Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Which one is Pink?

Saturday I rode one of David's newest permanents -- the "Hot Springs - Covered Bridges 400". And, unlike my slew of Harry Potter-themed rides, you actually get some idea of the ride from its name.

The idea of a 400 permanent is a somewhat strange and uncommon one; the only other such registered routes in Oregon are SIR-owned segments of their Crater Lake 1000K. There's (gasp!) no RUSA award to be earned from such a ride, other than simply padding your mileage, but we've discussed making an unofficial one of our own, along the lines of Jan Heine's montagnards or R70, for people who complete a full 2-3-4-6 series of permanents.

Anyway, our ride got off to a great start before we even hit the road -- with a 7am start time from Sellwood, I started the day with about two more hours of sleep and twelve less miles of commute compared to the Tygh Valley ride that left from some NoPo hotel at 5am. When you're slow like myself, a 400K will make you sleep-deprived no matter when you start... so, much better to begin the day after a proper snooze.

The first quarter of the course is quite familiar, heading out to Ripplebrook station just like the Tygh ride and David's P-R-P 200K, but nevertheless very pleasant. I rode the drop-in ramp on Van Curen Rd near Estacada for the third time this summer, and for the third time was stuck with a 47mph top speed... alas, I'll get fifty one day.

Faraday Road is one of those five mile stretches you wish would last forever -- not like the rest of 224 up to Ripplebrook is bad by any means, but the dam access road is freshly paved waterfront turf with no traffic and no elevation... what's not to love?

With a late-ish start and an expected high temp in the low 90s, I had already gone through three 26oz water bottles by Ripplebrook at mile 60, and I even filled up a fourth for the continuation on NF-46 towards Detroit.

The first twelve or so miles past Ripplebrook are wonderfully mild, taking you up from 1500 feet to ~2700 feet without using a grade higher than 3%. The last three miles to the 3700-foot pass, though, are quite a bit harder (and more exposed to the sun), and we both slogged up warily in near 1-to-1 gear ratios.

There's a sweet reward for your work, though -- aside from one pesky 180-degree turn that forces some stiff braking, you'll positively fly past Breitenbush and into Detroit. There's also a tremendous backside view of Mt. Jefferson, but I passed it without a photo.

Unfortunately, from Detroit there's only one way west... Highway 22. High traffic, little shoulder, and, today, a stiff headwind. We attacked it at ~19mph out of spite, then finally turned off an hour later to pass through Mill City and Lyons and start exploring the ride's namesake bridges.

The ride passes through the south end of Scio at mile ~140, but misses the "downtown" section with any worthwhile food stops so we waited until Stayton thirty miles later for a dinner stop at just about sunset. At that point, we'd covered the 170 miles in about 13.5 hours... certainly not a world-beating time, but we'd covered most of the route's elevation already and were in position for a 20ish hour finish.

Then, of course, darkness happened, and the seemingly unavoidable slowdown. We skipped 213 in favor of more remote farm roads to the east, but they were just as lumpy as the Cascade Highway, if not a bit worse.

From there, it was a weary crawl through Silverton, Mt Angel, Molalla, Canby, and Redland. I'd ridden through each town before, but many of the specific roads were new... and some were surprisingly and unwelcomely hilly.

Needless to say, we were nowhere near a 20-hour finish... actual total time 23:09, putting us at well below ten miles per hour after dinner in Stayton. Oops -- but still about two and a half hours better than on the Tygh ride.

The dog was happy to see me, though, and certainly did not judge my poor overnight riding speed.

2am pace woes notwithstanding, this was an incredible ride. NF-46 is an awesome stretch of road, as was the Albany-Lyons (226) Highway. After this success, I'm definitely motivated to register other SE Portland-based 400K permanents... already plotting numerous coast-and-back options, Willamette Valley explorations, and two Portland-Seattle options (one through Astoria ending at the Bremerton ferry, one through the Gifford Pinchot forest). That would make a nice unofficial 1000K -- ride a 400K up, do one of their brevets, ride a 400K back. Fun!

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