...this is the kind of stuff I'd post on it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

R1 of 12: Leschi-Auburn-Leschi 200K

Last Monday, I got out for a long-awaited 200K ride.  I'd signed up with the Seattle International Randonneurs (SIR) a while back, but the holidays and getting sick had thwarted my attempts to arrange my first official ride as a SIR member.

I've made a goal for myself for 2010 to earn the R-12 award.  What is an R-12 you ask?  RUSA (the governing body for randonneuring in the US) defines it thusly:
The R-12 Award is earned by riding a 200km (or longer) randonneuring event in each of 12 consecutive months. The counting sequence can commence during any month of the year but must continue uninterrupted for another 11 months.
Organized randonneuring events are most commonly called "brevets".  Again, the RUSA definition:
This is a French word for which we have no direct translation for its cycling usage. In general, it means a "patent", "certificate", or "diploma". For the randonneur, the randonnée they have entered is often called a "brevet". This is typically a challenging 200, 300, 400, 600, 1000 or 1200 kilometer ride, each with a specific time limit. The randonneur carries a brevet card, which is signed and stamped at each checkpoint along the way to prove they have covered the distance successfully. (Losing the card, or missing a required checkpoint is a very bad thing to do!) Also, pronounce the word correctly: "brevet" rhymes with "say" or "Chevrolet", not "get" or "let".
A permanent is like a brevet but you can ride it any time, either by yourself or with others, choosing from a list of pre-approved routes.  Since this was my first official permanent attempt I decided to go it alone, mostly to ensure that I didn't drag someone else along while I fumbled my way through the particulars of riding such an event.  That, and I'm really out of shape, so I thought I'd be pretty slow.

My brevet card for the ride:

The weather in Seattle in January is usually pretty predictable, in that it's almost guaranteed to be shitty and rainy.  I'd checked the weather report the night before and it called for rain pretty much all day.  I brought my rain gear along on the ride, prepared to spend a day riding through the rain, only to find that the weather was gorgeous all day long.  So gorgeous in fact, that later in the afternoon I saw people in shorts and t-shirts, and people driving convertibles with the tops down.  Not a drop of precipitation to be found anywhere.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  The day started around 5:30 am, when I got up after having had a horrible night's sleep.  How's that for some extra randonneur training?  This permanent started pretty close to my house, so I rolled down to the lake, and warmed up on the short jaunt up to Leschi.  It was still dark when I left the first control, the Starbucks on Lake Washginton Blvd, but the skies were beginning to lighten, and I didn't have to use my headlight for too long before the sun poked up.

The sun was coming up in earnest by the time I reached the Cedar River trail.  The trail takes you all the way from Renton proper into S.E. King County, near Maple Valley, at times following the Cedar River for which it's named.

One of my favorite sections of the ride was this one-lane bridge, that I came upon almost out of nowhere.  The stoplights at each end control which direction of traffic gets to use the bridge at any given time. 

Even though there was literally no traffic the entire time I was on or near this bridge, there were generous sidewalks on either side.  Nice.

The bridge takes you over the Green River Gorge, which was way more beautiful than my cheap digital camera and my poor photographic skills can capture.  This area, nestled well outside Seattle, in the middle of farmland, was one of the most picturesque parts of King County that I've seen yet, and that's saying a lot, considering the scenery that the county has to offer.

I saw great views of Mount Rainier and the Cascade foothills, as I wound my way through Auburn, Black Diamond, Cumberland, Issaquah, Samammish, and all the other towns and cites on my way through the 204K route.  The route itself was pretty flat, but there were a few climbs to keep things honest.  I did pretty well keeping up on food and hydration throughout the day, remembering to eat before I got hungry and drink before I got thirsty.  I hadn't been on a ride this long in quite some time, but it actually felt pretty good to be in the saddle all day.  I'm sure the weather and topography had a lot to do with that.

The last control was at the same Starbucks I'd started from. By the time I got there, the sky looked a lot like it had when I left.

The route:

Total distance on the day: 219.4 km (136.3 miles)
Average speed: 25.0 kph (15.5 mph)
Total time spent riding: 8:29:27

My official time for the entire permanent was 10 hours, and 6 minutes, which I think is just about average for SIR riders on this particular route.  Not that these things are races or anything, it's just good to know that I'm somewhere in the right neighborhood in terms of my time.  I definitely could have spent less time at the controls, but I'm sure I'll get my routine smoothed out as I continue to do more brevets and permanents.

So, I'm now 1/12th of the way to accomplishing my R-12 goal.  I'm really looking forward to my next permanent, and the beginning of the brevet season in late February/early March.



  1. Dylan -- congrats, R1 down. 11 to go. Great pics. I didn't realize you actually have an official RUSA card for the ride. I think there's only one permanent out here in E WA. We need more. I think it would be fun to do the R12, but we need more routes.

  2. Thanks! It was great, and I'm looking forward to doing more.

    Yeah, there's a card (and a waiver, and a registration form) involved in every ride. When I was trying to describe randonneuring to a neighbor of mine, I called it "riding really long distances, but with lots of paperwork".


  3. Hey John, check out the Oregon Randonneurs website. Some of their group brevets take place in and around the Tri-Cities. Paul Whitney is a non-stop brevet machine. I'm sure he could point you towards the closest E-WA route.

    Dylan - Congrats. I'll keep you in the loop on the next 200K we have planned. They are usually on Saturday, for what that's worth.

  4. Robert - Thanks. I think it'd be great to do a 200K with some company, but only if that company is (or at least pretends to be) as out-of-shape as I am! I'm thinking about doing my February 200K near the beginning of the month.

    I'm planning on doing the Spring Populaire too, so I might run into you there if you plan on going.


  5. You did that 200K in 10 1/2. I'm pretty much at that level all the time - in shape or not. I've had a couple faster, but usually those are the flukes.

    I'll definitely see you on the Populaire. I'm curious to see what the new route is going to be, but I'll miss the old one too. We don't have nearly enough rides in the city.

  6. Sweet. Good to know that I'm in the ballpark as far as time is concerned. Of course, that was a pretty flat 200K...

    As far as rides in the city are concerned, I agree. I hate driving in general, and driving to ride my bike always holds a certain sense of irony for me. But, I end up doing it for CX races, so I suppose I'll have to get used to the idea of driving to certain brevets.

    Matt (from Cycling in Seattle) started a pretty good thread about that on BikeForums a while back.

  7. Pretty cool thread.
    I got over it when I realized that I don't want to spend even more of the weekend away from the family and other things that need taking care of. I love riding my bike, but sometimes I have to prioritize.

  8. Hey Dylan

    Great report and congrats! I'm heading to Lacey this Saturday. Can't speak for others but I'm definitely slower than you. You're welcome to join us and you can "ironically" ride down with me as I'm driving. Let me know. Long story , but it is not a group ride so more of that pesky paperwork is in order. Maybe we can break in your rain gear finally!


  9. Thanks! Unfortunately, I'm busy on Saturday, but I hope the permanent goes swimmingly. I still need to figure out when I'm going to fit in my Feb. 200K.