cape (n.): a point or body of land extending into a body of water, usually the sea.
Last weekend, I headed down to Oregon (also known as "Washington's Mexico") to ride the 3 Capes 300K, put on by the Oregon Randonneurs. If you take nothing else away from the following ride report, just believe me when I say it was an incredibly gorgeous ride.
If you ponder the definition of "cape" above, you'll understand that a brevet designed to pass through 3 capes all in one sitting is pretty much guaranteed to be scenic and awesome. Oddly enough, the brevet had to be postponed from the weekend before, because they were predicting snow on the climb going through Tillamook State Forest. The postponement was good news for me, since I was busy on the original weekend.
The ride started and ended in the 'burbs of Portland, in the town of Forest Grove. As riders materialized out of the darkness and stumbled around the parking lot at 5:30 am, I ran into a few folks from Seattle that I recognized. Robert invited me to join a fewother riders that he planned on sticking with, and I took him up on it. Even my sleepy, caffeine-deprived mind could tell that having some company during a long day on the saddle would be a good idea.
The ride headed west, and took us through some pretty amazing country as we headed towards our big climb, and ultimately, the coast. The rivers, forest, and relatively quiet roads are something I've always loved about riding these brevets, and something I hope I never take for granted as a PNWesterner. In 300 kilometers, we rode through forests, the coast, flat farmlands, and sand dunes. I think I mentioned to someone during the ride that I feel sorry for people that enjoy taking long rides like these, but live in places without the stunning scenery we have around here (no offense to any readers in S. Dakota, Nebraska, etc.)
After having rolled into the first control in one huge group, things started to split up on our big climb on the Wilson River Highway. The descent on the other side was great, with wide shoulders, relatively smooth roads and not too much to get in the way or slow us down. I'm usually a total wuss when it comes to descending, or getting the bike much above 55kph (~35mph), but I had a great time bombing down that pass.
Having gotten split up from everyone, I made my way west to Tillamook solo, meeting back up with Joshua and Robert while waiting for the bathroom at a convenence store. We did a pretty good job of sticking together for the next 100K or so, while riding near places that looked like this:
Pretty rough, right? I'd actually ridden some of these roads before, on a bike tour that Grace and I had taken down the Oregon coast around this time last year. It was cool revisiting some of those same climbs and beautiful roads, this time with different companions (and without all the camping gear on the bike).
We made a stop in Pacific City for some food, and I demolished a bowl of split-pea soup. It was a little on the bland side, but it was "real food", and it was hot, which counted for a lot. Believe me, I love myself some energy bars, and Shot Blox and potato chips, and peanuts, etc etc, but I think I have a lower tolerance for going long stretches of time without a little "real food" than most of the randos I've observed. The topic of what to eat while on a ride like this is a topic all it's own, but suffice it to say that your food choices can very easily make or break an entire ride.
After re-grouping in the town of Grand Ronde at another convenience store, we immediately got split up again while pulling out onto a busy stretch of highway. Joshua fell off the back, and some others pulled away off the front, leaving Robert and I do ride the last 100K or so by ourselves. We decided to not kill ourselves trying to hold some gnarly pace, opting instead to relax a little and chat our way back into Forest Grove. The company was great, and my only complaint is how hungry I got while talking about restaurants. I began to fantasize about a cold beer, some pizza, and brunch all at the same time.
It's become pretty apparent to me that good company makes the kilometers go by faster, especially on a ride that lasts the better part of a day. Not to mention the fact that you can occasionally fall back behind a wheel and get out of the wind for a bit. I've had lots of people give me advice about "riding my own ride", rather than trying too hard to stick with a group that's keeping a faster pace than you can sustain for 12-plus hours. It's great advice, but that also means that riding with others only works if you're all willing to keep a similar pace. I guess that's a long-winded way of saying thanks to Robert for keeping the same pace as me for 4 hours or so.
The knee troubles that I'd experienced on my last brevet didn't resurface at all, and I have to give all the credit to Grace, who's always telling me I need to stretch more. I've been trying to stretch regularly, focusing on my legs, and I think it paid off big time.
Overall, I had an awesome time (especially eating here and here the next day in Portland), and this ride left me feeling really confident about the upcoming 400K that I've signed up for. I wasn't really looking forward to jumping straight from 200K to 400K without something in between, so I guess I have the snow to thank for readjusting the brevet schedules.