Sunday, November 14, 2010


This Saturday's excursion was the Skyline-Vernonia 200km permanent.  Bill A sent around an email looking for company, and, after a cautious inquiry on the proposed pace, I was in.

Skyline Vernonia Route

Bill lives just over a mile from me, so I offered to drive us to the start - he knew where it was, and I was a bit fuzzy on the St John's neighborhood.

The weather was earlier forecasted to be not raining (that's the best we can hope for here after October :-) ), but that changed.  I suffered a severe perceived wardrobe inadequacy.  Fortunately, Team Estrogen was here for me, and I bought new gloves, tights, booties, and they tossed in a hat.

Bill appeared, we loaded up the van, and headed over.  Found Ed G, Adam G, and David P. waiting in the St John's Starbucks, along with Amy, who was there to see us off.

David, Adam and Ed at the St Johns Starbucks

Bill at the St Johns Starbucks

Official start was 7am.  We started at 7:24am.  Across the St John's Bridge in the grey, persistent drizzle, then south and up through Washington Park.  I'd pedal, then swipe my glasses so I could see.  This pattern would continue for the entire ride...

Up through the park, up Fairview, brief pause at the corner of Skyline for the info control, then continuing up on Skyline until the top of that climb at Greenleaf.  Normally, at this point, I'd bomb on down, get to a stop sign, do a short climb up, and bomb on down again.  Skyline is fun that way.  Not this day.  It was very foggy and drizzling.  I was muffled - couldn't see the road well enough to go as fast as I wanted to.  Pulled over at Skyline School for a snack and regroup, then down Old Cornelius Pass (another fun descent curtailed) onto the flat part of the ride.   David P and I spent some time grumbling about the fog in the hills. :-)  I was actually starting to worry about missing the control time in Forest Grove, but we picked up the pace on the flats.  Once I averaged over 10 miles covered per hour, I relaxed.

South and west to Forest Grove.  I could see Adam, Ed, and David up ahead, but when I got to the corner of Gordon and Harrington, they entered some space-time warp, and I didn't see them again until Maggie's Buns in Forest Grove (42 miles).  They said they had just gotten there, and indeed, were parking their bikes.  Okay.  I had a hot cocoa and ate my sandwich and banana; everyone else ordered something more substantial.

Bill and I left ahead of the others.  Bill slowly dropped behind on Gales Creek Rd.  I stopped at Glenwood for a brief pause, and headed out again.  Didn't see anyone else.  Was I riding THAT fast?  I didn't think so, but I hadn't seen anyone behind me (we were all running our headlights all day).  Almost up to Timber, where I found everyone.  Ed wanted to know if I was happy with my job.  Well, yeah...  Turned out there was an ATM dumped by the roadside.  Adam was calling it in - the person at the other end said (and I quote) "it's cheaper to buy a new one... you can have it."

So Ed and Adam were trying to determine if there was anything still in it!  I eventually left them to it (I am used to being slow and last, and have gotten into the habit of trying to limit my stops) and proceeded down through Timber and off to Vernonia.  They caught up somewhere along the deadly dull boring 11 mile stretch from Hwy 26 to Vernonia.  David and I rode along for quite some time, chatting the whole time, which made that deadly dull stretch go by much faster!

We planned to regroup at Black Bear Coffee in Vernonia (77 miles), where I had my other sandwich, and a bowl of wonderful soup, amazing buttery, spicy cheese toast and coffee.  And some more Advil.  It had ceased drizzling when we arrived.  Sadly, when we left, the drizzle was back.

Potato Chowder and amazing Cheese Toast in Vernonia

Our bikes in Vernonia

Adam, Bill, Ed, and David in Vernonia

I squeezed a lot of water out of my gloves, but they were keeping my hands warm, for all that.  My hands weren't getting wet - they'd sweat, but nothing came in from the outside.  They are definitely keepers!

Off again, and time for the major climb of the day.  The Scappoose-Vernonia Road.  Starts out innocuously enough, then starts gently up.  Then not so gently up. 4.4mph is a speed.  You can see clear air up ahead, and think, ah, that's the top.  No.  The grade ranged from 7% to 9% for a couple of miles.  David and I ground our way along, eventually summiting in the clearcut between mileposts 9 and 10.  I just wanted to be down the other side before it got dark.  It was definitely gloomy (and still persistently drizzling).  The first 2 or 3 miles of the downhill is over bad road, but then the road gets much better.  You'd THINK, that coming into Scappoose you'd see something resembling civilization.  Nope.  Pretty much nothing but managed forest for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles.  FINALLY, we could see the Hwy 30 traffic light ahead (and Scappoose).  Bill had stopped awhile back and caught up with us; we crossed Hwy 30 to do our tour of the Scappoose Dike Roads.

Now, this is a loop added in to make the distance right.  I am sure there is something to see, in the daylight.  By now it was very, very dark.  Nothing to see but pavement, and Bill and David's lights.  And drizzle.  There was an info control, and we stopped there, but could not make a perfect determination of the answer.

Back onto Hwy 30, and a stop at a Texaco mini-mart.  Hot coffee, plumbing, a Sweet Salty Peanut bar and gel with 2x caffeine...  I squeezed more water out of my gloves (hands still just fine).  Ed found us there.  No Adam...  After enough dawdling there (took some Excedrin this time; my lower back and left hip were just not happy all day), time to finish off the ride.

Thus began the most epic (or hellish, your choice) part of the ride.  Hwy 30 has a nice wide shoulder.  But it was dark and raining.  My glasses would get wet, and the taillights of the bikes in front of me would flare, and I couldn't see.  So I dropped back a bit, which helped, but the shoulder line would go away at the cross streets (not many, but enough).   I wanted a drink, but I also did not want to take my hands off the handlebars.  I can do dark, and I can do rain, but I really prefer to not do them at the same time.

Passed the Cornelius Pass interchange.  Passed the Sauvie Island bridge interchange... Getting closer.  Caught up and rode by Ed for awhile.  Finally got to Linnton and street lights!  Whew.  Sort of.  Bill had a squashy tire and dropped back.  Ed, David and I crossed the St Johns Bridge in a pack, taking up a lane.  Coasted down, and we were done.  Whew.

Leaned the bikes outside (very brave, doing that in Portland), went in, dumped all the wet stuff on a table and ordered a Pumpkin Spice Latte.  I earned it.  We had a nice celebratory post-ride round of coffee drinks, and a nice patron took our picture.

Happy Finishers!

Finished in 12:35.  We'd get to a control with 45 minutes in the bank, faff it away, then get up another 45 minutes before the next control.  I wasn't having any trouble keeping up, except on the last climb.  Delightful ride with the guys.

Clothing review - Sugoi Firewall Booties are definitely keepers.  Feet did well.  Sugoi Firewall Z gloves, also keepers.  It rained the entire time, and I wore the same gloves the entire time.  Hands were NOT cold.  Sugoi Firewall 220 tight - mostly good.  As long as I was moving they were excellent.  The rain did not get in.  My knees would be a bit chilly on startup, but they'd warm up.  I wore them over my booties.

What else did I wear?  Long sleeved wool OrRando jersey (no base layer, just the jersey), Showers Pass Elite jacket, Smartwool socks, PI X-Alp shoes, and some Shebeest shorts.  I wish I had been wearing wool shorts.  As soon as the chamois transplant is complete (in process, Smartwool Ewetopia shorts, and a Shebeest chamois), I will have some.

The new saddle was a wonder - no platform issues on this ride at all.

Sweetpea rolled over 1000 miles :-)  127.59 miles, 12.73 riding average. 6600 vertical feet (claims my cyclocomputer)

I did not take pictures during the ride, because I did not have easily accessible fingers.  What pictures I did take are here.

Bill took several, but they aren't up yet.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Verboort Populaire - what a difference a year makes!

November... time to ride the Verboort Populaire again.  Last year, I was one of the ride organizers, and pre-rode it in 6:13.

Snooseville Corners Control

Today is an anniversary - 1 year post-treatment.  I think I can say with some confidence now that my body is finally back to what my head thinks it should be able to do.  Actually my body is exceeding expectations. (really big grin here)

So, the ride.  I wasn't riding WITH anyone this year - Susan was off running another half marathon, and Cecil wasn't riding either.  So I thought... suppose I could do it in under 5 hours?

This ride requires no major preparations - I tossed a banana and a couple of bars in my bag.  The weather was going to be cloudy and 50's, with the rain holding off until the evening.  So I added booties to the bag, and extra gloves, and called it good.  Oh, and pumped up Sweetpea's tires.

Sweetpea has yet another saddle.  Got another Terry Butterfly Ti.  While the Brooks is a lovely saddle, and makes any bike look darn cool, I just cannot sit on it for any length of time.  So, I've got a Brooks Flyer "S" with a Selle Anatomica cutout AND the Brooks saddle maintenance kit (includes Proofhide AND the special adjustment spanner) for sale...

Arrived at the Grand Lodge around 8:30am, carefully threading the van around all those cyclists milling around in the parking lot.  Checked in, visited.  Pulled on my rain jacket and long finger gloves.  It was not raining, but the mist was pretty thick.  Made sure the lights were on (see previous comment about thick mist).  Off promptly at 9am, headed for Longbottoms'.

Waiting to start

I found myself toward the front part of the group (!)  As I completely knew where I was going, no need to consult the cue sheet.  Alan Bell from SIR rode up and introduced himself; we rode together all the way to Longbottoms.  There was a crash on Hornecker.  As there was very large crowd already there, we edged around and continued.  Alan was talking up the SIR 200km Solstice Ride :-)  Ride all night and watch the sun rise.  (I can hear the husband now: "can't you stay in Portland and ride all night in the dark when you can't see anything anyway?" :-) )

Alan got a flat just before Longbottoms.  I got my card signed, ditched the jacket and long finger gloves, ate the banana, and elected to ride on.

Rode with Ron H until the next control at Snooseville.  He was riding a single speed.  I am impressed.   Oliver and Megan found us heading out of North Plains; we all continued up Dairy Creek Rd to the control together.  I took pictures, and Oliver took my camera and took some more pictures.  Getting pretty confident here, passing a camera around WHILE RIDING.

Oliver and Megan

Me, with Ron and Megan behind

Fern Flat Road

Still not raining.  The mist had lightened, but the air still felt very, very damp.  Got to the control, to find Ed G with strong hot coffee and vegan sausages!  And cocoa mix!  Mixed myself up a Rando Mocha in a real mug and shared a Smoked Apple sausage with Ron.  We both figured half a sausage would not be too much.

Vegan Smoked Apple Sausage in a Bun

Finished eating, took a few more pictures, and then Ron and I headed out.  It was, um, a bit chilly, but I resisted putting the jacket back on.  I warmed up after a couple of miles.  And eventually realized that Ron had fallen back, and I was on my own again.

The fabled Frogger Junction

Back onto Mountaindale, then over to the Highway 26 crossing ("Frogger Junction").  Scott and Linda found me there (they had gotten in some bonus miles.  Normally they are so far ahead of me...)  We crossed together, and they rocketed off ahead.  Pretty ride west on Mountaindale/Wilkesboro, then turned north into Banks, where I found Kyle, who was having a navigational quandary.  Turned out he'd already gone through Banks, west on Cedar Canyon, east on Hwy 6 and... found himself back in Banks.

Kyle on Cedar Canyon Rd

We rode together until the end. :-)  Cedar Canyon and the wetlands were pretty, but no birds in the wetlands yet.  We found Diane at the info control, and all proceeded onto Hwy 6 and then OFF Hwy 6 onto Stafford Rd.  And up.  The climb seemed easy this time.  It never seems easy.

Strohmayer Road, plum orchards in fall

Not too much further to go, and definitely on track for a sub-5 hour finish.  Onto Strohmayer with the plum orchards in fall colors, the road changing to Kansas City, then Thatcher.  Left onto Kemper, cross Hwy 47 (I should have eaten something in Banks), south on Visitation, where we could see the flashing light that marked the sausage feed and... done.

Diane came up shortly after that.  We found the bulk sausage sales and did a little shopping, then walked over to the bingo tent for sausage to eat right now.  Ron found us there.

Mmmm.  Sausage.

Mmmm.  Sausage.

After eating, we walked back to the bikes to head back to the Grand Lodge.  I collected a whole crew of riders who weren't clear on how to get back; we all rode together.  It was still not raining :-)

Dang.  Look at that time.

4:41 total elapsed time (yes, I am shouting! Best time ever, by 30 minutes, and that was back in 2007!), 62.7 miles.  Moving average of 14.82 mph, including the ride back to the Grand Lodge (overall total, 65.21 miles).

All the pics here (there's lots more!)