So I guess I made a couple mistakes on this one. It was my first 400. You live and learn.
On the drive over I realised I forgot to bring chammy cream, but 'that isn't a big deal' I thought. Turns out it wasn't but it was a good sign of things to come.
At the start... oops forgot Canadian money. hehe. But whatever, things are good. Borrow some, and we're off!
Now, thinking I'd save money and time, I packed a bunch of food. I mean a bunch. (See below for foodlist and what actually got eaten). This did mean that I FLEW down hills. Wasn't so great on the uphill. But, the first part until the border was mostly drafting tandems, so I wasn't complaining! ☺
I hit the secret control at the same time as everyone else and Keith F., Chad, and the JohnMalou duo and I rapidly took off after getting our cards stamped by the official (though seemingly underage) checkers! hehe
Keith eventually did his Keith pace, and Chad and I followed suit, hoping I guess for a joyous faster 400. Ryan obviously had the same idea and he appeared a couple minutes later after what seemed a heroic bridge effort. I felt a little too out-paced though, and realising the border was coming up, fell off the back to join the tandem train. We reached the border at about exactly the same time. Nice bridge Ryan シ
Past the border was when I realised the mistakes I had made. Firstly, in terms of how much stuff I was carrying. Seriously, apart from water I swear I could've done an unsupported 600. Though, who knows, because I might've eaten much more except... Secondly I had had food poisoning on Thursday and spent the entire day cleansing my system, also unable to get rest because of the jackhammers going in the apartment next door during the day. Joy. And then I hadn't had a bowel movement since Thursday, so I had some extra food (4 sandwiches, 2 bowls of cereal and a cucumber in weight :P) within me. And I wasn't able to go the entire ride. Bleh.
Normally I suppose that wouldn't have been so killer, but the long, rough section on the South Skagit highway does not bode well with a very intensely packed digestive system. Sigh.
Anyway, rewinding, when we were riding along Noon Rd, and I was going my absolute maximum to maintain 33km/h on Chris's wheel, I knew something was up. So I dropped off the back and decided that it would have to be an easy 400. At least the pace turned out to be so. In (Everson?) I made a quick stop to get the cards signed then took off early, knowing I was going to be slow. Soon after the group whizzed by and the only face I saw for several kms was Craig. We navigated through Bellingham together but soonafter started playing a bit of leapfrog on the Chuckanut. Mostly me watching him from a distance.
It was cool to watch the Seattle International Randonneurs pass us by on the highway, getting in a few waves and admiring the blue jerseys. Apparently this is a scheduling doosie - but I don't see why we can't plan this dually for some fun in the future! We ran into some again later, at the AM/PM in Sedro-Woolley, where they were flowing along the 9 like ants sensing peanut butter.
Finally exiting the Chuckanut (I say finally, but really it is such a lovely hwy) Craig and I joined forces to head to the Shell station, briefly picking up Andrew before he went to a firehall in search of water. We rolled into the shell not too long after the front group had arrived so Craig took off with them and I followed from a distance. I think it didn't take long before Craig realised that the fast pace and his rain pants didn't mix well.
The next long section was the Skagit Hwy. As I previously mentioned, it was long. Combined with how I was feeling, I struggled to maintain 20km/h most of the time. For me, I'd call that slow. I had one hilarious moment of stopping for the traffic light on the one-lane section for about 3 or 4 minutes before realising that I could actually see around the corner to the other end. All the signs seemed to indicate this long, one-lane section, but seriously, it was about 200 metres. Hehe.
Finally exiting the S Skagit Hwy, I happily stopped at the convenience store for some 'green' juice in hopes of enticing my bowels and had a nice conversation with two cyclists who, upon hearing that I was riding 400kms, remarked that 10miles had tired them out. I shrugged, thanked them for there encouragement and turned up towards Lake Tyee, I'm sure to their amusement.
Will. Will. Will Will Will. That hill. Actually it wasn't the end of the world, but it's not like going up the OTHER way couldn't have been bad. Though that would've meant a slight uphill for miles... yeah, probably for the best. Still! We could've, like, not gone up it! Anyway, Lake Tyee seemed pretty cool. Might be worth a visit someday!
The road into Lyman after the Baker Lake descent was similarly bumpy, but all-in-all not the worst. After an unsuccessful bathroom visit in Lyman I carried on to Sedro-Woolley and arrived, much to their surprise, after Cheryl, Nigel and Andrew. They were chatting and enjoying themselves with the SIR crew. I informed them of my stomach woes and got the hilarious advice from Cheryl, "You should throw up"
Needless to say I wasn't too keen, and Nigel pointed out that luckily the bad food wasn't still in my system.
So I attempted to down more fruits and veggies, pressing on ahead by myself. Soon though, the tandem train caught up and began to overtake me, so I hung on their tail. Andrew seemed much like a stowaway, wildly swaying about, but never losing their wheel. Amusing ☺. We soon caught up to Craig again, who joined the fun train as they pressed on. Sadly at this point my ingrown toenail decided to become super sensitive and every rut in the road was quite jarring. This of course wasn't an issue if I stuck to the centre of the road, but the tandem train was on the edge. I tried keeping up, but 39km/h on one's own isn't exactly easy, and very soon I had semi-blown myself up trying to keep pace and avoid the cracks in the pavement and was once again chugging on alone.
But it was only 8kms or so until Deming so I pulled into the lot several minutes after those four, filled up my bottles, got my card signed and off I went. The Marshall Hill road seemed a little superfluous, the chip-seal fun I was about done with, but oh well - routes are routes. Rolling along towards the border I found myself slowing as the day had done it, and despite the familiar roads and the allure of Canada soon before me, I was muttering, "Keep it 20" to myself repeatedly in an effort to stay onwards. Despite being forced to stop for a minute and just sit down next to my bike, I was never passed until just near the descents on the 547 by the Tandem & co. (with Cheryl later admitting that she felt that her cautiousness was their weakness on the tandem's descent cornering). But they slowed and I rode with them to the border.
Timmy's in sight on the cue-sheet, I selfishly snuck through the Nexus lane and pressed on towards coffee and glorious last controls. At least there was light through Abbotsford. I'm still amazed every time I ride that highway, and the Mission Bridge - with all that glass and debris I haven't gotten a flat. Seriously, it's like the people who clean that highway are Santa's elves who only do it as a part-time job except they only work 2 months of the year....
The five of us arrived at Tim Horton's at the same time and consumed some caffeine/sugar together before setting out as a quintuple towards the finish along the Lougheed. It made for steady progress, but my tiredness/toenail let me fall off the back at 240th St by Bruce's market and I rolled along the Lougheed from Maple Ridge to Pitt Meadows into Coquitlam seeing little glimpses of flickering taillights in the distance. Traffic in Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows is always a mix of good/bad drivers and it was interesting to see their driving at night. Not ideal, but liveable since the shoulders were wide enough. Mostly. I wish the new segregated section between the Haney Bypass and Laity St didn't spit cyclists out on the shoulder-less road for the next section though. Really never fun...
Rolling past Costco in Coquitlam(ish) I realised that I was pretty low on energy and actually might take another hour or so to reach the finish so I downed some caffeine chews, threw back half a bottle of water & a chocolate bar and had at 'er up the next section of the road. The four folk ahead seemed somewhat bemused at me arriving again but I knew I had to press on, and feeling my legs on the up-ramp of the Meridian crossing I knew it was 'attack all hills' or I would be crawling up them at a snails pace....
So the last section along McLean/Pitt/Lougheed was me just grinding along trying to see how long the adrenaline would last. Luckily to the end! There was only about 50 metres past Maillardville and 20 metres up North Road that I had to kick into energy-less climbing (spinning the lowest year) where otherwise I was able to 'attack' as they say (with no intention of dropping my companions of course :P)
Reaching Denny's I admit I was pretty disappointed when I saw the 22:something written on our control cards, but accepting my health as a slowness factor - luckily that was just the time of day, and all things considered, it wasn't a terrible result.
The hardest part of the day was limping out the door of Denny's on my foot, then riding up the hill to where I parked ☺! I look forward to a healthier 400 in the future!!here Foodlist: