Conditions looked horrible heading into this - forecast called for a storm moving in Friday night, and then another moving in Saturday night - so we were basically lined up to be sandwiched in between, catching the tail end of the former, and getting caught up by the start of the latter. Simply put, we were set up for rain and showers over the entire distance, with some reasonable winds on the coast.
Thankfully, it didn't pan out that way.
My stated goal for the 300 was that I'd be perfectly happy to finish inside of 18 hours, and almost unbelievably stoked if I could somehow manage inside 16. I still didn't feel entirely recovered from the 200k and last weekend's Team Cthulhu ride, but I think that was less recovery and more my body adjusting to doing this stuff again.
We headed out of Forest Grove in the dark, and took familiar roads out to Timber Rd. for the first turnaround control, a simple info control that ended up being staffed. From there, back down to Hwy 6, and the straight shot, over the Coast range (and our high point for the day), out to Tillamook. I appear to have lost the most in my climbing ability, but I think to some degree I'm mostly remembering my *teenage* climbing ability rather than my climbing ability in my rando years. Even at a more reasonable weight, I've got 40 lbs on me when I was younger, and muscle or not, that's weight to haul uphill with me, and I think I'm just as much of a spinner as I've been for some years now. It's just a more sensible way to climb, and that's how I like to attack these things. Sensibly. But back to the road out to Tillamook. Crested the Coast Range, and once again headed down the long drag into Tillamook, which, as always, is never quite the downhill-all-the-way ride you want it to be, where you summit, and then just coast for a couple hours down into town. I don't know where my imagination gets the idea that it would be a 40-mile downhill, but wishful thinking always likes to see it that way.
Stopped in Tillamook for a bagel, coffee and a chat with a family about rando stuff and PBP. Their kids were really quite astonished at what we were doing, but amazingly enough, thought it was cool. From there, easy routing out along the bay to begin the attack on the capes, beginning with Meares, which I always think is the worst climb of the three, based on the condition of the road more than anything else. Blazed right through Netarts, as the taco truck I really wanted to see there was completely absent. Cape Lookout follows this, and reminds me that Meares isn't the worst of the three, Lookout is. Stopped for a sandwich and a banana halfway up, cause despite my regular intake of foodstuffs, I really needed that right then. I blame the absent taco truck. From there, downhill into Sandlake, a little bit of crossy headwind near there, the easy climb of Cape Kiwanda, and into Pacific City for lunch at the halfway point, which I hit at about 2pm - 8 hours in, right on schedule, and the fast schedule, at that!
From here it gets "easier" - a stretch along the water, which, for me, always leaves me longing for the Marshall Store, and its blessed stop for clam chowder and oysters which was the highlight of so many SF Rando brevets. And oh! The weather! We'd been rained on out the gate, though it had let up a bit at the start, but by the time we hit Tillamook, it basically stopped, giving way in some instances to even semi-sunny conditions, a really beautiful day, even. But as I turned up Little Nestucca River Rd, it came through again, but only a big clouds' worth, and distinctively spring-y in character - wet, but almost pleasant. The climb to Sourgrass Summit practically flew by, as my legs really began to set in to the rhythym of the rest of the ride, and the down into the Grande Ronde and the tailwinds that area always brings.
A quick stop for food, and then into Willamina and Sheridan, where I dealt with a sudden "mechanical" - one of my fender bolts came loose and was scraping the tire - and unbeknownst to me, that fix resulted in a total loss of generator lighting, which I was not to discover until nightfall. Flew from Amity to Dayton, as I decided I could hit the store there for batteries to top off my backup lights (though that's when I discovered I couldn't change the batteries on my taillight without a tiny screwdriver! argh.), and from there, it was more of the tailwind (and a bit of smelling the barn) that got me through the various backroads into Forest Grove at a pretty darn good clip, to finish in 15h59m!!!
Pretty stunned by this, really - that I would post my second-fastest-ever 300k time on only my second ride after 3 years off of distance, well... I'm not sure what it speaks to, but it speaks to something, I'm sure.
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