Monday, September 26, 2011

Cycle the Lakes, Cottage Grove, Oregon

I did it! I rode all 59 miles of the Cycle the Lakes ride! I feel an overwhelming sense of awesomeness and relief that it is over. It was an amazing ride that put me through all phases of emotions from excitement, bliss, exhaustion, soreness and in the end a stubborn tenacity to finish the ride. 
Hubby and I drove to Cottage Grove, Oregon for the start of the ride. Here we are at Coin Park, waiting to start. If you click on the pictures, they will enlarge.
 We  look so eager to start.

 We made sure to start off our ride with a nice healthy breakfast (haha) with a gigantic cinnamon roll. No, we weren’t completely evil; we only ate half. 

 Like I promised, I took teddy bear along for the ride. Yes, I had a lot of people ask about him. Most seemed amused and enjoyed the story of how I acquired him. All of the riders were so friendly and there was a real sense of camaraderie with them.

 We started out the ride going along a beautiful bike trail that headed towards the mountains.
 This bike trail lasted much longer than I expected. It went about seventeen miles back into the woods, clear past Dorena Lake. It made for a beautiful ride without any cars. Hurrah! I hate dealing with cars, they make me very nervous.

 Along the way, we saw several covered bridges. This one was right next to the trail.

 And this one was visible from a bridge we crossed over.

At first, the climb was very gradual, and hardly noticeable. Thank goodness, because otherwise, I would have been pretty crabby and not have enjoyed the scenery as much.  It is hard to look at barns and lakes when you are just trying to suck in air.
So I noticed a lot of things as we rode the first twenty miles. Here are a few highlights of the ride.
 I loved this barn! Do you see the horse looking out of the window? That was picture perfect. Just behind that barn was another cool old barn.

 Hubby flew across that trail never once even looking tired.
 I loved this picture of him looking off a bridge.

 This was a neat little church that had a mid-century modern flare about it. I love the stained glass window.

 That brings to mind this picture. AHAHAHAHAHA! This was in someone’s yard. Yes the cross has lights around it and those are toilets in the background. On closer look, the toilets are labeled his and hers.

There were other signs of interesting inhabitants along the route. Like this barn proclaiming their patriotism.

And this unique trailer sitting out in a field.

Someone had a teepee in their backyard. I thought the kids would love that.

Dorena Lake was huge and seemed to go on forever.

Someone put up a little tire swing on a tree by the lake. By then, it was getting warm enough that I contemplated using the swing!

After passing Dorena Lake, the bike trail ended and we merged onto the main road. By then, most of the car traffic was gone.
 This was when the road started to get steeper and I had to start concentrating on pedaling. You know how I feel about hills. There seemed to be a lot of them.

 At the half-way point, there were tables set up with lots of yummy snacks and drinks. Since it was right at the end of a particularly grueling hill, I was happy to stop and relax for a bit. The people working the checkup point were very friendly and talkative.
Okay, the struggle to get to the top of all of those hills was completely worth it! I can’t express the pure adrenaline rush to ride at breathtaking speeds downhill for miles. It rocked! I love my bike too, because it rolls really well, so I can go really fast. 

On the way back down, they had us go a different route. This took us along a moss covered road that was spectacular!
We drove past this neat old house. I loved the rock chimney.

And cattle were sleeping in a grassy field.

There were some teenagers jumping off the cliffs of this waterfall into the pool below. That looked very inviting. By then, it was really hot.

It seemed like no time at all before we were back down the eighteen miles to the lake. There we stopped at the last check-in/water point.
That is when I heard about the hill. Yes, that was bolded on purpose. You know that chapter in a novel where a main character reaches a point where they need to make a decision and that decision affects that outcome of the book. Well, this was that point for me. There were ominous warnings that I just plain ignored. I should have realized that there was a reason 75 percent of the riders around me were deciding to go back on the nice little bike trail around the lake.
They all kept mentioning this hill. They showed us a little map that gave the altitude changes of the ride. There was this nasty spike at the end of the ride indicating this hill.

Of course I ignored them. I wanted to do the full ride in all its glory. I wasn’t going to wimp out at the end. So hubby and I continued on our way joined by another biker who had been abandoned by his group that chose to take the easy way out.
It started well enough, down hill most of the way. I didn’t like that it followed the main road. There were cars, and I hate cars. Especially when they decide it's fun to honk.
We neared the end of the ride and I was feeling all spiffy, then we took a detour road off the main highway. Immediately I knew I had made a really, really bad choice. Those liars—that was no hill. That was a mini mountain.
That incline went on and on. I was in my lowest gear creeping up at 4pmh. If I had hopped off my bike and walked, I would have been faster. But there was no way I was going to walk and suffer that humiliation. My lungs were burning, my head was screaming, I had to stop to breathe once along the way. But, I did it; I made it to the top of that mountain. And hubby was at the top cheering me on. Instead of being grateful, I’m pretty sure I gave him a look that said I would hit him if only I could move my exhausted body fast enough to catch him.
I hated that hill. But I am glad I did it, otherwise I would have regretted not doing the full course.
But the last eight miles after that were a complete endurance test. By then my left calf was doing some weird things. My upper arms were on fire and I was hot, crabby, exhausted and not very nice.
When we stopped to take a picture of this covered bridge, I barely acknowledged its existence. I just wanted to finish.

Hubby noticed this mini covered bridge. By then I was in auto drive and didn’t even see it.

So when we finally came to the end of the ride, I had never been so happy.

It helped to get this massive helping of pie and ice cream from the kind people at the finish.

Here we are, relaxed and contented, grateful that we had finished. Already we were talking about doing the ride next year.


  1. Thanks Becky,it feels good to have accomplished the ride.