Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wind Direction is Key

We are fortunate to have a pair of one-way 200k perms between Portland and Eugene, and Amtrak connecting the two cities.  Michal lives in Eugene, I live out the western outskirts of Portland, and we often ride one or the other, typically heading south in the summer, and north in the winter, to take advantage of the prevailing winds.  Sometimes, the wind doesn't pay attention to the weather forecast, or might have a headwind until halfway, and then it will switch.

Trees in profile; Peoria Rd

So, needing a November 200k, I rounded up Michal for, originally, Eugene to Beaverton.  Obsessive monitoring of the long term forecast predicted an unseasonal NORTH wind that day.  Cold and dry.  As we hadn't yet actually registered, it was easy enough to change plans to Donuts to Total Domination.  (Who doesn't love a route which starts at a donut shop and finishes at a brewery?)

Susan joined in; she figured riding with people would be more fun than the solo perm she'd been contemplating.  We procured train tickets.  Amtrak was even having a sale!

We unexpectedly ended up babysitting our grandson Thursday and Friday, so prep time evaporated. My bike got a very thorough (and overdue) bath/lube and a new brake pad during nap time, but a new front brake cable was indicated, and that didn't happen until Friday evening, with perhaps not a small degree of frustration, and finally soldering the cable end so I could feed it through and it wouldn't fray.

Michal and Cyndi showed up later on Friday, both coughing from whatever virus they'd picked up.  After sighing over Time to Get Up (5am), and doing some final organizing on my part, we all conked out.

Breakfast was salami and eggs; my mom having unexpectedly delivered a 2 lb Hebrew National salami from Florida from their last trip.  "You can't get it here." Susan arrived, we gave our bags to Cyndi to shuttle back south, and the three of us set out in the predawn light heading to Sesame Donuts.  Temperature was in the mid-30's, but would rise somewhat during the day.

Donuts and coffee at the start

Mmm.  Donuts and more coffee, and off we went.  After passing through Wilsonville (14 miles along), there isn't anything, really, until Keizer, just north of Salem.  The Broadacres Store, if one desperately needs to get food or beverage, but that's it.  We did pull over in Donald to de-layer.  Susan took a picture of the steam pouring off me :-)

photo by Susan Otcenas
So, by the time we got to Keizer, we started looking for a place for a quick stop.  I hadn't paid attention during previous rides, knowing that there was a c-store on the way out of Salem.  Lots of places on the right - we pulled over at a Subway, but should have held out for the Starbucks a little further along.

From there we continued without further stops until the first control in Independence.  It was a beautiful day, and, yes, we did have a consistent tailwind.  The landslide has long been cleared away.  Salem keeps creeping out further on River Rd.  Longer stretches of bike lane, but also more traffic.

Vineyard on River Rd, not far from the Willamette River bridge

As we got closer to Independence, Susan asked if we'd consider a stop other than the convenience store.  "Did you know there is a BAKERY in Independence?"  Sign us up!  Wonderful pause at the Ovenbird Bakery.  They had great soup and bread.  Some folks had quiche.  Food was eaten and bottles refilled. A local was telling us all about the trails in the area and places we could ride.  Must have been the Seattle jerseys. :-)

Off to the hilly part of the ride.  Michal and Susan got some breaks; I kept plugging along.  Nice views of Mt Hood and Mt Jefferson.

Corvallis Rd; Mt Hood on the left, Mt Jefferson on the right

Finally the turn onto Buena Vista, and downhill for awhile, then rolling SE into Albany.

Conversation on Spring Hill Rd, a few miles before Albany

Last time Michal and I rode this, we stopped at First Burger in Albany, and we all decided to repeat that stop.  Not a control, but quick service and really good burgers and fries.

I rehydrated with a cola beverage.  Michal shoved the salt shaker over. "What, do I look salty?"  Michal and Susan: YES!

On our way out, a woman wanted to know where I got my bike and especially in that color.  So I told her - it was built in Portland, and it is a custom bike, so I could pick any color I wanted.  She said she took a picture of it, was that ok?  Oh totally!

We then meandered out of Albany to the info control, then more meandering to Hwy 34, where we discovered a new paved path on the north side of the road.  Nice.  There was even a spur over to Hwy 34 where we crossed over to White Oak Rd, which leads to Peoria Rd, the longest, flattest, tending toward monotonous stretch of the route.  Good thing we had that tailwind, and that it wasn't hot.

Michal on Peoria Rd

Pause at Peoria Park.  Peoria used to be the furthest south navigable point of the Willamette; lots of agricultural shipping north to Portland, nothing remains but the park, and a few houses.  The bathrooms are locked; there is a porta-potty.  So don't count on water there.

Susan taking a picture of Michal on Peoria Rd

I parked myself on Susan's wheel; she's got a wonderfully consistent pace.  The sun was setting; we had some nice views of the Three Sisters to the east.

Moon and the Three Sisters to the east, Peoria Rd

Sunset, Peoria Rd

Pulled into Harrisburg right around sunset; I ate half an egg salad sandwich and refilled the bottles.  Lots of traffic headed north on Hwy 99; the (football) game must have finished.  We crossed over the Willamette River (for the fourth time out of six crossings total) and eventually got onto a MUCH quieter road.  There was some concern about the railroad underpass being flooded, but it was fine.

After a few miles of this, we ended up on River Rd (lots of River Rds on this route), which would eventually take us into Eugene.  Eventually.  It was dark.  Nothing to see but the occasional mile marker.  We passed marker 3, and, some eternity later, another marker came into view.  4.  Wow. I commented that that was the longest mile ever.  Susan said she was thinking the same thing.  This was kind of a low point for me.  Would we ever get to Eugene?  Couldn't see my bike computer without slowing and dropping off the wheel, so I had no idea how much further to go.  Less than 10 miles, but that was it.

Then, like flipping a switch, we were in North Eugene.  Whew.  Didn't matter how far we had to go now, we were "somewhere".  (Is this the woman writing who rode the last 100k of a 300k last February solo in the dark?  Yes, but I knew where I was!)

Under the highway, then a left onto a street which dumped us onto Eugene's extensive network of trails. They are fun riding.

And then, shortly after one last info control, we were back on the surface streets for the last few blocks to the Ninkasi Brewery.  Susan: "can we take our bikes in?"  Oh yeah.  We wheeled them into the patio (postgame crowd had moved on; many open tables).  Michal: "I'll call Cyndi.  Eventually."

Walking in, I announced to the bartender that we had ridden all the way from Portland for this beer.  Prior research* had suggested I'd enjoy the Noir Milk Stout, also collecting a rubber stamp and signature for my card.  Michal had his usual Oatis Stout.  Susan watched.

Photo by Michal Young
photo by Susan Otcenas
Our time did not totally suck, for me, anyway - 11:43 elapsed.  Not my fastest, but certainly not the slowest.

Cyndi appeared, and we loaded up the van.  Yummy dinner.  Michal thought we might like a cappucino (he has a shiny new machine to replace the old one) as well.

Michal is getting used to his new espresso machine

And, wonder of wonders, Amtrak changed the schedule, so the am northbound train leaves at 9am, rather than 5:30am.  Probably the first time I've ridden the entire stretch in daylight.

Waiting to board in Eugene

* Spouse talked me into a Beer Appreciation class with friends of ours this fall term through the local community college (class was held at a brewery :-) ).  I had thought I didn't like beer.  Turns out what I don't like are IPAs and those other hop-forward/bitter beers.  Except fresh/wet hop IPAs, go figure.  But, it turns out there are a wide variety of beer styles, and I like many of them.  Now, if Ninkasi would only brew a proper brown ale...


Anonymous said...

It looks like someone is using a Petzl headlight on their helmet? I've been looking for a helmet light with that kind of mounting system. Which model is it?

lynnef said...

We both use a Petzl. I just thread a velcro strip through the retainer on the back of the light, then thread it though the helmet vents.