600km brevet
Bad News Bears Go To The Coast, Forest Grove - Vernonia - Birkenfeld - Warrenton - Seaside - Tillamook - Lincoln City - Dallas - Dayton - Forest Grove, 07-08 May 2011

The 600k is always my "least favorite" of the SR series - not that I don't like the ride, but it's the one I *only* ever do in a PBP year, it takes up a whole weekend, and really, I'd rather do that kind of distance at a touring pace - that is, unless it's followed by anotehr 600k, and I'm in France.

That being said - this route is a beaut, and I'm pretty damn happy with how things went.

Except for the part where my shifter breaks at mile 0. There's nothing quite like a loud CRACK sound when you attempt your first shift of the day, telling you that either the pawl has cracked or the spring has broken in the internals of your beloved 1980s Simplex retrofriction shifters (the finest downtube shifters ever made, hands down - don't argue, because you're wrong :) ) This meant I only had access to the 3 small cogs on my freewheel, effectively killing my low gears. Fortunately, I was able to jury-rig a tension setup with a rubber band, and that saved my ride. Try that with brifters! Another argument for using old technology for rando stuff.

We started out on the Banks-Vernonia bike path, which is now fully paved all the way to Vernonia, which is wonderful (even if I do miss the old smooth gravel version...). Erratic rain the whole time, which continued for the extent of the brevet. Stopped to help with a flat tire, and lost just about everyone at this point, and despite making good consistant time, was unable to catch back on for the reminded of the brevet, for the most part. Quick but regular stops and good time through Birkenfeld, and on into Warrenton, which started the run down the coast.

These distances really do become somewhat of a blur for me - I remember making Tillamook by nightfall; narrowly missing a possum on the road (a live one - there were lots more that had not survived their poor life decisions) somewhere between there and Lincoln City; seeing a deer heading out of Pacific City after running into Duane and Matt of Stumptown Coffee outside the Pelican Brewery (much to all of our surprise!); a Pileated Woodpecker sometime around Vernonia; hearing Black-headed Grosbeaks somewhere on the way to the coast; innumerable trilliums, salmonberries and such in bloom whenever we were in the woods... but it's all fairly nonlinear.

Hit Lincoln City at 130am Sunday morning - 19.5 hours for 360k isn't too shabby, only just barely slower than my 16 hour 300k. Took a risk that I could keep this pace, and slept for 4 hours there, after a quick snack. Headed back out again at 630am, and started out on the second, more difficult day - over the Coast range via more difficult routes through Siletz. Beautiful roads, though, and a great gravel climb and descent heading out of Logsdon towards Blodgett. Great except that it broke my rubber band shifter kludge, and rattled a fender bolt loose, that is. Fixed those, and continued on. Big climbing to get to Blodgett, but again, beautiful out there. Was worried about headwinds on Kings Valley Hwy out from there to Dallas, but they were nowhere to be found, and we (I'd met up with Ed Groth somewhere before Pacific City, and had been riding with him on and off since) even had a slight tailwind, which was a relief. After that, it was some tiring rollers through the Eola/Amity Hills area until we finally got back on familiar territory heading into Dayton.

At that point, I was figuring that the rollers were really taking a toll on my time, and I was trying to work time back, as we had left Lincoln City at a deficit. But I kept hitting controls with more and more time to spare, and by the time i was leaving Dallas at 3pm, I knew I was on track to potentially hit Forest Grove by 8pm, which was my goal. Dayton at 6pm with 40km to go clinched it - despite feeling like I really wasn't going fast enough, and that my legs were going dead, we hit the finish at 8 sharp, putting me down for a 13.5 hour last 240k and a 38 hour 600k. I thought I'd never slept this long on a 600k, but I was wrong there - 4 hours is definitely enough, though. The series is done now, all I have to do is wait til June 17, and I can register for PBP and figure out where my travel money is coming from!

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