South Salem Cycleworks, 4071 Liberty Road South
Salem, OR 97302-5752
(503) 399-9848
Hours: Monday - Saturday 10 AM to 6 PM; Closed Sunday

April 14, 2012 Salem Oregon Hill Ride

Riders

And this pic shows most of what I saw on Salems annual hill ride — the backsides of the rest of the riders! I vied with one other rider as to who would win the “lanterne rouge”, but actually, 4 riders did drop out before the finish!

About 30 people showed up. A group of riders from Portland showed up, and were fast. They were instructed to go ahead if they wished, but since they didn´t have it “Garmined”, they said they´d sit in with the group. A couple of women, but still wearing local kit, were part of the group wearing local kit. Only a couple of riders wearing non-kits, myself included were there. I didn´t recognize anyone of the tail that I rode with last year, and was a little apprehensive. Certainly, my steel 20th Anniversary Torelli was the most colorful in a sea of black/white carbon bikes. Bob, who rides with the Salem Bike Club, arrived and I recognized him as one I shared the rear of the pack with last year.

My lungs/legs weren´t ready when we hit Burley Hill in West Salem and I was amazed at the how easily the pack drifted away up that climb. Somehow, I managed to catch them on the “flat” at the top of the hill. We dropped back to the river and crossed the pedestrian bridge back into town, but even on the slight grade by the library on Commercial, I found myself falling off the back. I did take the time to try and take some pic´s as we meandered thru the neighborhood before getting on River Road South. Half the group made a “free” right hand turn onto the road, and the back half had to wait for oncoming cars. I attempted to get my shells off my gloves, and didn´t leave as promptly as the rest of this group. I wasn´t too alarmed, thinking I could make the extra effort for that short of time, but the second group was intent on catching the first group, and to my surprise, I found that even though I was spinning my 53/13, I wasn´t catching the second group, just finding myself going into oxygen debt!

I caught up just as everyone was waiting for oncoming cars to begin the ascent of Crestview. I told myself that it was okay to watch them drift away, as I was winded, and needed to pace myself up this in view of the fact that in a short time, we´d be climbing Viewcrest, the “monster” of the ride! Somehow, I pulled myself up to the last few riders on Crestview, but didn´t want to empty the tank passing them. We descended to River Road South, and again the pack split into groups getting thru the oncoming cars. This time, I found myself with Bob and five other riders. I was the next to last to cross the road, and due to wearing toe warmers, missed getting my cleat engaged. I chased, but realized I was losing ground. I motioned Bob around, and indicated he was to go as I was redlined. He was nice enough to let me draft and when I felt strong enough, I took a short turn at the front. We “kept them in sight” but weren´t gaining, and as we approached Viewcrest, I knew I needed to remove my jacket.

I slowed, and removed it in a hurry and stuffed it in the one pocket of my wool jersey, while rolling my sleeves back. The initial incline of Viewcrest is the steepest portion, and I´ve mistakenly started up up it in a gear that wasn´t my lowest in the past — I didn´t this time, but I was probably 20 bike lengths off the back, and while I didn´t fall any further back, I certainly wasn´t getting any closer!

About halfway up, it levels out a bit, to the point where I can comfortably sit down and pedal freely in my lower gears. As I neared this, I accidentally looked back at my rear wheel, and to my dismay, I saw the sleeve of my jacket bouncing precariously near my gears. As soon as I could sit down, I attempted to pull the sleeve up, but found that I was sitting on some portion of the jacket as well! I knew that I couldn´t stand up and pull the jacket, so I “bounced” on the saddle until I was no longer seated on it! I was anxiously waiting for the sleeve to bind up in the gears and bring me to an abrupt halt, and a prolonged remedy, but I was fortunate and I was able to successfully retrieve it and re-stuff it in my jersey pocket. I did check on it more than once the remainder of the ride!

They were waiting at the top of the climb — there´s plenty of available shrubbery for discretely jettisoning one´s morning coffee! Some talk about the left turn onto Croisan Creek, as most like to let loose and see how far up the next hill one can coast after descending Kuebler´s “booyah”. Even on the ridge, I found myself drifting to the back of the pack, and so when I reached the bottom of the descent, there was a meelee of cyclists making/attempting left u-turns amidst the occasional car. I did move up in the pack while rolling down Croisan Scenic, in hopes of staying within sight when we hit Madrona.

I stayed to the right and felt/watched riders pass me up Madrona. The route indicated that this year we´d be going up the hairpin, but as we approached that junction, everyone was turning left to go “straight up” Chambers. This is only two blocks long, but may be the steepest in Salem. Not nearly as steep as College St. in Portland, but two of the riders I was tagging with elected to take the hairpin. I decided that I might as well find out what stuff I was made of, and solo´d Chambers as the rest of the riders had climbed it and were out of sight. I crested it with some weaving — not full street coverage, but certainly a bike length´s wide, and was relieved to find that I´d reached the top before the two who´d elected to take the hairpin. A couple of the riders were waiting and assumed I was the last rider, so it was with some, well, a little, pride, that I indicated there were two more riders coming.

We turned on Stanley and meandered thru the rolling hills of the neighborhood before coming out on Croisan Scenic , crossing Kuebler and riding behind Keizer-Permanente, before crossing Skyline and following Red Leaf to Davis. I was trying to stay up in the pack, knowing that when we hit Lone Oak, I´d get dropped again. Sure enough, I must have been standing still, as riders were zooming away up that grade! I did ride to the top with company, though, so even if I was getting tired, so were others. I moved up in the pack as we descended Mildred, crossed Sunnyside and turned onto Commercial, before climbing up the hill. One of the riders just fell over sideways on the flat portion. It looked like he was attempting to remove his knee warmers! We then went over Landau to Battlecreek, and while it was a muscle rather than a lung-burner, I stayed within the pack. I stayed with them the rest of the way, but as we made the turn up Madrona to 12th St., I just didn´t have it in me. I dropped off, and there were no reserves to call on. I did catch up before the descent down 12th St. hill, but barely made the left turn signal to go up Fairview. I hung on the rest of the ride back to downtown, but was pretty relieved it was over. And we didn´t do 50th in West Salem this year! A faster pace, or less “slower” riders this year, I´m not sure. Or I could say, I didn´t train as hard this year. I“ll be back next year, though!

Michael