Day 05: Castle Rock - Portland
Sunday, September 11, 2005

79.80 @ 14.6 = 5:26'26, max: 44.3, trip total: 388.4

49° - 69°, foggy in the morning and beautiful sun in the afternoon

croisanwich, 2 pop-tarts, blackberry milkshake, Black Butte porter, potato chips, PB&J, Corona, cookies, pound cake, more beers, bacon cheese burger, fries, knob creek on the rocks

Ian and Kate's house - thanks!

Castle Rock is the closest town to Mt St Helens and so it's all about the eruption- the IMAX theatre and the fast food menus all cater to that audience. Yet the town is really not much of a town- just a string of businesses along a major highway.

The Burger King did offer the triple whopper- but not at 7:10am; I checked. Oh well, I guess the croisanwich(sp) was gonna have to do. It was probably the first day that we started with breakfast before riding and it felt good to have something in your stomach.

Matthew- one of Ian's friends that was joining us for the day, to ride into Portland, had planned to show us the best route into the city. He was there first thing - fresh as fresh can be - ready for a nice Sunday ride. He prepared laminated cue sheets for everyone, including the drivers! It was great. It was like I had a day off- someone else was in charge and I could claim ignorance on where on how we were getting there. Which I took advantage of as much as I could.

The early morning fog was thick so there wasn't a huge sense of urgency to get on the road. After all this was going to be the "easy" day.* The "easy" notion came from having planned a 60 mile day that was downhill to Portland. Anyway- that wasn't really the case. More on that later.

As we started, it was cold out but after being soaked all day yesterday and having some dry clothes on it was fine. We did laundry at the motel and so my gloves were clean and dry. Everything was good. You could feel the mist of the fog on you almost as if it was sprinkling but that was only around for maybe the first half hour. After that the clouds started to lift and we began to speculate about the wonderful sunny day ahead. It was a lot of talk but we had high hopes. And slowly it seemed to come around.

At one point Matthew asks if we want to take on more hills- you know just loop off the route for a couple miles since we were ahead of the rest of the riders. At this point it was Tim and I. We looked at each other and no words were spoken. I just laughed. "What is this? A training ride." Yeah, I think we've had enough hill training for the month. Hell our legs felt like two logs- just getting them to rotate the pedals was good enough. We opted out of the extra mileage- even though it was an "easy" day.

And we came across our second "road closed" section of the trip. The van scouted it out and it was safe for us to pass. So we continued on. Some of the best riding is in sections that the road has been closed off because there are no cars. At times this can effect 10 miles of riding or more. Sometimes its less but it's almost as if a "road closed" sign is a good vibe for cyclists.

Then came the climb of all climbs - so far - Lane Road. It started out like many others, turning onto a new road and there was a zig zag around a corner that didn't allow you to see the whole monstrosity. Not knowing the route might have helped- because knowing what was ahead surely wouldn't have done any good. In my opinion it was was about 12 - 14 percent grade for about 1.5 to 2 miles with about a half mile break- flat- in the middle. This was no joke. The only saving grace was that it was still slightly overcast and the temps were in the low 60's. You can't ask for better weather when you're spiking your heart rate and numbing your ass from pushing. It was great. It was even better that I thought the climb was done at the half way point- I mean, why else would I have gone back down to do it again? When "fresh" Matthew asked if we wanted to do it, it was already too late to back out. Sure it was stupid. But part of me thought- when do you really get an opportunity to do a climb like this (remember I still thought the first half was the whole thing). And we were re-grouping here so we had some time to kill. All good reasons I assure you. Ooof.

We all re-grouped and enjoyed the scenery - probably another 500 feet higher. Then the second half started, as well as the amazement that we were not even close to done. Dig deep, keep at it, push, PUSH. Slowly we made it up.

Then came the downhill- just as to be expected the worst climb produced the best descent-- totally awesome. Even though my computer didn't record it as the "max" for the day - I saw it read 47-something mph as I was flying down. It was a great surface, no rain, large turns- all balls out speed fix. And if we spent a continuous half hour of climbing then it only took us about 3 minutes to get back down. The thought did enter my mind - did we really need to do that climb? Our local reps on the ride told us - yes, there was no other way. We have our doubts but I wouldn't have gone a different way either.

It was lunch time- beers and chips. Add a PB&J to the mix and we were ready to launch again. The realization of a 60 mile day was cleary falling apart. Adding 10 miles here and 7 miles there- when it was all added up it seemed that it would be closer to 80. So we better get rolling.

There was also the logistics of making sure Jason got to the airport (after getting to Ian's to get his stuff). His flight was at 6:30 or so and had to leave the house at 5pm-- so that meant we needed to make up some time. Getting lost didn't help, but doing it at a good pace in formation surely made it go by faster. Aaron, Tim and I joined Jason all the way back and we worked effeciently. We got there with plenty of time to spare- about 20 mminuites to relax.

OREGON- in the last miles of the day we crossed over into Portland via a huge bridge that had the bike path in the center - between the oppposing traffic lanes.
video clip: Oregon border »
And once we got off that we rode down river into a steady headwind. It seemed like we had a bit of everything today.

* The "easy" day really wasn't so easy after all. Much of it was the anticipation of not having a long day which turned into a longer day than usual. We were more careful to stay on route since we were in uncharted territory- using a cue sheet without a map. Even so on of the groups got lost- or rather, took their own path into Portland. I'm not sure we really added any miles - if anything we shortened the ride by going straight in.

But when a 60 mile day turns into 80 with a route that had it's share of "hills", after having ridden a solid 4 days of hills-- well, let's just say some people were getting punchy. Not as many smiles as you would think having had a week off from work- but it's at just these times that I start to laugh out loud. The irony of it all - the aspect of doing just one more hill after doing like seven hundred thousand of them already. Or going over speed bumps through a neighborhood- uphill! And then getting to a turn that only takes you up again. It's just out right hilarious- so much so that I tend to laugh so hard that I need to stand on my pedals so I don't fall over. Funny, I know. Quotes start flying that you can't really reproduce- some like:

"Can I get a new pair of legs in Portland?"

"Really man, break it down for me. How many more miles do we have left."

"I tell you, San Francisco is going to be a joy."

All in all it's safe to say that the entire group was wiped out when we finally rolled into Ian/Kate's house. One by one as they got there they collapsed on the lawn as if it was the best bed they'd ever seen.

After taking it all in and cooling off with some refreshments Tim and I quickly went to the store to grab some more beers (having finished the only ones remaining). We took turns with the shower and drank back some more scheming about dinner and what wonderful food we were going to devour.

Jason, Ian, and Lauren are going to be missed- and Todd just joined; flying in tonight.


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