The SIR 100K Populaire

March 2, 2002

a brief ride report by Kent Peterson

If you want to have a lot of people show up for a bike ride, pick a nice day and a nice course and have the ride begin and end at a brew pub. It also helps if you get the word out early and Mark Thomas, Duane Wright and others made sure that the spring SIR 100K Populaire was on the calendars of the Seattle International Randonneurs, the Redmond Cycle Club and the Cascade Bicycle club. And on a crisp but clear morning of March 2, 2002 well over 50 riders showed up at the Redhook Brewery in Woodinville Washington.

It was 30 degrees at a bit after 7:00 AM when Jan Heine and Mark Vande Kamp had rolled up to my house, having ridden over from Seattle. Jan was on his Rivendell and Mark had converted his do-everything bike over to a fixed gear. I had Fast Eddy ready to go with a spare B17N saddle strapped to the saddlebag. I wasn't going to need the spare saddle, but I'd promised Trent Hill that he could borrow one of my 17s to try out. With the crisp weather Jan, Mark and I didn't waste much time standing around. We covered the nearly 30 kilometers between my house and Redhook at a comfortable 26.4 kph pace.

We had a great mix of old friends and new faces show up for this ride. It seemed like every one of the usual Seattle randonneurs was there and it was great seeing John Wagner, the original founding father of the Seattle International Randonneurs out on his bike again. I met up with Trent and gave him the B17. And many people gave me a hard time about Fast Eddy claiming that if Eddy Merckx ever saw that I'd equipped his frame as a fixed gear with Power Grip pedals and fenders made from an old campaign sign that he'd issue a factory recall on the spot.

There was a big enough crowd that we launched in a couple of waves at 9:00 AM. Jan and I came around the lead pack and were the only ones through the first green light in Woodinville. Knowing that the first climb is narrow and shoulderless, we kept on but as things leveled out and there still wasn't anyone behind us, Jan said he was circling back to connect up with some of the others. Jan had a previous commitment and wasn't planning on doing the whole ride. That would be the last I'd see of Jan. In his typical fashion, he managed to lead a few riders astray including the always speedy Andy Fuller.

I kept moving. I knew there was a steep little hill about 8 kilometers into the ride and I was happy to put that behind me and then wind through the twists and turns to Mink Road and then Woodinville-Duvall Road and Old Woodinville-Duval Road. At about the 17 kilometer mark as I turned onto the West Snoqualmie Valley Road, John Enzweiler and a fast guy named Mike caught up with me. Mike seemed comforted that John and I actually seemed to know the route. Mike was riding a really pretty Landshark road bike while John was on his bright orange Gary Fisher mountain bike. We rolled south along the valley and turned at the big red barn, crossing into sunlight with the snow-tipped peaks of the Cascades shining in the distance. We rolled past Carnation Farm, up and over the lump in the middle of the valley and into the first control at Sandy's Espresso in Carnation. Actually since this was a populaire and not a true brevet, we didn't have control cards to get signed or anything but I bought a latte, an orange juice and a biscotti. We warned Sandy and her crew that a pack of about fifty riders would be descending shortly and right on cue the other riders began pouring in. After a luxurious ten minute snack and bathroom break, an informal group of six of us headed out. In addition to myself, John and Mike we'd added Andy Fuller and my fellow Shiftless Bums Mark Vande Kamp and John Muellner.

We rolled down Highway 203 and then turned onto the quiet and peaceful Neal Road where we were able to ride side-by-side and chat a bit. At Fall City we briefly rejoined 203 before turning onto Highway 202 and Fish Hatchery Road for the climb up to Snoqualmie Falls. We took another quick bathroom break at the falls and then took headed down 203, backtracking toward Carnation. Andy had the speed to smoke any of us but for some reason he didn't seem to have a route sheet. His experience following Jan had made him cautious but when he'd get a straight shot he'd drop the hammer. But we knew we could count on seeing him stopped at the next intersection with a quizzical look on his face, so the rest of us quickly learned to give up chasing him.

After Carnation Farm we rode up and over Union Hill. After the ride I heard many people cursing this hill and it did take some of the snap out of Mark Vande Kamp's legs but the hill was less of a worry than the final bits of navigation. John, Mike and I got hung up for several minutes trying to cross the busy Redmond-Fall City road which gave Mark a chance to catch up with us. Andy was headed home instead of back to the brew pub and once he got into familar territory, he was gone. And Jon managed to replicate the same navigational error he'd made last year on this ride. Still we all managed to pull into Redhook at about the same time, 1:14 PM.

The next day at the Seattle Bike Expo, I got a sample of this JogMate protein gu. You're supposed to eat this stuff after a ride. It's hideous. After the ride we had burgers or salmon or grilled chicken sandwiches washed down with various beverages. It was delicious. I don't think the Seattle International Randonneurs are going to be serving JogMate after their rides any time soon. And I must've recovered OK despite the lack of JogMate in my system because my average speed for the ride home at 2:15 PM was 0.1 kilometer per hour faster than the 26.4 kph I'd clocked for the populaire.

And even though Mark Thomas hates it when I point out things like this ("I'm trying to run a bike shop," he says, "I sell new road bikes!") the pack that lead the whole 100K (yeah, I know it's not a race) consisted of: two mountain bikes with slick tires, three steel framed fixed gear bikes and one road bike. Like Lance says, "it's not about the bike."