Monday, November 20, 2017

Darting into Darkness

Several months ago, we heard that Willamette Randonneurs was planning a pre-eclipse Dart Populaire to Susan and Jeff's property in Willamina, right in the center of the eclipse totality.  Ray and I were in.  It turns out that I live pretty much the required 120km from the finish, following the established cycling routes.  Route design was easy.  Only question was the location of the 6 hour control.

Eventually the sign-up information came out, and I recruited 3 more riders.  Sent a few others over to Holden's team, as I was full up.

The 6 hour control could be in Amity, which would put us 20 miles out, rather further than 25km out.  The 25 km boundary was right at the corner of Ballston and Broadmead, or, as we say... nowhere.  Nothing at that corner.  Fields.  The Ballston Park was just a smidge too close.

Ray's wife Barb offered to lurk at the corner and sign our cards, and, indeed, the cards of any other teams coming that way.  There's only so many ways into Willamina :-)  Settled.

And, it being the day before the solar eclipse, every media outlet was predicting heavy traffic, empty stores, oh, and it was going to be a warmish day.  I could see the Center Market in Dayton being totally out of Payday Bars and beverages.  While our route was small towns and tertiary roads, we just didn't know...  I thought I'd include an extra sandwich and extra bottle of water.  Just in case.

Sadly, Ray had to bow out of riding, because Barb hurt her shoulder and couldn't drive, so they'd both see us at the 6 hour control.  And at the campout afterward, of course!

Four checklists - going on a ride with questionable supply chain checklist, team captain checklist, oh, yeah, we are camping, so camping gear checklist, and clean the house up for the overnight guest checklist.  My brother's big dome tent showed up the afternoon before.  He thought we might have been the last users 20 years ago.  We pitched it in the yard just to make sure.  Nope.  One of the poles was broken.  The last user had generously added a pole repair KIT.   Boy, you drop the elastic and it just zips right down into the poles!  The repair kit was very bare bones - suggested you TAPE the elastic to the metal wire, yet included no tape.  Finally, got the tent up and verified everything was present.

As Fitz was driving over from work in North Plains, all the camping gear and clothing were installed in the car immediately thereafter.  This event would provide all food and beverage, so we didn't have to worry about that.  I was promised endless coffee the next morning.  Fitz did include a few bottles of his homebrew beer (a CDA and a Brown Ale) to share.

Chris T appeared later that evening, and we got all organized.  We had to get her last bag of stuff into the car before Fitz took off, which was duly accomplished.  Her daughter had everything else and would meet her there.

We were up at 7am, had a hearty breakfast (I am a big fan of cooked protein in the morning for rides), and coasted down the hill to the start, Jim and Patty's Coffee.  There was a cyclist already there, and it was indeed David, the one team member I had not met in person.  Kevin B showed up shortly thereafter and we had a great reunion; I haven't ridden with him, or even seen him in a few years; he'd relocated to Washington for awhile, but he's back now.

9am.  Time to go.

Dart into Darkness start photo - Chris, Kevin, David, and Lynne

Beaverton to Forest Hills Golf Course (Cornelius)

This was mostly suburban riding until we got south of Hillsboro on Minter Bridge Rd, although all the streets were bicycle-friendly.  Once we popped out of the Urban Growth Boundary, I could point out all the quilt blocks on barns to Chris - she's from out of town and had never ridden here before.

The snack bar at the golf course was open; I warned everyone about NOT filling their bottles at the outside faucet.  Worst tasting water ever.  I got a V-8, we all had our cards signed, and didn't waste too much time there.  I prefer to have time to waste later.

Dart into Darkness, first control at Forest Hills Golf Course.

Cornelius to Dayton

Again, fairly routine riding.  The traffic was maybe a bit heavier, but it was a Sunday morning, rather than a Saturday, so maybe that's typical.  Couldn't tell.  Got to Dayton, and the Center Market was well stocked.  I went for a big ice cream bar.  We sat on the stoop for a bit and ate whatever we'd bought.    No worries about time whatsoever.

Dart Pop control ice cream pause in Dayton.

Dayton to Amity

Amity is maybe 9 miles along from Dayton.  It isn't a control, but it would be nicer to waste time there than proceed to the corner of Ballston and Broadmead.  We camped out at the gas station convenience store for about 30 minutes.  No shortage of snack foods there either.  I felt rather more overprepared than usual, which is saying something.

Dart into Darkness, chilling in Amity.  Kevin, David, and Chris.

Amity to the 6 Hour Control

I spent this stretch chatting with David, as I hadn't met him before.

5 miles later we were at the 6 hour control.  Ray and Barb had put up a pop-up, some lawn chairs, and had a cooler of drinks and fruit.  Holden's team was already there.  At this point, Kevin pulled out a flask of some sort of whiskey, and was attempting to share it around (!)  The San Francisco team pulled up and joined the fun.  They were planning to ride Michael Wolfe's SR 600 after the event.

Dart into Darkness Dart Pop 6 hour control.  At least 3 teams here now.  Two more showed up shortly.

6 Hour Control to Willamina finish

Promptly at 3pm, Holden's team departed.  We gave them a few minutes and then set out ourselves. The Eugene team was coming up as we left; their control had been further back on their route.  The expected headwind outside of Sheridan failed to materialize.  I didn't miss it.  We toured the Armed Forces memorial by the river in Sheridan, to eat up more time.  Personally, I haven't ever experienced this repeated excessive time-wasting on a team event. :-)

Eventually we continued on to Willamina, with another planned stop at the shiny new gas station convenience store.  A couple of teams rode by, but declined our invitation to hang out.  Finally with only 3 miles to go and about 40 minutes in which to accomplish it, we headed out.  Willamina Creek Rd is very quiet (the c-store guy assured us that there were very fast drivers on that road.  I've ridden on it twice and not seen another vehicle either time).  Turned onto the gravel road, around the corner (there's the pond!), and then lost forward movement on the last steep bit, so walked it.

Dart into Darkness finish.  Kevin in the background.

Done, and still with 15 minutes to spare!  Susan said Fitz had arrived, but I didn't see him around. We signed our cards and handed them over.  I thought I'd get a beer first.  I also attempted to eat an entire bowl of potato chips.  Hand over the salt and no one gets hurt.  The rest of the teams finished in short order.

After that I went in search of our campsite - I had wanted to camp in the woods, so set off following the signs and little flags.  Just like Girl Scout camp, hiking through the woods to one's unit.  Found the woods campsite (I've been here before, but we walked in a different route), and Fitz.  He had just finished setting up the tent, so my timing was excellent.  After a bit, I got my bag and we walked back, him to socialize, me to get a shower.

Post Dart Pop, Pre Eclipse campers.

Dart to Darkness, camping in the woods

Dinner was ready immediately after that.  There were tables and chairs in the yard, with lots of visiting, catching up with folks who hadn't seen each other for awhile, and eating.

Eventually we all returned to our tents (another hike through the woods in the dark, great fun!).  Leisurely awakening the next morning; the endless vat of coffee was as promised.

At some point, I pulled on my eclipse glasses and looked up... "it's STARTING!".

Most of us relocated up the road on the hill with our camping chairs, fancy cameras, eclipse glasses, colanders and pinholes.

Eclipse Viewers, Chez Mendenhall, Willamina

There was watching through the eclipse glasses, watching through the colander projected on a piece of white foamcore, watching the temperature slowly drop (there was also a thermometer).  I noticed the temperature dropping, and then, suddenly, the light changed.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting...

Diamond ring!

And then, totality!!!!  This was indescribably cool.  Accept no substitutes.  We could see contrails from all the planes flying around, and a 360 degree sunrise.

And then diamond ring again, and it was over.  Well, not really, but we did start heading back down to the food and drink, and breaking down camp.

Given the traffic, Fitz and I stuck around until 3pm, and headed out.  It only took us 2 hours to get home, rather than the usual 90 minutes.

I Am Never Going to Catch Up - Rides since August

Sigh.  Not Keeping Up Here.  So you'll get a summary.


We were in Michigan in August, and I took cards and cue sheets for my 3 routes up there, as well as a registration form :-)  I now have left them in my storage box.  I decided to ride the 218km route to the Grand Traverse Lighthouse and back.  Getting there was uneventful; big lunch in Leland, pavement from heaven.

Lunch in Leland, MI.  Grand Traverse Lighthouse 218km perm.

Grand Traverse Lighthouse control documentation.

Grand Traverse Lighthouse turnaround.  Evidence of participation.

The day got hot.  The headwinds from the south were evil.  The hills were killer - not very high, but with the wind whipping in on the bare crests...  Ow.  My feet are telling me to not ever do a 200k wearing my Keen sandals ever again.  Long conversations with myself the last 40 miles.  I officially finished at the Blarney Castle gas station c-store, then met Fitz at Stormcloud.  Except they were having an employee thing, so we relocated to Dinghy's and had the Fred Flintstone plate.  They don't call it that, but the ribs are big.

Also August

Ray rounded up Paul and me to ride the Banks-Elsie 200k.  The weather was excellent, as was the company.

Paul, Banks-Elsie

Stray goat, Banks Vernonia Trail.

The outgoing leg on the Banks Vernonia trail was notable for one of the Wingham Farms cows standing right in the middle of the trail.  We edged by.  This being a weekday, it seemed that every log truck in the universe was out on 47/202/103.  They all passed politely and professionally; I waved a lot.  I like to acknowledge courtesy.  Still, the thought of riding BACK with log trucks was a bit intimidating; tight curves at the western end of the route.  The Elk Refuge bathrooms have been reconstructed and are quite nice.  The one I used had a big wooden bench, possibly suitable for taking a nap on, should one's fleche route go by here in the middle of the night.  No elk, but they are rarely there in the middle of the day.  We got lunch at the turnaround in Elsie; sat outside on their covered porch entry.

Ray and Paul (and unidentified person) enjoying lunch at the Elsie turnaround

So, time to ride back.  Hey, no log trucks!  Paul: "they've been out here since 3 in the morning; they've all gone home."  And a tailwind of sorts.  We paused at The Birk just because; the owner (Mike) invited us in to refill our bottles and use the facilities.  He's got some massive Bull Mastiffs.  Fortunately, they were off duty and quite friendly.

Nine miles back to Vernonia, with shade and a real tailwind after we turned south.  I love that shade.  Paul and Ray were counting the number of times we crossed the Nehalem River.  They came out with 24 in all.  I kept losing count.  I had some ice cream at the gas station c-store.  Now only 20 miles on the trail; easy peasy.  It was thinking about dusk, but not really, when we finished.


Susan wanted to know if I would want to ride my Beaverton-Hagg Lake-Carlton 200k with her.  I knew EPP (electronic proof of passage) had been approved by the RUSA Board, because this route has a large number of info controls, and she's not fond of them :-)

There was going to be a NW wind, which would make parts of the return a bit challenging.  I chose to ride the Lemond (the fast bike).

Historic Helvetia Church

That's a pretty mailbox.  Cedar Canyon Rd, Beaverton - Hagg Lake - Carlton perm.

Really nice in the morning, all the way to Forest Grove.  Lovely new pavements.  We stopped at the c-store for expediency.  I may have also had a salt pause.  Old Hwy 47 to the Lake Store, formerly a mass of potholes and cracks has been repaved.

Circumnavigation of Hagg Lake - website said the lane was "restricted".  At the lake, it was "closed". We rode as far as the info control, then back to the intersection w/West Shore Drive by the dam.  and rode an out and back on the dam to find the missing .4 miles.

Lynne and Susan's bikes at the Hagg Lake dam, verification of distance makeup.

As it was getting hot, we stopped at the Lake Store again for more water; I also inhaled a V-8.  The wind might have been helpful on the way to Carlton, but it was hard to tell.  We did the Carlton control at the bakery, where I had an EXCELLENT lemon tart and a citrus soda of some variety.  It was really hot by now. 

Susan at the Carlton Control, Beaverton - Hagg Lake - Carlton perm.  Hot day.

There was nice shade on Hendricks, another salt pause, and then we turned north into the wind.

Info control at corner of Ribbon Ridge and North Valley.  Easiest to take a picture.  Susan and the bikes.

Lots of traffic on Kuehne and North Valley (riding on a weekday will do that), until we passed Flett.  The 20 miles from Carlton to the turn east on Geiger seemed rather longer than they should have.

But then we had a tailwind and were coasting along, sometimes doing 18-20, without even trying.  We zigzagged north to Hillsboro (yes, short stretches of headwind) to the final on-course control, with V-8 and a banana.  The temperature was finally dropping, and we got a small snack at the finish (Starbucks).  12:43 elapsed.

Susan: "have you got a way to carry a pumpkin home?"  Uh, no.  She drove it to the house and elected to stay over rather than do the long drive home in the dark.

We did lots of picture control verification.  Yay, Timestamp Camera!


Ray, Paul and I rode the Hillsboro-Dallas 200k perm.  Starting at 7am has been problematic, because Fred Meyer doesn't open until 7am, but the "new" Fred Meyer gas station has a c-store, which opens at 5am.  Ray and I watched Paul drive around the parking lot; guess he didn't see us standing out in front.  It was a mite chilly!

Paul and Ray; Hillsboro-Dallas 200k Dayton control pause.

As it was another weekday ride, the traffic heading south on Spring Hill/North Valley/Ribbon Ridge/Kuehne/Abbey into Lafayette was rather heavier than we are accustomed to seeing.  After Amity, the route heads south on Hwy 99 for 6 miles.  Hwy 99 has been repaved, and the shoulder is wide and smooth.  The traffic was heavy, but that doesn't bother me much, as long as I've got a shoulder to ride on.  Turned onto Bethel Rd, and then south on Perrydale, eventually ending up at the Dallas Safeway.  I had packed lox and bagel for ride food, and had consumed (wolfed down) a couple halves in the way to Dallas, and then proceeded to demolish a sushi tray.

Hillsboro Dallas sushi tray at the turnaround control.  This works.  With Ray and Paul.

We then headed back, into, you guessed it, a headwind.  There's nothing to slow it down out there on Red Prairie.  When we arrived at the corner of Perrydale and Bethel, Ray wanted to check out an alternate to Hwy 99.  I consulted Google Maps to figure out which way to go, as we knew it was there, but were unclear on the specifics.  Aha.  Turn left on Bethel, right on Broadmead, stick with it, and we'll end up in Amity, which was where we were going.  Since it wasn't shorter, off we went.  Less hilly, too.  Bonus.  The headwind was strong; Ray, as always, pulled ahead; Paul and I dropped off.  I found Ray in Amity on a park bench, but went on to the c-store for more beverages.

Still had the headwind, but I kept plugging along north.  Almost to the turn onto Geiger, and Ray came up BEHIND me!  How did that happen?  Here I thought I was chasing him!  Paul appeared, and we finished off the last 13 or so miles to the finish.  It was definitely dark before we finished.  My headlight needed adjusting; I was lighting up the sky :-) That was much harder than it should have been.  Granted, I dnf'd it as a brevet in January, but still.

Various Populaires

I rode the North Plains Banks Vernonia Trail perm pop a few times, once solo.  If I had to restrict myself to one perm pop, that would be the one.  The owner has ridden it 120 times, I am a distant second, with 37 finishes.  The rides were notable for the escaped goats.  Ray and I watched them pour out of a hole in the fence, and they were already on the trail on my solo outing.

Goats!  (And Ray)

Sweetpea at Vernonia Lake.  Pretty picture as well as photo verification.

Goats on the Banks Vernonia Trail.  Again :-)

The Annual Verboort Sausage Populaire was earlier this month ("always the first Saturday in November!").  It didn't rain.  I again, completely enjoyed the stretch north of Hwy 26 on Timber Rd.  Twice in a row.  I did not used to like it, and I don't know why.  Quiet road, lots of trees and farms.  Ray and I rode together, although we were in with other riders until the Timber Rd climb, where we went ahead.

Verboort Populaire turn around control in Vernonia.

I know there is a trail in there somewhere.  Just south of the Mendenhall trestle at Buxton.

Heading into Wingham Farms on the Banks Vernonia Trail

Coffeeneuring, Verboort Sausage Festival.  No disposable cup!

There was also a Dart Populaire, elaborated on in another posting.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Coffeeneuring Summary 2017

It was a quieter coffeeneuring year, but all 7 rides were duly accomplished.  Two Coffee Outsides, but brought from home, not brewed on site.  My successful theme this year was No Disposable Cups.  The handy Contigo Autoseal West Loop mug did for the Coffee Outside, and some coffee shop stops, and I carried a thermal mug to the Verboort Sausage Festival, because they only have paper cups, which tripped me up last year.

#1 Coffee Outside on the Fanno Creek Trail

Bridges aren't slippery (yet). Coffee from home. I have upped my porteur bag game from previous years  12.6 miles.
Bleriot on the Fanno Creek Trail
#2 Solace Coffee

I had to get out between the bands of downpours, and saw a window. First, a trip to the fabric store, for the backing and batting to finish grandson #2's quilt, and then decisions, decisions. Which coffee shop? I settled on Solace, right by the Beaverton Police Department, and, bonus, a covered staple rack!
I ordered a Blood Orange Mocha, and settled down for some enjoyable reading on the squashy sofa.
The fabric store has nothing to lock to, and I do mean NOTHING. The kind cashier let me bring it inside. She said the owner had been asked about a bike rack before and decided they didn't want to spend the money. I wrote a customer comment note; keeping up the pressure.

3.85 miles.
Followup on the bike rack - I spoke with the manager when I was there for a 3-day weaving class this past week.  She's not got the power to have a bike rack installed, but I am welcome to bring the bike inside any time.  I'll take it.
In between the bands of rain (I'm right near the two 51 degree markers)
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Outside Solace Coffee

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nice place to sit and read

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Inside the fabric store

#3 New Season's Grocery (and place to get a nice lunch and coffee)

I was planning to ride over to the bagel store for coffee and a bagel, and some bagels to bring home, but the spouse suggested instead going to New Seasons, where they have really good bagels, coffee, and other things if one doesn't want a bagel for lunch. Sure.
We took the direct route over (1.8 miles), but a slightly different route home, to enjoy the NEW NEW NEW paved path over what was a sucking dirt mud pit desire path for as long as I remember (36 years!) and the new path by Beaverton Creek.
New Seasons has perfectly adequate bike parking.
4+ miles.

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fall foliage on Millikan Way
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formerly sucking mudpit desire path
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Right, coffee and bagel

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Beaverton is going to get a food cart pod!

#4 Edge Coffee

 Millikan Way, end to end, a flu shot, and coffeeneuring at Edge Coffee. 7.4 miles. Portland Clinic has bike parking, Edge Coffee doesn't appear to. I locked to a chair. Chai Tea Latte. I'll have to update my blog post on SW Millikan Way; with the addition of the path from the east end to SW Lombard (previous coffeeneuring post), it is now continuous for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, if you don't mind hopping a few curbs. The "no disposable cups" theme continues.
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Bleriot hanging at Edge Coffee

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Bleriot parked at the clinic

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The Westside Trail

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Beaverton Creek

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Hall Creek Trail
#5 Coffee Outside, Council Crest Park

We are trying to get our friends K and R more accustomed to riding on the streets, so offered up the Council Crest Loop from our house. Half trail, half streets, a climb there and a fun descent back. Especially today as it was very blustery, and the tailwind home was wonderful.
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Council Crest Park, views of Mt St Helens, Mt Adams, and Mt Rainier
15.5 miles, coffee from home.

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Fairmount Drive
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And Mt Hood, from the far east point of Fairmount Drive
#6 Annual Verboort Sausage Fest

Got coffee from the industrial sized urn, with powdered creamer and sweetener. Also a sausage on a stick. Bike parking anywhere. 3+ miles back to Forest Grove. Brought my own mug; the no disposable cups game is still strong.

Sausage on a stick and coffee.  In my own mug.
#7 Jim and Patty's Coffee

The bike rack situation is unchanged (bent up wheelbreaker, "our employees don't complain"). Rode to the library to get a long awaited book; not open for another 35 minutes. Went to the grocery (eggs, ginger root, carrots), then back to the library. Got the book, then off to Jim and Patty's to get a Borgia Mocha in a ceramic cup, and settled down to enjoy the first chapter of La Belle Sauvage. 6.05 miles. 4 lock/unlock repeats. You can see Bleriot through the door, locked to a table and chair.

Borgia Mocha and The Book of Dust

Sunday, August 27, 2017

In My Lifetime

Maybe 5 or so years ago, I contacted the Beaverton City Engineer about the desire path from the east end of SW Millikan Way to SW Lombard.  One had to go around a power pole, and, in the rainy season, it became a sucking mud pit.  But it was one of the best ways to go east-west in Beaverton.  He told me it was YEARS before it would become a street.  I told him I didn't want a street, I wanted a paved path for pedestrians and bicyclists.  It did eventually appear on the Beaverton transportation improvement plan, but it didn't seem to be high priority.

Earlier this summer some construction was going on, but there were no informative signs.  Maybe they were doing something with Beaverton Creek.

I walked by there today.  Be still my beating heart.  Pavement.  Wayfinding signs.  A drainage pond which feeds into Beaverton Creek.

No curb cut, though.  Ah well.