Tuesday, February 12, 2013

One Chain Ring to Rule The Day

     Saturday the 9th completed February's 200k, at least the brevet card and receipts are in the mail, pending approval from the ride owner.  I can say that the ride was great, I thoroughly enjoyed the route and the ease of the open controls.  I decided to use my Single Speed (SS) bike for this ride because I enjoy challenges and I am a glutton for punishment!  The weather and all the other crazy bullsh!t that happened before the ride I could have done without but I finished the ride and did it in a respectable time too.

     Imagine the joy of waking at 05:30 to pack the car, eat breakfast and drink coffee all while planning  enough time to drive to my brothers house to print out my cue sheet (our printer ran out of ink the night before) and ride to the start (since it was only a couple miles away).  Sounds like a flawless plan...except I got out of bed a little late and left later than I wanted to only to arrive at my brothers to find that his printer is out of paper (I had plenty of paper at my house) damn!  Quick change in plans, scratch riding to the start, instead drive to FedEx Kinko's to print the cue sheet (thankfully Kinko's is literally across the street from the start), all this change also set back my anticipated start time from 07:30 to 07:50ish (07:49 to be exact).  All in all it could have been worse, and with as much that seemed to be going wrong I thought about bagging the ride and shooting for Monday instead.  But my stubbornness prevailed and I left the Starbucks on 117th and Canyon at 07:49 heading west.

     Getting through Beavertron was easy, it consisted of a similar route I used to ride to Intel in 2007, so the riding was pretty quick and simple.  The first section new to me was a turn onto the Rock Creek Trail, a nice 1/4 mile tarmac trail that cuts under highway 26 and pops out in a quiet low traffic neighborhood.  Meandering through the lovely Intel induced neighborhood I crossed over Cornelius Pass road and slipped back into business park suburbia only to come to my first challenge on the route an unexpected road closure due to a half marathon...But the friendly Washington County police officer told me an alternative that would get me back on track and he let me wiggle through the runners before all the cars could go.  With a short detour I was back on track heading out on West Union road all the way to North Plains, a familiar town on these west-side rando rides.

      Since North Plains wasn't a control this ride, I cruised on through riding towards the quieter country roads towards Banks, the first control on this ride.  Having fully stocked up on food at my house (3 homemade PB & Nutella/honey sandwiches plus snacks and fruit) I swung in to the US Bank to check my balance at the ATM (09:47ish), which is my budget way of going through some of the open controls on this route (Hey, I'm a student with a house sized loan bill and counting).  Grabbing a quick snack out of my bag, put on my rain gear (damn the mist) and headed towards the allure of this route for me, the Banks-Vernonia Trail.

Arriving at the trail head I was glad I had put rain gear on, the mist had turned to more of the typical Oregon drizzle.  Getting out of Banks the trail was pretty empty of users, which proved pretty consistent all the way to Vernonia.  Riding up the trail had seemed much easier on my road bike, however my SS made things a little more entertaining.  Its gotta be between a 2%-3% grade uphill for about 6 or more miles which is just a slow grind when you only have one gear (42x16).  I'm not complaining, I have found that I actually enjoy riding my SS more than my road bike, too bad my SS is as heavy as my touring bike (39lbs).
The Trail is a wonderful riding experience, you get to ride through great forested areas, across a huge redone train trestle and through a state park, all on nice pavement!  If you get the chance I highly recommend riding the trail.  Anyways after all the nature and quiet time it was time to get back to civilization, Vernonia the next control (11:40ish).

     Vernonia is a small sized town that has had major flooding issues for decades, but for some reason it stays alive and has cafes and stores galore (not really galore, but my vocab is limited for the right word...).  Stopping at the Sentry Market I got some much needed Ibuprofen for the slight headache that was nagging me over the last few miles.  NSAIDS on board I headed out to a place in Oregon that I have never been to, Brikenfeld.  Riding out highway 47 was quite nice, fairly low traffic and decent tarmac, except one spot that had a landslide and the road is all messed up.  I probably crossed the Nehalem river 5 times on this 20 something mile ride, not an issue rivers are much nicer to look at than building and shanties.  Riding what felt like an endless amount of time got me to where I though Brikenfeld was, only to find the sign that says 5 more miles, uggg I was getting the lunch time hunger pangs and felt the energy slowly dwindling.

     Struggling the last 5 miles into Birkenfeld I came upon the general store/bar/restaurant/coffee shop/everything else that is the control point.  The shop was great, the owner was super friendly and knows all about us crazy rando riders, offering to sign my brevet card which was nice, even if he wrote the wrong time down first...sometimes the 24 hour clock can confuse people.
     Grabbing some liquid calories, chips and the best candy ever, Necco Waffers, 97% of the people reading this will say WTF Necco's are the worst candy EVER, but the other 3% know what I'm talking about!  Sitting outside with my bike I ate my chips, 2nd sandwich (the other was consumed some time ago) and Necco's I relaxed for a few minutes before doing the entire ride in reverse (13:30).
Sore Donkey made an appearance

     Heading out I knew what I was in for, I really wouldn't need the cue sheet until Hillsboro area and was planning on using some of the tailwind I was fighting coming in to propel me back home easily and quickly.  Highway 47 looks no different heading the opposite direction which was no surprise, but did make for a pretty trip back to Vernonia. I again stopped at the Sentry Market for some coveted gummi bear treats (15:17ish).
     After gobbling some gummi treats I headed back out on the Banks-Vernonia trail, which was almost completely empty now.  The mist had stopped awhile back and I had the opportunity to ride without rain pants for about 35 miles, until getting deep into the forested areas on the trail.  The trail proved to be a wonderful downhill return to Banks, it was nice to cash in some of that uphill energy investment for a simple cruise back to the trail head.  Heading into Banks proper for the 6th control I stopped at the credit union to again check my balance at the ATM (17:00ish), and eat the rest of my chips and last sammie, which was much needed!

     The ride back to the start was gonna be a dark one, plus the drizzle that was back made it less fun as well.  Winding through Washington County was great, since I have ridden most of the route out here several times the cue sheet was not really needed, until dark.  Rolling through North Plains the sky had finally turned dark and I was forced to use my NightRider 350 light, which is an awesome lightweight solution for me since a generator hub is expensive, see above statement about my home loan sized student debt, and just impractical on a SS.  The other nice thing about getting back towards Hillsboro later was the half marathon was over and I could take the correct route back.  Again riding through the quiet neighborhood and back out onto the busy roads of Evergreen Parkway, to Cornell, then on 158th back onto Jenkins then over to 117th down to Starbucks made for a quick ride back.  Unfortunately the Starbucks was closed and I was forced to get a receipt at the frozen yogurt joint (19:15ish).  The ride was done, I was feeling good glad that I was done and glad that I did the ride on my SS.
     Now I only have to do a 100k for the month and study for my first board exam on the 9th of March and do all my other school stuff too.  Until next time!

Keep the rubber side down!