Monday, August 31, 2015

"This is a FLAT Perm!"

No, really, it isn't!

Susan O, being in pursuit of her K-Hound and Mondial (and it looks like they'll happen right about the same time), will ride with anybody.  I realized that, after the wedding, and people departing, and all that, that I did not have to be anywhere or do anything last Saturday, and wondered if she wanted to ride.  I suggested 100k, because it was going to be hot, but she really wanted to ride a 200k.  We settled on Banks-Elsie, which has 42 miles of guaranteed shade, and large amounts of highly probable shade.  Last I rode it was January 1, when it was 21 degrees at the start and finish, and may have gotten above freezing for a couple of hours mid-afternoon.

Learnings - the Thriftway in Banks doesn't open until 7am, but the gas station does have a restroom, and the bank has an ATM for a starting receipt.

Note: my camera lens is not foggy.  That is smoke.

I had gotten the stem raised on the Lemond, and was riding it, with not very much extra stuff.  No lights, so we darn well had to finish before dark, which I knew would not be a problem.  I had even less stuff than I had planned; my arm coolers seemed to have escaped from the front bag.  Oh well, I had sunscreen, not to worry.

It was surprisingly cool - 41 degrees - at the start, but as we were climbing, it didn't seem at all chilly.  When we got to the summit, Susan worried that I might get cold, and produced the bolero sleeve thing from her vest that she wasn't using.  It was just right.

Heading to Vernonia early morning

Stopped at the c-store in Vernonia; I purchased and ate an entire egg salad sandwich and a V-8, plus restocked my bottles.  Brief conversation with the clerk about the edibility of Southern Biscuits and Gravy Lays Chips.  We thought it was probably a fail.

Just say no.

The route is scenic and fairly benign until Birkenfeld (not yet open, but they had a show that night), and then the rollers get rather more frequent and abrupt.  We saw many cyclists out on Hwy 202; they were members of a triathlon club.  As we continued west, we could see the haze from the forest fires gathering in the hills, but I, at least, couldn't smell anything.

Smoke haze looking west

We arrived at the Elk Refuge, and found, much to our surprise, that the heated restrooms and water spigot were a heap of rubble.  There were portapotties, and another water spigot, but still...  Bids are out for reconstruction.

Our triathlon riders were pulled over by a bus, and being served lunch.

Headed back to Hwy 103, and south to Elsie.  Susan hadn't done this route before, and hadn't ridden on Hwy 103.  "Now, how many times, exactly, do we cross the Nehalem River?"  That is one to be solved with RideWithGPS.

Had to wait for a break in the endless traffic on Hwy 26 to cross over to Baker's General Store.  A pizza slice and more V8, plus more Gatorade and water for the bottles.  It was definitely starting to warm up.

Barn on Hwy 103

Back on Hwy 103 to Hwy 202, where we pulled over for more sunscreen and eyedrops.  The smoke haze was getting thicker.  The rollers back to Birkenfeld were getting to me; there was some headwind, and I was slowing down.  We stopped at The Birk for some soda, and, in my case, a handful of salt, washed down by the soda.  Susan: "this is really flat".  Me: "to YOU, maybe!" (44.8 mi, 2100 vf, Birkenfeld to Elsie and back).

In any case, the salt, sugar, and calories perked me back up, and we turned such that there was more of a crosswind/tailwind.  Back to Vernonia.  By now, every single bicycle contact point was, um, uncomfortable.  It wasn't that I wasn't having fun, because I was, but I was kind of resigned to the overall discomfort.

Susan, Hwy 202

Another pause at the c-store, where I had more V-8 (salt!) a Red Bull, and ice cream.  From here, 10 relatively easy miles up, then downhill all the way to the end.

Final on-route fueling

Buxton trestle

The haze was making golden hour even more interesting.

Flying downhill, golden light

End of the world

Just under 12 hours, and an hour till sunset.

(saddle swapped out on the Lemond...)

All the pictures here.

Monday, August 24, 2015

JRA With The Niece

A is the oldest niece on my husband's side.  She (along with many other family members) made the trek west for our son's wedding.  What with preparations and all, I hadn't been on a bike, any bike, not even to ride to the library, since the first weekend in August.  She had asked if she could borrow a bike and ride around Portland.  I had a perfectly nice old Gitane hanging out at the daughter's house, so it was arranged for her to use that.  (We are all about the same size).

Given that it was before the wedding, I couldn't take off and ride with her, but I did plot her out a totally Portland route (Springwater Trail, food carts, coffee shops, bike boulevards) on Ride With GPS, then used the Print Map with PDF feature, which produces an excellent "Triptik" style cue sheet  (remember the old paper ones?  My parents always got one for our cross-country trips!) with maps.  I also made her a standard cue sheet, but, not being from around here, I thought she might like context.  She had a great time!

Then, after the wedding, and, after most folks had gone home, she was wondering where else to ride.  I thought about it for a few minutes, and as it was going to be another overly hot day, offered up the Banks-Vernonia Trail.  We could ride out as far as she wanted, and then come back.  Found a rack trunk for her bike, and made Gatorade bottles for us both.  I picked her up at our transit station, and we headed off to Banks.  She was happy about the rack trunk; she wouldn't need to wear her backpack.

At the Banks trailhead

She thought it was beautiful.  I, in turn, learned about her teaching experiences, and what she's doing with her art.  Turns out she rides her bike to her school in Brooklyn, every day during the school year.

A on the trail

A on the trestle

Old bridge from the new bridge

We weren't in any hurry, but she did just fine.  At the summit, I double-checked - she was good to go, so we went all the way to Vernonia, and had a great lunch at the Black Bear.  Learning - you can order a half sandwich.

Gitane and Sweetpea in Vernonia

Lunch stop in Vernonia

We stopped on the return to get pictures of the red barn she liked on the outgoing leg, but, sadly, the cows eating up in the trees like giraffes had moved on.  Cute calf by the barn, though.

Red barn on Hwy 47

Calf and cows

The shade was excellent; we didn't notice the heat until we popped out just south of Pongratz Rd.

Post-ride ice cream at the Banks Trailhead Cafe.

Post-ride ice cream

All the pictures here

Friday, July 31, 2015

Fifth R-12 Completed

First, for the uninitiated: The RUSA R-12 Award.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, we are having a super hot summer.  It is forecasted to get to 100 degrees F today, and continue for awhile.

Last month I asked Michal if he wanted to ride Donuts to Total Domination, as the prevailing summer winds in the Willamette Valley are north to south.  There is a lot to be said for a constant tailwind.  After working though both our calendars, we settled on the weekend of July 25-26.  Leaving it a bit late, but, life.  The plan was to ride down, and help Michal with his bike packing for PBP.

So, yes, the heat.  We were so lucky.  The temperature moderated, and there was a possibility of rain.

I swapped the bike into touring mode, so as to carry rain gear and a change of clothes.  Cooked up some individual egg-rice-mushroom-onion-parsley-bacon-swiss cheese frittatas, made up a batch of dark chocolate hazelnut spread, and did up some tortilla-spread rollups.  Found a rain jacket, but optimistically didn't carry any other rain gear.  It wasn't going to be cold.

Michal decided to be ambitious, and ride the Eugene to Portland 200k starting the night before, rather than taking the train north.  He started at 5pm, and finished at 2:30am, arriving at the house around 3am.  So he got a bit of a nap before getting up at 5am to do it all over again.  He was very pleased with his pace.

Breakfast (heavy on proteins) and coffee, then we rode over to Sesame Donuts (3+ miles, 15 minutes, give or take) to enjoy some more coffee and sweetened carbohydrates before the start.

starting out Donuts to Total Domination with a Sesame Donut!

We left right at 7am :-)

Suburban riding for the first 15+ miles, until we crossed the Willamette River just south of Wilsonville, and then nothing, really, until Keizer.  We had a headwind :-(.  Also new chipseal on Butteville and Broadacres.  Probably others; I remember endless chipseal.

Bits of refreshing drizzle, not worth donning the rain jacket.

River Rd into Keizer is always a bit nerve-wracking.  Take the lane take the lane take the lane.  No one will honk, but if one hugs the edge, they will try to squeeze by.  Take the lane.

Once into Salem, there are sharrows.  Also a bit of construction.  We stopped at the last place before leaving town - the Arco c-store.  I got more Gatorade; Michal did the same, and added in an ice cream cone.  A local was admiring our bikes.  He thought Michal's was just like a Harley Davidson, what with all the useful stuff on it (note: my bike has the exact same useful stuff...).  Then he asked what they cost.  We told him.  He didn't blanch.

At this point we noticed that it was raining.  Rain jackets installed.  Off to Independence, where Michal claimed there were excellent tamales.  River Rd rolls most of the way there, but it wasn't particularly burdensome.  The headwind seemed to be letting up.  Onto the flats, over the Willamette River, and into Independence.

We rolled up to the convenience store where I usually stop, but I hadn't explored their cooked food offerings.  Yes, there were tamales.  Mystery filling, but I'd cope.  My receipt says it only cost 25 cents.  Must have been an error.  Yum. Consumed the whole thing, along with a V-8 (refrigerated drinks; same aisle as the tamales).

Tamale and V-8, Moothart's Market, Independence, OR

It was still raining lightly as we set out.  South of Independence is Corvallis Rd, with several abrupt climbs.  I didn't like it very much on the Blast Furnace 200k, but it wasn't that difficult this time.  We both stopped before the first climb to remove some rain gear.  In my case, my only rain gear.  It became rather amusing as Michal stopped before most of the pitches to remove another piece of rain gear.  I kept moving, so it was a bit of an equalizer.  That was it for the rain, and the temperature moved perceptibly up, into the 70's.  The wind was crosswind to quartering tailwind, a definite improvement from the headwind.

Michal, wheatfields, Corvallis Rd

Corvallis Rd

Then the fun drop down Buena Vista and the remaining 11 miles into Albany.  Last time we rode this it was stiflingly hot, and we didn't get water or food in Albany and suffered until the exceptionally sketchy off-route c-store on Hwy 34 and Peoria Rd.  This time, I noted the location of First Burger on the cue sheets.  As Michal was starting to feel the effect of riding all night, and I wouldn't have minded an infusion of salt, we pulled in.  We elected to split a burger.  Did we want to upgrade our side?  No, fries with extra salt, please.  Michal got some coffee; I had a Pepsi, and before the food arrived... "pass me that salt shaker, please..."  It is still amazing to me how an infusion of salt makes everything feel so much better.

Splitting a burger and fries, Independence OR

I started getting a tiny bit stressed inside, because we were stopping and sitting down and it wasn't a control.  I probably shouldn't have been worried, but I pushed it to the info control, pushed it to Hwy 34, and pushed it the whole 19+ boring and warm miles of Peoria Rd.  Peoria Rd has reasonably fresh chipseal as well :-(  I took to riding out in the right tire track, and moving back over when a car came along.  Drivers fly low on Peoria Rd, because it is so very boring, low traffic, and they just want to get to Harrisburg.  We wanted to get to Harrisburg, too.

Old building

But anyway, about 5-ish miles before Harrisburg, the chipseal ended.  I was doing time math in my head, and decided we would be TOTALLY fine on time (not sure what I was thinking earlier).  First we found the public restrooms (turn left on Smith St; they are to the left side of the museum which is on the right side of the street.  If you pass the fire station, you've gone too far.)  Michal wanted an expedient stop, so I found more Gatorade, and elected to eat the food I was carrying.

We had a short, annoying stretch on Hwy 99E, then turned off onto Ayres/Lovelake for a bit of peaceful riding before the 9 miles on River Rd.  Lots of traffic, but not stressful beyond that, other than I wanted to be done.

Turning off River Rd onto Owosso and then the bikepaths... "whew!"  Both of us, simultaneously.  We were then in search of the penultimate info control, and eventually found it.  A little more bikepath riding, then onto the surface streets for a bit.

Willamette River, Eugene

Oops.  Good thing we weren't at all close on time - there was a train.  So we waited.

Delayed by a train in Eugene, one block from the finish

Another block, and the Ninkasi Brewery was waiting for us.  Mmm.  Beer.  Helles Lager.

Finish celebration, Ninkasi Brewery, Eugene OR

In case it isn't obvious where we are...  photo by Michal Young

Monday, July 20, 2015

Because It Is So Darn Hot...

The only route I have been riding is the Banks-Vernonia Trail.  The first and last 10 miles between Banks and North Plains are exposed, but only a problem on the return.  It has been so hot that I could barely breathe. You'd never know that I grew up in Houston, TX, and worked outdoor jobs (camp counselor, lifeguard, swim instructor, pool manager) until I graduated university and moved up here.

So, the last two times I rode with Ray, and Steve joined us the most recent outing.


Field of Queen Anne's Lace

My eyes quit freaking out in the contrasty light on the trail, yay!

Ray on the trail

For the most recent outing I did finally pull out the Lemond, and rode it analytically to figure out why we aren't friends anymore.  It now has a hot date with Mechanic Mark to raise the handlebars (needs a stem riser, and probably longer cabling).  I'll have to track down that other stem, if it becomes the case that they will be too high.  Then I'll update the bar tape with some padding (I think it still has the original tape, which would be now, um, 12 years old), and revisit updating the saddle.

Haying Season

So, yes, the last ride on Saturday was so hot after leaving the trail.  I was dying all the way back to North Plains.  First thing I did at the finish after placing my order was to suck down a packet of salt.

You probably want pictures.

Vernonia Lake

Lemond at the Black Bear

Sweetpeas in bloom

Fields, Wilkesboro Rd

Sunday, June 21, 2015


Ray and I set out to ride the North Plains - Banks Vernonia Trail perm pop this Thursday.  The temperatures had dropped, we'd be mostly riding in the shade, and my vertigo seemed to have subsided.  I had ridden a few miles in the previous couple of days, and there had been a few disequilibriating moments.  So, we'd see.

Sweetpea by the sweetpeas

Given my almost continual hotfoot, I moved my cleats back about 4mm.  I could shove them all the way back, but I didn't want to shock my system too much at one time.

I planned on first and second breakfast - cereal, fruit, and coffee at home, and then some sausage burritos at the North Plains McDonalds.  Ray arrived shortly after I started eating; he also went for the burritos.  They are pretty tasty!

Off we went, not more than 5 minutes after our 7:30am start.  My head seemed mostly ok...

Wheatfield and trees

Past the first info control.  Through Banks.  Onto the trail.  All good until we got into the shade.  The sun was very bright, so the light was super contrasty.  Hard to tell where the trail was, sometimes.  I guess my eyes/head were still not entirely there.  That said, it was ok, if not quite the pace I usually keep riding the trail.  I sent Ray ahead if I wanted to drink, so I wouldn't have to worry about maintaining balance in close quarters.

The feet seemed ok, so far, anyway.

Bikes at Vernonia Lake

There was the usual info control/picture pause at Vernonia Lake (or, as the locals call it, the old mill pond), then we adjourned to the Black Bear for coffee and sticky buns.

Pastry and iced coffee in Vernonia

Before the ride, I had contemplated pulling out the Lemond, but after looking at the odometer on Sweetpea, I realized that a Very Big Milestone would be reached, about 58-59 miles into the ride.

Ray on the trail

We headed back.  Again, on the descent after the summit, the lighting was messing with my eyes, so I didn't fly down the trail with my usual abandon.  Plus, by now there were other actual trail users, so I needed to really slow down when a group of riders headed my way.

Ray went on ahead, but I figured I'd see him at the traditional regroup points.  Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  I started asking oncoming riders if they'd seen a rider with a blue jersey and silver bike.  They were unclear.

I finally popped out of the trees, and was asking one more rider, when I saw a cyclist up ahead, turning back, wearing a blue jersey and riding a silver bike.  He was envisioning me crumpled and bleeding on gravel.  I was envisioning him off the trail, down a ravine.  My, we have active imaginations.

So, after all that, we arrived at the trailhead, and I started checking the odometer.

Wilkesboro Road

A few miles before the finish, right at the historic Harrison Cemetery, there it was - 20000 mi.  We paused for a photo break and a brief cemetery explore.  I knew it was there, but hadn't ever checked it out.  Famous Oregon People are buried there!

Sweetpea rolled over 20,000 miles right by the historic Harrison Cemetery

McKay Headstone

Then, off to the finish, with 5 minutes to spare.

Fini - perm cards can be pretty

(date on perm card is incorrect. This retirement thing has me generally fuzzy on day and date...)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Blast Furnace 200k

Oregon Randonneurs held the Kings Valley 200k/600k over the June 6/7 weekend.  I signed up for the 200k, and figured I'd be riding solo.  I had not ridden Hwy 233 (Kings Valley Highway) south of Dallas, and, while I had been on Maxfield Creek and Airlie Rd, it was dark.

Weather forecast was for spectacular heat.  Heat advisories.  Stay inside between 10am and 4pm.  Given that, I located every water source on the route (no further than 30 miles at any point), dug out my sun skins, refreshed the electrolyte tablets on the bike, refilled the sunscreen bottle, and called it good.

Michal and Cyndi had invited me by for pre-ride coffee (Michal was riding the 600, to complete his qualification for PBP), so I arrived around 6:20am, to find Cyndi wandering around with a coffee pot and cups :-)  Cyndi and I made plans to meet up at Burgerville afterward.  I ended up drinking two cups of coffee, and jittering a bit the first couple of hours.

Lots of familiar faces showed up.  Even Nate A, who I hadn't seen for 4 years!

At that hour of the morning the temperature was pleasant.

7am, off we went.  The route was entirely familiar for the first 36 miles.  I chatted with Jeff A, until he stopped to get a picture of an old car with a canoe on top in Dayton, and Burnley from AK.  After a brief stop in Dayton to dispose of the used coffee, it was on to Dallas.  Steve M. came up about this time, and we rode along together until Perrydale Rd started rolling up.

Favorite elevator on Bethel Rd.

Steve M

I found him and a few others at the Dallas Safeway, where I bought a banana and V-8, and refilled my bottles.  A kind rider had left a partial sack of ice, which I stuffed into my non-insulated bottle.


At this point, I have always turned around and headed back, but we now rode through Dallas on the Kings Valley Highway for another 20 miles.  The terrain rolled along southward, with one noticeable climb and a couple of shorter ones.  The sun was blasting down by now, so I was delighted any time I was fortunate to ride in the shade.

Kings Valley Hwy

Speaking of that, I kept my lights on, because of the contrasty lighting.

Ritner Covered Bridge on the Kings Valley Hwy

Rode through Pedee, past a covered bridge, and, finally arrived at the Kings Valley Store.  There were a few cyclists there - Steve, Duane, and ???, plus others not on our ride, but out enjoying the sun.  They were a little taken aback that we had ridden there all the way from Newberg, and some were going to ride a good long way before returning to Newberg.  Not that the almost 70 miles remaining for the 200k riders isn't a good long way, either.

Sweetpea, Kings Valley Store

Bought some potato salad, ice cream, and another V-8, and sat down to work my way through all that, and chat with Steve.  It was definitely quite hot by now.  After finishing all that, I put more sunscreen on my face, and topped off my bottles.  24 miles to Independence.

Maxfield Creek started with a 5 mile climb.  I had left what tailwind I had behind at the turn, and it was a slog.  Not ever steep, but really hot.  I didn't remember this climb from the last time I rode it, but, as I mentioned, it was dark, and just around 300k of a 400k ride.

Airlie Rd (or Maxfield Creek)

Christmas trees, Airlie Rd

Airlie Rd

The descent was certainly fun, and opened into the Willamette Valley.  I could see Mt Jefferson to the east.  Turned onto Airlie, eventually crossed Hwy 99W, and then bumped into Corvallis Rd.

Corvallis Rd is nasty and brutish.  I mean, the scenery is quite nice, but it has short, nasty climbs, and, by now, I was headed right into the headwind.  Not helped by some troglodytes who deliberately crowded me on the last little rise.

Meadowfoam, Corvallis Rd

So, in that fine mood, I finally pulled into Independence, and headed for the c-store.  More banana and V-8, plus some of my sandwich (I'd been eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches and Fig Newtons all long), refilling the bottles, more sunscreen...

The temperature had moved from really hot to whopping hot.  The 9 miles into Rickreall seemed endless.

From there it was 13+ miles on Hwy 99W to Amity, directly into the headwind.  For the first 7 miles, the shoulder was rough chipseal :-(  There was stopping to drink, and sometimes some walking.  The elevator on Bethel Rd finally came into view. 5+ more miles to Amity.  Ride to the top of the next rise.  Repeat.  Don't want to quit.  (Well, I *did*, but wouldn't let myself do it.)

Amity.  Finally.  Rolled over to the Amity Market, a relatively new store which I have only stopped at once.  Amity isn't ever a control, and I don't usually need to stop there.  Today I did.  It was air conditioned inside.  More cold things to drink, including a Red Bull.  Some eating.  Some sitting.  Off to finish the last 22 miles.

It had gotten perceptibly cooler, as in the wind wasn't quite as blast furnace hot.  I was hoping by turning NE out of Amity that I'd have more of a crosswind.  When I pulled into Lafayette, the last on-course control, I headed straight for the new c-store, bought a bottle of Ruby Red grapefruit juice, sat in the shade, and drank it.  And sat a bit more.  Only about 10 miles to go, all on Hwy 99W.

The pavement is shiny new.  There was a shoulder starting out, but at times when there was a turning lane or a passing lane thrown into the mix, the shoulder dwindled down to about 8 inches (!)  This is a pretty high-speed road, and that seems rather irresponsible to me.  Fortunately, no traffic stoppage in Dundee, so I didn't get stuck behind any trucks encroaching on the shoulder. (Letter to ODOT sent)

Through Dundee (pavement still at its previous level of awful), into Newberg, though the historic downtown, out the other side... the Burgerville comes into view like an oasis in the desert.  Done.

Wow, that took a long time.  All those cooling down stops (2:45 total) probably had something to do with it.  Cyndi joined me, and we both enjoyed our dinner.

(Here it is 5 days later.  Randonesia has still not set in.  I ended up with a post ride vertigo migraine, which might finally be on its way out.  Guess I just don't do heat well any more.)

All the pictures here.