Thunder 100

Start/Finish: Mt. View High School - Vancouver, WA

2003 = 74 miles

The second annual ride, but the first time I had heard of it.
The ride is late in the year and, on the week before Cycle Oregon, it seems like a nice final tune up.

Knowing that there are not any terribly difficult, long stretches of climbing, and since the weather is expected to be in high 80s is seems like a good chance to get in a century.
Lisa and I debate the good points and bad points of spending the day doing this ride, and despite and relative obscurity of the ride, and the 30.00 cost, we agree to give it a try.
Arriving at the school by 7:00 am in order to get an early start, thus an early finish, to the ride, we instantly notice there aren't a lot of riders here, hmm. We tell them we want to do a 100 and they hand us two maps, one is a 67 mile route and another is a 38 mile route. Retreating back to our bikes and study the maps but are still unsure what we are supposed to do, hmmmm. 
Well, we track down person at the registration that does know and she informs us, we do the 67 mile loop, which brings us back to the start, then go out again for the 38 mile loop. Oh.
But that's 105 miles we note, she grins, hmmmm.
Lisa, ever the "I havta know whats coming" person she is, notes there is only one rest stop listed on the 67 mile loop. Ummm, ok, that doesn't sound good, maybe they missed one. She also notes there is no mileages on the cue sheet, so, even tho it tells us where to turn, we have no clue how far to go before we are expected to turn. No matter, I notice that the directional arrows, marked with lightning bolts are bright yellow on the road, and should be easy to follow. So, off we go. The sky is cloudy, the air is brisk and there seems to be a fog hanging in low. We arent concerned, there is no chance of rain, according to the forecasters.
But it is a little cold and with the mix of hills and and descents that we see early in the ride, body temperature regulation is a challenge. Most of the steep climbs happen in the first 15 miles of this ride. They aren't long but some are fairly steep, and Lisa begins to struggle with blood sugar/energy levels. We are forced to stop several times to eat and allow her stomach to settle, and debate whether she is able to complete the ride. While she rests I begin to map out a course to allow us to cut the route short and pick up the return route back home. But, as we get 20 miles in, she rebounds and insists she believes she can make it. Ok then. Much of the route follows the route we had done earlier in the year as part of the RACC. Very nice route, low traffic roads, with adequate shoulders. Rural farmland, with houses mostly spread out on large tracts of land. We have several encounters with loose dogs, who apparently are quite territorial, and make use of the fact that their owners seem to promote this by extending them the freedom of no leashes.  One rider reports being bitten by a dog, not seriously, but he seemed quite offended by it. There is indeed only one rest stop on the route, didn't get there till 27 miles or so, and we were ready for it. After that stop, we continue on, enjoying the quiet calm of the area, and the warmth of the sun, which by days end was in the low end of the 90's. The route was well marked throughout, with only two minor typos on the cue sheet that had me confused for a bit, as I was constantly watching the roads and comparing them to the cue sheet. We didn't see a lot of riders on the route, so there was many times we were out on our own, and with a low knowledge level of the area, we didn't want to get too far off course. Washington has a nasty street naming convention. At one point I noted that we would be turning left on 169th Street, then follow that up with a turn on 169th Avenue. Soon we realize that there isnt another rest stop, so we are forced to find a shady spot and make our own. Having learned the hard way that it is a very good idea to bring your own food, even on a supported ride with food at stops, we were able to eat enough to keep the hunger pangs away. The water we had, however was gone, and we both spend the last 10 miles with none. At 2:00 we roll back in to the school, all the while, watching our odometers, that now read 74 miles. Hot, thirsty, and just a little miffed, we stand in the shade and ponder the future. We have just did 74 miles of their advertised 67 mile route. Do we want to do 38 more, (if it indeed is only 38) which would then give us 112 for the day? Its an out and back route west, past 205 and I5 to Vancouver Lake and back, seemingly through residential/commercial areas, with hot asphalt, and exhaust. Not quite the rural pasture land we have enjoyed for the rest of the day. That seems too much for us so we call it a day. Seems like we weren't the only ones who ran out of water, and heard several people make that point to the organizer, who admitted the oversight of supplying only one stop. But other than that and the miscalculation of the miles, the ride was very nice. We were glad to have done it, glad to be done with it, and confident that this will sufficiently cap our training, and that we are indeed ready for this years Cycle Oregon.


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