Sunday, January 25, 2009


Permanents. In a row. Up this month, on the suggestion of John Henry and Joanne, was the Prairies and Wetlands 200km. Like most of the permanents, around here, it starts in Newberg. Our RBA lives in Newberg. Coincidence? I think not, since she designed the routes.

The weather was forecast to be awful, rather like the last time we rode it (November), but colder. Fortunately, while it stayed cold, it did not rain, and was only faintly breezy.

The public parking in Newberg seems to fill up once a month, early in the morning, with vehicles with bicycles in and on. Everyone is getting organized. This month, I was especially organized - I rode over to the "official" start (place that issues a receipt), the Thriftway, BEFORE 7am, took care of business, and came outside to find everyone ready to go. On time.

And off we went. There were 12 (I think) of us, although after the start I didn't see most of them. As I was headed onto Champoeg Dr., I saw a couple of cyclists ride straight into the dairy, rather than follow the road curve to the left. I figured they'd figure it out eventually. And they did... soon I heard Vinnie behind me asking if I liked riding along by myself. Not really, but I was actually riding faster than usual, and couldn't go any faster than that. So he thought I needed a big guy to draft on, and parked himself in front of me :-) That worked. John K was also there, and the three of us continued south. We eventually caught up to Bill, and the four of us rode together the rest of the day.

The big excitement of the day was a couple of loose cows (steers?) on Riverside Drive. They moved off the road and ran along beside us for a bit before veering off.

There was real sunshine for much of the outbound 40 miles to Mt Angel. John K thinks it is all pretty flat (he lives in the Columbia Gorge, where there is no flat), but pretty. And pretty it was.

Farm on Gallon House Road

Stopped at the Gallon House Bridge for the info control question and a couple of Fig Newtons, then for a picture on the way out. At which point my camera battery decided it was too cold (my feet had decided that awhile back) and gave it up.

We did pass a piece of farm equipment on Downs Road (nice to pass something), then up and down into Mt Angel for 2 very quick stops - one at the Damen and Herren, and another at the Mt Angel Market. I ate a banana and hard boiled egg, and bought a big candy bar for ride-grazing. And we did that outbound in 3 hours! It took us 4 hours in November.

The ride back to Newberg seemed to be a bit of a slog. Not sure why. Maybe I should have eaten something sooner. The sun had gone behind clouds so it seemed much colder. Not that it ever got WARM.

We stopped at the Coffee Cottage, a Time Sucking Vortex if there ever was one. There was a long line, and service was, well, it takes awhile for baristas to make up those coffee drinks. I took care of all the bicycle details before going in and still was not any further ahead in line. I did get to sit down and defrost my feet, and apply new toewarmers, as well as drink some coffee and eat a muffin. Vinnie said he liked our pace - he'd done a very cold permanent earlier in the week, and thought he had not quite recovered.

Then outside, to find Tim, a fellow rando and bike mechanic, who was out for a ride. He said he recognized my bike right off, and figured I'd be around.

Then west on Hwy 99W, the ickiest stretch of highway ever. It was enhanced with gravel in the lane. Fortunately, we had a tailwind and made quick work of it. A stop at the Historic Blockhouse in Dayton, and off through the country to Lafayette, Mineral Springs Rd, Gun Club Rd, and then the long stretch on Hwy 47. Again, gravel on the shoulders (such as they were), but not too bad. There was a wind assist here as well. We passed through Carlton (brief pause; I ate some more Fig Newtons), Yamhill, Cove Orchard, Gaston, and finally, the turn off to Forest Grove. Note: there is a big sign and a protected left for the turn. It isn't easy to miss anymore :-)

I pushed for a stop at Pizza Schmizza, but in keeping with my "keep the stops short" philosophy, got a slice of pizza to go and ate it outside. Once you sit down, it is all over, and I wanted to get as much daylight as possible.

I led us out of Forest Grove and then we were on the Fern Hill/Spring Hill/North Valley stretch. I didn't turn my lights on until just north of the Flett Rd intersection (for the record, I didn't take my reflective gear off, or turn off my rear lights all day), but that was so cars could see me. I could still see just fine. Uneventful crossing of the one-lane bridge (daylight and dry surface help). I could see the ridge we'd pass by for the left turn to continue on North Valley creeping slowly closer. Vinnie and Bill had zipped on ahead. I was riding anywhere from 13-17 mph, except on the climbs.

Then we made the turn. "Bail!", I'm calling out to John as we started up the first roller. The first one is pretty steep, subsequent ones are not nearly as bad. Up and down up and down (repeat a lot of times) until the right turn onto Tangen Rd. John and I were comparing headlights - he's got the E3, and I've got the IQ Fly. He doesn't have a big dark spot right in front of his wheel.

We found Bill at the turn onto Old Yamhill River Rd, which we could barely see (which was better than November, where we could not see at all - the oncoming headlights from Hwy 240 are beyond blinding). Vinnie had missed the turn and was probably proceeding on Hwy 240 (which would work). Since he had a GPS, I figured he'd be ok.

Interesting twists and turns through Newberg, then we popped out by the parking lot. I said I was going right to the Thriftway for a receipt. I heard Cecil in the parking lot, but she wasn't there when we got back. They are well-trained at Thriftway now - receipts, initials and time in the little cards.

Newberg Approach

It was really interesting riding over there and back - we crossed the 99W couplet not at a light, and cars STOPPED in all three lanes so we could cross! I'll go one more block for the light, next time, I think.

John, Vinnie, Trudy and I adjourned to Burgerville for post-ride food and had an enjoyable time before heading home.

11:03 elapsed time; much faster than the 12:42 of November.

Boring Analysis: The differences were in the first 40 miles (1 hr faster) and the return from Forest Grove (40 minutes faster). I expect if there had been less faffing around at the midpoint it would have been altogether faster; my riding time was 10:31 in November, and 9:27 in December. Although I faffed about 40 minutes less on this go-round.

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