This song played in my head for most of the climb to Lost Lake. I was pretty sure I was not going to make the control by the cut-off time - I'd need to average 7mph the whole way up...
But back to the beginning. The October OrRando brevet is traditionally John Kramer's Bikenfest, out of Hood River or Bingen. This year John proposed a two-loop route out of Hood River, with over 10,000 vertical feet of climbing. I'll come right out and say that I voted for last year's route. Really pretty, and only 7800 vertical feet. I've never done anything more than that in one go. There was a 40% (at least) chance of rain forecasted. Three years ago I DNFed on this very ride in miserable conditions, and was very much hoping that would NOT be the case this time.
But here I was, admiring a glorious sunrise from the Twin Tunnels West Trailhead and visiting with the other riders, waiting for the start. Lesli was riding (yay!) along with the other usual suspects. Well, most of them. Lesli: "Where's Michal?"
John mentioned that there were some sharp curves descending from Lost Lake, and recommended we be off the Lost Lake descent by dark. And so, at 7:30, off we went.
The first loop was out to The Dalles and a bit beyond. First we rode on the Twin Tunnels (Mosier Tunnels) trail into Mosier. Wish I'd been quicker with the camera; there was a great shot of the pack silhouetted against the Columbia River down below. Then some climbing. When we topped out, I could see what had to be Chenoweth in the distance at the bottom - we were headed in that general direction. The descent was pretty scary - lots of gusty crosswinds. I started getting tense, which meant the bike started to shimmy a bit. Knee against the top tube put an end to that, but I was happy to get down to the bottom.
My left foot was not staying attached to the pedal particularly well. Perhaps it is time to replace the cleat.
Conversations with Lesli about wool jerseys, specifically the upcoming OrRando wool jersey, triathlons, mid-life crises (or, how I ended up doing really long rides), life at UO, PBP,... Lesli never runs out of conversation, which is great. Every so often we'd look back and wonder what happened to Michal. And then... there he was! Some confusion about getting to the correct end of the trailhead, so he started about 15 minutes later, and pushed it ("flexed his awesome") to catch up. He was just hoping he wouldn't pay for that later.
Approaching a control, we found John waiting for us - a secret control :-)
More wandering around up and down, through The Dalles and out, with Lesli, Michal, Bill, Jeff, and Norm, eventually ending up somewhere east of The Dalles, and then turned around to head back to the start. We paused in The Dalles for some supplies (Industrial Size Payday Bar for me) and water, then headed west on Old Hwy 30. This is a beautiful stretch of road, above I-84, with great views of the Columbia River, and a gentle climb (many switchbacks) up to Rowena Crest. Same highway engineer who designed the climb to Crown Point, but this one is somewhat longer.
Then along the tops of the ridge, and down to Mosier for some food. The place with espresso, sandwiches and ice cream was CLOSED :-( so we went next door to the market. I had an eggroll. Should have had two. Lesli bought a corndog. Lingering issues from the Alabama public schools have rendered me unable to face a corndog. Plus, they make them with substandard cheap turkey hot dogs (an abomination all by themselves), and wrap them in the worst cornbread ever. My sister-in-law says I'd change my mind if I had one made with decent cornbread and a good Kosher hot dog. But I digress...
Checking my bike, because it was handling strangely and the shifting was off... both my S&S couplers were loose! Why, I don't know, because I crank them down pretty tight. Must have been the chipseal a couple of weeks ago. Brief pause to tighten them up. And remind myself to go back to checking them before each ride.
Up to the trailhead; brief confusion as to where the trailhead actually WAS, then up and through the tunnels again, eventually ending back at our cars. Some people had sandwiches. Others ate cookies and other junk :-) Proceeding onward, up a truly vicious climb (I walked, max grade 14%), and then southward towards Parkdale. Very pretty. This loop of the ride followed The Fruit Loop. I saw several purveyors from our farmer's market. Pears were looking about ready to harvest. Then onto a very discouraging stretch of Hwy 35. Bits of drizzle, but nothing very exciting. I stopped and removed the leg warmers. Uphill, and a nasty chipseal surface. Lesli and Michal pulled away here; I wouldn't see them again for a very long time. Caught up to Bill, then moved on.
Great view of Mt Hood from the north.
Finally a descent (not that anyone should get excited here; lots more climbing to come), and some rollers into Parkdale. Greg came by at this point, and we arrived in Parkdale together. I desperately needed something to eat, and bought a turkey wrap. Consumed half of it right on the spot (it was very big).
Then off toward Dee (more orchards; the Hood River Valley is really pretty), and the turnoff to the final really big climb of the day. John thoughtfully provided the cumulative elevation gain on the cue sheet, and I could see that between miles 90 and 96, it would be interesting.
Greg came by and went ahead. I eventually caught and passed another rider. This is so very rare that I do feel compelled to mention it :-) Made it to the Wahtum Lake turnoff. Slog, slog, slog. I had to keep my average above 7mph to make the Lost Lake Store (14 mi from the turnoff) by the cutoff time; 5:51. Every so often I'd see a rider headed down. I was surprised how long it did take to see the riders. I figured they'd be long gone. Never did see the Lolo Pass turn, but eventually realized I was on the miles 90-96 stretch. Every so often I'd take a few bites of the turkey wrap. It was helping. And every so often I'd stop. It was a very pretty stretch of road, but it was also a soul-sucking slog uphill. Never got above 7%; mostly 5% with bits of 3%. I liked those. Stopped and sucked down a gel. Conversations in my head about turning around, or laying down and dying right there. It was getting maybe a bit damp; pulled on the TBB vest. Saw a few more riders headed down. Then, glory, hallelujah, a rider said - the turn is right there! Down to the store; saw Lesli leaving. She told me Michal was still inside and pretty cold. Got the store with over 20 minutes to spare. Greg said he should have told me it was an info control; the times are just on the cue sheet for pacing... "I knew you'd kill yourself getting up here". Yeah.
Went inside for some food. Found Michal. He was pretty cold and shaky. It wasn't almost a bonk. It was a real bonk. I have done this to myself enough times that I know it when I see it. Refilled my bottles (consumed the ENTIRE bottle of Nuun on the way up). Drank a hot chocolate. Should have eaten something myself. Stupid. Visited with the proprietor. Washed my face - I was covered in salt crust. That felt so good. Went back out to the bike to get all the clothing I was going to put on for the descent. Preteen girl walking by: "that is SUCH a pretty bike. Purple is my favorite color!" :-)
A couple of riders came and left. Added a few layers (dry baselayer. heaven.). Michal moved past the "if I eat that I am going to throw up" phase, and we headed back down. Really nice pavement at the top. We leapfrogged down - Michal is a faster descender, and he'd stop every so often, I'd zip by, and then he'd come flying by. Then we hit the road construction and slowed down somewhat, making it to the bottom before dark. Barely. Removed a couple of layers, as it was now much warmer (dropping about 2000 feet will do that), and headed out for the last 15 miles.
And then I bonked. We walked one uphill. I finished off the Payday bar and extracted my tortilla- Nutella wrap and finished it off. We were both getting stupid and forgot we made one turn and made it again at the next intersection... And we were lost. Michal called John, and I finally remembered I had Google Maps on my phone. Between all that we got un-lost, and found Jeff back at the intersection where we should have gone straight.
More wandering through Hood River in the pitch black, but I caught a lot of the road signs at crucial points. Lesli and Sarah cheered us on through downtown. Lesli looked like she'd already had her shower. Sigh. Then, with 7 minutes left, up the last half mile. The food had kicked in and I wasn't bonking anymore. Would we make it? It would be very, very close.
We did. On the final minute. John said it would have been a photo finish, but, of course, it was 9pm and pitch dark.
A bit of visiting, some stargazing (WOW! lots of stars!), a Coke, a nice crunchy Honeycrisp apple, and it was time to drive home. Put the iPod on the Epic playlist, cranked up the volume and headed west. Home by 10:30. Still must unload the car. A visit to the scale says I dropped 6 pounds. They'll be back, but I guess I rode really hard yesterday.
All the pics here
Stats: 130.2 mi
11522 vertical feet (OW)