After traveling more than 24 hours, during which I questioned several times why I had signed up for a race that took longer to drive to than it would to ride, I was giddy to arrive at the Imperial River Company on Wednesday evening. The Imperial River Company is adjacent to Maupin City Park, and it’s in a beautiful location with the Deschutes River flowing alongside its huge manicured lawn. Jen and I unloaded a few things from the car and got right to re-fueling ourselves with the Imperial’s yummy sweet potato fries and a portabello sandwich. They also have a good selection of beer. (Unfortunately I’m abstaining until after Furnace Creek 508.)
Thursday I was in for more driving; off to Portland to pick up my mom and a few race food items for me and the crew. It was a beautiful drive from Maupin to Portland on Govt Camp road. In dreary Portland we indulged in our favorite rainy day lunch, grilled cheese and tomato soup at The Grilled Cheese Grill. We both ordered the Kindergartner. Mine vegan, on wheat!! I have not had a grilled cheese sandwich in years and we deemed these, “as good as Mom’s!” What a treat! The tomato soup was extremely good too. Not only do they have great food, but nice people too. They made a number of calls to ensure the cell phone that I’d left on the table was returned to me. My friend Steve went out of his way on his bicycle commute home to retrieve it!
Friday was for relaxing and a little organizing for the race. I went for an easy ride along the river, had an early dinner and tried to keep my feet up as much as possible until the race meeting.
Saturday morning I was raring to go especially after plugging into my iPod for a few minutes. The weather forecast was for much cooler temperatures than last year, but I shed my leg warmers before the start anyway. I was looking forward to having two-thirds of my awesome Texas Hill Country crew with me on the day loop. My goal was 320 miles, but I was hoping for 340 and I started out zipping (for me) up the first few climbs. I felt good. All the climbs felt easier this year, probably because I was riding an 11-28 cassette, instead of a 12-25. I was working hard on the descents into Dufur and Tygh Valley to try to regain a 15mph average speed. At the same time, there was a niggling in the back of my mind trying to remind me that I still had a long way to ride, and that it might not be so smart to use so much energy in the first 80 miles.
I made the turn onto Bakeoven Road and up the switchbacks, which in 10+ degree cooler temps, seemed like a fun, easy climb compared to 2009. Then the 20-mile, flat-ish, rolling, grind out to the turn around. I don’t know why I hated this part so much, but right away I had an insight into why many people choose the 12-hour over the 24. The 12-hour course doesn’t go out Bakeoven Road! Last year I must have been teetering on the edge of heat stroke, and been a bit delirious, and not realized how monotonous this part was. This year I was starting to feel a little tired on Bakeoven and lost some motivation when I realized I wasn’t going to finish the day loop fast enough to get in a night loop before I had to put on my lights.
I enjoyed descending the switchbacks into Maupin. (They reminded me of home.) I got back to the Imperial and installed my lights and took off again. Mentally the night loop was easier. I knew I would not have time to do more than seven laps, so I could tick off another four mile climb up out of the valley at the beginning of each lap.
The temperature started dropping pretty quickly. I stopped after my first lap to put on warmer clothes. I didn’t want to put on too many layers because, as you may have guessed, that climb out of Maupin was pretty warm; followed shortly, by a long descent which was freezing.
Another lap, another stop for clothing modifications. Repeat. During my fourth circuit of the night loop I started fantasizing about taking a nap on the side of the road; always a good indication that I’m getting too sleepy to ride safely. I stopped for a 15 minute nap when I finished my fourth lap, knowing that I’d probably not be able to complete 320 miles because of it. When I lay down I didn’t go to sleep, but immediately felt completely immobilized; conscious but passed-out if that’s possible. I felt like bugs were crawling on me (and they probably were), but I could not move my hands to brush them off. After 40 minutes, not 15, I finally got out of bed and headed out again.
After the nap, my first climb out of the valley was faster than the last few had been, but not fast enough to make up for a 40 minute stop. I finished the lap decently, then with 1:40 left to ride I “trudged” up the Maupin climb one last time. I didn’t even bother to think about how far I could get until after I’d made the descent to Tygh Valley. When I had 30 minutes to go I realized I could potentially get 7 more miles if I pushed a little. As it turned out, I came up about 15 seconds short of another mile at the end. I was happy to be finished, but disappointed to fall so short of 320 miles. I did ride 29 miles further than 2009, but a lot of that was due to the time my crew saved me on the day loop.
As always Terri and George put on a great event. Check out their website for more. George is now the race director for RAAM. He and Terri are moving to Colorado soon. I know they will be missed in Oregon, but we’ll be happy to have them!
Also check out Scott Saulsbury’s photos of the race. He got some beautiful shots!
Ring of Fire Time Trial starts today at 6:30am. The race directors will begin posting live results later today at – www.raceacrossoregon.com/roftt_teams/
I really like the RoadID Firefly High-Viz Stickpak reflective tape. It’s visible in the day and night photos. It seems more reflective, sticks better, and comes off easier than the thick plastic reflective stickers on my frame. The tape on my helmet is Nathan. It’s similar to the RoadID tape. I haven’t tried to remove it…so I can’t report.