Oregon Coast Gravel Epic
Best way to start this post is to simply say…..OUCH!
The folks at Dark30 Sports said this was going to be an “Ass Kicker” and they were not kidding. 73 miles and approximately 10,000′ of climbing. In the back of my mind I was hoping for a finishing time in the 6 hour range…..I was a tad off on that estimate.
I left directly from work Friday night for the drive down to Yacahts, OR. The Fireside Motel was one of the supporting hotels in the area and offered a decent deal on their room rate. The rooms was standard fare, nothing special really, but the views from the outside were incredible. Right on the water and a nice sound of the ocean hitting the shore all night.
The one thing I am still finding out about the Oregon coast is that it is not nearly as “developed” as the New England coastline. It’s almost like Oregonians are afraid of the ocean or something. There was a smattering of dining establishments in Yachats, but nothing to really write home about. I did end up getting an okay meal for a slightly bloated price, but all in all it was palatable.
Anyways, Sunday morning I was up early for the 8AM start…. one problem became apparent. None of the coffee shops, or even the complimentary hotel breakfast opened until 7:30 (or later). Heck, even the hotel office wasn’t opened when I left at 6:45 AM for the start. I think they need to work on that for next year.
I did end up getting a quick breakfast at Subway…..not my first choice, but when it is the only choice besides the one open gas station…..Beggars can’t be choosers.
Now to the positives though. The turnout was pretty good for a first year event. 102 participants in the long course 73 mile event, and at least another 40+ in the shorter, less brutal (relatively speaking) 37 mile option. There was all sorts of bikes too. Hardtail mtn bikes, cross bikes, a few full suspension bikes, a couple Salsa Fargos, and a fair number of the “gravel grinder” bikes that are becoming a big deal in 2013-2014.
I choose the Fargo for my ride. I may have been able to get away with the Kona JTS if it wasn’t setup as a single ring cross machine right now. I think with the amount of suffering and climbing today that the Fargo was the better choice for my dead legs.
The route was pretty epic, and unfortunately my legs decided to not cooperate today. Between the 2nd aid station (mile 31…..3 hours into my ride!) and the 3rd aid station (mile 58…..6 hours into my ride) I was seriously thinking of begging for a ride back to the start/finish. I had convinced myself that I was the last person on the course, I had not seen a single other rider for about 2 hours between aid station 2 & 3. I thought the promoters would be waiting for just me at the finish at this point. However, I found out at aid station 3 that I was around the 60th person to come through and that there were still 40 people behind me. Knowing how I felt and guessing at my approximate finish time, I started to really feel sorry for the people still behind me. It did have the effect of lifting my spirits up a bit though. Sad isn’t it? Knowing other people are suffering worse than me, helped me get through the last 14 miles of my personal suffering.
I’m still trying to figure out if this was harder, just as hard, or easier than D2R2. I honestly cannot say at this point. D2R2 is 40 miles longer and a couple thousand feel more elevation gain, but has a heck of a lot more paved sections. The “Abomination” as they called this ride has hardly any flat sections at all though. I guess they are both difficult in their very own way.
I can say this is the hardest ride I have done all year. It was a great introduction to the logging roads of Oregon too. I’ll more than likely be back next year. Hopefully on a better day, where my legs decide to cooperate.
I could probably go on and on about this ride. I was out there for a total of 7:40 with actual ride time being in the 7:15 range. I guess my only personal goal at this point would be to knock off at least 45 minutes for next year.
A HUGE thank you to all the volunteers (over 50 of them) who helped man the aid stations, stand out in the middle of nowhere and point us in the right direction, and cooking us food at the end. You’re all awesome!
Thanks for reading,