Tuesday, June 22, 2010

History Made-Shields Valley 200K Brevet

On June 19, 2010 I hosted my first brevet as a Regional Brevet Administrator. This is a ride I’ve been looking forward to since last fall when I put it on the schedule.

The ride was scheduled to leave at 6:00 a.m. from the Walmart parking lot in Bozeman. An ominous sign-a raw blustery east wind was blowing under a gloomy overcast sky as I was setting out my clip boards with the requisite forms and cue sheets. It’s almost always calm in the mornings in Bozeman-even if it gets windy later. Knowing that the ride goes through one of Montana’s windiest places in Livingston, I was afraid we could be in trouble.

The turnout for the ride exceeded my expectations. I was joined by fellow Montanans Ken Billingsley from Molt and Karel Stroethoff from Missoula along with Jim Moores from Boise who is in the Bozeman area often with his bike. Ken, Karel, and Jim had ridden some of my permanents last summer. I was very glad to meet Brian and Rob Kennedy, randonneurs from Florida, who were in the Jackson, Wyoming area on vacation and came all the way to Bozeman for the ride.

My wife Brenda showed up at the start a little before departure to handle the paperwork for me so I could get geared up. Much appreciation to Brenda for waking up awfully early on a Saturday morning to do that. It was a huge help.

After the obligatory group photo, we were off on time and working hard into a headwind on the rolling hills going into Bridger Canyon. The temperatures, which were somewhere in the 40’s weren’t warming up very fast as we climbed up the canyon, but the wind did die down considerably. I think this is the first time I can remember a ride where the wind speed actually declined. Much more frequently it’s just the opposite.

The six of us were fairly compatible riders, keeping more or less together as we ascended the challenging Battle Ridge Pass climb, descended into the Shields River Valley, and arrived in Livingston. The sun finally overcame the clouds as we headed out of Livingston into the Paradise Valley on the tranquil East River Road. The air was crystal clear and the surrounding mountains really stood out against the tree lined river bottoms, emerald green hills, and big blue sky. We were lucky to get a nice sunny afternoon during this abnormally rainy spring.

I was delayed a few minutes by a flat tire, the result of a piece of glass no doubt picked up on the debris laden shoulders of Park Street/US 89 out of Livingston-apparently a place where street sweepers fear to tread. Karel waited for me to change the tube while pealing off a cool weather layer. We got into the Paradise Valley checkpoint, manned by my Mom and Dad, as the other guys were finishing up a snack. Jim left the control first, understandably concerned about some building clouds to the west, followed shortly by Rob, Brian, and Ken. Karel and I stayed a little longer to restock and rest up. Karel let me use his superior frame pump to get a few more psi into my repaired rear tire. Many thanks to Mom and Dad for waiting for us at the checkpoint, signing our brevet cards, and setting out all the goodies. I owe them big time!

Karel and I made brief stop at a Livingston gas station on the way back to top off our bottles and prepare for the Bozeman Hill and Jackson Creek climbs. Despite a juicy tailwind, I suddenly ran out of energy sometime after mile 100 and had to let Karel go. I had felt good all day, but a severe lack of training this spring, along with some early nutritional miscalculations conspired to put me in the little chain ring. As I was slogging up Jackson Creek Road, riders from some of the local race teams came cruising by-looking fresh as daisies on their own 100 mile training ride. I'm sure I was quite the pathetic site spinning alone in my tiny gears. But alas, I'm a randonneur not a racer. I embrace my slowness! I rallied a little after the final climb was over and finished strong.

Brenda was at the finish with our son Jackson and dog Ernie to check everybody in and collect our brevet cards. Once again-much appreciation.

The day went incredibly well. The sun came out, the winds helped more than hurt, and the thunderstorms stayed away. Many thanks to the riders-all who came from a considerable distance. It was a tremendous honor having them ride this brevet. Also, thanks to my family for being such loyal and capable volunteers. Results and links to some photos here.

I am one happy lantern rouge!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Shields Valley 200k Brevet Preview

One week before the main event I pre-rode the Shields Valley 200k course-first and foremost for my own fitness, but also to make sure route was rideable. With all the road construction going on, and very few alternate routes, that's always a concern.

The route is in good shape. There's some construction on Park Street/US 89 near the Livingston I-90 interchange, but a side path takes us right around it. The only other construction I encountered was some shoulder work on the Battle Ridge Pass descent, but that didn't impact the traveled way.

The weather was cool and breezy. I got sprinkled on in the lower Bridger Canyon and again just outside of Livingston. Northeast winds gave me a tailwind for much of the route. The forecasts for next weekend show it will be much warmer, breezes out of the west (which may hurt a little on the final climbs), and some possible thunderstorms in the afternoon (which is pretty common this time of year). All in all-it should be a great day to be out on the bike.

Here's photos I snapped along the way:

The view of the Bridger Ridge in Bridger Canyon is beautiful in the morning light. I hope we don't have so many clouds in the way on June 19.
Our first checkpoint is Nordies Grocery in Wilsall.

Not unique to Montana, but more common here than most. The cows will go around you-just be calm-then dodge cow pies for the next several miles.

A view of the Yellowstone River from Old Clyde Park Road

Construction in Livingston. Get on the path adjacent to Park Street to get around it. On the way back get on this same path after riding under I-90.