April 14 2007
In which we ride to the beach and back, with some extra lumps in the middle...
The next event up on the randonneuring season was the Three Capes 300km Brevet. In other number systems, about 186 miles.
The day before, I made a list, so I wouldn't forget anything, and then started collecting. I had a new Carradice Barley seat bag, so installation of that was first priority. Well, cleaning the BIKE was really first priority. Reviewing the expected weather, I went with the Finish Line Cross Country chain lube, and decided that as long as those Honjo fenders are, they still weren't keeping road splash off my feet. A milk jug gave it up just for that purpose. No drilling
required; when I had them installed, I asked Mark to put in holes for mudflaps, just in case.
Extra wool socks, gloves, hat, wool undershirt. Two pbj sandwiches, banana, assorted bars and gels, Fritos. Gatorade. The map. Camera, baggie w/pencil for the brevet card. Rain jacket. Reflective vest and legbands. Fresh batteries in the sullen rear blinkie. Charge up the headlight battery. Put loaded bike in car. Sleep.
4am, up and moving out. Picked up Jason just before 5am, arrived at the Grand Lodge around 5:30am. We passed a cyclist heading south on Hwy 47 - rear blinkie, but no rando gear, so not riding to the start.
We were quickly assembled, so spent a bit of time visiting. Andrew was there for his first brevet. He, Cecil, Jason and I (and many others) should have posed for a Showers Pass Elite Jacket advertisement :-)
Pre-ride instructions from Bert, and we were off right at 6am. Sunrise was not due for another half hour, so we were all lit up, heading through Forest Grove, out Ritchey, north on Stringtown, then onto Gales Creek Rd. As usual, I exchanged greetings with other riders I wouldn't see later in the ride. Well, I saw many of them again on the out-and-back on Timber Road.
Then back onto Hwy 6 heading westward. It did start to rain as we climbed. Hwy 6 is one of the main routes to the coast, and very popular with those hauling trailers of ATVs. The shoulder was generally quite adequate. The climb was long, but not too steep. But I was getting hungry (that bowl of oatmeal was long gone), so pulled over just before the summit to eat one of the sandwiches. Jason stopped as well, but he didn't eat anything.
Then a 20 mile downhill to Tillamook, with decreasing rain. I've driven this road many times, but never done it on a bicycle. The deciduous trees are all leafed out. The Wilson River is running fast and high. Lots of new bridges where old ones had been washed out. There were patches of gravel on the shoulder here and there, so I still wasn't letting the bike run. My max speed before this ride was maybe 30. (I had gotten Sekai up to 44 before I developed common sense, and the Lemond has hit 48. Never again. What was I thinking? Anyway...). Eventually we got to the long flat stretch before Tillamook, complete with headwind. It went on forever (it does in a car, too). There were some cows looking inquiringly out of a barn door.
We finally reached Tillamook, turned left then right, then into the Safeway. We were HUNGRY! There were 5 or 6 bikes already there, including Cecil's and Andrew's. Andrew was enjoying an amazing three cheese panini, which he shared with me (yum! hot! cheese!). I ate more sandwich, and bought a banana and Gatorade, and filled up my hydration pack with water from the jugs earlier riders had left on the picnic tables outside. The sun was out. 60-something miles; we arrived just before 11am.
Then westward to the Three Capes Scenic Drive. In all the years I've lived here, I've never been on it. North, then west along Tillamook Bay (some houses have a really nice view), past the site of the former town of Bayocean (all washed away now), then south towards the cape Meares climb. Large numbers of noisy Harleys were out as well. The climb was steepish, with a cracked road surface, and a stretch of gravel at the top. The 650B tires on my bike did a nice job of softening up the ride. I took off my jacket and heavy gloves at that point, I was getting too hot! Then lots of up and down, still riding along the cape, with a descent into Oceanside, and the second (and staffed, with FOOD!) control. Visited with Rickey and Bert and ate a lot of strawberries.
Through Oceanside and along the bay, to start on the second climb, Cape Lookout. Lots more up, through the forest. I could see the ocean below from time to time, crashing in through the outcroppings and headlands. The air smelled fabulous. We passed a fence with razor wire on top, leading to a very fancy house, with a sliding security gate AND a guard tower, with what looked to be a very expensive FLIR security camera in it. Can't figure who lived THERE.
Winding around some more, with a stop at Anderson's Viewpoint. One good 'ol boy there was moved to comment that he wouldn't get on one of THOSE without an engine. I noted that he was looking at the engine. Then up some more, passing the Boy Scout Camp (Meriwether-Clark, GREAT camp!) and down through the sand dunes. We saw another rider up ahead, approaching the next turn. The road signage was inconclusive, and she elected to go the wrong way. We went right, onto Sandlake Rd. Rickey drove along, so we alerted him. He caught her before she got too far off course. Heading south. I saw a really pretty bay to our right, and was trying to find a place to take a picture, then I saw the State Park sign. Excellent! We dropped off the road and enjoyed the view for awhile. Then off again, through Tierra del Mar, and the Cape Kiwanda climb in front of us. I wanted to eat before this, so we consumed a bag of Fritos, and then headed up. Shortly after starting we could see the Reach the Beach rock - it is featured in the advertisements for that ride. So we knew it couldn't be too far then!
Down into Pacific City, the third control. We were looking for a market; didn't find one, but did find Grateful Bread, coffee and bakery. We elected to sit down and eat, getting a receipt and our cards signed at the same time. 3:23pm, about 95 miles. We split a big omelette meal, with excellent whole grain bread. We called home to update our spouses. Fitz: "congratulations, you got yourself there! Now you just have to get back!" Gee, only 90 or so more miles to go...
The route back would pretty much follow the Reach the Beach route. Out of town, south on Hwy 101, pulled over to talk to Rickey. He said there were 4 riders behind us. Then left on Little Nestucca River Road, leaving the coast and heading up to Sourgrass Summit. This is a beautiful climb, and we saw practically no traffic. The river tumbles alongside, with forest on either side of the road, very green. The climb is gentle, and we moved right along, leapfrogging a couple other riders. Merged onto SR22, and eventually summitted, and took a short stretch break. Then downhill to Grand Ronde. We passed a man walking along the road; he wanted to know if we were having fun yet. Yup.
We broke from the Reach the Beach route in Grand Ronde, turning right onto Grand Ronde Rd, then turning onto SR18 there. We stopped at the market, getting water and Gatorade. Three other riders came up as we were just about done, so we pointed them at the jug of water and left. 123 miles, all the climbing done.
Rode east for just over a mile, trying to avoid the glass on the shoulder outside the casino. Turned right onto Yamhill River Road (big big big improvement over SR18!), where Jason discovered he had not completely avoided the glass. Short break while the flat was repaired, the other riders caught and passed us. Now we were the last. What a nice road! It lead us to business 18, which took us into Willamina, where we stopped at a gas station for more air for Jason's tire (27" wheel Schrader valve tubes. Old Japanese bike.) The young man at the gas station was asking how the ride was going (he'd already seen in excess of 50 other riders that afternoon), and told us it was a pity we had to get back to Forest Grove the long way :-), but we had our last control in Ballston and needed to go through it.
In Sheridan we pulled over to put on our night-riding gear and turn on most of our lights. 7:30pm, 130 miles. On our way out of town we saw three bikes outside a Mexican restaurant. Riding on through through the fading light was kind of fun, although when we got to Ballston, the sign on the closed store was hard to read! Turned on our additional front lights - we needed to see as well as be seen at this point.
Pressing on, we shortly arrived in Amity. 9:15pm? I knew all the roads at this point, but it was certainly different to be riding them without scenery. Brief stop to check in with home. Did Fitz want me to call him when I finished? No. I was figuring at least midnight by now. My original, optimistic plans had me finishing between 10 and 11. Hah. Then to Dayton (very determined dog there, and I was NOT going to be the slow gazelle), and Lafayette, where we stopped for what was going to be our last break of the ride. Heading out on Bridge Street, I saw blinkies up ahead and figured it was Ray, Bill, and Ken, so we picked up the pace a bit to catch them.
Teenage boy from his front yard: "Are you seriously riding now?" Yup. "You are CRAZY!". Can't say that I disagreed. We did catch them, and it turned out to be Susan and Duane. And we were off. Abbey and Kuehne roads passed in a blur, and I made sure they knew where the Ribbon Ridge turn was (not easily seen in daylight either). Then down Ribbon Ridge, left onto North Valley. Lots of frogs going full voice in the wetlands to our left. Spoke up to make sure they stayed right where Flett Rd goes off to the left (and looks much more important). North on Spring Hill. Didn't notice the rollers so much in the dark. It was getting really cold, and my shoulders had huge knots, but we were not stopping. We could see the lights of Gaston off to our left, then they passed behind us. Right onto Fern Hill; we could see the lights of Forest Grove up ahead. Past Blooming-Fernhill Road, past the wetlands, cross Hwy 47, right onto Hwy 8, left onto Quince. Done! 12:32am. My bike computer said 190 miles; cue sheet said 186.4. 8000 vertical feet, give or take a few. Oh, and got up to 35mph max speed!
I was REALLY cold. Bert came by and made off with my control card; I told him I'd be inside in a few minutes to sign it. Got my bike in the van, changed shoes, grabbed my bag of clean clothes and went in. I did sign my card, then went in search of a hot shower. I was in there a LOOOOONG time. Then went back up and socialized for a bit before heading home. Found flowers and a congratulatory card on the kitchen table :-)
The Day After: walking down stairs is a real challenge. My shoulders are very sore. I'm kind of slow today. Will I ride into work tomorrow? Don't know...
Would I go for the longer distance brevets? Mmmm. Not sure my shoulders and platform could manage that. The bicycle would definitely need a better engine, too. At my pace, I'd NEVER get to take a sleep break.
More pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/20084214@N00/sets/72157600079468865/