Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Armageddon 200km

No, there really isn't a ride by that name.  It is a name that could be assigned to any ride, depending on the circumstances. :-)

Susan and I were set to ride Marcello's Hillsboro-Dallas-Hillsboro 200km.  The weather report, a week ahead was not discouraging.  As the week progressed, it turned into this: "However, a strong wave of rain was expected to push in Saturday, bringing anywhere from 1-3 inches of rainfall for the metro area and Willamette Valley. From 3-5 inches of rainfall was possible in the Coast Range and, with slightly less for the Cascades. As the system approaches, some east wind will kick in giving us the potential for some wintry precipitation for the Upper Hood River Valley."

So, what's a little rain?  haha.  Susan offered up a pair of rain pants to wear (I don't have any, I find that my PI Amfib tights and Sugoi Firewall tights do a decent job of keeping me warm enough and not terribly wet).  Someone who shall not be named, because it is SO out of character for her thought we might consider waiting for another day.  Nothing like developing common sense in your old age.  Remind me to guard against that.

In deference to the probable presence of overwhelming amounts of water, I did pack extra socks, gloves, my Firewall tights, and another baselayer.  I've pretty much given up carrying extra clothes on rides, except for socks, because I've never yet broken into them.

Put some Finish Line Cross Country (sturdiest chain lube I've got) on the already very grubby bike, and figured out a way to mount my new RadBot500 rear flasher, so I'd be running two very bright rear lights.  A Gino mount might be a better long-term solution.

Met up with Susan and Tom D (also riding) at Marcello's, and headed out at 7:03am.  It was still quite dark, and, you guessed it, raining.  Got a bit of the way down Baseline, only to realize we had lost Susan.  I stopped and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Eventually I saw a bike light in the distance and started up again, knowing Susan would catch me.  It turned out that a piece of Marcello's landscaping had insinuated itself around her cassette and was difficult to extract.

So, west on Baseline, though Hillsboro proper.  A place I don't usually go.  They've spiffed it up over the years.  Pretty with the rain and Christmas lights.  Eventually it merged with TV Highway, and so did we, continuing west.  Just before Cornelius, Susan came up with a flat.  We pulled off, and, after a brief discussion (all this writing, and we'd gone maybe 7 miles), I continued on. Susan would fix the flat, and get to flex her wattage catching me.  I figured she'd find me on Fern Hill or Spring Hill.

Cornelius/Forest Grove was the first control, to ensure we did not shortcut the route by riding over Bald Peak.  Right.  Like ANYONE would shortcut the route by 3-4 miles by voluntarily riding up Bald Peak.  I pulled in at a gas station, bought some sunflower seeds, made a little stop, and pulled away singing along with the Christmas carols blaring over their loudspeaker.  Daylight joined me!  Yay!

Southwest on Hwy 47, south on Fern Hill.  Still raining heavily.  The Fern Hill wetlands and the fields on the west side of the road were full.  Not to the road yet, but I did wonder what the conditions would be on our return.  Turned onto Spring Hill.  No Susan.  Started to wonder how long I'd be riding solo.  No traffic.  I love riding Fern Hill/Spring Hill - wetlands, hills on either side.  Got a kick out of the homes to the west with the long flooded driveways.  One was for sale.  Wonder if they tossed in a small ferry for days like this.

The rain pants Susan loaned me gave it up at about 24 miles; I could feel my shoes filling up.  I was still warm enough, no worries yet.

No Susan.  Ribbon Ridge/Kuehne/Abbey/Lafayette.  Then Dayton, first control at 35 miles.  Stopped in at the Center Market for hot chocolate, Fritos and a receipt.  The folks in line in front of me INSISTED on paying for my stuff too.  Susan showed up a few minutes later.  Whew!

She vanished into the restroom to change her baselayer.  I chatted up the cashier.  Nice guy.  Eventually, off again, into the rain.  We both agreed that the stretch from Dayton to Amity seems longer than it really is.  Through Amity, south on 99W.  This is where the route quits being flat.  Big rollers.  Eventually right on Bethel, then left on Perrydale.  The antique firetruck at the corner of Bethel and Perrydale is tastefully decorated with twinkle lights.

Conversations included variations on "But I will be an Iron Man" theme.

Rollering our way south, we found Tom heading back, just before the US-22 crossing.  More climbing (I always forget that the steepish climb into Dallas is only the first of two.  You'd think I'd remember by now.), then into Dallas proper.  The control (another Center Market on Washington/Kings Valley Hwy) is a ways into town.  We planned to go there, get a receipt, and head back to the Safeway, with its indoor seating, restroom, and hot soup.  The cashier at the Center Market signed my card with no instructions needed, and I bought and inhaled a Milky Way Dark.  Not too big, not overly sweet.  Have to remember that.

Back to the Safeway.  Susan had a lock and cable, so we secured the bikes and took over the women's employee restroom (the customer restroom was out of order).  Giant puddles formed on the floor as we removed successive layers of supersaturated clothing.  Admired our frozen feet (Susan's were white, I was part way there) I squeezed out my gloves, and wrung out the insoles of my shoes.  Stuffed the shoes with paper towels.  Squeezed out my booties.  Blotted moisture from my (wool) cap,  (wool) jersey and (wool) shorts.  Changed the paper towels in my shoes.  Realized my dry socks were still on the bike.  Wiped up the puddles.  Pulled on a dry baselayer (Smartwool microweight LS; received a big shipment of woolly goodness on Friday, yes I did)  Pulled on the damp jersey.  Pulled on the dry Sugoi Firewall tights.  Put all the wet clothing in the plastic bag.  Walked, with bare feet, stopping in the produce department to snag some more bags and put things into them, out to the bikes, where I got Susan's tire pump and my dry socks.

Found Susan working on her bowl of soup.  Bought some for myself - cashier called me "dearie" in that "aren't YOU mentally deficient!" tone of voice.  Put on the socks (ahhhhhh!), ate my soup, called home, ate my sandwich, watched Susan patch her flat tube from earlier.  She reused my plastic produce bags as protection for her feet.

Another employee came by and asked if we were out running the rain.  No, we were riding.  "Oh, I could NEVER do that!  I'd die after a mile!".  Susan and I gave the standard "you'd be surprised at what you could do" response.  Not that we'd recommend this day to start :-)  More polite conversation, where the conversant is either mentioning the weather, or how brave we are, and the non-stated subtext is "you two are completely mental".

Eventually, after 90 minutes of being in Dallas (the control closed 20 minutes ago), we left.  I thought I'd try dry gloves for awhile, not that the Firewalls were not keeping my hands perfectly warm.  If my Wombats got saturated, I could always go back to the Firewalls.

But it was NOT RAINING!  Yay!  Headed back along Perrydale Road.  Every other ride I've done through Dallas involved coming in on Perrydale, then heading out on Ellendale to Rickreall and then north on 99W.  It was a climb both ways, which I thought was odd.  Wouldn't it be better to ride back on Perrydale?  Now that I have done it, perhaps not so much.  The rollers are equivalently soul-sucking in both directions.  I will say that Perrydale is much prettier and quieter.

Back to Amity, were we made a brief stop, and Susan updated Jeff on our progress.  The boring stretch to Dayton; another stop at the Center Market, where we had more hot cocoa and visited with the wife of the morning's cashier.  She also signed the cards with no instructions ("we get a lot of you all through here and Dallas")  Susan did the night riding additions (helmet light).  I was already set up, having not taken off my reflective vest all day.  I switched my helmet light on.

It started to mist a bit as we headed north through the increasing gloom.  Three miles into Lafayette (again, a shout out to the polite drivers in Lafayette who ALWAYS stop to let cyclists and pedestrians cross 99W.  Always.), through, and out onto Abbey Road (there really is an abbey).  By now, full dark, with the mist getting somewhat more like "rain".  Susan and I rode side by side, enjoying the illumination from our Supernova E3 headlights.  Not much traffic, and what there was generally stayed back until it was safe to pass.

Susan: "I've never ridden this stretch in the dark".  Me: "Seems I've ridden it more in the dark than in daylight!"

Pulled over at Laughlin Road for a stretch and a snack.  A car stopped.  "Are you lost?"  Uh, no, thank you.  Susan later said we should have replied "Not all who wander are lost".  The best comebacks always wait until it is too late.

As we wandered closer to Gaston, the oncoming headlights and rain speckled glasses combined to make it really, really hard for me to see.  I finally found a spot where I could pull over (I couldn't even see the driveways that I knew were there) and take off the glasses.  Immediate improvement; I'd just have to hope I didn't get any stuff in my eyes.

The spot where it would flood if it was going to flood was still clear.  We both were thinking that "if this ride finished in Forest Grove we'd be done soon!"  Headed into Forest Grove for a receipt.  There is a Jack in the Box at the corner of Maple and Pacific (TV Hwy) that served nicely.  I sucked down a carton of OJ.  Then, off for the last 10 miles into Hillsboro.

TV Hwy has a bike lane, but it is a very busy road of varying road surface quality.  Just on the west edge of Hillsboro we were directed off to a parallel, and almost deserted street.  Aaaahhhhh.

And then, finally, back on Baseline, watching the street numbers count up to 70, where we stopped at the gas station down the road from Marcello's for our final receipt.  I bought and inhaled a banana.

Susan had visions of a sub 10 hour 200k, but with the mechanicals and the extreme weather, we did it in 12:33.  Susan: "that's the longest 200k I've ever done!".  Me: "I've done longer :-) "

Coasted to Marcello's, where Kathy and Marcello welcomed us with "you two look much less hypothermic than the other guy!"  We sat down and organized our receipts and Kathy gave us big mugs of hot tea, and, in my case a bowl of Shepherd's Pie.  Mmmm.  Hot.  We enjoyed Andrea Bocelli's Christmas special on the Tivo, and received our cards for this ride and last weekend back from Marcello.

And then home, to a towel by the back door :-) and a wonderful surprise.  Totally off subject, but there was a letter at the top of the mail pile...  The US Patent Office granted me my 5th US Patent!

Sorry, no pictures - too wet!

Gear notes:
Rain pants from Susan gave it up after 24 miles of incessant heavy rain.  Nice while they lasted. They'd probably work perfectly under less-intense conditions.
Sugoi Firewall gloves - they get saturated, but still keep my hands quite warm.  I just wring them out every so often.  Definitely keepers.
Sugoi Firewall booties - they gave it up after many miles of heavy rain as well.  Darn.
Sugoi Firewall tights - wore them the second half of the ride, legs were warm the entire time
Smartwool baselayers - wool.  Nuff said.
Smartwool cycling shorts - I finally performed the chamois transplant (a wool-faced chamois is just a bit too itchy for me), and they were great!  They actually dried out on the second half of the ride!
Bell Metro helmet with fitted raincover - awesome!


Cecil Anne said...

It's amazing how much common sense a seemingly never-ending series of sports-related injuries will instill in a person. Either that or the fact of not being able to ride makes it easier to say one should not ride :-)

lynnef said...

For the record, we missed you.

TrevorW�� said...

WOW..! That was a pretty wet ride. Thanks for sharing it with us.
What bikes were you riding?

lynnef said...

@Trevor - we were on our Sweetpeas. "Pretty wet". Yes. Like Mt Everest is a mountain...

bikelovejones said...

(Would we be willing to divulge brand/model of the 24-mile rain pants? Curious.)

Just had discussion today with pal Tim, who owns a bike shop in Virginia. They canceled their annual Thanksgiving Morning ride because of rain. Not snow, not ice, just rain. That was enough to kill it. Apparently, the overwhelming majority of Mid-Atlantic bike enthusiasts don't ride in the rain. (Tim does, but that's only because he lived in Portland for several years before returning to the East Coast.)

I was, of course, shocked.

Nice work on the World's Longest 200k!

lynnef said...

we would divulge in person, but not on the blog. They weren't new, and possibly their waterproofiness diminished over the passing of the years.

A certain local cycling club cancelled its Saturday ride because of the rain.

Eric Shalit said...

Great story. I would love to ride with you. I may just head out into the rain & dark soon (here in Seattle).

Paul Whitney said...

Nice report. Sounds like you had a great ride.

Narayan said...

"Susan later said we should have replied "Not all who wander are lost". The best comebacks always wait until it is too late."

I believe the French call it "Staircase wit".'esprit_de_l'escalier