The Portland Crew designed a new 300k route, and we got to ride it this past Saturday. Among others, Lesli was going to be riding. This was great, I haven't gotten a chance to ride with her since November.
One bike update - put on the Grand Bois Cypres tires. The Hutchinsons were still hanging in there just fine, but with over 4000 miles on them, I was getting a bit uneasy about taking them on long rides.
The start was in Cathedral Park, under the St Johns Bridge. I found Ed and David waiting to check us in. Ed was looking at my bike... "Lights, good. Where is your reflective gear?" Wait, what, I am getting a bike inspection? Pointed at the pocket with the reflective gear, and got a brevet card with the Bike Inspection box initialed. My very first bike inspection, ever.
There had been a message that it might be challenging to get to the first control at Birkenfeld in time, if one was a slow to medium pace rider, and we should just make the next time cut and it would be ok. Being at the slower end, I took that as a personal challenge. There were two climbs on the way, NW Newberry, which is about 2 miles long and spectacularly steep (it feels great halfway up when the the grade drops below 10%), and the Scappoose Vernonia Highway, which isn't steep, but it goes on for about 10 miles. Newberry was getting steeper in my mind; I had climbed it once, several years ago on the go-fast bike, back when we had weekly evening hillclimb rides. I told Michal he'd love Newberry.
And off we went. First, up, around, and over the St Johns Bridge (oh FUN!), then out on Hwy 30 through Linnton, and up Newberry. Michal had gone on ahead; Lesli and I worked our way steadily up. She didn't want to know the incline :-) and we got to the top; no pauses. I was very pleased with myself. West on Skyline. After crossing Cornelius Pass, we saw a couple of cyclists ahead. Eventually we passed one, who was fiddling with his bike. It was Michal, and he said he'd catch up. Lesli says he has two speeds, normal and bionic, especially where hills are present. I'd noticed.
Got to the top of Rocky Point, our first interesting descent. I've ridden up it, but never down. 3 miles, 6% constant grade. Technical. Lesli, Michal, and I made it down without incident, and I might have taken it a bit faster than I would before.
Into Scappoose, where we stopped for some coffee at a gas station before tackling the next climb. Norm and Paul came up as we were getting ready to push off. Enjoyed the climb up. Conversations about some "next bicycles" and custom builders, and what would be wanted on those bikes. Interesting to listen, but I'm actually NOT considering another bike at this point. Met Shun from the Tri-Cities, chatted with Bill for a bit, kept going up. Nice smooth new pavement. Then the 10 mile descent with a few rollers. I had fun punching it on some of the downhills, then zipping past the others on the uphill. To Michal: "this is how I drop people on hills who aren't you".
Then at the bottom, and off to Birkenfeld. Munched on a lot of Cyndi's yummy cookies along the way. Got there with over an hour to spare. Bought water, topped up bottles, applied sunscreen, took pictures. Kevin offered up some flavored chips, but my stomach just wasn't interested. My second VO water bottle cage broke. I can't recommend the Moderniste cage; two for two. Kevin had some electrical tape, which made for good on the road repair.
Westward toward Olney. Brief pause at the elk refuge (no elk visible), and eventually started up. There must have been some moped convention going on; periodically we'd be passed by flotillas of buzzing mopeds. Amusing. Started falling behind.
Shortly before the summit I got a drink, and had some water bottle reinstalling issues, resulting in a topple over situation. Of course, by that point,they'd summitted, and were gone. I found them 10 or so miles later at the Olney store (91 mi). Saw a few riders headed back when I was about 4 or so miles out. Happening place. Many riders still there.
Ate a yogurt parfait, and sucked down a Cranberry Grapefruit Sobe, my control at a convenience store now drink of choice. Maybe I'll go back to the Doubleshots, but they might be tweaking my stomach a bit. The Sobe has the same number of calories, but no caffeine, and a lot more liquid.
Then back. We did have a tailwind for the ascent (nice). I commented to Lesli that I had no awesome, my riding style is diesel (keep on going). Eventually they pulled ahead, but I kept plugging along, and after some time, found them again. Thanked them for waiting. They assured me they hadn't stopped, but would have waited at the summit. Must have slowed then :-) Thank you!
The tailwind started cutting out on the run back to Birkenfeld. Another short stop at the Elk Refuge, then on to the Birkenfeld store. The proprietor was sitting out on the porch, and told us we were amazing. Jeff came up and wanted to know where we'd be stopping in Vernonia. That was an advanced question; we hadn't given it any thought. My stomach was a bit crabby (maybe 320 calories of yogurt parfait and 250 calories of Sobe in one go was a bit much?), so I crunched on some antacids. Topped up water, and left again. It was warm, but not the stifling heat of last weekend's 200k. I was going through a stretch of (as MG puts it) liking more the idea of randonneuring, than the actual required riding :-)
As we rode along the Nehalem River, my stomach calmed down (yay!), and I started feeling better. It is weird, riding in the summer, all of a sudden it is 6:30 in the evening. How did that happen? Time goes away. We stopped at the gas station - I got a Sobe, some hard boiled eggs to split with Michal, and a bagel. Well, the Sobe and egg were good; the bagel wasn't working. Did eat some fruitcake. There was an offer of chips with sour cream flavoring. Nope. I have better luck with plain potato or corn chips.
We headed off to the Banks Vernonia trail. On the way, some person was upset that we were riding on the ROAD - "hey, there's a trail over there". Yeah, there is, all the way from Vernonia Lake, but then we would not have been in Vernonia enriching the local economy.
The Banks Vernonia trail is one of my very favorite places to ride, and it was very restoring on this day. Sunlight slanting though the trees, and, as it was in the evening, very few other trail users.
And, 20 miles later, we found ourselves at the Banks Trailhead (164 mi), with Ed staffing a Secret Control with a very great variety of junk food. And bananas. Another round of topping up bottles. Jeff A joined in with us here.
Ever since Vernonia, I had been totally on autopilot. Banks, through North Plains, east on West Union. Alerted the others that West Union east of Cornelius Pass is not entirely bicycle-welcoming - busy area, and the road still thinks it is a 2 lane, no shoulders farm road in many spots. We got onto NW Springville (the very last climb) from NW 185th. I have not done it that way; I take the park and rec paths through the greenway a bit south of there, and manage to miss all the preliminary rollers :-) and traffic. This is one of the hills I take myself onto for climbing work.
Michal: "where's the climb?" Well, not for a bit, and it wasn't a long climb. He just wanted it to be done with. Turned the corner and started to go noticeably up. Red lights eventually vanished up ahead, but I finally saw the streetlights that marked the intersection with Skyline and found everyone at the top, but for Kevin - he went on. Pulled on my jacket and clipped on the Ixon for the descent. NW Germantown is not a long descent - maybe 2 miles, but it is steepish, and technically curvy toward the bottom. Lots of fun in the daylight, less so at night.
I was happy to have the secondary light - the white edge paint was gone in many spots. We stayed together on the descent, and picked up some trailing automobiles, who were crabby at the bottom. We were still taking the curves faster than they were. Oh well.
Across the bridge, to find a bunch of blinkie lights at the first turn. David had moved a block up from the park, because "it was getting really dark down there". We confused some finishing Seattle to Portland riders. Down to the cars, said goodbyes to Michal and Lesli, and then had a really, really hard time driving home. A short nap in the car prior would NOT have been a bad idea.
Finished at 11:16pm, so 17:16 total elapsed time. 13.6 moving average, 10265 vertical feet.
Other than the broken water bottle cage, no flats or mechanicals. Those Grand Bois Cypres tires roll very nicely.
I think I have now arrived at the mental place where riding a 300 doesn't evoke much, if any, stress.
Sweetpea rolled over 8000 miles on this one. My YTD miles are now at 3700.
All the pictures here
ridewithgps route here