After a night of rest we all awoke Saturday morning eager to be out and about, perhaps a little to eager. While I made breakfast the ladies lounged, drank coffee and surfed the net (what is wrong with this picture?), luckily I did not have to do dishes. Breakfast was served and our appetites were satisfied, we planned our strategy for the day. The first thing to do was take the bikes out for a shake down ride and make adjustments as necessary. Once this was done it was back to the house and plan our route to the venue. Diana would drive the car while Cara and I rode our bicycles over.
We downloaded directions, hopped on our bikes Diana in the car and off to the venue we went. I am not sure who decided on the departure time or calculated the transit time but I have to say it was somewhat aggressive. The bicycle ride to the venue was great, we missed a few turns but got to see the industrial side of Portland which is unique and I am sure not on the usual tourist path and definitely not in the Fodder's guide to Portland. We made the necessary navigational corrections and found our way to the venue...well almost. We missed one turn and ended up going by a Star Bucks where Diana was parked because she did not want to be alone in the parking lot a Chris King because no one was there. Oh, the reason no one was there was because WE WERE 2 HOURS EARLY!!!! Oh well at least we were not late and once we assessed our situation we decided to load the bikes in the car and head back to the house. At this point we made the decision to go downtown to the Pearl District and look around to see if we could find any bargains and then go to the venue for the qualifying ride.
Downtown we went, but no bargains to be found. We did go to Starbucks for a cup of coffee, hot chocolate and I believe I had a cinnamon roll. After the snack we again made our way to Chris King for the qualifying ride. This time there were people with bikes, rain coats and oh yeah beer.It appeared the ride was going to be quite damp so I put on the proper attire and waited for the roll out. There was some talk of mutiny ie not doing the ride from some participants but once the group formed common sense was put aside and off we rode.
The first 30 minutes of the ride I was seriously considering bailing, but once my feet and hands were numb along with my mind I was ok. We made our way along a highway and then left up a fairly steep climb and onto some nice double track into a public park. The climbing was a nice change to the highway and gave us a chance to see places one unfamiliar with the area would not see. At the top of one of the climbs we waited to regroup and also drink beer. Apparently the objective of this particular qualifier was to see who could drink the most beer and still ride a bicycle. I decided to forgo the beer...a) because I had no idea where we were and being intoxicated would only make matters worse and b) I did not want to face plant into a tree. Oh, we did switch Cara's bike gearing to an easier gear. These climbs were pretty steep and we did not know how long or how much climbing there was and reasoned spinning and saving the legs would be the wise thing to do.
First rest stop done, again we debated on bailing but were caught up in group dynamics and decided to continue on. I believe we climbed a littler longer and then we started to descend. The descent was not very steep but the trail or road was a bit tacky which meant you had to anticipate the turns or risk sliding out. The next rest stop was "The Test of Strength". This test involved riding up a rather steep and slippery slope with a couple of obstacles on the trail to test not only your strength but also your skill. The test was challenging but not impossible. I dabbed once when a rider in front of me spun out. I made it to the top which was not the most difficult part. The more difficult part being the descent back to the start of the test. The descent was wet and slippery but by the time I had gotten to the bottom the brakes were cooked. Once everyone was back and more beer was consumed we continued on our way.
I do not remember the remainder of the route just that we continued through the forest on double track which eventually dumped is out onto Germantown Rd. Germantown Rd was a paved and very fast descent that lasted for ~ 15 mins(?). Needless to say I got rather chilled on this descent and was ready to head back to the barn. At the bottom of the descent we sort of regrouped not wanting to stop for long as we were all feeling the effects of the chill.
The route from here took us over a bridge. I am not sure how long the bridge was but would estimate it being ~5x the length of the bridge on the Parkway that crosses the French Broad river for those of you that are familiar with the Parkway bridge. The ride over the bridge entailed you riding on a sidewalk approximately 16 inches high x 4 ' foot wide. This in itself is not that bad but when combined with rain and 40 mph wind it can be a little disconcerting. While riding and trying to stay upright I debated in my mind what would cause me the least amount of bodily harm...a) being blown off and into the river, approximately a 100' drop or b) being blown into the highway into the path of an oncoming car. I did not like either option and tried to stay in the middle of the walkway although the wind was trying its best to tear me from the side walk and plant me in the river.
We finally arrived at the opposite end of the bridge, safely and somewhat sound and again regrouped drank beer. At this point we had been on the bike ~ 2 hours (it felt like 6) we talked to the ride leader and finding out they planned on riding another 1.5 hours we decided to bail. We told Matthew where we were staying and he gave us directions on how to get home. He made it sound relatively simple, keep the river on the right and ride until we came into familiar territory and then make our way home. We put our fate in the directions that Matthew gave us and off we rode into the unknown.
Although we did not have a clue where we were our ETA was 20-30 mins. As we rode the dampness sat in. There were large puddles of water (small ponds) on the road which we rode around, I am not sure why as one can only get so wet. We rode for ~ 3o mins but did not recognize any landmarks. We also seemed to have lost the river on our right although I am pretty sure it was running down the middle of the road. I spotted a postman delivering mail and thought heck if anyone knows his way around he should. I stopped and asked for directions. The postman told us to take 15th street and that would take us to Schuyler the street the house was located on. We got on 15th street and started pedaling and pedaling and pedaling I was beginning to lose confidence in the USPS and finally NE Schuyler!!!! I think at one point along the last leg Cara asked if I was mad, my reply was that we came to Portland for adventure and this was it!!!
After reaching the house we telephoned Diana to let her know of our decision to come to the house rather than back to Chris King. This was actually a good decision because we were not prepared to haul our muddy bikes, bodies and gear in the rental car. Diana arrived a short time, later we all relaxed, got warm and made plans for dinner. I am not sure but I believe I may have taken a nap while Cara and Diana went shopping for mud boots which they would need for the SSWCXC the next day.
NEXT UP SSWCXC!!!