Headed over to Wenatchee for Saturday's Apple Century Ride. That's a hunnert miles for those varmits who maght not know otherwise. (Watched "3:10 to Yuma" last night, thus the Old West-speak. Wow, what a good movie.) Anyway, this being Juneuary, it wasn't quite the 80s and sunny one hoped for but rather about 60 and partly sunny. But, I'll take it.
I'm an early riser and with rides such as this (which aren't races) you can leave whenever you want. The forecast called for gusty afternoon winds so I figured the earlier the start the better. I was pedaling at 6:15 a.m. Thing is, I was in the minority. I saw three other riders about 10 miles in, another two at 40 miles and that was it. It was a solo 100-mile ride. At the 50-mile aid station, four or five riders came in after me and I thought good, pretty soon we'll all bunch up together and can help push through this wind together (more on that in a second). But it never happened. I never saw anybody again. I know I could've waited but, along with being an early riser, I am the boy who does not like to wait, and I really expected and hoped to turn around at some point and see a train of club riders that I could just latch onto.
Before I continue, let me interject some comments about the above two photos. The top one is from last month's Mount Constitution Hill Climb. As I think you'd understand, I make my son where a helmet at all bicycle time trials. (That's me in the background just about to start.) The photo just above is the drawers and cabinet door of our Wentatchee Avenue Motel kitchenette. They seem to be a tad askew, wouldn't you say. The word catawampus comes to mind. Back to the ride ...
I've done this century twice before. You ride north along the east side of the Columbia, cross over into Chelan, ride along Lake Chelan for about 10 miles, then turn around and after climbing out of the lake basin, return to Wenatchee on the west side of the river. It's beautiful, the river is stunning (and might mighty) and usually the return is straight into a headwind.
This year the wind was seriously schizophrenic, especially on that final stretch. Thirty miles an hour in your face, round a bend and it's a 30 m.p.h. tailwind, round another bend and its from the side and you felt like someone was trying to shake the bike out from under you. Between the giant gorge that the river sits in and the many canyons on either side of it, the wind was whipping up and down, in and out all morning.
At the 75-mile aid station no one came in whilst I was there (not even the two dudes on the lust-worthy S-Works Tarmacs) so I decided wind or not, no one was going to catch me the rest of the way. I finished a little before noon, 5:30 of riding time, totally solo. At the post-ride dinner, some 50-miler riders were there but it wasn't the crush of riders I've seen in previous events. (I know I left early, but one year I left even earlier.) I imagine $4.30-cent gas scared away a lot of folks from other parts of the state who usually do this ride.