March 2009

I ride many different types of cycling events from red carpet tours to totally unsupported epics. But when an organizer charges an entry fee to enter a fully supported cycling event then I personally begin to have expectations. Different groups often produce varying results in the quality of support they provide with club supported events often doing the best job. It can range from a veritable buffet to bare bones and soggy Subway sandwiches for lunch. The highlight of todays ride, the Tour de St. George was the consistent choice of PBJ’s and banana’s. It seemed to me that little care was given to the riders needs or wants and it showed with the support. One rest stop which although was not too busy did not have any PBJ’s prepared and riders had to wait for their half sandwich to be made. Water jugs were near empty and the tables were otherwise bare. I only did a shorter version of the event and could have gone with no support whatsoever but if I were doing the full 100 miles I would have been very dissapointed.

I must cut the organizers a little slack though. They recently had an event director bail on them so the new director may not have been up to speed, but if you cannot get up to speed quickly then the event will suffer. I even heard that one of the water stops did not show up in time for quite a few riders. That is inexcusable! I know of events that were killed as a result of a single bad year. There were a number of complaints among the riders I talked to with the common theme being that they wondered what they had paid for! There is no point of putting on an event if you do not plan on doing it well. I believe that many people were probably dissapointed today in the level of support that they were provided during todays event. If it hadn’t been for the fine weather then this event might have been a total bust for many.

I dont often give ratings to events but I might start. On a scale of 1 to 10 I would give today’s ride a 5, with at least 2 points of that being for the weather. I guess people will always come to ride St. George in springtime because of the likelihood of good weather but they may not be willing to pay for full support only to receive much less than that.



8 am at Cornelius Pass Roadhouse outside Portland Oregon. Rain just starting.

Friday the 13th of March was a beautiful day in the Portland area, sunny and cool with light winds. It would have been a great day for a bike ride. The ride I had on my schedule however was for Saturday the 14th and the weather forecast was much less optimistic.

We gathered at 7 am at the Cornelius Pass Roadhouse which was our designated starting location. There were 38 riders who were ready to ride with about half of them looking more like racers than randos and seemed to be travelling pretty light. The rest were on fully fendered bikes and looking pretty prepared otherwise. The weatherman was predicting rain so it was probably just going to be a matter of time until we got wet. Almost on cue during the pre-ride meeting it started to sprinkle and a few minutes later at 8 am as we got started riding it began to come down more seriously. By the time we were 5 miles into the ride the roads were saturated and the spray was coming up from the other riders tires as heavily as the rain was coming down.

I myself felt pretty prepared for a wet day having come with wool clothing, raingear and booties. I even had a spare pair of dry gloves in my bag. I may have underestimated the cold a little however as the temperature at the start was 41 degrees. My Portland bike is a Surly Cross Bike, fully fendered and with front and rear bags. It is a little on the heavy side but it is comfortable, rugged and goes good. This would be my first real rain ride with it.

We cruised out of the Beaverton area into farm country, zig-zagging our way through farm fields and pastures. Our first control was in what once was a town called Mountaindale. These days it appeared to be little more than a soggy crossroad but this is where the rain really started to come down. The control had a canopy to protect the volunteers but offered little protection for the riders. Not that it mattered much, we had already been exposed pretty thoroughly to the elements by that time. I left my Surly leaning on a Suburban and went to check in. Paperwork done, I grabbed a quick snack and took care of other neccesities. It is amazing how quickly you will cool after you have stopping for a break. The temp was still in the low 40’s and I needed to get moving so I did not linger.


Return from Mountaindale

It had been a little bit of a climb to get here so it was going to be a cooling descent once I got going again. I decided to crank it up a bit on the return to get the heater going again. That worked okay but it is amazing where spray off your tires can end up in swirling crosswinds! This next section manuvered through a very pleasant farm country on a circuitious course. There
were many picturesque farms and buildings along the way. We passed through the town of Banks and on to the next control which was the far point of the loop. After a quick stop the route turned more south and into a headwind as the rain continued. There was a secret control thrown in just for fun but it didnt really seem neccessary.


Forest Grove Control

As I left Forest Grove it was raining hard but it soon started to taper off and a few miles later it was hardly raining at all. The wind was still up but it became a crosswind for the rest of the ride which was not too bad. It wasnt too long before I pulled into the final control at the Cornelius Pass Roadhouse which is a fine McMinamens Brew Pub. I do think that the Oregon Randonneurs know how to finsih a ride with food and other refreshments.

The Surly rode well all day. It has 28c tires and is fully fendered. Bar end shifters, Detour bags, and a Rock Shox road post complete the accessories. It is a low/mid range Shimano group and does not go like my normal Campy stuff but it is very acceptable for these shorter events. The biggest event that I am likely to do on it will be Seattle to Portland later this year. Yes, I am signed up for that! Stay tuned for more on that.