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 of....you 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.