Watermelon Century


2000 = 101 miles
2002 = 99 miles
2003 = 100 miles
2004 = 99 miles

The watermelon ride has come around again. The good side of this ride is that it is fairly well supported, marked and mapped, the scenery is really nice and the traffic is mostly very low. The down side must be that its a longish drive, when there are rides we can do that are closer, and there is almost always a wind to battle when out in the middle of the valley on summer day rides. On the previous day, Lisa and I contemplate the relative merits of doing the watermelon, or staying closer to home and doing a new ride starting this year to benefit BIKE, which starts in Gresham, goes out to Rosalyn Lake and then does about 6,700 feet of climbing over Lolo Pass.  The watermelon is cheaper, flatter and longer, which is a good fit for this years training program centering around the STP. Lisa complains softly about having to get up at 430 in order to get to my house and out to Rickreal by 700, but she does it. We arrive at 700, and are able to get out on the road by 730. The first part of  the ride being a flat ride with predominantly tail winds we are able to make good time and it gives us the impression that its going to be an easy day. Partly cloudy morning, we are stopped by a train just miles from the first rest stop at EE Wilson Wildlife Viewing Area at the Camp Adair site,  mile 24.6. Several of the Bag Balm team members fly by in the returning direction. They have left at 630 and are going to end up doing 142 miles on the day.  We fill up on good food and look over all the memorials placed to honor the various battalions that have come through the camp on their way to WW I and WW II. It seems so unconceivable to read of the casualties approaching 9,000 and continuous fighting campaigns of over 180 days straight.
These are the things we need to know to keep our perspective.
Back on the bike for the ride back to the Polk County Fairgrounds for the first 45.7 miles. Another quick bite, and water refills, I'm able to drop off clothes I thought I might have needed earlier in the day. The gray clouds in the west that could have made the day cooler, have disappeared, it wont be a cool day. The second loop is where the winds kick in, not really tough ones, but just enough to get my attention and force me to drop and work a little harder than I would like. The route out to Helmick State Park is open, rolling farmland, with relatively little traffic, and the winds and rollers conspire to slow us a bit, and now the heat is starting to tire us as well. But the rest stop at the park is very nice. There is still plenty of food, lots of shade, soft green grass and restrooms. We chat with Don and Diane who have been arriving at each stop, just as we prepare to leave. They are doing ok, tho Don seems a little beat on this ride. We stretch out in the shade for a bit, and recover some strength and plan out the return trip, which is 30 miles and includes the hill climbs at mile 89. Off we go, feeling a little better, we decide to make one stop in the shade by the Luckiamute River, just before the hills to eat. We stopped there last year and it seemed to work for us. So, 16 more miles, a short stop then off to attack the climb, first there is a short climb of little more than half mile, and a good descent, then there is a longer one, nearly a mile, and  a little steeper, but we push up and over, Lisa has flashbacks to previous CO climbs, those long slow grueling stretches. This one isn't entirely in that class, its really too short for that, but you begin to think it might be. The descent down the other side of this hill is fantastic and is a perfect reward for the effort of the entire day. Long, relatively straight, pretty good road, which allows us to get good speed. Two little steep rollers that are only just a little annoying, and Lisa is feeling her oats and sprints up the first one announcing that this was her little fartlek. Since I'm not entirely sure what she is talking about and somewhat surprised with her choice of words, we spend the next few miles discussing this. Apparently, as found on the internet,  a fartlek is:  "usually regarded as an advanced training technique, for the experienced runner who has been using interval training to develop speed and to raise the anaerobic threshold."  This sounds reasonable, although Im not entirely sure I want to do too many of those 95 miles into the ride. The winds for the day were present but didn't seem nearly as difficult as last year, and we were able to stay relatively hydrated. It was a good ride without any problems. Arrived shortly after 400, ate, rested a bit and prepared for the long ride home. 

Got to bed at 1:00 Saturday. Replacing my leaking water heater til midnight, and a very warm night, made for less than perfect sleep. But we are pre registered for the ride and its going to be a nice day, so the determination persists to make the ride. Up at 500 and out the door a little after 600 for the ride down to the Polk County Fairgrounds near Rickreal. There are many cars there when we arrive, perhaps a result of the potential for the nice ride. On the way down, Lisa and I keep seeing these flags snapping briskly in the wind and comment on how unusual it is for the wind to be so active before 800 in the morning. Is that perhaps a clue of is what to come? We get to the start at 730. which is about the time I told Dianne we would be ready to go. Meet her on her bike ready to roll, so she goes ahead, assured that we will catch her later. After preparations, and meeting up with Liz, we are ready to go at 8:30. Its a nice day and I wear sandals and no warm gear, just shorts and shirt. No need for them as the sun warms us from the start. The winds are also ready for us at the start, and we immediately battle them. The three of us make a good pace line, all riding at about the same pace, and taking turns at the head to break the winds. We continued with a brisk, but not race like pace for most all the day. But the winds are relentless, and wear us out by the end of the day. One 6 mile stretch, we faced head on into winds that were perhaps 20 mph, that included a few rollers as well. The fifty mile stop is back at the fairgrounds, before we head out for the second loop. No real thoughts about cutting it short today, though the winds are bad its a great day and we are all happy to be out here. It is a hot one, temps approaching 90, with the hills of the second loop, and the winds, it was a difficult finish. Today Lisa is feeling strong and she pulled for some long windy stretches. This would have been a difficult ride to do solo, as Dianne must have done. We continued to gain time on her, as we saw her near each stop, but never caught her, which was surprising.  The longest hills were at mile 85, I have done those hills on the MS150 and a previous Watermelon, so they weren't surprising to me, which would have made them even more difficult, nevertheless, I did have a much more difficult time with them this year, having to stop at the top for the first time. We finish at about 430, which is later than I expected we would have earlier in the day, but the winds slowed us.

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