Saturday, January 16, 2016

Partly, the Worst Ride Ever...Or, Surviving the Gauntlet!

I say "partly" because no ride is ever all bad. If it was, I'd have not left the house!

I'm in Eugene visiting my kids, and My Sweet Baboo grandson. For this trip, Hal, the cyclocross bike turned gravel bike, got to come with me on the train. This morning, with a weather forecast of 80% chance of rain, I headed out in my raincoat, but not my rain shorts. It wasn't raining at the time (I would regret the decision to not wear the rain shorts).

My plan was to head out the Fern Ridge Path to its end, then pick up Green Hill Rd and go on out to the Fern Ridge Reservoir. When I've been out there in the past, I've noticed a potential trail along the top of the dike from a marina to the county park. I thought, since I was on Hal, I'd check out that trail.

Everything was going well. I did have a minor detour off the trail because it was closed, but the detour was well signed. It started to rain a little while I was still on the Fern Ridge Path. Looking at the sky, I was glad I would be turning north after getting off the path. There was still bits of blue sky north. The sky southwest was an ominous black. I even contemplated continuing north instead of going over to the reservoir. Follow the blue sky, right?

I reached the end of the path and got onto Green Hill Rd. The rain was picking up, but I was fine. I was headed for the blue sky. Green Hill Rd, going north, is a long straight road that after a short section, is out amongst fields with no trees (this is very important because no trees means no protection). As I was riding along, I noticed the wind was picking up some. It was a cross wind. I went through a roundabout, and then I was out in the open area. The wind was really starting to pick up. I thought I was definitely going to continue north because, to turn west would put me ride into the wind--not fun.

At this point, the rain was coming down more heavily. Well, I should say it was coming at me sideways more heavily. The more I got out into the open, the harder the wind was blowing. After maybe a quarter mile, the wind was blowing so hard I couldn't stay on the road. I stopped and braced myself against the wind. There was no question, I needed to turn around. This is where I really wished I had my rain shorts. I was getting cold standing in the wind and rain. My left side was completely soaked, and my left boot was filled with water. When there were no cars coming, I crossed the road and turned around. The wind was blowing so hard that I had to walk. The only time I have ever been in a cross wind so strong was in Germany when Christian and I were crossing the bridge to Fehrman Island. At least then it wasn't also raining. Now my right side was completely soaked too. I continued walking until I finally reached a place where the wind wasn't so bad. I was able to get back on. There were a few gusts of a heavy head wind, but at least I wasn't getting blown off the road. 

I made it back to the shelter of some bushes, then back to the path. The wind was still blowing on the path, but at least I didn't have to deal with traffic. I could zig zag back and forth across the path as much as the wind wanted to blow me.

I made it back to town. The wind wasn't blowing nearly as hard, and it wasn't even raining! I got back on the Amazon Trail. I could see blue sky! As I got back near the kids' house, I had only gone about 20 miles. Now the weather was getting nice! Even though my hands were cold (gloves were soaked), and my feet were still sloshing in water (and now rather cold), I decided to continue on. I told myself I'd go up Fox Hollow (the hill would warm me up for sure) as far as Donald, then turn and come back on Donald. 

I got to Donald, but now I was mostly warm, and it was nice out. I decided to go on. I'd go as far as Willamette, then come back into town. This was the best part of the ride (see? No ride is all bad). I even stopped to take this photo.
The valley south of Spencer Butte.

Once I was around Spencer Butte, the wind was a little stronger. Prior to that, I'd toyed with continuing past Willamette, and going to MacBeth where I could come down and go back up over Lorane Hwy. I turned on Willamette. Enough was enough. I did the rest of the climb up Willamette, then the thrilling 14% grade descent (which cooled me right down!).

I worked my way back to the house. In the end, I did 32.1 miles in 2:38 (ave speed a whopping 12.2). I survived the gauntlet of terrible crosswinds! I would prefer to not experience that again for a long time!

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