*SR = super randonneur
I’m getting kinda known for my late starts at randonneuring events. (Lord knows I can ill afford them.) But for the Alsea Falls 400k, I was totally on track to arrive ½ hour early. Got some coffee in Newberg ‘round 5:00 AM, approached McMinnville about 5:30, went all the way through town (so I thought), but saw no Best Western, and nothing resembling the address “2035 S Highway 99W.” I made two more passes from the eastern edge of town to the western end of the one-way streets, the first time consulting a gal at McDonalds, and the second time a gal at Dutch Brothers. It never occurred to me, even when viewing Google Maps the night before, that there was anything to McMinnville beyond the one-way streets. But the gal at Dutch Brothers had an iPhone with a map function and let me know I hadn’t gone nearly far enough.
I finally got to the Best Western at 6:10 AM, and even though I had laid everything out and deliberately packed the night before, I discovered my pannier neglected to make the trip. Unplanned lateness plus a missing critical piece of equipment turned me into a less-that-fully-functioning basket case. I couldn’t even unbuckle my bike shoes! Michael and Philippe were patient, the latter loaning me some old leather toe straps to secure my improvised duffle bag to the rear rack. Michael called out my actual departure time as 6:33 when I left.
The roads from Willamia to Sheridan and Ballston were familiar from other brevets, but Broadmead Rd. linking Ballston to Perrydale Rd. was new to me. Perrydale Rd. essentially runs into Dallas, where I stopped at Santaim Cycles for a tire pump, as mine was in the pannier that got left at home. Salesman Dan was quite intrigued with my Stumptown (he seemed to know the guy that designed it for Mountain Cycle), and with my generator light setup. I guess not too many randonneuring types frequent that establishment.
Falls City struck me as a town hard hit by the economy. Or maybe it was already hard hit before the downturn. I dunno. The ladies behind the counter let me know that the previous rider been through about ½ hour earlier. So I wasn’t gaining time on anyone.
What would a Philippe/Michael brevet be without a gravel section? Well, the one between Falls City and Kings Valley Road was fairly tame as gravel roads go … quite hard-packed. ‘Twasn’t necessary to deflate the tires.
Seemed like there was an inordinate amount of roadkill on this ride. Quite a few deer … running the gamut from freshly extinguished to thoroughly decayed skeletons. There were rodents, felines, and even a colorful bird that had met untimely roadside demises. Made me wonder if Polk Country has any sort of clean-up program for deceased roadside animals.
Shadows got real long riding from Alsea to Alsea Falls, and by the time I descended down to Monroe, it was totally dark. I couldn’t find West Ingram Island Road out of Monroe until after I rode up the down the main drag a few times and then got help from a Dari Mart employee. Then before Harrisburg I failed to see McMullen Lane, even after a local kid in a driveway told me “it’s right up there by the stop sign.” Never saw a stop sign till a mile or so further when I got to Highway 99E. Chalk up another bonus mile or two.
I too was headed to Salem … via Jefferson … then some challenging hills along Parrish Gap Road (I actually ended up walking one of those hills) … then Turner. Lo and behold, guess who appeared in Turner? Marcello! Turns out he did this ride on significantly less sleep than my insufficient amount, and chose Turner (about 8 miles shy of Salem) as a napping place. We ended up riding the last 35 or so miles back into McMinnville together.
It got light shortly after leaving Salem. Again, there were more rollers through the Eola Hills (premium pinot noir country) as we foraged our way back to McMinnville. And then a funny thing happened as we were minutes from the end (according to our cue sheets and computers). We missed a turn! All of a sudden we found ourselves in downtown McMinnville asking directions to the Best Western. Add another 30 minutes to our times. It was déjà vu all over again. The Best Western and I were not on the same plane of consciousness this weekend. Might has well been on different planets!
Thanks to Michael and Philippe for an excellent, challenging route. And also for putting up with such a basket case!
Photos are here on Flickr.