This Space for Rent

Going nowhere really fast.

Timber summit from the other direction, and with much less rain

Today I went out to ride the Birkie, which goes from Forest Grove to Birkenfeld, then back to Forest Grove (it departs from the furthest east parking lot at McMenamins Grand Lodge, and it finishes in one of the sitting rooms inside the Grand Lodge, so it’s actually a very indirect way of walking 500 feet west, then 20 feet south.) There must have been something in my breakfast cereal this morning, because I rode this ~500 feet (124.2 bicycles miles) in no more than 9h13 (13.3mph brevet average, 15mph moving average,) which is not only the fastest I’ve ever run a R200, but which includes a couple of leisurely stops at the outgoing and incoming controls in Vernonia.

The route up to Birkenfeld goes from Forest Grove up to Timber, climbing ~900 feet up to the summit above Timber, then dropping down to the Nehalem River valley which is fairly flattish, but no lower than about 700 feet for the entire ride up to Birkenfeld. The initial climb is fairly stout, so I didn’t bother to try and chase any of the fast riders out of town, but instead rode along and chatted with a few friends out to the edge of Forest Grove and a way down Gales Creek, where I thought that I should start making a run on the hill so my inevitable slowdown there would be less painful.

But, funnily, no slowdown happened. I shot up Gales Creek like I was launched from a rocket, overhauling a collection of riders who normally are much faster than I am, shot up Timber Road almost as fast, then geared down and ground up the last 500 feet of the ramp at what is for me a ridiculously fast clip (and passing a few more riders along the way.) By the time I’d crossed highway 26 (in the RAIN, I will add – it rained most of the way from Forest Grove to Vernonia, then most of the way from Keasey to Birkenfeld and most of the way back to Vernonia,) I was ahead of most of the slower riders, but passed a few more before I rolled into the control at Anderson Park (where I skipped past a couple of really fast riders who were taking a longer stop than I was.)

North of Vernonia is a little detour up to Keasey, where there’s an info control. Last year I didn’t see any of the fast or faster riders passing me on the 4 miles up, but today I saw them go by a mile or so into the detour (6 miles ahead of me; ~25 minutes at the mile-per-4-minute rate I was going.) And then when I rejoined highway 47 3 miles north of Vernonia I was greeted with a stiff tailwind, which I took full advantage of by blowing down the highway as fast as I could go, leapfrogging increasingly faster groups as I went along, and eventually gathering up, then dropping(?) some of the people who I know as being really fast riders indeed.

No, I don’t know how I did this. The tailwind helped, I guess, but I wasn’t the only one who had a tailwind in my favor.

Coming back wasn’t quite as fast, because the tailwind had become a headwind, but I managed to overrun a few people who had passed me by when I stopped 25 minutes in Vernonia (again), and when I reached Gales Creek Road I was toodling along at 20mph (it’s a fairly stiff downhill, so even with a headwind it’s pretty easy to get up to that speed, even after 185k.) And that’s when a really fast moving paceline sailed by me at 23mph, with all of the riders waving “hi!” as they flew on past.

Hmmpf. Now that’s an opportunity that’s receding quickly in the distance. So what to do? I know – I’ll sprint after the paceline and attempt to latch onto the end. So I cranked up to 26-ish mph, reeled them in, then followed along up to the edge of Forest Grove; when the paceline disintegrated at the ramp up into Forest Grove I shot past them and rolled the last three miles to the Grand Lodge at ~20mph (picking up two of the riders who jumped in behind me when I slowed down at the crest of the hill) arriving at 4:13 (and then turning around at 4:18 and riding, at a much more leisurely rate, into Hillsboro to catch a train into town.

One thing I did differently today is I took the train out in the morning (along with 5 other randonneurs; both cars were filled to the brim with rando bikes, leaving late arrivals having to stand with their bikes instead of sitting down and chatting) and back in the afternoon, which reduced 50 miles of shuttle move down to 18 miles with a railroad intermission. And I’d loaded up my rando bag with half a dozen pieces of science diet (gels, gelatine cubes; I ate one package of each when it was raining too hard for me to want to pry open the rando bag to retrieve fruitcake or potatoes) as well as a dozen pieces of fruitcake (of which I ate two, and gave two away to a friend) and a sack of baked potatoes, none of which found their way to my gullet.

And I made the mistake of changing the chain on the bike last night, but the new chain has 2-3 stiff links which would hop off the cassette if I pedaled too forcefully. So I had to pedal faster, and try to keep the rotation even, which may have helped increase my top speed.

And I took a largish stack of pictures most everywhere where it wasn’t raining (which means that most of them were taken on Timber Road, because that’s where it wasn’t raining. But you can also enjoy the latest picture I took of the shay, which isn’t quite on Timber Road.)


Congrats on your ride and thanks for the description and photos!

Oliver Sun Mar 13 14:43:25 2011

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