Ray rounded up Jeff and me to join him on the ever-enjoyable North Plains Banks Vernonia 100k. Given that the coffee shop in North Plains had closed :-( we were to meet at the McDonalds.
Upon arriving, I hunted around for a place to park - not usually an issue, but the McDonalds seems to be expanding and the parking lot is full of construction vehicles. Then I had to find a place to lean the bike!
Bought a hot coffee drink, because it was grey, damp, and chilly. (I hesitate to type that, because right now it is almost down to the teens for overnight temps here. Last weekend was comparatively balmy!) Learned that Ken was also joining us. Ken: "ok, so I voted for you, what are you now?" "Grand Poobah".
Once we were all there and paperwork rituals complete we headed out, not too late after our official 10am start.
The ride to Banks is pretty peaceful, with a halt for one info control. Another pause at the trailhead, and then nothing but trail all the way to Vernonia. We pretty much had the trail to ourselves this day, because of the weather. Leaves were mostly still on the trees, but some were blowing off as we rode by.
Ray narrowly avoided squashing a cute little chipmunk scampering across the trail. After the long gradual (railroad grade) climb to the summit, we dropped down to cross Hwy 47 at Tophill, and then climb back up the switchbacks. I saw Ray walking near the top. Strange.
Turned out he'd broken his chain. He had grabbed the one toolkit which did NOT have a chain tool. I had a chain tool. Jeff had a chain tool. After ascertaining that he had a 9 speed chain, I offered up my spare quick link. No. He figured they weren't any good. Both Jeff and I said that our chains both had quick links on them RIGHT NOW, and, unlike his chain, weren't broken. After more Luddite protesting, I dug it out and let Jeff take over, because I wanted to eat my sandwich. Ray was astounded by the ease of installation. There might also have been some un-installation (also easy) due to chain-threading error.
A couple came by and wanted to know how far to Vernonia. We assured them it wasn't THAT far, and besides, it was all downhill from here. Eventually we restarted and passed them a few miles further along.
Into Vernonia and around Vernonia Lake for the turnaround info control. Ken's tire was getting kind of squashy. I thought he should pump it up and deal with it at the Black Bear Coffee Company, but the tire had other ideas. Jeff and I went ahead and ordered some hot food; Ray and Ken showed up maybe 15 minutes later.
What with all this, when we left, we had 2:45 to get back to North Plains. Generally not an issue, because the return is much faster.
Back up to the summit in Stub Stewart State Park, then downhill. Except we were taking it in a much too leisurely pace. I announced that I wanted to go faster, and moved up to the front, and took the pace from 16 mph to 20 mph without working much harder (downhill!)
Passing by the Manning trailhead, I still remember that Fall afternoon many years ago, before the trail was paved, riding from there to Vernonia and back, except we came out of the coffee shop, exclaimed "what a pretty sunset!", and then realized we had 17 miles back to Manning and one feeble headlight and taillight between us. And it was starting to rain. Yes. Smarter now, about some things, anyway.
So, still hadn't rained, for which we were very delighted, and we arrived back in Banks with 1:15 left and only 9 easy miles. Finished with oodles of time to spare and enough time for a quick social pause (for me) before zipping home for a family thing.