Even though the last 300k I rode with the Oregon Randonneurs was so awesome, I have to admit I was a little nervous about yesterday’s ride. It’s a funny facet of stasia-hood: even if I do well at something I’m never convinced I’ll actually be able to repeat it. What if it was just a fluke? Intellectually, I know that’s ridiculous, but it’s the kind of dumb shit that goes through my head before I do anything semi-challenging.
So I was happy to discover that it’s true: I can ride 300k.
And what a lovely 300k it was! We started in Cathedral Park and immediately went over the St Johns Bridge, which is one of my favorite views in Portland. Sweet! And then a quick climb through the west hills, one of my other favorite places in Portland, and a crazy amazing descent down Rocky Point Road, which I can’t believe I didn’t know existed. Once we hit Scappoose, a jaunt along the lovely Scappoose-Vernonia highway, which I’d also never been on, took us almost to Vernonia, then along highways 47 and 202 to not quite Astoria but close. (My only complaint? Surely this ride could have been configured to take us all the way to Astoria, even if it required a few extra total kilometers thrown in there:)
The morning had a lot of this kind of thing:
(farms, grain elevators, fields… though somehow I didn’t take a picture of all the river we biked along and over)
…and I spent a lot of the first few hours with Michael, who not only bikes like a speed demon but will also talk philosophy with you at the same time! He was gracious enough to pretend like we were actually going at the same pace, even though he totally smoked me on the way back:) (And, let’s be honest, could have smoked me at any time.) Randonneurs are awesome.
(a flat tire was only a minor setback for the recumbent-mobile:)
Â The first half of the ride was over really fast, actually. I guess objectively I don’t remember what time I got to the Olney control, but subjectively it seemed to have gone by very quickly. The second half went more slowly, especially the stretch between Birkenfeld and Vernonia–and then it went even more slowly when I finally made it to the Black Bear Cafe in Vernonia and ordered a smoothie that took forever. Not to mention there’s no way you can drink a smoothie fast without freezing your brains.
(But oh man does this place make a delicious smoothie for a warm day:)Â
One funny thing about this ride was the sheer number of other bikers I ran into. First of all, on the way out I was super surprised when I got the the store in Birkenfeld, which I knew wouldn’t be open until 11. Rather than the abandoned wasteland I expected to see when I pulled up, though, I found this:
(one bike is mine, but where’d all those other ones come from?)
It turns out that some fellow had organized a ride for a bunch of other people, and they were using the store as a meal stop. Apparently they were on their way to the coast and then down to California. Pretty sweet stuff. I also saw a whoooole bunch of people who I later learned were on the Seattle to Portland ride. They were mobbing the St Johns bridge when I crossed it back to the finish–quite the impressive sight to have more bikes than cars on a bridge that is not normally what you’d call bike friendly. I sort of wish I’d taken a picture. But it was exciting to see so many other people out-n-about on their bicycles.
And the ride in general? I think the personal thing I’m most proud of is that I finished super strong. For me anyway. Not too long after I left Banks, a little less than 30 miles from the end, I got it in my head that if I hurried, I could make it back before 8pm. Thus began the mad sprint to the finish–as mad as my 180-or-so-mile legs would go, that is;) I guess I’m proud not only that I actually did make it back before 8, but also that I had that much sprinting in me left at the end of the ride, even up the rather long Springfield Road.
And like last time, I’m also just plain psyched for the chance to spend all day on my bike. It’s so rad to set aside a day just to go exploring, and also to know that you can cover a whole lot of ground in that day. All told, with the ride to the start and then home again, yesterday was about 224 miles of biking, with a lovely sunset when I finally left the end control for home. Awesome!
(such a nice evening to cap the day o’ biking:)
Oh, one last random thought: the second toe on my right foot is numb today. I assume it has to do with my worn-out shoes and the pressure on my foot from the cleat, but if anyone has any words of wisdom about numb extremities and what to do about them, I’d love to hear it:)
(and of course, pictures are here, though I didn’t take too many this time)
Thanks for riding with me, Stasia. The conversation made the miles fly by. I don’t think I could have smoked you at any time, actually; I was pretty sure you could have dropped me on the climb out of Scappoose. Sorry for leaving you on the return leg; I think the miles don’t wear on me quite as hard, with my bent, and I was itching for a daylight finish. Glad you’re enjoying randonneuring, and I hope to see you on the road again sometime soon!
heh. Kind of you to say. And no need to apologize, of course–I would have felt bad if you’d stuck around. More rides soon!
Oh, how many Nehalem crossings did you count? I lost track around 6 (was I on 6? or 7? And then was I on 7 or 8?) and wondered if you’d been better at keeping them straight:)
I think it was 11 between Jewell and just past Vernonia (the B-V trail had a bridge over the river.)
When Ed originally created this route, it went to Astoria and back. The idea that a person can rise from Portland to Astoria captures the imagination. And back again? That, he thought, would be even better.
But during the RUSA route approval process, it was decided that no one wants to do extra miles on a 300K and that to do so with a hilly finish was not acceptable. Riding to Olney (10 miles shy of Astoria) with some additional miles and hills written in to the first half) was approved.
When I did the pre-ride, I couldn’t resist the draw of Astoria, even though my body was tired and I was riding slowly. The 20 mile loop off course took me two hours… Still, it was great to know I could get there and back.
Congratulations to you for a strong ride! Looks like you had fun. :)