Even though those who followed this know I made it to the beach last Saturday, I have yet to do a recap of the ride. This is due to the following
- Crappy Interweb connection at the hotel (Which by the way is the ONLY negative I have on our stay! and really who needs interwebs at the ocean)
- Too much to see and do outside at the Ocean.
But now, as Michelle does her training walk, I have time to sit with coffee at Starbucks and real interwebs to fill y’all in.
Yep I made it!
Ever have one of those rides, or anything for that matter, that you real loved the first time and have wanted to do again? Well the Reach the Beach was mine, I very much enjoyed my first run on the route 2 years ago (First Reach the Beach Post) This will probably be the last time though, wasnt as much fun this time.
As with all things, I do try to make sure I don’t make the same mistakes twice with a ride. First on the list: Do NOT get to Portland (the start of the ride) during rush hour. It’s about a 3 hour drive from our office to the Portland. This can be increased by at least an hour just getting through the last 5 miles at the wrong time of day.
This year, we got there at lunchtime, and she introduced me to food truck row! I thought I had taken pictures, but sadly I hadn’t but if you get a chance to hit the grilled cheese sammich truck, order the one with pesto! DAMN that was good.
We then had time to hit the yarn store for a beach project for Michelle, then the Oregon State Beaver store. I almost ended up with a new hat, but Michelle talked me out of it.
Then, after arroz con pollo at dinner it was bed time for Tony, I was out at 7. (Damn I must be getting old!) However before sleep we solved the first issue of the ride. Every century I have ever ridden I have worn the Coug jersey
But I also had the jersey from the last ride. When I was a runner, I liked to wear the old shirts to show it wasn’t my first time. Michelle just looked at me and asked, “Have you ever not finished a ride wearing a Coug Jersey?” DONE! Call me superstitious, but if it aint broke, don’t fix it! (and I got some GO COUGS on the way!)
We were up and moving early the next morning, The route traveled from just south of Portland to Pacific City on the coast.
The last time I did this route it rained the first and the last 25 miles. This time, I hemmed and hawed a LOT on what to bring for clothes. Rain gear sucks if it is too warm and no rain, but without the ride can be miserable. I decided to go with a heavy and light windbreaker and trust to the weather gods… I got lucky and ignored the drizzle, denial can be a wonderful thing!
The route quickly leaves town (well after one of the longest and steepest hills within the first 5 miles) and gets you out into farmlands. I looked down and saw I had traveled 8 miles and I had a cycling epiphany. The hardest and longest part of all rides, at least for me, is the first 10 miles. Mentally it is even harder than the last 15 of a double century.
Its during this time that the route is crowded, traffic is usually heaviest, I am still adjusting layers and I just flat haven’t gotten into a rhythm yet. It took FOREVER to reach 10 miles. As a comparison, hitting 20, 30 and 40 seemed to fly by. Makes me wonder if others have this issue.
The biggest challenge of the first 50 is a deep valley. The road does a hard left and you drop 3 miles fast! Of course to continue, you have to climb 3 miles up on the other side. Luckily by then the legs were warm. I was close to the top and looked over across the valley. I swear a quarter-mile bridge would have made this MUCH easier. But then I don’t do centuries for easy.
I had had a cowboy in orange on my wheel for quite a while, and he was starting to bug me. I have no problem pulling someone along, but at least acknowledge me when I look back at you. He didn’t, and I felt like you do when there is a mosquito in your ear and you can’t swat it since you hands are full. Well since I couldn’t swat him, I just pushed it up the hill a bit (yes I know a bit petty…) and never saw him again.
I did meet with British Steve (From North England, the GOOD part, NOT London, the crappy part! (his words not mine) He was 55 this year and doing his first century ever. He had done 50 miles twice to get ready, so how hard could this be? He was still sitting at the 50 mile food stop when I left. I kept waiting for him to catch up, but never saw him. Really hope he made it!
The ride was uneventful until I hit the 60 mile mark, and then the headwinds hit. I will take steep hills, rain or cold ANY day, hell even heat, over hours of headwinds. The road was flat, I could see forever, but I was struggling to get the bike up to 10 mph at times. It sucked ass. I will admit, for a bit I started to wonder, “Really, Why do you keep signing up for these??”
Finally at 75 or miles so, the route made a turn at Willimena, the trees broke the wind, and I found a store with gatorade (the food stops only had water this year) and orange hostess cupcakes (we all have our vices). Houston All Systems Go! I was flying again.
At one point, the route puts us on the shoulder of a state highway for about 4 miles or so. It has a decent wide shoulder, but there is a rumble strip between us and the cars which limits our space. It gets pretty crowded at this point, and it resembles a pretty long pace line. The problem? Not everyone knows HOW to ride a pace line!
I leave a little extra space between me and the guy in front just in case someone slows or stops suddenly. The lady behind me, didn’t. Sure as hell, they slowed quick in front of me, I slowed as well, and she rear ended me, spilling her into the traffic lane (Cycling gods smiled on her, there were no cars. )
I stopped to make sure she was ok, and she was mad at me! “Why did you slow down, you made me fall!?!” “They slowed in front, so I had to slow you were too close. Are you ok?” “YES!” So I left. I could’ve spent an hour giving her the lecture on liability and who’s at fault that I give my new hires at the Mighty P. but I still had miles to go and she was about to ruin my good mood!
With the gatorade and cupcake, plus the last of the snacks Michelle gave me, I was able to plan the skip the last food stop, which was a madhouse the last time. However, one issue that needed to be dealt with was a honey bucket! The lines for the loo were horrendous at each stop, so I’d been putting it off. I was at the point where a convenient tree was looking like a good option, when the cycling gods smiled on me.
There, just off the road, was a single outhouse, and no line. SCORE! (it’s the little things that make one happy!) As I was getting ready to leave, this tall cowboy pulled up on his bike, looked at the yellow bags I always carry
And said “PLEASE tell me you have allen wrenches in there!” His seat had sunk all the way down on the bike, and if he sat his knees were in his teeth. “Well OF COURSE I DO!” and we got him back on the road.
I was on the last leg, 20 or so miles to go, when this car pulled up next to me and wouldn’t move. I hate this, and I looked over to see MICHELLE! I had texted about the headwinds and she circled back for an encouraging smile and “GO TONY!” Evidently I had ridden right past her and never saw her parked. (Focus Valente they call me!) That gave me even more pep in my pedal!
Well it was then over the last hill, and riding through the prettiest part of the ride, along the little Nestucca River. I tried to take a selfie while riding and succeeded in dropping the phone. Good thing Michelle got me the bullet proof case!
I pulled in at just over 8 hours, my COUG colors showing. If I could figure out how to upload the video Michelle took I’d show ya, but tech savvy I am not today! 2 down 2 to go, the next is tomorrow!
I was a happy man though, as the end of the ride meant the beginning of a great vacation! More on that later!