Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tillamook Double Century!

We did it - a legitimate double century, right here in Oregon. I'll get more pictures up onto this post as soon as they become available, but I really wanted to get the story down before I head off for the Tejas Time Trials.

The inaugural Tillamook Double Century was lightly attended, but incredibly staffed: a 1:1 staff to rider ratio. Don't expect that next year, but - it was good to be able to keep tabs on all of our riders, and watching rider progress gave me a lot of feedback on how the event could be improved.

We rented a nice little house in Rockaway Beach. Elise drove up with me as the advance team. We got groceries in Tillamook, got dinner ready, and got the sag supplies more or less organized. John, Joanne, and Kevin arrived a little later. A few stories later, we had an early lights-out - start time was 5AM so we had a 4AM wakeup call. Since everyone who was riding was already in Rockaway, we decided to shift the route up the course, and just start there. There's one major drawback to this - a late finish on Hwy 101 - but overall it seemed like the sensible thing to do.

By the time we were putting the final preparations in place, Keith showed up. Keith and Kevin have committed to riding the whole distance, Elise is riding selected portions, and I'm on the fence. John and Joanne haven't brought bikes.

I sent the intrepid threesome out the door, not fully realizing quite how many times I'd hear the word "intrepid" over the next 14 hours: Kevin's phlog

After settling into a second cup of coffee with John and Joanne, I realized that it was going to be a lot more instructive for me to stay with the sag vehicle all day. That, and I suddenly realized that I still had the disk wheel on the Carbent after Ring of Fire.

So we all set out in John's support van, prepared to provide full concierge service to the gang. The route heads north for starters - up to Hwy 26, and then east to Necanicum Junction. There was a pretty bad wreck on the way north, and we were glad to be close enough to it to see that all of our riders had gotten through the area safely - but the support vehicle was detained for an extra 20 minutes while a downed power line was secured, temporarily putting a bakery stop in Cannon Beach in jeopardy.

We did have to head a few miles up Highway 53 to chase down Keith, who was making excellent time. We refilled his waterbottles, gave him a banana, and headed back to support Kevin and Elise.

So far, good weather - no rain, and blue sky peeking out here and there...Hwy 53 is amazing as ever. When we got to the turn at Mohler, we realized that it was a little ambiguous in the route instructions, so we hung around there to direct folks. We even found sidewalk chalk - on sale, no less! - at the local grocery, so we had great fun chalking the turn.

Miami-Foley Road is much the same, and all too soon you're at Hwy 101 - not the fun part of this route, for sure, but it's the only way through this particular bottleneck. We sagged Elise up ahead - she knew she didn't care to do the whole 200, so why in the heck would you do the least fun part?

At Beaver, we gassed the van. It was starting to rain pretty good. Elise was considering riding. We made sandwiches. We ate sandwiches. We thought about it while we waited for Kevin (Keith was already through).
I chalked the turn. The chalk disappeared...finally the rain started to lighten up and Elise was back out on the bike. After a few minutes, we found Kevin making a quick pit stop at the store, and sent him to chase Elise down.

Keith was so far ahead that we figured it didn't really matter when he missed a turn and got 22 bonus miles. We sent Kevin the right direction, put Elise back in the van, and followed Keith's route. When we found him he was back on the ride route, but he'd just blown a tire, badly. John located his spare, and we got him back on the road. With the "shortcut", Kevin was now a little bit ahead, but overall the two of them were much closer together. The slightly devilish side of me would consider this to be "good racer management", though Keith might disagree as his route had a 3-mile gravel portion...again, beautiful scenery along here. Not "beachy", but forested and with a babbling brook running along beside us.

By the time we got to Willamina it was really raining! Joanne showed me a really nice reroute that takes us off of Hwy 18 - we'll definitely be using that next year. We got the gang onto Hwy 22 and put Elise back out just before the turn onto the Little Nestucca River Road - another scenic beauty.

The Little Nestucca ends in Pacific City, ands it's back to 101 for a quick stretch before heading out on the Three Capes loop. The original route was a little over mileage - about 210 - and takes in all three capes. By now it was getting toward 6PM and we had screaming horizontal rain (but a very nice tailwind!), so the scenery, though spectacular, wasn't quite the attraction it should have been. We made a very judicious edit to the route - leaving off the third Cape - to bring the total down to 202 miles. That's probably what we'll do next year, too - Whiskey Creek Road brings us straight back into Tillamook for the finish.

The wind was howling so hard and fast that the guys were riding at a great pace despite the torrential rain. We didn't have great visibility, so we didn't have a lot of warning that they were coming - so we had to jump out and flag them down to explain the re-route as soon as we saw them. Two minutes out of the van and I was soaked! Usually September is still a fairly dry time at the coast - but not today.

Unfortunately, since we'd started the loop in Rockaway, the guys still had about 15 miles to go once we hit Tillamook. Next year, that won't be an issue since we'll start and end in Tillamook. We checked on them one last time, and took the van back to the beach house. I ordered up some great pizza from Upper Crust:
Three guesses what I ordered. The first two don't count. The crew got our showers while we were waiting for the pizza, got the house nice and warm, and put out dinner provisions.

John headed back out to make sure that Kevin and Keith got back safely. As it turned out, when he got back to them, both were down with flat tires! Between the dark and the rain and the highway conditions, and being within a couple of miles of home, and with pizza on the way and warm showers waiting, it seemed pretty silly to start repairing flats - so John stuffed 'em in the van and brought them home.

Showers, pizza, stories...lots of miles: sweet success. Technically, it was a 100% DNF rate with the two flats - but I'm sure not looking at it that way. A HUGE thank-you to everyone who participated! I'm really looking forward to producing this event next summer.

Next stop: Norman, OK!
My daughter Nancy - Tejas Crew


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