Got up at 4:30. Alarm was set for 5, but I was up. Good thing because it was dense fog getting out to the freeway and spotty fog all the way to Eugene. Still got their pretty early. It was clear in Eugene and just getting light when we left. Guy took over never to be seen again, but the rest of us stayed together (except when I got dropped in the mountains) until near the end when Chris took off, leaving 5 of us to finish together.
The route starts climbing immediately on Lorane highway. Then down Spencer Creek and back into the fog to Crow. Spotty fog on Territorial to Monroe, then pretty thick fog to Bellfountain. Once we made the climb up to the wildlife refuge we said goodbye to the fog for the rest of the day. On the first climb up Decker I knew things were not looking good for me. Up until now I was right up with the group, even off the front a few time. But once the climbing started it was a different world. We regrouped at highway 34 but then I lost them again once we started the climb up Alsea mountain. By now it was a gorgeous day, sunny and warm, but of course most of the climb was in the shade where it was still quite cool, which was good for climbing. Regrouped again at the Alsea store which was past the halfway point. We took our time and had lunch there. I took off first in an effort to at least be with the group when we hit the climb again up the South Fork. I was but then I dropped my chain on the shift to the little chain ring, and then I was behind again for the rest of the climb. I used to think this was a relatively easy climb, but 80 miles into the ride I was suffering. Still I kept a steady pace as the afternoon wore on and it was cooling off in the deep dark woods. My mind clouded over with "what the hell was I thinking" thoughts as I lamented getting dropped so badly. I must be too hard on myself. I don't give myself credit for being between 10 and 30 years older than the other riders.
The sun was sinking low as I finally made the fast descent to Alpine. I had to stop the first of three times to clear out some gunk that got caught in my front fender. My new Paul's MiniMoto brakes were great even though the front was still squealing, but the reduced tire clearance was becoming a problem. By now I thought the group was long gone and I'd be solo the rest of the way, on a route I didn't know, in the dark. Gloomy feeling. I was so relieved when they were still at the store in Monroe, where they had arrived 25 minuted before me and were now ready to go. I didn't need to stop, just to change my glasses as it was starting to get dark, and put on another layer. Feeling quite relieved to be back in the group I was able to really enjoy the rest of the ride. After a few more hills on Territorial we turned off towards Alvadore and were now in the flats for good. We were treated to some beautiful sunset colors as we rolled trough farmland and some restored wetlands. It took forever to get to the last control in Alvadore and soon after we were on bike paths all the way into Eugene.
It really is a great feeling to complete a ride like this. Towards the start I told Michal I wanted to do his 300k ride this year but after the finish I seriously doubt my ability to do that. But it's not until June so we'll see.
RWGPS for this route https://ridewithgps.com/routes/1810086
Pictures by Susan Otcenas. I didn't take any.