So I get this message in Facebook from Rick, “Hey, come to Portland for the weekend.” He’s barely been on his bike, but it’s time for an annual ride to Astoria that he and his pals do. So I answer in Facebook, “Sure. As long as it’s not too brutal and we have a place to crash.”. Being a gentleman, he assures us that we can stay at his place (posh), and that for a double century we shouldn’t find this too hard.
That’s all in Facebook. It’s where my “You’ve got to be joking?” was posted.
This was the first event for me that was planned start to finish in something other than email.On Saturday, we rolled out early to meet Rick’s neighbor Benny and then head over to meet the rest of the guys. Except that half of them have left and perhaps we got the start time wrong. No matter, handshakes around and then we’re off. It’s a 10 mile ride out of Portland and to get across the St. John’s Bridge. Mile 8, my rear brake cable snaps. It’s early and there’s nothing in front of us, I know that. Not much to do, but push forward…which makes Vic and some of the other guys a bit nervous.
By the time we cross the bridge, I’m feeling warmed up and glad to be pulling up the rear. These guys move at a pace faster than Vic and I normally travel in, and they’re not lugging cameras riding around looking for shots. It’s true: I travel slow, but without my camera on the bike, I feel a bit pointless.
It’s heavy traffic on 30, but once we hit Scappoose, we’ll turn of the main road and quickly enter what’s essentially Oregon’s version of Appalachia. It’s a poor country based on pure extraction of lumber. Cut over, gray and dreary in the winter, there’s hardly a town on this route. A few highway crossings, a store or wayside here and there count as towns and not much else.
We roll on and spread out on the first hill. It’s not steep, but long. There’s beer on the other side and you can tell the motorcycles clubs are going to have all the tables by the time we get there. Lunch: a few jokes and sitting longer than maybe we ought to and it’s back on the road. As we start the second climb, the guys pull off to admire a waterfall. While they scamper down to soak their feet, I make up some time by staying in the saddle. Vic joins me as we slowly grind our way up. On the other side, we might be able to see the Columbia. It proves not to be the case, but the air which has been stifling all day, quickly cools down with the marine push. I switch to a long sleeve jersey, snap some shots of the guys rocketing down our last hill and roll down with softer brakes than I ought to have.
It’s coco milk at the Olney Store and on to Astoria just as darkness is falling. At 105 miles, this was one of the longer rides of the season for me, but it’s a pretty straightforward ride and with it’s low traffic and only two climbs, not that difficult. It’s pizza and very late ride home with some of the guys in a getaway car.
While I can’t say I’d ride this ride again based on the scenery value (clearcuts! yum!), Vic and I were both very excited to be asked down for it and give a big Thanks to Rick and the other riders in Portland for including us. They’ve been riding this for 22 years and really have a great sense of community around this ride and it was swell to feel welcome quickly.