Monday, January 26, 2015

Palmer Mill Expedition

There's a riding posse called "Where The Pavement Ends".  The group description reads like a poem: 

Adventure Base Miles
Sometimes hammering but never opposed to the cafe stop
Situations where 28c just doesn't cut it
Racers training and training racers
Roads closed
Hopping gates
Hardpack, singletrack, gravel, pavement
Exploring the back roads of Portland one at a time

The organizer emailed me saying this is not a Velodirt ride.  I'm not sure what to make of that, but I caught his drift when he said they are a group of racers and it's a drop ride.  So, waiting at the Stark Street Bridge to intercept them, I wasn't surprised at all to see a huge pack of cyclists hurtling through space at an unbelievable pace.  It was like the Roadrunner had cloned himself.  

Someone shouted my name and "HOP ON", which I attempted to do from a standstill.  I chased a bit, then some nice person came back and offered me his wheel.  Unfortunately, his wheel did not offer a fender and I was sporting a brand new jacket, so let's just say that's why I let him go.

For almost a mile, I could see them.  A big shadow with a cloud of dust following it, getting smaller at each corner until I couldn't see them anymore.  For some reason, I found this hilarious and was laughing as an unidentified friend coming the other way shouted at me "Maria!  YOU GOT DROPPED!".  

Rolling up to the Corbett store, I spied a small group that I suspected was a splinter of the fast group.  But, no, they were their own group.  I told them my code name was Hot Potato.  One guy, Josh, asked if I'd be writing up today's ride in my blog.  Sometimes I feel like there's nowhere to hide.  I offered this group an opportunity to drop me as well, but they declined in order to fix a flat.
Onward and upward, I stopped for a photo and water at Women's Forum.  A few of the fasties were hangin out fixing a flat at the Larch Mountain turn off and I thought, "ha! slow and steady wins the race" but they passed me again after Vista House and that was that.

A fwe miles later I could see two riders up high on Alex Barr, local legend gravelly grind.  I rode up and up and up, eventually walked for a while, rode again and found myself at the top much later.  I put my jacket on for the descent, but there were a few more curves to climb first.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Phantom Horse Thief Century

Nobody, but nobody, turns down an invitation to a ride by this name.

A good friend of mine had to close his bike shop in San Diego because he couldn't afford the rent.  He mentioned on facebook that he was now afraid he wouldn't be able to afford his personal apartment rent either (in the same building).  Then he went to Tijuana and his laundry was stolen out of his car, which included all of these old collectible bike messenger t-shirts and ALL of his socks.  None of which has anything to do with Sunday's century ride.

Unlike the small story above, Sunday's ride was primo,  We met in the Northwest Industrial neighborhood at a warehouse.  I recall racing a Bike Swam Alley Cat from that same warehouse a coupla years ago.  NW Industrial is a very weird and haunted feeling place, especially at 8am on a Sunday.  
I got there exactly on time because they said they were leaving at 8 sharp and just as I was about to leave, people started to show up.  9 of us altogether.  2 chicks.  If you count me.  The other girl just got into riding and this was her second century and she was super fun and laughed a lot.  We rode up Saltzman, which I spent most of the day Saturday dreading, but then it turned out to be no big deal.  Skyline out to Old Cornelius, Rock Creek, out out out to Banks.  So pretty and gray and a teeny bit damp and really cold but only if you stopped moving.  Actually kind of ideal weather for pedaling.

The leader guy was super nice and thoughtful and kept doing really quick regroup stops to keep us together.  We had our first rest stop in Banks and then got on the Banks-Vernonia bike path, which is pretty supreme.  20 miles of bike path with no angry honking cars, which we encountered a lot on the other parts.
The Mediterranean place in Vernonia that I spent several miles looking forward to was closed until February.  Jerks.  So we went to this Mexican place instead and everyone got big plates of food.  I got the super nachos which were super delicious and I have no regrets, even if I did keep burping super nachos for hours.  From there we started out as if we were going to the Birk.  That route is so familiar to me and it felt really cool to be out there.  It was all so quiet and empty and gray and foggy and there was lichen and moss everywhere.  

Then we turned onto the Scappoose Vernonia Highway, which I've never ridden in that direction before so my mind was a little blown when it turned out to be this massive climb.  I thought it was a massive climb from the other direction but I guess climbs feel massive when you go up them and descents are quick and easy to forget.  
I started to drop back and sing I've Been Working On The Railroad, which soothed my frazzled nerves.  I kept thinking my back tire was really soft.  Finally, around five zillion years later, we made it to the top and everyone was waiting for me and we zoomed down to Scappoose and went to a drive-thru coffee place.  I got a hot cocoa with a shot of espresso in it.  Drink of the gods, I tell ya, wow did that revive me.

From there we slogged back in the dark cold wet with zillions of cars on highway 30 and I was so happy when I saw the Sauvie Island bridge silhouette, then even happier when the St. Johns Bridge sillhouette came into view.  We went to this bizarre brew pub in the middle of NW industrial nowhere and I got a beer and an order of toast and lived the high-carb dream.  Then downtown to the max train and home to my cat and my shower and my bed.  Woke up the next morning as if nothing had happened.