Sunday, January 20, 2013

Just... Epic

After last weekend's failed attempt at the Jan 200k, I set about to recruit some folks to join me for another go this past Saturday.  It was going to start out cold, but get above freezing and be sunny.  Greg thought he'd ride along, and Bill said he'd join us "if I wake up in time".

We settled on Lunch at Nicks, Ken's SW Portland to McMinnville by way of North Plains 200k route.  Except Ken was working out of town this weekend.  A few exchanges of email later, he delegated me to collect reg forms and hand out cards/cue sheets.  We were on.

As parking in the Multnomah Village area is chancy, I elected to ride over.  About 6 miles, but into a part of town I still refer to as "The Bermuda Triangle".  A bit of time on RideWithGPS, and I had a fairly uncomplicated route.

As it was going to be in the 20's at the outset, I wore the same clothes combination as last weekend, but tossed in a thermal vest for when it got sunny and I could lose the jacket.  Ah, optimism.

Hit the road at 6:45am.  Whooo, it was cold.  And dark.  No slipping headed down my hill, no slipping on the wooden bridges on the Fanno Creek Trail, and I arrived at Grand Central Bakery a teeny bit before 7:30, to find Greg and Bill.  Forms and cards exchanged, chocolate croissant consumed, and off we went.  It was 23 degrees...

Grand Central Bakery, Multnomah Village

The route took us west, just south of downtown Beaverton, by Bill's place of employ, over the Tracks of Death on SW 5th (hey, new bicycle angled crossings!  Nice!), through neighborhoods, eventually popping out on SW 185th right by the Aloha Post Office.  North to cross SW TV Hwy, then west again on Johnson until SW Cornelius Pass.  North to SW Baseline, then west and north on SW 231st.  Which becomes SW 229th, and goes past where I work, the Intel Ronler Acres facility.  Still in the low 20's.  The "Ronler Snow" was spectacular, and had actual depth to it.  (the fab puts a lot of steam into the atmosphere, mix that with sub-freezing temps and it "snows".  Covers everything, and the air sparkles.)  I knew it was not slippery to ride on when untracked, so I had a good time.  Bill, I think, was not so sure.

It was also foggy.  Sometimes really, really foggy.  A few miles later, we were in North Plains, our first control.  Bill lobbied for the coffee shop, the Corner Bistro, rather than the convenience store.  We got hot drinks, Bill and I split a cinnamon roll, and I also consumed a banana.

Bill and Greg

There was frost all over us and our bikes.  Our water bottles were somewhere between slush and completely frozen.  I was SO GLAD to have a caloric hot drink in my thermal bottle.  And it was still hot.

Frost detail, North Plains

Now we turned south, skirting the eastern boundary of Forest Grove, then heading south on Fern Hill/Spring Hill.  The sun started peeking out.  We had shadows,  and the temp went above freezing.  I switched from my super heavy Sugoi Firewall Lobsterclaw gloves to shortfinger gloves with wool gloves over those.  At which point I could eat food from my bag and take pictures.  We were hopeful.

Foggy farm complex

Bill and Greg

We turned onto Laughlin, and the fog came back :-(  The temp went below freezing again.  Well darn.  The fun on this stretch was Stag Hollow Rd.  I'd characterize it as more of a dirt road than a gravel road, and it was great.  There was one chaser dog, but Greg and I kept telling him to go home, and he eventually gave it up.

Frosty evidence of participation

We've got dirt!  Stag Hollow Rd

Then more wandering around, and we were on to 99W.  Very busy stretch, and the cue sheet said "L onto Riverside Dr.  DANGEROUS TURN!  Cascade Steel"  No joke.  We were looking for a road BY Cascade Steel, not INTO Cascade Steel.  Went a bit far, so pulled out the phone and figured out where we were.  Crossed 99W in the crosswalk and went back; Bill was waving to us from the turn.  It really is INTO Cascade Steel.  Also, McMinnville also had an industrial plant weather generator - all frosty and sparkling there, too.

Skirted the SE edge of McMinnville - farms - and went through Joe Dancer Park.  Road Closed, but we just did the limbo thing under the barriers, and got ourselves where we needed to be. Into historic downtown McMinnville (rather like Newberg, but larger), arriving at Nick's Italian Cafe.

Bill taking my picture

Bikes outside Nick's

If it was going to be somewhat expedient, we'd eat there, if not, we'd find another place.  There was a big full table that had just been seated...  The waiter recognized Bill, and asked if we wanted the same as last time.  Minestrone and bread, the most expedient option.  Yes, we did, and Bill also ordered some wine.  Fanciest meal I have EVER had while actively engaged in a bike ride, ever.  That in process, Bill and I proceeded with the documentation.  Greg was highly amused.

Lunch at Nick's

The waiter filled my thermal bottle with somewhat hot water, and I made up another bottle of liquid calories with tea.  Then we proceeded to reverse course.

Still cold and foggy.  I was plenty warm enough, though.  My feet did get cold - the chemical toe warmers ran out of steam, and I didn't really get a good chance to put in new ones, but they warmed up eventually.

Foggy farm on Stag Hollow Road

I did eat along this whole stretch - chunks of fruitcake and cookies.

There was an exceptionally rude driver of a very large pickup on Spring Hill - deliberate close, fast pass, accompanied by the one-finger salute.  No need for any of that - clear line of sight, easy pass.

Brief diversion here: What to do with drivers behaving badly?

There is always: you can't take my license, I HAVE to drive.  Ok.  Fine.  We won't take your license.  We will, however, confiscate your fancy big pickup that so much of your, um, self-image is wrapped up in.  We will issue you this little sedan with a wimpy engine, painted brown and hi-vis green, with a big, easily readable number on it.  You can drive.  But if you behave badly again, it will be easy to report you.  And everyone WILL be watching.

Just a thought.  Anyway...

So.  The fog cleared away again, and we had sunlight.  For awhile.  It got really, really foggy on SW Zion Church, and I had to lead, because I knew where Gordon Rd was, and Greg didn't.  Bill was behind us somewhere.  We did pause for a minute for Greg to turn on some more lights - I had not turned mine off all day, nor had I removed my reflective vest or reflective ankle bands.

Into North Plains, stopping at the market.  Mrs. Kim allowed as how it was very cold for a ride.  We agreed.  I bought a Payday bar and banana.  Greg pulled on his reflective gear and helmet light.  Mrs. Kim was very impressed.  "You are prepared for everything!"

Bill appeared shortly thereafter, and ate two burritos.  I had a cup of hot chocolate.

It was now dark, and pea-soup foggy.  We figured once we got onto NW Evergreen it would be fine, but we first had to navigate West Union, Jackson School, Meek, and Sewell.  The fog line on West Union and Jackson School was very helpful.  Finding the turn onto Meek was challenging.  Greg was in front and went past it.  I knew where it was and stopped and yelled.  Eventually Greg came back.  Meek and Sewell have no fog lines, no center lines, and no lighting.  Also practically no traffic.  We rode down the middle of the road the entire time.  I had both the Supernova and the Ixon headlights on, and was very glad I had them, but it was still pea-soup foggy.

Finally, Evergreen came into sight.  We were a bit worried about the Ronler snow, and could see it freezing and sparkling in our headlights, but the road was still dry.  It was also condensing and freezing on us.

By now, Bill was smelling the barn, and it was a bit of a challenge to hang on.  I don't like to go so fast when vision is a bit compromised.  I was also wanting a drink, and riding that fast in a group in the dark doesn't mix well with managing water bottles.  Managed to get some sips at the traffic lights, but they were way too cooperative.

Through Aloha and Beaverton, where I noted every missed chance to turn and just go home.  Given the freezing conditions, we elected to parallel the Fanno Creek Trail, rather than ride on potentially slippery wooden bridges.  We picked up the trail after the bridges.  Finally, SW Garden Home, SW Multnomah, and finished!

We pulled into Nectar, a frozen yogurt place, as Greg and I wanted expedient, and Bill's burning desire for pizza at the Lucky Lab had abated after those two burritos in North Plains.

Greg: "why is it that your rides are always so epic?"  Really, I do have rides that aren't epic.  Just not the ones Greg comes along on.  He's got this burning desire to do a 9 hr Beaverton-Hagg Lake-Carlton, and, if anyone can, he's it.  Last time he tried, it was rainy and unhelpfully windy.  I do wish him luck.

Happy finishers

I put on my surrogate-Ken persona again, and we did post-ride paperwork and I collected all the cards.  All ready to go in the mail to Ken on Tuesday.

I called Fitz, and it turned out HE was in the Lucky Lab.  He did send a text message, but to someone else :-).  He came over and joined us.  Eventually, after deciding that we couldn't fit both bikes and three people in the Element (only works if one rear seat is completely removed), Bill rode home and we drove around looking for a takeout place that was still open.  Gyros 2 Go made us a couple of dinner special plates, which was entirely satisfactory.

Carried the SPOT, and punched the message button at each control.  You can view the track here, for a few days, anyway.  SpotAdventures isn't working so well for me.

And this is why you don't leave food in your bike bag in between rides

Hot shower.  Long hot shower.  Early bed.  Waking up of natural causes the next morning.

All the pictures here

133 miles in all, including riding to the start.  12:30 elapsed time for the permanent, 12.77 avg speed.
Average temperature 29.8 deg F.
5200 vertical feet, including the ride to the start, which is uphill.

1 comment:

Michal Young said...

Worse conditions than we had the week before! 12:30 is darn good in those conditions.