This Space for Rent

doing it for extra credit

A permanently deranged MLCM

A couple of months ago, I submitted my Hills to the Yeah! loop to RUSA as a permanent route, and a couple of weeks ago it was finally approved.

Alas, I couldn’t actually ride it at that time, due to pesky flèches and 600s, but this weekend had nothing planned and I was ready for another short loop around East Portland. I asked some of my friends if they’d be interested, but, alas, they either had to work or already had other plans. But this was not a problem; 200km is a short enough loop so I can do it by myself, and given the choice of riding by myself or blowing it off until I had a chance to be social, riding by myself wins (I can already ride it again with other people.)

I wanted to do all of the paperwork by the book, so I printed out a copy of the RUSA application form & waiver, put on my rider hat, signed it, then took off my rider hat and filed it away. When I filled it in, I was planning on leaving the house at 8am on Saturday morning, but then reconsidered, crossed that time out and wrote in 9am.

And then I got out the door at 9:40. Oy.

I wasn’t exactly hurrying along today (I think I may have torn my left side lat, so I’m not exactly leaping up and using my arms to pull my bicycle up hills) but neither did I tarry, and so I managed to make it into the first control about 5 minutes before it closed (the route from Sellwood to Canby is fairly routine; you spend the bulk of it travelling through the suburbs along River Road, then up through Oregon City, and only end up spending about 6 miles out in the countryside after Central Point Road spits you off the edge of the Boring Lava and before Territorial drops you into the developments at the edge of Canby. Not really anything worth mentioning here.) I actually had time to get a couple of sandwiches, then ask the cashier at the Thriftway if she’d sign and date my brevet card (I was going to try and do this loop as close to the books as possible and get receipts and signatures from every control) before I hopped back onto my bicycle and headed off to the east (and into a gentle, but noticable, headwind.)

It’s obvious that I’m getting more comfortable with climbing. I’m not getting any faster at it, but I found myself grinding first up to Central Point Road, then further up the lava on Union Hall Road, without the usual internal wails of despair that usually accompany each ramp. Perhaps I was distracted by the relentless ticking of the brevet clock, or maybe I was distracted by the stupid front derailer rubbing against the crankarm after the first shift into my alpine ring, then back out. But in any case I worked my way up onto the lava without stress, then, after plunging down into the Buckner Creek valley, back up on Buckner Creek Road without even close to as much annoyance.

But what did become an annoyance was that, after I stopped to try and adjust the front derailer to stop it from rubbing, that it instead decided (after the first stage of the Buckner Creek climb) that it would just stay in the alpine ring and not bother to shift back to what I call (for lack of a better description for a 42t large ring) my running ring. This necessitated several stops for me to sit down and adjust the derailer, finally ending up with the horrible kludge of me setting it so that the shifter would deliberately pull it into the crank for upshifting, and then I would manually trim it down into a non-rubby position (I have a 3-speed brifter for the front derailer; I was running it so that top gear == top gear, and bottom gear == middle, but I have changed it so that bottom gear == bottom gear, top gear == middle, and scrapy == top gear. I don’t shift the front very often, so I may be able to get used to this behavior before I can sell enough junk to get a somewhat more relaxed crankset.)

And then after that, and then the climb up past where I’ve spotted coyotes in the past, past the emu farm, and onto Windy City Road, my ride was further interrupted by an encounter with a bee, which decided that it would fly into my ear just as I was trying to fly through a roller. It is difficult to brake when a tiny insect is buzzing like mad in your ear, but I did it. It is difficult to swerve onto the shoulder so that oncoming traffic won’t run you down (there’s not much traffic here, but there is some,) but I did it.

Regrettably, it is also very easy for the bicycle to wash out on the gravel on the shoulder and cause me to pitch headfirst down into the ditch, fortunately missing the clumps of nettles that were alluringly placed all around.

At least the crash shook the bee out of my ear, so, after I scooped up the stuff that spilled out of the rando bag and shoved it back in I was able to get back onto the bicycle, rerail the chain, and be on my way without more than a 5 minute delay. (Which was not enough to blow the Estacada control. I’d crashed at ~1000 feet, so I only had 200 feet to climb, then 200 feet on OR211, then another 300 feet on OR211; in any case, I made it into Estacada with about 25 minutes on the clock, which is better than my traditional loss of ground when crawling up those hills.)

East of Estacada was a little more difficult, oddly enough; the climb up Coupland Road seemed to take longer than usual, and the plunge down Snufflin Road seemed steeper and more hairpinny than usual. But that was made up for by Kitzmiller seeming to be much shorter than usual, and then the ravines up on the top of the hill seeming to be a lot shallower, even if I kept putting on the brakes as I plunged down into them.

I made one small route variation in Sandy proper; the route takes you on Langensand Road all the way to US26, then looping west to Meinig Ave and thus into Joe’s Donuts (and then along 26 to the turn to Ten Eyck.) But if you turn left onto McCormick Dr, that feeds you directly into Meinig Park, and then you can turn right and take a path uphill into the parking lot that’s directly behind Joe’s. And, similarly, after you leave the control, you can take Meinig across 26 to a right turn on Pleasant Street, which will drop you onto Ten Eyck without having to touch 26 at all.

And then it’s down into the gorge, past Roslyn Fen, and down into the Bull Run valley, and up and up and up and up along Bull Run Road to the heights above the Sandy River Gorge, followed by (after a few bumps) a long fast descent to the east side of Oxbow Park, then a grind up to Springdale, and then finally a descent down to (eventually) Marine Drive, which, if the wind is right (and it was right) is an extraordinarily fast run all the way up to Kelley Point Park and the info control there.

Unfortunately, Marine Drive is closed just past Kelley Point Park :-( There’s a big resurfacing project going on on the other side of Columbia Slough, and so the city is taking the opportunity to remove the bridge over the slough.

I was able to cross, but the bridge removal equipment was in place and by tomorrow there won’t be enough bridge left to cross unless you’re much more foolhardy than I am.

But, after crossing, it’s only about 15 miles from Sellwood, so I put my head down and zipped on home, stopping only once or twice to try and take pictures, and arriving just before 9pm (11h50 brevet time; 11h10 my time. It may have felt faster today, but it certainly wasn’t any faster.)

This was a marvel of unpreparedness. I just chucked a bunch of science diet into my rando bag, then grazed at the controls as I went. I hadn’t even gotten around to changing out my rear wheel yet (and by the end of the loop it was making interesting thump! noises whenever I would forget and brake it) because the extent of my limited concentration was eaten up by making up a brevet card and tweaking the cuesheet so that it would fit onto one piece of paper. I guess that riding much longer loops makes the whole business of riding a 200km loop seem fairly sedate, even if it’s an annoyingly vertical one.

At least I remembered my bicycle and camera!