Texas Hill Country
October 12, 2020
The Oregon border race once again had a tight finish. Paul, Dan, and John were all racing as usual, but with Greg now in the mix, I didn’t expect to place. Of course, that didn’t stop me from racing just for the fun and the challenge. We started the race about 18 miles from the border, pace lining the whole way. About five miles out, Greg took off on a coule breakaways that left us all frantically surging to catch him, but he wasn’t able to sustain them for long. Just under a mile from the border, I tried a breakaway of my own, unsuccessfully. I was out-sprinted by practically everyone and didn’t place. Greg won in a photo finish over Paul, and Dan took third. I remain tied with Athan, but now for fifth, since Greg moved ahead of us both in only one race.
We were hanging out at the border for a team photo when a nice couple pulled up and asked me who we were. They had just moved to Brookings from Santa Cruz three weeks before and actually ran a cycling club there. They asked me where we were staying, so I told them, and they said they’d swing by later.
Brookings was only a few miles over the Oregon border, a town of about 6,000 right on the coast. I rolled into the office of the local newspaper, having gotten in touch with them ahead of time. Jeff and Dan joined me later and all three of us were interviewed and photographed. They said they’d run the story in the next paper, which only runs on Sundays. We’re apparently getting sent one in Austin.
I’d also made the travel arrangements for Brookings since my grandfather lives there and my family had some connections in town. We stayed in a Church of the Nazarene, which ordered us pizza for dinner. Before they could though, the same couple that saw us at the border came by with a ton of pasta and some delicious dried fruit. Tasted great. I wound up watching a movie later, and my grandfather dropped by while I was watching it. I stepped outside to talk to him, but he only stayed for a while. Good to see him anyway, since I hadn’t in about eight years.
On the way out of town the next day I stopped by the beach to get my first look at the Oregon coast. Cloudy and foggy, but even more rocky. Picturesque. Headed up the coast the rest of the day, enjoying some spectacular scenery along the Oregon coast. The aid stations were typically in the best places, and for many people, it was hard to leave. So much so that some of us got into Bandon at about 8:30 PM, hours after the church had cooked dinner for us, and perhaps six hours after the first riders had rolled in.
I went down to the beach that night just past sunset, when the horizon was still red, but it was dark enough for all the rocks to be silhouettes. I went for a short jog, then just sat on one of the rocks looking out over the slowly darkening Western sky and the waves crashing over black outlines. I’m not sure if I enjoyed the sunset or the alone time more.
In the morning we addressed the issue of people spending too much time at aid stations since it had caused a problem with dinner the night before, and several riders had to wait well over an hour for the van to show up so they could get their stuff and change clothes. I finally mentioned what I’d been thinking all trip, that spending hours at aid stations taking naps and watching TV didn’t seem in the spirit of our organization, riding for those who can’t and being a metaphor for the fight against cancer. A few other people piped up and said that if we’re all here for different reasons, we should be able to do the ride different ways.
The ride was a lot like the ones the day before, hugging the coast all day and seeing cool views. The church we were staying at gave us all a ton of food, and a lot of people were there, so we put on a program. For the first time, I was actually a part of it. I enjoyed that. Then we hit some pub that one of the church people had recommended. We saw him there and he bought us a round. There was some live music there and they weren’t too bad. There was one particular guy though, wearing a leather jacket, dancing badly, and repeatedly unsuccessfully trying to dance with every girl in there. Mione said that’d be me in ten years.
I don’t think anything really changed from the discussion we’d had a few mornings ago, since during a day of riding, I had time to go to a library for 45 minutes, take a 3-mile run on the beach, and spend half an hour admiring the rocks again, and I was still one of the first ones in town. Makes me wonder how much time is wasted by everyone else back there.
The rocks I saw on the beach, I guess they look a little different in the sun. The waves were crashing wildly over them, spraying high. I found a tide pool enclosed by one of the rocks, entirely carpeted with vividly colored sea anemone and starfish.
On the way into Lincoln City, we unknowingly passed through some other town with a similar numbering system for their streets. We were looking for 21st street, but it didn’t seem to exist. Greg and I found a payphone with a phone book attached, looked at the city map in it, and figured it out. Fortunately, everyone else seemed to have an easy time finding it like we did.
Fruit stands abound on the west coast, and as hungry as you get burning 6,000 calories a day, many of us have made good friends with them. Most of the time, a pound of strawberries or cherries is only a dollar, and tastes better than anything you can get in a store. Straight from the farmers, that's the way to go.
In case you didn't know it, strawberries have histamines in them, the opposite of antihistamines. So your nose might start running when you eat them, but only if you eat a whole lot at once. Like, say, a pound or so. Every day, someone on the team spends a dollar, eats the whole package at once since it's hard to carry something on the bike, then shows up at the aid station with a faucet on the front of their face.
"There must be some kinda pollen on the west coast that I'm allergic to!"
"No, you idiot!" I always have to tell them. "That's just what happens when you eat pounds of berries at a time!"
We set out for Portland the next day, leaving early so we could spend some time in what we heard was a cool city, where we wouldn’t get a day off. I wound up sweeping. Only a few miles in, Jay’s front shifter broke, so he was stuck in an extremely low gear for almost 20 miles. Two hours later, we got to the aid station after everyone else had already left. Mike was driving and didn’t know how to fix the shifter, so Jay decided to sag until the next aid station where he’d probably find Dan, who’d be able to fix it. I hauled ass to the next aid station, half because I wanted to catch up to the rest of the pack, and half because it would be the only part of the day that I could. I caught up with Hap, Andrew, and Dan while they were at the next aid station, but they left before I was ready. I wound up catching Andrew only a few miles later and spent the rest of the day riding with him. He was actually pushing too, so the whole group must’ve been hauling.
We couldn’t take a direct route into town due to traffic, but we wound up riding through downtown Portland anyway. We got redirected through some incredible hills after that to find the road we needed to cross the river to get to our lodging. Andrew and I were both having trouble on some of those hills, but at the end, we were finally rewarded with a short downhill that was so steep it was scary. One turn was longer than I expected and kept getting tighter, so much so that I wound up having to cross the yellow line to make sure I’d stay vertical.
We finally crossed a long bridge and made our way to the University of Portland, where we were camping on a lawn that overlooked downtown. We got a free dinner in the cafeteria that night and met some people who were running a summer camp there. They were impressed that we had biked that far. I tooled around campus a bit since I like seeing college campuses, and that’s about all I had time for that night.
Before dinner started in the university cafeteria, there were already a few snacks out.
“I want a cookie,” I said to Athan.
“Dinner starts in only fifteen minutes,” he replied. “Why don’t you wait until then?”
“I WANT A COOKIE!!”
“OK fine, have a cookie!”
If you can’t win an argument with logic, win it with volume.
Greg went downtown for a little celebration with some people, since for him, it was his last night of his short stay with the Texas 4,000. I didn’t have the energy after it took me so long to get into town, on account of sweeping. I liked Greg. I wish he’d been part of our team all summer, and I’m gonna miss him. Here’s to you, Greg.
from Texas 4,000