Populaire II

I wanted to do a warm up ride before Seattle to Portland this weekend. I noticed SIR had a 100k populaire on Saturday in Olympia, an area I know very little about. I enjoyed riding with SIR in March because they’re very down-to-earth and sociable.

The ride started at the Fish Bowl Pub in Olympia. I was regretting not availing myself of the rest stop outside of Olympia because there wasn’t any obvious place to go to the potty. I just held it. I was obviously distracted – I started the ride wearing my sweatpants. I was going to continue, until I realized I had also forgotten my gloves. With the main group receding in the distance, I turned around and set things right.


A couple on a tandem and a friend of theirs, was still getting ready for the ride. The guys hosting the populaire knew them and joked that they were always late. About a mile into the ride, they passed me. I followed for the next 8 miles before being dropped on a hill.

The “second” control, at mile 17.1, was in the town of Rainier. We had the option of going into the store or having another rider initial our control sheet. I chose the latter because the store was a bit busy and I was trying to minimize the stops this time around to see if I could keep my overall time in check.

The route continued along Hwy 507 before turning onto Johnson Creek, working back to the Skookumchuck Dam. The folks on the tandem and their friend passed me again. I plotted the route the night before (see map below) and this was the obvious candidate for a ‘secret’ control. Sure enough, at the end of the parking lot, mile 27.4, Dave Read was sitting there with a cooler full of various beverages and snacks. This was very unexpected and generous. Fig Newtons have never tasted so good, however I did make the mistake of eating a handful of the Tim’s Cascade Crunch chips — they are only delicious the first time, if you know what I mean.

The ride follows Skookumchuck Road for another 7 miles, turns a bit, crosses Highway 507 again, and follows Grand Mound Hwy (Old 99). This is part of the STP route, a fairly open area, wind pushing across the farms. I thought this was the hardest segment. It didn’t help that I had to go to the bathroom again, bad, and couldn’t find a discreet area to pull over. The potato chips were also churning in full fury, giving me abdominal cramps again.

I hadn’t seen another rider since the tandem passed me for the third time on Skookumchuck road. When I stopped at the third control, Scott Lake Store at mile 52.3, I bought some random energy drink and a couple of packages of red hots. The shop owner asked if I was the last rider for the day. I thought I was, though there was still 1:15 left before the control “closed.”

The energy drink, red hots, and change in wind direction helped a lot, and the next ten miles went fairly quickly. Olympia’s airport looks a lot bigger from the air than it does at ground level. With the end near, and not having to worry about conserving energy, I went full bore on Capitol Way, staying anaerobic for the next few miles. I love having energy at the end of a ride.


The Fish Bowl was the “fourth” control, mile 62.9 (101.1 km). I took all my electronic gizmos off the bike, put it on the roof rack, and changed into my civilian shoes. Upon entering the pub, the folks gave me a round of applause for finishing. Several introduced themselves and they cleared a spot for me at the table. It was really cool.

The next two SIR rides, a 200k (135 miles) and 300k (187 miles), occur the week following STP and RSVP, respectively, making it unlikely I’ll be able to do a real brevet with SIR this year. However it gives me something to look forward to in March.

Total time on the bike: 5:01, plus 32 minutes stopped. Because of the turn around, I logged a few more miles. Average speed was 13.0, but my heart rate was running a bit higher than typical — on long rides, I typically see it average the low 130s — with 4,080 calories burned. ‘tato chips and cycling don’t mix. Pretzels and Fig Newtons do.

3 thoughts on “Populaire II”

  1. According to my bike buddies, STP will ‘sell-out’ this year for the first time in ages (probably due to the 25th anniversary). I just hope all 8000 don’t try to start at 5am. I’m #191 for anyone riding along.

  2. An email that went out this weekend said they had only 150 tickets left, which should be zero as last minute registrants sign up. They’ve sold out. I’m picking up my packet (#131) today.

    I’ll be riding the red Bike Friday and have almost talked myself back into doing the one-day. It’s all highly weather dependent.

    – Jim

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