Thursday, September 18, 2014

Konsidering K-Hound

"Every 200K should feature a swim in the river."    

As we splashed around in the Willamette River at mile 110, Asta & I delighted in the warm sunny July weather here in Oregon that allowed us this luxury.   The boys looked on with somewhat bemused expressions from the shore, none daring to go in beyond the knee.
Mid-ride swim!

Two weeks later on yet another 200K, I found myself neck high in the Deschutes River, cooling down after 80 miles of hot, mostly treeless miles.    A girl could get used to this....


Asta & I have ridden a LOT of miles together this year.  Looking back on our quest for our first K-hounds, I've come to realize that water has been a recurring theme in so many of our rides, though not always in the most benevolent of manners.   

Here in the Pacific NorthWET, water is most often something that falls from the sky, requiring the use of fenders, the strategic deployment of wool, and the careful application of GoreTex, eVent and Windstopper.   We ride from espresso stand to hot cocoa machine to soup pot, as rain water soaks into our shoes and runs into our eyes.   Starbucks is our friend and Safeway is rando nirvana.

Pacific NorthWET.

In February, early in our K-hound quest, Asta & I joined Theo on a 200K from Portland OR to Olympia WA.  We followed the Columbia River north, and the rainstorm followed us.  By late-afternoon, we took refuge in Safeway, spreading our wet gear in piles around the table, the puddles beneath our feet widening with every minute.  We were soaked through to the bone, chilled to the core, and huddled around steaming bowls of tomato-basil soup.   Yet we were grinning from ear to ear, giddily reveling in our drowned rat status.  Pushing the time limits, we headed out into the early winter night, the wind whipping at the trees, while steering our bikes around downed branches and bottomless rain puddles.  Ahead, a vehicle activated it's flashers and pulled over.   What's this??  A secret control!   On a permanent!  The controller offered up dry gloves and warm hats.  How awesome is that?
Drowned rats in Safeway. (Hi Theo!)

In March, when old man winter still had his grip on the Northwest, we headed to Seattle for the "Spring" 300.  Asta engaged her superstar warp engines and rode with the fast boys all day.  But the old man had other plans for me.  It rained hard, and I was underdressed.  I got too cold and too wet.  I flatted and changed the tire in the wind.   Focused on the effort to make up time, to keep moving and stay warm, I failed to fuel properly.   By nightfall I was exhausted, with low blood sugar and double vision.  My first DNF.  I was crushed.  Was my pursuit of a K-hound merely a pipe dream??

Asta & I appearing a bit wrecked after a very long 400K...

In May, after endless months of rain, when drivetrains were grit-worn and moss was growing between our toes, Asta & I escaped to the deserts of eastern Washington to ride the Fleche.  We followed a route carved over the millenia by water, along the banks of the Yakima, Naches and Tieton rivers, as we headed west towards Olympia.   We climbed ever higher past Rimrock Lake and finally over White Pass, where the water greeted us silently in the form of snowpack along the roadside, and ice glittered on the summit lake, reflecting the midnight beams of our headlights.  Ten teams finished the Fleche, and we were the only one to escape the rain.  Ha HA!

Norm and The FlecheTones

Any body of water that can be seen from Outer Space is worthy of circumnavigation.  Seeking to whip out a big chunk of K towards the K-hound goal, I headed to my home state of NY to ride The Lap Of The Lake 1000K around Lake Ontario in July.   The crossings into Canada on the Thousand Islands Bridge over the St. Lawrence River, and back into the US again via Niagara Falls were highlights of the trip.   Standing besides the Falls at 4:30am, just before sunrise, the normally packed viewing platforms completely devoid of tourists, the thunderous and immutable power of one of the world's biggest waterfalls was awe-inspiring.

A Really Big Lake


As I write this tale, Asta & I are still in pursuit of the remaining kilometers needed to achieve our first K-hound awards.   We will try to knock out as many kilometers as we can while "water" still means warm swims in the river instead of rivulets of rain running down the backs of our necks.    While I can't know for certain that we will achieve our K-hound goal, I *do* know that I'm so very lucky to have Asta as a partner in rando-crime.


1 comment:

  1. Very nice! Good luck to you and Asta in your K-hound pursuits together!