Thursday, January 29, 2015

Pea Soup Riding: Inaugural Orenco-Gaston 105k

Ray has yet another new perm pop, and he rounded up a group to ride.  It is loosely based on the West County 100, but different.

The draw for this one, besides new roads, is that it starts a block or so from the Orenco Transit Center.

I rode to the start, since it was my old work commute, but a bit shorter.  Found Ray, Adam, Kevin L, RB, and Steve at the Subway.  We were waiting on Jeff, a friend of Steve's.  Got some pre-ride cookies, and, as it was just after 9:30, Kevin and I kicked off, knowing that everyone would find us soon enough.

It was very, very foggy.  So foggy that my lights were on the entire day, and I wore my reflective/neon vest and both reflective ankle bands.  Pea soup.

Until Banks, the route was familiar roads.  For the first control at the Banks Thriftway, we paused a bit (banana), and then I announced we had been standing there a bit too long and started up again.  (There was a "thank you Susan" from the peanut gallery.)  I was cold if we stood around too long, being just on the border of underdressed/exactly right dressed.

But wait!  First big variation - we proceeded west on the shoulder of Hwy 6, rather than Cedar Canyon.  Flatter, and it goes right though the Killin Wetlands.  That was way cool, with the heavy fog and the bare trees sticking up out of the water.

Then up on Stafford Rd/Strohmayer/Kansas City/Thatcher, again, all familiar.  (Lynne consumes a pbj) Then we turned left onto David Hill Rd.  I had ridden up it as far as the pavement went, but never over the top and down the other side to Gales Creek.  Ray said that it wouldn't get steeper, but it did go on.  I was watching the incline numbers tick up on my computer (9, 10, 11...).  Kevin opined that Ray's credibility was dropping.

The pavement did end, and we all (with the exception of Adam, who had gone on after Banks, not to be seen again) helped Ray find a better info control question there for the next time.  We were starting to get above the fog, and after that initial pitch, the well-packed, but wet dirt road meandered along the crest of the hill.  We passed the David Hill Winery, and looked down into a sea of fog.

Gales Creek Rd is down there somewhere

All well and good until the descent.  Still unpaved, and as it got steeper, someone had thought to add fresh gravel.  Right.  I think I scrubbed off a whole set of brake pads with my cautious descent, but I didn't walk any of it.  I am personally just not a fan of descending on gravel.  Dirt, sure.  Kevin and I stayed together, and found the rest at the bottom of the hill, back in the fog.  Ray got a little commentary (perhaps undeserved) for the road selection.  Really, it was pretty, and I am sure minus the fog it is even prettier.  And I did make it down unscathed.  Perhaps on a drier day...

We then proceeded south over Gales Creek/Stringtown (Lynne consumes another pbj) until Carpenter Creek.  I warned the two riders who had never descended Plumlee about the technical turn.  Up we went, above the fog.  But the pretty pond and views from the top were obscured.

We'd been splitting and regrouping.  I mostly stayed with Kevin.  From there we proceeded to the store in Gaston (another banana, some V-8).  As always a cheery and welcome stop.

The last 25 miles was autopilot, with the "pretty route" variation just past the golf course.  Somewhere just before the golf course, I elected to wait for Kevin and finish with him.  I don't much like riding off the back by myself, and figured he'd want the company.  He's not been riding much lately.

We were both happy to turn onto Johnson School just past the golf course; Tongue Rd gets kind of busy.  I was describing all the sights along the way, and pointing out the highlights (Duyck's Peachy-Pig Farm with the fallout shelters and weaner pigs for sale).  Of course, my favorite part of this stretch was obscured by fog, so I was telling Kevin what he'd see if we could see!  While he'd ridden the brevet based on this route, I had changed the routing to Tongue Rd, so as to remove a control.

And now, still mindlessly working our way east and north through Hillsboro (a long town E-W), we were joined by the sun for the last few miles!

We found everyone at the Subway, so went in and joined the second lunch festivities.  Afterwards, both Kevin and I elected to take mass transit home.  I showed him the nifty Tri-Met ticket app on my phone - no worries about broken ticket machines :-)  and we hung out on the platform until my train arrived.

Oh - my new tires arrived, so the rear tire was ALSO new, and no flats!  Quicker than North Plains-Carlton, despite having 500 more vertical feet.  Amazing what the absence of rain and headwind will do for you!

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