Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Cauldron

I have just read Robert Higdons post "what it takes to volunteer". I realized that my last entry was a tribute to RUSA volunteers in June. Dereliction!
Geoff, Kole, Mark and I Volunteered to Pre ride the Crater Lake 1000K Unsupported. We left the Seattle ferry terminal last Wednesday, a cloudy drizzly evening. At Bremerton it was raining and would rain for most of the 70 plus hours that it took to complete the ride. Problem from the start, I had lost the backlight to my GPS unit temporally. So I stayed behind the Guys who all have units to avoid the first navigational pitfall, the somewhat tricky turn from the 304 into Belfair Hwy. Much too early for bonus miles. We took temporary shelter at the Matlock store from the rain. A man inside the long closed store wondered, we made reassuring signs, wrote in our zip-locked Brevet cards and disappeared into the cold wet night. I suffered my circadian 0500 disorientation just before Raymond and hoped coffee at the gas station would help. Daylight was much more of a supplicant. Respite came with the Naselle Diner, by that I mean breakfast and friendly faces, as Mark looked out of the window and noted it was pouring. We dripped out leaving puddles in the previously dry establishment and crossed over the mouth of the Columbia into Astoria. We stopped to eat again at Cannon Beach before tackling some high rollers of the 101, the rain lightened a bit, but the wind picked up, a headwind that caused a few touring bikes with heavy looking panniers to dismount, go figure. Pacific City finally, felt great to be indoors, made good use of our time and left early just after midnite, there is no bonus time until after Reedsport. Weighed down with extra food and drink we faced a sub 1000ft climb and more rollers. Here I lost both my Edelux and GPS. At Reedsport I make a tactical decision to try and sprint ahead to Roseburg before all the Bike stores close. Mark uses his Smart phone to locate the stores, while Kole (who has volunteered to run with me) and I, wolf down a sub. No time to pack more supplies we leave, the stores we called closed at 1730 giving us over 6 hours to cover close to 80 miles including a 2000ft forest road climb. What goes up will fly down, but I know from the Permanent (pre-ride of the pre-ride) that it is not an easy descent. We enjoy the Idyllic Camp Creek road with increasing confidence and then Kole gets a front wheel flat. Fixed, we push a little harder till we hit the stiff grades. Kole darts ahead, to find the information control at the summit and I summit to his declaration that it is all fresh gravel on the descent. Without a second glance at him I plunge into the gravel at a high grade, alternating between the front and back brakes to avoid a heat blow-out. I find 17mph very unnerving. As the grade eases bringing some relief to my cramped brake hands, it starts to pour. Kole appears as I put on more clothes and I realize that my legs have nothing to work with. Kole volunteers a baggie of Pistachios and some liqorice, I am so grateful. We find the Lighthouse Bakery before Roseburg, and to hell with it, we treat ourselves. We drag to Waldrens still open at 1800, which sells me a planet bike front light. And we soft shoe it to the overnight. Out on foot (no more sitting) to find dinner we run into Geoff and Mark. We decide to re-route to cut out that descent on the Tyee access road, sad that the camp creek road will go with it. We buy lots of food and drink and depart after sleep, just after 0100. Now for the featured climb from Roseburg to the Rim Village in Crater Lake, well over 7000ft but also 92 miles away. Geoff and Kole ride ahead and Mark and I take our time. I enjoy the climb better than the last time during the Permanent, mostly because it is cooler and there are no mosquito attacks. Mark seems unabashed by my constant Yakkity-Yak. Then we get to the rim. We are in a rain cloud at near 8000ft, I dare to peer at the lake close to the edge of the rim.
It is a witches cauldron. Visibility is appalling and all blinkies are on for safety reasons, we ride close together to increase our visibility. After a much needed rest stop at the Village where Kole and Geoff were kindly waiting for us, we descend to Fort Klamath. We run along the west side of Lake Klamath and then turn towards Klamath Falls. Barring some sections with poor to no shoulder, this is a pleasant end stretch. We make our Objective of catching Sizzlers still open. Straight for the Salad Bar!
The Ride starting tomorrow will be largely unsupported, though there will be drop bags. Geoff and I will carry these and help in any other way that we can. I find Volunteering the most stressful and challenging aspect of our sport. It is very rewarding.
My friend Ward Beebe took this shot of a volunteer at Mckenzie Bridge, during the Willamette Headwaters 600K, underneath are his accompanying remarks.

Good to see you Saturday night. Too bad we didn't get to say good bye Sunday morning.

Thank you Buddy

Weather looks promising, it is my hope that We have taken it for you.