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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

St. Helens-Rainier-Seattle Tour: Day 1, Mon 13 Aug 2012

Todd and I got a ride from Todd's girlfriend Leah. She dropped us off in the small town of Carson, WA, in the Columbia River Gorge. It was fairly late in the day when we started, 2 pm, but I knew that we had a short day ahead of us. But it wasn't going to be an easy one!

The first day of the tour was familiar territory, as I had just ridden Wind River Road and Oldman Pass during the Hood-Adams-St. Helens tour in july. However, I must have forgotten how tough the first five or so miles of the road was, as this part wiped me out. It wasn't a super steep climb, but a 4% or so grade with no shade and temps in the mid 80's? Not good, not good.

The grade relented somewhat and the road got shady after that, but The damage was done. I did ok for the next 15 miles, but once the real climb started, it was five miles of hell. The grade was severe, 8-10% and unrelenting. Now I did ok on Oldman Pass the last time, but it was after several days of riding with climbs, during a cloudy cool morning, and I was well rested. But this time was different. The five miles up to Oldman (3,050 feet) I spent alternating between resisting the urge to vomit and wondering whatever happened to the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. (Seriously.)

I made it to the top without emptying my stomach, and we had a thrilling descent down Curley Creek Road, where I may have hit my top speed on a bike ever, 43.6 mph. Fast.

We ended up at the Eagle Cliff campground, which was pretty ok for a private campground. We ate some food, drank some beer, and retired for the night.

The numbers:
36.5 miles
8.8 average speed
4:08 saddle time
Other tourons spotted: 2

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