As in eleven out of twelve, twelve consecutive months of riding a RUSA or ACP sanctioned ride of at least 200km. One more to go.
Yesterday, Bill, Cecil and I rode the Praires and Wetlands permanent. This is two loops out of Newberg, the first loop going to Mt Angel by a circuitous route, the second loop heading southwest to Dayton, then Lafayette, and then Forest Grove and back to Newberg.
The weather was going to be bad. So very bad that Cecil and I had a complicated phone conversation the night before, looking at various weather websites. It appeared that all the dire weather warnings had been postponed, so, in Cecil's words: "there are lots of bailout points on this route. If it gets really bad, we can bail". If it rained as much as it was supposed to, we'd be bailing, anyway. Or building pontoons for the bikes.
One bright spot - I finally found my Dachstein mittens that had been packed away since 1993. If you follow the link, you'll find that they don't seem to be much available in the USA anymore. But if I wore THOSE under my waterproof shells, maybe, just maybe my hands would be warm.
Arrived in Newberg, followed shortly by Bill. It was, oh, misting heavily. And dark, since our start time was 6am (note: the Thriftway in Newberg is open 24hrs). Bill: "I was expecting a call from you or Cecil about rescheduling." Yeah, let me tell you about that.
So much assembling of selves. As I was DETERMINED to have dry feet for as long as possible, I had on wool socks, waterproof socks (Serius Stormsocks), PI Gore-Tex riding shoes AND the Sugoi Resistor booties. I was wearing AmFib tights over the booties as well. Wool baselayer and LS wool jersey, with my Shebeest WindPro vest and Showers Pass jacket over that. Wool cap. very lightweight summer fingerless gloves, with the Dachsteins and REI Elements shells over those. As we'd be coming back to Newberg, we left extra clothing and extra food in our vehicles.
Off into the dark and rain, heading south from Newberg. Crossing the Willamette River on the Hwy 219 bridge is always an experience. In the dark and rain, yet still with semi trucks, even more so. Turned off to the right on Champoeg Rd, and saved Bill and Cecil from a wrong turn - I'd been there before on another ride, in the daylight. We were riding into a headwind all the way to our southernmost point, and our forward progress was glacial. Around 8am I reached down and switched off my front light. If I had left it in "Auto" it would have stayed on all day.
The route to Mt. Angel was interesting, and we ended up approaching it from the east, after visiting the Gallon House Covered Bridge (info control). But we also had a short run north, with the wind at our backs. Nice. Got to the first timed control with 9 minutes to spare, after a stop at the public restrooms in Mt Angel ("Damen" and "Herren"). Ate sandwiches out of the wind and rain (it never stopped raining), then headed back to Newberg. We finally got to enjoy the tailwind once we got back onto Butteville Rd. Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Lots of colorful nursery stock and navigating flocks of birds in evidence.
Cecil was hoping for that tailwind to blow us up to Forest Grove, too.
My hands were very warm all morning. Very warm. My feet were chilly, but they stayed dry until mile 62. A new record. Strangely enough, once they soaked through, they were warmer. Must have been the wetsuit effect of the waterproof socks.
Stopped in at the Thriftway for a receipt (one cookie from the bakery, 9 cents). While Cecil was inside, I watched the bikes, ate a banana and a bar, called Fitz (I was under instructions to check in from time to time, due to the dire weather warnings; Cecil was under similar instructions from Greg :-) ), flipped my map, and did all those other things you do at a control. Or try to remember to do at a control. Then a quick pass by the cars to get more food, and dry gloves.
Then, heading off southwest on 99W. Ick. Ick. Ick. The bike lane is horrible - 99W has been repaved, but only halfway through the bike lane, with a ragged edge. Where there is not a bike lane, the shoulder varies in width, usually getting darn narrow right about the time a double dump truck is passing at 55mph. Oh, and still raining. I was never so happy to turn off onto Hwy 18 in my life. I found Bill and Cecil waiting at the Historic Blockhouse in Dayton (info control). Off to Lafayette, on very familiar roads, then north on Mineral Springs. The turn onto Gun Club Rd was pretty easy to find. Onto Hwy 47 for 22 miles, passing through Carlton and Yamhill. Again, fast, relatively heavy traffic, and not the best shoulder. Once we crossed into Washington County, just south of Gaston, the shoulder suddenly became much wider.
The awaited tailwind was there, but not nearly as enthusiastic as it had been earlier. Darn.
Into Forest Grove. We stopped for some pizza at Pizza Schmizza. A couple of college students wanted to know if we were on a special bike ride. Yup. They thought it was cool.
The woman working there told us to ride safe back to Newberg. We thanked her and headed out.
The rain had gotten more enthusiastic at this point, but the expected headwind was strangely light. Not that we were complaining. As we headed south on Fern Hill, then Spring Hill, Cecil said I really needed to turn on my light. So I did, with no obvious speed penalty. Clearly the wind had shifted some. It is amazingly dark on this stretch of road when it is raining. Pitch dark. I took the navigator lead, as I ride it often enough, I can do it backwards and forwards.
Crossing the one-lane bridge south of Laughlin was interesting. The oncoming headlights were blinding, and we weren't sure the car was going to stop (it was supposed to). Cecil slipped on the slick wooden bridge surface (Wine County Populaire riders, take note) and went down. We spent a bit of time getting her chain back on, then proceeded along. Dark, dark, dark, dark. I knew we were passing by the wetlands, but could only see a dim reflection from a house light.
Starting to wonder when we'd get to our turn. I could finally see cars coming down on what had to be Ribbon Ridge road, so there it was. The first roller is always a shocker, and I did not remember to bail before heading up. A brief stop to get the chain where it belonged, then up and over, rolling our way east to Tangen Road. Then south, heading into Newberg on a route new to me. Bill and Cecil had done it, but not in full darkness. We were stupidly staring at Hwy 240, knowing we weren't supposed to go there, but turn left onto...what?
Turns out there was a road, but the oncoming headlights completely trashed our vision. Nice, quiet, peaceful... Then a few more interesting turns (I still don't know what we did), and there we were back at the cars.
A quick zip to Thriftway for receipts, and Diet Pepsi for me. I had the same checker (Cherie) who thought Cecil and I were nuts at the end of our previous permanent. She's used to it now :-) I told her I'd see her next month :-)
We adjourned to the Burgerville to change into dry clothes and get post-ride food. We stupidly bought cold drinks and had to get after-dinner hot chocolates to warm up, and continued plotting for next month's ride. Three Prairies, another two-looper out of Newberg. Who's in?
(sorry, no pictures. the overmitts preclude using the camera. just look at pictures from my other rides, and insert interminable rain)
Cecil's writeup here
Bill's writeup here
Bill's pics here