Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Sucker for Rural Bucolia

Oregon Randonneurs Alsea 400k, here I come!

Next weekend, August 8, you'll find me in McMinnville, Oregon where I plan to take on my first 400k. I've done one 200k and one 300k this year, but it's not like I've done a whole lot of brevets to prepare, so I'm a little nervous. I've never attempted a 400k.

The Kramer Blog's latest post has an elevation graph for the Alsea 400k that shows 8700 total feet of climbing with much of it in a nearly 3000 ft early climb. If I can get over that first hump, I'll feel confident.

I may have been lured in by the Oregon Randonneurs' Alsea 400k brevet description of "rural bucolia." Makes it sound dreamlike, doesn't it? Rural Bucolia...ahhhh.

DarteDame is planning to accompany me to Oregon as a supporter not a participant, which is kind of her. As you know from her July 26 post, she did her first Century, the Seattle Century! I'm very, very proud of her. She was strong, and her training paid off. A little coda: we learned from Kent Peterson's blog (Kent of Bike Works in Columbia City and more) that some pranksters (or anti-cyclists?) painted confusing signs that directed Seattle Centurions up a steep dead-end hill. Fortunately, there was a small gathering of head-scratching cyclists at the bottom of the hill when we got there, and they directed us to the correct route. Thank you, mystery cyclists. Boo on you, pranksters!

The pranksters had also taken down some of the signs warning motorists ("Hundreds of Bicyclists on the Road") about our ride. I find that less pranky and more irresponsible.

The sign switching though reminded me of a scene from Hogan's Heroes or some such where the goofy Allied troops spin the road sign in French rural bucolia, and it tricks the German tank brigade to go the wrong direction thus saving the day in a key battle. Actually, while visiting Greece in 1999, I read that Greeks did exactly that when they confused NATO convoys heading for Kosovo.

Back to Oregon: I'm excited and nervous which is good because it reminds me how DartreDame was feeling prior to her first Century. We all have our worries. Despite Darte's worries, she pushed on and is now--don't tell anyone I told you this--contemplating what a 200k might be like. Remember, mum's the word!

One of my worries came to an interesting fruition last evening. I was cycling home from work when my freewheel broke. Yep, I pedaled, the freewheel turned, but the wheel wasn't propelled. I could coast down hills, or push along with one leg on the road as I did on the flats, but uphill I was walking my bicycle. So I coasted, pushed with one leg, and walked my bicycle and myself down to Bike Works. Prior to the freewheel breakage, I was riding home "the long way" to take advantage of Seattle's heat wave for some hills-in-the-heat training. Could be hot in rural bucolia.

The good news is this didn't happen during DarteDame's and Vesteinn's first Century ride, and it didn't happen during next week's 400k attempt. It also may explain my chain jumping over the large rear cog and into the spokes breaking the derailleur as it did during my 200k this past March (see my June 6, 2009 post). Right before the freewheel broke, it kept jumping in the same way repeatedly, and it has been doing that now and then. Also, I had a scraping noise I had trouble eliminating by derailleur adjusting. Now, I believe it's because the freewheel was wobbling prior to breaking. Yahoo, I hope! I may have solved a mystery.

And you know what? The freewheel is the only part on the Fuji I hadn't replaced or refurbished. Randonneuring has an uncanny way of seeking vulnerabilities and exploiting them. I like that. Keeps me on my toes!

The pic is of DarteDame and me on the Link Light Rail, taken by Vesteinn. Officials told me that my bike and I counted as five in their passenger counting scheme. Darte was a one. Five minus one equals 4; I'm gonna finish my first 400k. I hope, I hope!

Keep it bucolic,