In the e-mails leading up to the trip, Bryan had been putting together an epic ride plan. He described a crazy-talk route that basically climbed up to a ski-resort (for ~23 miles.) A few of us said they’d be in (yours truly with the caveat that I would be turning around if it was too “epic” for me… ) But when I woke up to rain on the morning of the actual ride, I figured it wasn’t actually going to happen and headed down to enjoy another ridiculous breakfast. (This morning it was sponsored by our team: T’s bagels, pork sausage from our meat share and a wonderful veggie scramble.)
As we sat in the living room, working through our food comas, the discussion turned toward the day’s itinerary and whether or not the “Soul Crushing Death Ride” (as it was now known) was happening. The weather was steadily clearing up and becoming not much of an excuse. Bryan masterfully worked the group, first getting agreement from the obvious candidates – Khai & Dave and then turning his attention to T & I. T promptly threw the decision into my camp, saying he’d do whatever I wanted to do. (Bastard.) So, it was left to me to wuss out or not. I figured what the hell and decided to go for it. We set a time that still allowed a comfortable amount of getting ready/continuing to chill/even take a little nap:
The ride started with a 45 minute drive down to Oregon (WW is about 20 miles from the state line) and then parking on an ordinary looking country road. (Sadly, I didn’t take any pictures of said road or the ride that followed, though I wanted to take a ton – I just didn’t want to get off the bike to take them… ) The first few miles of the ride were a pretty decent climb – not horrifically steep, but definitely a climb. Khai, Dave and Bryan took off first and rapidly dropped T & I. I assumed that T was just being nice and staying with me, until I turned around to talk to him and he wasn’t there. I stopped and waited for him to catch up, assuming he’d dropped his chain or something. It turned out that the CrossFit workout was much tougher on him than expected and he was having a rough time. At this point, we’d been climbing for about three minutes, so I encouraged him to stick with it for at least another 15 minutes and if he still wanted to quit, we’d head back.
The ride was really beautiful, which always helps when you’re climbing. The weather was pretty much perfect, not too hot and not raining and even had patches of sunshine. You could see out over the valleys and farmland for the first five miles or so and then you got into pretty trees and forests. Jenn & Bryan told the story of the first time they’d ridden this and how they’d stuck with it for so long because they thought it was going to flatten out. I could easily see how this happened, because you’d climb up a section and there would be a little downhill or some flat and then it would go up again. After the first part, there wasn’t too much steep, just long slow uphill. This is my favorite kind of hill to climb, so I was perfectly happy with it. And T was feeling better and grateful to not have to keep up with the boys.
We just kept climbing and chit-chatting (and occasionally singing sections of the Nicki Minaj song I’d been playing on the car ride on Friday. Sorry, locals!) As we neared the 2 hour mark, we saw Bryan heading back down. We assumed that they’d stopped at a market or something and he was seeing how far we were from there, but it turned out he was turning around due to lower-back pain issues. We decided to climb until we reached the two-hour mark and then turn around, as it was getting foggier and colder (and T had forgotten his bike jacket, so I was already concerned by how cold he was going to be on the descent.)
We figured Khai & David were going to go all the way to the top, (and they were a separate car) so we headed back down the hill, hoping Bryan didn’t have to wait too long for us. As always, the descent was fun/terrifying and made you appreciate exactly how much you’d accomplished. There were a few sections of up on the way back that I hadn’t remembered the corresponding downhill or appreciated properly, but by and large, it was large awesome sections of flying down the mountain, without even having to pedal. I saw a cyclist ahead and was surprised when it turned out to be Bryan. We passed and T offered him a draft but then promptly dropped him (I told you he was a bastard!) which tells you how bad Bryan was hurting.
We flew down the last section to the car and waited the few minutes for Bryan to arrive (T had given him the car keys when we’d initially met him on our ascent/his descent.) We didn’t have to wait too long, enough time to load the bikes and stretch a little bit. We texted David that we were heading home, so he’d know what time we’d left and hit the road. Despite wanting to get home, we were also hungry and T had been promised ice cream all weekend. The only place we knew about was a fancy gelato place in downtown Walla Walla, that I wasn’t particularly enthused about but I wasn’t going to deny T ice cream a third time. Then Bryan mentioned he might know of another ice cream place much closer to where we were.
That ice cream place was the most perfect post-ride place ever:
In case you can’t read the sign, the place is called The Iceburg and their subhead is “Experience the Legend” and experience it we did!
Few things in this world taste better after a long bike ride than a fresh banana milkshake and french fries. Awesomeness. Then after we got back to the house, we hit the hot tub for some post-ride recovery (ahhh… ) Then it was all about the wine/food/birthday festivities!
First there was some pink champagne, while Erin kicked T’s butt in Scrabble:
Followed by an amazing BBQ dinner and some wonderful red wine. Then post-dinner, homemade cupcakes by Jen (complete with candles and singing.) It was a really great birthday and I appreciate having all of the elements of my life (health to ride my bike for ridiculous distances, a wonderful spouse and fantastic friends) that made it so. Despite all of my snark, I do appreciate how lucky I am.