Sunday, June 13, 2010

Quick!, Someone Call a Doctor. Oops, Too Late.

This is my friend Susan.

Susan used to be a perfectly normal superhuman. She ran half-marathons, entered triathlons, all while running her own business. Then something terrible happened. Susan caught Rando Fever. It started innocuously enough (or at least seemingly so). In the last couple of years, Susan joined me and Lynne to ride various populaire courses, the 100-kilometer events that randonneurs use to suck the unsuspecting casual rider into their nefarious cult. The next thing she knew, she was riding a 200. And then a 300. And then last month she rode her first 600.

But the sign that she had truly caught the brain fever and made the leap into madness was when Lynne and I received this e-mail last week:

"Either of you want to ride a perm on [Saturday] 6/12? I've ridden brevets 3 months in a row now. I can't take a day off work to do the Wine Country on 6/15 (Tuesday), but I *could* do a perm on 6/12."

Yes, you read that right. She said she'd "ridden brevets 3 months in a row now," and wanted to do one in June. She's now on the hunt for an R-12, something only the truly Rando-sick attempt.

As fellow sufferers, Lynne and I were quick to enable Susan's slide into sickness. Susan had suggested a route that follows the covered bridges roads around Scio, but that's a fairly tough route and I am only just now getting back into shape after my forced "vacation." Also, we had no guarantees about the weather, and in bad weather the Scio route can be a bear. So we opted instead for the Three Prairies route, a regular winter perm because it is flat and low-elevation. Even in craptacular weather it is doable.

So we sent in our registration forms and started watching the weather reports to see how much rain gear we would need. On Tuesday, the forecasters started talking about sunshine and temperature in the 80s. I refused to think about it, not wanting to jinx it. But Susan kept sending e-mails with little smiley-faced sunshine graphics from the Weather Channel. It was hard not to get our hopes up. Through Thursday it was still pretty damp, though, and Friday was overcast all day. I was not optimistic. But late Friday evening the clouds began to clear and by the time I woke up Saturday morning the sky was clear and blue. My bag of gear suddenly became significantly lighter. TRFKAF ditched his Showers Pass jacket.

We met up at the public parking lot in Newberg at 6:45 AM. It was about 45 degrees and clear, and there was some discussion of whether we needed to at least start out with limb warmers. We all opted for arm warmers but left our leg warmers in the car. Then it was off to the Thriftway to collect our first time stamp of the day before heading southwest to Dallas by way of Dayton, Amity and Perrydale.

We had a pretty good tailwind and so we cruised along at about 19 mph on the flats (much slower on the hills of course) and after a brief stop in Amity to offload fluids, we reached Dallas in what was for us record time. We stopped at the Safeway to get another time stamp and some snacks. It's a good thing that we had arrived with time to spare, because only two cashiers were on duty and the check-out lines were so long that they snaked back into the food aisles. I am thinking that the two management types that were just hanging out chatting in the service center could have maybe, just freaking MAYBE. come over to help out, but noooooooo. But we finally got our food and receipts, slathered on more sunscreen (!!) and turned back north for the return to Newberg.

Because we had a wind assist on the way down, we were assuming that we'd be fighting wind on the way back. But it was a quartering headwind, so was not as bad as it could have been. But we did a little pace-line work anyway, and so were able to maintain fairly decent speeds. Not that any of us is really big enough to either block much wind or create much draft. But every little bit helps. We were back in Newberg before we knew it, ready for Loop #2, but not until we'd had some more snacks.

The second loop on the Three Prairies perm heads southeast to Mt. Angel. The winds were picking up, and we were surprised that the seemed to be coming from the east; they should have been coming from the west. But they weren't too bad, and we soon turned out of them. Sort of. We crossed the Willamette River on the HWY 219 bridge, a crossing that I absolutely despise. The pavement is bad, the shoulder is narrow and debris filled, and semi-trailers whip past at 65 mph. I much prefer the I-5 crossing of the river on the Boone Bridge, but that was way out of our way. Just across the river we turned off onto Champoeg Road and made our way toward the St. Paul Highway, which we would take down into the French Prairie (Prairie #2 of the Three) as we eventually wound our way to Mt. Angel.

By this time it was HOT. The thermometer on my cyclometer was reading in the upper-80s. That was partly reflected road heat but, as Lynne pointed out, the road heat was reflecting on us. But it was so beautiful out, and such a treat to finally not be wearing ten layers of sopping wet gear, that I really did not mind. I was just hoping my sunscreen would work. In Mt. Angel we all got cold drinks and stood in the shade. We were on target for a 10-hour 200, which would be a personal best time for Lynne (at least that s what she insisted; both Susan and I had thought she'd already had a sub-10 brevet, but she would know best). Anyway, I pushed them to get going because I wanted to ensure that Lynne got that PB, even if it killed her.
(yes, Randos are a sick and sometimes cruel tribe).

I had not factored in the winds. At this point we were encountering thermal convection, and so the wind was in our face no matter which way we turned. We were also beginning to fade (or at least I was) after riding 100 miles at an average speed of above 16mph. And it was HOT HOT HOT.

But is was also beautiful. Mt. Hood was in full glory, and at one point we could just see the peak of Mt. Jefferson in the distance. As we looped our way back from Mt. Angel to Newberg through Gervais and Butteville, much in-motion photography was being practiced.

Champoeg State Park is about seven miles from the end of the course. I had run low on water, and really needed a cold drink (and some strategically-applied baby powder) and so suggested a pit stop. Lynne and Susan were happy to oblige. At the visitor center shop we got cold pop and a bag of potato chips and sat in the shade for a while watching a mama barn swallow fly in and out of her nest in the eaves with food for her chick. We were no longer looking at a sub-10 hour time, but no one seemed too upset about it. Chips and soda consumed, and more sunscreen applied, we once again saddled up and rode out.

The last six miles to Newberg has some small rollers, and after the river crossing there's a short climb. We were all tiring and so began to slow down and split up a bit. But we nevertheless rolled into the Thriftway parking lot at 5:15, just a quarter hour over that ten-hour goal. Considering the heat and the fact that both Lynne and I are in still in "come back" mode and Susan had both a cold AND allergies, it was not a bad finishing time at all.

Lynne and Susan headed over to Burgerville for strawberry milkshakes, but I had a date with Greg for beer at the Apex Bar and enormous plates of vegan Mexican food from Los Gorditos. So I made my home, showered, struggled into a pair of compression tights and headed out for dinner and drinks with my man. A great ending to a great day.


tripieper said...

Yesterday was such a glorious day for a ride and while I was doing my perm I envisioned hundreds of randos all over the northwest glorying in it! Glad you had a good ride and thanks for the post. Since my riding partner yesterday took some great shots I just may do a blog post as well!

Cecil Anne said...

It WAS glorious! But we saw shockingly few other cyclists. There was an organized "T-Shirt" century further down the valley, and we decided everyone else must have gone there . . .

Richard said...

Sounds like big fun. I wish I was up there riding.

Susan Otcenas said...

HHhhmmm, I've never been referred to as a perfectly normal superhuman before. One might quibble with the notion of me being "normal", after all.

lynnef said...

You know, it was Susan that got ME into randonneuring. Something about a 100km Wine Country Populaire back in, um, um, um, 2005. My ride ended with the crash on the black ice outside of Forest Grove, but I was back the next autumn for more!