All of this really began a lot earlier for me than for the rest of everyone - and not just the morning of the start, either. As I mention in the beginning of this web page, as soon as it became clear that Seattle was interested in bidding for a CMWC, this whole idea had popped into my head - so I'd been thinking about this, off and on, since mid-2001... That morning, I woke up at 6. I'd said I would be at the statue at the east end of the Panhandle at 7am, and though I knew no one else would be there that early, I still had to show then, because I said I would... I was a little nervous about my left knee - it was still sore from Paris-Brest-Paris, which I'd finished only just over a week before. I feared that the pains I'd suffered through on PBP would come back to haunt me, and force me to abandon my own event, which would have been a huge disappointment for me.
People started showing up just before 8, and everyone trickled in by 9, with the exception of the car that was to haul everyone's gear up to Portland! I tried not to panic, and asked everyone what they thought of delaying the start until the car arrived, though i had someone who would stay and watch the gear until it did. We decided to delay, and once the car was there, we packed up and headed out at around 945am. Darryl Skrabek led us out through the Presidio to the Golden Gate, where we regrouped, hit the toilets, and then rode over the bridge together and quickly broke up on our way into Sausalito.
I wondered what people thought was going on as we rode through, and started dispelling any worries I was starting to have about people hopping on the freeway, getting hurt, or anything like that. I'd spent enough time informing people through the website that once you left SF, you were on your own - your problems were yours to deal with - to not have to worry, and so I just nipped that in the bud. Started out doing the usual Russian River Ride route out to Petaluma, but with the added burden of several out-of-towners who may or may not have trusted my somewhat haphazard method of travel. It's just the nature of the beast when you just know the route... sometimes you make a wrong turn or two, but you correct yourself pretty quickly... Ended up dropping my last hangers-on, the DC crew, when they flatted - I made sure they were ok, and then headed out on my own.
I had originally planned my route around making Ukiah that night. I'd long since given up on riding the crazy dirt road and mountain pass route I'd been thinking about for the past year - PBP made that impossible. No way was I gonna try any of that stuff with the risk of knee pain looming on the horizon. I ran into Kathleen in Petaluma briefly, and then again in Healdsburg. I have to say that I was grateful for the companionship, despite being completely ready to ride the full distance solo. We did eventually make it as far as Ukiah, but not before trying in vain to find a campsite up on Cow Mountain, which left us struggling uphill on foot on one of the steepest dirt roads I'd been on in a while. Despite neither of us being the quitting type, we finally decided it was a lost cause, and rolled back down to the main road, where we found a CCC camp, got water, and we reassured that there was camping at Lake Mendocino just north of Ukiah. So we headed on, rolled into Ukiah, got food at Safeway, and headed off to Lake Mendocino, after having turned down a ride from the nice man who gave us directions... The campground was easy enough to find, even though it had been well dark for several hours now. We rolled in, set up camp, ate, convinced the ranger not to charge us for the night's stay (he decided he'd "run out of permits"), and then passed out.
The second day out, I planned to make Eureka - nothing terribly ambitious, but it turned out to be the first missed goal (and only one, i think) of the ride. Started out fine, did about 40km riding, and stopped in Willits for breakfast. Now tell me, who of you can resist a sign that says "$2.99 breakfast anytime"? I didn't think so. Turned out to also have a $6.99 all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet. Sold. Highest point of the entire ride actually came between Ukiah and Willits - Ridgewood Summit - 1953ft. Not much, but why Rattlesnake Summit (at 1700 something feet) is mentioned on the map and not Ridgewood, I don't know. Another 30km and we stop in Laytonville, because I have a sudden milkshake craving. It's hot, probably in the mid-90s, and Rattlesnake is up ahead, but at least after that it's long rolling downhill to the coast. Stopped again in Garberville and had food. Piece of advice - never buy organic burritos from hippies. I think the name of the place is Nacho Mama, and by god it sucked. $6 for a small, flavorless burrito that took 20 minutes to prepare. What the hell? The lemonade sucked too. I don't care how sustainable or organic or whatever your business is, if your product sucks, it still sucks. Heading downhill from Garberville, crossed over the Hurlbutt memorial bridge. Yes, you read right. Hurlbutt.
We ended up calling it a day at the Burlington Campground in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, along the Avenue of the Giants. (aka Avenue of the Tacky Redwood Tourist Trap) Probably could've made Eureka, but had an attack of the lazies. Had no food to speak of, and no stores nearby, so we set up camp, avoided the ranger again, and figured we'd deal with it in the morning.
Woke up early - figured it was the thing to do after an early quitting time the night before. A 5am start didn't feel so bad on 9 hours of sleep, though! Veritably flew down the road and into Eureka, catching 2 of the Chicago crew (Erin and Mike) coming onto the freeway on the way in. 30km/h all the way into town, where we stopped at a little place called Carl's Great Omelettes. No lie there! Got to eat a hearty breakfast and chuckle at myself for the mornings clever move of deleting all the photos off my digital camera instead of just one. Note to self - never delete anything when you've got storage for 900 pictures! Rode on frm Eureka soon enough, and up into another side trip through Prairie Creek State Park (where they had a whole host of books on early NorCal life that I wanted to buy, but had no room to carry) and on to Klamath, where we stopped for lunch of smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwiches, Pricey, but delicious, and excellent with beer. Much better value than that hippie crap in Garberville. Only Crescent City and the hill rumored to precede it stood between us and the Oregon border, and shortly beyond that, our planned goal of Harris Beach State Park.
We made Harris Beach all right, though a little later than anticipated - thanks somewhat to my milkshake break in Crescent City (an ice cream a day keeps the doctor away, you know...) The climb was just as advertised, but well worth it for the downhill into Crescent City. Tried, but simply could no get the bike to pass through 55km/h - must be the extra drag from the gear I was carrying. Oregon campgrounds are great - free showers, and once again, not a ranger in sight. I wonder to myself what the other people in the Hiker/Biker campsites must think of us, rolling in in the dark, and rolling out before light... Everyone we've seen has been headed south. Northbound is supposed to be the crazy way - headwinds and all that, but we saw none of that. Used the phone at a rest stop on the way, called Meghan in PDX to give her the update, called home to say hi, and got ahold of Rivendell to straighten out prize stuff. Feeling awfully efficient. Learned that Ira and Corey are ahead of us, but the Chicago kids are leapfrogging us at this point.
Morning comes early again, we head out quick, and have a couple quick climbs first thing. The Oregon coast is just as I remember it - beautiful, but covered by fog half the time. The signs, however, are cracking me up. In Brookings it was the sign for "Tranny-man" - now maybe it's just because I'm from SF, but that name doesn't make me think of a superhero fixing my transmission... When we hit Gold Beach, we were warned by signs that we were entering a "Tsunami Hazard Zone". Now really, do they happen with enough regularity to warrant a sign? And if they do, why is the town still there? The best part is the little stick figure running away from the wave. Stopped for breakfast at a nice cafe with a good view of the ocean - they hand out binoculars at every table. The waitress asked me if I was really sure I wanted an omelette and 3 pancakes. Little did she know...
Headed further north after breakfast (where else was there to go?), and ended up stopping for a short bit at a friend of Kathleen's farm just south of Langlois. Beautiful place. I'd been wary of the stop, thinking there wouldn't be enough time, but it was so worth it. Great carrots and tomatoes, and of course I didn't really want to leave. Farms. They just have this pull on me... Headed a little farther from that, and stopped in Bandon for ice cream, which was fantastic. I think I had Chocolate and Blackberry, or was it Marionberry? I don't remember. It was good, anyhow. Damn good. Started making really good time from that point on through Coos Bay - we had to, since we'd lost so much time at the farm. Entered the Dunes, started going crazy fast, stopped a few times, and got caught up by the Chicago crew again. Bit of advice: don't take roads with names like "7 Devils Road". Found out that Corey is riding nights, and is crashed out in Coos Bay, and that Sharky is ahead of us! Nuts. Stopped in Reedsport for spaghetti w/ meatballs with the 4 of us, and then rode a little bit further to hit Honeyman State Park and crash out for the night.
Nice campground, considering all we saw was the shadows of huge trees... Though I think it probably would've been slightly easier to find our way from the hiker/biker site to the bathrooms during the day... My new MSR MicroZoid 1-person tent performed admirably. Easy to set up, small when packed. Perfect for solo jaunts. A little cramped, but hey - it's a 1-person tent! I think in wet weather it'd be a bit small though. Left at the usual early hour, and figured on making Yachats for breakfast. Turned out the be the longest 25 mile stretch of the entire ride. I don't know who decided what's worth noting on the AAA maps, but they certainly arent on a bike. Heck, for that matter, there was nothing about how hilly this section seemed on the Oregon Bicycling map either. Urgh. Took way longer than it should have. More signs for the "Oregon signs crack me up" list - "Port of Port Orford" (well duh!) and the flyer for a band outside the breakfast place "Summit Underground" (my, how ironic). Maybe the restaurant with the binoculars was here. Somehow I can't seem to be sure.
Headed out fast again, lured by the promise of huge cinnamon rolls at this place Kathleen remembered. They were closed. Immensely disappointing. Cranked out the miles to Lincoln City, where we found a bakery/deli and stopped for a late lunch. Roast beef on white bread, but damn if it wasnt slabs of roast beef. Excellent clam chowder as well, heavy on the clams, and a great sticky bun. The guy behind the counter marvelled at my consumption rate... A few bits north of here we would say good bye to the coast, and begin our gradual inland climb diagonally to Portland. It felt good to be on the home stretch, that's for sure.
Only one marked climb on the way in, and then mostly "downhill" to Portland. Har har. Stopped at the top of one hill at a fruit stand, ate watermelon for a while, and then headed out again. Tailwind. Ended up cruising at 30+ km/h with ease. Made time like nobody's business. Stopped at Dairy Queen in Sheridan for the day's ice cream, and our final checkpoint proof. Once we were out of there, it was seemingly endless rollers into Portland. Every time I thought "ok, this is the one - Portland's just over the hill" there'd be another hill. It was starting to really get to me. Stopped at a 7-11 to get some sort of food in me, and then headed over one last climb... which turned out to be the one last climb. Thank heavens. I was so happy to finally see streets I recognized, and bombed downhill into the center of town, over Burnside, and up the familiar route to Meghan and Justin's (and Ira and Dee's) place, where we were welcomed with a big banner and plenty of food.
1209.15 km. 4 days, 11 hours and 25 minutes. Not too bad, really - considering that my ride time was only 1 hour less than my PBP ride time, over more difficult terrain. Amazing what a difference sleep makes. I felt as if I was travelling in the lap of luxury after PBP's experiement in sleep dep and pain tolerance. As an organizer, the Raid went better than I could've hoped - not just for me, but everyone involved. People are already asking me when I'm doing it again... Don't they learn?