I went into this first of my 2011 PBP qualifying brevets with a little less confidence than usual - you see, I haven't really ridden any real distance since 2008, and the amount of riding I do for work is less than ever. So while I KNOW that my epic collection of lifetime base miles, and my general knowledge that i CAN ride these distances is likely enough to to allow me to just jump back into the fray, this first 200k was a test, of sorts.
And frankly, I feel I passed.
"Showers" is what the forecast called for, and I suppose showers is what we got - one of them, to be exact, that lasted most of the morning, and into the afternoon. It wasn't major rain, but enough to keep you quite damp. I handled the first leg pretty well, getting up and over Timber, and largely keeping myself to around a 25km/h pace, to make it to Vernonia at around 930, which was plenty on schedule (and even a bit ahead of it) for me. Kept to my own pace, for the most part, and actually passed quite a few people on this stretch, and then threw all that away by hanging out at the checkpoint for 45 minutes. Only issue at this point was that my hands were cold - specifically, my right index finger, which has developed ocassional bad circulation in the past couple years - but I swapped to warmer gloves, and all was well.
From there to the halfway point at Birkenfeld is pretty straightforward, as always - mostly river-following, so it never gets too steep or anything. Plenty of logging trucks, which is somewhat unusual for a Saturday. At the interesection of 47 and Scapoose-Vernonia Rd, was confronted by a loose horse running down the road, which a driver managed to steer onto the side road, but which still nearly got creamed by a log truck. Saw there was nothing I could really help with, and I didn't really want to see it if things turned out badly, so I continued on. Still kept pretty solid to my 25 km/h pace, and more solo riding. got to Birkenfeld at 1220, which, again, considering that excessive stop in Vernonia, was just dandy. Then, of course, I wasted 45 minutes in Birkenfeld. Did, however, meet a guy there who works checking logging roads for the companies, who gave me his info as a resource for info on gravel roads in the area! Awesome.
So then it was back down the way I came (sans horse, thankfully) to Vernonia, which didn't take long, and wasn't very eventful, and that landed me there at about 1445, which was pretty good, considering that its slightly uphill river-following that way. Then, from there, up and over Timber again, to put me back in Glenwood for the last open control at 1700, and then the seems-longer-than-it-is stretch back along Gales Creek Rd to Forest Grove and into the Grand Lodge at about 1810. Fast stops in Vernonia and Glenwood kept me moving along, and I ended up with a time of 11h10m, which is right in there with my typical times for this distance. Probably could've trimmed an hour off of that if I hadn't stopped so long in Vernonia and Birkenfeld, but there it is.
We'll see how this whole "sloppier preparation for each successive PBP" strategy goes. 300k in 2 weekends, which'll be a bit more of a test.
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