Friday, February 24, 2012

Yacolt Gravel, Second Attempt

After getting lost on the first attempt at this final route in the Randonnerds Brevet Series, it started to gain mythical status in my mind. What happens on top of the hill when you take the left fork instead of the right? I just had to find out, so I roped some other riders into trying it again with me.
Just before we reached the gravel turn-off, these creatures bid us adieu. On the left, we see the bald eagle, which, as an American symbol, foretells of a new Randonneur USA member. Above and behind the bush, we see the lion. Someone suggested recently I change my mascot from kitty to lion as a sign of sheer ferociousness, which would be a requirement in the hour to follow. And, lastly, just peeking out from behind the bush on the right, is our clown-gnome. Clown-gnomes indicate a certain playfulness and folklore-flavored ride in the deep, dark woods. All of this would come to pass.

We made our turn onto 412th or Jones Creek or who knows because there's no signs. We turned left at the fork at the "top of the hill" this time. Of course, that was not the top. The gravel started getting bigger. Rocks as big as my fist made one rider theorize that we were actually getting smaller as we climbed higher. More misleading forks and turnarounds until finally we were lost in the middle of nowhere. That's when the rain started.

Standing around in the cold wet while looking at maps and discussing possible routes was getting us nowhere so we decided to take another left fork and hope for the best. This took us down, down, down and around to the exposed west-facing part of the mountain. That's when the sleet started.
Continuing down on mud and gravel in the wind and snow with numb hands makes it hard to brake. These are the magical moments when you get to have a little discussion with yourself. It goes something like this: "That's right, ride right through it. Suck it up. Keep going. Trust the bike. Go. Go. Go.".

We weren't out of the woods yet, but we were finally back in the woods when the rain stopped and a pinch flat stopped us. It took all three of us to come up with a fix. Twenty cold minutes later, patting ourselves on the back for our teamwork, we were back on the road, if you can call it a road. Another ten minutes and we were back to balmy sea level and smooth pavement. Victory, again.

No comments:

Post a Comment