Here’s the dirt on Day1, as told by one of the ‘Hard Men” himself, Nick Brown.
We woke at 7:30 to find rain pounding on the upstairs windows. The first day of our Bellingham training camp would be a wet one.
One by one we assembled in the kitchen where Carl, Chris, and I made pancakes. Robert made the first batch of batter while Chris and I rooted around for fruit to add. My thought was raisins, a fruit renowned for its concentrated sugar. Everyone else opted for blueberries. We tried adding more and more blueberries until finally Chris handed me one that had so much blueberry juice in it the cake wouldn’t cook.
“Ten minutes!” intoned Robert. We scrambled for our gear. Tights, warm hats, warm jackets, vests, three base layers, leg warmers, shoe covers, plastic bags, rubber gloves, rain coats. We wore it all.
Our route would take us North to the U.S.-Canada border, before winding south along the coast and back into B-Ham. The road ahead promised hills, wind, and lots of suffering. Little did we know, when we rolled out in the rainy, 36-degree morning what suffering would follow.
About thirty minutes into the ride, as we hit the farming roads north east of town, the rain turned to snow. Fifteen minutes later, the snow was sticking to the road and, more critically, our bikes. First, your chain would skip teeth on the cogs. Then, as you shifted to another cog in a vain attempt to maintain momentum, the chain would merely tickle the snow-filled toothtops, until it finally came to rest in a totally unsuitable ratio.
The snow got deeper and our hands and feet got colder. Bikes stopped working, and one by one riders bailed out for the van. We stopped to regroup and assess the situation. It was snowing harder, we couldn’t feel our fingers, and the call of warm showers was too much to resist. We turned around 20 miles in, figuring 40 miles in a snowstorm was tougher than anyone’s ride back in Seattle.
The spin back to town was actually quite pleasant. With our bikes locked in compatible gears, we could ride hard enough to stay warm while keeping close company. Brian W discovered that you can’t really spin up a 53×12 while riding in the slush. Mike Brown’s front derailleur accumulated so much snow it pushed his chain off.
I adopted the latest in organically-formed aerodynamic wheels: The Snow Disc. Eat your heart out Zipp, my disc wheel adapts to the climate, accumulating snow and becoming solid for improved aerodynamics when riding into the heart of a blizzard, and melting again to shed weight for improved sprinting response once things get hot.
The ride’s only casualty was Robert, who stopped for warmer gloves. He would spend the rest of the ride motorpacing behind the van as he chased the fast moving Brown/Brown/Edens/Wachlarz arctic TTT group. According to Robert, he was within 100 meters when we sprinted for the Bellingham city limits sign and relegated him to the broom wagon.
Lunch and quality time on the couch was the order of the afternoon. But when the cycling DVDs started playing, some of us felt guilty. I needed another ride. An hour or so later, Mike Brown and I went for a quick hour and a half tour of the Bellingham suburbs.
We were back just in time for a dinner of slow-roasted pork loin, asparagus, salad, roasted winter vegetables, and garlic bread. There’s never enough garlic bread.
Then it was sweet dreams, ‘cause with the promise of clear skies on Sunday, Day Two promised to be epic.