Yesterday's Three Capes 300km brevet had lots of good.
My goals for the ride:
Finish before midnight - previous best was 2007, at 12:33am. Last year: 12:47am.
Have fun (which I seem to, anyway, even if the wind/weather is adverse)
The weather was supposed to be AWFUL - "80% chance of rain. Winds S, 22mph. Temp low 40s. Possible thunder. All the makings of an Epic Bike Ride". So awful that I bought yet another pair of rain tights (Craft Storm Tight), and packed an entire change of clothing, just in case.
Usual suspect riding buddy was not riding. Looking at who had registered, I figured I wouldn't be ALONE or LAST, but still...
Last year, I had a spectacular bonk at mile 123, followed by 60 miles of meltdown. Didn't want to repeat that THIS year.
Got home a bit early on Friday. Early enough that two bicycles had their drivetrains cleaned. Probably futile, given the weather, but I'd at least start with a clean drivetrain.
In an amazing burst of organization, bike was clean, food and spare clothing was on the bike, bike was in the car, bag for after the ride was in the car, breakfast and coffee setup was done... before 9pm. So I set the alarm for 4am and conked out.
Woke up to, of course, rain. Got to the Grand Lodge - it was raining, but it wasn't a heavy rain. A quick check of the weather radar before leaving the house showed rain over the area, but pretty clear to the west. Hmm.
There was a HUGE crowd at the start. Voice from the crowd (a really tall voice): "Nice jacket!", referring, of course to my electric blue RUSA-logo Showers Pass Elite 2.0. I did see another one on the ride today, so I guess they have been released into the wild.
I'm always a little jittery at the beginning, so I let most of them go before I started. Too many bicycles, rain, darkness. Nah.
Found Michal on the way out of Forest Grove. We'd ridden together on the second loop of the Grab Bag in February and he wasn't riding with anyone else either. So we joined forces.
Did the stretch on Stringtown Rd (the ferocious chihuahua pack was still asleep), merged onto Gales Creek and headed NW. Enjoyed the sight of many red blinkies strung out ahead. Brief stop at the Glenwood Store (daylight now), then up to the Timber Rd turnaround control. Saw a HUGE crowd heading back - all the fast folks putting in some early distance consumption. Susan F. mentioned to Michal that if he stuck with me, he wouldn't get lost. True that. At least on this route.
So continuing on in the light rain, up to the summit on Wilson River Hwy (Hwy 6), about 1500'. There was snow by the roadside. Then down. Miles and miles through the Tillamook State Forest, not hardly having to pedal. The scenery is spectacular, more so for not being filtered/framed by a car windshield.
Michal and I both need longer mudflaps :-)
Working on one goal, the one involving eating enough, I ate a couple of bars through this stretch.
Eventually it got to where we did need to pedal some, if only to keep our speed up. By this point I was QUITE ready to pop out of the forest and onto the flat stretch into town. It seemed to go on for quite a while. But eventually we did come out onto the flat, and I amused myself by watching the breathtaking amount of water sheeting down another rider's rear mudflap.
Arrived at the Tillamook Safeway in less than 5 hours. Several riders noted that I should clean off my face before going in. :-) Much wiping and I was presentable. Bought a mocha ("do you want a double shot?" um, yes), and sat down with a well buttered rye molasses muffin and a hard boiled egg. Michal had a sandwich. I followed that up with a Bonbel cheese bit. Yum.
Off to the Three Capes, really the most challenging stretch of this ride. To my mind, the first one, Cape Meares is the hardest. The road surface is TERRIBLE, and it has the longest sustained steep pitches. Plus there are four summits :-) Pretty, though. The promised "gale force winds" did not manifest; I was not blown to a stop at any point. Divested of the jacket and heavy gloves on the first climb. Changed to sunglasses from the clear lenses.
Michal: "do I need to remind you to eat?" Yes, thank you.
Pretty ride along Netarts Bay, then up Cape Lookout. Obligatory picture stop at Anderson's Wayside.
Humorous interlude with muggles: "is there a race?"
No. Best described as a car rally, except with bicycles.
"Where did you start?"
Forest Grove. Finishing in Forest Grove, too (Michal was doing the talking)
"What's that, about 40 miles?"
More like 186.
And then finished it off. The descent had been publicized as "worse than last year, potholes, cracks, road falling off". Hmm. I was more careful on the descent than usual, and only saw one or two bad spots.
Continued south to Cape Kiwanda and Pacific City. Longish stretch inland, then over the Cape (EZ!) and into Pacific City. All roads lead to Grateful Bread, and that's where we ended up. I had soup and a tuna sandwich; Michal had soup and a turkey sandwich. As we were finishing up, Holden, and then Marcello joined us for awhile. Just over halfway (97 miles). Holden: "you've gotten faster". Me: yes.
Michal was looking sadly at his empty Vitamin I container. I had just refilled mine, so I shared. We headed outside, to find it raining again. Crud. Back into the rain jacket and heavier gloves. Of course, once we started out, it finished.
Heading over to HWY 101, Michal came up with a flat; pause while that was remedied. Finally onto the Little Nestucca Road, heading gently upward to what must be the lowest pass through the Coast Range (657 feet). The river was spectacular. We eventually caught Holden and Marcello, who had passed us during the flat repair. Finally summiting, there was a rainbow!
Zipped everything up in preparation for the descent. The grooved pavement is still there, but there seemed to be less of it. Also, there was a tailwind, so it was a more satisfying trip down this year. Into Grand Ronde (123 miles), where I found a Starbucks Doubleshot at the little market. Consumed that along with another muffin and piece of cheese. (another goal for this ride - finish with less food than I started with.) I should mention that I was not bonking.
East on Hwy 18, looking for the spot where we jump off the road, do a bit of cross-country action and get onto Little Yamhill River Rd. It used to be connected to the main road, but isn't any more. Glass-smooth pavement, no traffic, more river scenery. We had gotten to the "not chatty" portion of the ride :-) Through Willamina, through Sheridan (brief pause to pull out the night riding gear and turn on (more) lights), then up the hill past the Federal Correctional Institution, turn east and... tailwind! Whee!
Blown into Ballston, located the info control (cool. Still light out. I could see what color the zipties were without using my headlamp!). Blown into Amity. Elected to continue on the Dayton before pausing. Brief pause before Dayton to unkink my very unhappy upper back/neck/shoulders (thanks Michal!). Into Dayton, to the Center Market, where I have stopped at every ride that passes through Dayton since November. As that is most of them, they know me there. "Cold, wet, and tired?" Just a bit tired. "How do you folks ride after dark?" Really good lights. Like car headlights. Michal and I shared a bag of pretzels sitting on the curb. If this was an even longer ride, I'd have eaten more, but right then, a bag of salty pretzels was about right.
Back to the light thing - my Supernova E3 is so wonderfully bright, it seems like there should be a car coming up behind me. But there is nothing there. Love it!
Last 26 miles to go. Heading out of Dayton, there was a brief encounter with a young man with a big mouth and big pickup. I was pretty sure he was yelling encouragement in between the obscenities. Michal: "maybe he's overcompensating for something?" Me: "as Cecil says, inversely proportional..." Michal just about fell off his bike; he was laughing so hard :-)
Short bit to Lafayette, Abbey, Kuehne, Ribbon Ridge (wheeeeeeee!), then onto North Valley. While I'd been on autopilot since Amity, I was REALLY on autopilot now. Tailwind was still with us. Michal: "how much further, do you think?". I figured 10+ miles from the intersection with Flett Rd; we weren't quite there yet.
Almost to the Fern Hill turn, and the wetlands right there were FULL of frogs. Billions and billions of frogs. Almost deafening. Same with the Fern Hill wetlands just before the end.
Rolled into the parking lot. Michal's wife was waiting for us with congratulations. Nice. Hauled the bike inside right by Susan's room. Mmm. Pizza. Soda. Cindy (Ms. Michal) walked me out to the car and helped me load the bike. Grabbed the bag, went back to Susan's room, and started peeling off the outer layers preparatory to getting a shower (across the hall; Susan gave me her key). Received offers of peeling assistance from Marcello's wife ("I'm good at this; he can't bend over after rides :-) ) and other random riders in the room for post-ride socializing. Thanks guys.
Lovely shower. Working my way into the compression tights without a chair or bed was a bit of a challenge, but I did eventually succeed. Back for more post-ride socializing. Received a lot of advice on how to stay awake for the 30 minute drive home. Did make it home without falling asleep, but it was a challenge. Cold air, loud music...
186.59 miles., 13.42 avg mph. 2:25 hours stoppage time. 17:11 elapsed time. Whoo!
all goals met!
all the pics here