Old 03-05-19, 12:38 PM
Bike Butcher of Portland
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Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Portland, OR
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Bikes: It's complicated.

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We all made it back to Portland Union Station in one piece, then rode over to Bill's place on the Eastside in the dark - all of us had proper lighting. Bill, Bob and @northbend were staying there, myself, @Andy_K, @nlerner and @Dfrost were driving my pre-positioned pickup the 11 miles back to my place, but we decided to have a victory celebration at Lardo, which is 2 blocks from Bill's. Massive amounts of pork, brisket, and dirty fries were consumed, along with appropriate rehydration. 4 bikes were packed in the back of my pickup, I drove back to my house, Dave packed his bike into his car and drove back to Seattle, Andy went home, Neal spent the night for an early morning wakeup, a 9:30 plane from PDX to Boston awaiting him.

Going into this trip, there were several things that easily could have gone wrong.

1. Plans were made well in advance of the first week of March. The weather could have been crap. It should have been crap. We should have ridden in the rain 50% of the time, statistically and historically speaking. Eugene had a foot of snow fall less than a week before our departure. Solution? Invite Neal, he's got weather mojo in spades. Two years ago he came out for a conference and stayed for a few days to get a meet and ride with us. It had been raining for 57 days straight up till he came out for that ride, then it cleared up. This year there were exactly 3 sunny days in a row on the weather report, and they aligned to our trip. It was cold, but dry and sunny. We all were properly clothed, and for the most part rode dry and warm.

2. Several people out of 8 RSVP's could have cancelled for one reason or another. In the end, only one did, @RiddleOfSteel bowed out a day before we left due to knee problems. Rule #1 : never start a big ride or tour with a known problem. There'll be enough pain and suffering once you start...

3. Mechanical failure. @Dfrost had two very minor ones. The first was a loose pannier bolt that he discovered after day 1, easily fixed by tightening it back down. The second was a flat tire literally 10 minutes from the finish in Eugene. Seven bikes, three days, 160 miles, one flat. Maybe someone else had an adjustment or near miss, but I didn't hear about it. This crew knew how to prep a bike for a tour.

4. Crappy route. The first 12 miles or so were suburban garbage miles, over half of it was my daily commute with 147 turns - but I know it by heart, so everyone just followed. We all decided that the last day we had planned was maybe too ambitious. @CliffordK suggested a better route and was kind enough to map it out for us.

5. Getting lost. Neal brought his Garmin and downloaded the routes. I had ridewithgps maps with turn-by-turn directions, so I just listened to what it told me to do. This was sometimes critical as the faster riders would often break away, each pack had an "expert" to guide them. We also had maps and cue sheets printed out, but unfortunately the turn by turn directions didn't include the names of the streets. We fixed that on the 3rd day, using the hotel guest computer and printer and selecting the correct options. Double check your cue sheets, people! @CliffordK again came to the rescue and was our harbor pilot the last 15 miles or so to the Eugene train station, taking some shortcuts that we never would have thought of, avoiding traffic, and getting us on the wonderful bike paths of Eugene for the last part of the ride. We almost always regrouped at at strategic points, such as a turn or the top of a hill.

6. Internal squabbing. 7 guys, none of whom knew everyone else before the start of the ride, but of course we all hit it off. It's the damndest thing, everyone I've met on the forums has been just great people.

Moral of the story: don't be afraid to try something audacious. If you're riding with a bunch of veteran riders (and you can meet many of them online in this forum!), risks will be mitigated. The stories we told of tours past showed that all or most of us knew how to deal with adversity. We were smart enough as a group to improvise, adapt, and overcome when the situation arose. There was a daily bail-out plan. We helped each other when needed. No one rode alone, no one was left behind. Well, we did ghost Dave and Andy on the last turn to Bill's place at 8:30pm. We rode back and found them circling around and around the large circular rose garden in the middle of Ladd's Addition. If you weren't within 50 feet of the peloton, the two quick right hand turns in the dark and you're easily ditched...

We beat the odds. It was epic. I expect the rest of the crew to post pix and experiences soon.
If someone tells you that you have enough bicycles and you don't need any more, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.

Last edited by gugie; 03-05-19 at 12:45 PM.
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