I am just on a tear this year. I think it's largely due to the new bike, which just wants to keep going - it's that much easier to keep going when you're bike doesn't want to stop.
We set out at 6 am, with just a bit of dark left, and rapidly chased it away on the way to Timber, a familiar route to most of us by now. This turned us around and pointed us towards Tillamook, and the big climb of the day. Really though, it's not *that* bad of a climb, despite ending you up at 1500 some-odd feet. Caught the downhill nicely, and almost bottomed it out before hearing the hiss of the tandem I'd passed on the way up, drafted by three more of the Seattle crew. It would've been *so* satisfying to beat it to the bottom of the hill, but...
I'd been told that there was a restaurant at milepost 7 with great chocolate chip cookies, and milepost 7 came and went, with the voices in my head arguing over whether or not this was a cruel joke or a case of mistaken mileposts. My stomach had set its sights on cookies, and did not want a repeat of the Raid's cinnamon bun incident. Thankfully, it was milepost 6, not 7, and I stopped for a welcome cookie and an assortment of other snacky bits.
I was expecting more of headwind heading out to Tillamook, especially once we'd gotten out of the trees, but that just didn't materialize, for the most part. Had good luck with the wind, generally, as well as the weather, which turned out far nicer than I had expected. Hitting 101, I resisted the strong urge to obey the signs and turn north to visit the Tillamook and Blue Heron cheese factories, and instead headed to Netarts for the big checkpoint spread.
Managed Netarts before noon, my first goal for the day, with 15 minutes to spare, and had a carne asada taco to celebrate. 20 minutes hanging out there was enough, and I was back on the road - I was figuring that 125k/6 hours in, I had reasonable hope of making it back to Forest Grove before 10pm, and that became my goal for the rest of the day.
The three capes themselves were beautiful - the ride out to Cape Meares reminded me a lot of the ride along Tomales Bay on the SF Randonneurs brevets that got me started on all this. Cape Meares and Cape Lookout put the hurt on, with a pair of mid-length steep climbs - but thankfully no real wind issues! stopped to watch some paragliders on Cape Meares, and then continued on through Sandlake and on to the comparatively unimpressive Cape Kiwanda. Pacific City, soon thereafter, brought another snack stop and an open control.
Soon after that, the ride back inland started, along the Little Nestucca, and eventually over Sourgrass and into the Grande Ronde, an easy climb compared to earlier bits. From there, it was familiar tailwinds and high cadences in top gear for a long time... Kept my speed high all the way through Amity and started to slow on the way towards Dayton, as we turned from having the wind at our backs to crosswinds. After a nice snack stop in between Dayton and Lafayette, I hit the rollers between there and the finish, and started to pay for my sprinting through the Grande Ronde...
I hadn't looked at my watch since Ballston, but dark was creeping in, and by that I figured it was nearing 8pm. On went sashes and lights, and by the time the light was gone to the point that I would've *had* to use a light, I was well along Spring Hill Road. I was indeed making good time, but was starting to pay for it in the form of nasty pains in my now-tight quads. At this point, I had to keep pedaling, because I questioned whether or not I'd be able to restart if I stopped. Oddly enough, though, the ankle pain that had been plaguing me since the 200 had completely vanished.
I finally dragged myself into Forest Grove and the Grand Lodge, and packed the bike in the van before heading in to get my card signed (I figured it was one less trip back and forth for my aching legs...) - and found out that I'd completed in 15h12m! That was WAY better than expected - I mean, I was shooting for 16 or so, hopefully less, but down near 15 hours wouldn't have even entered my mind, especially considering how much I was hurting in the last 15k. For what it's worth, that's almost 2 and a half hours off my 2003 300k time, over a course of equal or greater difficulty. Not too bad, from where I sit.
Some pics from the ride:
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