Thursday, July 24, 2014

Riding Bikes With Dad

We agreed to meet at the trailer, after the all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast and a quick game of stunt swim with my niece and nephew.  First I ran up to the lodge and changed into my bike outfit.

The campground was huge - the largest I've ever seen.  There was a giant slide, a big pillow jumpy thing, extreme golf, trails for ATVs, bike paths everywhere, and FunTown - which included miniature golf, giant chess and what can only be described as a "pool complex".  There was even a small complex of shops with names like "Pizza Wings Ice Cream" and "Wine Espresso Wi Fi".

I put on my mother's helmet and tiny gloves, moved her seat up and hopped on her 20" wheeled contraption to go ride with Dad.  We turned left onto the dirt road from the trailer.  Then right, just before the big red and white striped tent, and up the little hill.

I'd noticed an enticing campground exit the day before and was hoping to explore it.  I waited while Dad walked up the hill.  He asked that we turn back down the hill.  "I know it's nothing for you, but I don't want to ride up this hill anymore".  You've gotta respect his directness.

So, we turned right, leading us to a cul de sac of tents and cabins.  We u-turned, riding back past the red and white tent, then past Mom and Dad's trailer, the Bullet.  They purchased it last year with insurance money from crashing their previous trailer, which started to come loose from their car just outside Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

Onward, past FunTown and onto an adorable little bike path circling a small fishing pond.  Around the circle by the registration gift shop and adult pool, then back to the fishing pond.  He kept straight and I turned left, but I caught him again before the turn back to the Bullit.

He pulled in and sat down, but I continued on.  For once, there was no time constraint, no control to make, no pace to consider.  Just me and these unknown little roads that went nowhere.  I went back up the hill, past the red tent, up the next hill and out of camp.

The dirt was reddish and reminded me of the now infamous "red sauce" section of the Oregon Outback.  Except it was smooth, not loose, and perfectly predictable. The South Dakotan ponderosa pines and badland rock formations were also reminiscent of the land I traversed in central Oregon, just two short months ago.

I noticed a small trail, really just mashed down grass, and went for it.  As suspected, it led nowhere, which was precisely where I wanted to go.  I u-turned after a while, went back to the red road and tried another outlet road.

Arriving back at Dad's trailer, I felt like myself again.  Several days of junk food and limited exercise during family vacation can be really taxing.  I parked my Mom's bike, which has a plastic basket mounted to the front handlebars, and took a seat next to Dad.

It was a good day, and a good bike ride, reminding me that although I love long distance riding, there's no bike ride too short.



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

STP 2014

There was a man wearing a time trial helmet and skinsuit, carrying a bright orange messenger bag and riding a mountain bike.  He wasn't riding STP, but he would have fit in fine if he had.

One out of ten riders sported sleeveless jerseys and half of those wore arm warmers, exposing bare shoulders.  Many riders, even those on mountain bikes, had aero bars clamped on to their handlebars.  Many riders stopped on a dime, right in the bike lane, if they saw a "rest stop" sign or for no apparent reason at all.

Many more riders victoriously shouted  "on your left" as they passed, apparently assuming the presence of 11,000 other riders somehow necessitated a constant warning of their existence.  Most of these riders pulled over and immediately slowed way down in front of the rider they just passed.  Most bikes made an inordinate amount of noise.  Creaky bottom brackets, hollow-sounding carbon fiber wheels, little tick ticks, and of course, the unlubed chain chirp.

Aside from that, it was a glorious day.  Watching the sun rise over Lake Washington cannot be beat.  The morning was cool, but everyone knew the heat loomed ahead and hydration was key.  A few bored looking mechanics at the first rest stop, Seward Park, were happy to check headsets and tighten brakes for one lone single speed rider.

Up the nasty steep little hill after Seward Park and into south Seattle, if that's even what it's called.  Pass up the rest stops, and just stop, rando-style, at gas stations for juice and corner stores for snacks.  One such gas station was showing the Tour de France, anticipating that "you guys would wanna see that".
The beer garden at Centralia was its own small ghost town except for the masseuse taking a break there.  Alas, he couldn't escape the sore neck and shoulders needing his attention, all for the price of a beer.  Intoxication wears off fast when pedaling and sobriety hit in time for Chehalis, where the pool and showers were closed for construction.

Hot foot.  Sore tush.  Tight shoulders.  Blistered palms.  There were many sensations to choose from before even arriving at the Longview Bridge.  Climbing the bridge was an act of sheer control, as single speed riders find it as hard to go slow on the climb as they do to go fast on the descent.

Chips and soda.  Bonk bars.  Atomic fire balls.  Bottles and bottles of water and electrolyte drink.  Pedal, pedal, left, right, repeat, pedal.  Burgerville Saint Helens signifies the home stretch and a bottle full of raspberry milkshake is just the right fuel.

Sprinting past broken riders, passing the Sauvie Island sign, up and over the Saint John's Bridge.  Then the slow part, the neighborhoods of Portland.  Then the finish line, with lines of cheering spectators.  Number ten complete!  One day, one speed, one woman.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

UGB 200K

There comes in a time in every cyclist's life where they have to choose one ride over another.  What I'm getting at is that I missed the West Side Invite not because I'm a total loser, but because my body is overworked and under rested.  Plus I've got way more skin in the R12 2 (f) game.  If you know what that means, as I do, you have my pity.
I rode the six miles over to my favorite coffee joint, Water Avenue Coffee.  Rando Mark #5000 something, was already inside chowing down.  We ran into Ira Ryan on our way out - the same guy who rode the Oregon Outback the fastest.  The only thing I could conjure up to say to this amazing hardman was "twenty eight hours".  He knew what I meant.  Mark and I rode off with a group of marathon-runners surrounding us, and hopped on the Springwater Corridor - the launching pad for so many good rides.

East, east, east to Boring and the Shell Station in Boring.  The clerk told us she was sixty years old and still hadn't learned to ride a bike.  We saw some other cyclists there who told the cashier they'd be back in an hour or so after their loop.  I envied them.

We rolled out, passing those riders, into the eastern view of Mount Hood, which never fails to astonish me with her beauty.  I assume it's a her, anyway.  Up and down and around the rollers past Barton Park and over along the Clackamas River, veering south to Canby, where we enjoyed a nice lunch.
I was already getting a bad case of the hot foot and took the opportunity to douse my bare feet.  Onto Knight's Bridge and west, west, west to Butteville and beyond.  North Valley Road felt neverending, especially with the heat beating down on us.  Out of water, I was happy to hear Mark had an extra bottle.

We set our sights on Gaston and soon enough, I was slamming two big lemonades in line at the store.  Then we walked next door to the One Horse to split a beer.  There's nothing quite like the twilight experience of sitting in a dark cool bar on a bright hot day.  It felt like sitting in the corner of a boxing ring.  As soon as we saw the bottom of our shared glass, a bell rang and we were back in the ring.

Every stroke felt like punching the pedals.  I watched the sweat drip onto my top tube.  I pedaled and coasted and did math to figure out when I could stop pedaling.  Mark stayed with me all the way to the Rock Creek Tavern, where we split another beer.

Don't worry, dear reader, there's no chance of getting intoxicated on a day like this.  One's body drinks in whatever fluids it can find and sends them packing back out as sweat right away.  Mark peeled off to go host a party at his nearby house.  "Missing a control is just like me", he quipped, "''cause I'm out of control".
I was happy to ride solo up Skyline.  No one needs to witness the incredible molasses speed on that heated ascent.  A rider passed on the other side and said my name.  At least, I think that happened.   Passing the church, I knew what the rest of the uphill held and settled in for some steady, but easy, climbing.

Thompson at last!  The top of the hill.  I pulled into the triangle to breathe and sweat and another cyclist coming up Thompson did the same.  We nodded to each other and took off before anyone could see us.

Descending at full speed  down Thompson, and then Cornell, was sheer bliss.  The city came into view and I thought about all the places I'd ridden all day.  The route takes riders on a circuitous trip following the Urban Growth Boundary of Portland, only missing the northern border on the south side of the Columbia River.  A beautiful route, I'd recommend to everyone.