Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Images

 Has anyone else seen the Chewbacca Family Holiday Special?
 Pedal pedal moo.
And, moo again
Christmas ships seen on the Willamette during the evening bike commute.
And, a wreath made from poached juniper branches.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 14, 2012

A friend wanted to celebrate her birthday by riding up the two volcanoes at 7am on Tuesday, so I got up super early and rode the ten miles to the cafe, where we started with pie and coffee. 

Then, up to the top of Rocky Butte.

Then, on over to Mount Tabor, taking all available unimproved roadway detours.
On peak number two, a big dog chased, passed and turned around to charge me, barking all the while.  "He's friendly" yelled the negligent dog-owner, who had failed to: leash their pet, control their pet or even apologize after endangering me. I love dogs, but I'll confess to being pretty darned frightened of ones that chase me on my bicycle.  End rant.

We all split up after Tabor, except for me and Ed.  We went to a diner on Hawthorne for a second breakfast of eggs and toast and coffee. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Lunch at Nick's

Saturday, the permanent route owner, Ken, came out to the bakery to sign brevet cards.  He gave tips about the route, including a slight eyebrow bounce at the mention of Stag Hollow Road, which turned out to be gravel.  He also mentioned another rider was doing the route - Alan.

As usual, we started a bit later than planned.  It was chilly but dry.  We kept a comfortable but decent pace all the way to the first control at North Plains Market.  Owner / operator Kim is all business when signing brevet cards.  She's probably seen a million of 'em.

Heading south, we enjoyed even more dry skies.  Riding on Fern Hill reminded me of the detour we had to take around this flooded section on a different day.  Riding on Mineral Springs and Gun Club Road reminded me of last summer's winery ride.  And then there's Spring Hill, which reminds me of trespass touring and of beer in Gaston, even though we didn't go there.
Missing the turn onto scenic Riverside Drive forces one through the sprawly and ugly and trafficky Highway 99 into McMinnville and created a cartoon-like contrast with the historic district, rife with carolers and horse drawn carriages and garlands across the street.  I felt like I had just stumbled, or pedaled, onto the set of It's A Wonderful Life - sans snow, that is.

We didn't eat lunch at Nick's but at an inexpensive cafe instead.  I had a craving for squash soup and was blown away when I learned the special at the cafe was squash soup.  With braised fennel!  And kale!  Fried chickpeas on the side completed a scrumptious lunch.
While we smacked sugar at a candy stop at the top of a little hill on Spring Hill, up rolled the real Alan.  After assuming every rider was Alan and yelling "Alan!!" all across the countryside, it was obvious that this guy was the real deal. There was no mistaking his genuine rando status.  I learned later that in addition to helping design the Oregon Randonneur jersey, this dude is an actual Ancien.  He's ridden Paris-Brest-Paris!

We rode together for a nice little while.  Then the rain started.  Just a little drizzle, but enough to require a raincoat.  Daylight started fading and rain continued.  This is the part of the day where I start to feel strong.  Riding my own pace, instead of "chase pace", makes me faster in the long run.

Back at Kim's market in North Plains, I was glad to have a second hat and spare gloves to change into.  I've learned just what spare gear to carry for comfort in changing conditions.  I drank a milk and ate some nuts before filling my bottle with hot water and tossing a tea bag in.  Another thing I've learned from these long rides is just what my body needs nutrition-wise.

Dark now, regrouped with Alan and on our way back through the suburbs, I was grateful for Alan's familiarity with the territory as it meant way fewer stops to mess with cue sheets.  Riding at night is an acquired taste and I enjoy it now.

Ten more miles to go and I feel invincible.  I start thinking about three hundred Ks and hope the future holds some.  Pedaling, I peek down at my shadow, and pedal faster.  Soon, we're turning off.  We're in front of a corner store. 

Walking inside, just like countless controls done before, I get my brevet card signed.  But this time is different.  I imagine crowds cheering, confetti flying.  I'm almost tearful as I look at my soggy little card.  I've done it.  I've earned my R12.  "R What?!"  I'd boast later that evening, all dressed up and enjoying treats at a holiday party.  "R12, that's what!"

To earn one's R12, a Randonneur, or in my case, Randonneuse, must ride a 200K permanent every month for twelve consecutive months.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Holiday Ale Fest

A stokerless tandem pulled in front of me at the light.  I was on my way to the Holiday Ale fest, a riotous mall of beer-drinking that takes place in a heated tent city under the giant Christmas Tree at Pioneer Courthouse Square. 

I planned to pass tandem dude at the next light and pulled up next to him.  Lo and behold, it was Cosmo!  The same Cosmo I was going to meet at the beer fest.  We rode together to Yamhill, locked our bikes up dueling-basket style, and started a text war to find the Texan.

Last year I was cold and hungry so this year I consumed a large lunch and carried a bag full of extra layers.  Once inside, I instantly regretted bringing a messenger bag as pretty much every person there knocked into it at least once.

After we enjoyed a few tastes of ridiculously potent but delicious ales, the crowd started to thin. We even took a seat for a short while, running into another Sisyphean Hill Rider and reminiscing summer cycling.
The tents close at ten sharp and at 9:59 a brigade of volunteers marched us out into the street.  I scurried ahead in hopes of protecting my bike from the stampeding crowd.  The sky opened up at that very moment and drenched the dressed-up but underdressed party-goers. I quickly mounted the kissy bike and launched off into the river-filled street for a soggy ride home.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Slow Hustle

I ate so much at the Team Slow social, I thought my stomach might burst.  On my way home, I noticed the moon.  Climbing up the small rise of 52nd Avenue from Division, I felt energized.  Probably all the calories.

So, I u-turned, rode back down the hill to Hawthorne and bombed down to the food carts at 12th.  Some folk were meeting there for an impromptu Werewolf Hustle and I couldn't resist.

Five of us rode off together into the cold fog.  The leader, a girl I know only from facebook, and who told me she is no longer on facebook.  Another dude, wearing a werewolf hood.  Another guy, on a big fat-tired bike.  And a pretty young girl with long blonde hair who just tripped out of the pages of Cute Co-Ed magazine.
A mere few blocks from our start, we were stopped by a train.  We waited on the street parallel while it rushed by, blowing its whistle so loud one wonders how the conductors bear it.  Just as the long haul came to an end, another one came from the other direction.  We debated going around until the last train was over.

Heading south on the Springwater trail, the clear sky showed us its full moon.  I avoid this stretch of bike path in the dark, so it was a treat to ride it in the safety of the pack.  We rode and raced and howled and coasted.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Bowl Ride, 2012

Anyone was welcome on this attempt at an inclusive exclusive ride, you just had to show interest first.  As usual, many of the "I'll definitely be there!" riders texted last minute excuses.  These people have full lives and riding a bike falls lower on their priority list than mine.

But, still,  almost a dozen hearty riders, ready for fun, drizzled into my kitchen that sunny Sunday morning.  I served bowls of oatmeal, topped with bananas or cranberry sauce, peanuts or toasted sesame seeds, dried plums or dried pears.

We headed east, over the river.  We turned north and found the swath of land known as "the bowl".  There, next to the Crown Point Highway, which all Portland roadies have ridden a zillion times, is a cornucopia of country roads with fine pavement, barely any cars and great views in all directions.

Meandering back on San Rafael Street, we discovered a jagged, but enjoyable, alternative to riding on busy Halsey.  Three of us made it to the finale Pho stop.  We chuckled at the neighboring Cannabis club and continued west to town.

The next Bowl Ride will be held in 2013.  Detailed cue sheets are provided, at no charge.  The weather probably won't live up to the grim forecast we've come to expect.  Many types of bikes and bicyclists and paces will be represented.  How will you secure an invitation?  

Monday, December 3, 2012


Many times on my way to work, I've discovered giant leaf piles near intersections.  I don't know how they got there or how they go away.  They beg to be jumped in, except they're as soggy as bowls of bran cereal left in milk overnight.
The sky show never disappoints.  Big dark gray patches loom, distant mist hovers, rainbows galore, glaring bright sun, clouds colored by sunsets.  Clusters of mushrooms grow everywhere, waiting to be picked or smushed under someone's foot or wheel.
The cool damp air refreshes me.  I met a cyclist on a Miyata conversion, which was a perfect commuter bike except for its lack of fenders.  "I don't accept the rain" he said.  My reply when the red light changed to green: " Accept it, then embrace it!".

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

TAT Perm

November's Tigard-Albany-Tigard perm began at Sesame Donuts.  I didn't buy any donuts but they did offer free samples of, yes, delicious, sesame donuts.  I was amazed at the line of customers early on a rained-out Saturday morning.

The weather promised to be wet and windy and didn't disappoint.  Started off at 7:30 into the rainy outer suburbs of Portland, southbound into a headwind.  After crossing the I-5 bridge and entering the area I consider the Willamette Valley proper, things started getting pretty.

The fields of grown grass and sprouting grass seed were such a bright green, I had to take my sunglasses off to believe my eyes.  Christmas, chartreuse, grass-green.  Emerald, kelly, olive, pea.

Finally at the Calapooia Brew House in Albany, lunching with folks and drying out, eating hot soup and tots, I felt quite peaceful.  Then a quick dash off to Turner, with a looming time cut-off.  On the way, Parrish Gap Road, a new favorite.
Riding through Millersburg was interesting.  I've seen the paper mill from the freeway a million times and knew there was a town behind it somewhere.  We stopped for candy at a store somewhere.  I love handing my brevet card to these anonymous clerks and watching their eyes as they realize just what I've ridden.

Getting darker and colder, the skies cleared up.  Starry views and a socked-in moon were spirit-lifters.  On, on, on, until Wilsonville.  Home-stretched it to the pub.  I learned a lot of important lessons on this ride.  Three pairs of gloves is one too few.  Pick perms with few turns late in the day since it'll be dark and hard to read.  Little hotties make great friends. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dave Stoller

Finally, after seven years as a member and three years on the Vancouver Bike Club board, I got my wish to do a screening guessed it, Breaking Away.

If you haven't seen this movie yet and fancy yourself a cyclist, think again.  This "film" is the key to being a real cyclist!

You can learn how to true a wheel - simply turn the spoke-key 3 entire revolutions on a single spoke and ride off!

You can draft a semi truck on the freeway going 50 miles per hour.  In your small ring!

You can speak any language you like, as long as there's a hot co-ed riding a bike who also speaks that language.

To sum up, this movie is a clear microcosm of life and therefore a macrocosm of cycling.  Go get it tonight.

Monday, November 19, 2012

See X Race

Started the day serving french toast to friends and club buddies.  Wrestling my single speed up the hill option portion of the french toast ride, I wondered at how easy it felt and question why I carry a derailleur at all.

Peeled off of my own ride to head over to Edgefield to watch the Cyclocross Race.  There were my co-workers.  There were my teammates.  There were my friends.

Test rode a $7000 full suspension carbon fiber 29er mountain bike.  That's quite a mouthful and it's quite a bike and more fun than easily described.  Instead of sticking to the road or the path or even the grass, we just jotted off here and there and anywhere that caught our fancy.

They opened the course and I rode a large part of it.  It was hard, but the bike took the brunt of it. One girl asked me where my basket was and applauded me for stepping outside of my paved little box.
Watching the races is pure exhilaration. Each rider's face speaks volumes.  They're scared or tired or having a blast or winning or even all of those things at once.  I can see why heckling is popular - yelling "good job" and "go get 'em" over and over again gets boring.

The sun sets and this day was no exception.  I accepted a ride home, rationalizing that I could use the "rest day" to prepare for Larch the next day.  I was correct.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Random Randos (storytelling version)

Once upon a time, last Sunday, I set out to ride my bicycle up Larch Mountain.  Ed contacted me, via electronic mail, that he and two Randos were planning to join this bicycle ride.

We were to meet at Velocult at ten am.  At quarter to ten, not nearly enough time to get there on time, I departed.

Already breathless, northbound on 52nd Avenue, I saw two Rando riders.  They waved frantically.  I wanted to blow their waves away like the wind, but they tugged at my heart strings.  So, I u-turned.

"We meet at Velocult!  Not my house!" I gasped, turning back around to continue my northward sprint.  They followed, listening to me and disagreeing as I told them my heavy bike made me slow.

We arrived at the Velocult.  Already arrived was one young Rando In Training.  As we drank our black  pour-over Portlandia coffee, beeepbeeepbeeepbeeep, I heard an incoming text message on my telephone.

It was Ed.  He and the Randos would not be riding.  Who, then, were these random Randos, who joined and rode with us most of the way?

One of them pointed north, mumbling something about Mershon Road and the "beautiful bowl" up there.  Hence, a new ride was born.  The Bowl Ride, 2012.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sunday I expected Ed and a couple of Randos on our late morning Larch Mountain ride.  I dashed out of my house with only fifteen minutes to get to the start spot when I ran into two familiar Rando riders.  "Hey, you're going the wrong way!  We're meeting at Velocult, not my house!".  They said, ok, but we were almost to Milwaukee, and turned around to follow me.

We sprinted up to Hollywood and, no surprise, only one other rider was present.  The four of us enjoyed apple-cinnamon cake and strong black pour-over coffee before heading out.  Ed texted me that he and the Randos wouldn't make it.  Turns out they were different riders altogether and the two I took with me were out on another ride after all.

We headed east on Halsey.  It was chilly and sprinkly, but the pavement was dry.  Stopped for Atomic Fireballs at the General Store in Troutdale, but they're still on order according to the clerk.  On down the hill, over the bridge and onto the Crown Point Highway, which closes before you can get to Crown Point.

The Randos rode off before the highway closure, leaving two of us to ride up Larch. We passed the sign warning of ice.  The air was cold, but the pavement wasn't icy so we continued.  There's a funny kind of paradox to climbing a big hill in the cold.  You're hot and sweaty and cold and shivery all at the same time.

The snow gate was closed, but there wasn't any snow.  There were two other riders on their way down who said it was snowy higher up.  Onward.  Past the gate.  My achy knee and fear of ice found me uttering "I'm satisfied, let's turn back" a mere mile or so past the gate.  So, back down again.  The down part is the hardest, especially when it's cold and wet.

Drinking my second cup of hot tea at the Corbett store, I felt pretty bullet-proof.  If only I could figure out why so I could duplicate this feeling for future challenges.  Maybe it was Saturday's rest day.  Maybe it was the chill in the air.  Maybe it was that strange feeling of control over my own fate, which, of course, is an illusion.  Maybe that's all strength is, an illusion.  It's not rest or rhythm or intervals or calorie deficit or heart rate, it's just perception.

Sprinted home on the flat parts, stopping to change headlight batteries.  Looking out at traffic on the busy four lane road, filled with cars and bleary headlights and rain spray, it struck me how frightening this sort of terrain can be.  Getting back out there, turning right and continuing at a breakneck pace, I felt like I was somehow contained in a little bubble of safety. Finally home, I sank into a steaming hot bath and played paceline with rubber ducks.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Oregon Handmade Bike Show

I recently attended a show displaying handmade bicycles from mostly Oregon-based bike-makers.  Riding to Swan Island in the hail was a fun adventure and the venue was a really cool industrial warehouse and on the way in you could see a giant ship being worked on.  Ship-builders even came over to compare notes with the bike-makers.
The show featured over a dozen bike-makers and a few accessories.  Wood was very trendy - wooden helmets, wooden bikes, wooden-rimmed wheels.  One of my favorite things was an old-fashioned-looking wheel truing stand that actually measured wobble and showed it on a gauge.  If you spin the wheel fast enough, beer comes out of the gauge.
Speaking of beer, I abstained due to a super early curtain call the next morning.  Which is probably why the show didn't feel like that much fun to me.  Seriously, I am skeptical of this sort of venue for this sort of product.  It felt very trade-showy and a little dull and sadly, I'd already seen most of the bikes on display.
My favorite part of the show was when this guy started playing his trumpet. 
 And drooling over this bike.
And learning about this self-contained sound system, which comes with its own power source and specialty carrying rack.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Up Yer Ash

Friday morning, the local TV weather man came to my shop and advised me, in person, to stay away from the Mountain:  "There's a winter storm warning in effect for the Cascades this weekend and it will be miserable riding weather - wet and cold and snowy!  Get a plan B."  He couldn't have known I had the Ripplebrook ride simmering on the back burner, just in case the weather turned.

Later that same afternoon, a couple of gentlemen stopped in.  "Hey, you're that Randonneuse." they said.  After I landed back on planet earth, I confessed my fears about the looming Mount St. Helens permanent.  Like true randos, they were encouraging and said it wouldn't be that bad.  "That road doesn't go anywhere, so there's no cars up there." They were right about the weather but wrong about the cars. 

I struggled to decide.  Checked the weather maps and the forecast and the destination elevation compared to the predicted snow level.  Even called the ranger station.  Having just ridden the Hood and Adams perms, I had my heart set on riding up our third local mountain before winter.  So, Sunday morning, we headed out to Parkrose to begin the hard ride, leaving the easy one for later.

The starting control point was nowhere to be found, so a gas station signature sufficed.  Once over the 205 bridge and into Vancouver, I stopped to take my jacket off.  That's when I noticed how soft my rear tire was.  Just as I unpacked my tools and removed the wheel, the rain started.  I had broken my own rule of finding a nice place to fix a flat.  I finished the fix and flipped the bike upright, only to find the front tire was also flat.

Several low pressure miles later, supplies exhausted and sitting in a cafe in Battleground, I learned of Northwest Ambush, a skateboard shop with a floor pump.  I told the owner I would advertise her shop if she'd stock C02 cartridges and road tubes.  She agreed. 

As the rain slowed down, we sped up.  I was amazed at all the climbing to be done "before the climb".  We saw the third cyclist of the day, Mr. Bingle, on the way up Kelley Road.  He's done Randonneur rides and knew the route we endeavored to complete, even at this late hour.  He rode with us for a bit, then turned off to do his own ride home.

We enjoyed a quick stop at a tree farm to answer an info control question before heading out to Cougar.  Riding by the reservoir included pretty views, rolling hills and crisp, almost-dry air. During a short break at the snack shop, as is typical, a local asked about our ride.  When I told her we were going up FR83, she said in a somewhat panicky voice: "It's snowing at the Ape Caves!  The pink X on your map is way past that!  You can't go up there!"  I like being told I can't do things.

A bunch more climbing happened before the turn off to the big climb.  Ten miles up, to mile point marker ten to get the info control clue, and then we'd go back down.  This is the part that feels like an Alley Cat race and absolutely exhilarates me.  At first there were little piles of slush in the road.  It looked like someone had stopped for a beer break and dumped out their cooler.  A bit more climbing and you could see white in the ditches.  Further along, and I was grateful there had been cars up there, creating long stripes of exposed pavement to ride in between the piles of snow.

Finally, we arrived at Pine Creek, but there was no mile point marker in sight.  I checked the brevet card.  It said we might have to dig through the snow.  So, I found myself freezing my fanny off, standing in a ditch digging in the snow looking for a mile point marker.  Turns out it was on the other side of the road.  A definite dumb-dumb moment.

The descent felt longer than the ascent since I couldn't feel my feet or hands and had to go seriously slow so I wouldn't skid out in the snow.  As we lost elevation, we gained degrees and, eventually, feeling back in hands and toes.  I calculated the cut-off at the next control point.  It was pretty close.  An hour and a quarter to get twenty miles done.  This was the sprint part of the day, and what the heck, it was daytime still.

I doubt two cyclists have ever been happier to arrive at the Yacolt trading post than we were, with a mere one minute to spare before the control cut-off.  I was so hungry I could barely think.  I need fat and salt and sugar but can't handle too much bulk or any meat.  I foraged up some cashews, chips & avocado, an apple juice and a chocolate bar.  We stood there, frozen and famished, cramming calories in and putting off thinking about the next thirty miles. 

With only three hours to go, most in unfamiliar country on dark winding roads, we had a daunting task in front of us, but it turned out to be surprisingly easy.  Maybe because I couldn't see the hills as we approached them, or anything really, except the pavement in front of me and a red blinking tail light.  We began stopping at street lights, memorizing the next three cues and sprinting off.  The 205 bridge took us to the 205 path, which led to the bright welcoming beacon of the Shell station.  Just then, the rain started.  Running in, one minute to spare, 10:09pm after a 7:30am start, the ride came to a close.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Where should we ride?  I look out the window and think.  To the blue building.  And back.  How about thirty third?  How about both.

And so, down the stairs, out the door, into the dark wee hours and the blue building.  Up the ramp, the elevated parking lot for lots and lots of laps.

Out, past orange-lit houses, curvy bikey infrastructure and u-turn.  Everything is familiar.  It's the same way we came.  Orange houses again.  Curvey turn-off again.  And done.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cycle Wild

Cycle Wild is a bike tour group started by three cycle-tourists hoping for bigger groups on their outings, which generally start in or near Portland, Oregon.  There are one or two trips a month throughout the year, with cabins or yurts as destinations during foul weather times. 

These nice folks organize a route, reserve campsites or cabins if necessary and even hand out cue sheets.  Riders are given a full description of what to expect as far as ride difficulty and terrain, campsite amenities and even food stops .  These weekend trips are free (yes, free!) except for the cost of the overnight sight.

Even though I was already acquainted with two of the three founders and love bike touring, I had somehow never gone on tour with this group.  That all changed a couple of weekends ago when I joined Matt and three other friends on a 40 mile trip out to Green Canyon campground.

Although early October in the Pacific Northwest usually means cold and wet weather, we had beautifully sunny, warm and dry days for our tour.  We met at the train station in Gresham and rode east along quiet country roads, including some of my favorites like Shipley and Marmot.

The name Shipley reminds me of an alley in San Francisco where bike messengers would gather to drink out of paper bags after hours.  But this Shipley is a short, treed-in, narrow little street with a gentle grade.  It leads to Marmot, which is a rolling hilly, cow-covered, meadow of a place with stunning views of Wy'East, or Mount Hood, as the locals now call it.

We arrived in Welches to stock up on groceries, then rolled out for the last three miles of road to camp, where we laid claim to the very best site.  This gorgeous green campground was well-stocked with free firewood and we enjoyed a roaring fire all evening.  Dinner included rice and bean waffles, wine and messy s'mores made with jumbo marshmallows.

In the morning, Matt delighted us with pancakes made from scratch and prepared in the cast iron skillet he had carried to camp on his bike!  He followed that up with a fancy egg scramble dish and bacon.  There was also plenty of oatmeal and coffee on hand.  We waddled out to Welches, where we split off to see the hillier scenic route while the others to hightail it on the highway. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ware-Cat Race

Tired and cranky from riding up and down Bald Peak all day could only be remedied by more bike-riding.

I wasn't very happy about driving to an alley cat race, but time left me no other choice.  So, I found the hard-to-find alley address in an industrial neighborhood near downtown Portland, parked and unloaded my bike.

An open bay door to the alley revealed a small space with a stage and a man in red announcing the rules to the race, which he started repeating as new racers arrived.  In true Bike Swam fashion, we were to ride out together, to a single address and ride right back.

We had an hour, a keg full of free beer and some intense live music to enjoy between rounds.  These intermissions lasted an hour so I only lasted for two of the three rounds.  I won a fabulous red spoke card, which I proudly ride with and will until it falls out or falls apart.

I was also interviewed on a recorder by a man who claimed he was a journalist.  He interviewed me because I was the only one there who'd ever raced in an Alley Cat before.  It made me feel like quite the expert and even a little famous.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Meltdown on the Mountain

The goal for Saturday was to ride five times up Bald Peak, five different ways, three of those on gravel. But we only made it up four.  

Not because of Mike crashing or his bloody wounds wrapped in arm warmers.  Not because of the extra long and wide load of machinery that came barreling down the hill at us, nearly sideswiping riders.  Not even because of my whiny attitude over nothing but my own suckitude.  But because I had a stupid cramp that wouldn't go away for over an hour.
I was pissed at myself and my body and pretty much the whole human race.  But really it's my own fault for creating a ride called Bald Peak for Hardasses, and giving myself credit for being a hardass before I even rode it.

Luckily, I lived to ride another day.  And that day was Sunday.  An aimless ride that started at a civil hour through rolling country hills with no particular schedule or goal or destination except for fun.  I'd forgotten about this kind of exploratory adventure, deciding at each turn which way to turn.
This is one of those times when bike rides mirror life.  You take it all so seriously and second guess yourself and convince yourself that you are unworthy, but it's all happening in your head and nowhere else.  Sometimes it's best to just let go of the big goals and the cadence and the grams and just coast.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fire And Ice

The 135 mile Mt. Adams Randonneur Permanent required serious strategy:

Up early.
Coffee & oatmeal to go.
Lipstick.  Get dressed.
Hair.  Vitamins, allergy meds.
Go!  5:10am depart.
Cross at BOG.  Venus Cafe.
Mo-fos.  Mo coffee.  A bagel!
Go.  Enjoy the flat.
Tail wind?  Bingen.
Now north.  Climbing through the forest.
Mile 61 top of main climb.
Feel awesome!
Enjoy the woods.
Gifford Pinchot mo fo.
Mile 100 top, it gets easy.
Enjoy life.  Breathe deep.
Remember my dream.
Eat the right dinner.
Enjoy the stars.

The result: the hardest day on a bike in my entire life - survived.

As we began the main part of the climb, Bingen and a migraine behind me, the landscape looked eerily like my own tan down blanket.  The dream I mention in my strategy was from earlier in the week.  The Gifford Pinchot wilderness and my bed were one in the same.  I rode all over the forest and the bed and the mountain I climbed was myself. 
White Salmon gave way to Trout Lake and a wrong turn led to a road I'd like to try again someday.  There were plenty of signs thanking the fire fighters and some landed crane helicopters and fire camps.  Then we started to see the mountain.  At first it looked like a high, white, cloud bank.  Holding still and watching the clouds move past proved it was a mountain, but it seemed more like the ethereal home of the gods. (It's straight over the source of the smoke in the photo)

The descent was chilly and parts of it were dirt and gravel.  But before hypothermia could set in, there was one more climb to conquer: Curly Creek Road.  Only five miles, then to Old Man's Pass for the final descent.  A lack of clothing on my sweaty body during the twenty mile dusky descent made life suck for a nice long while. 
Then, regrouping, we crossed a tall and elegant cathedral style bridge that makes the Saint John's bridge seem small.  It was dark and narrow by now so we plodded on.  I feared the final descent back to SR-14.  The notorious gorge gusts were sure to toss me, especially as my strength waned.  But down we went on a windless road, my fears unfounded.

Stopping along the highway to snatch the jacket I stashed earlier, I turned my headlight toward the ground.  There, at my feet, was a rotten little doe.  So rotten it didn't smell the way dead things smell anymore.  This sight scared me more than anything all day.  

Monday, September 24, 2012

Unicorn Smurf

My day of luxury finally arrived.  Slept in, rode a few short miles over to Linda's house.  She served me coffee, loaded the bikes and drove us to the Wheatland Ferry.  I was privileged to be a part of her Velo Vine Ride research and development project.

We met up with the other riders, boarded the ferry and were off on a pretty wine country ride featuring four winery stops and twenty country miles of rolling hills.  I took the gravel option route, which offered around  five miles of challenging terrain to add to the fun.
My tire flatted and before I could curse at it, I dismounted to see dozens of handfuls of glistening ripe blackberries only a few inches from my face.  I did my best to get my fingers purple and sticky before walking the few steps up the hill to the next winery.
The view was perfect, especially from our sweet little spot on the patio.  Linda laid out a luscious lunch on the picnic table for our little group of friends.  I had an easy time fixing my flat while we ate and drank and took in the view.

From here, a few short miles down the hill, over to the ferry, back to the car and home to Portland.  Thank you Linda for a fabulous time!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Frenchman's Bar Bike Path

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog entry about a (magical!) day competing in the Vancouver Bicycle Club's scavenger hunt.  I snapped this photo near Frenchman's Bar and wrote:

"Shortly after u-turning to get back to the finish line, some gentlemen stood up and held out a banner reading "Hey Bicyclists" so I stopped.  They gave me a rainbow striped popsicle and asked me to come back after the picnic (which I did, getting video-taped sitting on a couch with my bike in the shot!)."

Today, it came to my attention that OregonLive ran an article on the efforts of Todd Bachmann and Jacob Brostoff to gain support for adding a bike path to connect the existing ones near Vancouver Lake Park nd Frenchman's Bar.  It's a great read - check it out!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

No Sweat

"Rides like these bring out negative self-talk."

All was lined up for a luxuriously fast and easy day in the saddle.  A week of restful recovery, healthy habits and a lack of aches could only lead to a superior performance on Saturday, right?  I visualized waiting at the top of each climb for the slow pokes.  Even the invitation referred to me as "the fastest rider".

Instead I started the day with two flats, not enough flat-repair supplies and a stinky attitude before we even hit Scappoose.  The pretty part of the day started there, and things started to look up.  And I do mean up.  Even in my easiest gear, the ride felt like a constant grind.
I abstained from ordering ale at mile sixty, no small task.  I made up for it by ordering ale at mile 100.  The last ten percent of every ride is my easiest and it'd pay to remember that during the earlier part of the day.  Thankfully, I only cried one time and after barely blubbering enjoyed some terrific views and descents.

In the end, I received some special gifts that floated my mood sky-high.  And my seemingly sluggish pace wasn't quite the slowest, although I'm reminded that bike rides and life are no contest and no place to compare.  Finally, I concluded that my sweet little smoothie needs some serious lovin'.