Peach of a Century

Start/Finish: Keizer Stadium - Keizer, Or

Rides:
2001 = 61 miles

Start/Finish: Chemekata College - Salem, Or

Rides:
2003 = 102 miles

The Peach is usually the last organized ride of the year, and for us, a good opportunity to make use of the conditioning gained by Cycle Oregon, the Peach is a well run ride, put on by the the Salem Bicycle club,  through the farmlands east of Salem. Wanting an early start, thinking that the temperatures may be warm in the afternoon, and knowing theres a good chance we will decide to do the 100 mile option,  we head down to Salem, about 6:00 

Aint it nice out here?: The weather for the week has been great, much better than the week we had on Cycle Oregon, and its a sure thing that we wont encounter the hail and wind of Reach the Beach, our first century of this year, or the relentless headwind we battled during the Watermelon, the last century we had done this year. Prior to getting on the bikes, we chat with Dave and Edna, and discuss clothing choices and how pleased we all are to not have to pack inclement weather gear, and then hit road before 8:00. Edna shows off her velvet arm warmers with silver sequins, and discusses with Lisa the best plan for purchasing and altering silk shirts to use instead of a bike jersey. Perfect weather for a ride, we benefit from a slight tailwind during the early morning portion or the ride, and on only few occasions to we encounter any headwinds, but those too are slight, but cause us little problem. Heading east out of Crabtree, the pastures are large and green , with barns lightly scattered about the landscape. The farms run right up to the foothills, the traffic is light, and on this morning a light haze has settled over the 4 layers of hills, turning each layer into a separate shade of pastel that adds a feeling of serenity to the calm and quiet of landscape.   The farmlands are neat and clear and the smells, particularly early in the day are clean and full of fresh smells of mint, corn, trees and grasses. It brings back a flood of memories of working in the farmlands when I was young. The mint has been harvested, and the processed mint straw has been dumped back on the fields to be worked back in to the earth. The corn crops are being brought in. We pass acres of corn, their tops neatly sheared off  just below the level of the ears. Trucks full of corn cobs pass us on the way to the cannery. Near the Roaring River Park & Larwood covered bridge, the cornfield comes right up next to the shoulder of the road, and you ride along a wall of corn about 8 feet tall. We hear the sounds of the huge field corn processor as it cuts large swaths through the field corn patch, cutting and removing the corn completely to the ground.  Lisa thought it was a train. The sounds and the aromas fill the air. This route follows much of the same roads as the Covered Bridge Ride, which is one of my favorites. We are able to go through the Hoffman bridge on 

You are only as old as you feel:
Early in the ride, we pass Curt Coleman, who intends to continue on past the 62 mile published route, and make 69 miles on this day, his 69th birthday. Hope I can do that at 69. Actually at that time, I was just hoping I could finish this ride, knowing that I was going to feel a lot older after this ride, than I did before I started.  The lure of the peach pie at the end of the ride keeps me going.

Promises, Promises: 
The training and build up for Cycle Oregon, as usual, takes up a lot of time and energy during the summer months. And for me the cycling season starts to wind down after Cycle Oregon is completed. As fall begins and winter approaches the pressures of uncompleted tasks and unmet goals mount, and begin to crowd into the available time and energy previously dedicated to cycling. But, the Peach is here, its a favorite of Lisas, and it is perhaps the last chance of the year. 
Bolstered by Lisas promises that this is a flat century, I relent, and we agree to do it. Well, near the midway  portion, we encounter some slight hills. Questioned about the existence of these hills, she agrees that "well its relatively flat". As we ride along, and begin climbing some other steep but shot rollers, her plea changes to "I forgot about these". I'm now beginning to have some doubts. 65 miles into the ride, we turn and begin a long slow climb. Its one of those roads that goes uphill, but not so steep that is visually recognizable as a hill, but pedaling, it sure feels like a hill. Then, its "Gee, I forgot about this one". I politely ask her to stop talking to me. Finally, there is one more climb, not long, maybe a mile, but its a first gear climb. As our speeds sag to 9 miles per hour, Lisa pipes up with "Oh, I remember this one". I'm not talking to you anymore Lisa. After a nice, stop at the final rest stop, in the shade and grass of Pioneer Park in Stayton, we head off for the final 20 miles of the ride. Lisa has correctly promised that the rest of the route is flat, so all is forgiven and except for 2 crossings of the incredibly fast and busy 4 lane Highway 22, the route uses quiet back roads that offer a peaceful and low stress cruise back to the starting point. The final promise of peach pie is realized. There at the finish area, we are rewarded with fresh peach pie as a well deserved reward. No ice cream, no coffee, but we have shade, cool grass, and a car in which to ride home in. 

Need for speed:

Notice lots of tandems on this ride. Maybe there was a contingent from a tandem club, or maybe since it was late in the year, the partners felt a tandem a good way to equalize their abilities for this one last ride. Perhaps this is just a ride that fits a tandem. It is flatter than the other centuries, and it is the up hills that slow them down. During the ride I had developed the personal theory that a tandem was best since it might ensure that you finished before the peach pie was gone. I was beginning to focus upon that. Peach pie and coffee. It became my motivational mantra.  Amy and Lance rolled up on their tandem as we were leaving the second last stop. They started about 1/2 hour after we did. We came to the next stop, while we were there. We left before they did. Passing us with ease on the last leg, they had finished their pie by the time we got in. There are those that focus on being fast. On Hungry Hill Road, we slow as we approach the Hoffman Covered  bridge. Built in 1936, with its unusual gothic style windows, overlooking Crabtree Creek Speed. We admire its style, noting the unusual features, the doors, and the renovation work completed to ensure that this is a distinctive feature of the area for years to come. While coasting along inside the bridge we are passed by an overzealous pace line doing perhaps 25 miles per hour. Not pausing for an instant to appreciate their surroundings. Felt a little too much like the attitude of the oblivious travel experienced within the automobile. Sometimes there isnt enough separation between the two. Speed  isn't everything though. We made pretty good time for a century. For us. Leaving prior to 8:00, we got in about 4:00.  And while we made good time, and kept a pretty good pace, we completed it the day in an unhurried fashion. We were not anxious about finishing, had no time table, and went about the ride accepting that today will be spent on the bike. We enjoyed the sights, sounds, smells of the day very much. 

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