Sure there were the floods that submerge two separate sections and then the start/finish burned to the ground, but I like to think they just made the route better. The floods have turned everything green and while I will miss the YESMart (only starting location to sell bongs and hookahs), the Target store seems to work okay too.
After finishing the Louisville 600k, I had some serious thinking to do. It completed my Super Randonneur series, gateway to 1200ks around the world. Now I had my pick. After much deliberation, I will hang my hat on PBP which happens only every 4 years. I've seen it said many places, "I guess I would rather do PBP now when I am X years old instead of waiting until the next one when I am X+4 years old". Besides, riding in France has been a life goal since I was 5 and watching the Tour de France. Sure they don't let the ladies in the tour, but hey, I can do PBP and be part of an elite 6% of riders (percentage of females at PBP in 2007). I speak French and have a degree in French Literature so I will hopefully not be reciting the poetry of Baudelaire or Rimbaud on this ride. Maybe some Verlaine might work or some Mallarme. Doubtless by the end I will be hallucinating and will have a surrealistic experience in the veins of Sartre or at least a little Deirida.
Back to Minnesota, a rainy month with horrible weather (the Minneapolis tornado missed my house by only a couple of miles and did 165 million in damage). I skipped every one of the May brevets with the knowledge that 1) I didn't need them for qualifiers and 2) I've already ridden in so much hideous weather that clouds may actually form in front of me. I said no to the 400k to ride with my friend, Gary, on his Hills of Wisconsin permanent with 7,500 feet of climbing. Throw in a sustained 20mph headwind for hours and an emergency reroute and it was an excellent training ride. I can excuse quite a bit for the sun making an all day appearence.
This past Memorial Day looked like a bust, 2 riders were going to do the new DHC and I thought I would go along. Gary said yes at the last minute, then the other two became alarmed at the weather report and backed out. The remaining two of us stood in the parking lot for a 7:30 start and a radar picture that looked like a thermonuclear blast right over the course -best delay for a couple of hours. Like two hobbits, we trode off for our second breakfast. We launched at 9:30 with only a small amount of fallout left on the radar.
The rain re-started just as we left the parking lot. By 1 mile, it was a downpour, but after the nasty cold rain, a warm rain just didn't seem all that bad. At 8 miles, the hail started. Well, that stings quite a bit, but I had sun-blocking knee warmers and a jacket on so that wasn't really awful either (Gary might have differing opinions on this point). Sure it was hailing, but really the suburbs aren't the highlight of the ride, so just keep going. Finally, after about 20 miles, the rain stopped. And the big, warm, south wind started up.
Ever felt like you were riding in a preheating oven? I had that sense riding into Chaska, but hey, at this point, it wasn't hailing and there was sun! So this really picks up my spirits. We ride through historic Carver (recently opened) and I start pulling rain gear off. Luscious! The next 30 miles are rolling along the Minnesota River, which is 1 foot below flood stage. Virtually no traffic and we don't really even have too much issue with the wind until just before Henderson. Only 2:56 to go 47 miles - a personal record.
We stop brieftly and head up to Green Isle. Now the monster headwind is a monster tailwind! For the next 55 miles with a few interuptions, we have a fabulous 20-30 mph tailwind. Unbelievable! We land in Delano, only 28 miles to the finish at about 4:30 on a 6 hour century pace. At this point, it's hot! We eat ice cream and I drink an entire liter of water at the Shell station. It's been at least 9 months since I have ridden in such heat (and I rode in the desert this winter). At this point, with a few cramps setting in, we slacken the pace and have a more orderly ride back to the start. Somehow my tire mojo gets out of control and we have to boot Gary's tire; he only flats when riding with me. The wind has died slightly which is okay since the sun is high in the sky and we are riding east. Back at Target by 7:30.
Despite blowing lots of time at controls and with the flat, we have a 15.6 mph pace for the entire ride! 8:08 total moving time which is really very good for me. So now I have my sights on another brevet this weekend, a 600k no less. Time to try out yet another person's opinion of terrain that is "similar to PBP".