Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cycle Oregon Weekend 2010 Ride Report

It was hard to figure out what to say about the weekend ride this year. In honesty, I'm glad that we went, and if we didn't I would have been sad. Tom and I only discovered the weekend event last year. It was such a great experience that when we found out that they would be returning to Western Oregon University (WOU) in Monmouth, Oregon we immediately decided we had to go again! Yes, it was THAT good!

A little WOU history, it has had a few name changes over the years – Monmouth University, Christian College, Oregon State Normal School, Oregon Normal School, Oregon College of Education, Western Oregon State College, Western Oregon University and now Cycle Oregon University!

This event is a nice way to be introduced to the week-long event which occurs in September every year. Tom and I have it set in our minds that we'll do the week ride at some point, but until then we'll be doing the weekend ride. The Cycle Oregon people really show how much they love this event and are a hoot to hang out with.

Cycle Oregon Weekend is a total Family Friendly event. Not only did the Community Cycling Center (Portland) put on a bike camp again, they organizers made sure that there were family friendly routes for the parents to ride with their kids. This year the kids got to do a scavenger hunt for bike parts to build a bike, how awesome is that?!

The weekend is filled with all sorts of activities as well as evening entertainment complete with a beer and wine garden at the park. All of our meals were provided from Friday's dinner to Sunday's Breakfast with our lunches on the course. The rest stops were well stocked with food and beverages and water stops in between the food stops. After careful consideration of the routes for each day Tom and I decided to do the Main Route on Saturday which was 73 miles and the 53 mile route on Sunday.

Day 1, East Routes – the 73 mile route was the main route for Saturday with several options to make the ride longer or shorter whatever you might want. The longer portions included covered bridges, but I wasn't terribly interested in those because we'll be going back in a few weeks for the Covered Bridge Bicycle Tour, but that is a different post! Within the first 40 miles there were many climbs to go up and with the minimal time on my bike this past Spring I was feeling ill-prepared for the climbing. I did it though, but it was challenging. It was an easy decision though because the alternative would be to get off my bike and WALK. THAT is not an option…walking on road cleats is not good…I walk if there is no other choice or if I am not in the right gear when de-boarding a ferry (more on that later). I have to admit that I was a bit frustrated and discouraged the first day mostly because I was tired and as I mentioned before, ill-prepared. I had enough strength and energy to do the biggest climb only to do the freakiest descent I have ever done! The first time we went down this one giant hill was at the Covered Bridge tour last year. Tom had to remind me of my dislike for this particular hill because I was pretty upset that he went speeding off and left me behind, unsure if I would still be upright and still riding down the hill or crashed on the side of the road…that's how freaky of a hill it is. So, before heading down we rested for a few minutes while I built up the courage to go…then hit it. I'm thankful for brakes that work!

Then we approached the Buena Vista Ferry which is about 15-16 miles from Monmouth. Now, I do not like ferries, big or small. The small ones especially, because the approach on either end can be steep and if you are wearing road cleats it can be somewhat hazardous! So picture if you will Tom and I slowly making our way down to the ferry baby stepping the whole way just so we don't go down with the bikes! Of course there is the metal platform that you step on to actually get ON the ferry…ugh! Now really, the approach to the BV ferry isn't all that bad, it's the other side that is not fun. Remember there's the metal platform that is now wet and we are still wearing the cleats…how's that for a visual? So part way through the ride across the river, I realized that I was not in the proper gears for to climb up from the ferry on a too steep of a hill to start in the big ring in a high gear – in fact I'm pretty sure if I gave it a try I would stop before even turning the crank a quarter turn and then fall over. That would be not good…poor bike handling skills actually…hehe. So I walk…up the hill that seems to last forever if you are wearing those darn road cleats. Meanwhile, Mr. Tom waits for the crowds to go by and he hops on and grinds his way up the hill - So. Not. Fair. We meet up again and off we go; with the knowledge that the finish is not far and the showers are getting closer with each pedal stroke.
 Overall Day one was good, even though there were some challenges. The thing that made the day all better were the frozen treats at the finish…mmmm popsicles! Seriously, we are about the food!

Day 2, West Routes – we chose the longest route which was originally 53.4 miles, but if a rider didn't want to ride on gravel or do hills they could take a short cut and make the route 47 miles instead. Well, while we were able to avoid the first section of gravel, I think there was a little bit of a misrepresentation with avoiding hills. There were plenty of hills - OMG, I thought I was going to DIE. The cool thing is that I actually passed someone on the last steep portion of this particular hill…YESSSSS! I PASSED SOMEONE! Actually two, but the other was walking their bike up the hill, so that doesn't really count. Later when I asked Tom what the gradient was of the hill he estimated more than 12% maybe even 15% toward the end…WOWIE! That's steep!

The rest of the day was really quite pleasant, no more big climbs, just the longer steady climbs and some rollers, but with the smooth as butter roads of Polk County. They really have nice roads there a huge difference from the roads the previous day…they were rough, with lots of Rail Tracks to cross over.
So, if you get a chance ride in Polk County…the roads are AWESOME!

We arrived back at WOU in 3:48. To finish our day we took our showers and packed up the rest of our gear and loaded up the car and took one more walk around the campus. We are really hoping that Cycle Oregon Weekend will return to Monmouth in 2011.

Now that we have done Cycle Oregon Weekend Ride these past two years I am really hoping that at some point in the not too distant future we'll be ready for the week long ride in September. We had hoped to do this year, but some things just are not meant to be. This event has been around for 25 years…I'm sure that we'll finally graduate from Cycle Oregon University to the big time in no time at all!

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