A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Cycle Oregon 2016: Days 6-7

One week ago today Jonny Rocker and I crossed the finish line of Cycle Oregon 2016, having ridden 431 miles in seven straight days of riding, gaining nearly 26,000 feet of elevation (according to my Garmin Edge cycling computer). In case you missed the first two installments of my travelogue, here are Days 0-3 and Days 4-5. And now, for the rest of the story...

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Day 6 (Friday, September 16): We woke in Indian Mary Park on the morning of Day 6 ready for what looked to be a relatively easy 66 mile day. I know better. The sixth day of a week-long ride is never easy (check out my Five Tips for Surviving Multi-Day Cycling Events). The miles -- 322 to this point -- and the big climb on Day 5 were taking their toll on my body. The usual suspects began to complain: my left foot, lower back, right shoulder, and the 3-pound mass between my ears!

Rest stop at the historic Wolf Creek Tavern (currently closed for remodeling)
Actually, my hot foot, back and shoulder pain didn't flare up as much this year as they have on previous rides (I'll never forget the day we rode the Three Bitches on Ride the Rockies 2014). My body held up pretty well but the mental issues began around mile 32 after we rode within two miles of our final destination for the day (Glendale High School) then rode in the wrong direction another 16 miles for our free* lunch.

*all meals are included in the Cycle Oregon registration fee.

First cell reception in more than 24 hours!
My RTR buddy Woody would call these "bonus miles" (miles added to the route for no particular reason other than to add miles). For the next 16 miles all I could think about was how much I did NOT want to be on my bike at that time! But Jonny Rocker charged on ahead of me and I knew if I turned around and headed back to Glendale I would never hear the end of it (after 52 years I'm still trying to "keep up" with my older brother!).
Chief Miwaleta Park at Galesville Reservoir
The lunch spot at Chief Miwaleta RV Park and Campground on Galesville Reservoir was actually worth the trip. We ate a leisurely lunch at a picnic table by the water and watched several cyclists go for a swim (which seemed like a bad idea since we still had to ride 16 miles back to Glendale and wet cycling shorts are kind of like a soggy diaper). The ride back was a lot better than the ride out and my attitude shifted from a camel trudging across the desert toward a mirage to a horse headed back to the barn!
Unofficial rest stop at the Azalea General Store.
I think this placard on the outside of the Azalea General Store
sums up the attitude of a lot of the folks who live
in this remote area of southern Oregon.
On our final night of camping in tent city we chose a location near the main stage and beer tent, but had to hoof it quite a ways to get to the shower trucks (and spend another night in a hay field). We were determined to make it to the end of the band for the first time since the opening night -- and we did (but only because we were able to watch the last few songs from our campsite)!
Relaxing with a cold one at our campsite on the final night.

For our last night of camping we chose a spot strategically located near the Main Stage, food and beer tents!
Choosing a camp spot is both art and science on these rides. Our approach was to ride around the area (park, school, etc.) upon arrival to scout for a site. Once we found a good site we'd go pick up our bags and ride back to the site with our backpacks on. Most riders bring their gear in large duffel backs and settle for the site nearest the luggage truck, rather than drag their gear to a nicer spot. We may expend more energy but prefer to get away from the massive tent city!
Packing up camp for the last time on Cycle Oregon 2016

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Day 7 (Saturday, September 17): I have to admit I bitched a little about the bonus miles on Day 6 but the organizers of Cycle Oregon nailed it on the final day. The 43 mile glide down Cow Camp Road was the perfect victory lap at the end of a tough week of riding. I picked up where I left off on Day 6 mentally and hammered the final 10 miles into Myrtle Creek with Jonny Rocker and several other riders in my wake (at 6'4" I create a decent slipstream :).

One last Team Beef selfie
Ice cold chocolate milk at the finish line. Yum!
The obligatory finish line photo!
I may have underestimated the amount of climbing we would do on this ride, having completed nine Ride the Rockies. Cycle Oregon 2016 was a tough ride. Crossing the finish line felt every bit as satisfying as any of those rides, though it lacked some of the emotion of saying goodbye to good friends. Jonny and I pretty much did our own thing and didn't really forge any lifelong friendship like my Team Bar2Bar buddies from Ride the Rockies. But Rocker did say he would consider RTR 2017 after succesfully completing his first week-long ride!

A big shout out to all the staff and volunteers who pulled off an amazing ride. I have been asked several times if I would ever do Cycle Oregon again and the answer is a resounding YES! From my viewpoint the week went off without a hitch, the route was amazing, the food was good, and there were never any lines for the showers or port-a-potties! Bravo.

Ride on!


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