The OR Randonneurs “Bikenfest” 200k has been running now for about 6 years. I’ve had the pleasure of going these last 2 years and I’m hooked. The landscape just over the Cascades is wonderfully different than that of the wetter, western slopes-coastward. Dry, alpine and high-desert feels that transform you into another world, so close to home. The Bikenfest’s route changes every year and that keeps it interesting and it’s a wonderful way to welcome the fall, with the leaves changing a bit sooner, especially at higher altitude. It’s often drier, however this year we’ve had a most welcome Indian Summer that looks as though it’s going to end this weekend. And, it’s the last ACP event of the year. One last bang, one last push to get in the miles.
Even though I sort of did it “off the couch,” the ride itself went well. I’ve been working too much and taking care of things around the business as well as some projects that I’ve neglected at the homestead. Even still, I awoke early, got my things together (i usually do this the night before, but my wife distracted me with dinner and wine) and packed the bike into my buddy Bill’s car. On the way out to Hood River, we got a flat tire on hwy 84 and set a record for removing bikes, changing the flat and then reloading the car. We still got to the start in time, but in my haste, I left my wallet and phone safely in Bill’s car. I didn’t realize this until the group got onto hwy 84 (this year’s alternative to the path that runs adjacent to the highway because of wildfire closures) What a sure-fire way to ensure a finish: no money, no phone to call it in. Either that, or turn back early, but since I was on a freeway, the idea of going the wrong way was not in the books.
The route headed east to the Dalles and then made its way into the ranchlands southeast of the Dalles. Gently rolling hills of wheat, grazing cattle and the occaisional horse back rancher combined with the occaisional spectacular views of Mt Hood created a magnificent setting to a grand finale of a ride. The miles passed quickly for the first half and I caught the lead group as they were wrapping up their stop. Theo loaned me a $20 and I got enough provisions for pretty much the rest of the ride and headed out, hot on their heels. I stayed with Theo, chatting and ultimately realizing that I was pushing too fast, since he was trying to catch up to Dell S, who in turn was trying to catch up to Vincent S. I cracked about 6 miles outside of Dufur, at the start of a lengthy climb. I suffered up the next 14 or so miles to very near the top. Stopping too much and grinding up an otherwise very pleasant grade. Towards the top Susan and Kevin caught up to me and kept me company on and off for the final miles to the summit and onward into Parkdale. They arrived in Parkdale before I did and I missed where they had stopped for a late lunch. Keeping my stop brief, I left town before them and didn’t see another rider until arriving at the finish, just a bit over 10 hours after the start. Not bad for little mileage this year and for having about 8500′ of elevation over the 200k course. Now it’s time to focus on shorter rides that are more convivial and exploratory, likely involving a coffee stop or some such luxury. During the coming seasons is when I start dreaming of new rides, new adventures and improvements in gear.
I hope this autumn and winter find you all well.