Author: Leon Matz
I frequently have the good fortune of riding with Mike in his van to many of our rides. That was the case for this ride too. It gives me the chance to talk with Mike about the day. As is typical I was nervous about how the ride would go especially considering the expected heat. I frequently wonder how prepared I am for this ride. This year I was hit with a viral attach (I thought was food poisoning) that knocked me out for almost a week. My taper was much longer and more severe than would be typical.
The first 20 miles went well but when we started climbing the hill to Kapowsin I was starting to struggle to stay with the fast group that was pacing us at the time. I thought to myself” This shouldn’t be that hard- what is going on?” Almost immediately I saw Mike hit John’s bike and almost go down and then he let me know he was out of the ride and I should stop so he can give me his van key. Horrible! Mike has been riding so well and to have RAMROD for him end already was unfair.
By the time I took Mike’s key and started riding the fast group and all 5 other cyclopaths were out of sight. Oh, well just keep riding and hope some fast groups come by. I road a mile or so and then saw a Cyclopath jersey up ahead. Who could that be? Well it was Dwaine. He had left the other groups to wait for me. WOW! What an incredibly nice thing for him to do. I kind of thought I would never see the 5 of them again. Dwaine then pulled me for about 8 miles until we caught up with Les and Scott who had stopped for a bathroom break.
From there until Ashford the 4 of us (John had kept up with the speedy group leading us) worked together to try and make good time. My pulls were short and weak. Not sure what was going on but I was not riding the way I had expected. I had packed enough food and was still o.k. with fluids so when the other 3 stopped at the food stop I just kept riding thinking they would catch me shortly.
I started feeling a little better but knew that I was climbing significantly slower than 2011 and slower than I had expected. Not to many riders and no groups to try and latch on to so I just tried to keep a good rhythm. As I approached Inspiration Point John went by but I could not keep up with him. I was going to stop and get some liquids at Inspiration Point but decided I had enough water until Upper Box Canyon. My legs felt tired and were starting to cramp some. “What the heck?” I thought, “perhaps I won’t even finish”. As I started to descend Steven’s Canyon I saw Tome and he quickly joined me. We stopped together at Box Canyon. Quickly grabbed some food (Some baked potatoes with salt for the cramps) filled the water bottles and headed out.
We road together and talked all the way to part way up Cayuse where he decided to go a little slower. The first 2/3 was mostly in the shade and even though I was not climbing very fast I was making progress. When I approached Deer Creek water stopped I asked if they had any ice at the top of Cayuse. When they said “NO” I quickly decided to stop and take two socks of ice and fill my bottles with ice and Gatorade. Before I left Tom arrived and did the same. The last 1/3 of Cayuse was much hotter and more difficult. Finally he top came and I headed down. Near the bottom I asked a rider to join me in trying to get to Enumclaw but he indicated he was stopping at the Deli.
Unfortunately I rode the next 10-11 miles by myself. I tried to not ride too hard hoping for a group to come by but not much luck. Suddenly a big very fast group arrived but too fast for me. Fortunately it was too fast for another rider. I caught him and requested we work together. He agreed and the next 20+ miles we took 2 min leads. I kept thinking more groups would come by but no one every approached. In fact we caught two single riders on our way in.
I was rather surprised when told I was in the top 40 riders in. REALLY? My riding time was 9:12 and my total time was 9:32 (an hour slower than my best ride in 2011) I ended up being the 34th rider in. I was pleased with that but disappointed in the slow time and how I climbed so slowly. John beat me by about a half hour and just missed a 9 hour ride.