No, really, it isn't!
Susan O, being in pursuit of her K-Hound and Mondial (and it looks like they'll happen right about the same time), will ride with anybody. I realized that, after the wedding, and people departing, and all that, that I did not have to be anywhere or do anything last Saturday, and wondered if she wanted to ride. I suggested 100k, because it was going to be hot, but she really wanted to ride a 200k. We settled on Banks-Elsie, which has 42 miles of guaranteed shade, and large amounts of highly probable shade. Last I rode it was January 1, when it was 21 degrees at the start and finish, and may have gotten above freezing for a couple of hours mid-afternoon.
Learnings - the Thriftway in Banks doesn't open until 7am, but the gas station does have a restroom, and the bank has an ATM for a starting receipt.
Note: my camera lens is not foggy. That is smoke.
I had gotten the stem raised on the Lemond, and was riding it, with not very much extra stuff. No lights, so we darn well had to finish before dark, which I knew would not be a problem. I had even less stuff than I had planned; my arm coolers seemed to have escaped from the front bag. Oh well, I had sunscreen, not to worry.
It was surprisingly cool - 41 degrees - at the start, but as we were climbing, it didn't seem at all chilly. When we got to the summit, Susan worried that I might get cold, and produced the bolero sleeve thing from her vest that she wasn't using. It was just right.
Stopped at the c-store in Vernonia; I purchased and ate an entire egg salad sandwich and a V-8, plus restocked my bottles. Brief conversation with the clerk about the edibility of Southern Biscuits and Gravy Lays Chips. We thought it was probably a fail.
The route is scenic and fairly benign until Birkenfeld (not yet open, but they had a show that night), and then the rollers get rather more frequent and abrupt. We saw many cyclists out on Hwy 202; they were members of a triathlon club. As we continued west, we could see the haze from the forest fires gathering in the hills, but I, at least, couldn't smell anything.
We arrived at the Elk Refuge, and found, much to our surprise, that the heated restrooms and water spigot were a heap of rubble. There were portapotties, and another water spigot, but still... Bids are out for reconstruction.
Our triathlon riders were pulled over by a bus, and being served lunch.
Headed back to Hwy 103, and south to Elsie. Susan hadn't done this route before, and hadn't ridden on Hwy 103. "Now, how many times, exactly, do we cross the Nehalem River?" That is one to be solved with RideWithGPS.
Had to wait for a break in the endless traffic on Hwy 26 to cross over to Baker's General Store. A pizza slice and more V8, plus more Gatorade and water for the bottles. It was definitely starting to warm up.
Back on Hwy 103 to Hwy 202, where we pulled over for more sunscreen and eyedrops. The smoke haze was getting thicker. The rollers back to Birkenfeld were getting to me; there was some headwind, and I was slowing down. We stopped at The Birk for some soda, and, in my case, a handful of salt, washed down by the soda. Susan: "this is really flat". Me: "to YOU, maybe!" (44.8 mi, 2100 vf, Birkenfeld to Elsie and back).
In any case, the salt, sugar, and calories perked me back up, and we turned such that there was more of a crosswind/tailwind. Back to Vernonia. By now, every single bicycle contact point was, um, uncomfortable. It wasn't that I wasn't having fun, because I was, but I was kind of resigned to the overall discomfort.
Another pause at the c-store, where I had more V-8 (salt!) a Red Bull, and ice cream. From here, 10 relatively easy miles up, then downhill all the way to the end.
The haze was making golden hour even more interesting.
Just under 12 hours, and an hour till sunset.
(saddle swapped out on the Lemond...)
All the pictures here.