Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tour de Cure

Riding with the Texan is a unique experience, made more unique by challenging him to pace me on my single speed during a 100 mile rolling hill ride, which we completed in seven hours.  His quadricep muscles are so huge and well-developed that people actually gawk or even comment.

The Texan tells great stories.  And talks about the roads. He says "These are good roads" and he's right.  He says"I love these roads" and so do I. "These roads are nicely paved." "There's barely ever cars on these roads."  "Yes, these are some good roads."  And so on.

We passed my favorite hill to see (as opposed to my favorite hill to ride).  Perfectly round and covered with nothing but clover, thick with the smell of it.  Nearby strawberry fields also smell, of strawberries of course, but with a scent so sweet it seems artificial.

The Texan, like me, likes to play.  So, after our ride, I watch his eyes light up at the mention of the giant inflated water slide at the other end of the astro-turf.  We go over, climb up, slide down, run around and repeat a million times until we're soaked and tired and leave it for the kids.

Then, over to Vertigo Brewing, located in a secret-seeming and strange industrial complex, like a storage locker, but much nicer.  We sit, discuss tires with the locals, and drink caramelly flavored beer.

I head home, shower, nap, then get up again, don a fresh chamois, pump up the white tires on my gorgeous butter-colored Miyata, and ride out to Velocult to meet friends and add another ten miles on my computer, feeling like my mission to live life on a bike is being fulfilled.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Joined super-power-house Mike for his Bridge of the Gods Century With Swim Stop. Rides are so much better when they're capitalized.  There were a dozen riders at the close-by park start.  Mike gave us his ride leader speech, mentioning that this is not a group ride, but we still managed to ride as a group.

According to Bob (my new unofficial coach), all of my "training" (I don't train!) and "tapering" led me to the perfect rhythm of riding for this hilly hundred miler.  Translation: I felt strong all day.  I rode fast.  I fueled appropriately.  That's right, I actually did not vomit, which has been my signature move during hard rides lately.

The ride to Crown Point was, as usual, stunning.  Gorgeous views, nice pavement, barely any cars.  Over to the freeway detour due to bike path construction.  Had to whip out my fear song during one narrow section with semi trucks passing at 70.

Strange hijinx in Cascade Lox and finally lunch at the lovely Charburger served by very polite staff.  Across the bridge.  Scott told me to "look straight down!" which I did and regretted instantly.  It's a mile down to the Columbia River and you can see it right through the grate.

I've only ridden the SR-14 route east-bound and didn't know until today that it's an all uphill slog heading west.  Followed up with a fun stop at the Washougal River for a quick dip, and back to Portland. Beer after.  Then Velocult for more beer.  Then a housewarming party with a backyard full of bikes.  And home.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Overcast became mist became drizzle became rain on the way to the cafe the Sunday morning after STP.  The plan was to climb Larch Mountain.  No fenders, no jacket, no fun. 

We rode out to Stark and 200 and something street, where I wussed.  If I turn here, I can go home, I confessed to my friends.  They all agreed and followed me home for chili and beer and of course, sunshine.

Then, off to the STP finish line to cheer on the two day riders.  And, finally, the Sunset Mystery Ride, which we missed.  Watched the Sprockettes rehearsing and rode out to the bluffs instead.  And home.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

STP One Day

Spaz out about boxing bike.  Struggle to get the pedals off only to find the Amtrak box is so big they can stay on.  On the train, at last.  Crossing bridges rarely seen up close.  Watching the world go by.

Seattle.  Big buildings, big crowds, bus driver instructing "bike lane's on the other side".  The swimming pool-less Marco Polo Hotel.  The Tour at charming Sully's and two beers I promised myself I wouldn't have. 

Wake up to Glenn Miller and his big band.  Microwave breakfast and fake coffee.  Throwaway dress, toss toothbrush in the trash, then two dusky miles to an unceremonious start.
Snippets from strategy spreadsheet:
Get excited, this is a big day!
Don't feel panicked or hurried.
Have fun.  This is a bike ride.
Go swimming.  Enjoy life.
Centralia.  Celebrate.  Candy.
Sing a little.  Crack some jokes.
Go faster, just for a minute.
Short, efficient rest breaks.
Butter up!
Coast for a minute.  Stand to rest.
RIP it!
Look at partner's calves.  
Look at other riders' calves.
Look at my calves.
Route 30.  Home stretch.
Pedal fast.  Breathe deep.
Finish line.  Beer.
Portland.  Warm, gritty, nicer pavement than Seattle.  A detour for free-box-finds leads to a small but peaceful collision.  Back on route, reliving the story of years past, Ryan saying "nothing can stop us now!" after every one of the twenty stoplights in the last mile to the finish line.  No police-directed intersections here like Seattle had. 

Other stats:
Zero tears, fourteen hours, two flats total.
Personal best flat fix time: seven minutes.
No rain, barely any sun, lots of wind.
Average speed 17.5 mph.
Perfect teamwork, perfect day.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

You Gee Bee

 July's Permanente, created by Michael Wolf, was called the UGB, or Urban Growth Boundary, 200K.

My phone fell out of bed and sounded from far below at 6:15am.  I crawled down and laid on the floor listening to S.O.S. by Abba.  "Where are those happy days, they seem so hard to find."

Coffee before heading to the cafe for coffee.  Warm summer air allowing shorts and short sleeves, no arm warmers and a slather of sunscreen.

Met rider Brandon on the Springwater, where so many rides begin.  He was headed to Lolo Pass.  Brake Bike Mike's also Lolo Passing today, we say.  That's who I'm meeting, says Brandon.  Small cycling planet.

Bell Station for strawberry milk and a signature.  Then more Springwater.  Mike catches up and almost immediately gets a flat tire.  This poor guy is just jinxed.
Continue to Boring, out Estacada way, Canby.  Around the same big loop we've done so many times.  Westbound into the heat of the afternoon.  Gaston, the One Horse, a big fat ankle needing ice and beer.
Hit a wall of heat riding across trespass territory.  Took a quick pausenzeit near a shaded tractor. Back into the hot headwind, through the ugly part of Hillsboro.  Mini-mall land.  Finally, Rock Creek Tavern for more ankle ice and record-breaking amount of tator tots.
Off.  More heat.  Not enough speed to keep up.  Feeling sucky.  Mantra in my head "why am I so slow, leg hurts, stupid slow slow slow..."  Up Skyline.  Stop and puke.  No more tots ever again.  Feeling better for the fastest descent ever.  Partner says "on my six most the way down!".

Downtown, Blues Festival, uncharted control point.  Seven Eleven.  Post-crit beers with the ladies.  Post-crit-beer-beers with the frisky and shift gang.  146 mile day, my longest but not my best.

Friday, July 6, 2012

All American Alley Cat Race

Lock your bikes to the fence and stand on the other side of the tennis court.  Reg fees go to Mat Barton.  Over $600 raised.  A stack of manifests on the ground.  Ready set go.

Dash and scramble, cleats on the court, an on-foot wipe-out.  Quick grab a sheet, unlock, roll out across the grass.  There's some riders turning south, follow.  Read the manifest.  Find the the closest point.  Don't think.  Go.

Apex on Division.  Watch another wipe-out, this one on-bike.  Stick out the paper for a signature.  Go.  GO.  Next, what's close.  OMSI.  Go go go. 

A checkpoint worker waving, stop, shove the paper in, take it back.  Now there's time to think.  Go north.  If it's red, run it.  If there's traffic, turn.  Take no particular route, find the path of least resistance.  FLOW.  Go flow.

Lloyd Center outdoor theater.  Only a smattering of racers here and there now.  This is the alley cat mind.  Alone, but not alone.  Mind-racing.  Turn and turn again quick so you don't show anyone the good way to go.

Up 42nd to Prescott, no need to look it up.  Memorizing northeast streets pays.  AKA GPS SF beitch. Ainsworth Killingsworth Alberta Going Prescott Skidmore Shaver Failing Beech.   Jump the fence, ten push ups, jump again and back.

To Mississippi and Beech.  Running light after light after stop sign.  Ear forward, hear anything?  Look left.  Quick glance right, really look left.  That's where the first car that can hit you will be coming from.  Nothing there, one last chance to look right. 

Fitness.  Breathe, breathe, drink drink, Cup & Saucer, dart out, manifest in mouth.  Down, down the hill.  Follow the fixie and watch him spin.  Up over Broadway.  This part I know so well. 

Right, left on Marshall, left at the Bent Brick. Western checkpoint.  Slam an energy drink, wish it was beer, say the pledge, get a second manifest.  Second place chick right now.  Yee haw. 

Silverado?  Strip club.  No address given.  Asking everyone everywhere, where the f is Silverado.  SW 3rd.  No, up by 6th.  Check 13th near Powell.  Skip it.

Ash Street Saloon, shoulda gone first since it's known.  Silverado's round the block.  Cross the river, to the finish line.  A little desolate.  Many aren't in yet.  Lock up!  Hand in tag. 

Fifth place out of twelve women, three places lost getting lost looking for the strip club.  Beautiful little spoke card.  Memories of old times, old talents not yet dead.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Lumberyard

I would like to preface this post by proclaiming I am not a mountain biker.  I do not "catch big air" or "shred trails".

However, I stepped outside of my comfort zone to try the new indoor wooden bicycle track.  It's called The Lumberyard and it's a converted bowling alley featuring ramps and drops and berms with off camber turns and whole trees and big rocks to ride over. My heart rate increased just walking in the door.

I borrowed some shoes since my cleats would tear up the wood track.  And I rented a bike with an impossible-to-sit on low seat.  Apparently this would be a standing style ride.

We walked out and were shown the track and its color coded sections.  Even the green beginner zone scared the crap out of me.  My hands were shaking after trying the little bitty whoop-de-doos and I thought for sure I'd be leaving in an ambulance.
Then Will, the owner, came over to chat with me.  He asked me what my sport is.  I told him I ride bikes, outside, with drop bars.  He explained why the bars on the rental bike were so wide (stability, like a push up) and why the seat was so low (standing allows hips and knees to act as suspension).

He then walked down to the bottom of the first drop and stood there.  He told me he wouldn't let me fall.  I felt like a little kid about to jump into a pool with a waiting promise of safety.  So, I went for it.

I rode down the first drop, and then up the first ramp.  Then the second drop and second ramp.  It was fun!  I kept going, turned around and came back.  And then I started to really get it and enjoy it and just kept doing laps around the little course with its several ramps.

Soon they will have a bar and restaurant on site.  I will definitely go back for more!  This may even help me learn to use my barely-ridden mountain bike with some confidence.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Richard's Ripplebrook Request

Five showed up for the beautiful fifty mile out and back, featuring the lovely car-free Faraday Road. 
The last time I rode out there was for a 200K and I was sick, had a rash and I somehow missed the stunning views through a thick veil of rain.  Each bend in the road revealed more gorgeousness. 
We arrived at Ripplebrook for snacks and turned back.  The return trip revealed a long, gorgeous downhill into a headwind.  Back to Fearless Brew Pub for burgers and beer.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Pedalpalooza Wrap Up

The Multnomah County Bike Fair was the final event.  It rained.  There was a hand-holding race and a limbo race and plenty of other shenanigans on small bikes and tall bikes.

I arrived at the fair just in time to meet the dude who installed the ball bearings in the new cherry-red Chris King headset I bid on and won at the Mat Barton fundraiser auction.  That's right, cherry-red.

I seem to have survived Pedalpalooza 2012 intact.  There are a few days I can't account for, but I did a headcount of all my bikes and everyone's present and accounted for.