Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hangin’ with leisurely fast guys

‘Twas an interesting cycling weekend, where I did two rides that shared a common thread: riding with fast guys, who (on these rides) traded in their well-known speed on something more relaxed (and perhaps social).

Saturday 200k

Gallon House Bridge
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
The first was last Saturday, where about a dozen of us randonneur folks rode the “Prairies & Wetlands” 200k permanent. Now, I was a little rusty with this 200k business. I hadn’t done one since early December, when a number of us completed our R-12’s (12 consecutive monthly 200k [or longer] rides). But more than continuing to work on an R-whatever, I think it was that general rustiness that motivated my drive to Newberg in the wee small hours last Saturday. (I am not a morning person.)

This was the 3rd time in 16 months I rode “Prairies & Wetlands;” first time was in the Fall of ’07, next was two months ago (Nov ’08), and then again last weekend. Eventually, I intend to construct a few permanents of my own. But in the meantime, most of us ride the familiar ones put together by our RBA in Newberg.

The roads are mostly agriculturally rural … not too much traffic. And in this case, not too many hills, either. Started out chatting with David Rowe a bit, and then with Cecil. But within about 15 miles, they and a handful of others were out of sight.

But John (Kramer) and Vincent (both of whom are capable of getting to the next town really quickly) opted for a more relaxed pace. They set their hammers aside and basically hung out with Lynne and me for most of the 200k. Lynne saved the three of us from a wrong turn approaching the Gallon House Bridge, we made our stop in Mt. Angel brief, and we discussed our Newberg options before checking in at the Coffee Cottage.

espresso macchiato ...
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
If I’d realized how busy the Coffee Cottage is in the middle of a Saturday afternoon, I probably would have steered us to Chapter’s Bookstore (my usual place), or to the Thriftway. But Lynne was glad for the chance to warm her feet, and John and Vincent didn’t seem to mind the wait. So why should I? After all, the espresso macchiato was excellent (the barrista took great pride in it), as was the straight-ahead coffee I chased it with.

We rode through Dayton, Lafayette, Carlton (a brief stop), Yamhill, Gaston, before stopping in Forest Grove. I got beverages at a local convenience store while Lynne, Vincent, and John hung out at Pizza Schmizza. Then it was back to towards Newberg.

I think this was the first time I cycled Springhill Road in daylight. It was my favorite part of the journey … soft fading light with all those wetlands on the right. On this road, Vincent pulled ahead, and John hung back with Lynne. Vincent missed the turn onto Old Yamhill road (and took Hwy. 240 straight into Newberg), while Lynne, John and I reconvened at that easy-to-miss turn and navigated the labyrinth of streets back into Newberg.

I passed on the post-ride meeting at Burgerville, and instead headed back to Portland for a friend’s early evening milonga (tango dance). Click here for the rest of the photos from this ride.

Sunday fixed gear 40k

The next morning, there was a thin layer of fresh snow to greet Portland. Again, it was hard to get up, but I wanted to try my new 19-tooth cog on David Auker’s Sunday morning fixie ride.

But the snow must have been dicey in David’s neighborhood (he lives in the West Hills), as he wasn’t at River City Bicycles at the appointed time.

Peter Drake was, though. I kinda know him (better than he knows me) as a fast rider whose name often appears high up in OBRA’s race results. I’ve seen him race at the Alpenrose velodrome, and at PIR. In fact, he mentors some of the novice racers during the Monday Evening Races at PIR (during the Summer).

So there we were. A Cat 1 racer, riding with me, a “Cat 7 with a bit of endurance.”

track stands
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
We were able to reconstruct most of David’s route (down the Springwater Corrider, through Sellwood, past Milwaukie, and back) without David. Missed a few turns, but Peter got us back on track. Met up with Kathleen (another strong racer, although I don’t know if she’s active anymore) on the return portion.

Turns out Peter’s a very pleasant person to ride and chat with. Articulate. Knows a lot about Portland. Wrenches at Northwest Bicycles on 21st Ave. I know a few of his Lakeside/Fred Meyer teammates. As with David, a chatty ride for him is a real workout for me.

Have to admit, after 150 miles of cycling, and 7 hours of tango, it wasn’t the most relaxing of weekends. But I got some of the rust off my long distance legs. And I got to hang with some fast boys.

Friday, January 2, 2009

2008 personal cycling stats (or reaching 7000 miles the hard way)

On the morning of December 31st, there were 6968 year-to-date miles in my cycling log. Several months earlier I set a rather arbitrary goal of 7000 miles. That specific distance isn’t a big deal. (It would only be 270 more miles than last year.) I’m sure many randonneuring and/or super-commuter cyclists routinely exceed that. But to be so close. It would be a lot easier to say “I biked 7000 miles” that to say “I biked almost 7000 miles” or “I biked six thousand nine hundred eighty five miles in 2008.”

But still, I was only marginally motivated to ride the necessary 32 miles on New Years Eve day. I had to work. And on this cold and rainy day, it would double my normal commute. If I’d been more motivated, I would have gotten up an hour earlier in the dark and ridden over the Sylvan Hill. As it was, I did my normal ride-to-Gosse-Hollow-take-the-Max-to-Beaverton thing (still in the dark). By the time I arrived at work, I had 28 miles to go. And by the time I left, it was nearly dark again.

From work I headed west, bought a last-minute holiday gift at New Seasons in Cedar Hills, dropped it off at a friend’s house near Elmonica, and continued west on Baseline to about 205th St. The bike lanes were pretty sketchy (remnants of “snowzilla”), and the debris hard to see. I sought out lesser traveled streets, and ended up “taking the lane” quite a bit. I avoided Cornell, wound up behind the Evergreen Cinemas in Hillsboro, and crossed over Hwy. 26 on 185th St.

The most pleasant part of this nocturnal excursion was the meander on NW Park View Blvd. and Sommerset Dr. between 185th and West Union Rd. Traffic was minimal. The residential streets wide. When West Union turned into NW Thompson Rd, I set my sights uphill. And for the most part, the ascent up to Skyline Dr. was manageable. Most of the traffic was local and unhurried. The decent down Thompson Rd. to Cornell Rd., on the other hand, was a bit scary. Snow and gravel along the right shoulder. Wasn’t real confident of the road surface. Used my brakes a lot!

On Cornell, I took the lane through the tunnels, and appreciated the brief respite from the rain they provided. Got off Cornell at Westover, climbed, and then braked a lot into NW Portland. Stopped at Whole Foods (near Powell’s) for a few groceries and a bottle of cava with which to bring in the New Year. By the time I got home, my trip computer said 31. One mile shy of 7000 for the year. And still a tango dance to go!

ready to ride
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
After an hour-long dinner and pit stop at home, I met my friend Jeff at Staccato Gellato on NW 28th. It was here that I reached my 7000-mile goal. Jeff usually enjoys an espresso at this establishment while he waits for other cycling tango dancers, but Staccato Gellato closed early on New Years Eve, as did the nearby Starbucks. Fortunately, though, Blue Monk on SE Belmont was open, and we shared a terrific Spanish coffee before heading to Tango Berretin (on SE Foster at Holgate), where we danced in the new year.

Here are a few personal (Lynne-inspired) cycling stats from 2008:

~ Total logged miles (including commutes): 7,004
~ Rides of 100 miles or longer: 20
~ Longest (and most epic) ride: Desert River 600k (376 miles)

~ 2008 RUSA total: 4,296 km (2,669 miles)
~ Super Randonneur award
~ R-12 award
~ One DNF: stopped after 200 miles of Seattle’s “4 Passes” 600k

Cumulative odometers:
~ Mountain Cycle Stumptown: 11,996 miles
~ Ideor Asso (fixie): 4,229 miles
~ Lemond Buenos Aires: 2,572 miles

A few organized rides:
~ RACC (Ride Around Clark County)
~ Tour de Blast (Mt. St. Helens)
~ STP (Seattle to Portland)
~ RSVP (Seattle to Vancouver, BC)

Hottest ride: STP

Coldest rides: Scio Covered Bridges, & Clatskanie-Cape Dissapointment permanents

OBRA participation (Oregon Bicycle Racing Assn.)
Road races: 5
~ Cherry Pie
~ PIR (Portland Intl. Raceway): 2
~ “Rehearsal” RR, Rainier
~ Mt. Tabor (fixed gear)
Time trial: 1
~ Jack Frost TT (Vancouver, WA)
Track races (Alpenrose Velodrome): 16
~ Fast Twitch Fridays: 6
~ Masters/Juniors (Wednesdays): 7
~ Other: 3
Cyclocross: 5
~ Cross Crusade : 4
~ Heiser Farms (Dayton): 1

Happy New Year, everyone!