Monday, May 3, 2010

Edens' Gate/Covered Bridges 400k

Another one in the bag - a 400k with the Oregon Randonneurs. Nice ride, good people, great route. Cold and headwind-y. Again. I could get a complex over this.

I left the house at 2:45 AM. This is going to be a marathon day - drive almost 100 miles to the start, ride the ride, and turn around and drive straight home. (Hey, my dog needs me!)

All I had for directionals when I headed out the door was "La Quinta, exit 286". I assumed that was enough to navigate to the start. It was. John Henry Maurice was there taking registrations. I tried to make a best guess at the way. Just bring it all...VERY glad that Robert had rigged up a "double century" sidecar bag for me. I had a spare tire, three tubes, a pump, tools, a Boost, a giant chocolate-covered macaroon, a fistful of string cheese and Honey Stinger gels, wallet, keys, cell phone...I brought the iPod along - just in case things got dreadful and I needed something to help keep me safe and awake - but since this is a rando ride I felt a little sheepish about using it, so I didn't. I also brought a jar of powdered espresso as insurance against bad times. I also brought a spare light and batteries, a pair of tights, extra socks, a jacket, and warm gloves. And believe it or not I had some room left over - but not a lot.

I'm really liking the new light mount - it seems to totally prevent the "foot flash" that I was getting before. For those who haven't thought about this, being foot-forward on a bike means that the light illuminates your bike shoes at every pedal stroke, so that you get this really annoying strobe effect. TerraCycle makes a recumbent-specific accessory mount that moves the light forward far enough that this isn't a problem. Pat modified their stock one on the fly to work on the Carbent - it has a bigger front derailleur post than some other bikes. When he heard that I was gearing up for this ride, and an even longer one next week, he pretty much dropped what he was doing and got me set up. Thanks, Pat!

At the start, I ran into a bunch of people I know just a little, like John Vincent, and a few old friends like Greg "Oregon Sasquatch" Olson. And I saw a Team Sandy RAAM hat, out in the wild, perched under Scott Peterson's helmet. Woo-hoo!!! I'm told there was also a hat sighting or two at Calvin's Challenge, which was going at about the same time, in similar (though wetter) conditions back in Ohio. That's a race that I've got to get back to, sometime soon...just ran out of time to handle the logistics this year. 

0500 and we're off - a large pack of riders, heading off into a cold, dark wind. We weren't going overfast, which was fine, and we were mainly staying together. Things didn't split up too much until we hit the bigger climbs heading toward Silverton and Stayton. That's when I figured out that I couldn't get the bike to shift into the smallest chainring. Cripes. I spent a couple of minutes fussing with it but I was too hung up on some vague notions of "cable stretch" or "slipped out of adjustment, somehow" that I failed to notice the obvious - that the derailleur stopped moving long before the shifter did. Oh, well, the worst of the hills are over, sort of. We'll get on down the road and fix it in slightly better light. 

First bridge...what year was it built? 1906 (don't take the time to write it down, just remember and do it at the control...otherwise you're going to totally lose contact with this group....). Through Stayton and into Linn County. I always consider it a good ride when I've been in four or more counties in a day. Linn is #4 and I've gotten that done before 9AM, which is when my usual group rides start. Cool. 

Up and over the Cole School Road rollers. I had SO been looking forward to this, and now I was all nervous because of the front derailleur issue. There are two giant rollers on Cole School Road. Perfectly parabolic, or close. When I worked for Linn County, we used them as a gauge of how well the county rigs were doing, and how badass we were feeling: could we bottom out the suspension at the bottom of the roller? I managed the first one fairly easily, but nerved out about a hundred yards short of the top on the second, which is taller and  steeper. I just figured I didn't need to pop a tendon or blow a spleen, so a short walk was in order. As soon as I got off the bike and looked at it from a new angle, it was clear what the problem was - the clamp on the light mount was in contact with the front derailleur spring, so it was stopped short. I figured I knew how to fix it if I needed to, but since I'd almost made Cole School without it, I might as well go on a bit and see if I really "needed" it, or not.  

I rewarded myself for my discovery by eating the macaroon, since I knew we'd be at the control soon and I could resupply. Getting that monster in was probably a 600-calorie event, but I needed it. The cold headwind was sucking energy like nobody's business. 

Second bridge - Shimanek. I'm off the back of the fasty-fast group, but that's okay. It's gonna be a long day. On to Scio - our first non-info control point. Everyone seems to be congregating at the grocery. I hit the restroom, grabbed a bar and a can of tea - the big cans of sweetened iced tea are just about one water bottle full - and had the cashier sign me in.

From Scio, out past the Gilkey Bridge, then took a quick loop through Crabtree, out to the Larwood Bridge, back through Lacomb and in to Sweet Home. There were a couple of riders there, a couple had already left, and a bunch arrived while I was in eyeing the hot case. I got another iced tea - really good, not too sweet, and enough caffeine to do the trick, and three chicken strips, which sounded pretty good about then. 

I dumped the tea into my water bottle, and took off...realizing that I still had the hot chicken strips in hand. Not wanting to admit that I hadn' do that, I did what any sensible recumbent rando would do - I stuffed 'em down the front of my jersey.  And that, sports fans, is how Sandy invented the edible heating pad. The air temps were hovering just around 50, so the extra warmth was welcome...and since chicken strips are relatively dense (protein is dense stuff) and insulated in a nice layer of fat, they were holding the heat rather well. I managed to get almost all the way to Crawfordsville before they were all gone. At times it was a tough decision - heat or eat? - but I'll definitely keep that trick in my arsenal for next week! 

From Crawfordsville we headed up one of my favorite climbs - Brush Creek, which goes over Marcola Road. I was a little surprised that the large group that I knew was behind me hadn't caught me, yet. Of course, I hadn't given myself the option of the small chainring. If I had, I'd likely have climbed more slowly and been caught. 

Hit the next bridge, on to Mohawk, which is a regular on the circuit. There are a bunch of guys parked there, sucking down sandwiches. I took one look at that crowd and I didn't even have to consider; I knew that the meatloaf sandwiches were all out already. Bummer. But - corn dogs! And the ever-present iced tea. Bingle is taking off, solo. This is Sandy-land; I ride down here all the time, and it's going to be almost dead flat for the next, oh, 60 miles. I took off after him. I make a habit of "efficient" controls, but I still figure I outdid myself on this one. I left with a corndog literally hanging out of my mouth, lollypop-wise. 

Once I got onto Coburg Road, I kinda put the hammer down - though gently. I wasn't out to break any speed records, but this is, after all, my "bike commute" route to the MVBC weekly rides, and I'm used to going through here fairly efficiently. Not much to report. The sun actually shone through most of this part, but the wind had mysteriously shifted to give us a sharply crossing headwind. In a fair world, since we've turned the corner and are heading home, we should be enjoying a strong tailwind. Ah, well. Lots of raptors in the air, enjoying(?) the breeze while on the make for a meal. 

I got to Harrisburg at 3:45, making the turn off of LaSalle just in time to see three riders leave the DariMart. I'd really intended to find a bathroom in Mohawk, but got sidetracked, and I really, really wanted to head up to the bathroom in the park in Harrisburg, but on the other hand I was morbidly curious to see who I was apparently catching up I grabbed the first comestible I could find, which was a 5 Hour Energy, had the clerk sign my card, and off we go up Peoria Road. 

I am quite plainly living on borrowed time, but I'm really enjoying the ride. I had idly considered hitting the Lake Creek Bakery, since I was fortunate enough to be going past it during its very limited operating hours, but that gave in to the thrill of the chase. Sour cream twists will have to wait for another day. There are three dots out there that don't have names, and I'm going to figure it out...I can't swear to it, but the "dots" may have known I was there, because they picked up the pace a bit...I upped the ante and was slowly reeling them in. It took probably 10 miles to gain 2-3 minutes, which was a little frustrating. By that time, the pace had blown Greg back a bit, and he encouraged me to "go find Del" (Scharffenberg, who was WAY off the front with Kole). It took me several more minutes to catch the other two riders - Vince and Dave - and we were all at it rather hard the rest of the way in to Albany. 

By the time we crossed into Benton County (sixth county of the day!!) I really had nothing else on my mind but "blue room-blue room-blue room". Found one at the school. Yay! By this time Dave and Vince were a distant memory, several minutes in front, and as I'd gotten my speedwork out of the way I decided to relax and enjoy the ride through Buena Vista and up to Independence. Polk County - #7. 

What the...? The soda fountain in Independence is closed. Crap. Next idea on where to control??? OK, the Mexican restaurant next door looks a little underutilized. Maybe they're new? They had guava nectar to go.  I took stock: One Ensure, three gels, three string cheeses, and two full bottles - and all I had to get through was 48 more miles. No worries. The cashier asked about my shoes..."that other guy" had had some, too. Do you really NEED those for biking? I explained as best I could, told her they are like ski bindings. 

I left Independence at 6:45, pretty happy with myself. Not a great double-century time, but given the conditions not a really bad one, either, and I was feeling really good, AND I was going to get through Salem before it got dark. I don't know the route past Salem, so since I was riding alone it was going to be a long night full of stopping and looking at the cue sheet in the headlights once night fell.

Across the bridge, up River Road, and into Salem. River Road was a bit nerve-wracking. Apparently it was prom night, and there were two types of teenagers on the road; happy little snots in limos, and surly, undateable ones in pickup trucks. Neither sort seemed to have a "share the road" mentality. But I know the road well enough, and I managed. 

Through Salem. The route through town is easy to follow, minimal turns. Thanks! The sun is getting pretty low, and the food establishments on River Road are looking good...nah, let's get this one in the books. I had hopes of getting done before 10:30, which would be a reasonable days' work. River Road...Keene...I'm trying to stay a few road names ahead on the cue sheet, so that I don't miss anything. I don't have an odometer, so I'm going on dead reckoning. Rando rides are about the only time I miss not having a cyclometer; the rest of the time the extra information is just distraction. 

Somewhere after Keene Road it was starting to get cold enough that I wanted my jacket, and my warmer gloves, so I pulled over. OK, jacket. Now gloves...where are they? Did they fall out of the sidecar bag? Crap! No - wait - I put 'em in the jacket pocket, figured that I'd want both at the same
I had an inelegant moment where I realized that I'd left the last string cheese up my sleeve, and now that I was wearing the jacket it was going to be difficult to of course I was fishing around down the front of my own shirt when Vince came rocketing past again. He slowed down enough to make sure that I was okay. I'm sure I looked like I was having a heart attack or had stepped in a fire ant nest or something with all the squirming and contorting. I take solace in the knowledge that it was dark. 

The extra layer really did feel good. I'm glad I saved it for the end.  After that I just worked my way back in, catching street names as best I could and guessing when I had to, mainly correctly. I rolled into the parking lot, dumped my bike in the van, grabbed my sensible shoes, and struck out in search of the final control, which was being staffed by Lynn and Susan and Marcello. Armed with a truckload of Bell'Agio pizza, they were impeccable hosts/hostesses. I got my card signed at 10:22, which is a little better than I'd hoped for early in the day. Vince was hanging out, and Geoff, David, and Greg showed up a few minutes later. Kole and Dell had gotten in shortly after 9, which was the only "action" Lynn had had on her volunteer shift. She'd been waiting, with bells on, from 7PM on; on a better weather year she'd have had plenty of company at that hour. 

A couple of slices, a fair bit of water, and a long drive back around 1AM.

So - in some ways it was "one RAAM day" - 250 miles, up for 22.5 hours, about 10k' of climb. And it felt pretty danged good. I could live without the 50 degrees and windy crap for RAAM, but I know that I'll take what I get. 

I fixed the front derailleur issue, everything is just fine. Sometimes you just hafta laugh. 

Next week - since it's National Bike Month I'm going to a double century in California. This will be the peak training week mileage-wise. I'll continue to ride and do intensity work but there's not much further gain in stacking on the heavy miles. 


  1. LOL on the chicken finger warmers. It reminds me of a very hot brevet last summer, when I stopped at a convenience store and bought two frozen bear claws (the person in front of me got the last thawed ones), and I put the paper bag with them in the jersey pocket in the back. I got about 30 minutes of wonderful cooling effect from them. And then I got to eat them.

  2. Excellent ride tale, Sandy!! You'd better file a patent on that edible heating pad concept right away, because I think you're on to something...

  3. Okay, I just had to stick my head in and say hey... Found your blog from Velochicks and the feature about you doing the RAAM on a recumbent. So I started reading.

    First I have to say Wow, you go girl! That you ride a recumbent at all is amazing and awesome. I don't know that I'm brave enough for that. What a very different view of the world that must be. That you're going to go across country that way, Holy Hannah, bless your soul girl!

    I'll be here in the background, cheering you on, reading as you go. I'm just back in the saddle after being off for more than 20 years. I love it and sad I got off for as long as I did.

    You are amazing! Thank you for sharing this with us all!