Monday, February 11, 2013

Who the hell is this "Perry" guy, anyway?

 This past Sunday, four members of Team Metropolis (The Mayor, The Hymanator, Utard, and Johnny B, Senor Chilidog was supposed to go, but he "forgot to set his alarm") headed down to the outskirts of our state's capital (Salem, in case you weren't sure) to ride this. All the kids are crazy for this new "gravel" riding, I think they call it. Gravel, huh? Those kids are always thinking of weird new shit. But what the hey? We're game. After an hours drive we arrived at the Oak Knoll Golf Course, between West Salem and Dallas, in the heart of Willamette Valley farm country.

The ride was supposed to roll out at 10, and we were there in plenty of time to get our shit together, offload excess coffee, and chat with some of the other riders. There was a pretty good turnout, between 50-70 riders in my estimation.

The Hymanator, Utard, and Johnny B, the dancing robot.
After a short safety briefing from the ride leader, we were off. Of course, we had to immediately cross 4 lanes of traffic on busy Highway 22, so the group immediately fractured into 3 or 4 grupettos. (That's pretentious for "little group". Only race commentators and professional cyclists are allowed to use words like that unironically.) We were all towards the back, and the pace was high, so after the first five miles we couldn't see the fast folks at the front any longer.  The sun came out around this time, and I for one was stupidly optimistic. That was not to last.

The view from the back.
Of course, Johnny had just put together his new bike the day before, including Velo Orange alloy fenders, and a 50 mile ride on unpaved roads is going to highlight any imperfections in your build very quickly. The metal fenders especially, need a few rides before they're dialed in. Needless to say, he and Utard stopped multiple times to tinker with the aforementioned fenders, which by the end of the day were rattling like a banshee.

 The route wound down and through the Baskett Slough Wildlife Refuge and was quite nice and pastoral overall. Something about unpaved roads leads to a lot of flat tires however. That said, most of the gravel was fairly smooth and well packed, at least in places. Line choice is important.

Flat fix part 1. We passed this group about 15 miles in. They returned the favor shortly thereafter.

The ride organizers hadn't provided much information besides a map and a cue sheet, and the directions on the cue sheet proved to be somewhere between misleading and useless. Fortunately, we had the Hymanator on our side, who is a full time educator and a part time navigator. He steered us true through the many twists and turns on the route. We heard many stories throughout the day of people getting lost due to the treacherous directions. Around the 20 mile mark we ran into Matt Case, who ended up riding with us for the rest of the day, and helped to keep thing interesting.
Where the hell are we?
Shortly after he joined up with us, Case's rear tire blew. Fortunately, he had a spare. Unfortunately, it was a tubular. For those not familiar, a tubular is the type of tire where the tube is sewn inside the tire and the whole thing is glued onto the rim. To his credit he swapped it out pretty quickly. Of course, quickly in this case is still about 20 minutes.

How many bike nerds DOES it take to change a flat?

The final step in any successful flat repair.
After our unplanned break, we were chilled and anxious to make up some time. Nature called, however.

Shortly after this, the sheep all ran off. Go figure.
After that, things were fairly uneventful for the next 20 miles. The route deviated off the gravel and onto pavement for a good 10 miles near Sheridan and a headwind started to blow. We put our heads down and got into a paceline to fight the wind. After crossing back over Highway 99 near Amity, we hit a short, steep, downhill through loose gravel that punctured Johnny's rear tube. In the course of getting it fixed, Case reached into his jersey pocket and produced... a can of Pabst. One advantage to winter riding is that when you pull a can of beer out of your jersey after 45 miles, it's still kind of cold. Kind of.

Utard found this guy crossing the road while Johnny was fixing his first flat. 
Unfortunately, Johnny's fix didn't take, and it went flat again after about five minutes of riding. Snake bite. He hadn't put enough pressure in. I volunteered a CO2 cartridge to insure proper inflation this time. Success! At this point we were all tired and hungry, and just wanted to be done. A long straight shot on gravel awaited us after a short climb. It ended in an ominously steep hill, and as we grew closer I could see we weren't going to turn away. We passed two kids on four wheelers (that's how you know you're in the country) and grunted our way up the hill. It's not often I can beat Johnny and the Hymanator up a climb, and when Case and I were first to the top, and I knew the other guys were pretty cooked. I choked down the last of my food while we were waiting and prepared for the final 6 miles.
 One more mile of gravel, then it was back to pavement and one final climb. I went all out on that last hill, then it was a decent back to highway 22 and the van.
Packed and ready for home.
                                                    Here are the numbers.

1 comment:

  1. Im glad y ou changed it to a white background. Black blog backgrounds are so 2009