Thursday, March 12, 2015

Our Won

Everything started out fine.  Oatmeal.  Coffee.  It was a bit chillier in Eugene than it had been in Portland in the days leading up to this second attempt of the Alsea Falls 200K permanent.  So cold that puddles were frozen over.  So cold that I took turns putting a hand in my pocket with my little hotties.

My partner, good ol' 7600, mentioned we were going slow and suggested maybe I was getting soft.  That kind of comment usually has one of two outcomes.  Either I get super pissed and slow way down.  Or I get super pissed and speed way up.  I tried to react logically, and without emotion, as our dear friend Mr. Spock might have done.  I mentioned that it was still the first hour and I couldn't feel my hands.  Then I told him to shut up.

Brutal north winds were in the forecast.  And, naturally, we were heading north, right into the southern Willamette Valley, home of "the sitting duck".  There was nowhere to hide, no cover at all.  Just thirty miles or so of headwind to start the day.  Although windy and chilly, the sky was cloudless and the air was crisp and sweet-smelling.  I tried hard to concentrate on these other senses while my kneecap was grinding to chalk.

By the time we arrived at the third control - Dairy Mart in Monroe - my right knee was almost as unhappy as I was.  Pedal, pedal, twinge.  Soft pedal, soft pedal, ache.  Repeat.  I consumed some bizarre milky coffee concoction and a chocolate bar to cheer me up, which worked great for about ten minutes.

We kept reminiscing about our November attempt at this route.  You know, the one where we tried to pop through on Wells Creek Road and instead ended up lost in the woods for a few hours.  I noticed some homemade bus stops I had stopped to photograph last year, as final entries in my annual photo calendar project.

Behind the conversation, I could hear my knee.  SQUAWK!  Creeeeak.  Squeeeegrle.  Sounds like that.  Well, I still have the other leg, I thought.  Wheat might be cooked, but Shredded still had some miles in it.  (If you haven't named your legs yet, I suggest you do.  And, comment here with their names!).

We climbed the highway this time, instead of forking off on Wells Creek Road.  Pushing up the narrow shouldered highway, rife with blind curves and tons of fast cars and motorcycles swooshing by was not much fun.  Heck, climbing was not much fun in my compromised state.
Eons later, we arrived at the store in Alsea.  This store has their very own stamp that they use on brevet cards.  In all of the perms I've ridden,  I've never seen such a thing at a country market.  It made the stop extra fun.  Along with the giant bag of potato chips, bag of frozen corn on my knee and chocolate bar for dessert.

The next part of the route should have been the best part, if I hadn't been in so much pain.  The worst part of the pain was that it was self-inflicted.  I should have skipped one, or even both, of my boot camp style workouts the previous week.  I should've picked a different weekend to lead a 50 mile shop ride, hop a bus from Portland to Eugene, and hop out of bed to ride 130 miles with empty tanks and tired muscles.

In any case, I hope to do this route again under better conditions, and mostly because of the mind-bending gorgeousness that was South Fork Road.  Climby and curvy, long and narrow, barely traveled by cars, trees everywhere, the river everywhere and waterfalls, too.  One wonders why the route took us up the highway instead of South Fork Road as an out and back.

This time we only had a short stint on Territorial, which should be renamed TERRORtorial.  It's basically a two lane autobahn with no shoulder and barely even a fog line.  Cars and trucks and trailers exceeding 70mph careen by, barely missing us.  Luckily, 7600 was sporting his USA jersey, which seems to soften drivers' moods, and we were not hit.

We made it to the Long Tom Grange info control just as dusk fell.  7600 reminded me that the wind always calms as the sun falls, and he was correct.  So, instead of enjoying the tail wind we had earned, we rode into the still dark, and to the Alvadore store control, where I purchased neosporin to put all over my chapped face and a chocolate bar to put in it.

The rest of the ride is a blur, as I was totally in death march mode.  I know I cried some, and sang some, and cried some more.  As we finally entered Eugene city limits, 7600 exhibited an act of kindness that re-energized me enough to make it to the finish.  A rider was stopped on the sidewalk with her cruiser bike, wheel partially off, and bags of groceries sitting by.  Without hesitation, he stopped and helped her reattach her wheel.  She offered us chocolate bars as we rode away.  .