Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Oregon Coast 600k (2011)

Six hundred kilometers on a bicycle within 40 hours is a challenge, no two ways about it. Sure, there’s the opportunity to take a nap in the middle of the route. Sure, this course in question didn’t include three or four mountain summits over the Cascades. But nonetheless, 600k’s need to be taken seriously. Can’t fall out’a bed with minimal sleep on the front end and expect to finish. At least I can’t.

Last year I DNF’d the Oregon Coast 600k (my only DNF of the season). I went on later in the year to finish the Oregon Blue Mountains 1000k (barely), plus two other 600k’s (one in Washington, the other in California). But this year, I was determined to return and conquer this particular brevet.

I was a little bit at a disadvantage from having completed a 360k flèche the weekend before. More significantly, though, my knees weren’t being terribly cooperative from this season’s Three Capes 300k and Eden’s Gate 400k onward. As a result, my goal shifted from “setting a really good time,” to hoping for more than a minimal sleep at the overnight contrôle.

I had three houseguests (Theo, Asta, and Taylor) on the eve of this year’s 600k, all of whom pedaled to Forest Grove from my place in Beaverton (about a 17-mile journey) in the early AM hours of the start. Even though I don’t ride as fast as those three, I too rode to Forest Grove (a bit later on), but with a little help from Trimet’s line 57.

nehalem hwy by tangocyclist
nehalem hwy, a photo by tangocyclist on Flickr.

The brevet started promptly at 6:00 AM from McMennamin’s Grand Lodge in Forest Grove, and soon traversed the entire length of the Banks-Vernonia Linear Park/Trail. After getting a quick ham and egg muffin at the Shell station in Vernonia, I rode mostly with a group that included Lesli Larson, Michal Young, Kevin Brightbill and Dan Jensen. I wasn’t feeling particularly hungry in Birkenfeld, so I continued 30 more miles to Olney before refueling. The above-mentioned quartet passed me during that last section. Nonetheless, I still managed to ride the first 100k’s in 4 ½-hour hours.

The second 100k (to Seaside…via Ft. Stevens) took an hour longer. Even though I was gravitating toward the back end of the riders, I was feeling relatively okay. But then there were coastal hills, in particular, a couple big ones between Cannon Beach and Manzanita. While I actually managed to pass a couple riders on one of them, the toll on my left knee would manifest though much of the remainder of the ride.

Steve Williamson (with his nice 650b Periera) and I ended up riding significant portions of the 600k together, including steep/messy/rainy/dark Slab Creek Rd (before Lincoln City) as well as much of the route between Siletz and Dayton on the second day. After Slab Creek Road, we arrived at the overnight contrôle in Lincoln City at about 2:30 AM, where I slept about half of a 2 ½-hour layover.

steve by tangocyclist
steve, a photo by tangocyclist on Flickr.

I was passed the next morning by the speedy Del Scharffenberg in route to Siletz. Turns out he had an eight-hour layover in Lincoln City! (Del’s sister lives there.) When I conveyed that information to Joel Metz at the Logsden contrôle, he said something like “I hate Del. He’s too *** fast!”

Ed Groth and Joel overslept in Lincoln City, caught Steve and me in Logsden, then dropped us on the gravel road towards Blodgett. I was working really hard on this segment, knowing from last year that getting to Blodgett before closing would be essential to finishing this brevet. (That’s where I abandoned last year because of being way behind the clock.) This time I made it … by 25 minutes. Ed had already moved on; Joel was still there, right on schedule for his 38-hour completion goal. Steve and I enjoyed a slice of pizza while talking about some of the crazy weather we were experiencing.

I was under the misguided impression that things would be easier from Blodgett on out, and that the roads would all be more or less downhill. My knees knew otherwise, though, and became steadfastly displeased with the ascending halves of all the rollers between Kings Valley and the Eola Hills.

Organizer Susan Otcenas provided some impromptu and welcomed roadside encouragement along Hwy 223 before Dallas. Once in that town, I got a little turned around before finally finding the Safeway with the singularly friendly Starbucks inside. After downing a shot of espresso and getting one of my water bottles filled with Frappuccino, I dealt with the stiff side-winds and rollers of Perrydale Rd. Did I mention that my knees were not happy with rollers?

Bethel, Zena, Spring Vallley and Hopewell Roads through the Eola Hills wine region reminded me of Joshua Bryant’s flèche route of 2009. Oh yeah, he did design this route last year. Didn’t he? I particularly liked the “back door” approach to Dayton via Webfoot Road.

Steve Williamson and Will Goss were in Dayton when I arrived, and hoofed it outa’ there while I was fueling up. There were almost three hours left to ride the last 27 miles; under normal circumstances would be quite doable. But did I mention my knee?

With the help of a lot of ibuprofen, I actually rode pretty hard to Lafayette, and then again on familiar North Valley Road towards Forest Grove. Once at the finish at the Grand Lodge, Susan France offered me pizza and checked me in with a time of 39 hours and 35 minutes. While I was a little discouraged not to have made up any time on the second day, I was happy to have the last piece of PBP qualification out of the way.

Now I’ve got three months to get this knee thing figured out!

More pictures from the ride are here on Flickr.


Will G said...

Nice job, Bill. I was only a little ahead of you and my knees are fine. That was one tough course! The Baker Lake 400k the following week was a piece of cake in comparison.

Iron Rider said...

Congratulations. Returning to complete a course that was a DNF must be a satisfying thing.

Iron Rider said...

Congratulations! look forward to your PBP reports.