Saturday, September 27, 2014

Willamette Valley Dog and Pony Show 200k

Alternate title: "you never forget your first..."

Steve B put out a feeler for company on Ken's Willamette Valley Dog and Pony Show 200k perm.  He just joined RUSA maybe a month ago.  Like me, he's available to ride during the week.  So we settled on Monday at 7:30, and I suggested he park in the Newberg public parking lot, which is only a couple of blocks from the Thriftway grocery.

I spent Sunday updating my bike's luggage system, so this would be the test ride.  And there I was, at 7:15, in the Thriftway, buying a banana to get the receipt.  Steve appeared shortly thereafter, and we headed out of town.

He lives in Vancouver, WA, so this area mostly unknown territory for him.  For me, it was total autopilot the first 44 miles to Stayton.  The temperature was perfect (60's), and it was overcast.  We had a headwind all the way south, but it has been worse.

"My wife says this jersey makes her eyes hurt"

Howell Prairie Rd

We pulled into the Roth's and explored the wonders of the refrigerated case.  I found deviled eggs, a V-8, and some more Gatorade (new favorite flavor - Strawberry Lemonade).  They did have sandwiches, but they looked kind of big.  I had a couple half sandwiches in my bag, so didn't buy any.

From there we proceeded south to Cole School Road, home of the fabled and legendary "rollers".  Roller number 2 got me again - made it 3/4 of the way up, though.   We stopped to take pictures at the Shimanek covered bridge, then went off in search of the Gilkey covered bridge.

Shimanek Covered Bridge

Gilkey Covered Bridge

On the way to Jefferson, just before the Green Bridge, I heard a semi behind me.  I didn't hear it slowing down (two lane road, traffic, no shoulder to speak of),  So I pulled over, just as a semi towing a very full load of haybales flew past me.  The wind shock was impressive.  Crossed the bridge, and then I heard a second one, blowing its horn.  Again, not slowing down for anything.  I dove for the gravel shoulder just in time.  It flew by, forcing the oncoming vehicle over to the side of the road as well.  A third one drove by shortly thereafter.  I tried to get the company name, but it was going much too fast.  So, for any of you who might know, medium light blue (kind of Gitane blue), maybe starting with "G" in script.  NOT improving the haytruck image.  Not one bit.

When we got to the intersection in Jefferson, a police car was waiting next to us.  So I told him what happened, maybe he'll do something about it.  One can hope.

Off then to find the Buena Vista ferry.  I had only been on it once, way back in 2004.  Not that it was too hard to find - follow Talbot Rd to the end!  Nobody but us on this crossing.

Buena Vista ferry

Excavated ourselves up at the ferry landing in Buena Vista, and proceeded onward.  Except there was a cue with no matching street sign, so we were off by one, and the next turn had the previous cue's description (not a cue sheet error, I might add, both streets had the same name(s)).  So we turned left.

Trees turning, Buena Vista Rd

After we came upon the intersection where Prather Rd came in, and went down Buena Vista, I started getting JUST a little suspicious.  Called a halt, and brought up the route on my phone.  Yes, we were in the wrong place, although I was not sure how we got there.  Steve was all for going on, and I pointed out that we'd end up in Albany, and we weren't going there today.  So, we rode back up what had been a lovely descent (sigh), and got ourselves back where we were supposed to be, on the road to Independence.

The route did not call for us to go into Independence, but we needed some things, so we went to the north end of town, by the c-store and public park.  I picked up a Payday bar, a Red Bull and more Gatorade, and drank the Red Bull on the spot.  We then proceeded toward Salem, and I will say, I did have wings.  Flew up all the little rises all the way to Salem.  Most fun I've had on that 10 miles, ever.

While Salem was supposed to be a bit challenging during rush hour, we didn't find it so.  Got through downtown, and all the way to the Keizer town line, where we turned left into the quiet neighborhoods which are so familiar from the Monster Cookie Ride and just about every other ride that includes Salem.  So, I was again back on autopilot, all the way to the Wheatland Ferry.  Steve was a little suspicious as we cut through on paths in parks and the street changed names.  "Trust me here..."

(cycling gear sidebar) I had switched back to my winter riding shoes, since every other pair of cycling shoes I own are currently making my feet hurt and giving me hotfoot.  These, while not perfect, were MUCH better.  But I'd still like shoes that just fit and I wouldn't even notice them.

Wheatland Ferry

There was a long line of cars at the ferry (who knew?).  But, as the bikes fit in the spaces on the sides, we just filtered up to the front and got right on the ferry.

We then headed toward roads which would take us to Webfoot Rd.  I had ridden on it maybe twice before in the past 20 years, but knew that the north terminus was in Dayton. Passed by Hauer of the Dauen Winery (Hour of the Dawn :-) ) and many farms.  Finally, I could see the Center Market up ahead in Dayton.

We didn't stop.  I had described the route out of Dayton to Steve, and we proceeded all the way to the other end of Ferry St, off-pavement, over the bridge, down, and left onto the gravel road.  And then we joined up with OR-233, entirely missing the whole loopy, traffic-y, narrow bridge part.

From there we merged onto Hwy 99W, never a pleasant experience.  But wait!  New pavement!  Totally new asphalt!  Not yet striped, but wide enough that I wasn't feeling stressed.  By now, darkness was definitely falling (we'd stopped for Steve to light up on Webfoot Rd; I have a light switch on my handlebar), and traffic was, oh, not light.  But I enjoyed that wonderful smooth pavement all the way to the Dundee town line, where it reverted, with additional bits of gravel from the construction.

There was to be a turn off Hwy 99W onto a secondary road, rather than riding all the way into town on 99W.  I applauded that, but we pulled over to check the map, because I wasn't entirely sure we'd be able to find it.  The map said it was just past the Arco station, just after the road became the divided highway/one way couplet through Newberg.  I saw the gas station up ahead, and also saw an immense amount of road construction.  Fortuitously, our turn was right there.  Note: while the cue sheet calls for "Fox Farm Rd", it is signed "Dayton Rd".

Peace.  Quiet.  Very low traffic.  Also very dark, and it does roll up and down a bit.  On one dip, I thought I noticed some movement up ahead in the dark - whoops, about 8 people and 2 dogs all walking on the wrong side of the road in dark clothing!  Ninjas!  Avoidance maneuvers were successful.

Spotted traffic lights ahead... and there was the Thriftway!  Done!

Steve, at the conclusion of his first 200k

Aftermath: We adjourned to Burgerville, because that's what you do when a ride finishes in Newberg.

Steve said it was the furthest he'd ridden in a single day EVER.  It was also his first 200k.  Many more to come, I am sure!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Love the One You're With

In my previous post, I alluded to an upcoming Big Adventure, and testing out packing strategies.  My Carradice Barley and Acorn Rando Bag did indeed hold everything I needed for the trip to Eugene.  And I do plan to carry, at most, a set of off-bike clothes, maybe another pair of bike shorts, and any additional outer clothing, as needed.

The ride to Eugene was accomplished in hot, sunny weather.  I started out with knee warmers, arm warmers, and the wind/reflective vest, but they came off and stuffed in one or the other of the bags within the first hour or so.  The Bike Adventure will take part over two weeks in mid to late October, riding from Washington DC to Freehold, NJ, including a couple of permanent populaires, followed a few days later by a 200k perm to Philadelphia and back.  The weather might not be quite so wonderful, and I should have space for the extra bits.  I can stuff a lot of things in the Barley, but perhaps not quite that much.

I did buy the Banjo Brothers Racktop Pannier Bag.  I have, on order, a Racktime Fold-It silver rack.  It has been on order since early August...  Maybe in October, they tell me.

There are two unused racks in the garage - the venerable Jim Blackburn brake bridge mount rack, and a Racktime Light-It I bought to try maybe a couple years ago.

Venerable, early 80's Jim Blackburn rack

The Light-It didn't work well for the purpose I intended - the deck is narrow, so it doesn't manage a racktop bag well.  So I set out to install the Jim Blackburn rack.  That didn't work out - I suppose a longer brake bolt would have helped, but I didn't want to go forage for one.

The rack I have (Racktime Light-It)

Turning my attention back to the Light-It (it does have the advantage of a rear light mounting setup), I wondered if I could fake a wider rack deck with coroplast.  Made a pattern out of newspaper, cut up one of the sheets of coroplast I have in the garage (I didn't vote for that candidate, but I do appreciate his donating to my coroplast stash), and mounted it on the rack.  It seemed to work.

The rack deck isn't wide enough for a rack top bag

Then I proceeded to mount the rack on the bike, and remembered the other parts that didn't work out so well.  The rack mount and the fender mount crowd each other, but with some determined wiggling, everything bolted on.  This won't be a problem on the Adventure; the plastic fenders mount differently.

Rack installed, not without a bit of work

Rack mounted, I installed the bag.  Of course, me being short, the accessible rack deck area was less. :-(

But the bag did install, the panniers were deployed, and I took a test run up and down the driveway.  In flip flops :-)

Bag installed, panniers deployed

Bag with panniers folded away.

It seems to work; tomorrow's 200k will test it out.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Donuts to Total Domination

Michal has been wanting to ride this one so "I can see what those roads look like in daylight".  He took the train up on Friday, and caught our light rail (MAX) out to the Beaverton Transit Center, where we met up and rode back to the house.

This would also be a test of Minimal Packing, for my Bicycle Adventure (tm) next month.  Everything fit in the Carradice Barley and Acorn Rando bag, including some shoes.

Test run of packing light for a future Adventure.

As we had planned for a 7am departure, we headed out of the house at 6:15 (well, 6:17 :-) ) and rode over to Sesame Donuts on every single road I generally avoid riding on - SW Walker eastbound, SW Canyon, and SW Beaverton Hillsdale.  All narrow and fast traffic.  But given the hour, it wasn't all that bad.

Starting with the donuts!

Donuts and coffee at Sesame Donuts.  They are operating completely in pennies, so I handed over 2000 and got back 14-something in change.  "We are practicing for when we win the lottery and become millionaires."

Our first challenge was getting by the SW Oleson Rd closure and construction.  There is a ped/bike temporary bridge (automobiles have a significant detour), and once we found it and transited the deep gravel to access it, smooth sailing southward.

The stretch from SW Portland to Wilsonville is very definitely suburbs and traffic lights, and a LOT more rolling than I remembered it.

Michal: "this route doesn't go over the river on the I-5 bridge, does it?"  Well, yes, it does.  Fortunately we were only riding southbound, which is the less stressful crossing - wider shoulders and higher bridge railings.  The shoulder was full of hubcaps.

Finally now, out into the country, all the way to Keizer/Salem.  We were meant to have a tailwind, and I might have felt a slight one.

We were looking out for a Burgerville, because Michal wanted a hamburger (at which point I then wanted one as well!), but there did not appear to be any on the route.  Just into Salem, a red car got behind us on a four lane road, sat on my rear wheel, and wouldn't pass.  Other cars were passing - 4 lane road, lots of room.   No honking, but just sitting there.  Stressful.  As we did not find the Burgerville, we stopped at the Arco minimart on the outskirts of town.  I had my first of several V-8s, plus Gatorade to top up the bottles. The day was heating up.

River Road to Independence looks much nicer in the daytime.  Michal: "from desolate to bucolic".  Yes indeed. It was also revealed that it is rolling.  I always wondered why it felt so hard riding it in the middle of the night, and now I know.  The Salem housing developments are creeping out along the road; I expect traffic will increase over time.

Then around a corner, and we popped out from the hills/forest into the Willamette Valley, with the Independence Bridge just up ahead.

Evidence of participation

Independence, Oregon

Indepizza had gone out of business :-( :-( :-(, so we went to the suggested minimart.  Ice cream bar and some Sobe.  Note to self - next time, go a few blocks further north and eat at Moothart's (just across from the public restrooms), or ride a bit further west on Monmouth road to Subway or something else. Or hope a decent, expedient food source opens on the main road.

Seeing SPOTz

First ice cream of the day, Independence, OR

I had remembered that it was somewhat hilly south of Independence, and, indeed, I had remembered correctly.  Lots of recent chipseal as well.  Slog up, fly down, repeat as needed.  At one point I looked ahead and muttered "please have the right turn there..." Not.  Some of you may remember the transit on Prather Rd from the Buena Vista Ferry, the year we rode the unofficial 150 mile version of the Watermelon Ride (2004?).  Gravel then.  Chipseal now.

Smell the cornfield!

We passed through the western edge of Albany.  By now, my feet were starting to hurt, so I lobbied for a "shoes off" pause.  We pulled over in the shade just outside of town and sat for a few minutes.  We also realized we needed more to drink to get us all the way to Harrisburg.  Should have stopped in Albany.  Oh well.

Michal remembered that there was a minimart on Hwy 34; we'd stock up there.  Passed the info control, and then popped out on Hwy 34.  Ah yes, the minimart was where Peoria Road met Hwy 34, not White Oak (our turn).  Rode west to the store, where we stocked up on water and Gatorade, and drank more V-8.  By now we had progressed to the "it is so hot, let's dump cold water on ourselves".  Ahhhh.

And, being good little randonneurs, rather than turning south on Peoria Rd right there, we rode back to White Oak Rd and turned there, to meet up with Peoria Rd.  Three bonus miles. Our promised tailwind never did show up.  Peoria Rd is 17+ miles of flat, exposed, boring...  At least there wasn't a headwind.

As we did not avail ourselves of the blue room at the minimart, Michal recalled that there was one at Peoria Park, just south of Fayetteville Rd.  About 6 miles later, there it was.  I never knew it was there; good to know.  Not only was there a blue room, there was also running water, so more cold water to put to good use!  Another "shoe off" pause, and then off again.

I learned that Peoria, which is now only a roadside park, a few street signs and homes, used to be a major river shipping point - this was as far as the grain barges could get upstream on the Willamette River.

Michal: "I can tell when your feet are hurting, just listening to your pedaling."  Yeah.  Maybe these aren't the shoes for me either.

Willamette River alongside Peoria Rd

After quite some time, a friend of Michal's who was out riding on Peoria Rd came along; they chatted for a bit, and then he zoomed off.

Still hot.  Finally, finally, finally, we saw the silos of Harrisburg up ahead.  Stopped at the Dari-Mart.  By now, neither of us wanted anything to drink but water, so I gulped down a few Endurolytes, and had a mango popsicle.  I consolidated the Gatorade/Sobe/Orange-Vanilla Perpetuem into one bottle, and filled the insulated bottle with ice cold water.  There may also have been another extended water dumping session before leaving town.

I think the heat of the day finally passed, and it was perceptibly cooler.  The most recent drenching didn't hurt either.  Some very quiet rural roads and then we were on River Road for awhile, which takes us into Eugene through Santa Clara, which has amazing trees.  Under the beltline, onto the bike path, back onto the surface streets for a couple of blocks, and there was the brewery.  Ahhh.

We leaned the bikes inside the patio walls and went in search of some beer.  Cyndi joined us, and then we loaded up and went home.

Fini, Ninkasi Brewing, Eugene Oregon

And, delightfully, hamburgers for dinner!

The GPS track
All the pictures

Well, I need to wear different shoes.  My winter shoes (PI Water Resistant Winter Shoes) don't hurt, so perhaps I shall return to those.  My old Shimano sandals are still wandering around the garage.  I remember why I no longer wear them, but maybe my feet have changed.  I can test them out locally.

Packing- it worked well, until I went to stuff the riding things on the bike, because I was wearing what I had carried.  Now, I don't expect to have to pack my cycling shoes on my Adventure, but it is highly probable that I will want to have rain gear and maybe a bit warmer accessories along, which will take up more space.  This bag calls, and I do have a venerable Jim Blackburn rear rack which will work, if the other rack I have ordered from France doesn't arrive in time.  At the moment, it seems to be made of unobtainium.  Yes, it DOES have to be silver.

Getting home - Amtrak, of course.  The schedule now only has a 5:30am departure; the more reasonably scheduled morning departure is no longer on the schedule.  I arrived home in time for waffles, and took an afternoon nap.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Beaverton - Hagg Lake Perm Pop

This route is one of my perms.  The perm owner and I had a brief consultation, at the end of which I departed Jim and Patty's Coffee Wednesday morning at 8:15am.  I am trying to get in a midweek 100k, and something else on the weekends.

Start, Jim and Patty's Coffee

The day was not meant to be too hot.  It was early enough that the Beaverton to Forest Grove stretch was not heavily trafficked.  The ride west is on the major roads, SW Baseline and SW TV Hwy out of Hillsboro (it changes names several times), both of which have entirely adequate bike lanes or shoulders, but for a few blocks past SW Cornell in Hillsboro.  I kept my lights on, for all the contrasty shade in Hillsboro; a couple of local cyclists commented on my visibility.

Sweetpea lean on Maggie's Buns wall, Forest Grove

My Forest Grove control choice was Maggie's Buns.  When I rolled in, a customer outside commented on my Sweetpea.  I asked if we had met, and after some discussion, he was probably on a local populaire a year or so ago.  So I recruited him for the upcoming 9th Annual Verboort Sausage Populaire on November 1.  You should come out and ride it as well!

Maggie's Bun and coffee

South and a bit west to Hagg Lake.  I tapped the lap indicator on my bike computer heading in, and also heading out, because I wanted to see how long it took for me to circumnavigate the lake.  The contrasty shade was appreciated, and I did stop for one picture. 52 minutes to ride around the lake this time.

Hagg Lake panorama, south side, just before the dam

Onto my favorite bit south to the Gaston store, and then headed eastward back to the start.  Tongue Road was a bit busy and tight until after the rollers.  Uneventful back to Hillsboro.

Fern Hill Rd, just south of Blooming-Fern Hill (the hill on the right)

Heading east on SW Johnson, I did not carefully pay attention to (this is my route, yes?) the cuesheet.  There is a stretch where one loops around to the south, because of a creek and no bridge over it.  No substitute for reading the cuesheet. :-)

Then north on SW 170th to SW Merlo, possibly the sketchiest stretch of the route - a narrow two lane road with ditches, and more traffic than it was originally designed for.  I saw another cyclist take a sidepath on the west side; might do that next time.

And then very soon back to Jim and Patty's where a Mocha Mint Freeze was in my immediate future.

Finish at Jim and Patty's coffee.  Love that Mocha Mint Freeze.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Even More North Plains Banks Vernonia...

Since the last post, I have ridden it two more times.  I took very few pictures, though, because you all know what it looks like.  Gorgeous.  Shady.  40+ miles of trail.  There is a reason it is one of the most popular Perm Pop routes in Oregon.

Vernonia Lake with reflections

I took the Lemond out again on the first go.  Talked Andrew B (one of the first Team Bag Balm folks I met!) into joining us. Assume Ray O is there.  He is often the instigator.  Andrew was happy I got him out; he's not been riding as much as he'd like, and this was his first randonneuring excursion in a couple of years.

Nothing stands out particularly on this ride, other than the great company and superlative route. Finished it a bit slower than the ride of the previous week - 4 more minutes - faster riding, but more faffing around.

Now, I have been hating on my shoes all summer - the pain in the balls of my feet has been spectacular.  So for the first two trips, I went back to my Keen sandals.  I like them, but I could see where riding longer than 100k that my feet might be less than happy. Amazing, because I have successfully completed a 600k wearing them.

I had seen on a discussion, the thing called a metatarsal pad.  Hmm.  Something to lift the foot a bit more so the ball of the foot can't exert quite so much pressure.  They were promptly purchased, and temporarily stuck onto my current insoles.  For the record, the Superfeet Blue insoles were a total bust for me.

Sweetpea was finally reassembled, replacing the rear brake, cables, brake levers, front derailleur lever, and handlebar tape in the process.  Took it along for the most recent ride.  I might ride slower, because Sweetpea is somewhat more substantial than Lemond, but it would be a longer checkout of all the maintenance, plus a chance to test out the metatarsal pads on the intended end-use bike.

Sweetpea with new brakes, brake levers, cables, and new bar tape

For this ride, Ken joined us.  We started at the new cafe/diner not far from the McDs - the Hits the Spot Cafe (in the old Corner Bistro location).  Good coffee, excellent and friendly service.  No imprinted receipt, no rubber stamp.

So, as I said, I wasn't expecting a fast time on this one.  We stopped for a coffee and scone in Vernonia, plus a few other necessary pauses.

Sweetpea was somewhat more confident on the gravel bits.

Food on this ride - I am currently a fan of raisin bread with homemade peanut butter or homemade chocolate hazelnut spread, so I brought that along.  Plus a bottle of Gatorade and a bottle of Perpetuem with a scoop of Gatorade.  After this year's disappointing brevet season, I am hypothesizing that I really need lots of electrolytes.  Perpetuem doesn't have any, which I did not realize, and I had gone to just that in my bottles.  Once it is gone, I am going back to the previous potion, which did work for me.

But yet, as we left Banks, I looked at the time, and realized that it would certainly be less than 6 hours.  I finished at 5:38 elapsed, matching my PR on the route, and on the heavier bike.

And the feet - eversomuch better!  Next step is seeing how they feel during a 200k.