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!".