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My Oregon 1000 Experience
by Gary Baker

There have not been many other ultra randonneur brevets that I've looked forward to riding with as much excitement as the Oregon 1000. It was mostly new territory once we reached Port Townsend; that's how I like it. The first day was somewhat relaxed and uneventful riding with Barry C. and Rick Den B., although the calm was shattered on the news of the accident on the Alex Fraser Bridge. Day two was a different matter, lots of rollers and steep climbs that really ate up the clock and oh, the weather. To say it was just unpleasant would be an understatement. The Three Capes Road was downright UGLY.....The climb to the Lookout Viewpoint was as miserable as it gets and the descent was even worse. The road was extremely rough and broken up in places ( this is the stretch where Richard Blair had his terrible crash). By the time we got to the bottom I was hypothermic. This was awful, really awful. We had planned to sleep at Lincoln City but Rick and I stopped at Pacific City ( along with Keith, Ross and Collin). The conditions and my condition were making it too dangerous to go on. For some strange reason my new Luxos headlight would not turn off. Water damage? Rick and I had a miserable sleep thanks to a cell phone that had sustained water damage and randomly played a door chime ever 5-10 minutes.

The next morning by chance eight of us riders met up at the scheduled sleep control in Lincoln City. Here I learned of Richard's accident. I was devastated. Fortunately the rain held of much of the day but due to a delayed start from Lincoln City and a poorly executed breakfast stop we were really crowding the control closing times. We make what from a time perspective was the critical control with 15 minutes to spare. With the next control approx. 90km ( Reedsport) down the road all was well again. Rick and I decided a snooze was in order. Barry decided to go ahead and wait for us in Reedsport. Rick and I were directed to a covered skateboard park where we sleep on top of one of the jumping ramps. The slide off of it was done rather awkwardly, I found myself sitting on my butt on the floor.

Rested we headed off at a brisk pace. But something was not quite right. Shifting was becoming increasingly harder. I have a Rohloff hub with a grip shifter. I could barely twist the grip barrel. to change gears. Then approximately 500m from the Sea Lions Caves, I tried to gear down to accelerate through a short steep tunnel. Nothing, I was stuck in a fairly high gear, even standing as forcefully as I could climbing was near impossible. We stopped at the 'Caves' to assess the situation. I quickly determined that the international hub was shifting properly and that the problem was somewhere in the shifter mechanism or cabling. Stupid me. I had mistakenly brought the wrong size Torx screw driver to open the shifter mechanism housing. I was hooped. I suggested Rick 'Go'.

As I was thinking through my rather limited options a rider ( with nose rings, earrings and spiky dyed hair) rode up to me. He asked if he could help. My reply was something like only if you know anything about Rohloff driver trains. He replied, ' I'm your man!". He was riding a coupled Comotion Americano with a Gates belt drive and Rohloff Hub. What were the odds of there being two Rohloff equipped bikes at the Sea Lion Caves at the same hour on the same day? Unbelievable. Then he said he had just quit his job as a full time bike mechanic. He looked at the problem and said he had the tool to open the gear housing. When he pulled it out, guess what...he had also packed the wrong sized Torx. We had a good laugh I wished him a safe ride.

This situation looked very much like what I found myself stuck in Big Sur on the Big Sur 1000 last year. How the hell can I get out of here, I had a train to catch in Eugene at 9AM the next morning. The plan: 1) mentally note every pickup truck and car with a bike rack in the parking lot; 2) approach the occupant when they return to their vehicle and ask for help ( if you don't ask they can't say YES). I was not optimistic but the first driver I approached ( with a four door Ford F 150 truck) offered to take me to Florence after he and his family toured the caves. It turned out he was traveling with two other families and staying at a beach side resort north of Florence. He wanted to drop off his family before he took me on to Florence. During the drive to the resort we chatted and at one point I mentioned I was trying to get to Eugene. That is when he told me the vehicle was a rental and he had to take it to Eugene that evening. He said it was their plan to get the kids settled and feed so if I was OK with staying around for 2-3 hours he would drive me to my motel in Eugene. NO problem, was there a lounge somewhere? The resort had a spectacular lounge and restaurant overlooking the beach ( where the waves were pounding in). I ordered a beer, a wonderful dinner and watched the final period of the Stanley Cup series on a large screen TV. . If I couldn't finish the ride this was a pretty good fall back situation. Shortly after 10pm I was at the motel with Bob K. ( who has also DNF'd) drinking beer.

On my return home the question remained what had gone wrong with the shifter mechanism? It turns out there was nothing the matter with the grip shifter or the cable gear box (the unit that attaches to the hub). The problem was that the plastic tubing that lines shifter cable housing had for some unexplained reason separated from the metal housing and started moving due to the friction of the cable moving within it. It eventually tore, bunched up at the cable stops creating so much internal friction that the shifter cable could not slide and was essential locked in a set position. Bizarre! Unless I had had 6 ft. of replacement cable housing with me, there was no fix.

One other thing. I mentioned my new Luxos light was acting up. It turns out it had failed completely. If I had been on the road that third night, I likely would have had no main light. Interesting Keith Nichols' new Luxos also failed during this ride. It is a great light when it shines, but I'd avoid getting one until they sort out the water issues.

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July 2, 2013