Thursday, February 2, 2012

Open Road

a.k.a., Lynne's Hagg Lake 200K

(title inspired by this amazing Ohioan song, as well as by the fine miles of northwest Oregon covered by the route)

Where to start? Perhaps in Beaverton, where the route begins a convenient two blocks away from the Beaverton Transit Center. Hard to beat that -- I would like starting in southeast, but a 200K from my house to Hagg Lake would cover a lot more crappy middlish areas (and the west hills) compared to Lynne's directions.

Anyway, the start of the ride looked like so:

Indeed, that is Beaverton.

Thankfully, though, I quickly took a turn out of the city limits and into turf that looked much more inviting:

I drank my off-brand cola for a little morning pick-up, rolled through some hills, hit my mundane day's-highest 38 MPH, and got chased by not one but three un-fenced Australian shepherds.

Then it was into North Plains, whose main street I absolutely love riding through:

It's the perfect little town for spending three minutes in without actually interacting with anyone. There's a business called Oregon-Canadian Forest Products! (I wonder how Washington feels about being sandwiched in the middle of their partnership). And silos and trucks and little cafes which I've never actually entered. Great stuff.

A few minutes later, I crossed back south over Highway 26, then turned right to follow its path from a few hundred yards away. I made a funny face:

Then made a funny-in-a-disgusted-and-not-happy face:

(in hindsight, my bike is a pretty close match to the color of roadkill residue... nice)

And here's an endorsement for two standard pieces of randonneur equipment, the Showers Pass jacket and wool half-glove/mitten:

(that speedometer should say 113 mph, definitely not 13... it just doesn't show the hundreds digit)

There's also a peek into my camera-turned-handlebar bag, mentioned previously. For its first decent-sized chunk of riding, it performed like a champ -- stayed in place, didn't make too much noise, only a little wobbly, waterproof-ish, kept my banana only slightly bruised!

The first true sit-down rest stop of the day came at mile 43, in good old Forest Grove. Scottie's Drive-In on the west end of town cooked up a damn marvelous DOUBLE PIZZA BURGER, and it was incredible. Better still, I was able to pull around the back and use their restroom, wash my salty/sweaty face, and snap an obligatory bicycle photo:

Plus one of me for good measure (some riders like to have quick and efficient rest stops; others, like myself, take advantage of the ten-second self-timer function...)

Next it was off to Hagg Lake via back-roads and Old Highway 47. I was treated to this excellent view, and reminded to eat my banana:

I was surprised to see some snow remains on the side of the road, but the air temperature hit a remarkable FIFTY degrees, and I pulled off my DIY wool cap and rode bare-headed (not counting a well-ventilated helmet) for the ten miles or so into Gaston, enjoying the mild January air on my recently buzzed head. Oh, and another timer'd shot:

There's not really much of special note around the Gaston/Laurelwood/Yamhill/Carlton area -- vineyards and farms and quiet roads. All pleasant, though! I seemed to alternate between chugging along at a decent 17mph, and zoning out while barely keeping my speed in double digits. A slight threat of rain, sparse traffic, and lots of this:

The Yamhill "grocery" store did have a rather peculiar storefront, advertising "table syrup" and imitation crab meat:

I sat on a bench in front of this store for a little bit, eating a corn dog, and I saw a man walk past me with a Hatchetman tattoo on the back of his hand. A mile down the road, I saw a gaggle of middle schoolers riding Razor scooters in a church parking lot half pipe. Huzzah!

I was treated to a nice gradual sunset as I headed back towards Hillsboro and Beaverton; you wouldn't know it from my trusty little camera, though, which wanted to curl up in a ball and cry once I lost full daylight (this shot was taken probably half an hour BEFORE sunset):

Six miles from the ride's finish, I was clocking a decent (but certainly not fast) 10 hours and change, which would have brought me to the end with a much better time than any of my four 200K's from the fall... but, alas, it was not meant to be.

After pulling out of a Shell station with some gummy apple rings, I heard a dreaded "hiss" from my rear tire and pulled to the side of Baseline Road to inspect the damage. After realizing I had left my tire levers at home, I resorted to taking apart my key ring in a effort to remove the punctured tube (which worked, and left my keys only slightly mangled)... then I needed to use my spare socks to help me re-seat the tire after putting in a new tube:

Of the two improvisations, I might actually use the socks again at home when dealing with an extra stiff tire... it worked quite well! I got back on the bike, traveled another five miles, only to hear another HISSSSSSHHH with less than a mile to go. Rather than risk breaking my home key fully in half and leaving myself locked out for the night, I begrudgingly walked the last half mile, bought some french fries, boarded MAX, and headed home.

Total time worked out to be 11:39. Good enough!

Next up: maybe one of David Parson's perms... also, planning and submitting my own.

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