The nice thing about camping amidst hundreds of fellow riders is that even before your alarm goes off, you’re woken by the zip of sleeping bags and tent flaps all around you.

We rose before dawn, again. The domestic partner, ensconced in our tiny tent, didn’t understand the urgency in my voice when I kept hissing, “don’t touch the tent!” And then he did. And he got the lesson in condensation. Sigh.

Gear packed, breakfast eaten, bikes retrieved, we hit the road.

Our first rest stop in Winlock featured a giant egg:

Most of the morning was countryside, fairly easy riding. I was having an easier day of it than my beloved companion, who took to suggesting that I just go out ahead and we’d meet up at the rest stops. Alas, the sheer scale of the rest stops made that reconnection challenging!

We were together when we got to the Oregon border – be patient through the middle part of this video (yes, I should borrow a friend’s GoPro instead of trying to do this handheld AND ride a bike) so you can see the bridge, the border, and the LINE. Mom, if you’re reading this, be proud of me for having the common sense to NOT have my camera on as I was crossing the bridge. The long line you’ll see is a result of an earlier crash (just cars, no bikes) on the bridge.

Up the bridge, safely on the shoulder. Then… down. I started passing, flying by other cyclists. Then I saw the gap.

I saw the gap too late to do anything other than think, “uh-oh.”

And then I was over it, while my brain was still processing “your tire could have TOTALLY gotten caught in that, and you would have gone over the handlebars at 30+ miles per hour, and HELLO, broken collarbone, at the very least” and trying to stop for the light at the bottom of the bridge and wait for my more sensible companion and hope that I wasn’t about to be on the receiving end of a lecture about what a dumbass I’d just been. Because I knew. I knew I shouldn’t have done that.

But he didn’t lecture me, and very kindly said as we were headed up a hill, “you look just like Andy Schleck when you climb”
And I decided that he meant something like this:

And not something like this:

So, off I went! Passing riders galore on the climbs (many of whom, aided by their weight, would pass me on the descents).

Finally, we had one last climb and then over the St. Johns bridge into Portland. I tried to get video, because suddenly one could see FOUR mountains!!! Which is a tribute to how amazing the day was, because NONE of the pictures I’ve searched on line show the views! This video is a slightly better version than what I attempted…

I arrived at the bottom of the bridge, overwhelmed by beauty, and done. Oops, another ten miles or so to go, now on Portland streets. With Portland streetlights. And traffic. But I slogged it through to the end, and bullied a really nice guy into taking a picture, which turned out to be this video:

At the beer garden, I got a more exciting picture of the route than the standard Strava link:

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and then it was back to logistics. Get the pedals off the bike, which was made easier by a really nice rep from Raleigh who happened to be on hand with a pedal wrench. Free the zombie from the bike (I tucked him in my suitcase and haven’t seen him since…) Load the bikes on the truck to Seattle with a note that we hoped would help the Recycled Cycles team retrieve them. Cab to the Ace Portland. Upgrade to a room with a shower. Victory!

(and fear not, lovers of mountain shots… your great picture of Mt. Rainier is coming soon!)

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