Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Found Yankton Again!

Ray was prospecting for ride partners.  He pointed out that this would be a good tune-up for the upcoming 300k, what with all the climbing.  The weather was going to be amazingly nice.

Mt St Helens

Found Ray and Kevin at the Scappoose Library, followed shortly by RB.  We headed over to the little market for starting receipts, and cleaned them out of bananas.  Not any chances to restock on this ride, until 10 miles from the finish.

Out of Scappoose, and we promptly started climbing the Scappoose Vernonia Hwy.  Ten miles up, pretty gradual until the last couple miles.

Farm and cows on the Scappoose-Vernonia Highway

Ray and RB pulled ahead; Kevin and I came around a corner to find RB working on his bike, and Ray asking if I had a quick link.  Which I did, and RB was resolving a chain suck issue, but he was just going to shorten his chain, and didn't want the quick link.  Ray checked out the sun, and then went to hold something for RB.  Well, ok, we were stopped.  So I ate one of the bananas.  Pointed comments about Luddites may have been shared.

Ray basking in the sun

You know, if you used my quick link, we'd be (long) done by now

Off again, and shortly heading down to Hwy 47, then over to the Big Eddy Campground, info control and rest stop :-)  I took off, knowing they'd catch me.  And eventually they did, a few miles after the turn onto Apiary.

Ray and RB on Apiary Rd

Kevin.  "You know, my saddle feels better today. And I LOVE these tires."

Coast Range forest

Didn't remember Apiary being challenging last time.  Of course, we had a headwind this time, which pretty much followed us around the entire route, but for the last drop to the end.  So, up to Camp Wilkerson and down, then a rolling stretch, which eventually took us to a turn onto the expected 3 uphill miles of gravel.  Mostly dirt-type gravel, but there were also stretches of loose gravel.

Gravel.  And uphill.

And loose dogs.  Many loose dogs.  The scariest was a very determined miniature pinscher type who chased me the last part of the gravel, where I really couldn't accelerate and kept yelling "go home!  bad dog!".  I kept expecting sharp pointy teeth to do something painful to my calf or ankle.  The dog's owner had yelled something half-hearted as I passed their place, but didn't follow up. :-(  Got to where the other three were waiting at the intersection; Kevin chased it back.

Coast Range valley above Scappoose

So, adrenalin up, we then went to finally find Yankton.  Rolling terrain again, alongside a scenic valley, then up (dang, another dog, but it just sat there) and down into Yankton.  We stopped at the store long enough to buy something to drink, and for me, a packet of Oreos, which I happily wolfed down on the porch.

Found it!

Long discussion on breaking in leather saddles (between the four of us we had a Velo Orange, a Berthoud, a Selle Anatomica, and a Rivet).  RB's considered opinion after looking at my saddle, was that it was awfully hard (yes indeed, and 1100km hasn't softened it up appreciably).  He recommended I loosen it a bit.

Photogenic Red Barn

Last bits of up (one slightly egregious wall), then winding around some farms and houses, and the last drop down to Hwy 30.  Then a bit of Hwy 30, a protected left across, and a few quiet miles back to the start.  Kevin had been saying that if we pushed it we'd finish in less than 5 hours.  Now, we were at 5 hours at Yankton, so I was not sure what clock he was using, but anyway.  We rolled in just after 6 hours, and there were a few more minutes before we could get a receipt.


Post-ride refueling

Last time, we finished, and it started pouring, and there was no place but the market.  Now there is Bert's, a wonderful little place which serves breakfast ALL DAY.  My kind of stop.

6:10 elapsed, my bike computer records 4220 vertical feet.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Making of a Cue Sheet

About 5 years ago, I did a survey on what riders considered the most usable cue sheet format.

Basically, the most important bits of information were:

  • Turn
  • Road (description)
  • Cumulative distance, and
  • Leg distance

Everything else was less important, and, indeed in some respondents' eyes, "too much information".  That can be interpreted as distraction, or hiding the important information in too much text and numbers.

Not to mention that the cue sheet should be accurate!

Note: it is considerably harder to describe this process than to actually do it.

My process to generate a cue sheet for randonneuring is as follows:

Prerequisites: working knowledge of Excel or similar spreadsheet program

1) at least have ridden on the roads in question.  Mostly.  Or gather information from those who have.

2) map it out in Ride With GPS.  I like this mapping program best.  It is free, uses Google Maps data (which seemingly the entire world is buying into), and generates a wonderful starting point for the cue sheet.  I also find it easiest to use of all the programs out there.  I like it so much that I have calibrated my bike computer to match up with it.  If there is going to be a One True Distance, might as well be the one most people use and have easy access to. Yes, I know there are many truths, but if my bike computer and the cue sheet agree, that is a truth I buy into.

3) Verify that map.  Sometimes little side turns sneak in when plotting.  Edit them out (drag the route). Make sure the distance is what it needs to be.  Sucks to have to find a couple hundredths of a mile to get the route to the required distance later on.

4) Save the route, then export it to .csv format.  Looks like this:

Ride With GPS .csv output

5) The distance is way over on the right, so I move that column to be the first column. 

6) Best now to make a copy of this worksheet, so you will have the original handy.  Delete the elevations column if you don't want them.

7) Now, go through that cue sheet with the map handy, and tidy it up.  There will be extra turns in the original that don't apply in real life; delete them.  In addition, maybe a turn is missing, because the plotting program didn't think it needed to be included.  Also verify that all the rights and lefts are correct.  Save your file :-)

8) Now, remove all the extraneous text.  I make use of the Excel Replace All function, doing things like replacing "Turn right onto " with nothing, and so on.  Actually, I got tired of doing it over and over, and created a macro* to do it all for me.  After I clean up all the descriptions, I then replace all the "Right" with "R", "Left" with "L" and "Straight" with "CS".  After all that, I scan through the cue sheet again, manually fixing the ones that weren't zapped by the macro.
  • Don't forget to include the trailing space when replacing the text!
The Excel CTRL-H function.  Removing the trailing space makes the cue sheet look nicer.
9) Starting to look like a usable cue sheet!

10) Put in all the controls.  For controls where the rider just stops along the route and continues, I preface them in the Turn column with Stop.  If they are to turn around and go back, the Turn column contains "U" (U-turn).  You can find the exact mileage for the control, if it isn't at a turn, by putting your cursor on the exact spot on the map, and seeing the distance readout below in the elevation graph.
  • If you need to add a row, use the "Insert Row" function in Excel.  Newer versions let you choose to add a row above or below the currently selected row.
  • Tell the rider what to do AFTER the control.
10a) Add in useful information, like what town the location is in, and where convenience stores, food places, and groceries are located.  Also things like SS (stop sign), SL/TL (stop/traffic light), T (T intersection), are really nice; gives the rider another hint about the turn.
  • ex: "Netarts, groceries, taco truck, 3 Capes Café, Schooner Inn".  I italicize information that is useful, but not needed for route navigation
  • If a road changes names, I put that on a single line if there are no turns: "Bridge St, bc NE Abbey Rd"
11) now that you know the distance for all your controls (I work in miles; others choose to start in km), you can get the control times from the proper RUSA calculator.  RUSA certified events have different time windows than ACP certified events...
  • ex: "OPEN CONTROL: Tillamook, Main St (US 101)    Open/Close (8:44/12:12)"
12) are you happy with the cue sheet?  All turns correct?  Controls added?  Time to add the intermediate distances (legs), distance in the other (km or mi) reckoning, and format it!

13) insert a column between the total distance and the turn.  This is your Leg column.  The convention here is to have the Leg distance be how far one has to go before the turn (yeah, weird, but we are used to it), so, the entry in the row is the total distance in that row minus the total distance in the previous row.  You could just as easily do it the other way, next row minus this row.  But make sure everyone understands what is going on, although a quick glance at the cue sheet would make that clear.  So, do the formula and fill the column with that formula.  If there is a total distance in every row in the Total Distance column, all will be good.  If not, there will some funny numbers, so please go through and verify.  Save the file.
  • Leg formula, assuming Column A is Total Distance and Column B is Leg Distance, filling in row 3: "=A3-A2".  Copying this down will make the correct formula for each row.
  • Why I start with Total Distance and calculate Leg Distance - the imprecision of each Leg Distance will lead to Total Distance inaccuracies which compound through the cue sheet.  Using Ride With GPS, I can always find the total distance at any point, if things change.
14) now for the other distance reckoning.  I put those over on the right side.  Too many columns of numbers all clustered together is a recipe for a rider to read the wrong one at night when they are tired.  Make two columns, Km and Leg.
  • Total Km formula is: Miles*1.609344
  • Leg Km formula is the Leg Miles *1.609344
Again, create the first formulas, then drag down to fill the columns.

15) Formatting.  I understand some of this is regional preference, but this is how I do it:
  • Now is the time to reduce the number of digits to the right of the decimal point to just one.  Excel has a handy little control to do just that.  Note that this changes the DISPLAY FORMAT of the number, but not the underlying value.  This is a good thing.

    Reducing displayed decimal places
  • Font is something easy to read, Arial, Calibri.  NOT Times New Roman or Comic Sans!
  • Starting font size is 11, but I always save my cue sheets such that riders can download and edit them for their preferences.  Like bigger font :-) if they need it.
  • Control rows are boldface text and yellow background
  • The Turn column is centered and boldface text
  • The Total Distance column is sometimes boldface text.  I am liking that and will probably adopt it.
  • Borders - the outside borders and the horizontal (row) borders are black.  The internal vertical (column) borders are Darker 35% Gray.  Subtle, but the eye will track across a single row better, if some divisions are less emphasized.
  • All those useful bits, like a legend to the abbreviations, and who to call if you abandon should be added at the bottom.
  • Legend I use: L (left), R (right), CS (continue straight), VL/VR (veer left/right), X (cross), U (u-turn), Stop (stop), Immed (Immediate, like Immediate L or R)
  • Most of us use the front bags with map holder, which fits 8.5" width paper, so I don't do anything special, except to ensure that the cue sheet will fit to 8.5" printout.
16) Save it.  Now, follow it on the map one more time.  With any luck, you are all there, and can relax.  Or submit the route to the appropriate group for approval.

17) an option:  Remember "green bar" paper?  Easier to track across a line.  For my own use, I "green bar" my cue sheets, using the Excel table formatting function, with a very light green background on alternating lines.
Green Bar formatting

*macro - basically a recording of what you have done.  Start recording, go through all the Replace Alls, then stop it and save it.  You have to have "Developer" enabled in Excel, and you can find out how to do that online.  Out of scope for this posting.

Acknowledgement: my cue sheet formatting is based largely on the style developed by Susan France, Oregon Randonneurs RBA, with some additions.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Banks - Elsie 200k, With Different Weather

Everything else was much like last year.

Michal, Lesli and Cyndi came up the night before.  Always fun.  I thought I'd try something different for breakfast, and so made a smoked salmon goat cheese quiche for breakfast.  With a full butter crust.  I thought it turned out pretty well!  Lesli doesn't eat fish, so she cooked up some eggs.

The weather was not going to be as amazingly wonderful as last year.  Didn't rain for quite some time, but it wasn't really warm, either.

Made it to Vernonia in good time.  We elected for the more expedient stop at the Shell station convenience store.  They had deviled eggs in their refrigerated case.  Michal and I each bought some.  One time we bought some to share, and I ate half a deviled egg and then looked down to get another and they were all gone...  Yes. So.

Michal and Jeff try to make it an expedient stop

Everything was quite green, what with it being spring and kind of damp.  We did not stop at Birkenfeld, but kept plugging along.  I was paying close attention, because, while I have ridden out this way before several times, I needed to fix in my head details for the upcoming fleche.

I sat on Lesli and Jason's wheels for awhile, chatting with David B, but then he got a flat, and Lesli went ahead, and I was keeping myself company for a few miles.  Then I heard a bell jingle, and Michal rode up.  I thought he had gone ahead, but no.


Long conversation about rivers and why we go up and down and why aren't the roads by the rivers?  We actually do cross over a drainage on the Banks Vernonia trail, which is why we don't see the Nehalem River until after Vernonia.  Then we we see an awful lot of it.

The control was at the Elk Refuge.  Pausing to get the answer and try to make my seat comfortable.  Still don't have it right :-(  May have headed in the wrong direction with the last adjustment.

Fleche note: 30 miles and another Coast Range summit to Astoria.

Daffodils, Hwy 103

Then back and south on Hwy 103 (in a headwind) to the Baker's General Store on Hwy 26.  It wasn't Passover this time, and I greatly enjoyed a bowl of bean soup and some trifle, with some beverages and a banana for later.

Bean soup and trifle.  Good lunch

Pastries at Bakers General Store

We chatted up the cook while we were eating.  They have a wonderful bakery counter.

Nehalem River, Hwy 103

Farm in a Coast Range valley

Tailwind back to Hwy 202, then a spatter of rain.  I didn't think it was enough to pull on all the raingear.  Then a few miles along I did pull over.  Of course, after the RainLegs, booties, and jacket were installed, it had quit raining, but it started up again soon thereafter.

Michal: "this doesn't feel like a tailwind." No.  Stupid valleys mess with the prevailing winds.  The wind was so changeable that I could not find the sweet spot on Michal's wheel.  Made the 40 miles back to Vernonia kind of the low point in the ride for me.  Neither of us felt lunch kicking in, either.  Plus my butt hurt.

Nehalem River

We found Lesli, Jeff, and Sean (others, too, I think) in Black Bear Coffee.  They were finishing up, but stuck around while we got coffee and pastries.  I called Fitz to tell him we'd be home in 2+ hours.

The moss is glowing

Last climb.  The climb out of Vernonia is about half of the climb from the Banks side, and it is gentler, not that the other way is at all difficult!  Michal went on ahead; I could see Lesli and Jeff's lights up in front, until the very last pitch up Tophill (which is steep).  Very soon after that I passed over the summit, and settled in to enjoying the descent.

The summit is JUST around the corner

I was passed by another rider who yelled On Your Left and blew by, and then found Lesli and Jeff.  They were stopped, and the rider zipped between the two of them.

We finished off the last 3 miles to the end of the trail, then the last mile to the pizza parlor, where we found many riders, and Ray and Barb checking us in.  Much visiting while we waited for Cyndi  to collect us.  Admired Maria's socks, which were under two pairs of booties and plastic bags.

Maria's Humping Rabbit socks

Elapsed time 11:39.  Oh. wow.  Quicker than last year.  Immediately feeling better about that!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Technical Aside: Calibrating The Bike Computer Mathematically

Following a cue sheet depends somewhat on a reasonably accurate bike computer, especially in urban areas, where all one seems to do is turn every block.  A reasonably accurate bike computer ALSO means you don't have to wonder where the next town is, when you've already ridden further than the leg distance indicates!

I mean, yeah, you can figure out the difference between your computer and the cue sheet at the next turn and spend the rest of the ride doing math, but...

There are the tried and true methods of 1) using the tire measurement that came in the instructions with your bike computer (usually in 2 point font), and 2) the rollout method.

As I use a less common tire size, my purported tire dimension is never in the instructions.  And the rollout method wants one to ride in a straight line, involves chalk, and a measuring tape to measure in mm.  Can you imagine the inaccuracy that comes from that?

I am lazy.  Why do that when the awesome power of mathematics and spreadsheets are at my command?  Plus, so many cue sheets are generated from online mapping programs (Ride With GPS, Bike Route Toaster, etc), that I would really prefer that my computer match their distances.

Process is as follows:
Go for a bike ride.  The longer, the better.
Map that exact same route out on your preferred mapping program.  I recommend Ride With GPS.

You need to start with a couple of numbers:
1) your bike computer readout from your ride
2) the mapped distance for that ride
3) your current bike computer wheel circumference setting.  Mine is in mm.

First, solve for the number of rotations your wheel made on the ride.  Everything has to be in the same units, in this case, mm.  The formula below converts the bike computer distance in miles, to mm.  If your bike computer reads out in km, well, you'd just add 6 zeros :-)

rotations = (bike computer readout*1609344)/current wheel circumference

The 1609344 is mm in a mile.  If you were solving for cm, you would use 160934.4

You really want to do it with a spreadsheet, to preserve the precision through the calculations.  Of course, I remember doing similar calculations in HS Chemistry, with nothing but a Post Versalog slide rule.  Spreadsheets are better.

Now, the number of rotations will not change for the same distance, so, with the value of rotations firmly in hand, we can now solve for the desired wheel circumference:

desired circumference = (mapped distance*1609344)/rotations

Now the hard part for some, plugging the new circumference value back into your bike computer.

On your next ride, again check the bike computer readout against the online mapped distance.  You might need to adjust, but you will be much closer.

Quicker, alternative method, suggested by my husband:
desired circumference = current circumference*(mapped distance/bike computer distance)

I ran it both ways; the results were within a millimeter.

Monday, March 31, 2014

North Plains Lafayette 100k

Still not wanting to be away for long, I cast around for some company on a local 100k perm.  I am also recovering from a cold, so wanted an undemanding one.  The weather this past Sunday was supposed to be less bad than this past Saturday (hail, monsoons, floods, apocalypse).

Ray was up for it, and at the last minute, Kevin L joined in the fun.  This only works if all your riding buddies are perm owners :-)

The North Plains McDonalds construction is finished, so we assembled there.  Time for coffee and paperwork.  Ray told me that he's thinking about getting a GPS.  Those words are So Very Wrong coming out of Ray's mouth.  He'll call himself a Luddite, so I am not sharing anything new here.  So Very Wrong.  I mean, his cell phone, which he carries under duress, only makes phone calls!

It wasn't raining when we started out.  I was prepared for rain, because there were clouds on the radar, but not wearing any rain gear at the start.

We did have a not-unexpected headwind, and were looking forward to the tailwind on the return.

This route is familiar (at least from Forest Grove) to all the local riders - south through Forest Grove, and then to Lafayette through the usual and expected (paved!) route.

Vignettes from the ride:

Bald Peak to the left

Kevin and Ray at the picture pause

The wetlands on the west side of North Valley Road are so very flooded that all the causeways to homes are awash.  One homeowner parked their car at the street.  One homeowner had a boat moored at the end :-)

Flooded causeway.  See the boat?

Flooded wetlands

Carniceria Abastos in Lafayette is the traditional stop.  They've got an inside eating area, a hot counter, and an awesome refrigerated case.  I wanted something from the hot counter, but didn't see anything that called - I wanted a quesadilla or tacos with known fillings, and those weren't on the list (yes, I understand Spanish food descriptions.  They just didn't have many up; just the food.).  We all went for some variety of flan in the refrigerated case, and I added a banana and a Red Bull.

Eating flan in Lafayette with Kevin and Ray

After a nice pause, we headed back out.  The remains of the Red Bull went into my electrolyte water bottle.

Yeah, that expected tailwind?  No.  Unidirectional headwind.  Boo.  The guys would get ahead, then pull over for some reason, and I'd leapfrog them.  Then they'd easily catch up.  Discouraging.

Perfect shadows

We did get heavily drizzled upon, but I didn't pull on anything extra.  Two long sleeved layers of wool and a reflective windvest were just fine.  We could see heavier rain up ahead.  Ray cautioned us about riding too fast and catching up with it.

Rain to the NW.  Ray: "slow down, we don't want to catch up to it"

Ray noted that as we approached Forest Grove, that in 3 or so weeks, we'd be very happy to be at this place.  We can see the finish of the 300k from here :-)

But we had a few more miles to go to get to North Plains.  Less than 10.

Finish Happy Meal
Someone has been shopping at the RUSA store.
Finished at 5:34 elapsed, whereupon we ordered some of McDonalds finest (the cheeseburger Happy Meal includes apple slices AND a toy), did paperwork, socialized, discussed our respective leather saddles, and finally went our respective ways.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Aaaand the Official Oregon Randonneurs Season Opens!

Rickey's Populaire, Cornelius Pass Roadhouse, 9am start.  Be there!

The other person in the house had just had shoulder surgery, and kind of needed someone hanging around (he's doing much better, but still not sleeping in the bed).  I had babysat adorable grandson for a couple of weekdays, and daughter and partner said they owed me.  So I called in the marker.  I didn't figure Fitz would mind their company, Asher is a delightful baby to hang out with, and there was a Timbers soccer game on the tube.

Given the possible time constraints, I drove to the start.  The start is a half mile BEFORE my last job location, but still, it would be 50 minutes vs 15 minutes.

The weather was perfect.  Chatted up friends in the parking lot, and was relieved to see there were other women other there.  Not that I saw any of them on the ride.  Met some new riders, coincidentally all named some variation of "Michael".  Also experienced riders named "Michael".

Chatted with Chris W.  He wanted to know how I ended up on the RUSA Board.  Well, there was an election...  He was a member at the time.  Hmm.

Eventually it was 9am, and the seething mass of riders headed out.  I watched them all pass me.  Fine.  Actually I don't think they all did pass me, but I didn't see anyone behind me on Evergreen, and that's a long stretch.  Brief pause in North Plains, peeled off a layer while I was at it.  Sunny.  Warming up!

I was on my own for the first 11 or so miles, until the intersection with Harrington Road east of Roy, where I spied Kevin L lurking at the stop sign.  He took it out fast, but that was done, and wanted to ride with me. :-)  I am recruiting on him for my Flèche team, dangling my minimum distance, minimum climbing route as bait.  (Anyone else want to play?)

We rode on through Banks and out to the end of Cedar Canyon, watching the Portland Velo ride groups head east.  I stopped at the end, because that is where the info control is.  Not this year.  So, continuing on up Hwy 6 and down to Gales Creek Road, we found the first info control.  Whole bunch of cyclists in the dirt triangle in the middle of the intersection filling out cards and chatting.  We filled out our cards and left.

And joy of joys, there was a tailwind!  We zipped SE on Gales Creek, and I started eating a big candy bar I had picked up at a control some number of rides ago.  A goal for this ride was to consume all that front bag food I had been toting around.  Reese's Fastbreak Bar, 460 calories in 20 minutes.  Kevin worried that we had missed the turn onto Stringtown, but it was still a few miles ahead of us.

We were both happy to turn off onto the quietness and non-existent traffic on Stringtown Rd, and even happier to turn onto Carpenter Creek.

Stringtown Rd, Kevin up ahead

Kevin L

Paused at the info control to peel off the base layer - it was continuing to warm up.  Three riders came up.  One said he was a reader of my blog.  I thanked him.  And I thank all of you for reading!

Worked our way up Plumlee, the only real climb of the ride.  It didn't hurt.  Maybe all that suffering I have been going through is helping.

Summitting Plumlee.  Me and one of the many Michaels
photo by Kevin Lais

Plumlee Summit, looking S/SW

Once over the summit, we could see Mt St Helens and Mt Hood.

Mt St Helens from Plumlee

Careful descent - that last hard left has put at least one person in the ditch with a broken neck (not a rando, and he's fully recovered).

Then off to the the Gaston Pretty Good Grocery, by way of old Hwy 47, the Lake Stop store (not stopping), the lovely new bridge/pavement (same old horrible railroad crossing), and quiet back roads parallelling Hwy 47.  Many bikes lined up, and riders sitting in the sunshine enjoying some food and drink.

Gaston. Randos in the sunshine.  At least one was named Michael.

Line of bikes in Gaston.  Jeff A eating his signature pepperoni stick.

Kevin and I kept it relatively brief - things to drink, a banana, a pit stop, and we were out of there.  I guilted the heavy traffic on Hwy 47 into stopping so we could cross.

Pause on the other side to zip up my vest - the stop cooled me down.  Then the almost semi-automatic return to the Roadhouse.  Passing through Cornelius, we were almost lured over to a Latin grocery, which has some overwhelmingly yummy beef somethings grilling on their front stoop.

Passing through Cornelius.  That bbq on the front stoop was emitting enticing odors.

Cornelius Schefflin north out of Cornelius has been wonderfully repaved.

Eventually we turned onto SW Evergreen, and I was wanting to be done.  4+ flattish miles, and I turned it up.  Overtook a couple of riders, even.  Rode right up to the Roadhouse, left my bike outside by the picnic tables filled with riders, went inside and did the paperwork.

5:05 elapsed time.  Not bad at all.  Clearly my suffering of the past 3 or so outings did some good.

Enjoyed a lovely sunny after-ride lunch with the other riders.  I was just going to split a plate of tots with Kevin, but somehow, the allure of a Reuben sandwich interfered.

Post-ride Reuben and drink

Ellen M, spouse of Tom D, was one of the Portland Velo riders seen earlier, thought my bike was awfully heavy.  Tom empathized with me, and told me the bivy sack story.  And that he carries just as much stuff.  Now, I could have gotten out the Lemond, and ridden carrying practically nothing, but I figure riding on the usual bike, with the usual stuff, is better in the long run.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

When Last We Left This

I was still looking for a successful March 200k.  And a time in which to ride it.  Family circumstances dictated that I get it ridden BEFORE March 19, and the 15 and 16 (Saturday and Sunday) were booked.  Now, I am retired and can ride anytime.  It is more fun if I have company, so I put it out there that I was looking for ride partners, knowing that there are one or two folks who might be available on a weekday.  Best weather day was Tuesday, but had a conflict there also (this retired stuff is exhausting!)

Kevin B was up for it, and at the last minute, I got an email from Greg O, saying he'd be there as well.  And there we all were, standing outside the Hillboro-Century Fred Meyer at 7am, to get our receipts from the in-store coffee stand for our 7:15am start.

Our route was Hillsboro-Dallas, which, along with Mill City Coffee Run, is a fairly easy and scenic 200.  Perfect for that "gotta do it" ride.

And off we went.  The first four miles get us outside the Urban Growth Boundary, and, at mile 12.2, the left turn onto Fern Hill is where I feel completely in the country.

We had a headwind :-(  I was hoping for a tailwind on the return, but Greg was sure we'd have a headwind that way as well.

Early morning mist, North Valley Rd

South, past many turns to wineries, through Lafayette, and then the short bit to Dayton, our first control at 36+ miles.  No bananas :-(  They had them last time.  I got more stuff to drink (Doubleshot to add to the thermal bottle of coffee and hot cocoa mix), and Greg was eating some potato egg cheese thing from the hot fried case.  It looked like a McD's hash brown, but a little bit thicker.  I bought one, and it was surprisingly tasty.  Greg figured it had been sitting there for days.

Pulled off the jacket somewhere in the first stretch.  Maybe even somewhere on Fern Hill.  It didn't go back on.

Boring stretch to Amity.  Continued headwind.  Yeah, said Kevin. Like you have a flat, or something is grabbing your wheel.

BUT!  The left turn onto 99W, with the nasty pavement and narrow, nastier shoulder - GONE!  Lovely new pavement, wide shoulder, all the way into Amity.  Then it reverts.  We didn't stop, but there is a wonderful new market on the left side, heading south.  Many, many alpacas at the alpaca ranch.

The new wired tail light was duly admired (Secula Plus seatstay mount).

Farm Building, Bethel Rd

Now onto the hilliest part of the route - 99W to Bethel Rd to Perrydale Rd into Dallas.  Headwind/crosswind.  It also started drizzling a bit.  We expected that, but hadn't seen any until now.  Up and down (x4), and then the evil double ramp into Dallas.

Pulled into the Safeway - I got more things to drink, and a banana.  It being St Patrick's Day, I had brought along a corned beef sandwich on Irish brown bread, and ate that as well.  Greg commented that I was doing pretty well on the hills with the crosswind.  :-)

Then back - the flags were not looking good - standing straight out, the wrong way.

Kevin vanished ahead.  I figured we'd see him in Dayton.  It was raining.  Almost.  Sort of.  But not enough to pull on raingear. Greg and I could see where it wouldn't last long.

All so very clean and green

Riding back on Perrydale is always fun, wind notwithstanding.  At the highest point, you can look NE, and see all the way to Bethel Rd over the fields.  Right now, after last week's rain, it was all very clean and green.  Nice.

Perrydale Rd, last drop to the flats

99W was another story - the crosswind was strong enough that if I did not pay close attention, there might have been a "blow Lynne into the ditch" episode.

We were hoping for a tailwind at least to Amity, but the wind inexplicably calmed down at that point.  Can't win here.  Greg and I chatted about lots of stuff, all the brevets he's going to ride in California over the next month (he should complete his SR), and bicycle maintenance.  I have 4 bikes (3 in residence) and a notebook where I write down the date and mileage when something exciting happens (clean the chain.  New headset.  Flat tire.  New tire.  You know).  He has 15 bikes and doesn't bother...

Still trying to get the saddle position in a good place.  It was tipping me forward, but there were large blocks of the ride where I didn't think about it.  That is a good thing, but more adjustment needed.

Got to Dayton.  No Kevin.  The cashier said he'd been through some time ago.  Got some more things to drink, and headed out again. I was working on not stopping except at controls, and trying not to dawdle too long.  Greg cheerfully assured me that this was exactly the kind of ride he needed this week.

Full wetlands, Spring Hill Rd just before Fern Hill Rd

Greg, Spring Hill Rd

The last leg was slow - headwind.  Except, when we finally turned east on Geiger - tailwind!  Slight, but much better than the headwind/crosswind we had been fighting all day.

Pulled into the Fred Meyer at 11:40 elapsed.   Got a text from Kevin - he'd gotten ahead of the bit of rain out of Dallas, with the accompanying tailwind, and finished an hour ahead of us.

The route is certified at 3000 vertical feet, but Greg and I both had 4200 vertical feet on our bike computers, and RWGPS has it somewhere around there as well.  So I am guessing it is more than 3000 vertical feet :-)  Average moving speed 12.27mph.

March, check.  Three more months to finish off the R-12.