Saturday, November 22, 2008

Oregon Wine Country Populaire

The closest I hope to get to Randonneuring

My former partner-in-crime from the Ride of Silence, Duane Wright, referred to this ride with the OR Randonneurs as the Notsovery Populaire,
owing to the fact that there weren't hordes of people roving around the wine country, getting sloshed and weaving around. You can get that at Red Hook on any given Sunday. No, this was a small ride with dedicated cyclists wearing wool and carrying pencils and brevet cards, hoping to get in a nice scenic ride. The Seattle-Redmond group consisted of three riders on singles: Bill, Sylvia and me and one tandem of Greg and Ruth Sneed (400lbs worth, as Greg kept reminding us while dropping back on hills). It made for an exciting group: up the hills we would go, Bill and I fighting for the polka dot jersey, then spinning down the other side until the tandem came by and I'd jump on their wheel and off we'd go to the next roller. But I'm getting ahead of myself; I wanted to mention a great comment that was shared from the group to a passing driver. The entire Populaire populous was in the bike lane heading out of Forest Grove when a car rolled up, horn honking. A rider exclaimed to the driver, matter-of-factly, "If you keep this up, 
you're going to give yourself a heart attack". I could tell that these riders were people who had seen it all, ridden there, done that ride and had a few words of wisdom to share with rider and car, alike.

We rolled into the hamlet of Cherry Grove to find the first of the controls, where we would have to answer a question, writing with the aforementioned pencil; I had hoped it wasn't a tough question as I have trouble paying attention, especially while riding. "What time is Sunday school?" We were standing outside a church so I could see that I was going to ace this exam, as the sign read "Sunday school 9:45". Not even Evergreen was this easy.

We continued on, through flats and over lots of fun rollers, alongside creeks, beside vineyards and through towns, stopping only to gather ourselves together or to stuff ourselves with cheap Mexican fare. After the stuffing bit in Lafayette, we were headed north with only 25 miles to go. Bill exclaimed that he had been on that particular road before, only it had been at night, in the dark, at the end of a 300K (that's 187 miles, people!) and he was surprised at how beautiful it was now that it was light out. I imagined riding blindfolded, as it was an area without streetlights or light from nearby houses. Just follow the flashing rear lights ahead of you, blinkety, blink, into the night.

Not much later, we passed the Trappist Abbey where they were rumored to make a brandy-soaked fruitcake. While I wanted to indulge in the sweets, I didn't want to make my jersey sag under its weight so I noted its location so I could return by car the next day. After a handful of turns and a slippery-when-wet bridge, we returned to Forest Grove and the McMenamins Grand Lodge, ready to begin the most popular segment of the populaire, dinner and drinks.
See approximate ride route here.

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