August 2008


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This is arguably the best cycling event in southern Utah, perhaps in the whole southwest. It features classic western scenery, fantastic support, typically great weather and the best volunteers around. It has been held for the past 5 years and is in my own backyard, yet I have never been able to ride in it. Why you ask, well there is a very good reason, I am the event director. This event was founded 5 years ago by Clair Jensen and myself. We had been riding many double centuries around the west for several years and decided that we needed one here in Utah. Well, nobody was going to do one for us so we were just going to have to do it ourselves. We started with a test event for our local club riders and once the route was proven we put it together for real. This year was the 5th year of the event and we had 340 riders participate.

Sadly, the co-founder of the event and my longtime riding partner passed away suddenly late last year. We were unsure as to whether or not to continue with it but eventually decided to move forward as a memorial event. This year the Desperado Dual / Clair Jensen Memorial came off as one of the best years ever. Wind, weather and other conditions were near perfect and riders were treated to a wonderful day. Our event staff all stepped up to honor Clair and the success of this years ride is mainly due to their efforts. A ride like this cannot be produced with the dedication and efforts of many people.

This year marks the end of a 5 year run for the event, at least for me. The event will continue with new partners to carry it into the future and hopefully we can look forward to many more years of the Desperado Dual Century. That means perhaps that I will finally be able to ride in the event and I am looking forward to that very much. I will continue to assist and advise as requested but the event will be in capable hands from here. Thanks to all those who have participated in or supported the event over the years. By doing so you have done the most important part to ensure that we have great events like this to ride.

Lonnie “Epic” Wolff
Desperado Dual Event Director (retired)

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This event was held to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the founding of RUSA. 10th anniversary events were being held all over the country on this weekend and this one had a good turnout as did most. There was a 100 km as well as a 200 km option today. I chose the lesser distance for a couple of reasons, we had family plans later in the day but the bike I was riding is fairly new and had never been on a brevet before. It seemed wise to work up to longer distances to work out any bugs. The bike is a Surly Cross bike and is basically out of the box except for some 28c road tires. This is the bike I keep in Portland to ride when I am in town.

The route is basically an out and back to Multnomah Falls on the old highway. We start in a neighborhood park in Portland and work our way out past the airport and then along the river. The pace starts out briskly and then moves to fast. I am usually not an “A group” rider but I decide to hang near the front for awhile. About 6 of us are taking pulls at the front and several more are just hanging on. The pace is about 21 – 23 mph which is fast for a brevet but I know it wont last all day.

We arrive in Troutdale pretty quickly and wind our way through the town. After crossing the river we leave Fishville behind and start up the old highway on a gentle grade. In spite of the incline the pace has not slowed and it is now faster than I care for. When it pitches up just a little more I decide to bail out the back of the pack. The group has shrunk  to 6 or so riders now and they wont miss me. The scenery is great and traffic is light and I am enjoying the climb. There are many small farms and fruit stands along the way and I am guessing that this route is popular with tourists. Traffic will probably be much heavier later on the way back in.

The road continues to wind and roll. It will be a hot day today but for now I am under a canopy of trees and it is cool and green. Suddenly the road bursts out into the sunshine at Vista House, an overlook of the Columbia River. It was built in 1916 for tourists to enjoy the view and is still popular today. It is our second control point in the ride so I make a brief stop. The turnaround is at Multnomah Falls, just another 8 miles down the road. It is a spectacular sight and is usually crowded with tourists. We are here early enough that it is pretty peaceful and there are not many people here yet. We enjoy the moment before moving on.

The return ride is back along the outbound route and although the route is the same the scenery is different. I ride solo for most of this part and enjoy the sights. I arrive back at the start just after noon and pull into the cool shade of the park. It is quite warm out now, probably 90 degrees or more already. I’d be tempted to blame global warming for this but the record high for this date was over 40 years ago, so that was a little before my SUV.

This is a ride I haven’t done in awhile and the last time I rode it there were about 300 riders participating. This year there will be over 1500! It starts in Lehi and circumnavigates Utah Lake for a 111 mile loop. I have hooked up on this ride with 6 friends on 3 tandems. They say they plan to ride easy and see how it goes, but I know these are code words indicating it will be a fast day!  My plan is to hang on to this train as long as I can and then cruise in from there on my own.

The ride starts out a little scary, there were several wrecks or near misses right in front of us and in the first few miles. The route starts off winding through city streets for 30 miles or more. The many twists and turns along with the road hazards take their toll and we see at least 3 ambulances loading up their cargo. The first rest stop we take is about 30 miles in and it was just okay for its food offerings. We grab some food, make some adjustments and get going again. The course is a little faster now but that brings some new hazards. The railroad crossings are a little rough and I hit a couple of them pretty hard. Others seem to have had it worse than I and after each crossing there are dozens of cyclists stopped and repairing flat tires. We have avoided that fate at least and continue on. With the open road the tandems are in their element and set a brisk pace. I take a pull at the front and my riding partners thank me but really they just want me out of the way. THEY are setting the pace and I am slowing them down so I take my designated position in the rear and hang on for dear life.

It is a hot day when we pull in to lunch at mile 62 at a cool and shady park in Genola. The supplies are good here and we make the most of it. Cold drinks and sandwiches call to us and the green grass and shade are very seductive, tempting us to linger. Soon though we decide to press on and finish this thing and are back on the road. The challenge for me remains the same, hang on to the tandems as long as I can. Another railroad crossing and the same dozen flat tires, but not for us and we continue.

After lunch I am starting to fade a little and I wonder how much longer I can hang on. The winds are a little from the side so I echelon out to try and stay in the draft. My legs are becoming noodles though and I figure my free ride is almost over.  Thats when I start getting some leg cramps and I suddenly drop off the back. I watch my riding partners pull away with a sigh. We are into some rollers now so I just set my pace and do the best I can. After a couple of miles of solo riding I see that my buddies have slowed up a bit, they are waiting for me! What great friends! After a short bit of an easier pace and a rest stop we are cruising again. We pretty much stay together until the end. We are separated by traffic lights and stop signs in the last couple of miles but otherwise we were together. We were able to do the 111 miles in 5 1/2 hours riding time and so averaged over 21 mph!

Epilogue: Looking over my bike the next day I find that I have severely damaged my rear wheel. There are 2 major dents in the rim and a larg flat spot. In addition the rim is out of true and rubbing hard on the brake. I probably did the worst damage before lunch but I dont know for sure. The dragging brake certainly did not help my day though. In the end I rebuilt the wheel replaced the rim. I did this ride on my beautiful vintage built 1998 De Bernardi road bike and all I can say is that I really hate destroying beautiful bike parts!!!