I speak of today's 200km Oregon Randonneurs brevet. This is my first brevet in a year. I was HOPING to finish somewhere between 11 and 12 hours.
Cutting to the chase:
This is the fastest I have ever completed any 200km. I went back through past results, just to check.
Back to the beginning...
This is a great brevet - starts in Forest Grove, heads north through Gales Creek, Timber, Vernonia, does a funny little loopy thing, then off to Birkenfeld. Coming back goes directly through Vernonia, etc. I've ridden it twice before, once as a rider, and once on a pre-ride as the co-organizer.
I was planning to ride Bleriot (duh. my rando bike.), but Cecil put the bug in my head that I should consider Lemond (10 lbs less bike). Limiting factors are 1) not needing fenders 2) enough carrying capacity for food and all the clothing I'd be taking off, and 3) lighting. I thought Lemond might be up to it, so transferred everything over at 10pm. Amazingly enough, I did not forget any bits and pieces! I installed the Nite Rider MiNewt just in case I would want a headlight (battery, bright, 6 hrs run time). Lemond already has a rear blinkie, with relatively fresh batteries.
This year, the weather was forecasted to be amazing. Unlike 2008, it delivered.
It was 50 degrees at my house. It was 35 degrees at the Grand Lodge.
Arrived at the Grand Lodge with plenty of time, was checked in by John Henry ("you are looking much better than when last I saw you" "thanks"). Visited around. As it did not appear to be sunrise anytime soon, I pulled on the reflective vest and ankle bands, and turned on a few lights.
Bill A (ride organizer) released us at 7am. Headed west out through Forest Grove. The sunrise in my rear view mirror looked pretty spectacular, with lots of riders silhouetted by the very colorful sky. Rode out of town with John Kramer, at least until the Blaze of Glory feeling faded. Eventually passed through Gales Creek, and headed west on Hwy 6. The shoulder was relatively clean, so I could avoid the Evil Rumble Strip altogether. The wind was projected to be ESE, lighter in the morning, strengthening in the afternoon. My strategy was to make time while I had a faintly favorable wind.
Somewhere on Timber Road, before the climb, Peg and Lesli came up, and we rode together (much chatting. Peg and Lesli were 1/2 of the fleche team a couple years back) until the Timber climb, where, as I expected, I fell back. It got colder and colder and colder. I was later told that it was 32 degrees at the summit. I believe it. Fun descent - I could see Peg and Lesli, but never could catch them. Stopped for a small snack after crossing Hwy 26.
Did the long stretch between Hwy 26 and Vernonia, arrived at the control, had a rando mocha prepared by Ed Groth (in a REAL mug, not disposable!), and endeavored to taste every single variety of baked good. Thus fortified, headed on out for the Keasey Road out and back. Saw Susan O heading back. Info question answered, and jacket removed, headed back to the Stoney Pt Rd turnoff. Greg Olson joined me for the climb, and we caught up. At the bottom, he headed off; needed to get in some aerobar time. North, north, north, headed for Birkenfeld. At the Big Eddy Campground (mile 52 outbound), saw the first of the returning riders. Shortly after that I came upon Holden, who was resetting his computer. He came up and joined me, and we rode together all the way to Birkenfeld. I kept looking at my bike computer in disbelief - speeds ranged from 15 to 19mph... numbers not usually seen on my bike computer.
Peg, Lesli, and David were already there ("not long" said Peg). Got my card signed, bought something to drink, and joined Peg on a bench in the sun. Lots of motorcyclists coming there - I think there was a Poker Run in progress. Peg had her eye on the guy in the sleeveless shirt, big gut and leather pants - "I bet he'd be good in a bar fight". Ate my smoked turkey-cream cheese-cranberry chutney-whole wheat pita and a well-buttered Rye Molasses muffin. Lots of visiting and admiring each other's bikes and luggage. David Parsons was riding the Midlife-Crisis Bike ("better for brevets than the Xtracycle" Oh yeah) with his home created front bag, which received much positive attention. Took off the fleece vest, leg warmers, stretchy knickers, and swapped in the shortfinger gloves.
Then it was time to head out (we'd been loafing around for 30 MINUTES. UNHEARD OF), and off we went. The promised headwind never did quite materialize - riding mostly in the 15-16mph range. Again, I was wondering whose bike computer this was and what was powering it.
As I now had access to my jersey pocket and bare fingers, I started taking more pictures. Possibly more pictures of the Nehalem River than was warranted, but it was pretty in the sun with the mossy trees.
Peg and Lesli told us they'd be at the Black Bear Coffee Company in Vernonia, and, sure enough, there they were at an outside table ("not long" said Peg). Went in and ordered a mocha, then joined the group at the table. Outside, in the sun. With a pastry and a banana and a mocha. At a control. UNHEARD OF. Peg - "see, this is how it can be". I've been at way too many controls standing under bank overhangs in the pouring rain or freezing my butt off eating pbj sandwiches. Again, another long sit, then off again.
Holden had to make a stop between Vernonia and Hwy 26. I figured he'd catch me by the Timber climb, because, after all, I still climb like a rock.
So, crossed Hwy 26 with not much waiting (I saw Peg and Lesli cross as I was riding up - a policeman stopped traffic for them. wow.), and proceeded up to Timber. No Holden. Took some pictures. Then started down. It was much chillier on the south side, but it finally warmed back up as I was proceeding east on Hwy 6 to our next control at the Glenwood Shell Station.
Peg, Lesli and David were there, snacking. I went in and bought some chips and got my card signed. The woman behind the counter said we had a nice day for it, and I said, finally after all those years of less than nice days (rain, snow, hail...). She said to the other woman working the station (and I quote) "they come in here all wet and cold, and I really hate to let them go back out in it." Lots of friendly customers in the lot, as well. Potato chips consumed, off we went. Holden (who rode up): "you didn't climb like a rock"
Turned onto Gales Creek Rd (only 11 more miles to go!). We didn't seem to be moving very consistently, so I punched it and led the 5 of us at 18mph. No head wind here! We traded pulls, at least until we hit some of the little climbs, at which point I'd fall back. Regroup and off again. As we headed into Forest Grove, I looked at my HRM - 10 hrs, 17 min. Hmm. That seemed fast.
Finished at 10:27 total time. 124.78 miles, 14.33 riding average. My fastest average since Apr 2009, on the Monster Cookie (60 miles). My fastest 200km pace AND total time EVER. The detailed among you will note that my overall average was 11.94mph. Getting close to the elusive 12 miles an hour goal.