Winter is coming.
And with that comes rain -- certainly tolerable for randonneuring purposes, just not enjoyable -- but also, soon enough, snow in the fun-to-visit higher altitude places surrounding Portland.
So, David and I wanted to get one last good run in at the Mt Hood National Forest, and decided to do his High Rock 300 last Saturday. Once again I faced a pre-5am weekend wakeup, this time with a damp-looking forecast.... but, hey, that's why God invented eVent fabric.
Almost disappointingly, I put on shoe covers and rain chaps and my Showers Pass jacket in my living room... then went outside and immediately overheated in the mild and dry predawn weather. Oops. So, stuff some crap back into my Carradice, and scramble south to the official Bybee startpoint.
After dodging scurrying rabbits and one raccoon along the Springwater, we kept a moderate pace through Boring and Estacada to get to Ripplebrook (95km) in about 4.5 hours. David needed some morning caffeine (Dr Pepper and coffee), I ate an apple, and we marveled at the fact that we'd covered a third of the day's distance with nothing but a light mist thus far.
The twenty or so miles from Ripplebrook to the turnoff for NF-42 are amazing -- right alongside the bubbling and rocky Clackamas River, far less traffic than the already quiet roads out of Estacada, and a nice gradual elevation gain to about 2200 feet. I think I need to draw up a permanent variation that extends the basic Portland-Ripplebrook-Portland into about a 250K.
One of the more bizarre aspects of the ride was that most of the roads we covered along the river were covered (well, sparsely covered) with a bunch of small newts (or lizards?) like so:
Most were car-splatted; the ones that were intact, however, seemed to be basically immobilized. I poked this little guy, and he sort of waggled his limbs slightly but didn't actually flee. Bizarre, and well beyond my barebones knowledge of zoology.
Anyway, NF-42 meant the start of the day's hard work, gaining about 1400 feet in five miles, then dropping you down a bit towards Clackamas Lake (whose ranger station water spigot was sadly turned off) and finally regaining another 1200 feet more gradually, topping off near High Rock at just over 4500 feet. Hard, but not tortuous like the overnight climb of NF-11 on Joshua's 600, all done with a smile (or at least a grimace) on my face.
We even briefly escaped the clouds, but had to settle for a mostly dry but thickly overcast descent on NF-57 and NF-58.
After another Ripplebrook snack stop, it was a pretty straightforward stretch home -- with a nice little spur out to Bonnie Lure park (as an alternative to just slogging straight on OR-224). Unfortunately, David picked up three flats in the 40km between Faraday Rd and Oregon City... although the last one at least happened to coincide nicely with the fireworks OC was putting on in honor of their bridge reopening.
Oh, and my Pop-Tarts matched my bike, even down to the green sprinkles / green water bottles. So, bonus points for that.
I'm at 7500K for the year, David is up over 9000 (heh) thanks to two previous runnings of this route recently, and a bunch of other shorter stuff.