Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bikenfest 2009 200k

It took me forever to start chronicling the Bikenfest 2009 200km ride … but here it is:

I always look forward and enjoy John Kramer’s brevets, and this one was no different. New starting place. New (to me) roads. Good scenery. Challenging yet doable route. And now another notch on my 2nd R-12 belt.

Alan Woods graciously offered to drive me to the start in Hood River, and collected my bike and me in the wee pre-dawn hours of Saturday (October 3rd). My friend Amy had already offered to meet me at the finish that evening and take me back to Portland, so it was cool to get a ride to the start and not worry about Alan having to wait around at the finish. (His 200k time is almost 2 hours less than mine.)

Alan had also ridden the Mt. Adams SxSW 200k a few months earlier, where I volunteered at one of the secret contrôles. Interestingly, he remembered two things from that contrôle: 1) the funky old motorcycle I had ridden out there that day, and 2) Amy’s colorful flowing scarf. It’s funny the things that linger in our memories.

rain in the distance
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
The Bikenfest brevet started eastwards from Hood River and took us on the scenic bikeway that heads towards Mosier. From there, we rode over Sevenmile Hill to The Dalles. From that summit, one could see a storm a’brewing in the vicinity to which we were heading.

For the first half of the ride, I felt sluggish, with none of the alacrity I had felt a week earlier on the 1st 2/3 of the Barlow Trail 300k. It felt like my tires were under-inflated. But in actuality, it probably had more to do with the strong ale I enjoyed at Madison’s Bar and Grill the night before. The end result, though, was that I didn’t see any other riders for most of the first half of the ride.

It took a while to grock how to get out of Hood River, because my mind’s eye was convinced that the Maryhill portion of the route (on the Washington side of the Columbia River) was gonna precede the rural farmlandy Oregon portion. (I tend not to do much research beforehand on these kinds of brevets.) But once I figured out that I needed to cross under the US 197 overpass, I was good to go … right into that nice little rain storm I had seen a’brewing about an hour earlier.

josh and alan
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
The “towns” in this area of Oregon amount to little more than intersections with a few signs and buildings scattered around. Such was the case at the info contrôle “in” Fairbanks. Between Fairbanks (OR, not AK) and the next contrôle (which was literally just a signpost at an intersection) I momentarily wished my booties had made the trip. But the rainstorm passed by the time I returned to The Dalles, as did the need for protective rain gear.

peg and lesli
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
My sluggishness abated a bit during the second half of the brevet, which was basically an out-and-back on WA Hwy 14 to the Maryhill Museum. By this time, I caught up with John Hughart, as well as the trio of Lesli Larson, Peg Winczewski, and Tom Bonamici (who had all made a brief stop in The Dalles). We all leapfrogged to Maryhill, where Paul Whitney, John Kramer, and some colorful peacocks were “manning” the contrôle. [Thank you Paul for the double-bagged black tea!]

The route passed through The Dalles for a third time on the return portion of the ride. It was here that I made a caffeine stop at the Union 76 Mini Mart. The cashier there was quite a character, and was memorably impressed by Cecil’s Sweetpea. (She must have passed through about ½ hour earlier.) He couldn’t understand why none of our bike had kickstands! “You’ve got bags, lights, beautiful fenders … but no kickstand?!”

I ascended up to scenic Rowena Crest (overlooking the Columbia) alone, but shortly afterwards joined up with Peg, Tom, and Lesli for the final 14 miles. After Mosier, Peg’s and Tom’s headlights failed, so we rode as a quartet along the darkening scenic byway and on to Hood River.

‘Twas an enjoyable ride that featured a lot of Oregon territory I had never seen before. Thank you John!