Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Birkie 200k Brevet Success!

So, the last 200k was unsuccessful.  Darn.  Try again.

The ORRando Birkie 200k was this past Saturday. This was my very first 200k, back in 2007.  The route has changed slightly - rather than the out and back from Vernonia, the route heads from Forest Grove to Vernonia via Gales Creek/Hwy 6/Timber Rd/Hwy 47, and then continues on Hwy 47 to Hwy 202.  To make up the missing distance, the route continues 7 miles past The Birk (formerly the Birkenfeld Store, now a cafe and music venue with irregular hours) to an info control.  The return is back to Vernonia, then taking the Banks Vernonia Trail to (natch) Banks, and heading south to Forest Grove.

Now that we've got all that straight...

Friday afternoon was spent giving Sweetpea the first bath of the year.  So very dirty, with lots of stuff stuck under the fenders.

Friday night was Rando Slumber Party at the Fitzsimmons Home for Wayward Randonneurs - Lesli, Ruth (who I finally got to meet in person), Michal and Cyndi all showed up, and we had a couple hours of social time before the 9pm bedtime.

Michal was returning a bike which was borrowed for the express purpose of loaning a bike to Bill Walton to ride.  He thought it would be fun to get a picture comparing it to my bike.

Everyone was up at 5.  Breakfast was coffee, eggs, bacon, Rye Molasses muffins, and bread which Michal baked.  He also provided the home-roasted coffee.  The kitchen was slightly over peak capacity, what with riders organizing their food and cooking breakfast :-)

Lesli and Ruth thought I'd be riding with them, but after a reveal of their planned pace... Yeah, no.  I'm not there yet.  Michal was going for time, so he'd be off as well.  But there in the parking lot I found Ray. :-)  We have been known to ride together.

Signed in.  The RBA assured me it wasn't going to rain.  She wanted to get out and do a few hours riding herself, hence the optimism.

(That's me in the pink vest.  Pic by Cyndi Wenks)

And, at 7am, away we went.  We did see Lesli and Ruth, and I almost caught them at the stoplight in Gales Creek, but it turned green, they went, and then red again by the time I got there.  Last I saw of them all day.

Deidre from Vancouver passed me on the climb.  I would have thought she'd be ahead, maybe she got started a bit after everyone else.

The Timber climb was accomplished with no stress.  I wasn't fast, but I didn't care.  The RBA was lurking after the second switchback, we chatted a bit as I slowly pedaled by.  Found Ray at the top (he gets ahead and waits and drinks coffee); we dropped into Timber and up the other side, admiring the two properties which are infested with lively barking Aussies.

Had great fun dropping through the curves to Hwy 26, and Ray and I had the gift of a no-wait crossing.

It had been drizzling off and on.  I was wearing two wool jerseys, a vest, wool knickers, long socks and a wool cap.  I had wool overgloves which never stayed on longer than three miles.  Left the booties in Michal's car.  I did have an "it might rain" jacket and Rainlegs, but never pulled them on.

I can't think of a time I rode the stretch from Hwy 26 to Vernonia as fun.  Usually raining with a headwind, or trying to keep up with the group.  I had fun this day.  Came up on Ray (our riding style is best described as "leapfrog"); he'd decided it really was raining.  Kept on going; he found me just before Vernonia.  We stopped at Black Bear Coffee (another punch for my card!), and found RB, who was riding Ray's perm pop and hanging out.

Of great interest in Vernonia was the goat in the truck.  Inside the truck.  On the front seat.

Passenger Goat

After a bottle refill (no guaranteed food/water for the next 100k), some coffee, and a substantial snack, I headed out.  Ray wasn't quite ready.  I had fun riding along here as well.  Ray found me around Mist, and then stopped again.  I got to Birkenfeld and pulled over to eat some rice pudding and a hard boiled egg, and we set out to find the info control.


By this point, 5 or so riders had passed us heading back.  Once past Birkenfeld, Hwy 202 gets hilly - short, abrupt ups and downs, with many crossings of the Nehalem River.  The first 4 miles went quickly, the last 3, not so much. Found Ray at the control.  Holden arrived just as we were turning back.

If you look close, you'll see Ray up ahead

Nehalem River

Back to Birkenfeld - The Birk wasn't technically open, but Ray's bike was there.  So I went in and the proprietor grabbed my water bottle and filled it (he's nice that way), took care of some other business, and we headed back to Vernonia.

Near Mist

We were supposed to have a tailwind.  Not so much.  So it was rather more of a slog than I had thought it might be, and kept checking my odometer more than necessary.  But we kept at it, and held a reasonably steady pace, and got to Vernonia in good time.  Fine dining at the Shell Station (deviled eggs!) which we took over to Anderson Park, which has restrooms with no line, and running water.

So, now we were in Vernonia, and, as Ray put it, "heck, we are already done".  Well, 30 miles to go, but we know them so very well. Ten miles of easy climb, ten miles of perfect descent, and ten miles of flat surface streets.

We were now on the Banks Vernonia Trail.  Yay.  No drivers, no idiots in pickups either coal-rolling or close passing (with much laying on of horn).  Aside: the only driver I signaled not to pass because I could see oncoming traffic, who started to edge out to pass, then saw the car and dropped back, was a police officer.

So, on the trail.  I could tell I was tired; not ascending at my usual pace.  But it was now sunny, and we had tons of time, and the shared goal of finishing in 12 hours would be nice (Ray's first 200k in 18 months).  We got to Tophill, and I gave it up and walked the last two switchbacks.  It was either that or fall over.  I found Ray at the Stub Stewart road crossing, and we then happily bombed on down.

There was a picture pause for a clump of blooming trilliums, and then, when passing by Wingham Farms (cool, they have a website!  Go visit!), we stopped to talk with Julie (the farmer), who said she really needed a t-shirt that identified her as Romulus and Remus' mother.  Long discussion about their farm.

Julie, one of the farmers at Wingham Farms

Romulus hanging out on the trail

We had gotten to which sheep her neighbor was raising (Texel - a Dutch down breed - meat sheep, but quality fleece), when Holden arrived.  His wife is also into fibers, so the conversation might have gotten a bit fiber-geeky.

So.  Time is slipping by.  Gotta go.  After a brief stop at the trailhead, we headed out for the last 9 miles.  When we got to the turn onto Roy Road, Ray went straight.  Clearly autopiloting back to North Plains.  Holden followed right along :-)  I yelled, they came back.

Ray got ahead at the first traffic circle, and finished just before us.  But our official time was 11:59 elapsed.  Good enough for me.

(Ray and I at the finish.  Pic by Cyndi Wenks)

Michal and Cyndi were hanging around, because they were going to drop me back home, but Fitz texted that he was on his way over.  So they stuck around long enough to say hi, and then started their long drive down south.

The RBA wanted to know if she'd see me in 2 weeks for the 300k.  Mmm.  Not this year.  Not ready.  I hurt in places that have never hurt before.  The 200ks will have to be a little more routine before I make the distance jump.

Fitz and I got dinner there, poked our head back in to say goodbye to the RBA (there had been still one rider out; he finished while we were eating), and headed home ourselves.

What went well:

  • I never put on the rain jacket.  It just wasn't raining hard enough, and, midafternoon, cleared off for good.  I think my shoes are waterproof for persistent mist/drizzle.
  • I kept up on the food.  This trip the food offerings brought along were: 2 packets of Gatorade/maltodextrin (and one in the bottle), hard boiled eggs, two containers of rice pudding, two Rye Molasses muffins with butter, random Kind bars, a Payday bar, and some other little things (gels and chocolate) which I didn't break into.  Ate all the things I listed specifically, but for one muffin.  Plus a deviled egg (two halves) in Vernonia on the return.  Convinced Ray he wanted the other two.

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