You couldn't have asked for a nicer day for the third annual Portland Velo Club Century! Never one for shying away from the norm, this years event had a number of brand new twists and sponsors that made it the best event that PV has pulled off to date.
Early Saturday morning saw a small team scurrying to get things setup for the early start time. As if on cue, the first riders start to arrive for registration once we have everything in place.
Numbers get pinned on, and maps handed out. Big John gives us some final ride information and we are on the road shortly after 7:30. This year I'm hoping to enjoy the ride rather than suffer the second half like I did last year. A number of the race team have pledged to the "Bagel Sandwich Treaty" (BST) that was formed a few weeks back, to ride sane today... we'll see how long it stays in place. We head out of FG into the cool temps of the morning. The climb up Cedar Canyon into the sunlight at the top of the hill makes for a good warm up.
Things stay fairly social up into Hagg Lake, where the entrance climb separates those riding hard and those content to ride in the Groupetto. Unfortunately I'm sitting someplace between with a handful of other riders. We crest the climb and decide to make some harder efforts for the next few minutes. Rob, Jeremy, Javad, Matt C and I trade small pulls, towing along a group for the ride. About half way around the lake we turn the corner and see a number of bike on the ground and people milling around. Not good. A small touch of wheels lead to a few of the race team members hitting the deck. Mike A is on the ground a bit slumped over. Jamie and I check him over gingerly, making sure not to disturb any hidden injuries. His helmet has a good crack in it, but it did its job. Jamie finishes his assessment and we all agree SAG wagon is necessary. At least it isn't a call to 911.
None of us have cell reception in the area, so Mitch Lee heads one way with a group and I the other with Russ Patterson, phone numbers ready to be dialed as soon as we have a signal. We make it all the way down to the guard station and use the phone there to get in touch with Jimmy who happens to be less than 10 minutes away. I notify the groups heading back that the wagon is on the way and roll on to catch the rest of group.
We hit Gaston to a rousing chorus of cheers from the folks stationed there. Food is eaten and the crash is discussed. Mike Kender decides he wants to be like the rapper Nelly and band-aids a penny under his eye. (Rumor has it he got stung coming into Gaston, but we all think he want to look cool.) The faster group decides to hit the road, and two members of the BST defect and go with them. Their membership cards have been ripped up and the remaining members decide to shun them whenever we can. Sal calls out for the formation of the Groupetto, and a good size group of us head out of Gaston and head south. We ride in a nice double paceline through roads with no car traffic. The tempo is quick, but not strenuous with the leaders taking long pulls before moving to the back to relax. Marc Mazzacco and I are lucky enough to set the pace up the gradual Laughlin Road climb. Many of us make note to come out this way again for more riding soon.
We get into Carlton to behold the beautiful grounds of Canas Feast a quick top off of snacks (mmmm gummy bear) we hit the road once again. The century loop was a mixed bag. Our group was buzzed constantly by unfriendly cars and tormented by local yokels who decided to change the direction of route markers. However once we got to Dopp Road we enjoyed the peace and quiet until Jeff B had the unfortunate luck to wrap a random wire around his cassette a number of times and ripped a gash in his shorts and his leg. Ouch.
Sal and I spend the early part of the Calkins road climb trying to discover the mystery behind the sudden large quantity of bee's we star running into. He decides to blame it on a pair of llama standing under a tree. Oddly enough, once we pass the llamas the bees are no longer an issue.
After the climbs on Calkins our group slowly regroups on North Valley before we head back down Kuenhe. We see Sherry and Sierra motoring along the other way and cheer loudly for them. We get strung out on Kuehne due to differeing climbing speeds and a lot of car/bike traffic. Javad, Sal and Kender get far up the road before we are able to pass some slower traffic. I break clear and wait until our crew bridges up to me before doing my best Stuart O'Grady impersonation and bridge up to Javad. I crack just as we catch him, which happens to be just as he catches Sal and Kender. I peel off and dangle on the back of the paceline until we get back into Carlton.
At our second stop in Carlton, I drop my bike off with the gang from Veloce. The BB sounds like there is a duck in it. I figure its shot, but they are optimistic that something can be done with it. At the food table we were treated to some delicious pasta salad and bread. Carlo hands me a half glass of a wonderful Rose wine that we were able to sample. So delicious!
The traitors to the BST are back at the reststop looking a bit haggard from their jaunt up to McGuire Dam. They wish to rejoin us, to bask in the glory of the Groupetto. We tell them to get bent and suffer with the group they ditched us for. No love for the traitors! I check in with the pit crew after wolfing down my pasta and my ride has new life! My oh-so-wonderful FSA BB had come loose on one side (to the point where it could be moved by hand.) Some additional lock-tite and some lube had things running silky smooth. We fuel up for the final 25 or so miles. Someone jokes that we can be into Maggie's in an hour.
It was almost prophetic though, the next hour and 10 minutes roll by quickly and with a bit of pain. A steady diet of flatland diesel engines eat up the miles and cut through the headwind that decided to blown down from the north. Kristin and Heidi, the two hardwomen of the Groupetto help spell the men on the front and allow them to regroup for the final push into town. With two miles to go we cross 47 into Forest Grove and tell Sal to shut it down, he nods in agreement and our happy pack cuts through the back streets back up to Maggie's (but not before I snatch the KOM jersey from a napping Kender on the final climb of the day!)
We make the final turn into Maggie's, and the party is going full tilt. Our crew scoffs at the idea of parking the bikes and literally rides through the crowd directly to the beverages calling out "BEEEEEER" along the way. I grab a pint of IPA and take a slug before passing it along to my brothers and sisters in arms. A shared toast to the shared work of the Groupetto!
We change and make our way back to the event to full our empty stomachs with amazing food from Maggie's and our hearts and minds with the stories of the day. We are happy to hear that Mike is okay and doesn't require any surgery from his crash. Cheers go up for each group of finishers as we cap off a wonderful day with wonderful people. We cringe when Carlo starts singing disco songs. :)
If you had told me the day after the LAF event that PV would be turning around and putting the final touches on our club century in under a month, I would have called you crazy. However that is exactly what a small dedicated group of individuals ended up pulling off. We took some risks and went big... new sponsors, a new route, and new riding areas most were not familiar with. We had our share of bumps and bruises and missed turns along the way, but at the end of the day PV put on a pretty damn good party, and the mistakes made will just make next years event that much more solid.
A big thank you goes out to all organizers, volunteers, participants, and especially our amazing century sponsors. Three cheers for Veloce, Canas Feast, Maggie's, and Madison's!