Monday, August 20, 2012

RSVP Race Report

Ride from Seattle to Vancouver, BC and Party (RSVP)
Total Distance: 189 miles
Average Speed: 14.2 mph
Total Elevation Gain: 7115 ft

This past weekend Heather, Ashley, Josh and I biked from Seattle, WA to Vancouver, BC.

Day 1:
Seattle to Bellingham
105 miles
Average Speed: 14.2 mph
Elevation Gain: 4400 ft

Start Line
Friday was the hottest day yet in Seattle, with temperatures in the mid to upper 90's.  This might not seem toasty to my CA and Texas peeps but keep in mind that Seattle homes and apartments do not have A/C.  This also meant that we didn't just bring the sample size of sunscreen bottle, we brought the whole thing.  I think I put on sunscreen 5 different times which caused a nice shiny layer for all of the following pictures.

Elevation profile from Seattle to Bellingham
At the start line, one of the swag items we got were fanny packs.  Ashley was in love.  Since there were only 2 food stops per day (comparable to other rides which have stops every ~15 miles) we had to bring a lot of food as well as all our fuel with us.  Ashley rocked hers both days, I wore mine just on the first day.

tall purple people

There were some mechanical difficulties on day 1 for Josh.  At mile 12 we went over a bump and his seat fell off.  Fell off!  He got picked up by a support vehicle and met us at the first rest stop (~35 miles). 
Sad face

Calling support
At mile 50 he got 3 (three!) flat tires while trying to leave a water stop.  Luckily there was a mechanic there and he was able to buy more tubes and a new tire.

flat tire 1
tube from flat tire

side of road waiting
Mile 90 is where the 9 mile climb started.  This was Chuckanut and took us into Bellingham and was the longest hill ever.  But had some great viewpoints.  We were staying at the dorms at WWU which worked out perfectly!  We took the bus into downtown, ate lots of food, drank a few beers and were in bed by 9pm.

view from Chuckanut

Day 2:
Bellingham to Vancouver
85 miles
Average Speed: 14.1 mph
Elevation Gain: 2500 ft

We woke up at 6am on Saturday and were ready to go by 6:30am.  Layers of sunscreen on again.

tired eyes
We grabbed some breakfast and food at Starbucks and prepared ourselves for the day.  We evaulated the course map, noticed that there was a hill called "The Wall" (see mile 30 below) and figured out where the 2 rest stops were so we could plan water accordingly.

Bellingham to Vancouver elevation profile
Majority of the roads we were on both days were long country farm roads.  Lots of flats, which was great, but also a lot and a lot of headwind (not so great).  It was really pretty and I only missed course turn-offs twice.

One of the higlights was passing through the Canadian border around mile 26.  They opened up a car lane for just bikes and barely glanced at our passports and race numbers, we didn't even have to take off our helmets or sunglasses.

border crossing
I also learned that British Columbia is "The Best Place on Earth" which I thought was a pretty bold statement.  Saturday was in the 80s which was much much cooler than the ride on Friday.

action shot
And lucky for Josh and us, Saturday there were no major mechanical problems.  The day went by pretty quickly and there was less climbing overall, but still had a couple intense climbs.

The finish was at the Coast Plaza Hotel in downtown Vancouver and it was a little anticlimatic.  I am used to the Seattle to Portland finish which ends in a large park where for the final mile, there are people lining the streets, giving high-fives, loud music and lots of finish line vendors.  Granted, there are also about 10,000 people that do the STP where for the RSVP, there were about 1500.  For the RSVP, we turned onto the street and were immediately directed to go down into the underground parking tunnel.  Dodging cars down there, we stored our bikes in the secured section and headed back up the ramp (didn't know where the elevator was) and wandered around to the front of the hotel.  We asked some people where we should go and they pointed inside where there was the finish line party.  We received a coupon for free food OR beer and had to buy tickets for anything else.  A burger cost $7.75 and beer $6.75.  We used the ticket for food and bought beer which was the Canadian equilavent of Bud Light (not tasty).  Plus, it was less than a pint so I wasn't too happy about paying nearly $7 for a tiny amount of cheap beer.  The outside seating was beyond packed so we found a table inside but the DJ had the music blasting way too loudly that we could barely hear each other while sitting beside each other.  Needless to say, we didn't stay for a second beer.

Our fantastic friend Danielle drove my car up from Seattle and picked us up from the hotel (which was booked) and drove us to the other hotel we stayed in.  We showered and went to a brewery in Gastown for second dinner.  Heather and Josh went to bed after dinner and Danielle, Ashley and I wandered around for another couple of drinks before walking back to the hotel.

Oddly enough, I am not sore from the ride.  The first day I had some achy joints and I was a little stiff after the car ride back but that has gone away already and I feel fine.  I loved being about to spend such great quality time with my friends!

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