RIDGEFIELD — Dennis Mock offered two words to describe how he was doing after riding into the parking lot at Clark County Fire and Rescue Station 21 on Saturday.
“As soon as we left Heritage Park in Camas, the mist was really heavy,” the Camas resident said as he briefly rested before continuing his 68-mile bicycle ride. “We weren’t sure we were sweating or not.”
Unexpected heavy mist or drizzle — what some might even call rain — dampened part of the 36th annual Ride Around Clark County, the signature event for the Vancouver Bicycle Club, but failed to dowse riders’ enthusiasm.
“Got completely soaked,” Brock Roberts of Portland said at the Ridgefield stop, one of several rest areas for riders who opted for the more-demanding 68- and 100-mile loops. “But I was able to wring out my socks, and things are good now.”
Riders and organizers were bracing for heat, not rain. A misting station was set up outside the Ridgefield fire station. Shortly before noon, it still hadn’t been turned on as cyclists munched on snacks under cloudy skies and comfortable temperatures.
The temperature was a pleasant 73 degrees shortly before 2 p.m. Saturday in Vancouver, a full 11 degrees lower than it had been at the same time Friday.
Ride Around Clark County is a charity event. This year’s main beneficiaries were the Clark County Food Bank and Bike Clark County, a nonprofit agency that operates a downtown Vancouver bike co-op and brings bike-safety training and skills development to local schools and its own summer camps.
The event featured five loops for riders of different abilities and interests, with all five starting and finishing on East Fifth Street in the Fort Vancouver National Site.
The shortest route, “The River Run,” took riders west on a relatively flat 20-mile jaunt to Frenchman’s Bar Regional Park and back, with only 367 feet of elevation gain.
The other four routes sent cyclists east through Vancouver to Lacamas Lake and Heritage Park in Camas and on to different courses, depending on whether they opted for the 34-, 54-, 68- or 100-mile route.
All five routes returned to starting point for a post-ride party and barbecue that included pulled pork, chicken and veggie sandwiches, and beer for those who wanted alcohol and root beer for those who did not.
Don Orange, a Port of Vancouver commissioner, rode “The Metric” 68-mile route Saturday.
“If you do the 100, you have to ride hard all day and you miss the party at the end,” he said from the Ridgefield rest stop. “And the party is half the fun.”
Those who took “The Century” 100-mile route, with 5,716 feet of elevation gain, truly did ride around Clark County. By the time they pulled into the Ridgefield rest area, they had finished more than three-fourths of the challenging route.
Those riders included Bob Brands of Felida and Jon Garner of Salmon Creek. Brands said he was leaning toward the 68-mile course, but Garner persuaded him to go the full 100 miles
“We’ve done a lot by 11:30 in the morning,” Brands said.
“When you are over in Amboy, it’s really hilly,” Garner said. “My legs are shot.”
Despite some road weariness after pounding out more than 75 miles, the pair gave no thought to quitting.
“We’ve got this,” Brands said.
“It’s all in your head,” Garner added.
A dedicated group of volunteers staffed the Ridgefield rest area and kept tables stocked with fruit, energy bars, sandwiches and other snacks to help refuel cyclists.
“One gal said at the last stop she was eating an energy bar,” said Vicki Rehfeldt, one of the volunteers offering food and hydration. “At this one, she wanted something salty.”
Featured items included “trail putty,” a snack made from peanut butter, honey and powdered milk that provides both protein and sugar to help riders push to the finish.
Sandford Plant said the Vancouver Bicycle Club started making the tasty treat about five years ago. Last month, she mixed up a big batch and made 60 long rolls of the club’s concoction, which were put in the freezer and then cut into individual portions for Saturday’s event.
Riders who took the two longer routes tended to be more serious cyclists, often riding in teams with matching jerseys and on state-of-the-art bicycles costing thousands. A quiet but steady clicking sound could be heard as cyclists with pedal cleats on their shoes walked across the asphalt outside the fire station.
Chaz Webberley of Soap Lake, a tiny city of only 1,500 in Central Washington, was the exception.
Webberley, who grew up in Washougal and still has family there, was riding a 1977 Panasonic Sports Deluxe with a chrome steel frame.
“It gives me a workout,” he said. “You can’t lift this one with one pinky.”
Webberley said he likes vintage cars and motorcycles and purchased the 42-year-old bicycle on Craigslist from someone in Portland.
“I’ve had it for five years now,” he said. “It hasn’t let me down, so I keep rolling with it.”