Preparations: clean the chain. Get the fruitcake out of the freezer. Have the entire family over for dinner the night before... Mind you, I was working this week, finished up at 3:30, and rode the 14.5 miles home from Wilsonville.
Michal and Cyndi arrived after everyone had cleared out. After a brief logistics discussion, we decided that I'd drive us to the start, saving Cyndi a couple of trips to Hillsboro. I mostly knew where I was going, as well.
Not going to rain. Going to be sunny. "Light fog, burning off early"
We arrived at Shute Park at about 6:30am, finding Paul W. Others filtered in, and the organizer appeared. I said hi to all the folks I hadn't seen for months. Some of them, years (Hi John K! Hi John Henry!)
Michael P-P gave us the route rap, including an update on the routing in Dallas, since the cue sheet was vague. It still wasn't quite clear in my head, but I guessed I'd figure it out when I got there.
We all headed out. What with the crowd and early speed, it felt like a club ride start. Groups quickly started sorting out, and I found myself solo. No worries. I wasn't going to get lost.
The fog was thick, and, at times, thicker. The route was very familiar. Found the info control; memorized the answer and time. (Two green, 7:19) I stopped briefly for a nature break at the corner of Geiger and Fern Hill, only to discover that the blue room was BEHIND the fence. Cruelty! I then quickly discovered that others must have felt the same way, because there was a place in the fence to duck through.
That taken care of, I headed south on Fern Hill to Spring Hill to North Valley. (someone posted a comment on another post about how cyclists should not ride on Spring Hill/North Valley. Because, and I quote "to the poor victim who has to live with the memory of accidentally killing a cyclist". Nothing accidental about it. The driver made a CHOICE.)
Eventually, I found a rider up ahead, who turned out to be John V. We rode along for awhile (he also usually rides solo). And then, just north of Lafayette, we found Kevin L, who thought he had started out too fast, and was pausing. So the three of us rode along together. John was wondering where we'd stop, and I suggested Dayton. The route was the usual, but it wasn't a control. The clerks at the Center Market were a bit disappointed that no one asked to have their cards signed. Banana, V-8 and ibuprofen.
We started out toward Amity, and I pulled ahead, and finally just went on. The fog FINALLY gave it up here. Passed a rider in Amity ("I'm checking the cue sheet"). Steve and Jeff passed by and went on. Continued munching on fruitcake cubes.
Out to Perrydale Rd, then up and down the 4 big rollers.
Saw a few groups of riders headed back; waved at the ones I recognized. Hi Chris! Hi Susan! Then the route crosses Hwy 22, goes up a couple more climbs, and I was in Dallas. In only 5 hrs. Disbelief. Even better, there were many riders at the Safeway, including Michal.
It was sunny and warm by then, so I ditched the wool cap, and, in a feat of agility, removed my baselayer without pulling off the jersey OR flashing the bystanders. Lunch was all the potstickers from the deli counter, another banana, and the Gatorade which didn't fit into my water bottle. Michal thought he'd ride back with me. I appreciated that.
After the stretch of Kings Valley Hwy/Hwy 22 (no climb back out of Dallas, nice!), we were back on Perrydale, working our way up and over the 4 big rollers. They are easier in the northward direction, as they stairstep down, but still not effort-free.
A rider came up behind on Bethel Rd. It was Steve's buddy Jeff, and I wondered where Steve was. "His wheel broke just outside of the Safeway." Hmm, say more about that. Jeff was going to finish, then go back and fetch him. Steve was going to have a long wait, but at least he would be inside with food and coffee.
So we enjoyed the sunshine and landscape (this is, hands down, one of the two prettiest stretches on this route, the other being North Valley/Spring Hill), and tried to ignore the headwind.
Through Amity, and then the deadly dull stretch to Dayton. With headwind. I tried to find a good wheelsucking position behind Michal, but the wind was just not cooperating. By now I realized that the shoes I was wearing were truly done. Michal kept unclipping, so his feet weren't happy either.
Dayton, finally. Gardettos, another banana, another V-8. And a brief, welcome sit. Jeff was just leaving.
Those last 35 miles were not going to get ridden by themselves. Back on the bikes. I should note that it was really nice, except for the wind. Really nice. Beautiful day!
Dayton-Lafayette-Abbey-Kuehne-Ribbon Ridge (whee!), and back onto North Valley/Spring Hill. I was hoping that the hills to our right would mitigate the NE wind, which they did, somewhat. We admired the wetlands, and continued relentlessly north. After most of the traffic turned off at Flett, we enjoyed it even more.
By now it was Golden Hour, with amazing light from the sun being low in the sky. In all the years I have ridden up and down this stretch of road, I have never been there with the light like this. It was beautiful.
Then up Fern Hill, and east on Geiger. Wait... I was riding at 15mph! The wind shifted! The wind shifted!
So we VERY HAPPILY proceeded to polish off the last 11 miles, and enjoyed the spectacular sunset which lasted from just south of Cornelius to the turn off Hwy 219 onto Grabel Rd.
I kept looking at the clock, and realizing that we were somewhat ahead of our projected 12 hour time. (yeah, I'd like to project a time somewhat LESS than 12 hours, but my riding the past year or so has not supported that).
With a bit of vehicular cycling, we successfully got into the left turn lane on TV Hwy (a stroad of major proportions) to get back into the park where we started.
Found Michael P-P and did the finishing rituals, plus lots of chatting while we loaded up the car.
11:10 elapsed. My fastest 200k time in almost a year and a half. Wowee zowie!