Anyway, I talked my friend Lynne into doing the ride with me. It wasn't really that hard to do - her only qualm was that her husband, Fitz, was starting to grumble about being a cycling widower. Funny, Greg has no problem with my disappearing for hours on my bike. Probably because if I weren't on my bike, I'd be at the office instead, and I would come home from that in a much worse mood!
The ride started at 6:00 AM from the Travelodge in Newberg. After getting about 3 whole hours of sleep the night before, I headed out from home shortly before 5:00. Although for the last 2 days I had been obsessively gathering everything I thought I might need for very long ride, I still managed to make it to the start without my gloves (or so I thought) or my bike computer. Fortunately, Lynne had an extra pair of gloves. As for the computer, she noted that now I would be forced to stay with her for the whole ride if I wanted to know such minor details as our mileage (it helps when working with a cue sheet in unfamiliar territory). At least I remembered to install my fenders. The forecast was for rain. Of course.
There were quite a few riders, most of them doing the 600K. One rider from California had come with his new Vanilla randonneuring model, and we all spent some time drooling over it.
Near Newberg is an airpark where balloonists take off and land. There was a balloon festival being held in a nearby town over the weekend, and some participants were taking off as we hit the road.
The route from Newberg to Champoeg was new to me. I didn't particularly enjoy crossing the Willamette - the bridge had a narrow shoulder and really short guard rails - I had visions of toppling over into the water . . .the river was pretty, though. We soon hooked up with Leslie and Susan, who were riding at a very similar pace, and who turned out to be very good ride company. Leslie told us we could ride with them if we were sparkling conversationalists. We took up the challenge, and everyone sparkled for the next 134 miles.
Somewhere around Woodburn I started to smell watermelon. It was far too early in the ride to be hallucinating, so I was pleased when Leslie confirmed that she, too, smelled watermelon. We never did figure out where the smell was coming from. Shortly thereafter, Lynne exclaimed "Smell the strawberries!" The air was redolent of jam; but this time the source was obvious, we were passing acres and acres of berry plants, and the pickers were out in force.
The first control was at Lyon. It was an open control, but most folks stopped at the Lyon Market to get their cards signed. We could tell other randonneurs had been there already by the trash they left behind (and by the jugs of water they had left for us to fill our bottles with).
Did I mention it was raining? Up until Lyon, it had mostly been a matter of incessant drizzle - enough to annoy us, but not enough to make any major clothing adjustments. For one thing, it was still pretty warm, and a rain jacket would have been a little heavy - my short sleeve wool jersey and arm warmers had been enough. But in Lyon in started raining heavier and I was getting a little chilly. I was trying out my new Shimano sandals (with wool socks) and my toes were a little cold. So we did some clothing adjustments - I pulled on my legwarmers and struggled with my booties (PI Amphibs don't really work with the sandals) - another rider that had come to the control (I guess we weren't the last after all) asked if I was getting ready to climb Mt. Everest. Hummph! At least my toes were warm again. As my cycling buddies like to say, "There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing."
The climb up to Breitenbush from Lyon was relatively uneventful. About 5 miles up Hwy 22, I really needed to use a blue room - I saw a sign for a rest stop ahead, and shortly thereafter saw a sign pointing to a public park. I figured that must be the rest stop - I led the group down a dirt road to a small brick building housing a toilet. It was a pit toilet, but not bad as far as those things go. I did think it was a little odd for a rest stop to have a single pit toilet, but hey, this was the country . . leaving the park and going another 500 yards up the highway we came to the REAL rest stop; the one with the real, flush, toilets. Oh well, the park was pretty.
Stopped for some snacks in Detroit Lake before heading up to the turn-around just past Breitenbush Hot Springs. Some nice church ladies were having a bake sale. Mmm, cookies. This time you could tell all the other riders had been there because they were sold out of bananas.
Leslie and I made it to the turn-around first and took the time to stretch (and other things) while waiting for Susan and Lynne. Once Susan and Lynne arrived, we wasted some more time just goofing around and talking about food (a fairly constant topic of our conversation throughout the day).
It was raining pretty steadily at this point and none of us were really looking forward to the descent down Highway 22. But we finally took off for the second half. Highway 22 is not exactly the ideal road to ride a bike. Especially in the rain, especially on a summer weekend in the rain. We were constantly being strafed by RVs towing boats and the shoulder was quite narrow. I was desperate to get off that road. Plus it was getting kind of dark - it was still early but the rain and clouds were oppressive. When I saw the first sign for the rest stop (the REAL one), I told the others that I wanted to pull off and use the facilities. I figured I'd also use the time to put on my lights and reflective gear. The others decided that was a good idea, so we did some more gearing up (and discussing gear)under the maple trees while the rain poured down.
Leslie and Susan were riding the 600K route, and they had spent the last 100-plus miles trying to convince me and Lynne to join them. We declined, which meant that at Lyon we would be separating as they had a 60K detour on their route that we did not. We went back to the Lyon Market, got our cards signed again, purchased some "dinner," and talked another rider (Bill Alsup) into taking a group photo.
After leaving the Lyon Market, we said goodbye to Susan and Leslie and headed off on our own. We missed our turn and ended up on Highway 22 a little sooner than we should have. Lynne celebrated that fact by immediately picking up some glass. Phhhhhhht. "Is my tire flat?" "Oh, yeah." Fortunately, there was a driveway ahead and a building with a covered porch. We took advantage of both. With a little teamwork, we got the flat fixed quickly - it helped that Lynne's tires are very easy to get on and off the wheel. We were, of course, now filthy.
Had I paid more attention to my card while we were in Lyon the second time around, I would have noticed that in 10 more miles Lynne and I would be in Stayton, where I could have possibly gotten something with a little more nutritional value than the meal of V8, Ritz Bits and candy bar I chose to eat there. Oh well. As it turned out, by the time we got there I was hungry again, so I got a bagel and cream cheese at the Safeway - and some more V8 - mmmmm, sodium . . . .
The 600K and 300K routes joined up again in Stayton, and as Lynne and I sat in the warm DRY Safeway eating our bagels and contemplating the next 3 to 4 hours of riding ahead of us, another rider (Noel from Seattle) came in and walked past, moaning "Socks . . . ." Sitting there with our sopping wet, heavy wool socks slowly pruning our feet, we could relate.
Of course, both Lynne and I had extra socks, and I proceed to change into mine. Lynne had rung a gallon of water out of her wet ones and put them back on, but once she saw that I had changed, she decided she would as well. Noel had not found any socks for sale, and was sitting near us looking sad. I told him I had another pair of dry wool socks if he didn't mind that they were pink. He didn't mind. He also let me take his picture, knowing full well it would end up being blogged. A true good sport!
By now it was dark and we still had about 45 miles to go. Ron from Seattle was leaving the Safeway at the same time as us, and he joined us for the last leg. We warned him that we were riding both slowly and inefficiently, but he really must have wanted company because he stayed with us. Either that or he was worried that we would get lost if left to our own devices. Given the 3 wrong turns I made in the next hour, I guess he wouldn't have been that far off base. As we got closer to the end, we encountered more and more 600K riders (or more precisely, they encountered, and then passed, us). The rain had finally stopped at about 10 PM, and we had a stiff tailwind. This was good, because by this point I was exhausted. We finally rolled into Newberg after midnight, where Susan and the other volunteers were waiting for us with ravioli, soft drinks and trail mix. I had some food, changed into dry clothes and after spending some time chatting with the others I got in my car and headed home. Finally arrived home at about 1:45 AM, ate some more food (not the entire contents of the refrigerator, but close) and hit the sack.
All in all, I had a terrific ride. With over 192 miles in a little over 18 hours (including about 5 hours of faffing around)it was long, wet, physically and mentally exhausting ride, but terrific nonetheless.
Lynne's account can be found here: http://www.lynnerides.blogspot.com/
More pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cecilanne_r-s/sets/72157600335874959/