Monday, November 20, 2017

The Best Biking Buddy I Never Met

Note: I started writing this post shortly after completing the Boothby 300K Challenge in 2014, but sadly I never finished it. Maybe I'll get motived to complete it one of these days. -- Keith, 2017/11/20
It started innocently enough on January 10, 2014, when Narayan Krishnamoorthy posted the following message to the Seattle Randonneurs (SIR) Google Group:
Hi all,
In 2011, Don envisioned riding a 300k every month for 12 straight months to accomplish an R-12!
I've been wanting to do this for some time now, just never worked up the courage to actually embark on it. I figured this would be a good way to keep the motivation for the next R-12. This is not RUSA or SIR sanctioned, but it'd be fun to get a bunch of folks who knew Don (or want to know about Don) and who'd want to, to do this with me (or at least meet me at the start line).
Hugh Kimball expressed an interest in this, but I was wondering if others may want to join in...
One condition: riders must consume at least one donut or slice of pie on the ride! :) I am thinking of starting not this weekend, but the weekend after that. We'd pick a really flat 300!
PS: Mimi is ok with the idea!
The "Don" and "Mimi" mentioned are SIR members Don Boothby (lover of pie, pastries, and long-distance riding), and his lovely and talented wife Mimi Boothby (lover of art, cats, and long-distance riding).

Several thoughts entered my head after reading Narayan's message:

  • 300K per month? Is he crazy?
  • Ooh, donuts and pie... sounds like my type of ride.
  • 300K? Each month? Is he insane?
  • I've never completed a "normal" R-12.
  • 300K? I've ridden that distance exactly twice in my life.
  • This would really build an awesome aerobic base.
  • Who is this "Don" person, and why would he suggest something so ridiculous?
  • Three. Hundred. K. It hurts to even think about it.

Responses from Narayan's message began almost immediately, with the first coming from Mimi:
There will be an awards ceremony for whoever can complete this goal in 2014. I think Donald got halfway through it in 2011.  
Some riders responded enthusiastically. Joe Llona's response was classic: "One donut at a time. Put me down for this one." Others (myself included) were a little more timid, but I decided to give it a go. I thought "what's the worst thing that could happen?" 

Over the next few months I learned much about Don. He hatched this 300K R-12 idea in 2010, and began his attempt in 2011. Sometime around August he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Surprisingly, his treatments and surgery didn't keep him completely off the bike, but they conspired to severely limit his distances. Don died in July 2012.

More details on Don's history, his philosophy, his pies, and his fight with cancer can be found on his excellent blog The Boothby Chronicles.

January 25: Permanent #1450 - Snohomish-Issaquah-Mt Vernon 300K, Snohomish Start

So there we were, gathered at the Twin Eagles Cafe in Snohomish on a cold January morning, preparing for our first round of 300K craziness. In attendance:
  • Narayan Krishamoorthy
  • Joe Llona
  • Keith Moore
  • Mick Walsh
Mother Nature provided spectacular conditions for our inaugural ride -- sun shine, crystal blue skies, and little wind. Unfortunately, in Pacific Northwest winter, "clear and sunny" also means "brutally cold". The temperature varied from subfreezing as the sun rose to freezing throughout the day and back to subfreezing after the sun set. We had to carefully pick our way along wooded roads, dodging the frost and black ice.

Narayan and I finished together after about 17 hours in the saddle, Joe about a half hour before us. Mick, of course, finished about 4 hours ahead of us. This dramatic time difference became a trend as the months wore on -- Mick is scary fast. When I tell people that I "rode with Mick", what I really mean is "I saw Mick at the start, and by the time I finished he was home, showered, had a meal, and watched a movie."

Hugh Kimball rode on his own a few days later. In fact, he rode two 300Ks in January, his own personal Seattle-Portland-Seattle. Hugh is an animal.

Getting the first 300K on the books was a real confidence booster. I knew we were very lucky with the weather, but I couldn't help but thinking "maybe our luck will hold for the February ride, too".

February 15: Permanent #1836 - MI-3 300K

Our weather luck did not hold. The weather was dreadful -- dark, rainy, cold, and windy. At least we didn't have to worry about frost or black ice. The February list of certifiable crazies:
  • David Harper
  • Chris Heg
  • Joe Llona
  • Keith Moore
  • Mick Walsh
Narayan was fighting a nasty bronchial infection, so he couldn't make it. We will, of course, lord this over him for the next 50 years.

One of the most memorable moments of the entire challenge series happened near the end of the February ride. Three of us (David, Chris, and myself) rolled into Carnation around 7:10pm (~13 hours into the ride) and headed for the IGH grocery store in search of soup. We were all freezing cold, soaked to the bone, and in desperate need of hot food. Unfortunately, the store had closed its deli 10 minutes earlier. No soup for us!

IGH is a grocery store, so there was no lack of food, there was just nothing hot & available for immediate consumption. We all managed to find something worth eating. While we sat, shivered, and ate our snacks, we were approached by a clearly intoxicated woman. She was not impressed with our plan to continue riding through the storm to Mercer Island ("that's like 30 miles!" she screamed). She looked at us, pointed her finger, and slurred "If you were my kids I'd kick your asses!"

Needless to say, we pressed on and finished in a little over 16 hours, with Joe finishing about an hour earlier, and Mick two hours earlier. Egad, a trend.

01/25: #1450 - Snohomish-Issaquah-Mt Vernon 300K
02/15: #1836 - MI-3 300K
03/29: SIR Spring 300K
04/05: SIR Olympia 300K
05/02: NW Fleche -- Nonsense Prevails 360K
05/17: SIR Spring 400K
05/31: SIR Spring 600K
06/15: #1450 - Snohomish-Issaquah-Mt Vernon 300K
06/21: Cascade 1200
07/27: #1450 - Snohomish-Issaquah-Mt Vernon 300K
07/31: RAMROD
08/02: SIR Summer 300K
08/14: SIR Crater Lake 1000K
08/23: SIR Summer 400K
09/06: SIR Summer 600K
09/18: #2439 - Big Guns 1016K
10/11: #1836 - MI-3 300K
11/15: #751 - Seattle-Rainier-Elma-Bremerton 300K
12/13: #1450 - Snohomish-Issaquah-Mt Vernon 300K

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