Last year, my only goal for this ride was to finish it in time. This year I was hoping for a better performance on my part. The weather was going to be about as perfect as it could be.
To make it easier (I am getting SO spoiled just falling out of bed and doing a ride without having to drive anywhere. Owning perms does that to you.), I got a room at the motel near the start, and scoped out expedient routes to the start, involving shortcuts through a shopping center that didn't used to be there, and walking paths through the office park.
Tried to get ODOT to sweep the Boone Bridge shoulder on I-5 northbound, but they just couldn't get to it before the weekend. That would be fun, it looked pretty trashed when I drove by it last weekend...
Asta was going to stay as well, but was delayed in town, so she'd ride to the start. I told her I'd get two room keys, and we could revert to plan A for after the ride - she'd beat me in by HOURS, get some sleep, and I'd get her back to Portland.
Packing accomplished (throw everything in a laundry basket), food prepared (hummus wraps, a couple of homemade guacamole-bean-cheese-mild salsa burritos, cookies, some gels), bicycle loaded, and off to Wilsonville. Michal and Cyndi visited for awhile, engaged in our pre-ride food swap, then all off to get a good night's sleep.
Cyndi had some real coffee for me, saw us off, and Michal, Norm and I headed over to the start. Not a huge crowd (Susan F: "about what you expect for a post-PBP year") The usual round of visiting, standing around, and finally it was 6am and off we went.
A large-ish group did stay together until just before the turn onto Ehlen Rd, at which point Sweetpea threw a chain, and it was just Michal and me. Uneventful ride south to the Gallon House Bridge, where we found a couple other riders. Brief pause in Silverton (removing extraneous layers, among other things), then winching ourselves out of town and onto the (endlessly rolling) Cascades Hwy.
The winds were not unfavorable, and we were both feeling pretty good, and found ourselves in Stayton about 9:15am. There were a couple of riders eating outside; asked where they were riding. Wow. 400k. That's a LONG ride! You all ride careful, ok? :-) Got a mocha and ate something. I forget what, probably a hummus wrap.
Of course, after Stayton comes the fabled rollers of Cole School Road. I was hoping to even up the score (rollers 3, Lynne 2), but it was not to be. 2/3 up the second (steeper) roller and the warp engines decided it wasn't the day. Hiked up the last bit, and found Michal at the turn onto Ridge Rd. Enjoyed the twisty drop down to the Shimanek Covered Bridge, where we stopped and filled out the info control question.
Continuing south on Richardson Gap (this is the original route, which gives Scio and many other covered bridges a miss), we set out for the Larwood Bridge. I spent this stretch munching on the bag of cookies from Cyndi. Another pause at the bridge to fill out cards and take pictures (it is a very pretty bridge).
Then off to Sweet Home, through a somewhat hilly section. Lots of fields with white flowers; a crop I had not seen before. Theo said afterward that they smelled wonderful, but my nose had decided to get all stuffy, so not able to smell much. A brief navigational confusion - our bike computers were both a mile optimistic, and we thought we'd missed the turn onto Lacomb, so went back a bit, and no, so retraced our steps and found it a bit further along the road.
20 miles after that, and just before 1pm, we were in Sweet Home. Bought some pea salad from the deli, and a Doubleshot and had lunch with Michal and Ray; Norm was heading out. Except I couldn't eat it all. Hmm. Bill arrived shortly thereafter. Removed all my extra layers here, applied sunscreen.
Michal, Ray, and I then headed out. Out of Sweet Home is initially kind of UP, but then it backs off and is a very pretty ride along Old Holley Rd, working our way to Crawfordsville. Turned navigational control over to Michal, as we were now in his normal riding area. Up Brush Creek/Marcola. Michal pulled ahead (not unexpected; he's a very strong climber). Passed some locals out for a ride. And soon there was more sky than trees, and I summitted. More pictures.
The descent was great - no rain (last year) or bad pavement (year before that). As we were getting low on water, we stopped in at the Mohawk Post. Last year it was the halfway point, but not this year. Water and (yum) deviled eggs.
Then, east to Walterville, following a gently rolling road along the McKenzie River. Sat down outside and ate most of a burrito. Michal offered chips, but the burrito was more than enough. Chatted with Ray about the Lane County line sign ("Nuclear Free!"), and how Fitz's niece and her husband work at the Calloway Nuclear Plant in Missouri, and their flood contingency plan (highly unlikely is overstating it). Ray - what about the Missoula Floods? Me - If those happen again, it might be that we'll have much bigger problems. Kind of like when we were doing disaster preparedness at a Brownie meeting (oh, SO many years ago), and one delightful little girl piped up: "the sun will go out eventually." (GS Leader Lynne excuses herself into the hallway and decompensates.) Yes, well, where were we? Bike ride. Yes.
Back the way we came, eventually ending up in Coburg (pause. eat. I think.), then north to Harrisburg. Pulled on some layers. Joined up with Ray and Holden. This was the easiest and fastest transit of Peoria Road ever. I think there might have been a tailwind. Glorious pavement. Darkness fell along here, and with the four of us riding together with our awesome headlights, we lit up quite a stretch of road. Was getting a bit dozy, so crunched on some caffeinated mints. That was better. Then onto White Oak Rd, crossing SR 34 onto Riverside Dr. There was a lively celebration with great music going on. Holden pulled over, so we all pulled over, figuring he wanted to check it out. Well, that wasn't it, so we moved on down the road a bit :-)
Crunched on a few more mints. You know, my stomach didn't think that was the smartest thing I had ever done.
Michal and I were going to stop in Pop's Branding Iron (24 hour place in Albany) for some food. Ray and Holden went on. We went in and... I bonked. Couldn't eat. Couldn't stop shaking. Did finally manage some soup and a gel. Wrapped up in my mylar blanket. I didn't lose it mentally, but I just couldn't eat or stop shaking. After much too long of this (and by then it was Sunday, so Happy Birthday Michal) we set out again, at a steady, but not earth-shaking pace. "Let's go shut down that bar in Independence".
Given that the caffeinated mints were not helping, I quit eating them, and took a short nap on Buena Vista Rd. Apparently right by Worlds of Wonder, with mint fields I did not smell :-) So, very unhappy stomach. At this point my head was exploring all the options to DNF. Michal: "we'll finish". Someone needed to be optimistic, so I was glad he was. I sure wasn't.
Eventually into Independence, where the bar was closed, so we had to do the info control. They had nice chairs outside, so we sat for a bit. Watched the police cruisers go by. They were singularly incurious about a couple of brightly flashing bicycles and riders on the sidewalk somewhere around 2:45am. Tried to eat some of my chocolate bar. Did get some down, but it was much harder than it should have been. When I can't eat a chocolate bar... I think I took three little naps in all. Many fewer than last year.
50 more miles to go. 6 hours to do it in. Not normally a challenge. About 10 miles to Salem, where there was an all-night convenience store. Michal: "we'll get you some noodle soup." The clerk got the soup started (sort of. Filled them up w/cold water and pointed us at the microwave). Soup heated, we sat on the floor and started slurping. He came over and said that it was against store policy to have people hanging out in the store (!) 4am. Two tired cyclists. What were we going to do, exactly, other than sit on the floor and try to eat our soup?
Outside (darn. It was warm in there.). I think the clerk just wanted to step out for a smoke, and didn't want us in the store when he was outside. Through Salem (the route in does a lot of outskirts riding, so it doesn't seem like you are getting anywhere, and suddenly you are in downtown), one last porta-potty stop... Michal: "sun is up. You do better when the sun is up." Yes I do. Not that I was eating much of anything, because every time I ate a little something, my stomach got really upset. Better to sip on Nuun and water.
Right turn on Keene, and the last 20 miles. Passed by the Old Believer church right at Keene and Broadacres before 7am. The parking lot was full. Me: "I guess I'm not going to DNF". Michal: "nope. too late."
Michal: "given the time, we'll have more options than Shari's for a finish control receipt." Yes indeed. I even knew where a convenient Starbucks was located.
Over the Boone Bridge (shoulder full of junk), and to the Starbucks. Hot cocoa. 7:45am. The clerk: "starting out on a ride?" No, no, we just finished one.
Faster than last year, but didn't make our goal of 24 hrs. When we finished, I was seriously considering avoiding any more 400s until next year, and just get through it once. Also questioning the wisdom of a 600 in 2 weeks, and the 1000 in July. Now I am slightly more optimistic. I don't know why. Sleep deprivation does strange things to the brain.
That said, I still need to get better at the nutrition thing. Time for calories in the bottle. I will drink, even when I won't eat. (Cecil: "you made it further this year before you bonked...")
Moving average 13.47mph. Somewhat faster than last year.
Things to do before the 600:
- new rear wheel (rim arrives today) - I dented it last summer, and got it trued (sort of), but the mechanics at the bike store remind me of it every single time I am there.
- possible new front derailleur - too much chain throwing. Shimano Tiagra, and it does not stay adjusted. I have the very same crankset on Bleriot, with a 90's era Deore front derailleur and it has never, ever given me any trouble.