Friday, October 21, 2011

Native Planet Classic

Whirled Traveler note: I was doing a little cleaning of my site when I came across this draft for a post about the Native Planet Classic Ride that I did in June of 2008. It was a significant ride, both because it was a serious undertaking and because the training for it led to the assignment of my most-favorite-ever nickname, Our Lady of Perpetual Ascent. I hope you enjoy this visit back in time.

view from the road
Lost in Translation
We arrived at the Red Barn in Winthrop on Friday to pick up our packets for the next day's ride and were greeted by Jean-Philipe himself, ride organizer and founder of Native Planet. He heartily greeted Dan and Bill, then turned to me, embraced me and said, in his thick French accent, "It has been so long since I have seen you; it is so good to see you!" (translation: Aha! I have finally found a way to make you give money to my organization). 
Saturday morning came quickly and we rode the mile or so (who's counting?) to Mazama to meet up with Greg and to sample the first of the day's food stops. Who should be with Greg but John, well-known for his domestique services from a previous ride. After the morning formalities, Greg inquired, "How's your back feeling?" (translation: I brought John along in case you bail on me). 
hang up and ride, Bill
We set off en masse up toward Washington Pass: Bill, Bob, Annie, Greg and me, more or less riding together. After about an hour of climbing (wow, how time flew), I requested we stop so I could stretch out the aforementioned back (translation: I want to take a break from this mind-numbing climbing but don't want to sound like a wimp). A little while later, Bill's friend Dirk came flying by and Bill latched on and away they went.
At the Pass, we prepared for the descent down the west side, but I say "we" even though I had put my vest and rain jacket in the "Club Car" that morning. As I gave Annie the bag of my essentials to be driven around by her husband, Bobby, she asked, "Are you sure you don't want to carry the vest up to the Pass?" (translation: have you already forgotten how you froze just a few weeks ago while descending?!) Instead, I shoved a Seattle Chinese newspaper up under my jersey; I thought it might be fun to see if anyone in the cabin could read the reversed Chinese characters once the newsprint had transferred to my skin.
my training buddy, Annie
Off we flew, descending at a gradual rate, then climbing up to Rainy Pass, then descending a lot more. While we were cruising creekside (Granite Creek, as I read in my Visitor Guide), I noted that we were at milepost 148 and, with the lunch stop at mp 130, it was just another 18 miles of descending and that sounded just fine. Way to live in the moment, Lou! (after lunch I would face a 30-mile climb back to the Pass). Annie was having none of it, however, and she turned around at the East Creek Trailhead, figuring she would ride back with Bob who was somewhere behind us. At lunch we met up with those who had left us earlier (and would shortly leave us again): John, Bill and Dirk. After restoring calories and resting up, we set off on what is probably the steepest part of the 30-mile climb that was on the way to WA Pass.
"Oh my gosh, I have a fan", I thought, as I was passing by a man standing outside his car who was waving to me. When I realized it was Bobby and the Club Car, I had already passed him. We met up a bit later and I traded the Chinese newspaper for my vest.
Greg, ready to go after lunch
After settling in to a climbing pace, Greg noted, "my, aren't you feeling a bit frisky?" (translation: crap, I can't believe you would try to drop me after all those miles you sat on my wheel). He really had nothing to worry about because once I realized I was still in my middle chainring and my brain caught up with my body, it was I who was getting dropped. The next time I saw Greg and John, it was at their support vehicle, driven by John's wife, as the hiss of an espresso machine pierced the mountain silence.

With 3 miles to go before reaching WA Pass, the climbing was wearing me down. I started doing math to pass the time, since the music in my head had either stopped playing or was stuck on the same line of lyrics, over and over. I calculated that at my current speed of 5 mph, it was taking me 12 minutes to go a mile and I was losing patience. It had been a while since I had seen a mile marker but I was guessing that the green thing on a post ahead was what I was looking for: mp 161. Yes, I had 1 mile to go but I didn't know if I could bear another 12 minutes. Then I remembered that at the point where the Blue Lake trailhead was, it flattened out a bit. In fact, I remember Bob Nyberg and Annie saying how annoying it was when you thought the road was flat but it was still a climb. I'll take whatever I can get after climbing for nearly 30 miles so when I hit that flat-ish spot, my speed doubled to 10 mph and I rolled into the WA Pass rest stop with 12 mph on my speedometer and a smile on my face.
When Greg and John asked me how I was feeling, I said "Great!" (translation: it's all downhill from here!).

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