Michal and I had planned to ride it together. In preparation, we both enhanced the mudflaps on our bikes. I also did a fair amount of stressing, and spent way too much time haunting weather.com. The weather was going to be Not Good, then it turned to Not All That Bad, and then, finally at 3:30am on Saturday, it predicted a headwind both coming and going. Joy.
Packed an almost-complete change of clothes, and 2.5 lbs of food. Joel may have packed more food, but it was close.
Big gathering at the Wilsonville LaQuinta at 4:15am. Many riders from Seattle (hi Vinnie!) and the usual local suspects.
A few minutes after 5am, Susan F released us. South through the industrial park, hop onto I-5 southbound to cross the Willamette River, then south on Airport Rd, passing the Aurora Airport, through Aurora, onto Lone Elder, and then Meridian, where we'd be riding for the next quite a long while. We passed a group stopped at Meridian and Whisky Hill (If I sound really familiar with the area - I used to ride this area a lot. I'm good until Sweet Home, and then it is less familiar). We later found out that a rider had been struck by a car. I heard the rider will be ok, but that was the end of their ride.
Note to self: continue coming to a full stop at each and every stop sign.
Eventually the sun rose, a bit before we passed the location of the Tulip Festival. Fortunately, HOURS before it started - cars parked all over, tense parents trying to get pictures of their children in the tulip fields...
Through Monitor, still heading south, eventually turning onto Downs Rd and our first info control, the Gallon House Bridge. So named, because that's where the bootleggers would leave merchandise for later pickup. We leapfrogged Sarah, Lesli, Joel, David, and Kevin through here.
Through Silverton, but not stopping, and onto the Cascade Hwy. Hill after hill after hill, spaced too far apart to be rollers. Michal: "a roller is supposed to leave you with some momentum to get a ways up the next one". Removed my jacket somewhere along there, and switched to my mesh shortfinger gloves. Really, I wasn't THAT cold.
Passed Joel, Sarah, Lesli, David and Kevin while they stopped at the Sublimity convenience store. South through Stayton (not stopping), and onto Cole School Road.
Was I riding up those rollers or walking? Out of four tries to date, I've only ridden up the second (steeper) one once, on Lemond. Sweetpea was going through its chain-throwing stage, and providentially dropped the chain right at the bottom the most recent attempt.
Extremely adorable lambs seen on the first roller. Then...
Ha HAAAA! Success!
Down to the Shimanek Covered Bridge (second info control) and off to Scio, our first timed control. Which we made in plenty of time. Bought myself a wonderful Nestle Dark Chocolate bar with the cranberries and blueberries. Oh yum. Ate a few other things out of my bag, and we were off again, just as Lesli and Co. arrived.
Updated my progress on Facebook. Found an encouraging text and email from co-workers and friends (made my day!)
Wandered around collecting railroad crossing (Gilkey) and covered bridge (Hoffman) info controls, finally heading to the Larwood Covered Bridge. Again Lesli and Co. arrived just as we were departing.
It started raining again, and it finally got heavy enough that I pulled my jacket on, but did not bother with heavier gloves.
Then, a part of the route that I must have edited out of my head. The first half of this route really isn't flat. And there's a few hills between the Larwood Covered Bridge and Sweet Home. Snow Peak. Ouch. Finally though, when it looks like we are going to head up another wall, we turn instead.
|I think it is missing some of the not-riding time...|
Michal and I winched ourselves out of Sweet Home, and now that we were in his territory, he was the navigator. More wandering around, another covered bridge at Crawfordsville, then onto Brush Creek, for what would eventually be the major climb of the day. The rain was refusing to let up. The climb is really not bad - only 4+ miles, and never more than 5%. Waited for Michal at the top.
Then the descent, which would have been MUCH more fun if it had not been raining so hard.
One last covered bridge, and then we headed out. The wrong way. Michal quickly realized that and we went back. Lesli and Co. were entertained. All of us headed off to the Mohawk Post Store (127 mi). They have a TABLE and CHAIRS inside now! We all bought something, got our cards signed, and settled down for a big snack and a short break. Phone calls to respective spouses were made. Then, after looking outside, went out and started riding again. Stopping, even if it is warm inside gets me all chilled and shaking, but I do know that I will warm up in a couple of miles.
The 8 of us headed east along the McKenzie river, headed for Coburg, then on to Harrisburg (150 mi). If there was a headwind, I didn't really notice. Rain, rain, rain.
The convenience store in Harrisburg also had a table and chairs, and a clerk who tossed us a handful of bar towels to dry off. I took my change of clothes and snuck into the bathroom and changed from the waist up, and then came back out and put on dry socks and a dry hat. I felt EVER so much better.
More eating. The clerk caught more folks headed back to the bathroom and told us we couldn't go back there because of all the liquor stored in the back. Really, we were not interested. Kevin decided to end his ride here, and offered up his wool baselayer. Not that we were robbing his corpse for dry clothing or anything...
Now, off to Peoria Road, 19 miles of...nothing. Flat. Straight. Last time there was a nasty headwind. This time, not so much. We rode as a pack of eight, at least until I really couldn't hang on anymore. The Starbucks Doubleshot must have worn off. I was getting really sleepy, too. Fortunately, it had stopped raining. We could see sky and sunset up ahead.
Thus started the first of the roadside catnaps. I'd find myself lurching all over the road, and pull into a handy driveway, sit down, put my head on my knees and conk out for 5-10 minutes. Then get up and ride some more. Michal would wait, which was incredibly nice of him.
Conversation when I wasn't trying to fall asleep: geeky stuff (we are both CS, although I went over to the User Experience side almost 20 years ago and Michal is an academic), reading (Ursula K LeGuin and other speculative fiction), other hobbies, travel, etc.
Made it past the turn on White Oak Rd. Yay! We made it to Albany and decided to stop at Pop's Branding Iron (open 24 hours) for some hot food. We split a burger and fries. Holden and Jeff came in as we were eating.
Then, north to Independence. Another long stretch, this time on Buena Vista Rd, which, in the dark, is pretty desolate. A couple more naps, at least. Then into Independence, where the only place open was the bar. Barely.
We went in, and I put my head down on a table. The few patrons there were dumbfounded that we were riding to Wilsonville at 2am. Michal didn't help by telling them we'd already ridden 200 miles... Coffee (sort of). 15-20 minute nap. We closed out the bar. And off again.
Another remote stretch of about 10 miles, then into the outskirts of Salem, and finally into Salem. After riding out in the sticks in the dark, Salem was pretty bright and distracting. Through Salem (note: don't obsess over the turns on the cue sheet - the roads are just about all the same road), and out into my reasonably familiar riding territory, although I don't ride on River Rd - usually riding on Wheatland Rd for this stretch.
By now, the temperature had dropped to 35 degrees. I had put on the Firewall gloves way back in Harrisburg, so I was plenty warm. Amazing that I could sit down and get a nap when it was THAT cold.
While I was taking yet another nap, Jeff found us. Holden elected to end his ride in Albany. Too bad. We headed north, and found Keene Rd. We could see the sun starting to rise. I think I took one more nap, and then the sun came up and I was ok. Really pretty sunrise. Best sunrise ever.
Wandering our way north and east; this stretch from Keene Road is always considerably longer than I think it should be. And... cross over I-5, down the on-ramp, over the river, down the off-ramp (the construction is very messy), north though the industrial park, back over I-5 and.....
400km (250 miles), 26:25 total time.
Cyndi (Mrs. Michal) was there to take our pictures.
(picture by Cynthia Wenks)
Susan F wanted to know why I wasn't taking caffeine pills. Let me tell you about that... I'll have to find something. Maybe choc-covered espresso beans. Starbucks Doubleshots are good, but not available at every convenience store.
Shower. Piece of pizza and a soda. Short nap, then an errand and home. For another nap. And then a Portland Timbers game. Still behind on my sleep, but getting better.
Longest continuous ride I have EVER done. No numb fingers. Both arms work. I haven't ridden or run since then, but I'll be back on the bike tomorrow, and should be just fine.
David P's pics
Lesli L's pics