Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Blue Shirt Runs Through It

Having read "Ready to Ride", the choice for the ORRando 1000K was a no-brainer, but typical of the ORRando's they put it out there on the wire. My attention to the ORRando mailing list became taut. Oh Yes! they made the right choice and I learned from a note from Susan France that only 2 riders had ever done Portland to Glacier unsupported, Mark Thomas and Greg Cox.
How Romantic, I was getting needy, one big bulkhead there, it would not be possible to escape my mundane world on the day of the ride.
Was it possible, Maybe! Perhaps? then word on the street was that Susan had invited Mark and Greg to do the Pre-Ride, everything in me was buzzing now. Oh No! Greg was committed already on the Pre-ride weekend, I was ready to shine Marks shoes, and I mean his mountain bike shoes for a month.
When word came from Mark that Geoff Swarts and I could come, I was too happy to remember how tired I should be.
We three had ridden a few Permanents together and I already liked the Chemistry. Most Rando are minimalists of sorts and the way I see it Mark is a minimalist for nonsense and foolishness (never mind the facade), Geoff is a minimalist for waste and time (the logistics type that knows when the store will open and close), and Vincent? well, from what I read, a minimalist on negative ideation. Too bad, but I think I would have really enjoyed a long ride with Greg Cox, Maybe one day?

With Nwachinemelu fully loaded as seen here at Dusty in front of Mark's Serotta, We left Troutdale just before dawn and headed in the drizzle to the Vista House were the Vista was all fog. Already we managed to get between a Baby Elk and Mummy Elk.

The door was locked, no shelter from the barely palpable northwest drizzle, we were off to our next challenge, crossing the Bridge of the Gods in the drizzle.

Our Serpent would not be denied and soon assisted by a solid breakfast at Lyle, we were rolling serpentine from left to right and up and down the Columbia River Gorge with a magnificent tail wind.

The Temps were going only one way which was Up, forcing stops to strip off pieces of clothes.
But with that Tailwind it was possible to catch up.

Caught up with a Tandem, nice couple from Davis California, fully loaded and headed for Portland Maine, shared time at Roosevelt WA.

They stayed, we left into the warming air and then to turn north out of the good wind, climbing out of the gorge unto a rolling plateaux, before the sweet descent into Kennewick.

At Subway I predicted that Fairwinds would soon have us in Connell, I was barred from making any predictions after that, we even ran into quicksand. Made the overnite in time for decent sleep but not in time for any decent food. I roiled my belly that night, trying to grab omnivore calories and woke up a little concerned, but I knew my bike was the solution. If I just rode at the right tempo my gut would start working again, and it did, at the Arby's at Colfax where I had 2 beef sandwiches, no curly fries please. After that I was able to tolerate caffeine and it helps.
I sensed that the next stage to Plummer was pivotal, but the Palouse was inspiring.

After lasagna and chicken in Plummer as we entered Idaho we got on their beautiful bike trail.
Which took us down to their big lake.

And this trail ran flat and for miles, interrupted only by whitetail deer leaping across.

It was a battle of attrition as our average speed stumbled downward. In the end, the trail won, as darkness crept in and we had to bow away from the still eastward trail to our overnite in Wallace. Again too late for a decent meal, vowing not to make the mistakes of yesterday I settled for beer, chips and sleep. I could almost taste white fish.

So you are a blue shirt, and you like mountains, and 700k into the ride is a mountain 300k, you wake up early and you start climbing the first pass, you passed (no pun intended) on a few bonus miles to breakfast, maybe! Then another call to skip breakfast before Thompson Pass the second and bigger with a long 8% grade. The maltodextrin was getting old, Mark offered me a precious Ensure and it was so, so, good. I will put that in my care package list. I stymied the stomach acid with antacids but I knew it was the right call unless I wanted to reclaim that breakfast.

The temperature was great for climbing, but we were all sweating at the top and then gearing up for a cold descent.
Excellent breakfast at Thompson falls, felt renewed and now daring to think how many miles left, we were in Montana.

One should really be of good behavior in Plains Montana, but we just had to go and make a left turn north and a hot muggy climb unto a rolling plateau that passes through Hot Springs.
It reminded me of the climb at the Warm Springs Indian reservation in Oregon, was I just making word associations?
No time for sniveling, Geoff had made a mental reservation.

We were jilted, as the lone pine behind the closed store rustled in the mild north wind without as much as a morsel to offer. This was perhaps the low point as quite out of character from this point my head phones remained lowered. Preferring to listen to the few words of my companions and mostly their silence.

It was Big Sky alright stretching on for what seemed like forever with an irritating 1% grade mixed in with some rollers, not that we were bored or nothing because everyone and their cousin was pulling a trailer at max speed on that shoulder less road. So Flathead Lake was a sight to see.

We still had to work for our late lunch with big rollers around the lake to the Dairy Queen in Lakeside a saver.

My friends were ready to muzzle me when I predicted again that we would "thread the needle" and escape all the thunder, lightening and rain in the forecast.
I almost had it, but in Kalispell the Sky started crying and the streets were filled with tears.
Big rain came down and washed 3 days of salt from our Blue Shirts.

Thanks to Mark, Geoff, Susan, Greg
Nels for the ride, and Peg it was all you said it would be.


Joe P said...

Wow. Just Wow. I suspect I will read this a few more times before the weekend!

Bicycle Rider said...

Nice account, I did this ride in 2007 and it really is epic.