And it's done! The last of the PBP qualifiers, and I'm actually still feeling pretty fresh, a day later. Stuck to my usual routine of overpacking the picnic lunch (I'm always of the opinion that it's best to carry a surplus of food, as towns just aren't as closely-spaced here in the States as in Europe...) - this time, it was a dozen Clif bars, 3 rolls stuffed with brie, 4 pbj sandwiches, and 4 bananas. Some will decry the extra weight, but me, I like the security.
We headed out of Newberg bright and early at 6am Saturday, and fought valiantly against a steady, but not *too* strong, headwind pretty much all the way to Lyons, over largely familar roads. I, true to form, pretty much dropped off the back of the group I started with early on - as much of an advantage as riding in groups can be, I'm still just so set in my ways of starting out slowish, and just riding at my own pace, period. In the end, it works for me, and that's all that really matters, I suppose.
It's late spring in the Willamette Valley, so the hops are growing like mad, and the grass seed crop is flowering, though the biggest olfactory memories going through the valley are of fields of peppermint and strawberries. Saw the first oriole of the season, a Bullock's - sadly, it was dead at the side of the road. Still made decent time out to Lyons, 50-some-odd miles in, with the rain starting. Corn dogs for everyone! I think I ate corndogs at 2 out of 3 refueling stops I made this brevet.
Things sort of started to pitch up at this point, though the climbing never really got *too* bad for *too* long, but I've said that about the weather, too, so take that with whatever grain of salt you may. I'm known to be somewhat prone to understatement on these things. More corn dogs in Mill City, and a nice bridge on the way out of town. From there we headed on up to Detroit, past the lake and its dams, which provided quite a picturesque scene, rain or not. It'd been a while before I'd been up into the Cascades or even their foothills, and it was a nice refresher as to just how pretty they can be, in any weather.
From Detroit, we turned up towards Breitenbush, which I know from hearing the name in relation to a co-op conference that happens there every year, I think. I was thrilled to find that there's a route from Estacada to Breitenbush, should I ever attend... Looks like some nice possible gravel side routes as well, but that's another story... I'd seen Del and the fast crew on the way before Detroit (I *think*), and started seeing more people coming down from the turnaround as I headed up. Anyhoo, we headed up past the hot springs proper, and up a little farther, answered our question for the brevet card, and bombed back down.
On the way back to Newberg is where the paths of the 600k and 300k diverged - they headed straight back, we took a jag up to Elkhorn, and another question to answer, and, more importantly, a little less that a mile of gravel. To say I was happy about this would be an understatement - it truly invigorated me. At that point, I was dogging it fairly well, but gravel got things back into shape. Sadly, pretty much no one was there to witness me killing it. i'm pretty sure I topped 20 mph coming down that stretch on the way out. Things to remember if you're not a gravel fan - the faster you go, the more you float, the less you fell, and the less likely you are to dig in and wreck.
It was all downhill from that point, at least back to Newberg and a nap - we had a decent tailwind coming back in, which helped as well. I took *far* too long a stop at the Stayton Safeway, which didn't. Probably wasted a good half an hour extra there. I don't shop in big stores much, so I get lost and confused easily. I really wanted a V8, but I couldn't figure out where they were, for the life of me. From Stayton back in was pretty much autopilot in the dark - I was well-lit, and well-motivated, as the rain, which had paused a bit (or maybe I just imagined that), started in again. Made it back to Newberg around 1:45 Sunday morning, which was later than I had been gunning for, but not catastrophic, considering that I'd been riding solo for most of this first 350k.
Had some pasta in Newberg courtesy of the ever-welcoming Oregon Rando organizers, and then set the room alarm for 5am, and tried to sleep, which I could only manage fitfully, oddly enough. The loudest alarm in the known universe went off promptly at 5, I had some breakfast, and headed out the door at around 6am Sunday. Thankfully, the expected headwind on the outbound route to Pacific City wasn't all that bad, and I made decent time, catching up with Nate (as he'd stopped to have biscuits and gravy), and rode with him a good bit of the way out. I was feeling a bit zonked, but again, it usually takes me a good 20-50 miles to really hit my stride anyhow. It was a pretty straightforward route out, largely following the same roads as we used on the 300k, just in the other direction. The climb from Grande Ronde to Sourgrass Summit was longer than I imagined, though, but all I could think about was how welcome that long downhill turn would be on the way in.
After cresting Sourgrass, it was pretty much fast downhills followed by flats. Stopped once, for the only mechanical I've had on a brevet in time out of memory - the cage bolts on my right pedal had come completely out! Thankfully, they were held in place by my toe covers, because otherwise this would've been a catastrophic mechanical, especially on a 600k. Made sure they were nice and snug, and continued on to Pacific City, where I wasted another half hour waiting while the store forgot to make my hamburger. Årgh. At this point, I lost Nate, and after riding out to the turnaround at Tierra del Mar, I would only see 4 more people on the way back in, 3 of them in Pacific City. The tailwinds started to kick in quickly, though, and extinguished my grumbling over the climbs from Pacific City to Tierra del Mar. The climb out over Sourgrass didn't have nearly as many false summits as I remembered it having, though - though there was still plenty of fast-moving traffic with trailers full of ATVs. Had a semi almost brush me at one point, but despite the closeness, he was cool - he held his line, and I'd waved him past, anyhow.
After Sourgrass on the way back, though, is where the fun began - downhill like mad back into Grande Ronde, and then solid tailwinds up the valley and into Willimina and Sheridan, and then blasting tailwinds on through Ballston. Just outside Ballston, ran into Marcello, who'd hit the road cut pothole and double pinchflatted, as well as denting his front rim pretty severely. Gave him a spare tube, made sure he was OK going in on his own, and then started out again - I was on a tear, and I'd called my coworkers and found out my work schedule for Monday, and wanted to get home as fast as I could, since the sooner I finished, the sooner I could be home sleeping! In stark contrast to my near-continual eating the rest of the ride, I ate sparingly from Grande Ronde on in - sometimes you just go on a tear, and you're pulling reserves from somewhere, but strangely no hunger comes a-knocking...
In Amity, I had one of my allergic messes and couldnt see straight for a bit, but that cleared up. Ah, pollen season. Oh for the days when I didn't have these reactions. I blame living in San Francisco for 12 years, away from trees and flowers and grass. The tailwind had eased up some, but still enough to keep me powering on through Dayton and into Dundee, from where I could practically taste Newberg! My legs were almost spun out, though - I had hit the point where the power just wasn't there, but if I just kept the leg speed up, everything was fine. On it went, the last few miles into Newberg, and the worst part - the climb up the stairs to the ORR room and checkin. Final time? 37h30m, just over 2 hours faster than last 600k. Bodes well for PBP, if you ask me!
Some pics from the ride:
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