Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Crater Lake

A fifteen mile charge from our camp at Diamond Lake to the crater revealed a disappointingly smokey viewpoint.  The turquoise lake we saw last year was nowhere in sight.

SAG stands for Support And Gear but ours was Superior and Great.  Shiny and Glittery.  Superb and Green Grapes.  I don't know how we survived this ride without real SAG last year - it made all the difference in the world to have a constant flow of water. 

I was feeling pretty fatigued and even a little beat up by the time we reached the several mile switchback climb to the lodge.  Suffering up the hill alone, I passed a lady in white leg warmers who seemed to be hurting worse than me.

I had just finished spraying cold water on my hot feet and was remounting when the lady in white legwarmers appeared.  "Wait!  I have something to tell you!" she shouted.  She rolled up, huffing.  "You are my inspiration!  I wanted to stop so badly but when you passed me and attacked the climb, I decided to chase you".

It's funny because she's who I am.  Or maybe who I was.  And she will be who I am one day.  Here I was suffering in my head, unable to keep up with my riding partner, but this lady had a different perspective on what sort of cyclist I am.

After an enormous amount of toast at the lodge, we enjoyed a bit more climbing before the extraordinarily beautiful and fun descent back to camp.  Finally all back at camp, we exchanged stories around the fire about the day and of the past and even the future.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rolling home from Velocult after work last night, I come across a yellow single speed on its side in the middle of the street.  Twenty feet further on, I spy a dude laying on the curb, covered in blood.

"Dude!" I say.  He starts to get up and I coax him back down. I give him my water bottle and tell him to have a drink while I retrieve his bike and bag. 

Back at the curb, we sit together.  He has blood all over his face, his t-shirt, his arms and even on his socks.  But he knows his name and where he works and what day it is and he's making good eye contact. 

He smiles at me.  "You look so badass right now, can I take a photo?" I ask. Just then, the couple whose sidewalk we're sitting on walk out.  She's already got gloves on and is carrying a small medical kit and a roll of paper towels.  "This happens several times a week", she says.  "C'mon, I'll drive you to the hospital".
Just south of the Hollywood MAX pedestrian bridge that crosses I-84, on 42nd Avenue, there are bumps caused by tree roots.  They've been painted pink.  Wear a helmet and be ready!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

R 8 = Great!

Only 20 minutes to the first control point, so hurriedly fix my flat at mile five.  The Corbett store's closed anyway, but the ranger at the park's handy and signs instead.
See Scott from VeloCult, who just rescued a lost parrot at the same exact spot the kittens were saved last week.  Another flat on the way up to Crown Point.  Fix it fast and off to Vista House to borrow a floor pump.

The bike path and Cascade Locks.  The freeway.  Forever on the freeway.  Yet another flat.  A walk to the gas station and a stop at the Hood River bike shop for pricey C02 cartridges.  The day was just getting started.
South to Parkdale.  I'd ride these roads any old day.  Twisty, hilly, and gentle grades amidst beautiful countryside.  Potato salad and a tart for lunch.  More climbing to be had ahead.
Up Cooper Spur, one of the best sections of road I believe I've ever been on.  Up and around, curvy and pretty, shaded and cool.  To the Cooper Spur lodge for a restroom and water stop.  Yet more climbing awaits!
Route 35's a sudden slap back to reality with its four lanes of fast traffic including semi trucks.  Several bridges under construction with narrow or non-existent shoulders demand a short foot down to breathe before venturing on.

"I must stop and rest more!" I yell.  Sitting, calculating the distance to Government Camp (10 miles) and the amount of time to get there (40 minutes) is another sudden slap.  Off like bullets up the hill, the mountain, up, up, down a bit, more up and finally to the control point.

The clock at the gas station reads 5:10pm.  The cut-off time is 5:13.  The clerk stares as I laugh with relief, heart pounding out of my rib cage, and bag my back up plan in case of disqualification.  I wouldn't need to beg my boss for a Friday off to take another stab at it after all.

Finally, sitting on the grass back in Troutdale, outside the last control, I look back at the Mountain.  Mount Hood.  Wy'east.  Whatever you call it, I have seen it from every direction in one day.  I even answered a long pondered question in my head - when do you stop seeing the mountain you're climbing?  Never.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Eight days without a bicycle is not something I can survive, so I split off from the family reunion at my aunt's cottage near Madison, New York and rented a bike.  I had done my research in advance because we were vacationing in the middle of nowhere, which featured exactly one bike shop.
My heart sank as we pulled up to the shop.  It was a ramshackle looking old barn with some bike banners on it and a bunch of rusted out junk bikes piled in front.  This did not look like the kind of place that housed the quality, or even mediocre, road bike I lusted to spend the afternoon with.

I met super nice guy, Guy, the bicycle guy, who suggested a few options.  He even offered to let me borrow his commuter bike.  I was unenthused until he mentioned "maybe you want to ride the pretty bike", and brought out a beautiful steel (stainless steel - Columbus Platinum tubing!) road bike.  I was floored.

The purple sparkle paint job was blinding.  DuraAce shifters.  Ultegra derailleurs.  Pink (!) Chris King hubs and headset.  Mavic Open Pro rims laced up with pink spoke nipples.  A carbon fiber fork.  This was one sweet ride.

Then Guy got out a bike map of the area and started tracing a highlighter-yellow route for me.  He included descriptions of milestones and circled suggested rest stops with amazing views.  The 45 mile route was simply stunning.
I left my home state at age 16 - prior to being a bike nut.  So I'd never really seen the countryside in upstate New York from atop the bicycle saddle until now.  It was spectacular.  There's a real feeling of history there.  Houses with a certain architectural flavor that you just don't see here in Oregon.  And old beautiful barns, so many barns. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

This is what I woke up to this morning.

And this was my view during breakfast
And here's my view during a coffee break from my commute into work.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

PIR Short Track

Raced over to the Portland International Raceway on Marine Drive Monday night to spectate and cheer on Team Slow short track racers.  The headwind made me terrifically late, but I did get to see some of our team race, while enjoying a delicious sandwich from one of sponsors, People's.

This last short track race of the season featured a special team relay, as a fundraiser for Mat Barton, with teams of nine riders racing one lap each.  The announcer called out the teams and they queued up, filling the start area to the brim with colorfully-kitted riders.

The thing that struck me about the team relay was the inclusiveness.  This was not a girls only event.  Nor was it guys only.  All ages, all categories, all genders, all sizes, all abilities and all sorts of bikes were out there - together, riding and racing.  And falling.

I saw several people wipe out during the "tag your teammate" transition.  A few people slid out and fell in a sharp turn with loose gravel.  At least two of my teammates wiped out.  Another friend ate it and is covered in road rash.  Yet another friend ate it and broke a finger. 

Everywhere I looked racers donned white bandages or were just plain bloody.  So, I'll admit that although I vowed to at least pre-ride the course next year, my fear hackles are way up.

At the end of the evening, after the sun set, they started calling up winners from each category.  Each winner took their place on the red, white and blue podium steps and received beer and other prizes, and best of all, a big metal chainring medal on a ribbon necklace. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sauvie Island

 Rode out with Fritz, up the bike path, past his old house, over the Saint John's Bridge, route 30, and the Sauvie Island Bridge.

Stopped for corn but it wasn't ready.  Ate peaches and honey instead.  Stopped again for roadside blackberries - the first of the season.

"You are a horse" he shouted at me on the back half of the loop.  Used rhythmic breathing to keep myself going.  Inhale, exhale exhale, inhale inhale,, out out, in in, out.