I have never worked as hard on a bicycle as I did on that 7½-mile approach to Goldendale, and then again on the rolling 17-mile stretch of Hwy. 14 approaching
And that I was still riding at all, close enough to finishing on time to even think about “going for it,” was a personal victory.
This was my 3rd attempt at a 600k brevet.
First two attempts
The first try (Hot Springs & Dune, June 2007) ended at the overnight control in Newberg with knees that would no longer pedal. This DNF could be attributed to a bike fitting the week prior, which left me using muscles not accustomed to long distances.
The 2nd attempt (
But that didn’t address the general soreness I feel when riding over 200k. Just 3 weeks ago I experienced a bunch of knee pain that slowed me down on a 150-mile ride. This left me less than über-confident about my chances of finishing the Desert Rivers 600k. But dangit, I was sure gonna give it my best shot …
… which meant a lot more mental preparation and planning than is my nature.
Rewind a few years
About 8 or 9 years ago, I took a private Argentine tango lesson from a hot shot teacher from
I was more up for the Desert Rivers 600k than any brevet to date, at least mentally. And I planned. I scheduled time off from work on the previous Friday and made a point to sleep in. I commuted over the Sylvan Hill (between
I guess planning doesn’t guarantee success. But lack thereof inhibits it on a ride of this magnitude. A 600k is just too challenging for someone of my riding ability to take lightly. Sure, I had ways of not feeling devastated if I DNF’d (again). After all, there were quite a few wild cards to deal with (knees, wind, etc.)
I planned on the first day to stay inside myself, and not to try to keep up with anybody. I wanted to be able to ride on day two (from
So that’s exactly what I did. I lost sight of all riders well before crossing the
The Ride: Day One
Seven hours and 104 miles into the brevet, I arrived at the 3rd control in Umatilla. That was an
unbelievably fast time for me to do century. “Is this what it feels like to be
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
It was raining and dark by the time I arrived at the Holdman info control, but the weather mostly dried up by Hermiston. Bought two Odwalla drinks at the Safeway control, drank one, emptied the other into a water bottle.
In some aspects, the most difficult part of the brevet for me was the 12½-mile ascent up
The eventual descent on
I arrived at the
Before my nap, I took a bath to soak my thighs, and then applied two heat wraps to them. Philippe Andre had helped me purchase these heat wraps 15 months earlier in Stayton during the Hot Springs & Dunes 600k. These heat wraps didn’t seem to help much at all during that painful ride back to Newberg in June ’07, but they sure seemed to work on this brevet! I kept them on the whole 2nd day … didn’t remove them till my shower in
The 2nd day was amazing for me … particularly for how much I was able to stand in the pedals. I don’t know how much was attributable to the cleat adjustments, or to the heat wraps. But being able to keep going up those hills and into those headwinds was surprising. I knew 600k would be challenging, but not this challenging. And to still be pushing it on Hwy 14 at against those headwinds back to
I started at with Cecil, Sal, and Andrew, but fell off their pace soon after leaving
I used Starbucks for the control in Prosser, and an independent convenience store in Sunnyside. This area of
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
For some reason, I thought Goldendale would be lower in elevation than Bickleton. If it is, it sure didn’t feel like it. Relentless false summits and headwinds is all we encountered. No wonder Cecil was worried about making the Goldendale 6:20pm control in time way back around . I was blissfully unaware of the Goldendale control time, only conscious of the finish time in
Sal passed me, and later Andrew, as I fixed my flat. Narayan caught up and announced that we weren’t gonna make Goldendale on time. And I (with naïve optimism) said “sure we will!” … and took off like a mad man. I still thought there might be a sizeable descent into Goldendale. But the descent wasn’t that sizeable, and what there was was well disguised by the wind.
The effort I put into the 7½-mile approach to Goldendale was like doing a time trial that meant something to you, or a 15 kilometer event at the velodrome … with no drafting. As I passed the 1-mile marker heading into town, my watch said . The cashier at the control wrote on my brevet card.
Sal and I left Goldendale at the same time, but then I had to make some minor wardrobe adjustments. He’s a fast enough rider that it was a real effort to catch him. Having done so a few miles down the road, we tried doing the mini-paceline thing, but I was still worn out from my sprint into Goldendale, and let him go.
I was still on track to make
I guess there were 3 other cyclists who turned left onto Hwy. 14, Sal among them. He might have caught up with Cecil had he gone straight to
After those 17 miles, the bridge back towards
Thanks to Paul Whitney and the volunteers for putting on this ride, for finding such cool roads, and for the encouragement. Next time, though, they need to be given access to the wind machines’ breaker switch!