Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sweetpea goes for a shorter ride than expected

Best enabler cyclist friend pointed out that the Edens Gate 400km brevet was going to happen on Aug 7. "Easiest 400K you'll ever do". Since I had not YET attempted a 400km and I was getting a new bicycle any day now, for the express purpose of riding brevets, and I had successfully completed a couple of 200kms, a 300km, and any number of 100+ mile rides since March, it seemed like a fine idea to me as well.

Sweetpea was ready Friday afternoon. Rode it home, and started setting it up - pillaging water bottle racks and lighting from Bleriot (it does have a Supernova E3; my clever installation plan has hit a snag). Then organizing the food (minimal - some buttered muffins, extra Gatorade powder, bars, gels) and clothes (also minimal, as it was not going to be very cold, and unlikely that it was going to rain - wool jersey, shorts, armwarmers, knee warmers, vest, shortfinger gloves, extra shorts, socks, lightweight wool gloves and a very light rain shell).

It should be noted that the bike builder, the mechanic and any number of friends were a bit incredulous that I was going to take the bike on a very long ride the day after I picked it up.

At the Wilsonville LaQuinta before 5am. Many bicycle admirers. :-) And we were off, heading south before the sunrise. A couple of early bonus miles - Cecil and I were chatting on Lone Elder and spaced right by the turn onto Meridian.

South to the Gallon House bridge and then Silverton, then onto one of the special hells that is the Cascades Highway. Granted, the scenery is pretty. There was even a not-headwind. It is just hill after hill after hill, spaced too far apart to be treated like rollers. With traffic. Finally into Sublimity, and then Stayton, with a pause at the Safeway. Off to Scio, by way of Cole School Road - was I walking or riding up that second (17%) roller? Turned out I was walking - threw the chain. Darn. Cecil was waiting at the top with a handful of blackberries - nice berry thicket at the top.

Then down Richardson Gap (wheee! I do like the way this bike descends!), and into Scio (53.3mi), our first control. Off again, wandering around Scio to visit some more covered bridges, before heading south to Sweet Home. The route to Sweet Home (96mi) was mostly the MS ride route I did a few years back, and was familiar.

A Brief Pause

Larwood Covered Bridge

Got a sandwich, chips and a really big soda, and we sat outside the store (randonneurs closely resemble the homeless at these times, sitting on sidewalks and curbs and eating food of dubious nutritional quality) and ate.

It had been getting downright hot. Highs were supposed to be mid 70's, but my bike computer thermometer was reading out....94. I'm not quite sure I believe THAT, but it was pretty darn hot.

Then off for the serious climb of the day (it should be noted that the ride until this point wasn't particularly flat either) up to Marcola. I didn't think it was all that bad - 2-3%, then 3-4% with little bits of 5%. The summit appeared much sooner than I thought it would. I took the required picture at the Lane county line.

Marcola Summit

Then the descent. Fresh chipseal, but as I had not ridden here before, I didn't know what the road surface had been before. Fun! I hit 40mph on the descent! Cecil: "just think how fast we would have gone if there had been real pavement." Her maybe, not me :-)

And then off to find the Mohawk Post Store (127mi), the halfway point. The cashier asked how the ride was going, signed our cards, offered to fill our water bottles and wished us a good ride. We bought some food and sat outside (chairs!) and ate. One gentleman was absolutely fascinated by Cecil's tattoos.

Then heading west, into a headwind off to Coburg, rolling along the McKenzie River. At one point, Cecil pointed across the river and said "Springfield". I hadn't realized we were QUITE that far south. Crossing under I-5, we then met The Headwind. North 9 miles to Harrisburg (150 mi), where we got some convenience store food. Just as we were planning to leave, Cecil discovered she had a flat. While she was changing it (and I was dozing), I heard someone say "just the bicycle I was looking for!" and up rolled Sandy Earl - she'd been out on the route just riding along meeting up with riders. Bicycle viewing and conversation while the flat was fixed. She had 20 miles and she'd be home. We still had 100 miles to go, and it was about 8pm.

Onto Peoria Road for 19 miles, into The Headwind. I was moving along a little faster than 12mph, and feeling pretty good about that. We were on course to finish in 25 hours (we had 27 hours). At some point Cecil suggested I switch on my headlight; she couldn't see me behind her. It didn't slow me down - that SON Deluxe generator hub is indeed a wonder! My SON28 slows me down by 1-2mph. Then, an hour into it..... BANG! Cecil's rear tire gave it up again.

She replaced the tire this time (yes, we carry spare tires). In the dark. We ended up in the driveway of the nicest folks in the world; they came out to make sure we were ok, asked if we needed anything, etc. Eventually done. I had, in the meantime, pulled on the armwarmers and vest, and taken some No-Doz. Off again.

And, FINALLY off Peoria Rd (174mi). Cecil pulled over for a celebratory snack, I stopped my bike... and just about fell over. Cecil had to hold the bike so I could dismount, and I sat down by the road and didn't get back up. I felt TERRIBLE. Pulled out the mylar blanket because I had the shakes, and tried to eat something, but it just wasn't working. We were mulling over options, when a kind gentleman pulled over. After a brief discussion, he went to get his pickup, and plans were made to take me to the 24 hour restaurant in Albany, where Fitz would retrieve me (140 mile round trip; I called him at 11pm or so).

Cecil got his name, license plate, make of pickup truck and told him she'd be stopping by to make sure I was there ok :-) So Jeff dropped me off. Thank you Jeff!

Parked the bike right outside where I could watch it, and ordered some toast and coffee. I think I ate maybe one piece of toast and barely drank the coffee. Wrapped the mylar blanket around my legs because I was still shaking. Cecil came by maybe 30 minutes later, visited briefly, and then headed out to try to finish within the time limit. Watching her red blinkies, was like watching a spaceship going for escape velocity.

A tapping on the window woke me up. Fitz had arrived. Paid the bill ($2.75) loaded up the bike. Told the waitress that the next time I was there, I'd just be getting a snack and riding on.

Stopped briefly in Wilsonville so Fitz could get his car. Came home, showered, crawled into the compression tights and was out. This morning I discovered that I was 6lbs down from Saturday morning. Eating was difficult; I finally got my appetite back for dinner.

And Cecil did finish, at 24:20. That was really moving.

Next year. There is always next year.

And how was the bike? Better than me! The shifting definitely needs some adjustment - I had at least 6 incidents of chain throwing or hanging up, and shifting into the low gears was a bit difficult. Other than that, just fine. My hands don't hurt. My shoulders/neck are unhappy, but they were unhappy before the ride, so I need to give them a chance to get unknotted and then re-evaluate. It descends very, very nicely, and I was moving along at, for me, a pretty decent pace. The next outing will be RSVP next weekend, where I will be riding it without all the rando luggage. I'll still carry a spare tire :-)


kathryn said...

wow! You are amazing for taking a new bike on such a long ride. I recently got a new touring bike (a week ago) and I'm only taking it out on 20 mile rides while I work to dial in my position on the new bike.

also, love your friend's jersey in the photo. Is it still for sale somewhere?

Natalie Ramsland said...

Lynne, I have unflagging admiration for your ride. I know you would rather have finished, but you definitely have proven you pluck. As if there was any doubt!!

I'm glad to hear that your bike is handling well. The shifting issue, I suspect, has a lot to do with the bottom bracket + q factor issues we talked about. Let's get that taken care of before your next big adventure.

Amy said...

Good Show Lynne
I once dnf'd a 600 about 100 miles from the finish - also would have been able to finish had I not chased down a faster rider and cramped both my legs up - so I know how that goes - I went on to finish one the next season. I love the color of the pea - looks good

bikelovejones said...

You freak.

(Of you know that I mean that in the most admiring way.)

I am sure that you will bag your 400 in good time. You and Little Bear rest up and enjoy the RSVP!

Richard said...

Is that covered bridge near Corvallis? Maybe I'm thinking about the wrong bridge. Anyway, I LOVE the Lane County sign. Oregon is such a cool place. I'd love to live there.

lynnef said...

@Richard - the Larwood Covered Bridge is near Scio.