Perry-Roubaix Plus

It was nearly spring, and The Logging Road Cyclist’s thoughts were turning to having fun. Much of the winter had been spent the usual way: endlessly grinding up steep gray roads that passed through claustrophobic forests or graveyard-like clear cuts  and merged in the distance without distinction into a wet gray sky like an inverted northern sea. He wanted sun, light, puffy big clouds floating across a bright sky. No endless grades. No worrying about getting lost and hypothermic. Bike riding!

Recent browsing had brought TLRC to the Perry-Roubaix. 50 miles, rolling, pretty countryside. The weather was forecast was good! TLRC would use the opportunity to explore the crest of the Eola hills along the way (gpx), and go fast (for him, at least).

On ride morning, TLCR began to wake up lying on his left shoulder. The one with the worse arthritis. A mild, stabbing pain was shooting down the arm. He reached over to pet the Good Dog, sleeping on her cot beside the bed and noticed that Devil Puppy, who was usually pressed up against his back like a remora or leech, wasn’t around. This was odd. “Devil Puppy, Devil Puppy!” called TLRC. She was nowhere to be found. Rolling onto his back so he could sit up, he noticed Devil Puppy curled up at his neck. TLRC had mistaken her for a pillow. He could see by the tint of gray coming through the trees on his forest estate, that the day would indeed be fine, so he got out of bed, causing both dogs, who knew this meant food, to get up too. The Good Dog behaved in a dignified manner, and headed for the kitchen. Devil Puppy also headed there, but rather by heading off in random directions and caroming off whatever lay ahead. Heading down the hall, TLRC lay ahead, and she caromed off the back of his left knee, just where one would kick or tackle to take out the target. TLRC, long accustomed to this, merely tripped a bit, and kept on.

The face of Satan.

Breakfast done, it was Potty Time, and TLRC nearly had his leg taken out again. TLRC had installed a dog door and was training both dogs to use it so that at some point they could be independent of TLRC, and he could leave them for more than a few hours. They both darted out through the door, but after a while, Devil Puppy screamed back through and turned, snarling, snapping and growling toward the door, beyond which the Good Dog stood, refusing to get involved, but barking to be let in. Since TLRC had just had a contretemps with a neighbor over their barking dog, this was bad at 6:30 on Sunday morning. TLRC grabbed Devil Puppy and coaxed the Good Dog in. He wished she (the Good Dog) would beat the daylights (with tooth and claw) out of Devil Puppy when she got into this semi-play, semi-aggressive behavior, but only rarely would either the Good Dog, or The Long Suffering Girlfriend’s big dog put Devil Puppy in her place. They just ignored her as if she was beneath their dignity and took it. Maybe people could learn from this.  Maybe not.

TLRC decided to take his new Subaru up to Amity rather than his trusty, dirty and old pickup. There were no dirt roads to be driven, and since the day would be nice, he thought that at the end of the ride his bike would be clean enough that the ease of being able to toss it in the back of the pickup did not trump comfort and a sporty ride. Furthermore, there was the front wheel carrier given him by The Machine People that lay unused in the garage. Time to put that on the racks and take it out for a spin too.

Between Devil Puppy caroming around and fiddling with racks, TLRC got geared up and headed to The Long Suffering Girlfriend’s house, there to drop off the dogs for the day. As he walked in the door, he remembered he had forgotten his map, not really critical, but TLRC really wanted to follow the route. He headed back to the forest estate to retrieve it, the second such incident in as many days.

While making a quick stop for a forbidden latte, TLRC was glad to have noticed that the awning at the kiosk was about 3″ lower than his bike seat way up there on top of the car.

Finally on his way, TLRC kept looking at the shadow of his bike and wheel up there on the racks, just to keep an eye on things. The front fender was wobbling a bit, but other than that, AOK. Until, finally, north of Monmouth something gave way and the fender really wiggled. Turns out the wobbling had worked the metal of a mounting bracket until it broke.  Annoyed, both because he had expected this but blew it off, and because he would need the fender in the upcoming week’s forecast rain, if not today, TLRC stabilized the situation and drove on.

Approaching Amity, there was a bump near the back of the car, and, reactively looking  into the mirror, TLRC saw his front bike wheel hit the road, bounce, and head straight toward the windshield of the car behind. The driver’s response was superb: she braked, swerved and completely avoided the wheel, quite a feat, since she was following too close, in TLRC’s estimation at least.

Shaken, TLRC pulled over into the narrow shoulder, and realizing it was not a good place to be, backed into a field entrance. He got out, walked down the railroad tracks on the opposite side of the road and retrieved his wheel, which, amazingly seemed to be none the worse off. While spinning it to check the true, TLRC mused about worse outcomes: a damaged car, a crashed car, a hurt (or worse) driver, an untrue wheel….

In Amity, tussling to remove the now-usless fender with sub-optimal tools and hands shaking from adrenaline and forbidden latte, TLRC found his thoughts running.  Were these two minor and one (potentially) nightmarish events signs of decrepitude and declining competence? Just yesterday, The Long Suffering Girlfriend had outdone him, skill-wise,  in backing and maneuvering her new T@B trailer. Later that evening she announced that she didn’t need him along to boost her confidence on the maiden voyage of the trailer, indeed, she’d just as soon TLRC stayed home to dog sit. Even though he supported them, TLRC regarded with a vague sense of unease women possessed of  a newly acquired sense of strength or independence. As if they might put him out to pasture for inutility, or at least cut him less slack as the deeper strata of his foibles were exposed by the erosional qualities of aging. First the trailer, and now all of this. As he was in a public parking lot in downtown Amity, TLRC resisted the  urge to put his head in his hands and sigh deeply. He pondered: Had he used up his quota of unforced errors for the day? Was it more or less likely, given the events of the morning so far, that another unseen, bad thing was lurking in the near term? Was there some sort of Markovian conditioning in play, whereby the wheel, bouncing towards the trailing car on Hwy 99 was a portent, indicating an increase in how likely another “episode” might be? TLRC considered abandoning the ride, returning home and taking up some chainsaw work that awaited him there, but soon dropped that notion.

“Je suis TLRC“, he sighed, “il faut aller sur.” And he was glad he did just that!

Laurel Mtn Massif from Oak Grove Rd.

View W from Oak Grove Rd.

As mentioned, TLRC started in Amity, headed east to Old Bethel Rd, then south along it and Oak Grove Rd to Zena (Warrior Princess!) Rd which he followed through the gap in the Eola Hills to Brush College Rd. Just up from the intersection lies Spring Valley Church, which TLRC has long admired when passing by here on road(!) rides.

Spring Valley Church

TLRC missed the turn onto Eagle Crest Rd, but was set right when a trio of roadies came by expressing horror, horror, at having encountered gravel up the previous road. TLRC knew where to go now!

Eagle Crest grinds steeply away. Near the gravel, this trailer zipped by, and judging from the severe Lorentz-FitzGerald contraction, it was going really fast.

Eagle Crest stands high above the valleys on either side, and props up the beautifully paved Gibson Rd.

Signage at the top of Gibson Rd.

TLRC would have loved to have been at the community meetings that got this sign installed!

Wandering down through Orchard Heights the traditional Perry-Roubaix was joined.

TLRC felt he was going slightly mad in the open spaces, beautiful views and bright light!

At he intersection of Blanchard and Pleasant Hill Roads is the Pleasant Hill Cemetery, which is worth a visit. The earliest date TLRC noticed was a birth in 1791, recorded on a refurbished stone.  There are many people lying here whose lives were entirely in the 19th century, and many small stones marking children who survived less than a year.

Pleasant Hill Cemetery

On the turn from Pleasant Hill Rd onto Ballstrom Rd, off to the north lies the medium-security federal penitentiary at Sheridan, a sobering sight.

On DeJong Rd and again on Bellevue Hwy, one crosses the South Fork of the Yamill River. This sleepy stream is a treasure trove of Pleistocene fossils. Intrepid scuba divers and waders have found large pieces of Mastodon, Giant Sloths and other relics from 40,000 years ago.  While on TLRC’s favorite topic, only a few miles to the NW lies Erratic State Park, where lies a large, rather boring-looking brown rock that, other than this instance, is of a type found only in Canada. It was probably rafted here by a chunk of ice during one of the Missoula Floods 13,000-15,000 years ago. TLRC rode here a couple of years ago and found it a peaceful  spot to sit and speculate where on the nearby hills the waterline for this event must have been.