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Oregon trail gravel who wants to join me
Last Post 09/09/2019 08:47 AM by Cosmic Kid. 55 Replies.
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79pmooney

Posts:2293

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06/22/2019 09:40 PM
I'm back home with my "Died of Dysentery" T-shirt. Finished the first stage Explorer route but I crashed hard on the descent and rang my bell. Continued, adrenyiized enough that I couldn't/didn't assess injuries. Woke up next morning feeling worse but in riding condition. Felt OK riding to the start. First mile or two were fine. Then we hit an easy, short descent with some stones at the bottom. RIght away I could feel my brain rattling. Completely obvious I had zero busininess riding the rough; I kept thinking that I had no business risking that there might be another such downhill and rough before the next rest. (Turns out there wasn't and I passed up the next 18 miles where this mountain goat excells but it saved me from freezing to the bone also.) So I stopped.

Waited maybe a couple of minutes. A black SUV appeared and I flagged him down with a thumbs down. The EMT. I rode with him the next hour and a half to the first Aid station. HIs specialty is EMTing in the wilderness; especially places where the usual medal supplies arent and he has to improvise. Felt to me the riders were in good hands. (Now they do havgfe to plan there spills to be near one as the ride had only four.) Two rides later I came into camp with the sweeper; my bike beat me to camp. Had the option to take the "Bus of Shame" to the starting point but elected to instead to take the "Lonely Bus" with 5 others to the next campsite. By then I knew I wasn't riding any more and just going home, but I wanted say proper good byes. Missed OC. Saw him from the bus as we were leaving.

My impressions? That first stage was hard! That sand! Now I know why so many horses died. I can easily imagine the settlers making less than three miles on a day. That means being up there long enough to easily see bad weather.

And the event as a whole? Wow! For a first time, a lot done very well and a few serious hitches. No hot showers after that ride? No real food at the aid station that was announced as lunch. Yes I was very late - but that also means I spent a long time since my last significant food. I alway could fill my bottles, but heard stories of the aid stations running out. The organizers listened and they had far more water at the stations the next day. It turned out to be cold. Murphy's Law. Except for the aid station glitches, the food was good, appropiate and plentiful. In camp, there was always food to eat. No mioney required. Appropriate food that a racer would eat. Now the coffee fell well short. They had a private vender with a VW bus who was overwhelmed in the mornings when it mattered.

The vibe and focus of the event were super. Between that and a course that is close to epic (and will become so if the weather ever turns) and in a place that is spectacular/magic, the seeds are solidly planted for this to become a 5-star event. I predict they will sell out next year to the 500 rider cap I heard will be employed. Easily. Word is going to spread fast.

So, my impressions as a rider. That first stage was hard!! HR went out the window from the outset. I started getting used to the idea that 155 was the norm; that I wasnt' getting to camp at lower. The sand was unbeliveably hard. One stretch I did manage to get through, I looked down - 165! I never went that hard again and bogged down many times. Fell several times. OC watched at least one. Walked a lot of the sand. On the 2nd patch of wagon sand I parked the front wheel on a nearly buried immovable pumice rock and went over the bars. Landed a lot harder but it was still sand. My last fall was when the quite good, fast tire track I was in suddenly dropped maybe a foot to half again that and became a stream bed. I shut down all I could but was still moving along. Needed just an inch or two more than the rut would give me. Bike stopped suddenly and I went over the bars again, this time onto hard surface, hititing helmet, shoulder and ribs (though the last two I didin't feel at the time beyond general hurt. Good thing was that I didn't fall far since the floor had been effectively raised so much.

This course is both out of my league and one I will never consider again for TBI reasons. In fact, I've had the wakeup call that gravel probably should not be in my future unless I am willing to make the jump to full suspension. But I may well consider going again to volunteer or work there. This felt like the start of something that is going to take off; that I got to be blessed with being there at the start. Because I didn't ride, I spent a lot of time with the organizers and got to see them work and show their hearts. I wasn't there at the start of either Leadville or Cycle Oregon, but I sense the same passion and I think it is going to blossom as they did, onlly its unique calling.

So, again, Wow! I don't regret going at all even though I have paid and will pay rather heavily. Got an expensive luxurious hotel last night gambling on a comfortable bed. I have only paid more in major cities but I got blessed with a very good, very soft bed and 4 fine huge pillows to arrange around my injuries. (And a glorious, hot shower!) And as to the future? Well I have probably knocked off a few more of those peskey brain cells and get to live the next 90 days with a slghtly cracked rib. No, not formerly diagnosed. I'll skip two more sets of chest Xrays, the deductible and the words "Well there isn't much we can do. Ribs heal up well on their own. It's just going to be painful for the coming weeks." As rib pains go, this is just a 2. Coughng and sneezing aren't a lot of fun and can take it to a 3. I'll just suck it up. (And hey, I paid for that "Died of Dysentary" T-shirt and will wear it with pride!)

Ben

Orange Crush

Posts:2755

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06/22/2019 10:35 PM
Good write up Ben. You made the right call. Except for the couple sand crashes on day 1 I haven't had any others. Been taking things appropriately easy. We finally had hot showers today. I saw you in truck on way out but was in too much of a mental haze to wave goodbye. I was probably a bit short on words the other encounters as well except day 1 but such has been the event. It takes a good bite out of you. Finally drank three beers this evening and feel almost civilized.
Cosmic Kid

Posts:3013

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06/23/2019 06:53 AM
Bummer you had to pull out Ben, but as OC notes, you made the right call.

Gotta admit the idea of this ride is growing on me...still not much of a camping person, and no hot showers has ZERO appeal, but the adventure sounds (and looks) epic.

Looking forward to OC’s Final reports.

Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
79pmooney

Posts:2293

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06/23/2019 02:43 PM
CK, you just gave me an idea. How to fix the shower issue and make everybody happy. Our showers were in the locker rooms of small rural schools. Schools that have been hit hard by the dying timber industry and other factors. It's summer, not football season. The schools have offered their premises (and the kids on the teams) in return for needed hard cash from the race but this was the first time. Probably nobody at the schools ever thought about how badly hot water is needed and just how much 2-500 riders having just pulled a personal epic need.

I would love to help this event. Now suppose I go to our local George Morlan Plumbing (that I have done considerable business with as a home owner), explain this event and challenge and ask them what plumbing outfit they would recommend in the Bend/Sisters area and a name to contact. Meanwhile contact the race organizer (who I spent a good deal of time with), tell him I"d like to be the guy to get the showers right and have him contact me as soon as the route is determined so I can go to those schools, talk to their maintenance crew (person) and work to upgrade their facility, paid for by the race as goodwill for the school and community, much like Cycle Oregon has been doing since its inception.

School wins, the kids on the teams (who for I'm guessing small change are busting their butts doing the grunt work to make the camps happen) love it. Now more enthusiasm from those kids, an even better feeling event and the race promoter gets to add this to the good things they are doing. One fewer issue the very small crew that runs the race has to deal with. Yes, they would have to cut the checks. They cannot charge a lot more in signup fees and capping the field puts a ceiling on money coming in from the riders who benefit from the showers, but as I said above, this is going to take off. Sponsor money is going to roll in.

And it opens doors. Want to change the route in future years. It's a small world. Every AD in the area will know that bringing OTGG means better showers. They will lean hard on their school admins.

Now there is a far easier way to have good showers - contract a shower truck. Cycle Oregon contracts three. This week there should be a surplus of shower trucks since fire season has not started and CO's 3 are free. Easy, except juggling the location issues with a full semi can be an issue and realities often mean a longer walk than riders like.) But goodwill-wise, I see the the shower upgrade as having lots of upside. And gym showers are always close to the football field where we camp.

Those kids - it was pretty obvious that many were new to the concept of being on a work team and actually working hard. I see this event continuing and the kids learning to man up and work hard; with both the rewards of bringing in improvements to their facilities and achieving better esteem in the eyes of their coaches and getting to participate in the competition to do more than the other kids. (Very visible at Cycle Oregon; it's fun to watch.)

What am I getting myself into? Am I nuts?

Ben
Dale

Posts:1248

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06/23/2019 08:30 PM
"What am I getting myself into? Am I nuts?"

Not sure about the former but the latter we're all pretty much guilty of. The proof is the nutty events we jump into with foolish abandon.
Orange Crush

Posts:2755

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06/23/2019 11:33 PM
Certainly this event will be back bigger and better. Some really top end racing going on at sharp end. Strickland said it was one of hardest events he has ever done. I think biggest challenge for this event is weather. If the entire week is cold and rain like stage 2 which is certainly not inconceivable in mountains then things will be logistically incredably challenging. The organization was already caught off guard a bit with dry spring making trails a lot harder to ride than usual with lots of loose surfaces. So easy stage was in fact quite hard.

At dull end of race I was on a good day. Excellent speed and power on climbs. Unfortunately it all came to naught some 10k from finish with a silly spill in loose sand. Hit my side hard after which my back was useless and power gone. I also heard a bad creak from my bike. Carried on 5k later the creaking became regular. Thought it was headset checked it out seemed fine and didn't check further. Post finish there was an additional 25k high speed descend. It was only in town while loading bike in van that I noticed the frame was cracked. Must have ridden like that for 30-35kms. The end of the Diverge. But we made it and finished inaugural OTGG.


Check out my activity on Strava: https://strava.app.link/TMtD6uCTLX

79pmooney

Posts:2293

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06/24/2019 12:51 AM
Congrats, OC! Hope your back isn't a biggie. It is better to break your bike than you.

That last post-finish descent, did you descend from McKenzie Pass on the pavement? That is a heck of a descent. I did it 7 years ago on my brand new ti fix gear on a 42-13. A blast. First time I'd ever gotten to ride a gear that big fixed.
Cosmic Kid

Posts:3013

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06/24/2019 08:53 AM
I saw the pic last night of your Diverge, OC....wow! Likely won'r get covered under warranty since it was in a crash, but you should try and get a replacement anyway.

Congrats on a great week of riding!
Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
Orange Crush

Posts:2755

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06/24/2019 10:14 AM
Thanks gents.

Back is OK today. It'll be fine.

Yes Mackenzie pass Ben. Would have enjoyed it more on a non broken bike. As it stands I was a little nervous with all the racket it was making.

Really enjoyed the last flat section with headwind into town. Full power down. Still lots left in tank. This was a good week to make me realize I am a roadie.
Orange Crush

Posts:2755

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06/25/2019 06:50 PM
Final results are in. Tried hard but missed lanterne rouge by two spots and about three hours of ride time, not counting the 17 abandons. Almost 29 hours on a bike in 5 days compared to 16.5 hrs for race winner and over 37 hrs for the last place in adventurer category. Mind you, the latter was a tandem; those two were rad on the sand surfing but suffered a bit of power on hills. Still a smiley happy couple after those 37 hrs. Bunch of crazies.

https://www.oregontrailgravelgrinder.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/OTGG-Explorer-Men.pdf
longslowdistance

Posts:2006

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06/25/2019 09:49 PM
Wow
Orange Crush

Posts:2755

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06/25/2019 10:01 PM
Actually the 29hrs was the race time. With added ride time to start and from finish to camp every day it was 34hrs and 40 mins in five days per strava. That would put tandem couple at some 42hrs holy hell.
longslowdistance

Posts:2006

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06/25/2019 10:08 PM
Assuming they are more than just a riding team, Wow again.
Orange Crush

Posts:2755

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06/25/2019 10:13 PM
Definitely husband and wife.
longslowdistance

Posts:2006

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06/25/2019 11:31 PM
And kudos to OC, for playing in the same sandbox (get it?) as some serious big boys. That should and I hope does offer some serious satisfaction. You rode in the A team pool, and of course you are not 28 and you have a job etc. Better to be the worst of the best rather than the best of the worst. I (we) are impressed. Keep hammering youngster!
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