Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Solstice Ride

Over the past several years, the Solstice Ride has become a thing.  Ride through the longest night of the year.  A few years ago, Susan recruited riders to join her in riding Ken's Lunch at Nick's permanent, using the McMenamin's Hotel Oregon in McMinnville as the midpoint, with pizza and coffee.

I never could play, because it was either my dad's birthday, or some social event.  This year, after checking the calendar, I suggested to my mom that if she was having a party for dad that it not be Saturday night.  There was a social event, but I begged off.  Cake and ice cream were scheduled for Sunday afternoon, after Asher (our grandson) woke up from his nap.  I'd probably be awake from my nap by then as well.

And then it started raining.  And raining.  And flooding.  Susan spent a very large amount of time visiting all the county (two counties!) flood websites and maps, and came up with a reroute that detoured around every single flooded location.

It was supposed to be rainy and low 40's that night.  Prime hypothermia territory, so I packed extra socks, baselayer, caps, and gloves.  Planned to wear newspaper sacks over my socks (I have still not yet achieved non-leaky foot coverings).  Bought another thermal bottle, so I could have two bottles of hot liquid calories.  Eating with fluffy gloves on is problematic.  Drinking is easier.

Bought purple and green LED holiday lights and spoke reflectors for the bike.

Festive lighting installed

Made a hi-viz reflective neck flap for my helmet cover, so water wouldn't run off the cover and onto my back/neck via my rain jacket collar.

Camera Roll-957

Susan suggested that another rider and I start earlier, because the timing was such that the turnaround food would be ready at 11:30pm, and maybe we wouldn't make it in 5.5 hours.  So we planned to start a half hour before the main group.

I spent the afternoon lying around reading a book.  Almost as good as sleeping.

Arrived at the start (Grand Central Bakery), unloaded the bike and asked Chris W to watch it while I found a place to park the car.  Met some riders I didn't know.  

Interesting conversation with some other patrons - one was French and was curious about the "Randonneur" on so many of our jerseys.  "It means hiker!"  Yes, it does, and also a type of bicyclist.  He'd never heard of PBP.  One of the women was amazed that we were planning to ride through the night.  Yes, we have lights and reflective gear.  Had any of us ever been hit by a car?  Well, yes, that would be me.  The bike was seriously crunched.  I was lucky.  And Susan said: "it wasn't her fault.  The driver wasn't looking."  True that.

"Did you all come down from Seattle to do this?"  Some riders did, but you don't have live in Seattle to get that blue wool jersey.

Admired all the decorated bikes.  Asta's was a work of art, with green lights on the rims.

Susan gave Anita the Tracks of Death warning, but also said that I knew all about them (only 1.5 miles from my house), and I'd not let her go zipping across them.

I'd finished my eggnog latte and pastry (serious meal consumed a couple hours before), It was 5:30, and time for us to depart.  Norm snapped a few pictures of us before we pulled out.

photo by Norm Carr

Anita is not from around here, so she was counting on me to navigate us through the suburbs and small towns for the first 20 or so miles.  No worries on my part, other than it is harder to see navigational signs in the dark.

Our first interesting bit was the Fanno Creek Trail.  I was wondering how that section of the trail had fared in the rain, and, sure enough, we got to a Closed, Detour sign.  Amazingly enough, the detour was signed all the way through the neighborhood!  The last sign was not too well placed, but I realized we'd end up on Scholl's Ferry if we didn't get back on the trail, and, sure enough, there was the sign, placed right where our headlights wouldn't catch it.

Successful navigation of the Tracks of Death, and then traversing through Beaverton south of Farmington Rd, crossing north into Aloha and continuing west on Johnson (wow, nice new pavement!), and finally into Hillsboro, passing by the Intel Ronler Acres fab, and out to North Plains, our first control.

While it was dark, it wasn't raining, and I finally pulled off the warm overgloves and rode with just ratty short finger gloves.  The jacket, jersey, and baselayer were zipped and unzipped as necessary.

Anita said "so, I hear you spin...", which led to a long conversation on spinning and knitting.

We had a brief pause at North Plains, and then headed south.  We were out in the country now, and only had to pass through the small town of Cornelius.  I knew where the right turn after Cornelius was, but Anita had gotten ahead and passed it.  I stopped and yelled.  And yelled.  She finally noticed that my light wasn't following, and came back.

A bit further along, we passed by the Fern Hill wetlands, which were FULL.  The field on the other side of the road was also flooded.  At the corner of Geiger and Fern Hill, the road heading north was flooded and closed, which is why we went through Cornelius, rather than Forest Grove.

The route went all the way down Fern Hill/Spring Hill/North Valley, to Ribbon Ridge.  I pointed out the flooded wetlands to the west, and said we'd probably see cars parked at the road end of the flooded driveways (they have boats for just this eventuality).  It had been raining lightly off and on (mostly off), but we did have a noticeable headwind as soon as we turned south from North Plains.  It was a surprisingly bright night, even though it was cloudy.  Or maybe the purple and green lights on my bike gave me that impression.  Even though I've got a Luxos headlight, it still seemed rather less dark than it should have been.

As we got to the southern end of this leg, I started looking for bike headlights.  I could see a group behind us as we were headed up Ribbon Ridge to Kuehne, and they caught us on Kuehne, so we all rode the last 12 miles sort of together.

No Flash, photo by Graham Ross

Bicycle Headlights, photo by Graham Ross
Asta, Anita and I were so caught up in admiring the decorations in downtown McMinnville that we rode right past the control and had to head back a few blocks.  The locals were delighted by our brightly lit bikes.

Downtown McMinnville (that's Asta)

We rolled our bikes right into the hotel, where they joined all the twinkly bikes already parked.  One hotel staffer, clearly not in on the program... "you rode all the way from Portland?  Are you going to stay here and ride back tomorrow?"

photo by Norm Carr
I was starting to wobble and shiver, so Susan suggested I put on a dry shirt.  Asta came along, just to make sure I didn't fall over :-)  Dry shirt installed, I drank a lot of water, a gel, a handful of salt, some coffee, and managed to eat a piece of really good pizza.  I wish I'd had the appetite for more (the McMenamins Hood River Pizza), because it was really, really good.  My stomach was unhappy, probably because my sinuses were dripping down my throat the whole way out.

I also changed my socks.  The plastic bags had prevented leakage, but they were soggy from sweat.  Again, if we hadn't had an extended stop, this wouldn't have been an issue.  But if I'm damp, I will get cold on a protracted stop.

So, dry baselayer, dry socks, and a dry cap, damp jersey over that :-) and we all headed out.  Norm had planned to be sweep, so we rode together the whole way back.  There was a cracking tailwind any time we were headed north, which was most of the way to North Plains.  While Norm and I have been on several of the same rides, we really haven't had an opportunity for extended conversation, and it was really nice to finally get to do that.

Still not raining, other than the occasional drizzle.  By now there was absolutely NO ONE on the roads but us.  There was a police car with lights flashing on Ribbon Ridge, but nothing else there, so we singled up and went around.

At one point Norm said "well, it's 2:30 in the morning... "  Me: "don't say that!  I don't want to know!"  But I wasn't getting in the least bit sleepy, which I had worried about, as my night riding track record isn't the best.

Though the wetlands, and up to North Plains, where we found pretty much everyone else.  Jeff L, Michal, and Chris were heading out, but the balance of the riders were sitting around drinking coffee and eating salty snacks.  My stomach was still crabby, so I went for some pretzels.  Norm produced a generic Pepcid, which I took with some hope that it might help.  He also had a collapsible flask of something :-) but found no takers for that.

A store patron (3:40am) "aren't you all up early!" No, no, we haven't gone to sleep.

Now we would be going generally south and east, and would have a headwind for the last 23 miles, as well as various traffic control devices, because we were back within the Urban Growth Boundary.

It was windy.  Heading south was a challenge.  And it finally started to rain.  We slogged our way back through Hillsboro, Aloha, and Beaverton, onto the Fanno Creek Trail, where we did have one navigational question.  Norm: "GPS says go this way."  Ok.  It really was the only way to go; the other turn dumped us onto a street.

As we were headed up the final couple miles (Multnomah Blvd), another cyclist came up.  I thought it might be Jason H, but I wasn't sure.  There was an interesting navigational bit to get us up the hill a couple blocks to the finish (Multnomah/SW Portland, the Bermuda Triangle of the city), and, hey!  We were finished!  Five minutes to spare!  (35 minutes for Norm and Jason)

Finish at Fat City Cafe, photo by Michal Young
Sadly, I couldn't summon up the stomach to eat a real breakfast, so I ordered toast and cottage cheese (a bland protein).  Jason H (it was him!) was in a similar state, so we commiserated and picked at our food.  I did snag a taste of Cyndi's hash, and wished I'd had the appetite to eat more.

Other than the not-eating part, it was a lively breakfast gathering.  Cards were finished and handed back to Susan for transfer to the perm owner.  Stories were told.  Some had been worried that Anita and I would get misplaced on the outgoing Fanno Creek Trail detour.  (Not really.  Not only am I a local, but this is MY local; I ride through the neighborhood fairly often, although not usually on the trail, but I do know where it goes, as well as how to get to the end via the surface streets.)

Cyndi wouldn't hear of my walking the bike down to the car, nor would she and Michal hear of Asta riding home.  So we were all stuffed in the van and I was shuttled down to my car.  My car warms up very quickly, so I didn't freeze on the drive home.

I took a very hot shower and conked out for a nap.  The bike remained in the car until Monday afternoon.

1 comment:

Graham Ross said...

Great write-up, Lynne! Thanks for telling our story. I'm getting some extra oohs and aahs as I commute with the xmas lights on the bike this week. I wish the rig wasn't quite so chewing-gum-n-baling-wire-ish. Maybe some of our touted Portland framemakers could take this on. Instead of just internal cable routing we need a holiday lights selector switch, perhaps a rotary dial on top of the headset?