Sunday, May 4, 2008

Fleche Ouragan

Last November, friend Rickey said, "I've signed you up on my Fleche team". All I knew about a Fleche was that it lasted 24 hours, and had minimum distance requirement. I didn't know I wanted to do a Fleche...

Our Fleche Route Map

Cecil was going to do one; her team was, at that point, undetermined. And as it worked out, neither person organized a team. So Cecil became team captain for "the women's team". She had Peg, Lesli, and, eventually, with some trepidation, me. Our RBA contributed her route, which we changed slightly to make the Corvallis control be Brian's apartment ("Brian, would it be okay if three of my friends and I knocked on your apartment door at about 5am on Saturday? We'd like to make a hot breakfast and maybe take a little nap..."). He's a sweet boy.

The plan was for a 9pm Friday night departure - we'd get the dark parts done while we were still vaguely alert. I myself was worried about the 1am to 5am stretch - that's when I do my heaviest sleeping.

Put the generator hub wheel and lighting back on Bleriot. Decided what to wear (low of 45 Friday night, probable sprinkles, high in the mid 50's, rain clearing off on Saturday). Packed. Planned food. Made Molasses Marbles (molasses, dried milk, peanut butter, toasted wheat germ, rolled in any of toasted sesame seed, coconut, chopped nuts) for munching at night; I wanted something that was easy to eat. I made a whole batch and divided it into 4 little baggies for everyone.

All the Stuff

Molasses Marbles

Went home after lunch on Friday, and took a nap. After dinner I drove out to the Grand Lodge to find Cecil, Lesli, and Peg already unloading. It was about 8pm, so we had awhile to loaf before riding over the few blocks to our start in Cornelius. Some inebriated folks leaned out of an upstairs window and asked how far we'd gone. Not very far yet. They promised they'd welcome us back on Saturday night at 9pm.

Pre-ride picture, at the Grand Lodge

We got a cooperative bystander to take a pre-start photo, then cruised over to the Cornelius Plaid Pantry. Eventually it was 9pm, and the cheerful clerk signed our cards and wished us a good ride.

Preparing to start in Cornelius

West, then south, quickly getting onto the familiar Fern Hill/Spring Hill/North Valley/Ribbon Ridge/Kuehne/Abbey stretch (I just reeled off about 24 miles of riding there), through Lafayette, and off to Dayton. The store clerk in the Dayton market sold us some water and initialed our cards. Interesting folks hang around the Dayton market after 11pm, yes indeed.

Leaving Dayton, it did commence to spit for awhile, but nothing major. We were chatting the whole way. We all had high-powered generator lighting, so seeing the road was not a problem. We also had a slight tailwind. Nice.

South, south, south. Into Salem, and the wonders of Doaks Ferry Rd. It goes up. But it also goes down, and it has streetlights and amazing pavement. (Bleriot downhill speed record, 37.5 mph)Then onto Independence, where the public restrooms were open, there was an ATM for proof of passage (it is after 2am now), and the bar across the street had amazingly bad karaoke going. We sang along for a bit.

Another long run in the dark, heading for Albany, where we found another ATM. Cecil was hunting around for a blue room, so Lesli and I sat down and dozed for a few moments. Lesli shared around some more chocolate-covered espresso beans.

Lots of riding around on roads with no car traffic whatsoever. We could take up the whole lane, pretty much secure that nothing would sneak up on us.

Then off to Corvallis. It was around here that I caught myself dozing off while pedaling. This is bad. Fastest way I know of to end up in a ditch or something. So Lesli and Peg promptly subjected me to the third degree about the kids, so I'd keep talking and not fall asleep. It worked wonderfully. Then we were in Corvallis, and I had to get them to Brian's apartment.

5:30am. We carried our bikes up the stairs to leave them on the walkway, and I tapped on Brian's window. A hand waved, and then, shortly thereafter, the door opened. We invaded.

Brian, showing me the iPod touch he lusts after

Taking over the kitchen

He pointed us at the bathroom and groceries. Cecil cooked up her oatmeal, and Lesli made breakfast burritos (scrambled eggs, cheese and salsa in a flour tortilla). I was in charge of tortilla-warming (microwave, EZ). After eating, Lesli set up the coffee, and we all crashed until 6:30. I got the futon chair, and was instantly out. Almost 30 minutes of sleep.

Preparing to depart

Then coffee, and we were off again. It was now daylight (yay!). Lots of wandering around in Willamette Valley farmland south, and then east of Corvallis, heading for Shedd.

Lesli, Peg and Cecil

Early morning sky and trees, SE of Corvallis

The Shedd Market is a happening place, yes indeed. Lots of folks in there enjoying breakfast.

Shedd Market

Then off again, to Waterloo. We crossed I-5, and headed into that interesting landscape with all the abrupt humpy little hills. Wandered around those, then into Waterloo. Now, Waterloo has a market. I called, it opens 9-ish. We were there 10-ish. Closed. Ack. We found the across the street neighbor, who after deciding we were not selling anything, cheerfully signed our control cards.

Cecil eating

Waterloo Store

Patiently waiting bikes in Waterloo

At this point, Cecil started stressing about time. As in, we'd run out before we got to 360km. Peg figured it would be fine. I figured we'd get back on schedule, because SURELY we'd cover more than 10 miles an hour. At this point, we ran into the Headwind, which was with us the entire rest of the ride.

Up to Jefferson, which involved a long run on US 20, directly into the headwind and some climbing. Cecil was starting to flag, so I asked her all about her latest case. The Jefferson Market had jo-jos and string cheese, and cheerful, friendly people. We sat down in front and ate.

Off to Aumsville, passing some of the roads we visited in January on the Covered Bridges Perm. Talked to Fitz to let him know we'd be finishing right around 9, but it was slow going. Then onto the special 17 miles that is Howell Prairie Rd. It is pretty. But we were headed right into that headwind. Lesli and Peg stopped for a moment at Silverton Rd; Cecil and I kept going; we knew they'd catch us. I looked NW and noted that it looked very, very wet. We grabbed out jackets and pulled them on, and were shortly in a toadstrangler of a shower. It didn't last too long, and my shorts and kneewarmers dried out very quickly. Lesli and Peg did catch us right before Gervais, where Cecil and I put on dry socks (aaaaaah) and I put on a dry cap.

Then off to Wilsonville, the last bit where we get onto I-5 to cross the Willamette River. Dang that's loud. We did find the secret spot where one hops off the freeway well before the offramp, cautiously stepping over the downed fence (enhanced w/two strands of barbed wire). We endeavored to spend practically no time at the control (ha). At this point, my local road knowledge came into play, as we headed north, back over I-5, and into Sherwood and a control. The guys behind the counter were rendered speechless when it became obvious that a 24 hour ride means one rides all night...

Still pressing on, and querying Peg about the rules. At 22 hours we were 2-3 miles short of the "22 hour control", on Roy Rogers Rd. We stopped, recorded distance and time, pulled on our reflective gear, and signed each others cards. Peg told us that cards filled out and signed in pencil weren't valid. Cecil and I had heart failure right there. "I was JOKING!" said Peg.

Peg at the 22 hour point

Somewhere on Roy Rogers, I rolled over my personal distance record, which had been 206 miles in a day. I figured after Seattle to Portland three years ago that was a record that would never be superseded...

Then off to the Starbucks at Scholls Ferry and Murray, got our cards signed again, then back up the hill on Scholls Ferry, heading west.

Turned right onto Tile Flat. I have not ridden that particular stretch of the road. It is very pretty, farms, animals, peacocks... Riding, riding, riding, headwind, headwind, headwind. By this point, my right tricep had given it up. I could only ride with my right hand on the tops, which my hand was not liking - my wrists and palms were very sore.

We rolled over 360km distance. Then, a few km later, it was 9pm, right in front of Forest Hills Lutheran Church (aka the rest stop for many, many local event bike rides). Stopped again, recorded distance, and signed each other's cards. In pen.

Finished the last bit of the route, got to the Grand Lodge (our inebriated well-wishers of the night before were nowhere to be seen), checked in, (Fitz found me), got cleaned up and had dinner. Except the booth was incredibly uncomfortable. I could not sit comfortably at all. My legs were very twitchy. Cecil kept falling asleep, too. Fitz finally told us to go away, and he'd take care of the check :-)

Ceremonial breakfast the next morning. We sat with Dave Read's team. They had a headwind-filled experience, as well.

Riders at breakfast

Post-ride, post-sleep, post-breakfast team

Pictures afterward. We were standing around outside, and one rando, name fortunately not known, asks: "Is this your whole team? How did the four of you manage without any guys along?". I sincerely hope he was joking :-)

Ride mileage 24hrs, 226 miles, whole ride, 230 miles.

Finish trip distance

All the other pics here
Cecil's pics here
Lesli's pics here


Cecil Anne said...

" and one rando, name fortunately not known, asks: "Is this your whole team? How did the four of you manage without any guys along?". "

That's OK - I told him that the only reason I wasn't kneeing him in the crotch for that comment was because I knew that he wouldn't feel it after 24 hours on a bike . . .

Anonymous said...

How did you manage "without any men"?
Seriously, because you're rock stars, that's why.
Thanks for sharing a great write-up.
And congratulations!

Lesli Larson said...

Nice report, Lynne. I'm always amazed that you and Cecil retain such well detailed info on these rides. One of the ways I survive these distances is by recording and erasing my visual memory at the same time. All I remember is the egg dish and that Shell station in Sherwood (?).

Jon Muellner said...

"toadstrangler of a shower" - now that's damn funny, mind if I use it in sometime? Great report!