Friday, December 25, 2009

Scio Covered Bridges 200k Permanent

Last November, I completed my 23rd consecutive monthly 200k (or greater) randonneuring bike ride. But I hadn’t figured out what to do in December…until…Don Boothby of Seattle announced his intention to ride the Scio Covered Bridges permanent on Saturday the 5th. “Cool,” I thought, as Saturdays generally work much better for me than Sundays. Plus, Don chose the route with which I started all this R-12 business (with Cecil and Lynne back in January ’08).

The weather turned out to be a bit beyond “cool” on that blustery Saturday morning. There were six riders who expressed interest in participating, but predictions of icy temperatures convinced two riders not to make the trip down from Washington. That left Don, John Vincent, Sam Huffman and me at the Starbucks in Wilsonville for a 7:30 AM start. But because the sun had yet to melt the layer of early morning frost, Don elected to delay the start one hour. Even then, John thought better of embarking on the ride, and decided to drive himself and his recumbent directly back to Olympia.

That left Don Boothby, Sam Huffman, and me. After 8:30, the three of us rolled out to I-5, and gingerly rode the interstate bridge that crosses the Willamette. The Eastward decent down Miley Road looked problematic, enough so that Don and Sam elected to ride back to the Starbucks. I, on the other hand, continued on slowly, but was concentrating so hard on road surfaces that I missed the right turn to Airport Road (hence a bonus mile or two).

Once on Airport Road, things improved significantly. Roadside gutters still contained intermittent patches of ice, but the roads for the most part became rideable. The sun even made a brief appearance, but then went away again until the afternoon.

In Silverton, I visited briefly with tango friend and ex-landlady Ann Shams. I’m glad that stop was brief, because low and behold who shows up at Water and Main as I’m exiting the town…none other than “ready to roll” Don Boothby!…on his 20-year-old Raleigh mountain bike with moustache handlebars and studded tires! He mentioned back in Wilsonville that he had studded tires, but I didn’t realize they were mounted on a backup bike is his pickup.

With company for the rest of the ride, my pace picked up (although Don’s probably decreased some). I wasn’t confident of being able to pedal up the second (very steep) grade on Cole School Road, but barely managed. From there, we continued to the Schimanek Covered Bridge, where I dropped my old Nikon CoolPix. My picture of Don exiting the bridge is the very last one taken with this camera (as the lens housing is irrepably bent). From the Schimanek Bridge, we rode on to Scio, the Huffman Covered Bridge, Crabtree, and the Gilkey Covered Bridge.

Before reaching Jefferson, the route heads North towards Parish Gap Road. Oddly, I didn’t remember Parish Gap from this ride 23 months ago, but I did remember it from the Alsea Falls 400k last August. I have to admit, it’s a little easier 70 miles into a ride rather than 170 miles.

Don and I wound our way to Salem by dusk, took his picture in front of the state capital (where he was once inducted into the Marines), stopped at the local Safeway for some fuel, then continued on a nocturnal 40-mile journey back to Wilsonville. The bike paths exiting Salem were pleasantly clever. But the most remarkable part of this segment was how in-the-middle-of-nowhere we felt, despite the fact we were roughly paralleling I-5 for much of the way.

R-24 in the books

Don was anxious to get checked in, so we used the Plaid Pantry is Wilsonville for the final contrôle. After that, we finally warmed up at Starbucks.

I’m glad Don scheduled this permanent, and ultimately rode it, thereby providing good company, and helping me ride a bit faster than I otherwise would have. Plus, I got my second R-12 out of the way just before Oregon was deluged with a week of colder, freezing weather.

My pictures are here on Flickr.
Don's account of this ride is blogged here.