I'm back in Seattle. Drove up last night from Portland after a little time spent at the Oregon Manifest Design Constructor's Challenge Race finish line party.
It was a beautiful course with some challenging climbs and a healthy section of gravel climbing/descending. It would make a fantastic permanent or brevet course (hint, hint OR Randonneurs!).
Slogging along on the home stretch I passed the Skyline Tavern and was cheered by a couple guys on the terrace. I couldn't see who they were, so I just waved my bloody hand and kept riding. I worried that the next riders were close behind and gaining, as the last couple climbs were very slow for me and really took their toll.
Shortly after passing the Tavern, I see two riders were approaching (and the wind began to howl!) in my beerview mirror. One is on an unencumbered bike, the other clearly with a load over the front wheel and a dynamo powered light shining below the rack. That sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach descends, knowing that I only have so much gas left in the tank and I'm suffering on any small incline. I have a momentary freak-out, fearing that these two riders are racers and will work together to overtake me and duke it out for the finish.
I can not tell you how relieved and happy I was when they pulled up behind me and I realized one of them is Joshua Bryant, a fine Oregon Randonneur whom I've ridden with on a couple occasions. I hoot and holler and excitedly tell them that I thought all the effort and blood and hopes for any glory were lost, but now I still had a fighting chance! I quickly introduced myself to the other rider, none other than Phillipe Andre, another randonneur whose name has peppered SIR brevet results of years past. I recognized his name as one of the faster riders and am dually glad to meet him.
Josh pulls a couple car lengths ahead and Phillipe tucks in behind. I am still racing and they are not interested in helping/cheating, but they do wish to join me on the ride to the finish. With renewed vigor and hope in my heart, I gave it all I had. The very last bit is a ride through my old stomping grounds, the NW neighborhood of Portland. Each block has a stop sign or traffic light. Sometimes it's a four way stop sign. This is not a very quick way to get through a neighborhood, which is quite lovely for the inhabitants of this part of town, however to me the stops and waiting for pedestrians and traffic was interminably long. I've never won a race before, because I had never raced before this event, so I was very anxious.
Upon arrival at the finish, the organizer had set up a tent for the racers to change into proper party attire, which had to be carried the entire ride, along with a glass 6 pack of beers collected at the f1st checkpoint on Dixie Mountain Rd. and some party snacks picked up at Chris King's barn on NW Kaiser. It was unpleasant trying to stretch a tight fitting shirt over my road-rashed shoulder and left arm, but it was worth it to be presentable at the finish.
I had fun at the event and was proud to wear my SIR jersey, representing a club of strong and well-rounded riders. 77 miles is really a warm-up for most of us, but I rarely ride at such a hurried pace. It has it's attraction, however, and I might try to push the clock a little on the next brevet. And I learned to go a little easier in the sweeping gravel corners. There's some coverage of the event, as you may have discovered and a few pictures of the bike itself on flickr and whatnot. Here's a few from the second checkpoint and the finish line.
This one shows the party attire and the bloodied brake lever pretty well.
Once again, I want to thank my wonderful wife, Katie, whose support is what keeps me improving upon my best each day. I also wish to thank the organizers of the Oregon Manifest for the opportunity to showcase my craft with a larger audience and prove the validity of my design. I am not and will never be a very fast rider, but I do know how to make an effective, fun, efficient and high performance bicycle. That I was the 1st frame builder to cross the line on his own bike has to count for something, no?