Sunday, May 23, 2010

Stupid Things, or Bridge of the Gods Ride

Cecil rounded up a crew for her birthday ride. We were riding on of our favorite routes - Bridge of the Gods, typically starting at Edgefield in Troutdale, crossing into Washington on the I-205 bridge, east on Hwy 14 to the Bridge, then west, riding on (variously) the Cascade Locks-Eagle Creek MUP, I-84 (just about a mile), and the Historic Columbia River Highway back to Edgefield.

Other than the downpours and hail, how was the ride?

The weather was (at its most pessimistic) supposed to be mid 40's to high 50's, with a 30% chance of light rain in the morning, cloudy in the afternoon. And yes, that was the Cascade Locks forecast.

Thus informed, I elected to ride Lemond, with the Race Blades fenders, just in case, wear my old Nike jacket that has some degree of water repellency (really, I took it on several Cycle Oregon rides), and wear booties over my Keen sandals and fluffy hot pink wool socks. Oh, Sheila Moon jersey/armwarmers, wool sleeveless baselayer, shorts and PI kneewarmers. And a few extra pairs of gloves.

As I had no car this weekend, the original plan was to ride from my home just outside Beaverton over to Cecil's, then we'd ride out to Edgefield to meet the others. If you are doing the math, that is about 130 miles. That worked well - uneventful ride to Cecil's - no rain. Then out to Edgefield (Cecil had a flat on Halsey) in time to meet up with Dave E (fellow TBB associate), Cecil's friend Steve, Steve's friend Tim, and Jeff, who is a FOAF of Steve. Got that?

Departed Edgefield at 9:35am (only 5 minutes behind schedule). The ride was uneventful until just before the summit of Cape Horn. Tim hung back with me for the climb (THANK YOU!); still climbing like a rock. I do, however, take pride in the fact that LAST May I had to stop 3 or 4 times on the way up, and did not stop at all this time. Just before the summit, it started to sprinkle. I zipped up my jersey and jacket. Within minutes it started to POUR. We did not stop at Cape Horn, but immediately started descending. I'm not entirely fond of the descent when it is dry and sunny. In pouring rain...OMG... But, as you can see, I'm still here and unscathed. Couldn't see well, couldn't take my hands off the brakes, and I was soaked through almost immediately.

We kept on moving. Didn't stop in Skamania, didn't stop at Beacon Rock... Got to North Bonneville, Tim started to turn in, then asked if I knew where I was going. Yup. Don't need a cue sheet or guide for this one. Still raining.

Got to the Bridge of the Gods to find Cecil and Dave waiting, so we'd have safety in numbers. Wet metal grating; better that we cross as a group and take the whole lane. Cecil's instructions to Dave (his first crossing): "you don't have to look down". Hey, that's the best part! Uneventful crossing for me, no tire slippage at all, and yes, I looked down. That bridge structure is pretty cool.

Lunchtime. The sandwich/ice cream place is gone (not that it was ever any good or fast, but it was there), so adjourned to a pizza place. We ran them out of hot chocolate; most of us went for the salmon chowder in a bread bowl. They fired up the stove for us, and we draped our bits of wet clothing on it. I visited the ladies room and attempted to blot out the excess water with paper towels. Noticed a guy admiring the bikes (and we had a very nice collection of them, my Lemond was the most pedestrian of the bunch). His wife told us he just bought a new bike and had to admire others. We understand that. Then he wanted to know where we were riding from (it should be noted that there were puddles on the floor under our table). Most "Edgefield". Cecil "Portland". Me "Beaverton". Oh, he said, you drove to Edgefield from Beaverton. No sir, I RODE to Edgefield from Beaverton. More conversation - he's trying to get up to riding a century. He's from California. Turns out Cecil's brother lives in the same town; she went over to chat with them and YES they know her brother. Small world.

By this point we had eaten, and were less wet, so it was time to head out. It was not raining. But then, we looked west, and there was a Huge Black Cloud... Jeff was lobbying to wait it out. It was already 3pm, and we only had so much day left, and none of us were prepared for riding in the dark. So, off we went. Of course, the minute we entered the path, it started to rain heavily again. In the gloom, the moss-covered path in the forest was just amazingly beautiful. Fantasy movie beautiful. But, still raining. I started out really cold, and was shaking so badly the bike was shuddering. Fortunately it resolved quickly as I warmed up. Up the stairs (carrying the bike, no stopping), then signs saying the path was closed past the Tanner Creek Bridge. We ignored that. There was some construction equipment and supplies, but easily maneuvered around. Not that I am recommending you do that, of course. Closed until July sometime.

Got to the part where we hop on I-84, saw Cecil, Tim, Steve and Jeff coming back - they went a bit too far. Cecil rode at the rear, because she had the most amazingly bright jacket. Uneventful, as usual.

West, west, west. Some of the guys were muttering about this being the worst ride ever due to the weather. Cecil and I promptly came up with 6 rides that eclipsed this one in terms of epically bad weather. :-)

I spent some time mentally reviewing the clothing I did not bring because it would be too hot. Hah.

Stopped at Multnomah Falls to record our stupidity and watch Steve strangle Cecil. No ice cream, no coffee.

Fun and Games at Multnomah Falls

Off again. Dave E and I traded places all the way to Crown Point. The rain let up. The sun was shining, great view to the east. I just wanted to feel dry, and was working my way toward that.

Then the final climb up to Women's Forum, and my favorite local descent down into Troutdale with the Bell road option. And it was GREAT until right outside Troutdale - it started drizzling. Then raining. Then (ouch!) hailing. Crossed the Sandy River, through Troutdale and into Edgefield. Dave and I found Jeff, then Steve and Tim. Then Cecil. I was planning to continue riding on with Cecil, then either catch a lift from her house, or continue riding home. Steve and Tim were leaning on me to accept a ride. Cecil noted that she had slipped on a speed bump and whacked her knee and it felt "interesting". Steve and Tim leaned on Cecil to also accept a ride home. Cecil was worried about my shaking earlier (holy hypothermia Batman!), but I assured her it was long gone. It was 6pm. We'd be riding in dusk (dark for me), and were not equipped to do that. We (reluctantly) accepted.

It should be understood that had there not been the knee and darkness issue, we were both perfectly capable of successfully riding to our respective homes.

Home. Put the bike in the garage, thanked Tim and Steve, peeled off the still wet clothing and went directly into a very long, very hot shower. Put on much warm clothing. Made a mug of hot tea.

107 miles today, 63 miles yesterday.

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