Sunday, January 13, 2013

First 200k Completed...

After several days of pondering whether or not I would do my first 200k on Saturday 01/12/13, mostly due to the changing weather in the area...from snow all weekend to freezing temps with clear skies, I finally bit the bullet and got up at 06:00 to meet the ride owner, Ken, at Grand Central Bakery in Multnomah Village at 07:30.  Opting for the day with freezing temps, start temp was near 28F. I layered up as best I could, with double gloves and leg warms under my cold weather tights.  After my usual dillydallying at the start point I got on the road and headed West towards Hillsboro 08:05.

The ride to Hillsboro was pretty cold but had low traffic as expected at 08:00, there were lots of stop signs and lights plus the excitement of icy roads.  The temps had not gotten any warmer on my way there, in fact I could swear that it actually got colder.  Once I got into the Silicon Forest part of Hillsboro I got to experience the Semiconductor Factory Effect (as it has been called by some), which is when it's cold enough for ice and snow the Fab's put out enough steam to actually make snow or freezing fog happen.  It's like a microclimate, which is fascinating, if you are in a car with a heater and not on a bicycle at 09:00 getting frost accumulating on your gloves, jacket and face...    
Freezing Fog in Hillsboro
After riding through the fog in Hillsboro I headed northwest to a small town called North Plains.  About 6 miles out from North Plains I had to stop and remove one of my three shirts so that I wouldn't sweat too much as I was already feeling the sweat on my base layer which was not a good thing.  Shirt removed and stuffed in my rear seat pack I was off to the first stop North Plains Grocery, which is run by a friendly woman who insistently told me that it is far too cold to ride my bike today.  Agreeing with her as I was emptying my water bottles in her sink because the water was icy and had frozen the nozzles shut.  After a quick banana and fresh water I headed southeasterly towards Forest Grove, which would be the next "big" town before I got to the turn around point of McMinnville, time 10:01 miles 25ish.

The ride through Forest Grove was pretty benign, low traffic, wide shoulder and freezing temps.  Once through civilization it was out into farm country on some gorgeous low traffic back roads.  After many miles of wetlands and fields I finally stopped to eat a snack and snap some shots of the area, which were also the last shots that I took of the day...mostly because getting my gloves on and off was becoming very difficult. 
Laughlin Road 
Cruising on from here I encountered the only gravel section on the route, which was more hard packed dirt with a sprinkling of gravel mixed-in for good measure.  The road was actually in better condition than many of the asphalt roads I have ridden on, which was a surprise.  Thankfully the sun was finally starting to break through the fog allowing for the frost to melt, bad part was I was still on a dirt road, which meant I got pretty muddy.  After the mud road it was on to McMinnville, which was about 20 miles out.

All good things do have to come to an end and that was when I had to ride into McMinnville.  Highway 99 is a bit more heavily traveled with lots of debris on the shoulder; likewise, there is no shoulder over the bridge to get into town which puts you in traffic.  After navigating through the city to the historic old town, I found a pizza joint that had several slices still available, so I partook in a slice of Hawaiian and plain cheese, time 13:18, mile 62ish, temp 35F.

After getting out of the busy part of town I was back on the scenic roads that I had grown accustom to. The wind had finally started to blow, which was a slight surprise, since I hadn't had any wind yet due to the fog earlier.  Now it was time to put the head down, tighten up and ride fast enough to stay warm, without sweating, which is harder in a headwind than one may think.  By the time I got to the gravel road the wind had started to die down, which was nice, but short lived.  After traversing the mud and gravel I was back on asphalt and cycling back into the headwind.  After winding back to one of the longer stretches of road I could see the fog again, hoping that the wind would calm down in the fog was at least a good thought, just not a reality.  Mind you that these winds are only 6-9mph winds, but it was the temperature, 33F in the sun, that made it more difficult.  Once back in the fog I also noticed the shift to colder temps again, below freezing judging by all the frost and ice on the trees, roads and wetlands.

Rolling into Forest Grove I was hoping to make it to Hillsboro before or at dark, because at least I know my way home without directions from there.  Rolling back into North Plains, the wrong direction due to missing a turn, for the last control on the ride the store owner again reiterated her earlier statement about it being too cold to ride a bike.  In total agreement with her I bought some almonds for a little fuel and headed out, Time 17:01 108ish miles.

Getting back out on the road I realized pretty quickly that my water was once again frozen, so it was going to be a longer ride back than I expected (having to actually stop and twist the top off my bottle to drink).  My predictions were correct, I made it to Hillsboro by dark, which was also going to slow me down at least a little bit.  Winding my way back through Hillsboro and into Beaverton I was glad that I had my "Night Rider 350" light, it was bright enough to see the road at the lowest setting.  This was an improvement over other lighting options I have used in the past.  Finally, I rolled into the Lucky Lab Pub at about 19:05 completing a total of 130.9 miles in a total time of 11 hours 5 minutes.

Fortunately Kelly was waiting in the Village at a bookshop figuring I would be done around 18:30 or so.  She came and picked me up and we headed to the ride organizer, Ken's, house to drop off my RUSA Brevet card to get it stamped and approved.  The ride was officially done!
Completed Brevet Card

Now I have to figure out which 200k to do next month, and if I can talk anyone else into riding with me.

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