Recently I wrote the following words to a few friends of mine:
"I'm actually leaning towards doing more touring and fewer brevets. The certificate/medal thing never had much appeal, I'm not really interested in going faster and I already know I can do the events within the time limit. Which leaves the "social" aspect and I can do more rando-socializing by working a control instead of riding and if I want to ride with somebody, I'd rather go out on a tour or an S24O or a day ride with them. So, I think I'm going to be doing fewer brevets."
An S24O is Grant Petersen's term for a Sub-24 hour Overnight trip. He describes the basic idea here:
This weekend was the SIR 600K. I didn't go, I went "not-camping" instead. I sent out an email to various folks I know, folks who might be interested and who might not be riding the 600K. I got three pals to go with me.
Matt Newlin had actually signed up for the 600K but when he stopped by the Bikestation on Thursday I was sufficiently enthusiastic about my planned trip to Lake Calligan that he decided to join me on the trip. My friend and colleague Mark Canizaro didn't take much convincing and John Lynker, a fellow I first met when he was a customer at Sammamish Valley Cycle, completed our party.
The forecast was for warm clear weather and the plan was to leave my place around noon on Saturday and we'd be back in Issaquah before noon on Sunday. Calligan Lake located up in the mountains on land owned by Weyerhaeuser. The company doesn't log on the weekends and the land is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday. While access gates and rugged roads keep most vehicular traffic away from the high country and signs prohibit motorcycles and ATVs, bicycles are the ideal tool to reach interesting places like Calligan Lake.
A bit before noon on Saturday, Mark arrives by bus in Issaquah. Matt pulls up a couple of minutes later and we head east out of town. I made a Bikely map of our route is here:
Actually our route turns out to be slightly different than this because we added a little bit to swing by Snoqualmie Falls where we'll meet up with John.
It's a warm day, but our route takes us on the shaded trail that runs just to the north of I-90 between Issaquah and Highpoint. Mark is riding his Bianchi Volpe, Matt is on his Kogswell P/R and I've got my green bike. At Highpoint we rejoin pavement for the ride up to Preston where we connect up with the paved Preston-Snoqualmie trail. Near Fall City, we ride on SR-203 for a bit and then turn onto a small road that becomes a smaller, gated gravel road that climbs up to the gravel Snoqualmie Valley Trail. A recurring theme of this trips is gates and gravel.
John and his Bianchi Axis are waiting for us by the Falls. Mark is in desperate need of an ice-cream bar and a sandwich by this point and we all take a snack break. I have an iced coffee. We've got all day and we aren't in any rush.
That's the main difference between this trip and a brevet. On a brevet, you really can never forget about the time. I'm glad for all the randonneuring I've done, it's taught me how to budget my time, how to find my way around by bicycle and it's taught me a lot about endurance. But sometimes, like today, it's nice to just ride around with your pals.
We get riding again and we resume climbing. Matt and I have more miles in our legs and more practice on the hills so we tend to climb faster than John and Mark, but that works out fine. We regroup pretty much at every turn and every gate. I have my little pencam, so I take lots of pictures and at various times we trade off the camera to get some other shots.
Much of the land has been clear-cut, but Mark explains that the loggers have an alternate term for a clear-cut, they call it a "temporary meadow." The temporary meadows do open up some great vistas (along with some wide views of some really large temporary meadows).
At the top of one long, hot, exposed steep climb, Matt and I find a patch of shade and flop down with the bikes. I unfold my Z-rest and take a rest while we wait for Mark and John to catch up. Matt takes in the view and when Mark and John catch up with us Mark takes me up on my suggestion of a five-minute siesta.
There is no camping at Calligan Lake, so we've decided we aren't camping. We don't have tents, we won't have a campfire. We may roll out our bivy sacks and take a nap that spans the hours of darkness. We may brew some tea in the Kelly Kettle and have a nice snack. But we aren't camping. We are all very clear on that point.
There really are no camping spots at Calligan Lake. There is a spot where a few vehicles are parked (they must have keys to the gates) and a couple of canoes and a boat are out on the water. We don't want to disturb the fisher folks, so we follow the road until it diverges from the lake, looking for a good spot for our extended picnic. We don't find much of anything, so we back-track and eventually find a bit of an opening in the trees where we can walk our bikes down to a small clearing on the lake shore.
It's some after 6:00 PM now and we are about 35 miles from Issaquah. We continue the leisurely theme of the day, unpacking the bags from our bikes, comparing our supplies. John has his luxuries, salami and cheese and beer and Jack Daniels and chocolate mini-donuts. Matt has cashews and chocolate covered espresso beans and other dry light food-stuffs. Mark has freeze-dried Chicken & Rice and oatmeal. I've got green tea, and coffee and Nutella and graham crackers and lots of various food bars. I've also got the Kelly Kettle and a 16 ounce thermos. The kettle and thermos are my luxury, I'm looking forward to hot tea in the middle of the night and when I get up in the morning.
I heat the water for the chicken and rice and while that is steeping, I brew up a second batch of hot water for tea. My companions are all impressed with the kettle's efficiency and classic design.
In addition to my pencam, I'd brought along my somewhat more expensive ($100) Kodak digital camera. I guess the cameras are another of my luxuries. The Kodak is more fiddling than I like to do from the saddle of a bike, but it takes some good shots in camp. I still really prefer the pencam, however. It doesn't have a display screen, but it's dead simple so I just shoot lots of pics and throw away the duds later when I see them on my computer screen at home. In the field, too much technology can sometimes get in the way.
We chat about many things and share the food. As the sun gets lower the bugs get more active but we all have various forms of bug netting. Just before we nod off for our extended naps, Matt says to me "You know, if we were on the 600K, we'd probably be riding toward Elma for a few hours of sleep right about now." He doesn't sound like he's missing the 600K even a little bit.
Matt and I are awake by 5:00 AM. The moon is just setting behind the mountains. We share the last of the warm tea from the thermos (my plan with the overnight hot tea worked perfectly) and then we go off to retrieve the food pannier that John and I hung up away from our "not camp" last night. I brew up another batch of hot water which Mark uses to make oatmeal and I use to make coffee.
It's another perfect day. After breakfast we pack up pretty quickly. Calligan Lake is a couple of thousand feet higher than Issaquah and what was yesterday's slow climb is today's speedy descent. Near the Falls, John splits off to head for his home while Mark, Matt and I follow the trail down to Fall City and then head back to Issaquah. I'm home at 10:35 AM, making this a true sub-24 for me but this trip wasn't about any kind of a time line. Mark and Matt ride back to Seattle and I know it is very safe to say that a good time was had by all.
Photos from the trip can be seen at: