This ride had been on my bucket list for a long time. So when Ron a friend from Seattle called me up and asked to help organize, how could I say no? Having been to the Seattle area a few times, I looked forward to completing a 1000k and getting in some serious scenery.I'm no speed demon, Ron is a faster climber. We had few issues with this ride, save one and still finished in about 69 hours. One of our big goals was to have time to actually see Crater Lake - a sight of special magnificence. Also, IronK would ride the drop sacks to the 3 overnights; her degree is in geology and just driving in Southern Oregon was to be a special treat. Fairy godparents Dan and Terry hosted us before the ride. So we got to see friends and sample some wonderful Mexican food before the ride (where the hostess fruit pie becomes haute cuisine).
Of course, no ride fails to have bumps. I had an 82 hour work week the week before followed by running support for a Minnesota 600k of my own design. I was already still getting over sleep deprivation at the start. Ron had similar challenges.
Day 1: Bremerton to Pacific City, 400k
Started: 9:00 pm Finished 6:00 pm
We started from the ferry and wound our way through town for a couple of miles before emerging onto a short stretch of freeway and then ducking off onto more quiet roads. Of note in this section was the blue moon (second full moon in a calendar month) which cast shadows everywhere. The moon was to be a constant companion on this ride and I found myself singing "Blue Moon" to myself frequently. The stretch along the Hood Canal was especially nice with the cool, white light reflecting in the water. I
have never seen this area before and it has the feeling of being almost a step out of
time compared with busy Seattle, only a couple of hours away. We passed through
Belfair and pushed on.
Pre rides are always somewhat of an adventure. The first Info Control question was what brand of propane was for sale at a closed store in Matlock. Unfortunately, the tank is freshly painted and it is no longer obvious what kind of propane is for sale. We spent quite a few minutes riding around and looking for another good question. I snapped lots of pictures. I have lots of pictures from this ride of street signs and gas pumps. There were virtually no cars around.
As we passed through towns, we checked signs and turns. First control in Raymond, was a very small gas station and I got extra food just in case. In Naselle, the cafe name had changed. Wanting to get over the Astoria Bridge, we decided to press on. Bad move, should have stopped here. There really were not any cafes in Astoria and the lack of breakfast was not fun; should have stopped in Naselle. We stopped to check our tires carefully before crossing and we passed the bridge easily. Especially since it was down to one lane due to an accident.
Once in Oregon, we stopped for water at the visitor center at Lewis And Clark National Park. No food, but there was plenty of water and the sun was out so we shed clothes. I ate a bunch of My extra food and felt better. The park itself was really very nice and we actually saw an owl fly through the air and burrow its way into a bush. The next few miles, off the 101, are rolling with some nice views as you approach Seaside. We stopped there for a bit more water. But Cannon Beach was the control and only 10 miles up the road.
Cannon Beach was packed with people and I had a big lunch with chicken salad, yogurt, juice and a candy bar - nothing tastes so good as when you are on a brevet and had a Hostess Fruit Pie for breakfast. We eventually spotted IronK in the teaming crowds; she loves the ocean.
The next 100k to Pacific City were flat out gorgeous. The 101 winds up and down huge hills with stunning vistas of the coast. It almost looks like a museum display with boulders, waves and sheer drop offs. Ron was faster than I was on this section; I kept losing myself in the ride and paying more attention to the scenery than my speed. We caught back with each other in Nehalem and picked up our pace with a big tailwind! Pacific City finally appeared and IronK was waiting with food laid out in the room. I laid my clothes out quickly, ate like a pig and was off to sleep.
Day 2: Pacific City to Roseburg, 330k
Start: 10:30 pm finish 6:00 pm
We elected to ride this pre ride under the ACP rules that all controls are timed, even info controls.
So to keep time in the bank, we left at 10:30, 2 hours before Pacific City closed. The next info control was at Slab Creek and closed at about 1:00 am. When we found the turnoff, we also found a big sign ROAD CLOSED and a smaller hand painted one saying "Bikes can't get through either". Time to pull out the cue sheet and the GPS. At this point, a car came down the closed road. Two locals with very detailed information, it appears a bridge is out. Detour will be in the final ride to make up for the lost 8k. We collected lots of information, took pictures and moved on.
There were still lots of ups and downs over the next miles, but the presence of the ocean, it was still easy to lose yourself. I discovered that watching Ron's cadence hit some strange wavelength of my brain and found myself almost hypnotized as we pedaled. We stopped in Newport for a late night breakfast and did a few off the 101 backroads to various info controls. A fog descended on us just before Waldport. The moon was especially nice in this segment. The Otter Creek Loop was also very nice. Again, the full moon was a companion in the night and a gentle fog made this section almost ethereal.
At dawn, we crossed into Waldport and continued on the coast to Florence. This was somewhat of a strange part of the ride. I road a little slower to give myself a chance to eat since, again, no services in Waldport. After about 5 cookies, a banana, and a 500 calorie oatmeal cream pie, I was nearly in a sugar coma! Besides, there is nothing more inclined to make one introspective than the ocean. The big craggy hills were magnificent and I found myself again inclined to lose myself in my thoughts and the scenery. Ron eventually offered me a sandwich in addition to the food I had.
At Florence, we called IronK to give her our ETA at Roseburg so that she could sightsee as much as possible, but I was also having my traditional dawn lull, particularly nasty after the long night on the road. I had some cookies and got water as well. Only a few miles to Reedsport, where we would turn away from the coast. The next few miles were among my best climbs and I remember the final descent down into the river valley with the ocean in the background as one of my favorite views.
At Reedsport, I got a giant coke at subway, got a sandwich to go and ate some other food. Ron caught up to me and we rested a little before heading for the final 100k of the day. As I left, a girl leaned out of a pickup truck and yelled something like, "you aren't going up that pass? It's really hard". Hmmm, I did note a summit listed on Camp Creek Road at 2100 ft. Of course, we couldnt be very far from sea level at the moment, being on the coast and all...
But Camp Creek Road turned out to be another big highlight for me with a narrow, twisting lane next to a picturesque mountain stream. Kids played in the water from the many primitive camping spots. It was still early afternoon and I was thinking things were going fast. Then came the hill. Frankly, this is the hardest hill of the ride, it made Crater Lake the next day look like a piece of cake, very happily that was seriously comforting even at the time. About 4 miles long at about 10-13% with some crumbling pavement and frost heaves to keep you on your toes. Still offered some nice views. About .2 from the top, a guy passed me on a scooter and asked how I felt. I asked him how I looked. He zoomed off.
I got to the top and got off my bike. We needed a control question at the top of this. The question was "turn around, what do you see?". I counted the things after that I saw:
1. My liver on the ground quivering
2. Shattered remains of other cyclists who climbed this hill
3. A 747
4. Ron, pedaling up the hill
The descent was on gravel. We had to use brakes enough to require stopping once to cool rims. The view was spectacular, but we soon passed from the pretty forest to a large logged area that looked like the set of Space Invaders. It made me think lots about forestry policy. Finally, we crossed the Umpqua River and cruised along the rest of the way to Roseburg. Again, we arrived at 6:00 pm. Seemed to be a recurring theme.
Day 3: Roseburg to Klamath Falls
started 10:15 pm Finished 5:59 pm (hey the one minute seemed important at the time)
Ron elected to get up early at 9:30 saying he felt that he needed the extra time. After the previous night's sleepiness, I wanted a full 3 hours. So Ron got up early. In truth, in a single hotel room, one person getting up is everyone getting up. So I didnt get as much as I wanted but I at least got a REM cycle in. Ron departed about 20 minutes before I did. I drank about half a quart of Kefir, ate a banana, packed a bunch of food including 6 bananas, a Starbucks Doubleshot, 2 sandwiches, cookies and some extra gel and shot blocks. 100 miles to the Crater Lake Control on the rim, all uphill. I was out the door pedaling hard at 10:15 to catch Ron.
The first few miles are big roller especially through the town of Glide, where I had a run in with some unruly teenagers, really who hangs out on a dark road at midnight who is not up to no good. This was rather unnerving and I wondered for the next few miles if they might not come after me. But finally, I was pretty sure I was okay.
The next 35 miles were among my favorite ever. The full moon above reflected on the Umpqua River, full of rushing whitewater. The effect was absolutely magical, one I will never forget as long as I live. Ron eventually came up behind me and I told him I was having one of my best night rides ever. Not sure he quite understood me and i let him pass, not wanting to waste a moment of the serenity. I paused several times to look up at the sky and marvel a how distant civilization was at this point. I think maybe one car passed me the whole time. Unbelievable.
At 50 miles, I hit the Info Control at Umpqua's Last Resort. Here I was to leave the magical river behind, but was greeted by fresh pavement. Too new to even have had stripes painted. They must have just finished laying it down. At this point it was about 3:00 am. I hadn't been moving very fast, well on purpose, so I decided at this point to pick up the pace and catch Ron. I had a sort goal to reach the rim by noon too and that seemed quite achievable as it was but 45 miles away. It was at about this time that I noticed that first, the temperature had plummeted from a balmy 67 degrees to about 40 degrees and second, I had ploughed through all 6 bananas and much of my food; I downed my last sandwich. Amazing how much food it takes to stay toasty warm. Now catching up was also serving to generate some heat! I forged ahead and picked up the pace. After about 2 hours, still no sight of Ron and I was climbing hard. This section is all uphill and the stars were beautiful. I alternated between looking for his taillight and looking at them.My thermometer read down to 34 degrees and my hands were numb as the sun finally started glinting in the sky. I realized that I was facing south at this point, my computer said I had already passed Diamond Lake, the only food. I stared for awhile and realized it certainly had to be off, but the dawn is my most tired period and I was suddenly exhausted. Time for 5 minutes of roadside meditation.5 minutes later voices called out in alarm. Two guys had pulled up, first car in ages, and were alarmed to see me mediatating. Okay, it isn't every day you see some woman prone on the ground with crossed hands on the chest 80 miles from the nearest town, but it is the 21st century...I thanked them for their concern and asked them about how far back Diamond Lake was. "It is about quarter mile up the road", was the answer. Oh happy day! I was certain Ron would be there; he loves breakfast.Sure enough, the turn was but a quarter mile away. I sped down the hill for what seemed like a really long time. I passed a dock and signs, the lake was very pretty in the rising sun too. A shame most might miss this. Then I realized, breakfast was nowhere to be seen. I must have done this wrong. I turned around and went back. I found a bike trail near the boat put in and sure enough, there was another turnoff I had missed to the resort. I walked in looking for Ron, not there. Hmmm, he must have already left. I sat down and ordered blueberry pancakes, coffee, orange juice and drank all the coffee creamer. Maybe I was a little bonked too, maybe a little blue in the face, maybe not looking my very best. I inquired if they had seen a man in a yellow jacket with a helmet like mine. "Where were you staying last night?". When i said we were riding from Roseburg she looked at me as if I had suddenly declared myself in danger of going into labor. "We haven't seent anyone like that. We'll send someone to look for him right away!". Horrors, my somewhat slow brain grated into conversational mode, "no, no, you do not need to do that, he has done this many times. I must have just gotten ahead of him." That did not help things. Clearly, I needed help with delivery. I settled for my food and devoured it along with the tub of butter. Looking back, maybe I should have left the butter alone and just ordered eggs too.
About the time I finished. The waitress announced that they had found Ron in the Cinnamon Flats. That not being on my cue sheet, I inquired further. 5 miles back! I did somehow get ahead of him. What a puzzler, it wasn't like there were any wrong turns to take. I paid the bill and left, got lost again, apparently I have become addicted to cue sheets and can't find anything without one. After some milling and the realization that I my computer was missing (I later found it by backtracking to my meditation spot), I finally found the climb out and ran into Ron coming down the hill."What's the deal, they sent 2 people after me! You aren't supposed to alarm the locals!". Really, they alarmed themselves, I assured him. he told me to go on without him since he was stopping for breakfast. I later found out they sent people after him because they were concerned that I was alone and didn't look good. Okay, major aside here, there is no way to annoy a lesbian randonneuse more than to suggest that she needs a man to ride. It isnt that we dont like to ride with our male counterparts, but they arent mandatory - look at Martyna Navritolova, she didn't need male tennis partners! This type of chivalrous behavior is something I, and my randonneuse friends, all struggle with when we ride alone. Of course the men never notice it, because it doesn't show up until they are not there... Furthermore, I defy anyone to look great after riding 500 miles in 57 hours.Full of calories and with temperatures rising quickly, I picked up my pace and cruised into the part at a bit past 8:30. I had to wait in line for awhile and was temporarily horrified that I had spent all my cash on breakfast, how was I going to pay to get the park? Fortunately, the park service now takes credit cards. The ranger asked if I had enough water, that it was 9 miles to the rim village. I did not have the heart to tell him that I just rode here overnight by myself for 80 miles with only what I had on my bike. And I had forgotten to get water at Diamond Lake with all the rukus. Oh well. I kept waiting for the big climb, but I quickly sped across what looked like a very long flat area. I even had a bit of a tailwind starting so I was making great time. I stopped to take off the rest of my cold weather stuff and tackled the climb. After Camp Creek Road it was so benign I was laughing. I go to the rim around 9:30 and stopped at the first overlook to eat the very last of my food, GU and some shot blocks. I had arrived! Crater Lake is one of the most impressive places I have EVER seen. I marveled and took pictures, had my picture taken and generally loafed. I'd have gone for a hike but for my shoes. I proceeded along stopping at every overlook to take more pictures and marvel. There was more climbing too, but it passed easily. Okay I might have overdone it. I took about 2 hours on the rim and at the rim village. I listened in on a geology tour, getting finally to the control at 11:30. The people at the lodge were wonderful and were way impressed that someone would ride 550 miles on a bike to get there.I finally found IronK in the parking lot of the Rim Village. She had a ton of food with her and we sat down and had lunch together. She had not seen Ron yet but would keep and eye out. I started down the mountain for my final leg at about 1:00 or so. Only 70 miles to go and much of it downhill! I had about 11 hours to do it in too.
I got partway down the rim and had to use the restroom. After seeing IronK and riding alone for so long, I was really feeling like finishing with someone. So I waited a few minutes for Ron, who then dusted me on the descent. We all now know how he will eventually die - at about 50 mph. I am a somewhat dull descender, not enough weight and long chain stays do not help.The last 40 miles to Klamath Falls we're pleasant enough, though the pollen bothered the asthma for a while and we had stop and eat. By day 3 of riding like this, it seems like the tank is nearly always waiting to be filled. The final info control at a lakeshore in Klamath Falls, was sort of bittersweet. One one hand, the last control and 5 miles to go. On the other hand, the view is not really great there.We rolled into the Olympic Best Western at 5:58 pm. For some silly reason, I was in a state over time and made them record the time on the big, fancy clock visible at the door. IronK had already checked in and was waiting. Done with 6 hours in the bank. My fastest grand randonnee ever! Of course, I really have to thank Ron for being so picky about the clock and keeping time in the bank. Experience tells.This route was absolutely breathtaking from start to finish. I got lost in the ride so much, I felt much more like I was sightseeing than anything else, though I suspect my meandering might have irritated Ron a couple times ... I think about 9 people did the final ride with all finishing but one. I watched the weather carefully and made sure that all the reservations I had set up worked well. SIR has run this ride for 3 consecutive years and I suspect they will give it a rest. They have so many wonderful rides to choose from, I look forward to doing them all!
Post Script: How did I pass Ron on a road with no side roads? I found out later, somewhere in the construction zone with the new pavement was a porta pot! He had stopped for a nature break and I had ridden right past, completely fixed on the road ahead and not looking for his bike standing off to the side. He had then had a broken chain in the dark, further hindering progress as I got farther and farther ahead. I still have to laugh at the thought.