Right off the bat, I'm going to say that i LOVE my 48t chainwheel. with a 48t front and a 14-26 6sp freewheel, I was able to comfortably stay in the big ring for all but the climbingest parts of this brevet. I LOVE having a useable upper end, rather than one that's just a hair too big.
This year's Birkenfeld 200k route was largely the same as last years, with the exception of being an out-and-back route (basically) rather than a modified out-and-back. Hitting Timber twice put a bit more climbing on the route, which should have slowed me down, but in reality, I put in my best 200k time to date - 10:13, cutting an hour and a half off my previous best time. Pretty good, considering that even though I was practically speeding through controls, I still kept to my normal routine of actually pausing and resting for a while. I figure there was at least an hour and a half, if not 2 hours of dawdling time there.
But on to ride descriptions...
We headed out under morning grey skies from Forest Grove, and rode under threat of light rain until about Vernonia - my climbing through Timber was better than last year, and generally, after a slow warmup half-hour or so, I was motoring better than usual. Definitely was feeling my oats today. Hit Vernonia in 2.5 hours, which was a half hour off last year's time. As usual, there was the colossal Oregon Rando spread at Anderson Park. Gorged myself there, hung out, and continued on towards the info control, which was our only (short) route sidetrip this year.
That spur was actually just enough to get the juices flowing again, and put me onto the shallowing rolling road from Vernonia to Birkenfeld, which went by fairly quickly, but with some occassional rain, which I didn't bother putting the rain jacket back on for, and that worked out fine, as things largely dried up by the time we got to the Birkenfeld Store, where the sun actually started to come out!
The ride back in was motoring along for me - 48x18 a good chunk of the time. Leapfrogged several riders on the way in, which is unusual in and of itself. I'm not used to passing people, but slowly dropping back through the group. The sun came out completely by the time we hit our final control, and the last 15 miles in were just damn pleasant. There were some complaints about the rain to begin with, but as far as I'm concerned, it was great weather the entire time.
This route's a beauty, and the 300k is supposed to be even better. I'm feeling good post-ride, and if this is any indication, I should be in fine form for that in a couple weeks...
Some pics from the ride:
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