Rather than drive (I really don't like to drive, especially after dark), I planned to take the train to and from. So, at 4pm on Friday, I left work, went home, stuffed the Last Few Things into my daypack, hopped on the bike and rode up to the Sunset Transit Station, to catch the MAX downtown.
Arrived just as a train arrived, enabled one of my Tri-Met electronic tickets (HOW COOL IS THAT?), joined 6 other cyclists in the train car (there were also non-cyclists, and technically, the car maxes out at 4 bikes. If it was crowded, I'd have been out of luck), and exited the train at Pioneer Square. A bit of wandering around looking for the best way to head north; SW 6th St goes RIGHT THERE, but it is also the transit mall, and I did not want to mix it up with buses and the MAX Yellow Line. Walked down to SW 4th, and went that way.
Got to the station, got my bike baggage ticket, and immediately got in line to board the train. The ride down was uneventful; the Eugene-bound cars were half full, so we all had window seats. It was dark before we left Oregon City, so I entertained myself with knitting some booties for Asher (the new grandson I have only mentioned once. I am a terrible grandma.).
Cyndi was waiting when the train arrived, we stuffed the bike in the van, drove home, visited and had a yummy dinner. 5:30am was going to happen pretty early, so we all turned in.
The alarm went off right in the middle of a dream about eating on a Rando ride. So very weird.
Yes. So. Pre-ride breakfast and two cups of great coffee, then down the very steep hill in the dark to meet Lesli and coffeeneur.
After that, we started out. Climbed back up the hill on the other side, then down (it was chilly). We headed west toward Crow, and Lesli and I grilled Michal about his impending new custom Winter bicycle. It has a color now. And a list of parts. Maybe the rear mudflap will stay straight. One can hope. I myself am trying to squelch the "I want a new bike TOO!" impulse.
Brief stop in Crow, then north through Veneta, where I almost skewered a wrong-way cyclist. Michal was saying "there is a coffee shop in what used to be a church and a kamikazi cyclist and..." and then I saw her. Ack.
This is not flat terrain. Lots of undulations, not very long, but also 5-7%.
Eventually we ended up in Monroe, home of the generous ice cream servings. Now, it had been chilly and drizzly up to this point, but somehow, we all bought ice cream anyway. I also bought a turkey, cheese and pickle sandwich, big enough for now and later.
Then west a bit and north some more, over the gravel stretch on McFarland. Really more like dirt and hardly any washboard. Further north to Decker Rd (a bit of a climb there), and then a left on Hwy 34 where the first sustained climb begins. Lesli and I told Michal he didn't have to wait for us. About 4.5 miles later, we reassembled at the top, zipped up vests and jackets, and enjoyed the subsequent 8 mile descent. We even saw patches of sunlight!
The control in Alsea is at John Boy's Mercantile, where there are deep fried poppers, Pepsi, and pickles in jars. I scored an actual store stamp on my perm card, and we settled down at the big table inside to eat. After seeing Joe P's Facebook posting about donuts at Top Pot, Michal had a sudden craving for donuts and bought a box of them. We helped out as best we could, eating one right away, and taking one along for later.
There was a mile or two of flat, and then we started up South Fork Rd. Starts out steep (9%). Michal: "this isn't the REAL climb.". Me: "the REAL climb is easier." And it mostly is, and very pretty as well, at least until Alsea Falls. We didn't stop at the falls this day, but kept going.
Found Michal and Lesli pulling on outer layers again. I zipped up the vest and pulled on long finger gloves. The descent is a very steep 2.5 miles, and a bit technical at the top. But I still had fun with it. More undulations through Alpine and back to Monroe, where we made a quick stop for beverages and a bit of food. Not a control this time.
Headed off to the Long Tom Grange, passing many pastures filled with cattle. At one point Lesli rode up behind me and I heard "Hello there, handsome!" Um. I don't think she was talking to me. She confirmed that she'd been chatting up the livestock the entire ride.
The terrain was still a bit lumpy, but once we got across the Territorial Hwy, it flattened out. It was also getting quite dim, and I was hanging on to Michal and Lesli for all I was worth. I did manage to eat some while riding along, but I was really wanting to get to Alvadore and catch my breath. It seems to take forever to get there.
Stopped in Alvadore for a snack (Fig Newtons) and a receipt. Michal and Lesli also kindly backed the pace off a little bit :-) More not particularly exciting riding in the dark, but at mile 123.6 we got onto the Fern Ridge Trail, which is an amazing path. Wide, with lighting! Too dark to see the herons, but we were on the outskirts of Eugene by now, and the ambient light brightened it up a bit. I just followed along, and we eventually popped out by a school onto the surface streets, and then a few more blocks back to our start.
Lesli decided to get some groceries and go home. I had wimped out on riding up the hill so many times previously (as in, I had so far, ridden up it ONCE), that I WAS going to ride up it this time. Success.
After dinner, Michal thought I should take some home-roasted coffee back with me. So I watched him roast up a batch. Drank some this morning. Tasty.
134 miles in all.
The route, best viewed with terrain on.
All the pictures here.