As in, if I didn't ride a 200k before the end of December, I'd be starting that fourth R-12 over AGAIN. Which I did not want to do.
Jason K from Montana was apparently in a similar state, he was in Portland over the holiday, and did anyone want to ride a 200k? Jeff A thought he'd join us. Not that he needed a Dec 200k, he'd just finished the local Solstice 200k.
"The flatter the better" was the request. Nothing is really flat here, unless one rides the Mill City 200k, but I wasn't thinking I wanted to get up so early and drive to Wilsonville. Better to coast the 1+ mile down the hill to the start of my Beaverton-Hagg Lake-Carlton 200k. Jason and Jeff were up for that, so 6:30-ish on Sunday morning found us in the Starbucks', dozing over coffee drinks in an attempt to wake up.
It was to start out foggy, and clear off in the afternoon, maybe making it up to 45 deg F!
Dark and foggy when we started; the first 9-ish miles heading west and slightly north to escape the Urban Growth Boundary, getting out into the country. No traffic early on a Sunday. Pointed out the local celebrity farm to Jason. His wife is a fan of the show, so he was delighted to be able to share that with her later.
Many info controls for the first third of the ride, some with interesting historic significance. We finally ended up in Forest Grove around 11am, looking for something to eat. I knew Maggie's was closed on Sunday, but figured we could get a slice of pizza. No, not until noon. Not anything else obviously open either on Main Street. I knew there was a burger place "somewhere", so we continued along the route, hoping we'd find it. As it turned out, we didn't go quite far enough, but we did find the Little Monkey Deli. No one in there but us, and we were promptly served tasty sandwiches, Coke, and in my case, a pickle. Jeff bought some killer nut brittle ("the owner's dad makes it") to take along.
(for the record, Scotties Drive In is open at 10:30am on Sundays, and is across the street from the Knitting Store)
Off to conquer Hagg Lake, the most challenging climbing of the route. It was still foggy. And cold. The sandwich did a nice job of powering me around the lake. For the park being closed, it seemed like the most concentrated traffic of the whole ride, except for Yamhill and Carlton, was at the lake.
After Hagg Lake, we all stopped to get pictures of the herd of elk we saw on the way in.
Then into Gaston. Not a control, but we stopped for supplies, it being a ways to Carlton. I filled up my thermal jug with a combination of coffee and hot cocoa powder - the checker helpfully pointed me at the tub of cocoa powder and also said we were welcome to fill up out water bottles. They sell really really good chocolate bars there as well. A store patron admired the bikes and asked where we were headed. Weren't we worried about it getting dark? Not so much. I have always found the Gaston general store and locals to be a really nice group of human beings.
South on Spring Hill/North Valley, over Laughlin to 240, into Yamhill, then the 3 miles south on Hwy 47 to Carlton. The guys were a bit ahead (story of the day) and waited for me so we could pick a destination. We tried the convenience store on Main St, rather than the grocery where I usually stop. They have remodeled their bathroom - really nice! Bought some grapefruit juice - tasty liquid sugar. Off again, still grey and foggy. I like getting to Carlton (82mi), because it is all headed homeward from there.
Found the three rude drivers on Kuehne Rd, but that was it. Finally, the drop onto Ribbon Ridge and we were headed north on North Valley. Over the three big rollers, and that was the last of any real climbing. It didn't get really dark until we turned onto Geiger, where we admired each other's headlights. I could clearly see the light pattern of the Luxos in the mist - wide rays and a shaft of bright light out front. Nice.
My bike computer had long ago given up telling me anything - the display shuts off in the cold although it is still recording. So no stressing about how fast I was or was not riding. Occasional time checks on my phone made it clear that we wouldn't have to do any time trials for the finish. Stopped at the golf course a few minutes too late to go inside (snack bar/plumbing), so any stops would have to wait until the last on-course control. I did stop long enough to suck down my first-ever-consumed-on-a-ride Ensure.
I was awfully achy. And I was not alone in this feeling. Wanted to be DONE.
No traffic on Hwy 219 when we arrived to cross (a gift), and when we rode past the last info control I quizzed them on the details, but we didn't stop. We'd remember the answer :-)
As we skirted the edge of the Urban Growth boundary, Jason (a city planner in real life) was asking about the mechanics of how it worked. Actually we had that conversation earlier in the ride as well.
A few miles further and we were back in Hillsboro and civilization, and, a few miles further, the last on-course control. We paused, ate a little (peanut butter GU, not a flavor I like, but it works), made phone calls, and set out for the final 6 miles.
Finished at the YoPop. Just to clarify, there are places to get beer close by. Not sure what quality of beer, but there is beer availability. But we went to the YoPop, and mixed up bowls of yogurt and non-healthy toppings. Cards were finalized. Then Fitz showed up, and got himself some yogurt.
Jason thought the after dark parts of the ride were the most fun. They were, kind of. It didn't seem as cold, and, again, almost done and no need to stress about not finishing in time.
And because I was so very tired, I stuffed my bike in the back of the Element (me to Fitz: "so, which car did you drive over in?" Fitz: "yours") and accepted a ride home. Jeff: "it IS uphill to your house". Yeah, that's the ticket.
Aftermath: hot shower. Spaghetti and meatballs. Bed. Rode into Portland to meet up with a friend. Message from Fitz indicated that Rebecca and Asher had stopped by, so took the light rail back (with cupcakes from St. Cupcake).
Reviewing the bike computer data, the temperature never made it to 40 degrees. It was foggy or grey the entire day.
So, while this year did not go as I had wanted it to go, Rando-wise, I did finish up with over 5000 RUSA km, and kept the R-12 streak going.