The Birkie 200k has been over for a few days now and my legs are finally able to support my girth without my face grimacing. A few things I enjoyed about the course are as follows in no particular order 1) Elk herds by the side of the road, 2) challenging courses, 3) yummy post ride food, 4) and Mike Bingle's miraculous return to the group after stopping at the start of Timber Rd and chasing mile after mile and finally attaching himself after we crossed Hwy 26. A few things I did not enjoy about the ride, again in no particular order 1) riders sans fenders, 2) riders w/ fenders but sans mudflaps, 3) ill fitting clothes on riders showing off a bit more than I want to see in a paceline, and 4) that all good rides must come to an end.
Rando pal Philippe Andre and myself exchanged emails and phone calls throughout the week discussing the various luxuries of driving versus the practicalities of MAX'ing but in the end decided due to the one-chance-to-get-it-right train schedule we'd go the auto route. He graciously picked me up at my apartment at 5:30am and off we went. I can recall many early mornings riding the six or seven miles to my friend's house to carpool to a race in some gawd forsaken hole in Middle Oregon with my spare wheels strapped to my back. Philippe...thanks for coming to get me.
We arrived at the parking lot using Susan's dancing headlamps as a beacon calling to us. I'm sure there's a whole parallel about those singing sirens on the craggy rocks of yore and how epic rando events could be misconstrued, but I'm not seeing it right now.
I made the executive decision to go into the Lodge and get dressed inside where I could see what I was putting on and in what order. I'm frequently confusing my socks and my shoes. What happens is all my old chummy teammates come by and point it out to me, usually mid-race, and I feel dumb. Little do they know I've got socks on underneath and it's a FASHION STATEMENT so a pox on them.
A big turn out was great to see. My guess is the year of PBP has something to do with it, but I'm sure Oregon randoneurring being under 'new management' has something to do with it as well. Showing up to a NE Portland park to meet five other riders to start a 400k equals no fun.
The way out of town was the same as years past. It seemed like our little group of 12 or so formed pretty quickly as we chased a loan rider for a few miles. Sometimes I think I should bring my rollers to warm up in the parking lot so the first few pedal turns aren't such a shock to me.
The weather was intermittent with wet and dirty roads. I tucked in behind Washintgon Ken in the paceline, but because of his short stature, all the road spray from the three other non-fendered riders in front of him caught me square in the face. Blech. I can't very well give my sponsors their public advertising if it's coverd in mud spray.
The first control was at the usual off-the-beaten-path location as last years 200k so I was prepared for the road turning to mud puddles and gravel. I got my card signed, topped off the water bottle, and used the little boys room. I shoved a few mini-pretzels down my gullet, saddled up, and headed out. The group of gentlemen I was with were caught somewhat unawares as I heard the familiar sounds of cleats clipping into pedals and my name followed by four letter words. I'm not here to make friends! Just kidding, I try to be friendly. Ask anyone. I just wanted to keep 'em rolling as KP says and with my own directions I figured no problem.
The next control was informational in nature. I knew it was regarding the color of a house, but I and a few others rode past the intersection. Thankfully the other riders called out or mispedal and we were able to all regroup and head back to Stoney Point Rd. Saw the other riders on the journey and gave the obligatory hand waves. I really enjoyed Stoney Point both up and down. Looking forward to revisiting that one when I have some fitness.
Like with most things, I only remember snippets of the big picture. The ride along the Nehalem River was quite fast and smooth. It seemed like our little group was getting smaller and smaller as the day progressed. Earlier, P. Andre asked me about my pace for the ride. I never know what to say to that. I usually just shrug my shoulders and pedal which doesn't really translate too well over the phone. I figured I'd ride until I got tired and then I'd ride slower. I know there are corndogs available in
We seemed to get to the Birk. store pretty quick. I had a 'hey I know where we are' moment when we passed that turn that we took last year to go to that informational control at the boat ramp or something. Not real sure what I'm trying to say, but if you know what I mean, then you know what I mean.
Chocolate milk break.
Washington Ken and I left the store first as we both had everything ready to go. He took monster pulls and that got us through the next 20 miles to Vernonia. I made it to the gas station/control. It was raining pretty good at this point which helped clean off the bike and the clothes. Again, always thinking of the sponsors. Things ground to a halt here when I stood in line for about 5 minutes only to get to the clerk when he decided to close the line. My chasers found me.
Del and I left with John and Jeff following close behind. We got to Timber Rd again and I let the tail wind carry me solo until the next control on Hwy 6. I had never gone this direction on Timber Rd and really enjoyed it. The wooded surroundings with the ups and downs and twists were very nice to rip on even after all the miles previously ridden.
I opted to stop at the Shell station to avoid making left hand turns into and out of the Banks store. Another grind to a halt control with people filling out paperwork for something at the store which took quite a while. My HRM resets after 5 minutes or so of no input which is the state I found it in when I finally emerged from the store with my little baby sized Coke can and signed control card. I saw a red jersey zip by and so something was ahead for the chasing. I brought Del along with me from that final control and picked up John and Jeff on Hwy 8 a few miles outside of Forest Grove proper.
The four of us rode in together surprising Marcello as we rolled up to the door of the Grand Lodge. I don't think he expected any sub 7 hour rides that day.
A few minutes later a bunch of other riders came in. Thankfully Philippe came with them since my clean and dry clothes were safely locked in the boot of his car. We got cleaned up and the two of us with his friend Scott settled in for beers/root beers and burgers at the Lodge. I flirted with the waitress in my white version of Steve Urkl sort of way that I have with the ladies, don't worry Oregon Randoneurring's good name was not harmed in any way, and then piled back into the car for the ride home.
Thanks for reading and sorry for any errors or omissions.