Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A Challenging 200k

It didn't look good in Willamina.  I was on the verge of bonking.  It would be an 80+ mile drive for someone to retrieve me, and I didn't want that to happen either.  But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Ray proposed his Dayton-Beaver 210k permanent.  I was pretty sure my engine wasn't yet rated for the initial climb, but he thought I'd make it.  Susan and Keith also joined in.

While preparing the food (Fig Newtons, furikake hard-boiled eggs, rice pudding, Kind bars, some gels, Brookside chocolate-fruit gel thingies, chocolate bars), I came to the realization that my massive jug of Carbo-Pro maltodextrin was empty.  I went to two local bike shops and came up empty.  Then I remembered!  The homebrew place out west in Hillsboro has maltodextrin!  Drove out there, and learned that most of the maltodextrin they sell is to folks like me :-)  Really good value, too.  Might go back and buy a 10 pound bag.

It wasn't supposed to rain, but the "mist" was pretty darn persistent on the drive out to Dayton (like Newberg, only 10 miles further along...).  I had my "it might raincoat" along.  Susan had a windbreaker.  Keith, in his recumbent, had a fairing and sock.  I don't think Ray had a rain jacket.  Fortunately, that was it; no more rain the rest of the day.

We met up at the parking lot across from the high school, and rode into the center of town, to take advantage of the public facilities and covered area for the pre-ride rituals.

Susan and I had ridden the earlier version of this route, in reverse, in pouring rain, 6 years ago.  I had never climbed up from the Carlton side, and, honestly, wasn't sure I ever wanted to.  But here I was.

The first 10 miles were reasonably flat as we rode to, and through Carlton, out Meadowlake Rd, which becomes the Nestucca Access Rd, and then the Nestucca River Rd.  The road wandered around through the foothills, where there were farms, then more trees, and at about mile 14, we started the Real Climb.  It was pretty.  I got to admire some parts of it at greater length, because there was some walking.  The other three riders would regroup and wait for me, or sometimes ride along.  Eventually I found them at the reservoir, which is the first summit.  All the clothing I took off was restored.  The climb summits at 1999 feet, drops about 200 feet, then regains it over a short distance.

Then we had a beautiful, gorgeous descent along the Nestucca River, which went on seemingly forever (really, 35 miles), eventually dropping through the Siuslaw National Forest to Blaine, and then Beaver.  There was a couple miles of gravel, but it was well-packed, and not an issue.  Once I popped out of the forest near Blaine, I could every so often see the others up ahead, but didn't catch them until the control at Beaver.

I had finished both my bottles, so dealt with refilling them (one Gatorade-maltodextrin, the other plain water), and bought a couple of Payday bars, for variety.  I'd been munching pretty steadily on the other food in my bag all along.

We then headed south on Hwy 101 to Hebo, where we'd turn back inland on Hwy 22.  Not that we were on the Pacific Ocean; that was still a few miles further west.  Hwy 22 climbs up to Sourgrass Summit, possibly the lowest (679 feet) pass over the Coast Range.  By now we had a tailwind, it was sunny, with lots of shade, and the climb was very gentle.  Easiest 15 mile climb ever.

From there we enjoyed the descent to Grande Ronde, passing through, but not stopping.  While we were riding on Hwy 18/22, a couple of riders went by, one with a very small backpack and a teeny bit of luggage on his bike, the other with possibly less stuff.  I didn't get a chance to chat with them, but the others did - they were participating in the Trans-Am Bike Race, which had started in Astoria.  Obviously on a mission.

We, on the other hand, as soon as we crossed the bridge by Fort Hill, turned off the road onto a dirt path, and continued on Yamhill River Road, which is ever so much nicer and quieter than Hwy 18/22.

Shortly thereafter,we were in Willamina (I could almost hear Susan thinking: "I could turn left here and be home in 3 miles!"), at the shiny new gas station/c-store.  I had sucked down a mouthful of straight salt a little while back, but it didn't seem to be taking effect.  Took a couple of ibuprofen.  I then wandered aimlessly around the store, picking up a Coke, a banana, and some jojos.  Susan said she had an antacid, because there didn't seem to be any for sale.  So I sat there and shook, ate the banana, sipped the Coke ("ah", said Susan. "You've got the red ambulance!"), and contemplated my options.  Tried a jojo and decided they weren't a good choice at this point.  I think Ray ate them all :-) Asked Ray to get my wind vest for me (no, it wasn't cold.  I knew very well what was happening.)  Took off my shoes.

And then, miraculously, I suddenly felt much better.   I need to remember this combination of potions.

We then headed east, but not to Amity.  There was a tailwind, even.  Rather than taking the traditional route to Amity, and then a short 9 miles to Dayton, Ray routed us down to Perrydale (shades of the Hillsboro Dallas perm), and across the valley to Zena Rd.  I had a brief moment of shock in Perrydale, when I noticed that the old fire engine was gone and its structure torn down.  Darn.

The pollen count was pretty high.  I was enjoying the scent of wheat and grass.  Susan, not so much.  She was sneezing her head off.

Last climb coming up.  I had bad memories of this particular climb on a very hot day a few years ago.  A bit more walking, then a fabulous descent to the Lincoln Store.  Keith was there when we arrived; he said the store closed just as he rode up.  We figured we all had enough for the last 14 miles.  I ate my last rice pudding, and we headed out.  Three more rollers before Hopewell Road flattened out, and then we were on Webfoot Road, the last stretch.  Parts of it seemed longer than they should have, but I finally crested the only big dip, and the Center Market in Dayton was right up the other side.

As we were now FINISHED, we bought unsuitable snacks (big ice cream bar for me), loafed on the front stoop, and finished filling out our cards. 210km, and under 13 hours.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Finding those Covered Bridges

Oregon has quite a few covered bridges, so much so that one of the brevet routes is the Covered Bridges 200k.  There's a corresponding 400k, with a few more bridges (Eden's Gate), but I wasn't going there this year.

So a couple of weeks ago, I found myself with Ray and Kevin L (yay!  he's back riding again!), and some number of other riders, in Wilsonville getting some pre-brevet coffee.  Very civilized start, what with it being in a coffee shop with plumbing and places to sit and coffee and food.

My food strategy included hard-boiled eggs, Fig Newtons, Brookside Dark Chocolate snacks, and rice pudding, along with the usual collection of a couple of bars, gels, and Gatorade-maltodextrin drink mix.  And plain old salt.  I sucked some down halfway through the ride.

And so, off we went.  After crossing the Willamette River on the Boone (I-5) Bridge, we headed down the west side of the highway, working our way to south to Aurora, then up to Lone Elder and Meridian Road (didn't miss the turn this time), where we'd be for a good long while.

Getting close to Silverton

We quickly found ourselves at the tail end (not unexpected).  We did catch up to the group in front of us, but we stopped to visit the blue room at 91 School, and they didn't.


Baby Vineyard

Dairy cows

We had a tailwind heading south.  Eventually we turned off Meridian Road, heading west on Downs Rd to the Gallon House Bridge.

The Gallon House Bridge sign

From there we went into Silverton, and had a minor navigation miscue.  We thought we were headed out on Main Street, except we weren't and the expected climb out of town failed to materialize.  So we backtracked, and headed out to the Cascade Hwy.  How we got confused, I'll never know, because we've all only ridden through Silverton many, many times.

Towns which start with "S"

The Cascade Hwy hasn't gotten any more flat.  There's a big climb up to Riches Rd, then it goes up and down until just before Stayton.  We zipped through Stayton, and headed out to Cole School Rd.  Again, roller #2 won.  Sigh.  Excellent descent down Richardson Gap Rd, to bridge number two, the Shimanek Bridge.

The Shimanek Bridge

Then we rode over to Scio, the first timed control.  We found the folks right ahead of us, but they were leaving.  We went over to the grocery and stocked up there.  I also bought and consumed a sandwich.

We now headed for the last two covered bridges - the Hoffman and Gilkey bridges.

Hoffman Bridge on Hungry Hill Rd

Fluffy Little Sheep

Kevin (no hands) and Ray, Gilkey Bridge

And then we headed north, into the wind.  Lots of rear-wheel-sucking on my part.  The last climb of any substance was approaching, Parrish Gap Rd.  It starts out fairly innocuously, then ramps up.  I came up on Kevin using his two foot gear, and joined in.  He though that would be the top and there wouldn't be any more painful bumps, but I remembered otherwise.  Sure enough :-(

We found Ray hanging out under some trees, and we all stood around for while, and then headed into Turner, and then west to Salem.  Hauled Ray back from a wrong turn.  "I made that same wrong turn last time and got a lot further!"

It did start raining in Salem, but it didn't last long.  We headed for the McDonald's, and all had burgers (ok, Ray's was chicken) and fries, and wolfed them down (how often do you hear the words "wolf down food on a brevet" come out of my mouth?)

36 miles to go, about 4 hours left.  I was a bit tense, so kept up the pace as much as I could.  Somewhere on River Rd, my bike computer speedometer checked out.  I thought to swap the battery in from my cadence pickup, but that didn't work either.  The clock still worked, so I could figure out how I was doing from the distance at each cue and the clock.

To make a short story long, we did finish with 40 minutes to spare.  We were relaxing in the coffee shop when the folks just ahead of us came back in to visit, along with Cyndi (Michal was riding the 400k).

Changed Every Single Battery on the bike computer setup the next day.