8 days. December 24-December 31. In the past I've made some pretty feeble attempts at completing the Festive 500, but I always had more excuses on lock that kilometers in my legs. Honestly, some of those excuses were reasonable: family holiday travel, dangerously cold wind-chills, treacherous roads.
In reality, the excuses had mounted up before the riding began, so it was a losing battle. That was the past. 2015 saw a Embro relocating from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest. No, it's not SoCal, but winters here are far more mild, the roads are in much better shape, I wasn't traveling for the holidays, and I had friends lined up to join me.
With 503km behind me, I wanted to look back at how it all went down:
Dec 24 - 26km, 430m climbing in the morning. Rode up Old Germantown Road, which was stunning. Light rain, wet roads. Came down Germantown on the east side through Forest Park. 58km, 432m climbing in the afternoon with a loop around Sauvie Island, then climbing up Cornelius Pass Rd. Note to self: never climb up Cornelius Pass Rd again.
Dec 25 - 64.3km, 795m climbing. New route for me, riding northwest up Pumpkin Ridge. Extremely quiet ride, very few cars on the road, and Pumpkin Ridge Rd is pretty remote which led to miles and miles totally alone. The top of the climb was gravel, with snow, and a bit of a slog.
Dec 26 - 64.6km, 443m of elevation, primarily on one climb. Had a buddy along for this one, we wanted to head to Hagg Lake. My Garmin gave us some pretty shitty directions which led us out of the way, so we turned back before making it to the lake. No matter, weather was perfect and saw plenty of new roads in the country.
Dec 27 - Rest. Bad call, the weather was shit, and even though I was ahead of schedule this screwed me. Note to self: get big miles in early or don't take a rest day next year.
Dec 28 - 43km, 522m climbing heading to work. Up Germantown, across Skyline, down Mcnamee Rd. Really nice descent, and I found the troll bridge. I've come across a number of pictures of it, but never knew where it was. 2 flats. 40.6km and 629m of climbing in the evening. Slow going with 3 flats in the evening to make 5 on the day. Tons of rain, tons of dark. Not a fun night of riding.
Dec 29 - 21.9km, 343m climbing into work. Typical commute up West Thompson, down East Thompson to Cornell. Another loop around Sauvie Island in a downpour in the dark that evening wasn't safe or particularly fun, but I got another 51.1km and 161m of climbing. Cashed out and fearing the ice on the hill, I grabbed a train. Ashamed of getting on the train, I only rode two stops and pedaled another 13.4km and 161m of climbing. That last bit was dumb, my headlight died, so I had to meander on side roads to stay away from cars knowing they couldn't see me. Either way I finished the day with 86.5km and I'm still alive.
Dec 30 - 21.9km, 353m climbing in the morning. Except, everything was a sheet of ice. Crash #1 happened about 2km from home on a slow right-hander. Multiple times up the climb I was forced to dismount and walk off the road on massive ice patches. The descent was, well, stupid. When I hit Cornell I found the road was closed from a car sliding off the road and into a 40' ravine. Portland PD made me "become a pedestrian", I had to walk a mile down the hill. Post-work the weather cleared, it was still cold and there was plenty of snow on the shoulders of the road, but I got a buddy to ride another 35.9km with me, we climbed another 591m. He dropped me hard, it's not a good place to kill yourself up a climb to keep a pro cross racer in sight. It killed me and it didn't work.
Dec 31 - 61km, 476m of climbing. Relatively flat and quiet roads out in the country west of me. Should have been an easy ride but the fucking wind, goddamn that wind. When riding dead into it, I glanced at my Garmin to see 340w and 18km/h. No flats though and clear skies, so it wasn't all bad. I also found a nice little carry-out in the middle of no where that stocked Mexicokes, so the day was a win.
There you have it, over 500km in 8 days, 7 days of riding and a rest day, with a total of about 5,385m of climbing. I was tired, not as tired as I expected, but tired. I went through 7 tubes in total, drank roughly 1/8 of the fluids I should have, broke a fender, and did a complete drivetrain clean 4 times because of all of the road grime.
Give me my damned patch.