Well, the rains are upon us and the randonneuring season is beginning to wind down. On November 1, we held our penultimate ride of the year, the perennially popular Verboort populaire (try saying THAT three times fast). This ride is timed to coincide with the annual sausage and sauerkraut festival in Verboort, Oregon, a small (VERY small) town in Washington County. Despite a weather forecast that promised rain, 33 riders showed up at the ride start at the Grand Lodge in Forest Grove. Sausage always seems to draw a crowd.
I broke my rule of "ride to the ride" so that I could give my friend Beth a lift to the start. The ride started at 9:00 AM, but registration began at 8:00 and I had a sign that I needed to deliver to the organizer. So I told Beth that I'd pick her up at 7:00 AM, and she gave me directions to her house. Directions that I promptly put in a place where I could not find them when I needed them. So at 6:55 AM, I was meandering around North Portland (where the street signs are few, hidden, and poorly lit), looking for Saratoga Street. Fortunately, I have some sense of that area, and so did not take too long to find it and arrived shortly after 7:00 (although Beth later told me that her partner was worried I was not coming . . . ). We quickly loaded Beth's bike onto the rack, and then Beth directed me through the maze of streets leading to the freeway. The rain had been holding off, but it started to drizzle as we headed up and over the West Hills toward Forest Grove.
We reached the Grand Lodge just as the ride organizer was setting up shop. Other riders arrived in quick procession, and the pre-ride faffing was soon in full swing. In addition to the general ride prep, there is always the need to check out what everyone else is riding. Mike Johnson showed up with a new bike (a Rivendell model, of course), and so much time was spent inspecting it.
Then, of course, there were the unicycles . . .
We also spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out what to wear. The drizzle had stopped, but the sky looked pretty grey. It was also warm, however, which meant that dressing for rain could result in overheating if the rain held off. I decided to ditch the leg warmers, but put on rain booties over my winter riding shoes. On top I had a long-sleeve wool jersey over a thin wool camisole and, of course, my Showers Pass rain jacket.
Thus clad, I was ready to roll. We still had a few minutes before the official start, however, so I trotted on over to the hotel to score a cup of hot tea from the hospitality room (I figure I spend enough money there over the year that one cup of tea is okay) and to make one last use of the public facilities . . .
And then we were off. Full disclosure requires explaining that Verboort and Forest Grove are right next to each other, and the site of the festival is less than 2 miles from the Grand Lodge. But this was a 100K populaire. That meant that we had to find another 60 miles somewhere. We did so by riding first to Hillsboro, then to Snooseville, from Snooseville to Banks and then back to Verboort by way of Cedar Canyon.
The first control, then, was in Hillsboro, at Longbottom Coffee Roasters, which also happens to be where Portland Velo begins its Saturday rides. Because this first control was only about 12 miles into the route, most of the riders were still fairly close together in time and so we descended en masse, creating a little bit of a kerfuffle for the control worker.
I had hoped to get a scone or muffin, because my oatmeal breakfast would soon wear off, but the line at the cash register was too long and I was on a mission to finish the ride in less than 4.5 hours. I figured that there might be snacks at the Snooseville control, as there had in years past, so saddled up and rode on.
To get to Snooseville, we backtracked for a couple miles on Evergreen Parkway and then turned north, toward the town of North Plains. The route took us past farms, fields, and groves of trees in full fall foliage display. In the hills I could see smoke from a fire - it was raining at this point but apparently not hard enough to put out the flames - I was able to watch it spread as we rode along.
Just before we reached North Plains, I reached down for my water bottle and grabbed air. Whoops. Even with all that time at the start, I had managed to leave the bottle in my car. Fortunately, there is nice market in North Plains where I stopped and bought a bottle of water that would fit in the cage. I took the opportunity to powder my nose, as well. The group I had been riding with went on without me, but I knew I'd catch up to them at the next control.
Snooseville is at the end of a long, deceptive climb up Dairy Creek Road. The road LOOKS flat, but has a slight grade. The first time I rode on it, I could not figure out why my speed had dropped precipitously. I quickly figured it out when I turned around at end of the road, and sailed back down. I have since ridden on DCR many times, but the grade still surprises me.
I reached the Snooseville control to discover that there was water to be had, but no snacks. Bummer. At this point we had less than 30 miles to go, however, and I was not feeling any hunger pangs. I figured I'd just ride faster, get done sooner, and get some cookies on the way home (I doubted that there would be any soy sausage at the festival).
The Snooseville section of the route is an "out and back," so on the way to the next control I passed a number of riders who were taking the course more slowly (just as I had been passed by those riders who were taking the course more swiftly).
From Snooseville we rode on to Banks, which required us to cross Highway 26 at Frogger Junction, as my friend Jason so aptly calls the intersection. On this day, however, traffic on the highway was light and we made it across without any wait. In Banks, we turned onto Cedar Canyon Road, which is one of my favorite cycling roads. It has a bit of a climb, followed by a long, smooth descent, and passes a beautiful wetland and fields that, in the spring, are covered in crimson clover. This time of year, the clover is gone, but the leaves on the trees are fluorescent. The wetland was very wet - I could see a number of geese, ducks, and at least one heron hanging out enjoying waterfowl weather.
One more info control (a couple of throughly bedraggled yellow pom-poms left over from February's Snooseville Populaire (which followed pretty much the same route), and then it was onto the final 10-mile leg. We had one more hill to climb, at which point I dropped my fellow riders, and then a mostly flat section. Of course, that mostly flat section ended up being directly into the wind. Dang. But it wasn't raining, the scenery was lovely, and I was enjoying myself, so for once I did not mind the wind. I just geared down and poodled along, admiring the blazing blueberry bushes along the way.
Just outside Verboort, the traffic got heavy, but there were plenty of people in Hi-Vis yellow vests making the trucks and SUVs slow down, and I was able to work my way around without too much hassle. I located the final control and checked in. Four hours, nineteen minutes. Not bad. Not bad at all.
There is only one more "official" ride of the season, the Wine Country populaire on November 22, but I will still be riding brevets in my quest for an R-12, so my season is not ending - just getting a little less intense . . . .
More pictures here
Beth's report here
Bill Alsup's report here