Ray, one of my more consistent riding partners, was set to finish his K-Hound (do we detect a theme here?), and he rounded up Steve B and me to join him in riding the Orenco-Gaston perm pop.
While it claims 2071 vertical feet, 1200 of those are in the middle 19 miles.
Sunday was supposed to be the better weather day, so we settled on that. The weather Saturday, while windy, was sunny all day... Sunday was "showers". So, more sealer on the booties, the AmFib tights, a warm cap, extra gloves. I was ready.
Met Ray and Steve at the Subway in Orenco, and we headed out right at 9am.
First goal was to get to Banks. We all stopped along the way to remove rain jackets. I also removed the rain booties in Banks. While I did pull the jacket back on a couple times during the ride, it mostly didn't rain or didn't progress much beyond misting.
Banks. Time for a banana. Then onto Hwy 6, rather than Cedar Canyon (the "traditional" route), where we rode right through the Killin wetlands, setting off flocks of ducks as we went by. It was strange that the cars and trucks did not elicit the same response.
Then left on Stafford/Strohmayer, the first climb of the day. Not so bad, in the giant scheme of things, .4 miles, mostly at 4%. We then rollered along Kansas City/Thatcher (barns! berry fields!), until the right on David Hill, the major climb of the ride.
David Hill climbs for 2.5 miles, gaining 444 feet, with grades approaching 9% in spots. The pavement also goes away. Last time, it had been dirt with gravel. Climbing was ok, but descending (14% grade!!!!) wasn't so much fun.
Today, with all the rain, the gravel was under about an inch of slippy mud. Our tires sank into it. It was interesting, but, surprisingly enough, the ascent wasn't bad. We all pulled over at the David Hill Winery overlook, to take lots of pictures of what we couldn't see through the fog in January.
A bit more rolling along the top, and then the descent (14%!!!!!). I probably need new brake pads, as does Steve :-) Ray was waiting to take pictures as we regained the pavement.
Left onto Gales Creek, where Ray crossed over the 10,000th km, but we weren't stopping there! Right after the turn onto Stringtown, Ray pulled over on the bridge, and we indulged in a round of picture taking.
Ray: "but it doesn't count until I finish!". True that.
One more climb, up Plumlee (.8 miles, 4.5% avg grade), where we were treated to a view of some amazing storm clouds that we all sincerely wished would miss us.
Ray and Steve stopped at the Lake Store; I kept going until the control at Gaston. I made it 15 minutes before the control closed; they showed up a couple minutes later.
Aside: because I am not a fast rider, and no "just ride faster" doesn't work; I am going as fast as I can at any particular time, I tend to not stop quite as often, because I know everyone will catch me; keeps our overall time faster, as they aren't waiting as much.
Another banana and a chocolate bar (shared around). The cashier seemed very impressed with the distance and comped me the banana(!) We finally had a tailwind for our last 24 miles. Mostly. If we headed south it was definitely NOT a tailwind, turning north it was a quartering tailwind. We all really enjoyed that tailwind.
Contemplated ways to mend my very favorite (and disintegrating) pair of gloves.
I was keeping an eye on the storm cloud; still not getting to us...
Another pause for pictures on Johnson School Rd. Ray was philosophizing on how the urgency to get out and ride would now be over, and maybe he didn't want it to be done. Probably something about how epic the doing is, and the finishing, while nice, can be a bit of a letdown.
They pulled ahead a few miles from the end when I got something in my eye and had to wash it out. Of course, the rain set in for the last couple miles, so one last stop to pull on the jacket. Ray said I showed up only 8 minutes after they finished.
Went to get some soup and a soda. As the soup was down to the last bit, the cashier gave it to me. Good day for this!
All the pictures here.