Saturday, March 20, 2010


If I could think of a better blog post title, I would. I was singing this somewhere between Timber and Vernonia. The exuberance and the screams are the best part.

I speak of today's 200km Oregon Randonneurs brevet. This is my first brevet in a year. I was HOPING to finish somewhere between 11 and 12 hours.

Cutting to the chase:
Fastest 200km in my life.  Ever.

This is the fastest I have ever completed any 200km. I went back through past results, just to check.

Back to the beginning...
This is a great brevet - starts in Forest Grove, heads north through Gales Creek, Timber, Vernonia, does a funny little loopy thing, then off to Birkenfeld. Coming back goes directly through Vernonia, etc. I've ridden it twice before, once as a rider, and once on a pre-ride as the co-organizer.

I was planning to ride Bleriot (duh. my rando bike.), but Cecil put the bug in my head that I should consider Lemond (10 lbs less bike). Limiting factors are 1) not needing fenders 2) enough carrying capacity for food and all the clothing I'd be taking off, and 3) lighting. I thought Lemond might be up to it, so transferred everything over at 10pm. Amazingly enough, I did not forget any bits and pieces! I installed the Nite Rider MiNewt just in case I would want a headlight (battery, bright, 6 hrs run time). Lemond already has a rear blinkie, with relatively fresh batteries.

This year, the weather was forecasted to be amazing. Unlike 2008, it delivered.

It was 50 degrees at my house. It was 35 degrees at the Grand Lodge.

Arrived at the Grand Lodge with plenty of time, was checked in by John Henry ("you are looking much better than when last I saw you" "thanks"). Visited around. As it did not appear to be sunrise anytime soon, I pulled on the reflective vest and ankle bands, and turned on a few lights.

Bill A (ride organizer) released us at 7am. Headed west out through Forest Grove. The sunrise in my rear view mirror looked pretty spectacular, with lots of riders silhouetted by the very colorful sky. Rode out of town with John Kramer, at least until the Blaze of Glory feeling faded. Eventually passed through Gales Creek, and headed west on Hwy 6. The shoulder was relatively clean, so I could avoid the Evil Rumble Strip altogether. The wind was projected to be ESE, lighter in the morning, strengthening in the afternoon. My strategy was to make time while I had a faintly favorable wind.

Somewhere on Timber Road, before the climb, Peg and Lesli came up, and we rode together (much chatting. Peg and Lesli were 1/2 of the fleche team a couple years back) until the Timber climb, where, as I expected, I fell back. It got colder and colder and colder. I was later told that it was 32 degrees at the summit. I believe it. Fun descent - I could see Peg and Lesli, but never could catch them. Stopped for a small snack after crossing Hwy 26.

Did the long stretch between Hwy 26 and Vernonia, arrived at the control, had a rando mocha prepared by Ed Groth (in a REAL mug, not disposable!), and endeavored to taste every single variety of baked good. Thus fortified, headed on out for the Keasey Road out and back. Saw Susan O heading back. Info question answered, and jacket removed, headed back to the Stoney Pt Rd turnoff. Greg Olson joined me for the climb, and we caught up. At the bottom, he headed off; needed to get in some aerobar time. North, north, north, headed for Birkenfeld. At the Big Eddy Campground (mile 52 outbound), saw the first of the returning riders. Shortly after that I came upon Holden, who was resetting his computer. He came up and joined me, and we rode together all the way to Birkenfeld. I kept looking at my bike computer in disbelief - speeds ranged from 15 to 19mph... numbers not usually seen on my bike computer.

Peg, Lesli, and David were already there ("not long" said Peg). Got my card signed, bought something to drink, and joined Peg on a bench in the sun. Lots of motorcyclists coming there - I think there was a Poker Run in progress. Peg had her eye on the guy in the sleeveless shirt, big gut and leather pants - "I bet he'd be good in a bar fight". Ate my smoked turkey-cream cheese-cranberry chutney-whole wheat pita and a well-buttered Rye Molasses muffin. Lots of visiting and admiring each other's bikes and luggage. David Parsons was riding the Midlife-Crisis Bike ("better for brevets than the Xtracycle" Oh yeah) with his home created front bag, which received much positive attention. Took off the fleece vest, leg warmers, stretchy knickers, and swapped in the shortfinger gloves.

Excellent calorie to dollar ratio

Then it was time to head out (we'd been loafing around for 30 MINUTES. UNHEARD OF), and off we went. The promised headwind never did quite materialize - riding mostly in the 15-16mph range. Again, I was wondering whose bike computer this was and what was powering it.

Look at the moss glowing in the sun

As I now had access to my jersey pocket and bare fingers, I started taking more pictures. Possibly more pictures of the Nehalem River than was warranted, but it was pretty in the sun with the mossy trees.

Nehalem River

Peg and Lesli told us they'd be at the Black Bear Coffee Company in Vernonia, and, sure enough, there they were at an outside table ("not long" said Peg). Went in and ordered a mocha, then joined the group at the table. Outside, in the sun. With a pastry and a banana and a mocha. At a control. UNHEARD OF. Peg - "see, this is how it can be". I've been at way too many controls standing under bank overhangs in the pouring rain or freezing my butt off eating pbj sandwiches. Again, another long sit, then off again.

Open Control in Vernonia

Holden had to make a stop between Vernonia and Hwy 26. I figured he'd catch me by the Timber climb, because, after all, I still climb like a rock.

And that's why the town is named "Timber"

Cutest post office ever

So, crossed Hwy 26 with not much waiting (I saw Peg and Lesli cross as I was riding up - a policeman stopped traffic for them. wow.), and proceeded up to Timber. No Holden. Took some pictures. Then started down. It was much chillier on the south side, but it finally warmed back up as I was proceeding east on Hwy 6 to our next control at the Glenwood Shell Station.

Peg, Lesli and David were there, snacking. I went in and bought some chips and got my card signed. The woman behind the counter said we had a nice day for it, and I said, finally after all those years of less than nice days (rain, snow, hail...). She said to the other woman working the station (and I quote) "they come in here all wet and cold, and I really hate to let them go back out in it." Lots of friendly customers in the lot, as well. Potato chips consumed, off we went. Holden (who rode up): "you didn't climb like a rock"

Turned onto Gales Creek Rd (only 11 more miles to go!). We didn't seem to be moving very consistently, so I punched it and led the 5 of us at 18mph. No head wind here! We traded pulls, at least until we hit some of the little climbs, at which point I'd fall back. Regroup and off again. As we headed into Forest Grove, I looked at my HRM - 10 hrs, 17 min. Hmm. That seemed fast.

Finished at 10:27 total time. 124.78 miles, 14.33 riding average. My fastest average since Apr 2009, on the Monster Cookie (60 miles). My fastest 200km pace AND total time EVER. The detailed among you will note that my overall average was 11.94mph. Getting close to the elusive 12 miles an hour goal.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

"You should drink Maggie's cocoa more often"

Another fine day of leading the Portland Velo 15's. Today we were 7 - me, Rob, Robert, Robyn, Greg, Meagan and Diane.

Diane headed west on SW Johnson School

The route had us headed south of Hillsboro, west, up over Blooming Fern Hill, into Forest Grove (Maggie's Buns stop!), then north on Thatcher to Kansas City, and finally turning east through Roy and back to Hillsboro.

I decided to live dangerously, and ride Lemond, fender-free. Weather forecast said no rain to speak of after 9am, and the Weather Underground radar looked very cloud-free.

Uneventful ride to the start (talk about autopilot. And this is cool, because the contract I start next week is right by Longbottom's Coffee and Tea), visit with Mike Stevens, who was JRod for the day. Saw Diane; she thought she'd ride with my group. Diane and I have been riding together since 2003 (wow!)

We were joined by the others, who are rapidly becoming the Usual Suspects.

There were a couple of modifications to the published route - the speed limit on Shute Rd is now 50(!), making it possibly not the best choice to return to Huffman and the finish - we would turn onto Sewell, thence on to Evergreen instead. I also modified the route exiting Forest Grove - we took the route through town, past the high school, and on to Thatcher on NW David Hill Rd, rather than picking it up closer in town.

Lots of pretty late-winter rural scenery - the Marionberry canes are a wonderful purple, and the pond on SW Johnson School Rd is a nice shimmery blue, ringed with gold reeds and a green field.

Pond and yellow outbuilding on SW Johnson School

We had a headwind/quartering headwind heading south and west; I really appreciated it when Rob offered to pull some. Not that I did so badly, but everyone still climbs faster than me. It is like riding with a herd of Jasons, all of whom spin smoothly past me heading up, and I'm slogging along. Slogging faster, though; I don't think I dropped below 6mph on Blooming Fern Hill at any point, and was mostly going a bit faster.

On into Forest Grove, to the delights of Maggie's Buns. She has fabulous Lemon Bars, Cinnamon Rolls as big as your head,... MMMMMMMMM. Today I just went for a cup of hot cocoa. Diane did the same, and also ordered a muffin. Everyone else stayed outside. Didn't know what they were missing, nope...

Somehow, not an attribute I ascribe to Maggie's baked goods

Then north through Forest Grove, and onto NW Thatcher and the 5 miles of rollers up to NW Greenville. We had a tailwind. I lit up :-), 17-19mph. Fortunately, all the riders in my group are entirely up to that pace.

The turn on to Greenville... Rob: "you should drink Maggies cocoa more often". Or something to that effect. Really, I think it was the tailwind.

Then heading east and slightly south, with the wind mostly at our backs. We could see a storm. It was heading NE. We were heading SE. I hoped we'd miss it. I had taken off my jacket in Forest Grove. I *could* always put it back on.

Riders on the Storm

So, 8 miles out, heading south on NW Kerkman, we picked up the edge of the storm. As it was at our backs, at least I didn't feel like I was getting very wet. As it was at our backs, we got a nice push! I didn't start to feel wet until Sewell, at which point we had only a couple miles to go.

Got back to Longbottom's and there were other riders still there (!). Ordered the Farm Plate, and, as I had a full card, got a free big mocha. Spent a bit of quality time with the paper towels in the bathroom, blotting off some of the liquid, then settled down for a nice, late, second breakfast. Brian C and Mike Y stayed to chat with us.

And then I rode back home, with a detour by Bike Gallery for some tubes. I was on my last tube. Got to see Mechanic Mark, who I have not seen for months. He had to show me the new Electra bike with hammered metal fenders and fancy rear rack (the Ticino line). Looks like Velo Orange components to me. Nice bike, too.

For the day, 65+ miles at a 13.3 average. Best this year.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Nice Afternoon!

There I am!

Somehow, yesterday (Thursday), I could not get my sorry butt out of bed at 4:50am to get to spin class. Possibly because there was a CHIFOO presentation the night before. Which was a great presentation, plus I got to share my good news with my fellow User Experience/Usability/Human Factors professional colleagues. Yes, there is a job for me - 11 weeks, half time, subcontracting through a company I really, really wanted to work with. :-) Starting in a week or so. Nuff said.

But it was a Really Nice Day yesterday. So much so, that after Thursday morning Fibers (of the needle, thread, sewing machine, knitting needle, spinning wheel type) group, including a nice little potluck lunch...

Lunchtime at Thursday Group

Self - you could ride up to Council Crest and back. Yes, I could. And about 20 minutes later, I was. This time I took pictures along the route, so you can see one of my favorite 15+ mile rides. Once we get back into Daylight Savings Time, it is a great after-work ride, although you'll see bicyclists on it at any time. Don't these folks have jobs? (sad commentary on the state of the local economy. but at least they are getting some good riding in.)

With no further ado:

The start:

First hill

And up to the top of the neighborhood

On the Sunset Highway MUP:

Entrance to the Sunset Hwy MUP

Pointer Rd, whacking steep

Riding on the north side of Hwy 26 now

On to Council Crest:

Which way to go?

Little Pink Bear - "whew!"

And around the Fairmount Loop:

On the Fairmount Loop

View to the east

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I'm Saving Myself for Sunday...

I did not lead a PV ride last weekend. I was saving myself for Sunday.

Here I am thinking: "self, you need to up the miles if you want to be riding a 200km in March."
Email received later that day from Cecil: "want to do a century this weekend?"
It isn't like we read each other's minds or anything.

I haven't ridden a century since, um, last March, the Scio Covered Bridges Permanent.

Weather forecast: excellent. Bicycle selection: Lemond

The route was basically Seven Corners by Ladd's Addition-Springwater Corridor-17th Ave-Milwaukie-Oak Grove-Oregon City-Up the Hill-Down S. Central Point-Township Rd-Canby-Ivy-Lone Elder... heck, go here:

After 15+ miles working our way south to Oregon City, and UP the hill (complete with train passing by below us), we headed out on S Central Point Rd toward Canby.

Excellent descent, way cute little twin lambs in a field of sheep, and amazing castle-like construction, rollers, part of the Gator Grinder bike course, more rollers, then right onto Township Rd into Canby. And then out of Canby on Ivy (Lynne points out the Gator Grinder parking/transition area/etc; we are both entered), and off to the Lone Elder store for a stop. I had a banana and a well-buttered Rye Molasses Muffin (my additions - raisins and walnuts); Cecil had her Diet Coke and other items from the store.

Little Pink Bear wants a snack

By now the route was essentially flat, but for the few downs/ups on Meridian Rd. Really nice day. I had ditched my jacket and mittens way back in Milwaukie somewhere, and took off my wool cap at the Lone Elder Store.

Cecil on Lone Elder Rd

Now heading south on Meridian Rd (which goes on forever, but not quite as long as, say, Howell Prairie. Scenery is nicer, as well), passing by the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, through Monitor, eventually to turn onto E Marquam Rd, and into Mt Angel.

We elected to go out to the Gallon House Bridge before stopping for a snack. On the way back from the bridge, we saw a group of cyclists. First we thought it was the group of women we rode with for a bit out of Canby, but no. One was even in a Team Bag Balm jersey! We turned around directly to visit. Diane, Don, and Andrew! (and someone not known to us). Amazing who you run into out in the wilds of the Willamette Valley!

Amazing the people you run into, way out in the Willamette Valley!

Back to the Mt Angel Market, where I purchased some water to top up my water bottle and mix more Gatorade, and a bag of Smartfood. Plus I ate another well-buttered (and peanut-buttered) Rye Molasses Muffin. And some cashews.

Many flowering trees, daffodils, crocuses, etc, etc. It is definitely SPRING in the valley.

Flowering Plum trees by Kennedy HS in Mt Angel

Ok. Just over halfway there. Headed back to the Lone Elder Store (another muffin) where we saw a nice cross-section of, um, Merkins, back through Canby, and... back to the rollers.

Fuzzy donkey with Oreo Cow in the background

Somehow, they were a bit harder than on the way out. I was dreading the eventual climb back up on S Central Point, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the rollers. Found Cecil at the top - she had enough time to enjoy a photo session with Granny Reniche-Smith and a flowering pink plum tree.

Back through upper Oregon City, then the descent. Lots of road construction, so it was very chopped up and bumpy going. Or, to quote Cecil at the bottom: "Well THAT took all the fun out of it!" We did get to admire several Victorian houses and checked out the Carnegie Library (brick and cream building, very attractive).

We didn't cross the Clackamas River quite the same way - we went on the west side of 99E, then crossed it on the 99E bridge, then headed north on River Rd and back.

I was definitely fading. There was some question as whether we would break 100 miles, and we decided we'd just ride around until we did. Gorgeous light through the elm trees at one point, where my camera decided it was really and truly broken. Darn.

And then we were done, and the odometer read 100.6 miles. 9.5 hours total riding time.

And 312 miles for February, most miles since LAST February.