Tuesday, March 31, 2009

fast guys host a wet one

(124 miles … in constant rain … from Forest Grove to Vernonia and Birkenfield, then back)

The picture I wish I’d taken during the Berkie 200k brevet (but didn’t) is one of Sam, Del, and Mike at the Vernonia control. I mean, how often do NW randonneurs get to see these guys all in one place in street clothes?

Another fast guy, Seattle’s Brian Ohlemeier, did the SIR Spring 200k the previous week (March 21) in 7 hours and 25 minutes. He comes to mind cuz he’s also done hosting duties. In fact, he waited patiently in a hotel in North Bend, WA last May for me to finish a 400k in 26:52, just 8 minutes under the limit.

Okay, I’m a little obsessed with fast guys (particularly, for some reason, the ones who do their share of volunteering) … but I’ll get over it. It’s just that I have no idea what it would be like to live in the body of one of these riders, and to be able to do 200k in, lets say, under 8 hours.

As far as last Saturday’s Birkie brevet was concerned, I had a hard time getting up for it. I had already done a 200k earlier in the month, and felt like I desperately needed some down time. But on the other hand, my March mileage was down. So I told myself that if I could get to sleep uncharacteristically early the night before, I’d make a go of it. After all, my new jacket almost makes me look forward to riding in the rain.

I got up at 4:10 on Saturday morning, left my place at 4:50, and rode the 3 miles Goose Hollow. The first Max train of the day arrived there at 5:20, and deposited me in Hillboro 45 minutes later. After five more miles of riding (it’s really dark between Hillsboro and Cornelius), I arrived in Forest Grove with 15-20 minutes to spare … just enough time to check in, pay some dues, eat a muffin, and douse it with coffee.

Once the ride commenced, I managed to miss just about every signal on Pacific Ave. But once on Gales Creek Road, I ended up tagging along with Peg, Lesli, and Sara. On Timber Road, I was passed by a few riders who must have started later (including RB). And by the time I was heading back on Keasey Road (from the info control), there were still a dozen riders behind me. Most of them caught up in Birkenfield while I washed down a pbj sandwich with a house mocha.

Country Store
Originally uploaded by tangobiker

But it was back at about the 50-mile point (16 miles before Birkenfield) where I started having serious misgivings about this ride. I felt finished. Perhaps undernourished. I wanted to be anywhere BUT where I was (pedaling along Highway 47) … somewhere that involved lying horizontally … home … the acupuncturist’s … anywhere. Despite a brief respite at the Birkenfield Country Store, this feeling persisted all the way back to Vernonia (mile 88). Odd, because riding along beautiful riverside roads is one of my favorite things to do (even when it’s wet). But my body didn’t care. It wanted out.

I made quick work of the return Vernonia control … visited an ATM and public restroom, and downed a GU energy gel. Surprisingly restorative.

And lucky for me, I met up with Greg Olson for the last 36 miles. Greg is a fast rider who started 40 minutes late (which is often his habit). Later on, his tire pump broke as he was repairing a flat, and he had to wait 40 additional minutes for a rider to come along. With this 80-minute handicap, we ended up leaving Vernonia at the same time.

Greg seemed quite content to pedal at my 12 mph pace for the remainder of the ride. He was chatty and had lotsa stories, all which had an energizing effect on me. Of course, maybe it did have something to do with his not wanting to be stranded without a pump again.

At Glenwood, I had a craving for a corn dog, but the closest thing the Shell station had was a $1 BBQ burrito. It hit the spot, and gave me gumption for the final 12 miles back to Forest Grove … (helped by a nice tailwind!).

Upon arrival at the McMenammin’s lodge, I didn’t look at my watch, nor check the time that Sam wrote on my brevet card. But according to time stamp on a picture of Greg checking in, it looks like we finished in 11 hours and 22 minutes. It felt slower, and harder than that. ‘Twas about an hour more than my time two years ago, and 15 minutes more than last year. Doesn’t look like I’m getting any quicker.

I didn’t stick around the finish too long, as Brad Reher and Ed Groth (the latter of whom did the entire ride on a fixie) were departing to Hillsboro. I tagged along. Five miles later, the three of us found Adam George already waiting for the Max.

I’ve been on rides before where I didn’t know if I’d be able to finish … but I don’t remember one where I experienced such second thoughts in the middle of the ride about doing it at all ... even during the 600k last Fall. But it all seemed to significantly wash away once I soaked in the tub at home afterwards.

Michael Johnson's report
Cecil's report
Lesli's pictures
my pictures

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