Sunday, June 3, 2007

Pioneer Century

My shadow panda

The Portland Wheelmen Pioneer Century was the very first organized ride I participated in, way back in 1991. I rode the metric century with my friends Neal, Carolyn, and Chris, and still have the picture of the 4 of us sitting under a tree at the fairgrounds tacked up on the cube at work.

Over the years, it changed to the Spring Century, and one rest stop moved from Nusom's Orchards to the Salem Bible College. The route didn't change hardly at all.

It was also the first English century I rode, in 2003, except it was only 95 miles :-)

This year, the organizers made many changes. Entirely new route, two loops starting from the Clackamas County Fairgrounds with lunch in between. Real lunch, not box lunch, not rest stop food. They did promise that even though the Bird Hill climb was going away, there would still be a climb.

Jason, Don, Diane, and I were planning to ride together, for pretty much the first time in a long while. We met at the fairgrounds, and ran into fellow TBBers Dave E, Nanci, Andrew, Tom T, Amy, Scott and Linda. Nat and Cecil were riding in from SE Portland, so we didn't know when they'd show up.

At about 7:30, the four of us and Dave E started out. The first loop, 55 miles, was sending us douth and a bit east of Canby, and then back. We worked our way out of Canby on the bike path, then south, with a long run on Harms Rd, which changed names a few times, then Tolliver, eventually passing through Mollala, then south. At one point I thought I try the taking pictures while riding trick. I didn't drop the camera, but I'm not really steady at it. Then, rather than bearing right to Bird Hill, we stayed left on Sawtell. It was deceptive for awhile, but then it seemed harder to maintain speed. Don and I pulled over to remove our arm and leg warmers (I do learn - brought them AND wore them this ride. I also applied sunscreen before setting out), and then the climbing started in earnest. A real grinder of a climb, never too hard, but it never did let up.


Eventually got to the rest stop (the route maps did not have mileage on them. Never quite knew how far each leg was...). More sunscreen, cookies, melon, half a Payday bar.

I figured we'd hit the summit at the rest stop. But no. More climbing, and then we hit Maple Grove Rd, but further east than on the route of earlier years. Very pretty, no traffic, outstanding pavement. Lots of rollers, and then downhill. Everyone got away from me at that point, plus I stopped to take a picture.

Clearcut filled in with scotch broom on Maple Hill Rd

They were waiting for me at the bottom on Nowlens Bridge Rd. Told Jason he probably had much more fun on the descent riding his single.

Then long runs north and east and north again, being passed by Cecil and Nat, who caught us. We eventually ended up on Barlow Rd, through the community of Barlow (I didn't know there was one), popping out on Knightsbridge and having to climb that hill/cross the bridge just before Canby. Not that it is hard or long (although I certainly thought so in 1991!), but it is a little whack to one's morale just before the finish.

Into the fairgrounds, for our choice of chicken or portobello fajitas, one or two, plus toppings, plus beverages, watermelon, fig newtons... Team Bag Balm had a nice sit-down lunch. We even had Laura, who showed up after we had started.

Then it was time to go again. Certain persons were demonstrating a lack of motivation, which took a little poking to get them moving again. This is a drawback to coming back to the start and doing another loop. I wonder how many would-be century riders called it a day after lunch :-) But, when one chooses to ride with people who do brevets for fun... "I'm here to do 100 miles, let's get going!". More sunscreen, map swapping and folding, water bottle and sports drink top-ups, pictures, and off we went.

(Not in any way meant to imply that Nat was not motivated...)

We were headed west out of Canby following a long line of cars with bicycles on them. It was better once we reached the freeway turn-off, and they went away. We were also seeing riders finishing the 45 mile loop coming back in. Then west, passing by Champoeg State Park, then further west, heading northward; an area I hadn't ridden. We ended up following a bend in the Willamette River and passing by Heirloom Rose Gardens. I think we've purchased roses from them in the past, but alway via mail order. Wow. They have amazing rose gardens on both sides of the road and it smells wonderful.

Then south along the river, cutting eastward to get back to River Road, ending up in St Paul, at the rest stop at the high school. We arrived as Scott and Linda were leaving. Nat, Cecil, Don, and Diane were still there. Said hi to Kelly the mechanic (he fixed my flat on CO, my exploding pink tire made me memorable), and discovered a New Bike Ride Rest Stop Taste Treat. This comes from Don, who got it from Nanette. Should the rest stop have cold boiled potatoes AND cream cheese, put the cream cheese on the potatoes. Seasoned salt is a bonus. Tastes just like sour cream. Yumyumyumyumyum. Also had watermelon and some fig newtons. Nat and Cecil left, and then Diane, who had a grandchild to babysit.

Don, Jason and I headed back to Canby on Davidson, French Prairie, Case, Yergen, Donald (interesting little town, Donald)... Don had an interesting noise with his bike; never did figure out what it was.

This was a hot day - the afternoon was in the high 80's.

Eventually we crossed back over I-5, and rode along some more. Finally got to Boone's Ferry and I knew where I was - Brian had done Drum Corps all-days at North Marion HS, which we passed on the way. Then back onto Arndt Rd, going up that climb on Knightsbridge AGAIN, and back to the fairgrounds. The tent was still up, so we had some cold soda and snacks, and Scott, Linda, Nat, Cecil, Don, Jason and I sat and chatted, until we all had to go home. Linda wondered why I would do those 300km brevets. I figured someone who does Race Across Oregon REALLY didn't need to ask that question :-) To each their own degree of bicycle insanity :-)

101 miles, 7:04 riding time, approx 8:30 overall

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