Tuesday, August 24, 2010

3 Volcanoes 300k

I had a choice for the first weekend in August: ride 400k out of Wilsonville on a route that featured some of Oregon's illustrious historic covered bridges (a route I had ridden a few months earlier), or ride 300 mountainous kilometers on roads through the Gifford National Forest that I had never seen. As someone who doesn't even like to drink the same beer twice in a row, I chose the latter.

The "Three Volcanoes 300k" started in the small town of Packwood, WA (about a 2.5 hour drive from Portland), which serves as a gateway of sorts into the Cascades (about 50 miles south of Mt. Rainier). The ride featured many narrow-ish, scenic national forest roads, and about 10 miles of gravel. Because of this last detail, I elected to take my 'cross bike, which accommodates wider tires than my LeMond. The last time I rode a cyclocross bike on a rando ride was Michael Wolfe's "Alsea Falls 400k" about a year earlier. (After that ride, my Shimano generator hub was converted for use with my LeMond.) On this ride, I used my old Nite Sun battery-powered handlebar-mounted light, which turned out to be problematic on the final mountainous descent of the ride.

Amy Peiper put out an email a couple days before the ride that a cabin room in Packwood became unexpectedly available before and after the ride. Four others and I signed up, and I drove up from Portland pretty much straight from work on Friday afternoon/evening. 'Twas nice to wake up in the town from which the ride commenced.

chris, john, & david
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
From the local Shell station, the ride started out briskly enough, with plenty o' pacelines from Packwood to Randle. Things spread apart a bit after the first contrôle, (at the Iron Creek Picnic Grounds), but I ended up riding the next 15 or so miles with the likes of Chris Heg, John Perch, David Rowe and Jon Muellner.

Originally uploaded by tangobiker
After watering up at the Blue Lake Creek Campground, I rode solo for most of the remainder of the ascent to Baby Shoe Pass, which included a fair amount of gravel for the last 5 or 6 miles. At the summit, I arrived at about the same time as bike builder Dan Boxer, but before I left, several other people arrived (as evidenced by this group picture).

A few more miles of gravel on the descent, then some fast pavement to Trout Lake. Lotsa riders stopped here for Huckleberry Shakes (which included a long wait), but I elected for a shorter contrôle stop at the Trout Lake grocery store (as did Dan Fender).

The next section included section of Kramer's SxSW 200k (that was held in July 2009). Some hills, some drops, a few spots of gravel, and finally a well-attended contrôle at Northwoods .

From there, the final ascent up to Windy Ridge and Elks Pass was challenging. And then there was the descent. A moist and foggy descent. My Nite-Sun didn’t illuminate things in a very confidence-inspiring way, and I ended up being passed by a few people on the way to Randle, including "Levis on Litespeed" Steven Barnes. After the right-turn-onto­-smaller-roads back towards Packwood, Steve started to fade a bit. The two of us basically finished at the same time with a far-from-lanterne-rouge time of 18 hrs and 15 minutes.

Three hundred kilometers, 12,000 feet of climbing, 10+ miles of gravel, and 3 passes over 4000 feet. What co-organizer and tandem pilot Amy Pieper later described as “truly the full meal deal of brevets.”

Some excellent photos and description of the ride were posted here by Chris Heg.

John Muellner has a detailed account here.

The rest of my pictures are here on Flickr.

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