Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Barlow Trail 300k

takin' off
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
Prior to Michael Wolfe’s excellent and challenging 189-miler (last Saturday, Sep 26th), I had ridden five other 300k brevets. Three of them were the ’07, ’08, and ’09 versions of the Three Capes 300k brevet that heads out of Forest Grove to the Oregon coast and back every April. The other two were in August ’08 … Mr. Wolfe’s Detroit Lake 300k, and the SIR Tumwater-Mt. St. Helens-Tumwater 300k. Ironically, my fastest 300k was my very first (Three Capes in April ’07). I have never come within an hour of that 16 hr, 41 min time since then. In fact, most of my times have been in the 18 to 19 hour range. And the SIR brevet took me a Cyclos Escargot qualifying time of 19 hrs and 42 minutes.

But for the Barlow Trail brevet, I was feeling primed and ready to do relatively well. My lighter LeMond Buenos Aires was now set up for rando use, my generator front wheel now moved to that bike, a bright new Edelux light mounted to its front skewer, and my old small Caradice tailpack mounted behind the seat (rather than the rack and pannier set up I had been using on my Mountain Cycle Stumptown).

why we rando
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
The Stumptown (an aluminum ‘cross bike with 15,000+ miles) had been the weapon of choice for most of my randonneuring activities (and all the rides 300k and over). That bike, though, is now stripped (for the first time in two years), and ready for the ’09 cyclocross season.

I managed to get to Sandy, Oregon in plenty of time for a punctual 6:00 AM start, and had the novel experience of riding with or leapfrogging a number of other riders for the first 200k or so. Had a nice conversation with RB Buschman on quiet and scenic Faraday Lane (off of OR Hwy 224), and even rode a little with Kramer (who had been handicapped with an early flat) until he flew up NFD 5810 Road towards the Anvil Creek Crossing. I saw quite a bit of Mark Thomas, Vincent Muoneke, and Geoff Swarts (all of whom came down from Seattle) for the first 9-10 hours of the ride, although their style of riding involved longer breaks than what I took. However, once we hit relentlessly steep NFD 48 Road on our return over the Cascades, they were soon out of sight for the remainder of the brevet.

The descent towards Maupin on Oregon Hwy 216 is probably the longest stretch of fast road I have ever experienced.

deschutes river
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
My 1:30 PM arrival time there gave me the illusion of a possible PR for the 300k distance. That would soon fade, though, into the headwinds that paralleled the Deschutes River. And a couple of hours later on NFD 48 Road, the illusion totally vanished. I managed to keep up with RB for much of that ascent. But when daylight faded, so did my energy. I spotted RB 15 minutes during a wardrobe change ‘round dusk, and wouldn’t see him again until my arrival in Sandy.

My body ran outa fuel during that ascent up to Hwy 35 (pdj sandwiches and Ensure all used up), and my left leg cramped up at one point. So when I finally got to Government Camp, I sat down for a proper meal at the Huckleberry Inn (just as Scott Peterson and Kramer were departing). After a bowl of tomato-meat-pasta soup, some funky mocha, and a rather large doughnut, I started my descent towards Sandy. An hour and a half later, I arrived at the finish, where Philippe Andre was performing check-in duties. Scott and RB were still hanging around, so I was able to rehash some of the ride with them. I believe my official finish time was 17:50, which would still be my second best time for a 300k.

Thanks to Michael Wolfe for another excellent route. I was particularly happy that he had us traverse Anvil Creek, as the roads on either side of that ‘cross like obstacle were part of what made the ride memorable.

Photos here on Flickr

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

UGB 200k report

rando xtracycle
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
Without putting much thought into it, I made a note to self to ask Michael Wolfe what UGB stood for. Then about 50 kilometers into the actual 200k ride, somewhere in rural, agricultural Clackamas County (between Boring and Canby) it dawned on me. Urban Growth Boundary. 'Twas a ride than circumnavigated the outskirts of greater Portland.

I like the concept. But the ride's main appeal was how close the start and finish are to where I live. Shoot, I could probably sleepwalk to East end of the Hawthorne Bridge; it’s part of my daily commute, and less than 2k from home.

Actually, I wasn’t so sure I’d be able to do this ride after an inconvenient faceplant on NE Alberta St. 2 ½ days before the ride. But on that Saturday morning (September 5th, the start of the 3-day Labor Day weekend), with a stitched up nose and a puffy upper lip, I managed to meet Ken, Keith, and David at the Burger King (the only establishment dependably open at the end of the Hawthorne Bridge), and then do the ride. Ken Mattina I’ve known from a number of rides, most notably our co-lantern-rouge finish at the Covered Bridges 400k back in May 2007. Keith Thorla I recently met at Kramer’s SxSW Mt. Adams 200k a couple months ago. And David Parsons was new to me, as was his Trek-framed Xtracycle. He was also (I believe) probably the fastest of our quartet.

The weather was drizzly as we headed down and out the Springwater Corridor. By the time we hit the first control (for which I must thank Ken for preventing me… twice … from passing by), David and Keith were already pushing ahead. Ken and I rode together to Boring and Barton Park, and then the hills appeared. Ken rides a fairly loaded-down heavy bike, which to my mind, may not be the hill-friendliest rig around. After a few miles of separating, waiting, separating, waiting, Ken decided to head back to Portland (via Oregon City), while I pushed onwards. Between the hills, rain, and Ken's back and knee rehab, he just wasn’t having a very good time. As it turns out, I made it to the Canby control with only 5 minutes to spare.

willamette river ...
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
The rain stopped after Canby, and the sky lightened up from Champoeg Park on. My favorite part of the ride was the newly paved bike path that hugs the Willamette River through Champoeg Park. I liked it so well that I rode a bonus mile or two before finding the road that heads out of the park, and eventually to Hwy 219 and Newberg.

The next control after Canby was Gaston, meaning the only reason to stop in Newberg was to flip over of the route sheet. After a little foray on less-than-familiar roads, I soon found myself on North Valley Road, famous (in my little world) for its Ribbon Ridge wineries.

I saw David and Keith heading the other way out of Gaston, which meant they were about 20 minutes or so ahead of me. I tried to make quick work of my stop at the Gaston Market, but never did catch up with either of them.

double shot cap
Originally uploaded by tangobiker

Rode mostly familiar roads into Cornelius, towards Helvetia, then over to the 2nd-to-last control at McMennamin’s Rock Creek Tavern. There, I swallowed a double shot cappuccino before heading up Old Cornelius Pass Road, and then further up Skyline Blvd (before it levels out into mild rollers). Initially, I thought I would finish the ride before nightfall, but it got dark before my descent down Thompson Road.

Michael’s route cleverly takes the rider from NW Cornell to NW 30th Ave. via what looks like a driveway that heads back the other way. That in turn runs into Quimby St., then 29th (the left turn navigatible only to pedestrians and cyclists), then Raleigh St, which offers a pleasant way to Naito Parkway. After catching the Westside Esplanade to the Hawthorne Bridge, I finished at 8:40 PM for a Cyclos Escargot-ish total elapsed time 13 hours and 10 minutes. 'Twas also my 21st consecutive month of completing a 200k or longer randonneuring ride.

And then I was home by 9:00 pm! Yeah! Thank you Michael for the close-in UGB permanent!

My photos are here on Flickr.
David Parson's blog report