About a month ago, a friend and former co-worker of T’s reached out to us about doing this ride with him. A friend of his had dropped out, leaving him with an extra ticket. He was willing to give T or I that ticket, basically making it half price for the other to buy a ticket, which, given how expensive this ride is, was very generous of him. It’s been a while since we’ve ridden with Luke and he’s an absolute monster on the bike.
My previous ride experience with he and T always resulted in the two of them riding ahead and waiting for me at various points in the ride to catch up. I had no belief that today was going to be any different, with the exception of there being aid stations for them to wait at and it perhaps being a shorter wait time.
We had to get up absurdly early to meet Luke and carpool out to McMinnville, where the ride was held. After checking in and registration, we had a quick breakfast and a little more coffee. The SWAG on this ride was pretty good – a cute t-shirt, a bike bottle and a musette bag. (The bike geek in me was most excited about this.)
Then it was time to get ready to hit the road. In an unfortunate bit of poor planning, I forgot to bring my arm warmers or anything other than shorts and a short-sleeved jersey. (I also managed to forget to bring socks with me.) Luckily, Luke had an extra pair of clean socks and I’d happened to put a long-sleeved cotton shirt in my bag, so I was able to cobble together some warmer clothes. Here are the boys finishing the last touches of pre-ride prep:
We set out at a nice, easy pace. Everyone was in warm-up mode, so I assumed it would pick up as we went along. Luke talked some smack to me and earned himself a little showing off of how quickly I can accelerate on the new bike, but by and large the first section was at a nice reasonable pace. We got to the first aid station to be greeted with delicious butter-laden cookies:
The aid station was in a park, complete with restrooms and a playground. I successfully taunted the boys into the see-saw and took some pictures:
Enough of this silliness, it’s time to hit the road again! Luke was having issues with his back, so we stopped on the road to stretch a bit. I appreciated this, because it gave me a chance to take some pictures of the pretty scenery.
T is unamused by my antics:
But I’m amused enough for the both of us:
Finally, Luke finished stretching out the back and we were back on the road. The next section was a little more rolling, but I was still keeping up with the boys without much difficulty. We stopped at the second aid station for some lunch (very lovely tuna or eggplant sandwiches with roasted veggies. I should have gotten a picture before I devoured it, but c’est la vie… ) While at the aid station, I spotted this crazy bike:
I really wanted to get a picture of the dude it belonged to, but couldn’t think of a discrete way to pull it off. He was tall and with a pretty short torso, so I guess this build makes sense – but it still looks crazy.
The next section contained the most significant climb on the route, (one described by Luke as “crazy”, so I was a little scared.) Luke pulled off to stretch again before the climb to minimize potential leg cramping. I took the opportunity to take more pictures:
The hill was no joke, but I managed to climb the whole thing. As expected the boys passed me and went flying up it. A pair of roadies also passed me, but I was okay with that. I did see a few folks stopped on the side of the road resting and no one else passed me, so I was pretty happy about that. And the boys didn’t have to wait too long for me at the top, so I counted it as a success. After the climb, we were treated to a fun, twisty descent that felt like the Tour de France – especially with the lack of cars. When we regrouped at the bottom of the hill, this double-decker wine bus came around the corner:
The boys waiting impatiently to be off again:
I was feeling the effects of all of the coffee I’d drunk earlier in the morning and had quite the caffeine headache. Luckily, we rolled through an intersection that had a market on the corner with a coke machine, so I made the boys pull over. Next to the blessed coke machine was this hilarious sign:
Ummm… as opposed to?
The climb energized Luke and he and T attacked the rollers leading to the third aid station, which was at a winery. We didn’t partake of the wine, but T and I did enjoy the panna-cotta and fruit served on top of a lemon cookie. Yum. Luke was being good and skipped it. We realized that we were going to have to pick up the pace to make our early dinner seating (thanks Luke!) so we headed out.
For most of the ride, there would be a variety of paces and folks would fall back and catch back up. T had been hammering the rollers pretty hard, so when he fell back initially I didn’t think too much of it. Especially when he caught back up going up a hill. But then he fell behind and stayed behind. I let Luke go ahead and sat up to wait for him. I asked him how he was and he responded with an uncharacteristic “I’m done.” Unfortunately, we still had about 15 miles to ride, so that wasn’t an option.
Luke waited for us to catch up and gave T one of his packets of Cliff shots, to see if that perked him up any. It didn’t. We headed out again and Luke went on ahead to chat with a female rider that was passing us and I opted to stay with T. (He’s stayed with me on so many rides, it was the least I could do!) I tried to keep his spirits up and even rode in front for him to draft off of when we hit a headwind. We opted to skip the last aid station, where Luke was waiting for us.
By this time the sun had come out, so I offered T a chance to rest for a second while I took pictures. It also gave Luke a chance to catch up:
Pretty, pretty scenery:
Luke was now experiencing leg cramps and we stopped one last time for him to stretch them out. I teased the boys that their new nicknames were “Crampy” and “Bonk” (and was very pleased that I felt fine!) We hobbled our way through the last part of the ride, making it back with fifteen minutes to spare.
We changed clothes and cleaned up as best we could. There was a cash bar with wine/beer (which I must confess annoyed me, given the ride’s price tag) and I grabbed a glass of white wine while the boys opted for beer. There were various appetizers being circulated and we chatted with a few other riders while we waited for dinner. It had a nice “cocktail party” atmosphere, which was fun.
Then they opened the doors for dinner and the feeding frenzy began. There were tons of appetizers/salads to start as well as some delicious oysters on the half-shell:
These were so good, it was hard to save room for the actual dinner – pan-roasted chicken, potatoes, veggie custard and some kind of sauce. I ate way too much food, per usual and didn’t even have room for dessert. All in all, it was really fun, but I’m not sure I’d pay full price for it next year.