Tomorrow, many brave people will join the Oregon Randonneurs to ride the Applegate 600k, approximately 375 miles from Oregon City down to Cottage Grove and back. Since I really wanted to do this ride but work tomorrow and Sunday when it actually happens, I did the next best thing: rode it myself on Wednesday!
I think it was a bit of a rite of passage for me, for a bunch of reasons (I thought about this while I was riding, and trust me, when you’re pedaling for 33 hours or so–not counting time spent sleeping–that’s a lot of think time:)
- The first time I’ve ever ridden 600 kilometers at a go (the furthest previous brevet I’d done being 300k)
- The first ride this long that I’ve done entirely by myself–not just riding by myself, I mean, but knowing that no one else is even on the route with me
- The first time I’ve ever overnighted somewhere on a ride, other than camping trips (I wish I’d thought to bring a toothbrush:)
- The first time where I really had to work sometimes to put out of my mind how much further I still had to go, and focus only on where I was right then
It was also, despite the fact that I rode it myself, sort of a team effort. James zip car-ed me over to my 5am start in Oregon City like a trouper (thanks, love!:). Tim from 21st Avenue Bicycles, who I met on the 3 Capes 300k, lent me a bigger saddle bag so I could carry more stuff (which I thought would be more layers but ended up mostly being more food). And Dylan, who I also met on the 3 Capes ride and who happens to live in Eugene near the overnight control not only graciously let me sleep in his extra bed for a few hours but went way beyond the call of hospitality to offer me a shower, extra clothes to sleep in, and some love from Rhino, his super sweet puppy. That kind of thing makes me supremely happy, like the world is full of friends.
The ride itself? It was awesome. Actually, to be honest, the weather on the first day was super crappy. There was so much wind. Not like “oh, what an annoying headwind” kind of wind. More like bike-stopping, white-knuckle-on-the-handlebars, can’t-hear-a-car-until-it’s-6-inches-behind-you, wind-so-fast-you-can’t-breathe-in-your-nose kind of wind. I felt like however hard I worked, I was still moving in slow motion. And I’m not sure if it was the wind or what, but my nose would not stop bleeding. I had like 7 different nosebleeds. Pro tip: just hold your nose plugged, keep biking and it’ll go away.
Also, the intermittent downpours ensured that I spent most of the day in a state of semi-saturation (though the rain did let me “wash” my gloves, which were covered in blood from the aforementioned nosebleeds).
So all told, the weather kind of blew.
However! The route, like every route I’ve done with the randonneurs so far, is lovely lovely lovely, full of roads I had no idea existed with amazing views that I’d never seen. I don’t really have many pictures of them, but it’s beautiful out there, especially now when everything’s still fresh and green and spring-shiny.
It also was pretty rad to bike all day, fall into bed for a few hours, and then bike all day again. I know, that may not sound awesome to all of you, but it’s something I’ve often wondered if I could actually do. It turns out that yes, I can. And that’s a good feeling. And though the weather on the second day wasn’t as amazing as I’d been led to believe it might be, at least there was less wind, and only a few rain spells. And lots of hills, some of which, I’ll be honest, seemed heinously gratuitous (and I like hills!). But all of which were beautiful.
Both days were fun for all the little Oregon cities you go through. These rides make me realize how much else there is in the world beyond my little Portland bubble, and I super enjoy seeing all the different slices of life out there.
I could probably spew for days about this ride (it still looms large in my mind, perhaps because it was full of so many firsts), but maybe I’ll save it for other potential posts. Though I will say that if you do this ride, keep your eyes open. I saw tons of wildlife, ranging from elk and deer to so many different kinds of raptors and little birds (and a mink–holy schmoly!), even a huge white owl that swooshed its silent owl-swoosh over my head as I closed in on Eugene. And I saw an amazing shooting star, at a point where I was feeling particularly annoyed that I was still not to Eugene yet. It’s such a beautiful ride.
I’ll be working at the start registration tomorrow, so perhaps I’ll see some of you there:) It’s going to be awesome:)
UPDATE: I got some pictures up finally! Check them here if you’re interested. Like I said, not very many, and not very photogenic due to grey, grey skies:)