Thompson to Skyline, the real ride began with a solid climb I liked for its enveloping trees and two imposing stone tunnels that we skirted over paths thick with fallen leaves. Between the leaves I saw what looked like moss. I rode gingerly expecting it to be slippery, but Slate's 'Seven' didn't seem bothered at all. It had been so easy to fly up and not worry about transporting a bike. All I'd needed to do was raise the saddle a touch and put on my pedals. The familiar Campy drive train was comforting and I expected the 48/34 | 12/26 gearing to come in handy on the double-digit gravel of Otto Miller.
Slate and Daniel could have dropped me anytime they liked but I hovered ten to twenty yards back till the last steep pitch where Slate took off like a rocket and Daniel used the opportunity to lie down in the road to photograph me riding by (I smiled, just the kind of thing I'd have done). It was foggy enough at the top that it took a few seconds to spot Slate circling the intersection waiting for us to regroup.
After announcing I'd just completed the second hardest climb of the day, Daniel pointed North and led the way along Skyline. Truthfully I can't climb worth a damn. With a blustery wind quartering behind us we sped over an undulating sequence of rollers, that were much more to my liking.
The exact sequence of events that followed is already a misty blur. There were ramshackled cabins roofed with Tarpaulins, the Dodge Truck, a Llama, the orange dumpster and the Plainview Grocery (and Auto Parts) store where we stopped, though not necessarily in that order.
Rock Creek road began with a quick descent over sketchy pavement that included the off-camber railroad tracks the Dutch Canyon cue sheet had warned about. It actually didn't seem that bad. Did I mention it was cold. Even though I thought I had made good Rapha clothing choices, the damp windy conditions after the first heated climb were starting to chill me.
A tight right hander signalled the beginning of our second ascent up to Skyline. I enjoyed this climb more, I think, because I let the other two go and just rode at my own pace. I'm guessing it was about two miles long. Daniel and Slate appeared as I approached a forestry road crew, then a descending cyclist passed and Daniel announced the climb ended just over the next rise, to which Slate replied "not quite" As it turned out Slate was right. There was one last formidable ramp to scale, and that's exactly where Otto Miller decided he wasn't entertaining guests that day.
Something happened to my chain and the bike began false shifting – by that I mean it sounded like the derailleur was engaging for a shift (I wasn't making) but it just reset itself on the same cog with a jarring re-engagement. We stopped.
After an unsuccessful attempt to remedy what seemed like a shifting issue with the barrell adjuster, Slate discovered a frozen link in the chain. On close inspection it looked like the flange on the inside plate had been bent and no amount of twisting and flexing would free it up.
Continuing would have been crazy with a good chance the chain would break. Stoically we turned around and headed 100 yards back to the intersection with Logie Trail that would take us down to 'the thirty' and home we hoped.
final installment tomorrow
The picture seems particularly appropriate after a 22-hour day on Tuesday travelling to Portland and back. I'm definitely a shadow of my self. The 07 winter jersey may be Rapha's most comfortable piece, once on I'm loathe to take it off. It was certainly perfect for today's commute. I'll be wearing the 08 Winter Jersey with its additional wind-stopping front panels later this month.