew how to get back on track...
About the time we got back on the right path, we got to witness a police trace! A Honda was screaming down the road, and several police cars were zooming by. They even pulled out the tack strips! Crazy, huh? (Maybe this was all just a show they put on every 20 minutes for the riders...)
At that point we got to ride on a beautiful bike trail for a dozen miles or so. If you're going for a long ride, it's nice to have such beautiful scenery.
At the half way point you hit Centralia college. It's a fun party with folks walking around handing out food and music blaring. The only downside was the bogus lunch (two slices of break, a slice of turkey, and a slice of cheese. Seriously?)
At this point, Dan had been pushing through a lot of pain, so pulled out at the lunch spot and Aaron and I took off with Matt F and his crew. I was feeling great and pulled the first several miles, and we just keep catching up with groups and passing them. Matt's crew wanted to dial back a bit, but Aaron and I decided we wanted to keep pushing ahead, so we continued to amp up the pace. I know all the "serious" riders probably left in the initial wave and were way ahead of us, but there's something really fun about always seeing someone down the road ahead of you. We just kept reeling in groups and leaving them behind. This continued for a long time, I was seriously surprised at how good I felt.
If fact, the only worry I had all day was at about mile 135 my right knee started to hurt. I was a little concerned that this was a long way out to start hurting, but I tried to back off a bit. After a small downhill a tandem passed us. We sat on for a half hour and then I noticed that my knee wasn't really bugging me anymore.
I went to the front to bump up the pace a bit and give the tandem a tow, but quickly left them. At that point I was just in a great mental place and wanted to plow ahead, so I rode by myself for most of the rest of the ride. I never dug deep enough to go into the red zone, but just pushed enough to keep moving at a good pace. Really fun. Did I mention that I felt great? Weird, huh? At the finish, I honestly felt like I had more in the tank and wanted to add some more miles :)
So I guess my "training" regimen of not riding really hard or doing intervals but just trying to ride a lot for commuting and errands was fine for this - a fun long day in the saddle. If I had been trying to kill it, it would probably be a different story. But it really was a great day, and I'd love to go back next year. Do you think we could get more than 4 team kits out of 10,000? I bet we could triple or quadruple it!