Reach the Beach 2001
               

This is an account of the Reach the Beach ride of May 19, 2001.  It was a perfect day, with a cool morning and 77 miles to go, from Salem to Pacific City on the central Oregon coast.  

In preparation for this ride, the first significant ride of this season, I have been doing several 20 to 35 mile rides around the Portland area.  These have been just a 2 to3 hour ride, without a specific goal or achievement in mind.  Occasionally, I found myself on a hill that was too steep for my gears/strength combination.  But, I have been getting back into the swing of spending a couple hours on a bike.  It has been a few years (decades) since I have done any serious cycling.

So the Reach the Beach ad on the radio caught my attention, and I made the decision to do it.  It had three optional starting points. The first is Portland with a total riding distance of 103 miles.  The second starting point is in Salem with a total distance of 77 miles.  The third is from Amity, with a total distance of 55 miles.  The 103 seemed like too much for a first ride and 55 did not seem like enough of a challenge.  So like Goldilocks, I chose Salem as a starting point, because it seemed just right.

The ride was broken into segments of 10 to 16 miles with a rest stop at the end.  Most of the segments were riding in rolling farmland with the occasional hill.  There were some 1800 riders participating, so there were bikes everywhere, or so it seemed.  It is the first day for a new saddle, anatomically designed for better comfort and male accommodation. So it is a test for me and a test for the new saddle.  There are a variety of bicycle types, including road bikes, recumbents, folding bikes, mountain bikes and tandems.  More on that later.

Riding in Groups

The dynamics of riding as a solo among other solos and groups is really interesting to observe.  Riding along at a comfortable pace, (which I choose to be one of pushing a little all the time, rather than "sight seeing") I find that I am with two or three others riding together, and typically I am at the rear of the pack.  I am at the rear for two reasons. First, I caught up with an existing group, and second, that is the best place to draft from.  Anyway, riding as a solo, now part of the group, we will occasionally get passed by a faster group.  "Hmm, that looks like a better pace" I say to myself, so I break out and chase the faster group until I catch the tail of that one.  I will stay with that group for a while, until it becomes painfully apparent that I can't quite maintain their pace, so I will drop out into a slightly slower group.  Of course all of this is going on over the course of several miles, involving climbs and descents, and the dynamic changes as the individual riders strengths and weaknesses show up.  I am not the best on climbing, but am faster than the average bear on the descents.  So I charge the hills to get as far up them as possible before gearing down, down and finally grinding up in one of the lower gears.  On the descents, where most riders coast, or catch their breath with gentle pedaling, I turn up the steam and generally leave the pack.   On one descent, however, after I was well clear of the pack and glanced over my shoulder to check for traffic, there were no cars and the pack was completely out of sight, but what was there was another rider passing me like I was parked!  This character was serious and he was moving!  He disappeared from my view in a matter of seconds.  Anyway, the flow of riders and their riding styles is very entertaining, and can only really be appreciated by doing it.

The Bikes

The most popular style represented was road bikes.  They ranged from the most common welded Chrome-Moly steel framed TREK to the exotics from SEVEN, Specialized, TREK, Cannondale, Colnago and others that have escaped me.  The exotics just mentioned are really beautiful in action, and it was fun on some occasions to pass them by.  These bikes cost a ton and it is great seeing them well ridden.  Most of us, however were on the more affordable models of road bikes.  My mid 60's Raleigh Pro with a 1978 TREK frame was one of the more seasoned veterans there, I am sure. 

There were a few mountain bikes present,  roaring along with their knobby tires sounding like snow tires on Peterbuilt, their riders catching the full benefits of the head wind, and their feet spinning like there was no tomorrow.  They were just a little out of place and not found among the faster riders.  I must say they worked harder for their finish than their  road bike counterparts.

The recumbents showed in considerable number, Tour Easy and its cousin the TI Rush easily out numbering the others present.  After about 20 or 30 miles had passed, the comfortable recumbent seat with backrest, was looking very appealing.  Again, they were not the fastest, but did manage to keep up very well and were easily the most comfortable riders of the whole bunch.

Perhaps the most fun to watch (from a vanishing perspective) was the tandems.  With good turnout from Cannondale, Santana, Burley, and Comotion.  On the climbs, they were a little faster than the rest of us, but in the flat and rolling terrain and on the descents, they went like a freight train.