Guest Post: Wet and Wonderful

Though I haven’t been doing much in the way of organized randonneuring lately, guest writer Dieter Loibner can fill in the gaps for me:) Get psyched!:)

Oh, so February. Coulda slept in. Coulda watched the Olympics. Or the NBA All Star weekend. Or read a book. But nooo. Up at Zero Dark Thirty, in the saddle an hour later, just in time to catch the first raindrops on what promised to be wild day. Why, the question was posed, would one ride a bicycle 140 miles in the rain?

Because, really, what else is there to do?

the nutty side(The nutty side: Yeah, it was that early. Yeah the numbers were that bad. And yeah, these are Celsius degrees on my weather app…)

After getting angrily honked at by the only car on the road, Hughart and I presented ourselves at the Bybee Starbucks for coffee, sugar and a 0600 time stamp before hustling off on Dave Parsons’ Volcanoes vs. Farmland 200. Some smart wimps did it on Feb 1, on a lovely day by all accounts. We on the other hand picked the lousiest forecast of the month, figuring that we need to get in a tough ride so we can enjoy the soft ones even more.

Dampness turned to wetness and into sogginess by the time we checked in at the Barton control. Pace was slow, but spirits were high and after restocking some carbs, we tackled the yo-yo portion of this loop. Fisher’s Mill, Ridge Road, Buckner Creek, up and down, up and down. The volcanic hinterlands tested the cardio on the inclines (11% tops, per Hughart’s gee-whiz instruments) and the cojones while schussing down into the gorges, dodging potholes and patches of loose gravel.

photo 1(Big hill, small wheels: Mr. Hughart in full orange combat gear, conquering the Boring lava fields. Credit: Dieter Loibner)

On the descents we got lashed by mad drops that came hard and fast. My “waterproof” gloves had a rabid case of continence: the water that went in never drained. And my Gucci bike bell got so wet, it lost its bing. But rain can be fun too, if you learn to listen to the incessant drumming on the helmet cover, the jacket, the pants and the map sleeve. Random splatter eventually becomes a symphony of drip.

By the time we reached Canby we were nearly in the hole, but switched into cruise mode to traverse the flatlands, the Champoeg State Heritage Area before rolling into Newberg. Crossing the Willamette via the St. Paul Hwy Bridge on 219 was the only unpleasant stretch of the ride, and mercifully short at that.

Lunch at Chapters restored caloric balance and core temp, which made the next leg to North Plains a cinch. With a brisk southerly tailwind we got there presto to fortify us once more for that last climb.

But turning east, the friendly following breeze suddenly had become a raging gale that wanted to blow us sideways. We lowered the right shoulder to lean into it as the power lines were humming in ever-higher notes to urge us on.

Turning left onto Old Cornelius Pass at the Rock Creek Tavern, and starting up the hill with water cascading from drainage pipes and bubbling up from storm drains, a strange sensation of euphoria took hold. There was nowhere else to be and nothing else to do. One with the road, the ride and the rain. Nirvana? Nah,  that’s been flogged to death. Let’s just call it a real happy moment.

On Skyline the steady rain was upgraded to Ogygian deluge. With liquid matter splashing up from the road, it felt like riding through Salmon Street Springs. And then the water stopped. Poof. Someone flipped a switch. In the matter of seconds, it went from downpour to blue sky. Ha, the opportunist in me suddenly was wide awake: Time to stop. Time to change into the dry jacket and gloves that were stashed in the saddlebag.

More (dry) happiness on the descent of Germantown Rd. and coasting back into the city. Got honked at again, but on a friendly note. A car went by, all its occupants waving. Maybe they liked Day-Glo orange helmet covers.

Screen shot 2014-02-25 at 10.55.22 AM(Lovely loop: 200 pretty kilometers, even when ridden on a dog of a day)

Toward the end, clearly under the influence of bike brain, we rode down Milwaukie, which is barely tolerable in light traffic, let alone at evening rush hour. It’s the prescribed route, but next time we’ll take the Springwater path to Spokane and backtrack to Bybee and the finish. It might add one bonus mile, but it’s a much better way to end this lovely loop in style.

Yes, it was wet. And it was magic.

Glad I didn’t sleep in.


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