Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Swallowtail Lace Shawl

This knitting project has been in my queue for awhile. After I finished plying up my very first handspun, I thought there might be enough to knit that shawl.

Swallowtail Shawl Complete!

I cast on during the Winter Olympics. Ripped it out twice (only 10 rows in, no biggie). Spent bits of time since then knitting spiderweb-weight yarn on (relatively) bigger needles. Put in lifelines. Cut up plastic drinking straws to use for the amazingly large number of stitch markers (one between each pattern repeat). Spent my days muttering "k2tog, yo, k, yo, ssk, k". Then the section including the nupps ( Estonian for "you can really screw it up here if you are not obsessively careful".

The pattern called for 14 repeats of the first lace pattern chart, but I wanted a bigger shawl. There are instructions out there for a 19 repeat variation; I decided to do that one. Guidance was found here:
Swallowtail shawl begins

Swallowtail shawl progress

It always amazes me (in knitting, and in life in general), how the getting to the end of something is generally much more exciting then the actual end of something. (bicycling may be a bit different).

Swallowtail, completed, unblocked

It is done, and blocking.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Stupid Things, or Bridge of the Gods Ride

Cecil rounded up a crew for her birthday ride. We were riding on of our favorite routes - Bridge of the Gods, typically starting at Edgefield in Troutdale, crossing into Washington on the I-205 bridge, east on Hwy 14 to the Bridge, then west, riding on (variously) the Cascade Locks-Eagle Creek MUP, I-84 (just about a mile), and the Historic Columbia River Highway back to Edgefield.

Other than the downpours and hail, how was the ride?

The weather was (at its most pessimistic) supposed to be mid 40's to high 50's, with a 30% chance of light rain in the morning, cloudy in the afternoon. And yes, that was the Cascade Locks forecast.

Thus informed, I elected to ride Lemond, with the Race Blades fenders, just in case, wear my old Nike jacket that has some degree of water repellency (really, I took it on several Cycle Oregon rides), and wear booties over my Keen sandals and fluffy hot pink wool socks. Oh, Sheila Moon jersey/armwarmers, wool sleeveless baselayer, shorts and PI kneewarmers. And a few extra pairs of gloves.

As I had no car this weekend, the original plan was to ride from my home just outside Beaverton over to Cecil's, then we'd ride out to Edgefield to meet the others. If you are doing the math, that is about 130 miles. That worked well - uneventful ride to Cecil's - no rain. Then out to Edgefield (Cecil had a flat on Halsey) in time to meet up with Dave E (fellow TBB associate), Cecil's friend Steve, Steve's friend Tim, and Jeff, who is a FOAF of Steve. Got that?

Departed Edgefield at 9:35am (only 5 minutes behind schedule). The ride was uneventful until just before the summit of Cape Horn. Tim hung back with me for the climb (THANK YOU!); still climbing like a rock. I do, however, take pride in the fact that LAST May I had to stop 3 or 4 times on the way up, and did not stop at all this time. Just before the summit, it started to sprinkle. I zipped up my jersey and jacket. Within minutes it started to POUR. We did not stop at Cape Horn, but immediately started descending. I'm not entirely fond of the descent when it is dry and sunny. In pouring rain...OMG... But, as you can see, I'm still here and unscathed. Couldn't see well, couldn't take my hands off the brakes, and I was soaked through almost immediately.

We kept on moving. Didn't stop in Skamania, didn't stop at Beacon Rock... Got to North Bonneville, Tim started to turn in, then asked if I knew where I was going. Yup. Don't need a cue sheet or guide for this one. Still raining.

Got to the Bridge of the Gods to find Cecil and Dave waiting, so we'd have safety in numbers. Wet metal grating; better that we cross as a group and take the whole lane. Cecil's instructions to Dave (his first crossing): "you don't have to look down". Hey, that's the best part! Uneventful crossing for me, no tire slippage at all, and yes, I looked down. That bridge structure is pretty cool.

Lunchtime. The sandwich/ice cream place is gone (not that it was ever any good or fast, but it was there), so adjourned to a pizza place. We ran them out of hot chocolate; most of us went for the salmon chowder in a bread bowl. They fired up the stove for us, and we draped our bits of wet clothing on it. I visited the ladies room and attempted to blot out the excess water with paper towels. Noticed a guy admiring the bikes (and we had a very nice collection of them, my Lemond was the most pedestrian of the bunch). His wife told us he just bought a new bike and had to admire others. We understand that. Then he wanted to know where we were riding from (it should be noted that there were puddles on the floor under our table). Most "Edgefield". Cecil "Portland". Me "Beaverton". Oh, he said, you drove to Edgefield from Beaverton. No sir, I RODE to Edgefield from Beaverton. More conversation - he's trying to get up to riding a century. He's from California. Turns out Cecil's brother lives in the same town; she went over to chat with them and YES they know her brother. Small world.

By this point we had eaten, and were less wet, so it was time to head out. It was not raining. But then, we looked west, and there was a Huge Black Cloud... Jeff was lobbying to wait it out. It was already 3pm, and we only had so much day left, and none of us were prepared for riding in the dark. So, off we went. Of course, the minute we entered the path, it started to rain heavily again. In the gloom, the moss-covered path in the forest was just amazingly beautiful. Fantasy movie beautiful. But, still raining. I started out really cold, and was shaking so badly the bike was shuddering. Fortunately it resolved quickly as I warmed up. Up the stairs (carrying the bike, no stopping), then signs saying the path was closed past the Tanner Creek Bridge. We ignored that. There was some construction equipment and supplies, but easily maneuvered around. Not that I am recommending you do that, of course. Closed until July sometime.

Got to the part where we hop on I-84, saw Cecil, Tim, Steve and Jeff coming back - they went a bit too far. Cecil rode at the rear, because she had the most amazingly bright jacket. Uneventful, as usual.

West, west, west. Some of the guys were muttering about this being the worst ride ever due to the weather. Cecil and I promptly came up with 6 rides that eclipsed this one in terms of epically bad weather. :-)

I spent some time mentally reviewing the clothing I did not bring because it would be too hot. Hah.

Stopped at Multnomah Falls to record our stupidity and watch Steve strangle Cecil. No ice cream, no coffee.

Fun and Games at Multnomah Falls

Off again. Dave E and I traded places all the way to Crown Point. The rain let up. The sun was shining, great view to the east. I just wanted to feel dry, and was working my way toward that.

Then the final climb up to Women's Forum, and my favorite local descent down into Troutdale with the Bell road option. And it was GREAT until right outside Troutdale - it started drizzling. Then raining. Then (ouch!) hailing. Crossed the Sandy River, through Troutdale and into Edgefield. Dave and I found Jeff, then Steve and Tim. Then Cecil. I was planning to continue riding on with Cecil, then either catch a lift from her house, or continue riding home. Steve and Tim were leaning on me to accept a ride. Cecil noted that she had slipped on a speed bump and whacked her knee and it felt "interesting". Steve and Tim leaned on Cecil to also accept a ride home. Cecil was worried about my shaking earlier (holy hypothermia Batman!), but I assured her it was long gone. It was 6pm. We'd be riding in dusk (dark for me), and were not equipped to do that. We (reluctantly) accepted.

It should be understood that had there not been the knee and darkness issue, we were both perfectly capable of successfully riding to our respective homes.

Home. Put the bike in the garage, thanked Tim and Steve, peeled off the still wet clothing and went directly into a very long, very hot shower. Put on much warm clothing. Made a mug of hot tea.

107 miles today, 63 miles yesterday.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

This and That

What with Sweetpea getting closer to done, Natalie and I have been having intense component selection email exchanges. The front hub has been set for a long time (SONDelux :-) ) but the rear hub, not so much.

My choices were the Suzue Classica, the White Industries H3, and a DT Swiss. We are working on the Shiny Silver Component Group, which eliminated the DT Swiss right off.

The Suzue was pretty nice looking (it is a HUB! why am I getting so wound up about a HUB?), and I was going to go for it, until I looked at the White. Oh my. Shiny, curvy... an ounce lighter than the Suzue. Made in the USA. Perhaps more expensive. Too bad. I picked the White.

And who thought skewer selection could be so fraught with indecision? Again, going with shiny, silver, curvy, I'm going with the Velo Orange skewers.

All that taken care of, I set out to lead the Velo 1516's today. Arrived at 8:58am, to find my lone rider, Duncan. He was going to try to hang with the 17s if I didn't show, but there I was. Pretty much a flat route today. Lupines blooming by Verboort!

I got drizzled on riding over, then it was ok, then more rain. Entering Forest Grove, we picked up Brian C. Always a delight to ride with him. Off to Maggies, where we ditched our jackets and I had a blueberry muffin top. After that brief stop headed south (where did that headwind come from?) past the buffalo ranch, then west, then north on Stringtown. The sky looked quite ominous; Duncan pulled over to retrieve his jacket and we did the same.

Good thing. The sky opened. Raining so hard we could barely see! Then, while heading in on Gales Creek, a big truck passed me, right by a large body of water. It felt like someone had upended a 5 gallon bucket of cold water on me! Brian C: "did I hear some strong language there?". Heavens to Betsy, he certainly did.

My shoes were full. We stopped at a Plaid Pantry, where I attempted to get some of the water out of my socks, then proceeded on. It quit raining, and eventually I started to feel...dry. But the rain was not quite done, we had some more the last few miles back. Duncan split off to go home; Brian and I proceeded on to Longbottoms, where we found Dana, Bob B (with all those broken ribs, he was just eating and visiting.) and ? (rider I did not know).

Second breakfast, then rode on home. The rain had stopped by then. Before I got out of my wet shoes, I wiped and lubed the squeaky chain, found a fender stay to keep the front fender on Bleriot from wobbling (the rack which normally does the job is visiting), and replaced the batteries in my rear blinkie. I'm not normally this organized, but it will save some aggravation next time I ride that bike!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sweetpea Progress

Had a lovely appointment this afternoon with the Best Framebuilder in the World. Approximately 5 more weeks to go. There is a frame and fork. The final component list is set. Paint colors mostly selected.

Best framebuilder in the world...

The frame among the peas

Lots of shiny silver components (mostly Velo Orange). Cinelli Gel Cork tape, natural color. Nitto seatpost (oooooooohhhhh). SonDelux front hub. (oooooooooooooohhhhhhhhh). Velocity Aerohead rims.

Bits for Sweetpea

The frame will be getting some more braze-ons, and the rack needs to be fabricated. Then off to paint and build.

No, I'm not excited. NOT :-)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Gator Grinder Triathlon

I've been competing in this sprint triathlon most years since 2005 (at least). Most fun sprint triathlon ever (I've done a few in the area; I come back to this one). Hosted by the Canby Gators swim club, it is staffed by the families and swimmers, is great fun, and the volunteers are the most supportive EVER. "Way to go! Looking great!" - that's what you hear during the event.

All the ribbons

Registered back in December (it sells out quickly), put down my 9:00 swim time and didn't think anymore about it. I started my recovery in December, too - running, cycling, lifting weights. I figured I'd get in a pool in March. I got into a pool this past Thursday. Ooops. Didn't swim a 9:00 either. (but not a 10:00. It wasn't THAT dismal.)

After the 300km a few weeks back, I fell off my training. Completely. Probably not the best plan, but I was so done, toasted, exhausted, sore, you name it, that I had absolutely no motivation to do anything. I did keep up the cycling on weekends and did run a couple times - got out and ran 30-40 minutes, no intervals, no timing, just ran a route around the neighborhood, and however long it took, well, that was it. That was fun. That is why I run. Not everything has to be training and organized. Of course, I am signed up for a half marathon in October, so I'll have to get serious again pretty soon.

Where were we? Oh, right. Started organizing on Thursday. This was a good thing, because my triathlon shorts just vanished. I dumped out a couple of drawers, even went through Fitz's cycling gear, looked in all the athletic bags... Nope. A quick perusal of the Team Estrogen catalog, and some shorts were selected and would be ready for me TE World Headquarters. The weather forecast was, at that point, iffy, so I tossed in some warm shirts, knee warmers and a jacket.

Friday I arranged to collect Cecil, as this was her first triathlon (she was doing the swim leg for Team Last Minute, because she still can't run) and she was a bit stressed about the timing mats and transition and all. She'd get the grand tour when we arrived. Stopped at TE on the way home from work to collect my shorts and visit with Susan. Final packing, bag by the front door, bike and tire pump in car.

And then we went to the concert, and didn't get home until late. Up at 6am. YAWN. A lot of stumbling around, but I did get a big cup of coffee, a big bowl of Cheerios and strawberries, and was at Cecil's at our prearranged 7:30am meetup.

Arriving in Canby, we got our stuff out of the van, I gave my tires a final pump-up, and we headed over to check in. Didn't get there QUITE early enough to score an end spot on the bike rack for my heat, but close. Checked in, found Susan, set up my transition area, got my race number written on various appendages, gave Cecil the transition area tour, then we went in to cheer the other TE and Friends folks on. I'm always one of the later (often last) swimmers of the group, but Cecil had finished her swim, handed off to the cyclist on her relay, and was there to cheer me on. Which is novel - everyone is out on the course by the time I get in the pool. (What I'm saying here is that my competitive swimmer past has not entirely left me. In the general population I am accounted a faster swimmer :-) )

I was in the last lane position, which I thought would be good, because 1) maybe I wouldn't be swimming the promised 9 minutes, and 2) I could do flip turns and not freak out the other lane occupants. Flip turns are quicker than grabbing the wall, for sure. The first swimmer was, um, well... he had no form. I am not sure he managed to ever swim a 9:00 500yd swim. I passed the third position swimmer and then him, but he was speeding up and slowing down, and he passed me. Then I passed him again, finally. It was kind of like swimming behind a very confused frog. But in all that, I lost count, and figured I was about 15 when the kickboard was waved in the water at the far wall - I was at 19! Yay! Just about done!

Hauled myself out of the pool (my heart rate monitor expired once I got in the pool. I think it is done), got out to the transition area, turned into Bicyclist and zipped out. The route is a big loop, mostly flat but for the climb up to Central Point Rd, the rollers on Central Point, and then the rollers on Territorial Rd. The last set is fun - you really can surf them. Gorgeous scenery, but clearly, not taking pictures today! Cheerful and supportive volunteers at every turn. Oh, and I forgot the curvy descent - now that I'm better at descending, and know the road, I have more fun with it. That said, still climbing like a rock, and it showed. My average was 15.8mph. I've previously ridden it in the high 16's. Toward the end I was passed by competitors from the next swim heat - the Very Serious Triathletes with Real Tri Bikes and time trial helmets. If you put all their bikes together, my low-spoke-count Bontrager wheels would still have more spokes in them.

T2 (bike to run)

Back to the transition area, where I turned into Runner, said hi to Cecil, and stumbled off on the run (well, that's how it FELT). The first little bit of the run includes non-pavement - lumpy grass. Not fond of that at all. Then down the road to the elementary school track. Two laps; I got some water on each. It was getting hot! I did stop briefly to move the velcro strap with the timing chip to the outside of my sock; it was very, very scratchy. Out of the school (over the entire course, I think I passed two cyclists, and that was it), back up the road to the middle school, over the grass to the track, half a lap and done. Whew. No one there, but I wasn't really expecting it. Got some water and started walking back to the swim center/transition area. Met Cecil, so we headed back together. My overall time was 6 minutes slower than my most recent start, but, really I wasn't expecting great things this year. The bike course was also a bit longer, which might account for some of that 6 minutes.

Got my shower. Locker room entertainment - all the TE staff had the Zoot Recovery Compression Tights. Putting them on seems to be challenging. That said, might be worth considering. My legs hurt all the time now. Headed off to the post-race bbq. Fun as always - Susan and Jeff grill a variety of burgers, and everyone else brings other stuff. Like homemade ice cream, apple crisp, salads, chips, cookies, soda, beer... Most of us placed in our age groups. One of Susan's employees took 2nd overall in Women's Road Bike division. I even came in 4th in my age group, and there were at least 5 folks in it! Update - results are up. There were exactly 5 folks in my age group :-)

bib number:73
location:Portland, OR
overall place:118 out of 177
division place:4 out of 5
gender place:46 out of 83

Cecil's comment: "you know, that's a lot more than most people would expect from someone who was sick all last year". I'll just say that this recovery is not going as rapidly as planned. Grumble. That said, when a certain cycling partner is ready to resume riding 200kms, well, I'm here :-) S*cks that we are serially incapacitated.

4th place in my age group

Little Pink Bear reflects on the day

Won a fabulous door prize - a new RoadID. My current one is getting very ratty, so I'm pleased about that. I wear it whenever I'm riding (even commuting. Especially commuting) or running.

Learnings this year: those standard issue velcro straps for the timing chips are very abrasive. I know you can buy a nicer one, but Susan pointed out that the RoadID strap is perfect. Well then!

New triathlon shorts mini-review: I got these. I'd like them to be cut higher in the back. I bet I have a sunburn between the bottom of my shimmel and the top of the shorts. Also, whenever I pushed off from the wall during the swim, they'd catch the water. I'll have to cinch them down tighter next time. I do like the no-elastic leg openings. The shorts stayed put through the whole race; didn't have to yank them down once.

All the pics here

Musical Interlude

The kids gave me tickets to the James Taylor and Carole King concert. It was last night. Best. concert. ever.

Fitz's snarky comment as we were walking in... "is there anyone under 50 here?" :-) A few. Heck, the musicians are, um, in their 60's. It didn't seem to matter.

Did I mention that it was the best concert ever?

My favorite moment (so hard to select) - the duet on You Can Close Your Eyes.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Kaiser Brooks Revisited

Way back in January, I led this ride for Portland Velo. It is a hilly one. Didn't ride it all that well in January, either - we skipped the last climb.

Saturday, I had a do-over. No stopping on the hills; even went back down part of Kaiser (that would be the steepest of the three climbs) to check on one of the riders. Overall avg was faintly faster, with more climbing and a headwind. Must be sucking less bad :-)

Beautiful views out over the valley from Pumpkin Ridge Drive (including a ride right by my CSA, Pumpkin Ridge Gardens) - fields of blooming wild mustard, llamas, sheep, cows, chickens... The wheat is up, too, and it was shiny and waving in the breeze (cough, headwind, cough).

Did our standard stop at St Francis in Roy. Met the parish priest while we were standing around waiting for a train to pass.

Had my standard Farm Plate and coffee upon return to Longbottom's; visiting with the earlier-returning riders.

But because the rides now start at 9am, I somehow could not get myself on the road by 8am, and had to drive. Shame on me. I'll do better next time.