Sunday, February 20, 2011

Beware, Roving Chihuahua Pack...

After a week of rain mixed with snow (causing me to abort my Thursday bicycle commute), I was looking forward to this weekend.  All the weather reports were promising SUN SUN SUN!  Friday was more rain and cold, and a run through the Nature Park on the sucking mudpit trail, so I was dubious.  Then the weather reports said, yes indeed, SUN, but beware of icy roads early.

Susan and I were to meet at Insomnia Coffee on Baseline in Hillsboro at 10am, and ride a slightly abbreviated version of Marcello's new Westside Populaire Perm.

Decisions.  Which bike to ride?  Dry and sunny, no need for lighting, no need to carry lots of stuff... Walked into the Bike Room in the garage, and Lemond was jumping up and down, going "me! me! me!, pick ME!"  Haven't ridden Lemond since, um, maybe June?  Clearly the tires needed air :-), and I quickly transferred the tire pump and the first aid kit (standard stuff I carry on every ride) to the Detours HighTail bag.  Each bike has its own multitool, spare tube and patch kit; no need to worry about that.

Lemond really wanted to go play today

The most direct way to Insomnia is straight out Jenkins/Baseline.  Getting to Jenkins is a bit trickier, on a bike.  Walker Rd east of SW Cedar Hills is inadvisable, and SW Cedar Hills south of Walker to Jenkins is similarly inadvisable.  So, about 9:20am, I cautiously dropped down my street (remember the icy road part?), got myself onto SW Cabot/SW Center, did the one block sprint on SW Hall, then through the Cedar Hills Crossing mall onto W Hocken, which connects with Jenkins.

Sunny, roads were still wet, and there were frosty patches.  I'm ok with untracked frost.

My co-worker who multi-modes (bicycle/MAX) to work from SW 205th/Baseline to SW 158th/Walker is not going to appreciate me telling her on Monday that I rode that distance in about 20 minutes.  She probably spends twice that time waiting for the train, and riding the train :-)

So.  I arrived.  Susan arrived right after me, and wanted coffee.  I'm always up for more coffee.  Quirky little coffee shop :-)  Also, great coffee and vegan pastries, for those so inclined.  Susan: "you rode the Lemond!" Me: "so I don't have to work quite to hard to keep up with you when you are taking it easy".  Decided it was too warm to wear the TBB jacket over my Luna wool-silk LS jersey and Shebeest thermal vest, so packed it away.   Susan looked at me and shivered :-)  Although she did like my cycling clothing supplier.

Then off, heading north on SW 231st/SW229th to SW Evergreen and west.  No unfamiliar roads.  Susan's coach had her doing a 4 hour EASY ride, with 5 spinning intervals along the way.  Brief stop outside Roy to get a picture of a silo.  I am usually riding in the other direction, so miss this:

Silo outside Roy

Susan finally warmed up enough to remove the sleeves from HER jacket.

A brief pause IN Roy (as if Roy actually had an "IN").  Susan dusted all the dried mud spatter off my back - hazard of no fenders.  Then west again on Wilkesboro and into Banks.  We stopped to admire the new Banks-Vernonia trailhead, and Susan shared some of her hot cocoa mix.  I also learned that I need more calories in the bottle.  If they taste like that (yum), I'll consider it.  Apparently my hot tea-gatorade is all the wrong kinds of sugar :-)

Then west again, pausing for wetlands photos on Cedar Canyon, and further west on Hwy 6.  I stopped for a photo I had not taken the last time I was out this way.

Wetlands on Cedar Canyon Rd

Barn with rusty roof off Hwy 6

After summiting, downhill to Gales Creek Rd.  The shoulder was gravelled, so I felt like a loaf of bread on a cornmeal-covered baking sheet.  Hope it is swept away by the time the Three Capes 300k rolls around.

Found Susan at the intersection, where she shared her Lemon Fruition bar.  (Lynne clicks off to order some)

Did I mention that it was bright and sunny?    We'd had a bit (ok, more than a bit) of headwind from the NW, and we were now heading SE on Gales Creek.  Wheee!  Gales Creek - nice rural scenery, and best enjoyed with a tailwind.

Turned onto Stringtown Rd, and stopped at the historical marker (Gales Creek had a mill), where Susan shared her Black Bean Brownies.

Now, "black bean" and "brownies" are not words or ingredients I myself would expect to find in such close proximity, but they were surprisingly tasty.  A couple of women stopped, possibly also to read the historical marker, and told us we were "brave".  Susan went into cycling PR mode; I just listened in admiration.  Really, Stringtown road is very low traffic!  (One cannot, perhaps, say quite the same about Gales Creek.  Low traffic, but high speed.).

Pulled away, and, a bit further down the road, things felt... bouncy.  Crud.  Rear flat.  Pulled over at a handy gravel driveway, only to be greeted by ferocious barking.  Much ferocious barking, coming from somewhere in the vicinity of our ankles.  The house across the road was home to 3 chubby Chihuahuas, all of which were intent on protecting their territory.  They all came over to chase us away.  Susan would growl at them, and they'd back off a bit.  I was too busy laughing, and pulling flat repair stuff out.  They shut up and started sniffing the supplies.  No, that tube is not edible.

Fixing the flat

I might as well patch your tube

Ferocious chihuahua

We found the hole, and I picked the offending bit of glass out of the tire.  Susan patched the tube while I was swapping in the new tube.  The chihuahuas supervised.  Susan shared a learning from Vinnie: "if you get a flat, and you are carrying a spare tire, swap that in too - saves lots of time".

FINALLY, off again, into Forest Grove.  By now, Maggie's was closed, so we settled on the Jack in the Box.  They've got decent coffee, fries (mmmm, hot and salty.), indoor plumbing and a big window to supervise the bikes through.

Then east again, working our way back to Insomnia Coffee.  A bit of a miscue (got my Portland Velo return routes crossed), so we ended up heading north on Brookwood (ick), rather than River, but did pop out on Baseline in just the right spot.

A long pause at Insomnia for paninis and chai.  Former co-worker of husband was there; we caught up.  Eventually, it was time to head on home, and we went our separate ways.  Really nice ride!

Post-ride chai

I'm done

69+ miles 14 avg mph.
The route
And pics

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pics from Worst Day Ride

Portland Worst Day of Year Bike Ride 2011

Diane, Dave VG and me afterwards.

And Little Pink Bear made a new friend:

Portland Worst Day of Year Bike Ride 2011

All pictures by Eric S.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Look Ma! No Hands!

As the husband needed to be dropped at the airport on Saturday, a ride on Saturday of any decent length was not going to happen.  Fortunately, the Worst Day of the Year Ride was on Sunday, Seattle friend Eric was coming down to ride it, and local friend Diane K was looking for company as well.

I didn't figure that I'd actually RIDE with Eric, but we'd at least meet up somewhere along the route.

Weather was to be 40's to 50's, rain starting later in the day.  Sleeveless wool baselayer, Luna silk/wool jersey (that fabric feels WONDERFUL), Showers Pass Elite 2.0 jacket, Smartwool shorts, Sugoi Firewall tights, wool socks, PI shoes w/Sugoi Firewall booties over them, old PI AmFib gloves.  Extra gloves, and the Shebeest loose capris and Team Bag Balm windvest, if I got too warm.

Bicycle was Sweetpea.

Elevation profile

The ride was to depart from the Lucky Lab on SE Hawthorne at 9am (the Challenge Route.  Which one did you think I'd be riding? :-) ), so I was on the road at 7:40am.  I wanted to get there for the pre-ride donuts and coffee.  Not that I didn't have breakfast at home, first.

Found Diane when I arrived; she already had her donut in hand, and pointed me to the source.  Called Eric; he wasn't planning to start until later.

We were off shortly after 9am (started in waves), wandered around a bit, got on the Esplanade, across the Steel Bridge, and finally on some less-crowded roadway heading north on Naito.  The REI stop did not disappoint - Dragonfly Chai.  I had two cups.  Next time, I'll plan on an empty thermal bottle and fill it up :-)  Then over the hill.  First the climb through Washington Park (changed out the jacket for the vest, and switched to shortfinger gloves), over Sylvan Hill, down, and I'm on my commute to work.

Uneventful ride west.  Many riders who are incapable of saying "on your left".  Diane was getting hungry; fortunately we were almost at the Hillsboro REI.  Eric called; they elected to do the urban route, so he could take pictures.  We'd try to meet up at the finish.


My bicycle had a serious admirer.  After some of that, we went to find food - pbj sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, Larabars.  Pretzels.  Only beverages were water and Heed.  I didn't need anything, so passed on that.

A bit more riding west, then we turned east, for the more interesting climb of the day.  Old Germantown.  I've ridden it many times, but not in the past 2 or 3 years.  I will say I was pleased with my ascent - no stopping, and even passed some people.  I did not realize it was mostly 8-9%.  Then on to the very top, zipped everything up, and headed down.  Diane: "won't you be cold?" No.

NW Germantown was very clean and smooth, but also steep.  I had been warned about the hairpins, so had no problems.

Got to the St Johns Bridge, and suggested to the riders shoaled up at the light that we'd all be much safer if we just took a whole lane (4 lane bridge).  And so we did, and it was way fun!  Much nicer than the return during the November permanent!  After getting through St Johns, I had it in my head that we were somewhat closer to the Community Cycling Center than we really were.  Once we popped out onto Willamette Drive, I figured that out.

Peeve: cyclists who pass then slow down because they don't know where they are going.

The Team Bag Balm windvest got lots of attention - clearly TBB has not been representing at events recently!

Got to the Community Cycling Center - hot chocolate and cookies.  Lots of cookies.  While I realize that it is the midpoint stop for the 18 mile urban route, and they get fed every 3 or 4 miles, the CCC is the first stop after 20+ miles of riding with a stiff climb in the middle for the challenge route riders.   Something more substantial than cookies would not be a bad idea.  Note to self: score an extra pbj from the REI stop for later.

So, anyway, 5 cookies later, Diane and I set out for the last 10 miles.  Mindless east side riding; after following Cecil around, I'm getting better at knowing where I am.  As we were back on the urban route, lots of slower riders.  Lots of them.  We'd filter up to the front at lights and then take off :-)  We elected to give the Bike Gallery stop a pass; we wanted to finish by now.

Oh...  Riding through NE PDX, I sat up and rode no hands!  I've been trying to get where I could ride no hands on Sweetpea since last August, and might have finally succeeded!  Wonderful!  I can now snack with impunity on long rides!

Eric called - he was at the finish; I thought we'd be there in about 20 minutes, tops.  Sure enough.  Found him there; Diane and I got our soup and cheese bread and joined him and his friend Mike on the curb.  He was worried about the fine accommodations.  I reminded him that people who drink beer out of paper bags in WalMart parking lots weren't picky :-)


We talked a bit about randonneuring.  Eric: "but you are a real randonneur".  Me: "For $20 a year, you can be one too".

We saw Slug; he came over to say hi.  Not that he was on the ride, he was just visiting.  As always, I usually run into him any time I ride on the east side :-)  More visiting.  Eric took pictures.  Diane was getting chilled, so she took off.  Then it started to drizzle with some degree of intensity.  I pulled on my jacket, said my good-byes, and headed on home.  Took the jacket OFF before the climb, and didn't bother to put it back on, even when the drizzle got more insistent.  It just wasn't quite that cold.  Noticed that the camellias were starting to bloom in Washington Park - spring is on the way!

In all, 63 miles, 5000 vertical feet.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Hills Have Eyes...

February.  Must be time for another OrRando brevet.  Marcello organized the Grab Bag 200/300, a series of loops out of Newberg.  One had a real climb, the others were "flat".  More on that later.

Weather was 20% chance of "drizzle", temps mid 40s to mid 50s.  I forgot to toss in some booties, and hoped for the best.  I did, at the last minute, grab a wool camisole base layer to wear under my long-sleeve OrRando wool jersey.  Good plan :-)

Ended up following Bill A down Hwy 99 to Newberg.  We both wandered up and down Hayes, looking for a place to park.

Checked in, found Cecil (we were riding together), saw Susan, who clearly had her game face on.  She was riding the 300, we weren't.  Next month (Three Capes 300k) is soon enough for me, anyway.  Better scenery, too.

So.  Off at 7am.  Still dark, so we were all lighted and reflectored.  Not that it stopped someone from pulling out of the McD's right on top of us.  An alert yell from Cecil and he stopped, just in time.

First loop was out of Newberg via SR240, Old Yamhill Rd, Tangen, and then North Valley, headed up to Forest Grove, then back via Sherwood and the climb up Kruger Rd.  The drizzle promptly set in, and stayed with us for quite awhile.  Not enough to soak through, but enough to be annoying.  We mindlessly headed north ("we can do this stretch in our sleep").  Perhaps a little TOO mindless.  We turned off Spring Hill onto Fern Hill, and found ourselves at the intersection of Hwy 47 because it said turn on Hwy 47, except it said L.  We KNEW that was wrong, and turned R, and found ourselves by the Grand Lodge, except Marcello wanted us to end up at Maggies.  No problem.  Except the route map had us continuing on Spring Hill, then heading into Forest Grove on Hwy 47.  Two bonus miles. :-)  Cecil hadn't wanted to stop at Maggies ("Time Suck"), but there was no one there.  I scarfed a yummy apricot croissant thing from the day old bin, and inhaled it, along with my banana.

What was totally different about this ride is that there were OTHER RIDERS in our vicinity.  Cecil and I are used to riding in relative solitude for hours and hours and hours.

Then, off to Sherwood, via more roads we could ride in our sleep (basically, the return stretch from the fleche in reverse).  The drizzle went away somewhere along here.  I was running out of steam on Roy Rogers Rd, so we pulled over for a snack (mmm, rye-molasses muffin and sunflower seeds).  Not that we were that far from Sherwood.   Into Sherwood, wandering through subdivisions, eventually to find the Historic Downtown and our control.  Which turned out to be the yummy Sesame Donuts.  There is one not far from my house; didn't know they'd expanded.  I got a cocoa and a sesame donut, the delightful Yusuf signed my card.  Cecil, Ray, Bill and I had a nice little sit-down.  Other patrons gave us funny looks.

Ray and Cecil in Sesame Donuts in Sherwood

More Sherwood, then it was time to cross back over 99W and climb.  First the drop down Kruger with a few hairpins, and then up.  It is a reasonably consistent climb for 3 miles, except for the last pitch on Leander to the Gibbs Cemetery, our next control.  I will just modestly say that I'm really happy with my ascent of the hill.  Really happy :-)  12 less pounds since Jan 1 helps a LOT.

Top of the climb

Faffed around a bit, took pictures, then enjoyed the descent.  A few very tight hairpins, a really nice straight drop, then we were back into Newberg, finished with the first loop.

Marcello and riders at the Newberg control

Kathy and Marcello were in the first hotel room by the back door, Marcello signing cards and Kathy pushing food ("we have grilled cheese, grilled ham and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, chips, fruit, drinks, soup, cocoa...")  Aaaaah.  I myself enjoyed a grilled cheese and some Fritos.

My grilled cheese sandwich

I had brought along a complete change of riding gear, but decided I didn't need it.  And off again.  Michal thought he'd join us, since we clearly knew where we were going.  West on 99W all the way into Lafayette.  Ick.  My opinion of the shoulder has not changed, although there do appear to be some nicely repaved sections.  In Lafayette... "must.. not.. turn.. right.. on.. Bridge..".  I didn't. A rider we caught up with did.  Took some convincing that we weren't going that way today.

Right on Mineral Springs, left on Gun Club, left on Hwy 47, and then we were on a stretch I had not ridden before.  There was an annoying, but not killer headwind.  It was flat.  For awhile.  Turned onto the Westside Highway, where the speed limit appeared to be about 80mph.  Happily, we were only on it for a mile before turning west again.  Then things started to get interesting.

We started wandering around a low rolling hilly area with occasional farms, bleak stands of trees and empty winter fields.  It was a lot of up and down, with the headwind, and the sense of making no forward progress whatsoever.  Yes, it did creep me out.  It might even be described as claustrophobic.  Cecil: "the hills have eyes?" And it seemingly went on for hours, even though I see it was no more than 10 miles.

Wandering around on Muddy Valley Rd

The bright spot was the alpaca ranch.  Huge herd of alpaca.  They were totally cute and fluffy, and I wanted to buy their fleece and have a wonderful time spinning it up.  There was a brief pause for documentation, and Cecil explained to Michal how to tell the difference between alpacas and llamas.

A really large herd of alpaca

Cecil explains the difference between llamas and alpacas

FINALLY made it to the Sheridan DQ, our last on-route control.  Asta (riding her first brevet and she was having a WONDERFUL time) and Tomas were there.  Got some coffee and ate another banana and more sunflower seeds.  I was at a mental and physical low point right then, for sure. The temperature was dropping a bit, and we pulled on our night riding gear.

Tomas and Asta at the DQ

Then we FINALLY turned ENE, and had the tailwind.  30 miles to go, and we made darn good time.  We did stop at the Dayton convenience store, sat on the curb and had a bite to eat before the last 10 miles.  Cecil: "we look like homeless people".  Me: "yes.  Expensively dressed ones"

For the first time in a long time, we were headed back to Newberg from Dayton (10 miles), rather than Forest Grove or Hillsboro (20-30 miles).  Except we were also headed  back on 99W.  Sigh.  Darkness was falling as we headed east.  The terrain is slightly rolling (feels more rolling at the end of a ride), Cecil and I were tired, traffic is fast and heavy, and the shoulder wasn't much better than it has been in the past.  I shut my mind to all the bad possibilities and pedaled east.  I didn't want to ride too close to Cecil and Michal, because then I couldn't see junk in the shoulder (and junk there was).  Finally, though Dundee, past the gas station and DQ, past the Thriftway (traditional permanent stopping point), another mile through town (clean, well-lit bike lanes, ahhhhh) and back to the Travelodge.

Card signed, I went out to put the bike away and get my change of clothes.  Kathy and Marcello had lasagna and soup and rice, but Cecil and I had plans to hit up the Burgerville.  Ate some oranges while waiting for the shower and enjoyed the post-ride (for most of the folks in the room; some were headed out for the last loop of the 300km) party.  Showered and with clean clothes, Cecil and I headed over to the Burgerville, where I had too much to eat. :-)

Put a fork in me, I'm done

11:10 total time (not bad)
125.9 miles, 13.91 avg mph
all pics here

Small World

So, I'm cycling over after work to get my hair cut this past Thursday.  At  the corner of Jenkins and Murray, there appears a cyclist from behind.

"Wow! That bike is really set up for touring!".  (Bleriot w/nifty new Ortlieb panniers)  "Is that a Rivendell?"  "Love the fenders!"  I never pass up compliments to my bike :-)

So, his name is Donald, and he's got front AND rear panniers, because he's a massage therapist and all his work stuff is in there.  As I was headed for a haircut, and not home, I was happy to chat routes with him.  I am evasive as to my route and where I'm headed when I'm riding home.

So we talked bikes, and rode together through Tektronix, south on Hocken, left on Farmington, right on whatever that street is west of Beaverton High School, left on 5th... and, as we approached Main, I told him I'd be leaving him here.

"Oh!  Are you going to Suyapa's?"  Well, yes, I was.  She's been cutting my hair for about 30 years now.  Very Small World!

Suyapa cracked up when I told her.