Tour DaVita 2014 – Oregon (Ride Day Two)

Blog Entry 10/3 for Monday 9/15.

This was the day I both loved and hated. I loved it because the route wasn’t too difficult, but I hated it because I had to take my tent down and pack it up before I started my ride – *AND* I had to put it back up at the new Tent City before I could take my shower! Well, I suppose I could have taken my shower first, but then I’d have had to leave all my stuff strewn on the ground for the wind to blow away. No, I’ll put the tent up first, thankyouverymuch. [Note: This is only a problem for those of us with our own tents. For the vast majority of riders staying in Backroads tents, they take care of dropping the tents in the morning, moving them to the new site, and raising them before you ride in. And they put your luggage in the tents for you, too. All you have to do is pack up your stuff and get it to the pick-up point in the morning.]

The ride was “start when you’re ready,” so at least I wasn’t rushing to get everything ready for a specific start time. This also meant that there wasn’t an unruly mass of riders all jockeying for position during the first few miles. Unfortunately, it did nothing to eliminate the problem of riders riding three or more abreast, blocking whole lanes of the road. Even though the bike-safety class at the start of TDV specifically includes “ride single file” there are still people who don’t pay a whole lot of attention to safety. *sigh*

The ride was also a relatively easy one. With two distance options (71 miles or 100 miles), riders were free to go for the century (which I have done in years past) or to take the shorter distance (which I did this year, and also have done on previous rides). Fortunately, the point-to-point ride this year was a net downhill, although the first ten or so miles were moderately hilly. I was again really worn out by the time I got to the lunch site, but Day 2’s site was at the 48-mile mark instead of at 38 miles like Day One. So I rode ten miles farther for the same level of fatigue. One thing I couldn’t figure out, though, was how we managed to have a head wind around three sides of a rectangle! Each side was maybe 3 or 4 miles, and the wind was blowing in my face THE WHOLE DANG TIME! How does that happen?!? But we also got to see three of Oregon’s covered bridges. Here’s one:

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I saw Eve and Rick at lunch again, and let them know I was going to take a nap after lunch, since that had helped on Day One. When I got to the decision point between the two distances, I chose the shorter one both because of fatigue and because it was too late for me to finish the longer distance and still get to camp in time for a relaxing shower before dinner – plus, I still had my tent to put up.

Coming into the campsite at the end of the day’s ride is a real experience. The Red Shirts and Backroads folks who aren’t otherwise occupied are all there waving pom-poms, ringing cowbells, clapping clappers or their hands, and cheering each rider in, whether you come in under your own power or via the Spirit Vans (aka sag wagons). They’re joined by riders who have come in before you, so if you’re one of the last riders in, you *really* get the hero’s welcome! It’s a little hokey, to be sure, but it’s also a great morale booster. And there are the drinks and hors d’oeuvres to consume, and the music playing, and the people to check you in, help you off your bike and rack it, and guide you out of the way so the next riders won’t run over you. It’s really quite an operation, and the riders are pampered very well.

It was quite smoky at the end of the ride, due to the wildfires surrounding where we camped. They were far enough away that we didn’t have to worry about any danger, but the smoke was thick enough to see and even smell. It made for a neat sunset, though. You can get an idea for how thick the smoke was by how hazy the background trees are in this picture. [The wind picked up overnight and blew most of it away from camp by morning.]

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The evening program for Monday night included 5 of the 9 “We are here!” cheers. This is a tradition that started at DaVita conferences way back when, and now it’s done every time there’s a DaVita gathering – whether TDV or one of their company-wide business conferences. At TDV, the riders are assigned a color and number, and that defines their tent – for example, Eve and Rick were Green 21, while I was Green 26. So we were both on the Green Team, and all we had to do was walk down the Green row until we found the right-numbered tent. Each Team has to create a cheer that is about a minute long and includes the phrase, “We Are Here!” The planning for this cheer has evolved over the years; in the beginning nobody knew what team they were on until they got their luggage tags at the start of TDV, so there was no way to plan a cheer ahead of time. Then Toni and I had the idea to create a couple of options and take them with us to TDV, which we did for a couple of years – much to the relief of our Teammates! Our cheers actually won the contest for the Black Team in both Iowa (2012) and New England (2011). But last year, and again this year, the Teams were announced ahead of time, and so others took the lead via email and conference calls to create the cheers. After all 5 cheers were cheered, a winning team was chosen, but all they got was bragging rights for 24 hours, because the other four teams (including Green) had to perform *their* cheers on Tuesday.

The program also included Open Mic, with the question “What will you always remember from this Ride?” Well, being tired and kind of slow, I didn’t think of my answer until Tuesday night, so we’ll save that for the next blog entry.

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