The annual running of the “Three Capes” 300k brevet took place on April 10th. This was my fourth year of riding this particular 186-miler, and for a change, I was determined to improve my time.
The brevet starts in Forest Grove, and after a couple small detours, heads out Highway 6 to Tillamook. From there, it goes on a hilly scenic tour of Cape Mears, Cape Lookout, and Cape Kiwanda before heading back to Pacific City. The next piece is charming Little Nestuca River Road, and then the towns of Grande Ronde, Willimina, Sheridan, Ballston, followed by Amity, Dayton, and Layfayette. The last leg hugs the reputable Ribbon Ridge (North Valley Rd) on the way back to Forest Grove.
I rode out to the start with Joshua Bryant in the wee, pre-dawn hours of that Saturday. Joshua actually rode out from SE Portland, and his route happened to pass very near my new place in Beaverton. So I joined him for the last 16 miles, and we ended up beating Michael (the organizer) to the start in Forest Grove by about 20 minutes.
Once the ride began, I was able to keep up with a relatively fast group of riders to about Stringtown Road. They were still in sight on Gales Creek Road when venerable Del Scharffenberg pulled up along side (on his decades old red Schwinn Paramount). For some reason, he started a few minutes late. We chatted some, and he allowed me to draft for about four miles. Eventually my thighs started burning as he picked up the pace. He then gradually faded in the distance in pursuit of his faster buddies.
Between the Timber cutoff and the summit on Highway 6, I basically played leapfrog with Mike Richeson (of West Seattle) and Holden Hughart. (Holden wears a lot of loud reflective gear and rides a bike with flat handlebars and disk brakes. He and I also leapfrogged a bit during the Bikenfest 200k last October).
On the way up to the Highway 6 summit, another venerable rider, John Kramer, passed me. I cranked things up a bit to stay with him as we caught up with Richeson. The three of us shared 6-minute pulls during the 28-mile descent into Tillamook. It was a lot of work keeping up with the two of them, but it was also my quickest arrival in Tillamook by a long shot.
Kramer and Richeson passed me on the Cape Meares Loop as I double checked an info-contrôle question on my brevet card. From that point all the way to the Sourgrass Summit, I rode alone. (I figured I wouldn’t have been able to keep up with Mike and John even if I had caught them. It was actually amazing how quickly they disappeared from sight while I was just putting on my gloves.)
I stopped at the Stimulus espresso shop in Pacific City (another almost-annual ritual), and was tempted to ask the servers if they offered any “stimulus packages” (like a bagel/cream cheese/latte special). But instead, I just chased a small mocha with a $2 bottle of water (the $3 bottle being just too over-the-top).
Soon after Little Nestuca River Road and the Sourgrass Summit, I was caught by a rider on a Specialized cycle wearing a Seattle Randonneurs jersey. Turns out his name is Will Goss. He and I ended riding the remainder of the brevet (the last 70 miles) together.
We stopped briefly in Grande Ronde, but not long enough to buy anything, as the line in the convenience store was way too long, and the help way too short-handed. Instead, we rode 26 more miles to Amity before seriously “re-fueling.” Between Grande Ronde and there, we missed the “OR” sign for crossing over to Yamhill River Road (thereby riding Hwy 18 for longer than was pleasant), but got back on track for the now-familiar towns of Willimina and Sheridan.
Zip ties provided the answer to the info-contrôle question in Ballston. The novelty for me, though, was that the sun was still shining … and that its angle was still many degrees above the horizon!
In Amity, Will and I caught up with John Kramer, and were joined by Jim Hinkley (in full 2010 orange Team Oregon regalia). While “refueling,” I checked my cell phone, and discovered a text message from my coach. (Yes, I now have a coach, as I figured I’d never be able to successfully complete 1200k PBP left to my own devices.)
Brian, Apr 10, 2010 17:47:20 “Hows it going?”
Me, Apr 10, 2010 18:21:59 “36 mi 2 go”
Brian, Apr 10, 2010 18:22:37 “Kill it”
And my next thought was, “With what?!”
Kramer elected to linger a bit longer outside Amity. But fortunately for me, Will and Jim seemed willing (if not knowing) accomplices to “the kill.” Will and I traded pulls to Dayton, Layfayette, and North Valley Road. Then Jim took over with a vengeance when it got dark (before Spring Hill Road). Fortunately, he reeled it in a bit to allow me to keep up. It was kinda exciting doing the paceline thing after dark. Don’t think I’ve ever done that before. Sure took a lot of concentration.
Unfortunately for Jim, he flatted about one mile from the finish, just before the right turn onto Highway 47. He graciously sent Will and me on our way, allowing me to record a personal best 300k time of 14 hours and 53 minutes. That’s about 2-3 hours better than all my previous attempts at this distance.
After checking in with Michael Rassmussen and company, I headed to the bar for a Hammerhead ale and completed the following text correspondence with my coach:
Me, Apr 10, 2010 21:09:55 “U mean ‘Kill Bill?’
14 hrs, 53 min, pers best
nuttin like paceline after dark (last 12 miles)
I’m really sore”
Brian, Apr 10, 2010 21:12:24 “Bill rocks! Nicely done
Tiny gear hr or 2 tomorrow”
Me, Apr 10, 2010 21:16:50 “tiny gear back 2 Beaverton?”
Brian, Apr 10, 2010 21:17:55 “As small as you’ve got”
It would have probably been prudent to take the bus or Max back to Beaverton. Alan Woods even offered me and my bike a ride. But something in me wanted to be able to say, “I biked to the coast and back from my home in Beaverton.” And so I did, even though it was a sketchy-tired spin in the smallest chainring all the way back home.
A couple more picture of the coast are here on Flickr.