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Photo: Doug Latornell

NW Crank Super Randonneur Brevet Series
Ken's Back to Back Hell Weeks

by Ken Bonner

From time to time Ken checks in with me and Cheryl about his out of province brevets. I asked him if it was ok to put this one in the newsletter. Back to back Hell Weeks - someone's idea of heaven... [Eric]


Another ‘wunnerif’ completed (back to back Hell Weeks). After completing the EdH 600 I forsook the Oregon 400 (good thing, as it rained hard most of the time!) and drove through snow on Stevens Pass to ride the NW Crank 600. The NW Crank brevet series was in an interesting order: Tuesday 600k; Thursday 300k; Friday – day off; Saturday 200k & Sunday 400k. All 6:00 a.m. starts except for the 200k which started at 7:00 a.m.

It was not easy to ride the two 600s so close together, so with below freezing temps. at 11:00 p.m. at the 400k mark, I decided to sleep until daylight. It was still really, really cold with a mild headwind uphill when I started again. Flat tire at noon, but fortunately, in a nice sunny spot.

My chain kept jumping off the big chain ring, so I finally found a bike store in Leavenworth. They fixed the jumping off the big chain ring issue, but then I discovered down the road that I could not shift into the small chain ring. Solved that problem by unclipping my right foot and pushing the chain over with my foot. Unorthodox, but it worked. With all this mucking about, a group of 7 riders caught up to me at the finish.

The 300 was the most challenging brevet. Pleasant start with great volcanic landscapes sharply etched by the early morning sunshine. Then, we came to the first control at about the 50k mark. End of the pavement for about 12k … the answer to the information control question was on the sign that said ‘pavement ends’. The answer – ‘Now the Fun Begins’.

Did not seem too bad to begin with, flat, and one could find mostly hard-packed routes on the road. Then came a double-barrelled hill. Made it up the first one, but walked the second because there was no traction. Then we came to another hill. I was determined to stay on the bike. With front wheel popping-up, and back wheel skidding, I managed to get to the top. The grade turned out to be about 15%.

With great relief, back on pavement again. However, there had been a prediction of 65 kph winds. And yes, the weather prediction was correct! There was about a 100k stretch where the wind was directly in one’s face. Exceeding 10 kph, even on a downhill was impossible for more than a 100 metres at a time! This was even worse than the worst winds in Kansas on the Colorado Last Chance, where the slowest is usually 12 kph for hours on end!

It was questionable whether anyone other than SIR rider, Chris Ragsdale (another Ian Fillinger) would finish within the max. allowed time. Fortunately, the last 40k involved a 10k - 6% downhill grade, and then a tail wind along the river to the finish. Most folks did in fact finish officially.

Several BC Randonneurs showed up: Susan Barr; Susan Allen; Doug Latornell; Keith Nichol; Tracy Barill; Barry Chase – I think I was the only BC Randonneur that completed all 4 of the brevets.

Note: I followed up the EdH brevet series with a back-to-back NorthWest Crank brevet series (200, 300,400 & 600k brevets) out of East Wenatchee, Washington. Clear and cold in the early morning, up to 20C and LOTS of wind – on the 300k, there was a steady, head-on 65 kph headwind. Headway was at between 8-10 kph – downhill and don’t dare stand up! Went on for about 100k … we were redeemed with a 10k 6% downhill slope and then a moderate tailwind into the finish. Probably the toughest 300k brevet I’ve ever ridden!

NW Crank brevet results:
600k April 19 - Ken = 2nd finisher of 27 riders, with 7 other riders who caught up to him at a traffic light one block from the finish.
300k April 21 - Ken = 2nd finisher of 15 riders.
200k April 23 - Ken = 2nd finisher of 27 riders.
400k April 24 - Ken = 2nd finisher of 27 riders.

By my calculations, only 3 of us completed all 4 brevets:

John Kramer – Oregon Randonneurs – Total elapsed time = 83h 38m
Mark Roehrig – Seattle International Randonneurs – Total Elapsed Time = 78h 09m
Ken Bonner – BC Randonneurs - Total Elapsed Time = 74h 56m (consistent with my 2011 EdH total elapsed time)



SIR NW Crank Organizer, Geoff Swarts, and his team of volunteers did a great job of providing a variety of scenic brevet routes on mostly smoothly paved, and low traffic, roads. I have now added the NW Crank routes to the Oregon & N. California brevet routes as my all time favourite brevet routes.

Cheers … Ken

Ride dates: April 19 - 24
Go to: Out of Province Results

May 2, 2011