Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bad Directions Lead to Near Century

At home I regularly sleep until 8:00. On the road, even when I set my alarm for 6:00, I'm awake at 5:30. Probably has something to do with going to bed so early.

It was good that I got up at 5:30, because that meant I was on the road by 7:30. THAT was good because I knew I had a long day of riding to get to Fort Stevens. 

I returned to the Banks-Vernonia Trail via the road entrance to the park. Today I had about 13 miles to complete the trail to Vernonia. As I was quite early, the only other trail users were the slugs and snails.
I think I managed to not run over any of them.

The trail continued the gentle grade up for a couple more miles. Then it was a nice downhill. Then it was a really steep downhill (11% grade)! There was even a sign saying to walk bicycles (yeah, not doing that!). 

At the bottom of the steep grade, the trail crossed a road. Guess what happened on the other side? Yep, another 11% grade, only this time I had to go up! It had some tight switchbacks, but it still got the heart thumping and the lungs working hard!

The remainder of the trail was fairly level. It ended at Anderson Park in Vernonia. From there, my "Bike There" app directions said to turn on Adams Ave. I didn't see a sign for that, so I just went to the end of the trail. The end of the trail was not Adams Ave. Still, I turned left like I was supposed to on Adams. I came out to the main drag through Vernonia (Bridge Rd/Hwy 47). My directions said to turn right onto Bridge, so I did. In a short distance I was supposed to turn left onto State St. I didn't see a State St, so I pulled out my phone to see where I was in relation to State. Yep, it was behind me (before the road I had come out of). I looked at the route while I was at it and compared it to just continuing on 47. It looked like 47 was a longer way to go, so I turned around and went back to State. 

Everything was going according to the directions. I rode along State, which became Keasey. I had ridden about 10 miles when the pavement ended, and the road turned to gravel. Since I had ridden two gravel sections yesterday, I thought it would be okay. I looked at the directions and figured, at the most, it would be about 6 miles of gravel. Since I kind of like riding on gravel, I continued on. 

After about two miles, the gravel road became narrower and more dirt than gravel. I thought to myself, "Hmmm...curious...this does not look good."  Sure enough, in about 500 yards the road ended. Well, it didn't really end, but in one direction there was a logging company gate--locked with tall grass growing behind it, and the other direction was an open gate, but the "road" ended in tall grass also. I pondered my options of which there was really only one--turn around and go back the 12 miles to Vernonia. After a few choice expletives, I turned Betsy around, and headed back. 

Along the way, a guy came along in a truck. I stopped, and he asked me if I was lost. I said I wasn't lost per se, but the directions I had had ended in a dead end. Funny thing was he said there were four other cyclists the week before trying to do the same thing! He also said it WAS possible to go that way, but that the likelihood of getting lost was pretty high. They are all logging roads without any signage. I asked if there was another way without going all the way back to Vernonia. He told me of another logging road, but he said that, too, was pretty difficult. He also told me there was a paved road near Vernonia that I could take, but it wouldn't save me much--just a couple of miles. I had seen Stony Point Rd on the way out. I opted to take that. 

So, I ended up on Hwy 47 afterall. Not only was it going to be longer, but I had just done nearly 24 miles for nothing! This day was getting longer!

Riding 47 was not bad. There were logging trucks, but most were going the other direction. Other than that, there wasn't much traffic and it was a pretty smooth road. Although it had been raining in the morning, the rain had stopped and the sun even came out...for awhile. 

I rode 47 for, I don't know how many miles, until I came to Hwy 202. 202 was the road I was supposed to come out on from my directions. The sign said 202 was the way to Astoria, so I figured that part of the directions was correct. The road sign said 47 miles to Astoria. I had already gone 46 miles. Yep, I was going to be on the road for a long time! However, I didn't think I would be going all the way to Astoria, because I was going to Fort Stevens which is Warrenton. I was hopeful that I didn't have 47 more miles to go.

The clouds were moving in again when I pulled into a county park to use the restroom. Before I could leave, it started raining--pouring actually. I stood under a tree and pulled all my raingear on. As usual, as soon as I got everything on, it slowed down. Since it was still actually raining, just not as hard, I kept the raingear on. 

About 2 miles down the road the sun came out and I was cooking in my rain pants, so I stopped and took them off. A short time later I took my jacket off too. 

At one point, I pulled off to eat something as it was about 12:30. I didn't feel like making a peanutbutter and Nutella sandwich, so I just ate some almonds and a Clif Bar (my second for the day). 

Back on the road, I noticed that I was gradually climbing. Then I noticed it was starting to rain again. I stopped and put my jacket and helmet cover back on, but not the pants. I was hoping for just a light rain...yeah, not so much. Soon, it was pouring again. Since I was pretty warm because I was going up (and up, and up), I didn't bother to put the rain pants back on. I was pretty well soaked from the waist down. 

The directions I had tried to follow had me coming out to 202 from "Wage" Rd. I didn't see this road for a long time. I was hoping, by then, that I wouldn't see it because, according to the directions, I would have 29.9 miles on 202 from Wage Rd. I, unfortunately, did see the road. I calculated I would be over 90 miles by the time I got to Fort Stevens. I've done 89 before, but that was flat and with a tailwind. I was a little worried. I just kept telling myself I had lots of daylight!

The climbing continued. It dawned on me that I would eventually get to go down to get to the Coast! Boy, was I hanging on to that thought!

Finally, I reached the top and did, indeed, have a nice long downhill. It was still raining and I was a little chilly coming down, but not cold enough to put my rain pants on. 

The road was still on a downhill trend, when I realized I really needed to stop and eat something. The banana I had eaten on the way up was long gone! I pulled off and grabbed my spoon and jars of peanutbutter and Nutella. I ate a couple of spoonfuls of both, then pulled out my bread and spread more on and ate that too. I felt about a 1000 times better, and was even confident that I could make it to Fort Stevens!

Unfortunately, it turned out that I did actually come into Astoria (on the East side of the Nehalem River-which I crossed about 5000 times today!). I was at 91 miles when I crossed the Youngs Bay Bridge (which was VERY DIFFICULT as there was a full-on headwind, and the shoulder is not very wide).

I finally pulled into Fort Stevens at 6:10. I had gone 99.5 miles. Why didn't I just do another half mile so I could say I did a century? Because I was exhausted! I did not want to ride any more than I had to to get to the Hiker/Biker site. 

Needless to say, the shower was awesome! There are no other cyclists here, but there is a mother and son who 

Tomorrow will be a MUCH shorter day. By the way, I blew my previous longest day of 89 miles out of the water! One more photo for the road--literally. If I had this I could have done the logging road route!

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