by Jamie Schoenborn
A couple of weeks ago, I did the Phil’s May Day Classic ride, a 50-104 mile ride to raise funds for the WA State Bicycle Alliance and the Orting Food Bank. I know this is not a race report. However, it was such a well done ride, by really great family/team, and the price was outstandingly reasonable ($30-40 depending on when you reg), so I’d recommend this ride to all in future years, particularly if the weather is good. It’s run by Phil and his family from the Phil’s Bike Shop down south. For the CX racers, he helps put on SCX and now Cross Revolution; he knows his stuff. It was run really smooth, and with 200+ riders it didn’t feel like a ‘ride’ other than having manned food stops and arrows on the roads (by comparison I think Bike MS has over 2000 and STP caps at 8000). It was common for me to ride for long stretches never seeing others, and being at the front of the ride, they were taking names/numbers and telling where you were, so it did feel a bit like a race.
I did the 104 mile ‘mountain route’, which starts in Federal Way, and has three food stops in the cute historic towns of Orting and Wilkeson (which you do twice, each), and then one at the turn around up on Rainier just down the road from the Carbon River entrance station. Elevation was about 4250, if I remember correctly. Course is almost entirely on quiet roads in rural wooded/river sections, farms, or semi-rural with random houses; a few short sections on busier thoroughfares, but these were early before traffic started or had a decent shoulder; several bike trail sections but they were all pretty quiet and not at all like the BGT nightmare.
So quiet I saw fresh bear poop on the road, but no actual bears.
Pavement throughout was great. Very strong head wind on the return, which I heard is typical, this made the return a lot (mentally and physically) harder and longer than I expected, given it should be mostly downhill. I worked on the 20+ mile descent off Rainier, it would be a very fun descent with almost no other traffic otherwise.
I started out comfortably slow, but continually passed others. I had ridden 70 miles pretty fast the day before with team SPIN (our Bike MS group last year) and my legs were a bit tired. Since I was riding solo, I was hoping to find a few people on the course to ride with, so I kept going, thinking all the 100 milers would be up ahead. However, when I reached mile 40 at Wilkeson and heard I was the first woman and only a few other riders were ahead of me, I just couldn’t help but keep the racer in me down. It was 20+ miles uphill to the turnaround, and I love climbing, so drilled it. I saw the top 5 riders coming down only a few miles from the turnaround. Since I was still waiting for people to ride with and the turn-around was in warm sunshine and had a fire going, I let my swollen feet recover a bit over lunch. I did find a few guys to draft behind at mile ~65 but they were so unsteady and heavy on the brakes for no reason, I dropped off and decided to ride solo (probably a mistake). I hit a few dark patches around miles 75-90 where the headwinds got to me, and I was getting too tired to catch all the road markings and missed a few turns, but by the last long/steep hill I knew I was only 10 miles away and pushed through to the end.
I feel pretty good about my time; 8:06 total hours (almost entirely solo) with stops, including a very luxurious 45 minutes at the turn-around; total ride time was in the mid-6 hour range. I was the first woman to finish the full 104 miles, and was the 7th person to the mid-point stop on Rainier, even starting over 30 min after course opening; it got a busier on the return, mixing in with the 50 and 75-milers, so I don’t know where I finished overall, but the only other two women who were close to me and riding in a large group came in about 20 minutes after I did. I ate non-stop, and caught my friends in town for a beer over the Sounders game; even better.
Totally recommend to put on the calendar for next year – it’s the first Sunday in May. You can reg day-of for $40 so worth seeing what the weather is like. I would hate to do that ride in a cold rain, and being that close to Rainier increases the likelihood. It’d be great to have some teammates to ride with next year. All routes were good, but I’d suggest at least the 70 miles (not much climbing). I loved the long quiet ride up to Rainier for the 100 miles, which is where most of the elevation comes in.
More at: http://philsbikeshop.com/mayday/