Everything else was much like last year.
Michal, Lesli and Cyndi came up the night before. Always fun. I thought I'd try something different for breakfast, and so made a smoked salmon goat cheese quiche for breakfast. With a full butter crust. I thought it turned out pretty well! Lesli doesn't eat fish, so she cooked up some eggs.
The weather was not going to be as amazingly wonderful as last year. Didn't rain for quite some time, but it wasn't really warm, either.
Made it to Vernonia in good time. We elected for the more expedient stop at the Shell station convenience store. They had deviled eggs in their refrigerated case. Michal and I each bought some. One time we bought some to share, and I ate half a deviled egg and then looked down to get another and they were all gone... Yes. So.
Everything was quite green, what with it being spring and kind of damp. We did not stop at Birkenfeld, but kept plugging along. I was paying close attention, because, while I have ridden out this way before several times, I needed to fix in my head details for the upcoming fleche.
I sat on Lesli and Jason's wheels for awhile, chatting with David B, but then he got a flat, and Lesli went ahead, and I was keeping myself company for a few miles. Then I heard a bell jingle, and Michal rode up. I thought he had gone ahead, but no.
Long conversation about rivers and why we go up and down and why aren't the roads by the rivers? We actually do cross over a drainage on the Banks Vernonia trail, which is why we don't see the Nehalem River until after Vernonia. Then we we see an awful lot of it.
The control was at the Elk Refuge. Pausing to get the answer and try to make my seat comfortable. Still don't have it right :-( May have headed in the wrong direction with the last adjustment.
Fleche note: 30 miles and another Coast Range summit to Astoria.
Then back and south on Hwy 103 (in a headwind) to the Baker's General Store on Hwy 26. It wasn't Passover this time, and I greatly enjoyed a bowl of bean soup and some trifle, with some beverages and a banana for later.
We chatted up the cook while we were eating. They have a wonderful bakery counter.
Tailwind back to Hwy 202, then a spatter of rain. I didn't think it was enough to pull on all the raingear. Then a few miles along I did pull over. Of course, after the RainLegs, booties, and jacket were installed, it had quit raining, but it started up again soon thereafter.
Michal: "this doesn't feel like a tailwind." No. Stupid valleys mess with the prevailing winds. The wind was so changeable that I could not find the sweet spot on Michal's wheel. Made the 40 miles back to Vernonia kind of the low point in the ride for me. Neither of us felt lunch kicking in, either. Plus my butt hurt.
We found Lesli, Jeff, and Sean (others, too, I think) in Black Bear Coffee. They were finishing up, but stuck around while we got coffee and pastries. I called Fitz to tell him we'd be home in 2+ hours.
Last climb. The climb out of Vernonia is about half of the climb from the Banks side, and it is gentler, not that the other way is at all difficult! Michal went on ahead; I could see Lesli and Jeff's lights up in front, until the very last pitch up Tophill (which is steep). Very soon after that I passed over the summit, and settled in to enjoying the descent.
I was passed by another rider who yelled On Your Left and blew by, and then found Lesli and Jeff. They were stopped, and the rider zipped between the two of them.
We finished off the last 3 miles to the end of the trail, then the last mile to the pizza parlor, where we found many riders, and Ray and Barb checking us in. Much visiting while we waited for Cyndi to collect us. Admired Maria's socks, which were under two pairs of booties and plastic bags.
Elapsed time 11:39. Oh. wow. Quicker than last year. Immediately feeling better about that!