Rode the Birkie 200km brevet this weekend, like I do every March that I am in town.
Not riding with anyone this year, sadly, someone had to work :-( and someone else was on a mission. So I thought I'd be on my own mission, and see how quickly I could accomplish this ride.
Weather - ick. Rain, 40's, some wind. Did I forget to mention rain? Not that I don't have the gear. I thought it would be too warm for the Sugoi Firewall-Z gloves, and left them home, electing to take the Descente Wombats, and some shortfinger gloves with wool gloves to pull over them, if it got nicer. And knee warmers and spare socks.
Sweetpea was still grubby from last weekend. I wiped off the chain and applied a fresh coat of Finish Line Cross Country lube; that would have to do. And it did. No squeaky chain :-)
Had a bowl of well-accessorized oatmeal and some Greek yogurt with fruit for breakfast, in an attempt to get more protein early on.
It was not raining at my house, but a mere 5 miles west and it started. Darn.
Big crowd at the start, said my hellos all around. Went to check my front light and it did not light up. Brief moment of panic, then I remembered that I had disconnected it last Saturday. Joel helpfully held the bike while I reconnected the wiring.
And off. Rode with Eric A through Forest Grove, but, as he is MUCH faster than I, it was short lived. Once we hit the first uphill, I watched a lot of people go by. Oh well.
Saw Susan with a flat on Hwy 6. She assured me all was fine, so I continued on. Brief stop at the Glenwood Store. Ran into Oliver (from the Verboort ride last November) there. Then off Hwy 6 heading up to Timber. I felt pretty strong. There must have been a tailwind. The abandoned ATM machine that had been by the side of the road in November was cleared away. Bits of snow beside the road the entire way up.
It was raining. My hands were wet, and getting colder. Feet still not soaked through, but it was only a matter of time. I have yet to find a rain tight/bootie combination that stands up to persistent, heavy rain.
Caught up with a crowd heading north from Hwy 26 to Vernonia - Lyn G, Geoff S, Marcello, Holden, Harth and some others. Lyn said she had wanted to meet the OTHER Lynne, and I had wanted to meet her :-) Lots of position changing - I'd be ahead, they'd catch me, I'd pull ahead again... Finally, into Vernonia. My gloves were SO WET and my hands were really cold. And it was only 9:30am (!) 2 hours 30 minutes to go just over 36 miles with a climb. I like it.
Refilled my thermos with a rando mocha, had a banana and some baked goods, and visited with Susan and Joel. He was pretty cold and wet as well, but philosophical about it. David P shared some of the fruitcake he'd baked. Susan O. came in just before I left.
(this pic by Lesli Larson; that's my bike in the back right of the frame, click for the whole thing)
The ride out to the info control at the corner of Keasey and C Burn Rd was a non-event. Found a few folks writing the answer, filled out my card and zipped off the other way. Had a very scary moment on a right bend in the road, where a loaded log truck decided to pass me ON THE TURN and started squeezing me over... Good brakes (mine). Eeek. But I am still here. Whew.
My frozen thumb chose the descent on Stoney Point to return. Ow ow ow ow. But it stayed defrosted for the rest of the ride. Susan O. caught and passed me on the descent. Too much rain and gravel; I was not in a hurry.
North on Hwy 47. What with all the rain, the Nehalem River was pretty spectacular. Also, with all the rain, I wasn't taking pictures. Sorry. So, happily riding along at speeds which said "tailwind assistance", I eventually came up on Susan and John and someone else. John Henry came along and kept right on going. Eventually I decided to keep right on going as well, and went on ahead.
I am very pleased to say that I did not see ANY returning riders (Ken Bonner, specifically) until mile 58.75. The turnaround is at mile 66 :-) Last year I saw returning riders at Big Eddy Park, which is somewhat earlier in the ride.
Riding along, and I could see something in the road, but couldn't quite make it out. It was tall and not moving. Got closer...closer... There was a HORSE in the road! An untethered, unattended horse. Slowed down, so as not to spook it. It decided discretion was the better part of valor and went back down the driveway.
I did not see a lot of returning riders, so figured there must be a big party going on at the Birkenfeld General Store. When I arrived, a large group was just leaving. Asta shared some of her peanut butter balls. Tasty. Did I mention that I arrived at the store in 5:04 elapsed time? :-)
Fitz texted me asking about the weather and the ride. My reply: "sunny, 80's, mai tais". Got my card signed, bought a canned mocha and Fritos, and got some food out of my bag. Susan O. arrived and bought a bowl of soup, so I joined her, Nick, and Kevin inside. She was bummed that her mission wasn't going to happen (25 minutes to change that flat with frozen fingers), so I invited her along on mine, as long as it worked out for her. Nick wasn't inclined to eat his entire sandwich, and offered up half. I took some of it. Nick and Kevin had lots of rando strategy questions, so we shared. Time to go. Nick's sandwich still sitting there... "you gonna eat that?". Yum.
Spent 40 minutes there, which was, perhaps, a tad excessive.
Headed back. Gloves were still wet, but it had warmed up a bit, and it was no longer raining much. The rain eventually gave it up. Susan and I rode on back to Vernonia, finding Kevin and Nick at the gas station (a faster stop than the Black Bear bakery, yummy as it is). Topped off our water from the communal jug; clued the guys into the custom. Filled my thermos with more hot chocolate, ate a banana and some fruitcake. The four of us continued on south. I took off my jacket on the road between Vernonia and Timber. Susan shivered. The sun came out! I also changed to dry shortfinger gloves.
Some driver in a red pickup with poor road manners buzzed us at high speed along there, and (wait for it) Susan yelled at him. She's often on me for having words (usually to the air and nearby cyclists; the offending driver is long gone), and I guess she finally hit the edge of her comfort zone.
We stopped at the Hwy 26 crossing for a more extensive clothing rearrangement - off with the rain tights and booties, on with the knee warmers and dry socks. Also more eating - the Cran-Lemon twister ProBar.
Then across Hwy 26, up to Timber, up over Timber Summit (last climb of the day), where I fell back and lost everyone.
Cautious descent (gravel on the road), then down to Hwy 6 and east to the Shell Station (last on-course control). Susan and the guys were there. I had no pressing needs, so bought a candy bar, got my card signed, stuffed the candy bar in my mouth and headed off. 5 minutes, tops.
They caught me a few miles down Gales Creek Rd. The wind was not entirely favorable, and I was feeling it. We attempted to paceline. Eventually Susan and I pacelined and they went on ahead.
A few miles out of Forest Grove, it started to drizzle. Then drizzle more heavily. We did not stop. Too close! The guys stopped to put on jackets, so we all ended up finishing together.
10:17 total time. 14.56 moving average, 1:40 faffing around. Best time ever for the Birkie.
(to compare to last year, 10:27 total time, perfect weather, and I was riding the Lemond... 5 minutes less faffing, 5 minutes less riding)
I mentioned at dinner last night that I'd had a good ride. Daughter's partner: "do you ever have a ride where you don't have a good ride?" No, not really. Sometimes it is a type 2 good ride, but I can really only think of one or two that might have been not fun.
More pics here
Bill A's pics
Lesli's pics (good pics of how wet it was...)