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formerly floyd speaks

A narcissistic detailing of things I like to do

Updated: 2017-11-18T09:05:06.361-08:00


I Have To Admit, It's Getting Better


It's 6:30 on a cold and damp Saturday morning in February in Newberg, Oregon. The forecast is for rain and temperatures in the mid-40s. And there are at least 30 randonneurs waiting in a hotel parking lot to start riding 200 kilometers (indeed, some plan to ride 300 kilometers). It must be a Paris-Brest-Paris year.But that does not explain my presence; Paris-Brest is not on my radar. Unless, of course, we're talking about this Paris-Brest. No, I'm standing in that parking lot because I am desperately trying to get back to the point where I can tear off a 200K (or two) without a second thought. Last year's string of injuries, illnesses and work demands had resulted in my lowest mileage year in, well, years. My leg muscles were beginning to disappear and Greg was getting tired of me hanging around the house all weekend moping. So when friend Marcello announced his "First Saturday Series" of brevets extra-early in the season to accommodate PBP aspirants' need for early qualifiers, I took it as a much-needed kick in the pants to get back in the saddle.Marcello's first event was a bone-chilling 200K on New Year's Day. I managed to finish that one with minimal physical or psychic damage, or at least none that I remember, but it took me at least two hours longer than it should have, and my physical condition had not seemed to improve over the intervening weeks. Less then two weeks previous, a 37-mile jaunt had nearly killed me. But I knew that I'd be riding with Lynne and that she would not permit me to give in to any temptation to give up halfway through.Anyway, back to that dark, cold parking lot. For this installment of his series, Marcello had chosen the "Grab Bag 200/300" route; a set of loops that all started and ended in Newberg. At registration a rider could choose to ride two of the loops, or all three (but woe to the rider who chooses to ride all three but only completes two - no 200 for you!). I last rode the Grab Bag back in July 2007, as an organizer. Then I finished all 300K in just over 15 hours. I had no such ambitions this morning. Completing the 200K in less than the maximum 13.5 hours would be just fine by me.As previously noted, the parking lot was awash with riders (given the forecast, aquatic descriptions seem appropriate). There were several riders whom I had not seen since 2007, the last PBP year (yes, you, Nate A.!). There were also a few new faces in the crowd: Taylor, who had just moved to Portland from Bend and was excited to be living in place with so many local brevets. I introduced him to Scott P., who drives over from Bend for almost all of our rides . . .Only four women were present: me, Lynne, Susan O. (she was riding the 300K - the only time I would see her was at registration), and another newbie rider, Asta. Asta was practically giddy with excitement about riding her first brevet. She had ridden to the start from Portland and was hinting that she intended to ride home to Portland afterward. I suggested that she wait until the finish to make that decision.After engaging in various rounds of pre-ride faffing, it was time to go. Loop#1 wound northwest from Newberg to Forest Grove before turning back by way of Sherwood. Given my overall out-of-shapedness, I fully expected to be left behind by the pack within the first few miles. Much to my surprise, there were several riders who matched my pace (or were even a tad bit slower). Chalk it up to the "haven't ridden since 2007" effect. At the intersection of Dopp and North Valley Roads, Lynne and I met up with three riders puzzling over their cue sheets; "This way!," we called out as we passed them. By this point the promised rain had set in, and the five of us made our soggy way toward the first contrôle in Forest Grove, discussing the features and benefits of our lighting systems (of the five of us, four had hub generators). As we turned onto Spring Hill Road, I mentioned that one of the dangers of having so many brevet routes in the area is that sometimes I would forget which route we were following and make a wron[...]

Beat the Retreat, or Hoo-Boy!, am I out of shape!


I should NOT be tired. I should NOT be winded. I should NOT be thinking of taking a nap. But I am nevertheless all three of those things. And all because I rode a lousy 37 miles, with just a little bit of a hill climb. Today was the Bicycle Transportation Alliance's "Board Retreat." My friend Susan was hosting it at her company headquarters in Hillsboro, and I figured I'd ride out there from home, just to get a little exercise in before and after what promised to be many hours of intense discussion (we are formulating a 20-Year Strategic Plan). Susan offered to ride from her home out in Hillsboro to meet me in SE Portland, and then ride all the way back. Friend Lynne, who isn't on the Board, but who is a known ride harlot (i.e., she'll join a bike ride at the drop of a hat), said she come with us. So we agreed to meet at Kettleman's Bagels, my Eastside ride start point of choice, at 6 AM, which would give us about half an hour to scarf down some bagels before we had to leave for Hillsboro at 6:30.Earlier in the week, the weather forecast was for a slight chance of rain. I had ordered some new rain pants from Team Estrogen last weekend and figured I'd have them in plenty of time for the ride. That was, of course, before the USPS decided to ship them from Hillsboro to Portland via Santa Clarita, California. Thus I was glad that by the time Saturday rolled around, the chance of rain had evaporated. (The rain pants are still somewhere between California and Oregon).I had already gotten to Kettleman's and ordered my breakfast (an "everything" bagel with hummus, tomato and cucumber) when Lynne arrived. She'd had a small breakfast at home, but after a 10-mile ride over the hill to town, she was ready for second breakfast. She settled on a bagel with some sort of pinkish cream cheese (I could not tell if it was strawberry or fish; she said it was fish). We munched away and chatted, and wondered aloud where Susan was. I decided that she'd probably delayed her journey so she would not have to watch us eat solid food (she's on an "elimination" diet of some sort), and figured she'd show up right at 6:30. And, lo, at 6:25, she rolled up, ready to turn around and go back.After winding our way through downtown Portland, we tackled the first climb of the day: up to Skyline Blvd by way of NW Lovejoy, Cornell and Thompson. It's about a 4-mile climb, with an average grade of about 4%. I knew I was in trouble when I had to bail into my granny gear before I even got to the point where Lovejoy turns into Cornell. I spent the next 4 miles huffing like a freight train as I tried to keep my speed over 5 mph. Usually I take that climb at between 7 and 8 mph at the steepest parts. When we finally reached the "summit" on Thompson, I really needed to rest, and we'd only ridden 7 miles. Pathetic. From Thompson we rode northwest on Skyline for a few miles. I love riding on Skyline, with its gentle rollers and lovely views. Or what used to be lovely views. Now it's mostly ugly houses blocking the lovely views. I especially love riding on Skyline in the early morning, when there is no traffic, because it is a narrow road with no shoulders and terrible sight lines. Mid-day on a sunny weekend, it can be downright scary with all the sports car drivers pretending to be Steve McQueen at Le Mans.We dropped down to the west side by way of Springville Road. The pavement was wet, and there was a lot of gravel, which made the drop less fun that it might otherwise have been. We detoured over to Susan's house to pick up her change of clothes (I had mine in a pannier; I tried to use that extra weight as an excuse for my suck-tastic performance on the climb). Susan and I then headed for the Board meeting while Lynne rode off to Longbottom's coffee house for a third breakfast, after which she would lead a 40-mile Portland Velo club ride that started at 10 and gloat with smug superiority over the people who got at 9:30 and drove their cars to the start (by the end of the day, Lynne would have put in 80 miles[...]

#1 on 1-1-11


"Did I just see you standing?""Um, no. Well, not now . . . ."We had just turned off of Gieger onto Fern Hill Rd. for the first climb of the day, and Lynne had caught me defying doctor's orders. Suitably chastised, I dropped my butt back on my saddle, shifted into the most venerable of my granny gears and spun frustratingly slowly up the hill. It was going to be a very long day.But I get ahead of myself. I can sense you thinking, "Whoa, Nellie! What's this about doctor's orders?"Cast your mind back, Gentle Reader, to mid-October 2010. I had just run my first half-marathon and was insufferably proud of myself. About a week before the race, I had felt some pain in my hip and a bit of a hitch in my gait, but nothing alarming. During and immediately after the race I felt fine; no more sore than I would have expected for running full out for 13.1 miles. And even when I continued to be sore and, let's face it, limp like Chester for a few days after the race, I chalked it up to muscle strain and treated accordingly. But when I was still sore six weeks later, I decided that it was time to see a professional. So I got my GP to refer me to the sports clinic, and the Monday after Thanksgiving I hied myself off to Kaiser, trying not to think about the fact that the funny explosive pain I felt in my hip with every footfall was an awful lot like the funny explosive pain I had felt in my ankle when I had stress fractured my fibula eight months earlier. 30 minutes and two dispositive physical tests later, the physiatrist confirmed my suppressed suspicion/fear: "You have a stress fracture in your femur." SHAZBOT!"So, Doc, what do I do now?""Try not to walk on it for a few weeks."Try. Not. To. Walk. Processing . . . processing . . . Nope, that's not registering. "Say again, Doc?""Don't put any weight on it until the end of December.""Um, so I can walk if I don't put any weight on it?""Well, you can very short distances - slowly.""Around the office?""Uh-huh""But not to the office?""No.""Can I ride my bike?""You can if you spin and stay on the flats.""No hills?""Not for a few weeks."I felt like I was negotiating. I was negotiating. And I am a lousy negotiator (one more reason I gave up trial work). By the end of the appointment I had my marching orders. Or non-marching orders, to be more precise. Until the end of December, I was to put no weight on the leg. If I wanted to walk, I could do so with little tiny baby steps or use crutches. I could swim, I could spin on a trainer, I could aqua jog (and yes, that feels as silly as it looks), and I could ride my bike from my house to the DOJ office in Portland (hauling my crutches behind me on a trailer). Beginning in January, I could ride my bike longer distances as long as I took it easy, and I could begin to walk for exercise, "but not more than two or three times a week." I could forget about running until mid-February at the earliest.Needless to say, my December pretty much sucked. I had already been hobbled by pain for the second half of October and all of November, so we're really talking about 10 weeks of relative sloth by the time the New Year rolled around. And not the cute kind of sloth.Thus, when I learned that my friend Marcello had organized a 200K brevet for New Year's Day, I was tempted to sign up. I was a little concerned about my ability to go the distance, however, because other than a flat, slow, cafe-centric ride in mid-December I had not ridden my bike more than 30 miles since, oh, sometime in September. But friend Lynne said she'd ride with me, and the weather report promised a dry (if somewhat chilly) day. There really was nothing to keep me from riding. Except common sense of course, but that never stopped me before.So, then, where were we? Oh yes, Fern Hill Road. Lynne and I were about 14 miles into the ride, which began at Marcello's house in Hillsboro. Check-in time for the ride was 7 AM, with a ride start at 7:30. I'd arrived a bit late, and then had a fight with one of my shoes, s[...]

From 0 to 13.1 in 10 months (less 3)


width="465" height="548" frameborder="0" src="">Some people need to be challenged. Count me among them. Without some ridiculous goal to achieve, I am at loose ends. Last year my goal was to ride my bicycle 1200 kilometers in less than 90 hours. I did it, and came close to killing myself in the process. I learned a couple of things from that experience. One, my capacity for enduring self-inflicted pain is almost limitless. Two, I need to do something other than just ride my bike. Don't get me wrong, I love riding my bike, and cycling will always be my number one sport. But endurance cycling demands an extraordinary time commitment, and I am at a point in my life where the demands on my time are ever-increasing. So when my best friend Judy began posting on Facebook about running half marathons and, at around the same time, my friend Susan told me about this great half marathon she had run in Vancouver, I thought "Hmm. A half marathon--I wonder if I could do that?'There was only one slight problem. I've never been much of a runner. There was that one semester of track my sophomore year of high school (I'd moved to a new town and was looking for ways to fit in - silly me) and a 5K charity "run" I've done the last few years, for which I'd start training a couple of weeks ahead of time, and limp around like Captain Ahab for a couple of weeks after, but none of that really counted as running with a capital "R."So I knew that if I were going to get serious about running, I could not just tie on a pair of trainers and pound down the sidewalk. I needed a plan. Fortunately, in this era of the Interwebs, running plans are a dime a dozen. The plan I chose to follow was recommended to me by pal Susan, who swore by it. It is a "walk/run" program that was developed by a Canadian Sports Council, and it is designed to ease a body into the destructive sport of running without being, well, too destructive.First step: get a new pair of running shoes. I went to a local running store that offers a hands-on (well, actually feet-on) approach to fitting shoes. While I ran barefoot on a treadmill, a sales associate videotaped my gait and foot strike and, based on what she saw, determined what kind of support (or nonsupport) I needed. She then brought out several pairs of shoes from different makers, and I test ran each pair up and down the block outside the store, finally settling on a pair of trainers that felt pretty good.I had my shoes. I had my book. I had almost a year in which to train. It was time to take my first steps toward 13.1 miles worth of such steps.The run/walk program is the athletic version of the frog in the frying pan. Each session is made up of intervals of walking and running (duh), with early workouts being comprised more of walking than of running. For instance, for the first session, I ran one minute and walked two minutes, repeated 12 times. The idea of the plan is that after 13 weeks, you'll be ready to run a 10K. With that base, you can then train for longer runs, such as a half marathon. Although Susan thought that I would find the first few weeks "too easy" (I think she thinks I am more athletic than I really am), I found the plan to be just right and thoroughly enjoyable, despite the fact that it was November and most of my runs were in the cold, damp dark. I will confess that some days were just TOO cold and damp for me to strap on the shoes, which meant backing up and starting some of the early weeks over, but that was okay, because it just gave me more time to get used to the idea of running on a regular basis. As the weeks passed, my walking intervals got shorter, my running intervals got longer, and the overall session time got longer.When registration opened in January for the Girlfriends' Half, I was far enough into the program that I was confident (okay, sort of confident) that by October I could go the distance, and so I signed up. I also convinc[...]

Momma's Got a Brand New Bag . . . and Trailer to Haul it With


A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Bicycle Transportation Alliance's annual "Alice B. Toeclips" awards dinner and auction. I have a reputation for being a sucker for charity auctions, especially when the bidding at said auctions is facilitated by a hosted bar as was this one.The auction booklet contained a number of interesting items, but one in particular caught my eye. The "Ultimate Bike Commuter" package offered a 3-Speed "city" bike from Linus, a backpack pannier from North St. Bags, and, most enticing of all, Burley's new Travoy bike trailer.For the last few years, I have been working on decreasing my dependence on my car for anything but really long trips or really big hauling projects. I know that it is unlikely that I will ever go car free, but I want to get as close to that ideal as possible. As it is, I usually ride my bike twice as many miles in a year as I drive my car, but I would like to see that ratio increase (or is it decrease? I can never keep my math terms straight. But you know what I mean).Anyway, I'd looked at bakfiets and other cargo bikes, and I'd looked at Xtracycles, but none of them really suited my needs, and they were awfully damn expensive. Then I read a review of the Travoy, and it sure seemed like it would fill the bill. Thus, my excitement when I saw it in the Alice auction catalog.I arrived at the auction with my American Express card in my hand and a number I was willing to go to in my head (and I was NOT going to go above the number, I swear). I really thought the bidding would be hot and heavy for the package, but was surprised when it came down to a battle between me and one other person, who gave up fairly easily (at one point I got confused and bid against myself, but the auctioneer kindly told me I did not have to do that). In short order, I was the proud owner of the Travoy. And yeah, yet another bike. More about the bike later.A few days after the auction, I got to put the Travoy to its first test. I had an oral argument scheduled in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in downtown Portland, and the file for the case was HUGE. I never would have been able to fit it all in the panniers I usually use for my work commute. But they plopped down into the big black bag that comes standard on the Travoy, no problem. I then threw in my bike locks, my lunch, and my "court" clothes and shoes, and I was ready to go. I had not had a practice run and was hoping that the Travoy would be as agile and stable as advertised. The last thing I needed was to show up in court with road rash. To my amazement, I could not even tell that there was something attached to the back of the bike. I had thought that turns and hills would be a challenge, but Noooooooooooo - there was nothing but sheer awesomeness.At the office, I simply unhooked the Travoy, folded down the attaching arm and rolled right into the building. I then unpacked and changed and headed for court. A more-than-successful "test" run!Next up - Grocery Shopping! In the past, I have relied on my two panniers and a big rear basket for my Trader Joe's runs, but that setup was never very satisfactory. For one, the panniers really did not hold much, and when they and the basket were fully loaded, the bike was pretty unstable; I had to ride very, very slowly to make sure that I did not fall over. Another problem had to to with my own absent mindedness. The basket sides extend a couple of inches beyond the rear rack on either side and, more than once, when I dismounted from the bike I would swing my leg up and into the basket, tumbling it and its contents to the ground.I prepared for my shopping trip by heading over to Bike 'N Hike to pick up a set of the "Market Bags" that Burley offers as accessories. The lower bag is about the size of two standard paper grocery bags sitting side by side, and the upper bag is about the size of a small messenger bag (or really big fanny pack). The lower bag is one large compar[...]

Quick!, Someone Call a Doctor. Oops, Too Late.


This is my friend Susan.Susan used to be a perfectly normal superhuman. She ran half-marathons, entered triathlons, all while running her own business. Then something terrible happened. Susan caught Rando Fever. It started innocuously enough (or at least seemingly so). In the last couple of years, Susan joined me and Lynne to ride various populaire courses, the 100-kilometer events that randonneurs use to suck the unsuspecting casual rider into their nefarious cult. The next thing she knew, she was riding a 200. And then a 300. And then last month she rode her first 600.But the sign that she had truly caught the brain fever and made the leap into madness was when Lynne and I received this e-mail last week:"Either of you want to ride a perm on [Saturday] 6/12? I've ridden brevets 3 months in a row now. I can't take a day off work to do the Wine Country on 6/15 (Tuesday), but I *could* do a perm on 6/12."Yes, you read that right. She said she'd "ridden brevets 3 months in a row now," and wanted to do one in June. She's now on the hunt for an R-12, something only the truly Rando-sick attempt.As fellow sufferers, Lynne and I were quick to enable Susan's slide into sickness. Susan had suggested a route that follows the covered bridges roads around Scio, but that's a fairly tough route and I am only just now getting back into shape after my forced "vacation." Also, we had no guarantees about the weather, and in bad weather the Scio route can be a bear. So we opted instead for the Three Prairies route, a regular winter perm because it is flat and low-elevation. Even in craptacular weather it is doable.So we sent in our registration forms and started watching the weather reports to see how much rain gear we would need. On Tuesday, the forecasters started talking about sunshine and temperature in the 80s. I refused to think about it, not wanting to jinx it. But Susan kept sending e-mails with little smiley-faced sunshine graphics from the Weather Channel. It was hard not to get our hopes up. Through Thursday it was still pretty damp, though, and Friday was overcast all day. I was not optimistic. But late Friday evening the clouds began to clear and by the time I woke up Saturday morning the sky was clear and blue. My bag of gear suddenly became significantly lighter. TRFKAF ditched his Showers Pass jacket.We met up at the public parking lot in Newberg at 6:45 AM. It was about 45 degrees and clear, and there was some discussion of whether we needed to at least start out with limb warmers. We all opted for arm warmers but left our leg warmers in the car. Then it was off to the Thriftway to collect our first time stamp of the day before heading southwest to Dallas by way of Dayton, Amity and Perrydale. We had a pretty good tailwind and so we cruised along at about 19 mph on the flats (much slower on the hills of course) and after a brief stop in Amity to offload fluids, we reached Dallas in what was for us record time. We stopped at the Safeway to get another time stamp and some snacks. It's a good thing that we had arrived with time to spare, because only two cashiers were on duty and the check-out lines were so long that they snaked back into the food aisles. I am thinking that the two management types that were just hanging out chatting in the service center could have maybe, just freaking MAYBE. come over to help out, but noooooooo. But we finally got our food and receipts, slathered on more sunscreen (!!) and turned back north for the return to Newberg.Because we had a wind assist on the way down, we were assuming that we'd be fighting wind on the way back. But it was a quartering headwind, so was not as bad as it could have been. But we did a little pace-line work anyway, and so were able to maintain fairly decent speeds. Not that any of us is really big enough to either block much wind or create much draft. But every little bit helps. We were back in Ne[...]

In Case You Were Wondering


Yes, TRFKAF did finally get his bath


30% Chance of Rain = 100% Chance of Lunacy


("Geez, Cecil, could you be a little MORE heavy handed with the foreshadowing?""Hmm, I don't think so, no.")Anyhoo, as I was saying, it seemed like a good idea. After my forced "rest" period, I needed to start upping my mileage on the bike and I needed to do so pronto. I had not ridden a full century since January, and my quads were starting to look and feel decidedly slack. Given that I had recently celebrated my birthday, and given that Team Bag Balm has an informal tradition of "birthday rides," I figured I'd organize one for the weekend of May 22-23. Weather dependent, of course. I chose the "Bridge of the Gods" route because it is a TBB favorite (and one of my personal favorites), and sent out the call to the herd. The Usual Suspect was, of course, the first to respond. Dave E. chimed in, but the rest of the herd were otherwise occupied. I e-mailed friend Steve, and he quickly signed up, and said he'd bring a friend or two.I still had not decided whether to ride on Saturday or Sunday. The weather the preceding week was less than optimal for riding. Buckets of rain, and howling winds. But by Wednesday all the forecasts were in agreement that Sunday would not be bad. Only a 30% chance of light rain in the morning, cloudy and upper 50s in the afternoon. Heck, for Oregon in May, that's practically sunbathing weather. I made the call: On Sunday we ride.Blast-off time was set for 9:30 Sunday morning from the front entrance of the McMenamin brothers' Edgefield complex in Troutdale. Lynne would ride from her house near Beaverton to my house in SE Portland, and together we would ride the 13 miles from my house to Troutdale. That way she would put in 200K for the day, and I would have my century.Saturday evening brought with it multiple e-mail exchanges with Lynne: Which bike: the heavy, fully-fendered randonneuse, or the lighter, fender-free speedster? Bulky rain gear, or lightweight windbreaker? Long johns, knickers or shorts? Winter boats or sandals? Fleece socks or wool?After reviewing multiple weather reports and radar images, I chose the light bike, and the light clothing. No fenders, no extra socks, no extra gloves, and the lightest rain jacket I own. The one concession I made to the elements was to pack a pair of Endura waterproof gloves, mainly because they helped fend off Raynaud's symptoms on cool mornings. I was feeling lucky.Lynne arrived at my house just before 8:00. She, too, had chosen the non-rando bike and minimal gear. After some last-minute faffing, we rode off toward Troutdale. As if on cue, it immediately began to rain. But it was a very light mist; the kind that it more refreshing than troublesome, so we did not care. We wound our way east on side streets as long as we could, then hopped over to SE Division, 182nd and Halsey. About a mile from Edgefield we rolled over some glass, and I shortly perceived that squishy "yep, I'm going flat" feeling in my rear tire. Dang! Well, I'm pretty good at changing flats. and it was only 9:15, so I was not concerned. I neglected to realize, however, that I had not yet had a flat on this bike (it is less than a year old) and the tire was pretty much welded to the rim after almost 2000 miles of riding. THREE tire levers and a lot of swearing later, I finally popped the tire off the rim and changed out the tube. It was MUCH easier to get the tire back on the rim, and we were soon on our way.We reached the designated meeting point shortly before 9:30, and Dave E., Steve, and Steve's friend Tim joined us shortly thereafter. Steve told us that another rider, Jeff, had said he would join us, but he did not know where Jeff was. He also did not know what Jeff looked like, or what kind of car he drove, because Jeff was actually only a friend of a friend. Steve did have Jeff's cell phone number, however, and so he started calling and leaving messages. [...]

On The Road Again . . .


"It's just like riding a bike." Or so goes the cliché employed to encourage someone to try something that the person has not done in a while. But the thing about clichés is that they become clichés in the first place because they contain an element of truth. Thus, I found to my great relief today that, yes, indeed, I did still know how to ride my bike. Perhaps not as speedily or as far as I would like, but certainly more speedily and further than the average rider. Whew.Today was the date set for the Salem Bicycle Club's annual "Monster Cookie" ride. A traditional "first ride" of the NW Oregon cycling season, the MC is a fairly flat 100K ramble through the Willamette Valley. For the past few years, I have gone down to the start in Salem and ridden it as a Double Cookie, riding the circuit twice for a full 200K. This year I knew that, after 6 weeks of enforced rest and with a partially healed fibular stress fracture, a Double Cookie was not in the cards. Plus, to be honest, organized "T-Shirt" rides have lost their charm for me. Too many people, too many potential accidents. So when friend Lynne mentioned that she and friend Beth planned to do the MC, I decided that I would ride from home to the MC's half-way point at Champoeg State Park and meet them for lunch. Lynne expected that they would be starting sometime around 8:30, and I figured they'd get to the park sometime between 11:30 and noon. If I left home by 9:00, I'd get there in time. As it was, I was out the door by 8:45. The weather promised to be warm, so I wore regular shorts, my "Why, Yes, I am a bad-ass cyclist" Gold Rush 1200 jersey and, of course, my always-stylish ankle brace.There are a lot of ways to get from my house to Champoeg, some more scenic than others. Because I had a deadline, however, and because I wanted to avoid hills, I took the most direct--and least scenic--route, which for the most part paralleled Interstate 5 down the Willamette Valley. The first 10 miles was the route I take daily (when I am not broken) from my house to the Barbur Transit Center. But instead of stopping at the TC and locking my bike in a commuter box, I continued southwest on Barbur to Tigard, where I turned south on 72nd Avenue. 72nd Avenue eventually became Boone's Ferry Road, which I took all the to Wilsonville, where my growling stomach suggested that I stop at Starbucks for a soy cocoa and one of the PB&J sammiches I had packed. Everyone else in Wilsonville seemed to have had the same idea; the Starbucks was packed. I finally got my drink and sat outside in the sun with it and my sammich, while the large man at the table next to me talked very loudly to someone who was not there about "mindfulness." I eventually figured out that he was not actually psychotic but instead had one of those teeny-tiny cell phone pickups in his ear. He quickly became much less interesting.Hunger sated, I set off for the most unpleasant segment of the ride: crossing the Willamette River on the Boone Bridge, which just happens to be Interstate 5. This was the fourth time I've crossed on this bridge, and I have decided that I much prefer it to crossing the river via the bridge on Highway 219 to Newberg. The interstate's shoulders are wider and cleaner, and the rail preventing me from falling into the river is much higher. And today I had a strong tailwind, which meant I was over the river and back on the frontage roads in no time.Once I crossed the river, it was an easy jaunt to the park. The last two miles were on the park's bike path, which runs along the river and is quite lovely. There were the usual number of oblivious, helmetless 4-year-olds on tricycles, but for the most part the trail users were well behaved.When I arrived at the picnic grove reserved for the MC lunch, the joint was packed! I once again congratulated myself for not[...]

Diminished Expectations and Deferred Gratification


I had me some plans this season, yes indeed I did. After last year's epic mileage (just under 10,000) and equally epic near-death experiences, I was set to mix it up a little and add running to the athletic stew that is my life.

Well, once again, my best-laid plans went and ganged aglay.


Yes, I know I am recycling the same photo from my last post, but what can I say - not much has happened since then. Actually, that's not quite true. At least now I have a diagnosis. "Distal fibular stress fracture" and tendonitis in the peroneal tendons that go around the fibula. Fun times.

What does this mean? Well, I can kiss off the triathlon I planned for May 8. And the 5K I planned to run on June 19 does not look so great, either. That half-marathon in October? Yeah, I'll probably be able to do that, but probably very slowly.

"But what about riding?," you ask. Good question. Maybe, just maybe, I'll still be able to do a full SR series, but the Or Rando summer series is notoriously tough, and I will have lost at least 3 months of serious training. But I continue to hold out hope.

Until I heal, I'll just keep singing my new theme song.

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Poor, Poor, Poor Me


Welcome to my self pity wallow. It's wide, and it's deep. And yes, yes, I know that there are people worse off in the world. As my mother used to say, "At least you have all your arms and legs - some people don't."

Yeah, well, one of my legs is not working so well right now, and I am down right grumpy about it. A month into the "official" randonneuring season, and I can't ride more than 12 flat miles without pain. And I don't even want to talk about how it feels to try to run or even walk. So, yes, I am feeling sorry for myself. Time to sing along with Linda:

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Rumors of My Demise Have Been Exaggerated


Yes, yes, I know that we are almost two entire months into February and I have not updated this blog. And it will most likely be a while before I do add a substantive post. "Why?," you may ask. Well, mainly because I really do not have anything of interest to write about. I have not ridden my bike much beyond my daily commute, and when I have gotten out on the weekends it has only been for 40 or 50 mile excursions around the Greater Portland Metro Area. Big whoop.

As for the rest of my life, it can be summed up thus: work, work out, eat, sleep, go back to work. Again, not exactly worth blogging about.

Check back in a few months; rando season will have started and I might have something of interest to report. Then again, perhaps not.

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My Year in Cycling


Well, it's New Year's Eve, and it's pouring rain, so I think it is safe to say that I have done all the riding I am going to do in 2009. Thus, it's retrospective time, complete with ridiculous statistics.

This was the year in which I set myself a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal, for those readers fortunate enough to have avoided attended the kinds of meetings where people talk about "stakeholders" and "envisioned futures"). Anyhoo, my BHAG was the Gold Rush Randonée, a 1200 km painfest held every four years in Northern California. I met that goal, and it damn near killed me. Whether it made me stronger is still up for debate.

This is what else I did:

Miles ridden: 9407
Hours in the saddle: 717-ish
RUSA Awards: Super Randonneur; 5000 km distance; R-12
Calories Burned: I have no idea
Calories Ingested: Again, I have no idea, but enough to gain 8 pounds despite all that riding

Here's to 2010, and not living up to past accomplishments . . . .

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And Miles To Go Before I Sleep


It started, as most things seem to do these days, with a Facebook status update: "Sunday night Solstice Ride ... Redmond-North Bend-Leschi-Redmond. Ride all night to greet the winter solstice on Monday morning. How could anyone pass that up? Like Mark says - 'Leave good sense at home. Won't be helpful.'"I had already planned to take a vacation day on Monday and never being one to pass up on a bike ride, especially one that involves leaving my good sense at home, I immediately signed on. As it was, I not only left my good sense at home, but I bound it with duct tape and chains and locked it in the basement.The plan was to begin riding at 9:00 PM. Redmond is a good three-hour drive from my Portland home, and I would need some faffing time once there, so I figured I would need to leave home by 5:00 PM. We had tickets to a holiday concert on Sunday afternoon, but I figured it would be over by 4:00, leaving me plenty of time to make myself a good pre-drive, pre-ride dinner, load the bike in the car and get going. I spent Saturday afternoon cleaning and prepping my bike -- an astonishing amount of road grit had built up inside the fenders --and packing gear bags. I went to bed at about 10:00 PM, and woke up at 2:30 AM. I lay in bed for three hours before giving up on getting back to sleep. I should have taken it as a portent, but instead I just got up and started to do chores. Sleep deficit, thy name is rando.The concert was scheduled to begin at 2:00 PM, but it was 2:15 before the Chorus took the stage. The late start, a longer-than-usual program, and a whole lot of speechifying meant that we did not leave the venue until after 4:30. Cripes. By the time I got home and packed the car, I was able only to choke down a cup of left-over plain couscous. Not exactly fortifying. I promised myself I would stop somewhere along the way to Redmond for a "real" dinner. That, of course, was not destined to happen. But you, dear reader, knew that. After all, what news value would there be to my telling you about how I prepared for a bike ride by getting ample sleep and sufficient fuel? On second thought, I guess that would be newsworthy in a "man bites dog" sort of way, wouldn't it?The drive to Redmond was uneventful, but slow. I had budgeted three hours, but the rain had other plans for me and I arrived at the designated start (Peet's Coffee, near Whole Foods) a little before 8:30, not having any chance to stop for food along the way. Five or six riders were already inside the shop enjoying hot drinks, and more arrived as I was gathering my gear from my car. I was starving, so I trotted over to Whole Foods and snagged the first suitable portable edibles I could find: a banana and two vegan doughnuts. Back at Peet's I asked the barista to put some hot water in my thermos and made some tea, to which I added some Gatorade powder. By this time the rest of the riders had arrived. I never made an official count, but I think we started with 14, maybe 13.Our friend Vincent was running late, so we faffed around outside the coffee shop for a while waiting for him, remarking on the fact that it was not actually raining on us at that moment and wondering if the dry break would last. I felt a little chilled as we were standing around, and I began to worry that I had not worn enough layers. Oh well, there was not much I could do about it at that point. Vincent finally arrived and we took off as a group a few minutes after 9:00 PM. All the Seattle riders seemed familiar with the route, so my goal was to try to keep up with at least one other rider so that I would not have to resort to trying to read my cue sheet in the dark. At first this was not a problem, as we rode on some fla[...]

My First, and Perhaps Last, 1200 km Medal


Evidence of My Participation
Originally uploaded by cecilanne

I am trying to finish my blog post about my very wet Solstice Ride, but in the meantime you can enjoy this picture of the medal I earned for completing the Gold Rush Randonnée in July. The medal arrived yesterday, along with my completed brevet card. Was it worth a trip to the emergency room? Oddly, yes.

Blow, Winds, and Crack Your Cheeks!


I am not sure which of we two was the Mad King, and which the Fool, but on Sunday last my friend Vincent Muoneke and I demonstrated that neither of us has the common sense that the gods gave a goose. Naturally enough, our folly involved a bike ride. This time it was 202 kilometers in sub-freezing temperatures and gale force winds. Okay, maybe not gale force, but strong enough to knock me across the road more than once, and steady enough to drop the wind chill down to the low teens for the entire day. That may be old news to randonneurs in Saskatchewan, but we Pacific Northwesterners are more used to being waterlogged than frostbitten. For those who care, here is how the story unfolded.As regular readers will know, I have been chasing my second consecutive R-12. I needed one more - December's - to complete the streak. My calendar being a bit crowded these days, it appeared that the 6th was going to be the only day in which I could afford to be on the road for 12 or so hours. So I e-mailed a few friends to see if they would join me. In addition to Vincent, Joanne H., Elise R., Ray O., Ken M. all signed on, and so it looked to be quite a party.This time of year the weather is less than predictable. Not that PNW weather is ever completely predictable. At the beginning of the week, the forecast was for partly cloudy skies, with temperatures in the low 30s. Not bad. As the week progressed, however, the meteorologists started muttering things about "arctic cold fronts" and "Canadian wind chills." Weather Underground forecast steady NE winds of 15 mph, with occasional gusts of 25 mph plus. I started inventorying my wool layers. Luckily, the annual Bike Craft show was being held on Saturday, and I was able to pick up a new pair of S'Mittens from Natalie and a matching pair of Helmuffs.When I woke up at 4:00 on Sunday morning, I could hear the wind whooshing through the cedars in my back yard. I looked out the window to see them bending in the wind. Mind you, these are ENORMOUS cedars. If they were bending, then I can guarantee the wind was stiffer than 15 mph. I checked the thermometer outside the kitchen window. 27 degrees. Nice. I ate an extra serving of oatmeal, and filled my thermal carafe (fits in a bottle cage!) with a mix of hot tea and Gatorade powder. I then proceeded to dress myself for a bike ride of Shackletonian proportions. Starting from my toes and heading upward:Wool sockschemical toe warmersPearl Izumi Gore-Tex winter bootsIbex wool knickersGoreWear leg warmersShebeest caprisIbex wool camisoleIcebreaker L/S wool undershirtS/S wool jersey (felted)L/S Craft winter jacketBontrager wind vestSpecialized "Equinox" glovesWool S'Mittenschemical hand warmersSmartwool beanieWool helmuffsIt's a wonder I was able to move my limbs freely enough to walk, let alone ride my bike.Having suited up, there was nothing left to do but load the car and head for the ride start in Newberg. I had chosen the "Three Prairies" permanent route, which is usually a pretty safe bet for a winter ride. It is a double-loop course with very little elevation gain, and the roads are familiar to me. Unfortunately, because it is on the flats of the Willamette Valley, it is not the best route choice when the wind is up. And the wind was most definitely up. I could feel it buffeting my little car as I drove south.We planned to start riding at 7:00. I got to Newberg by 6:30, and saw two trucks in the parking lot with bicycles in the back. One was Ray's, and I guessed the other one was Vincent's. I could see Ray sitting in the front seat of his truck, but there was no sign of Vincent. I got out of my car a[...]

Eleven the Hard Way


allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />As regular readers know, I am working my way toward my second consecutive "R-12" award from Randonneurs USA. The R-12 program is designed to recognize those hardy or, to be more precise, FOOLhardy souls that ride at least one approved 200K brevet each month for 12 consecutive months. From March through October, it is pretty easy for me to fulfill the one-a-month requirement by riding a scheduled "event" brevet put on by either the Oregon Randonneurs or the Seattle International Randonneurs. From November through February, I must make do with "permanent" routes, which are routes that another randonneur has designed and which can be ridden at any time.For November, I decided to try a route that my friend Marcello created. It was an "out and back" that started from his home in Hillsboro, and wended its way southwest through the Willamette Valley to Dallas, and then back to HIllsboro. (Note to self: start creating routes that start at front door of home). An appealing aspect of the route is that the posted elevation gain was under 2000 feet. After October, climbing routes become a little less appealing, especially once the snow levels start dropping. Not that I expected snow. Indeed, after a rather wet week, the forecast for November 1 was relatively encouraging. Only a 10% chance of showers.My friends John and Joanne were also on a quest for an R-12, so I invited them to come along. Two other occasional randonneurs, Elise and Kevin, also signed up. Kevin also invited a couple of non-randos from his "social" bike group--Peter and Doak.Sunday morning was foggy and cold as we gathered at Marcello's house. Our announced starting time was 7:00, and we managed to get rolling by 7:05, but only after I rather bitchily pointed out that "Hey, we're on a timed ride here, folks . . . ." The first section of the route was not very scenic. We rode through a quasi-commercial/residential area of Hillsboro toward the Tualatin Valley Highway, passing under Hillsboro's version of the Gateway Arch along the way. The fog was thick and cold, and most of us rode at a fairly relaxed pace. Kevin, still fresh from competing in the Furnace Creek 508, was still in race mode apparently, because he quickly pulled ahead of the group. There were quite a few traffic signals along this part, and at one of them Kevin pulled ahead of us for good. I would not see him again for another 4 hours, when he would pass me outside of Dallas on his way back to Hillsboro. As it turned out, Kevin missed all the fun.And by "fun," I mean "disaster." Hence the video with which this post led off. Less than 6 miles into to ride, my friend John lost a fight with his cleat at a stoplight, and ended up taking a slow-motion but nevertheless significant fall. As soon as he hit the ground, he knew it was bad. When we asked if he was okay, he very calmly replied that he had broken his ankle. Cue multiple rider freak out. While Joanne called 911, the rest of us tried to figure out how to keep John comfortable (a losing proposition) and how to keep cars from hitting him. He was in a traffic lane, and we were reluctant to shift him too much because we were not sure what else might be broken. A passing driver stopped to help. He was a retired firefighter and he took charge of the situation. The cops and EMTs arrived shortly thereafter and proceeded to l[...]

Bikenfest (Belated)


In my ongoing game of blogging "catch up," I present you with a report of a ride I did more than a month ago. Let's see how my memory cells have held up, shall we?"Bikenfest" is my friend John Kramer's annual contribution to the Oregon Randonneurs' brevet season. For the last 4 years he has run it on the first Saturday of October, and for the last three years I have faithfully attended. The first year that I participated, the course was a windblown tour of south-central Washington. Last year, the course was still in Washington, but we traded the wind for hills. And rain. Lots of rain. Cold rain.This year, John designed a course that started in Oregon, but crossed back over the Columbia to Washington. We had wind, hills AND rain. What more could any rando desire?The ride started in Hood River. Greg and I decided to make a weekend of it, so we put the dogs in boarding and booked a room at the Oak Street Hotel. The hotel was two blocks from the start line. That is the only good thing can say about it. It was ridiculously over-priced. They like to say that it is "just like home." Well, in MY home, the bathroom has a door.Hood River is a goofy town. It's a bit like a SoCal beach town has been plucked up and plopped into the Gorge. But it is also still a pretty unsophisticated small Western town. Lots and lots of restaurants, none of which are very good. I mean, I am sure they are good compared with a diner in, say, Pasco. But don't go looking for anything much more sophisticated than edamame appetizers. There is, however, very good beer and the fried tofu at the Big Horse brewpub was quite tasty. So I carbo loaded on beer, fried tofu and sweet potato fries, and went to bed early.The weather report had been dicey all week. I'd finally decided to bring the regular rando bike, with its fenders and fatter tires. When I woke up Saturday morning, it was dry but I could tell that it had rained overnight. The skies looked iffy, so I decked out in rain gear. The it was off to locate some breakfast. Fortunately, Hood River does breakfast well; just down the street was a diner with early hours and excellent hash browns.Well-sated with grease and salt, I headed off to sign in and faff around with my fellow riders. I had misread the start time, and so was early. It was chilly, so I decided to ride my bike around town for a while, just to keep my blood moving. Finally it was time to register, so I returned to the start line. About 11 other riders had arrived, and we all stood around shivering, waiting to get the signal to go.At last it was time. It would not be a Kramer ride if it did not begin with a climb. This time it was not so bad, however. We road up the hill through town, to the entrance to the Twin Tunnels section of the Historic Columbia River Highway. This section of the highway is open only to cyclists and pedestrians (and maybe horses, I am not sure). I was riding with my friends Lesli, Tom and Peg at this point; we would ride together off and on for the first 45 miles or so.For just under 5 miles, we rolled along a lovely wide paved multi-use path and through renovated historic tunnels. Less than a month before, there had been a large forest fire in the area (the "Microwave Fire" - makes me think that it was started by someone who was not paying attention to their popcorn or something), and the smell of wet burned wood was almost overwhelming at times.The Twin Tunnels trail ends in Mosier, where we immediately started climbing again, this time up the aptly (and accurately) named "Seven Mile Hill." John had mentioned that there woul[...]

I'm baaaaaaacckkk! Sort of.


It has been suggested that I have been remiss in my postings; that there are people out there who look forward to reading about the various stupid things that I do on my bicycle, if only so that they might congratulate themselves on their comparatively greater stores of common sense. Yes. Well. Here's the thing. As unlikely as it may sometimes seem, I actually happen to have a life apart from cycling. That life includes a workday that, multi-modal commute included, stretches from 5:30 AM to 7:00 PM. It also includes a neglected but still productive garden, meals that must be cooked and clothing that must be washed. And, of course, a husband, two dogs and three neurotic cats. Actually, two neurotic cats and one certifiably psychotic one. So, as you might imagine, when somethings got to give, the blog is high up there on the list of what gives (along with housecleaning). I'm still riding (if not as much as earlier in the year), I just haven't been writing about it. Until today. Luckily for those impatient readers, if not necessarily for myself, I've managed to come down with what bears all indications of being a mild case of the flu. "Mild" in that it is enough to keep me off the bike, out of the garden and in the house, but not so bad as to keep me confined to bed. So I figured that I might as well catch up on the ol' bike blog. Not that I have much to write about. Since my epic 1200K in July, I've done very little in the way of bloggable riding (I am fairly certain that no one is interested in my daily commute or errands around town). But I do have two rides of some note to report on. The first was back in August (yes, yes, I know, August is soooo two months ago now), the second just last week. After a short break for some coughing, I will proceed directly to relate my August (if not august) Adventure.Okay. Where was I? Oh, yes. August. For the past 28 years, Seattle's Cascade Bicycle Clubhas hosted a multi-day ride from Seattle to Vancouver B.C. It was originally a three-day ride, and involved Vancouver Island, as well, but after some fits and starts it eventually got pared down to the more manageable two-day version now in place. I participated in RSVP, as the ride is known (Ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party) for the first time in 2007. It was a memorable, and bloggable, experience. I had to miss last year's edition, courtesy of some really crappy flight scheduling by Delta Airlines (an airline with which I shall never fly again), and so was really looking forward to riding this year - so much so that when on-line registration opened up on January 1, I was ready with my credit card (but not as ready as riding buddy Lynne, who I think signed up at 12:01 AM . . .).By the time August rolled around, however, I was beginning to wonder if I was yet again going to have to skip the ride. I was still feeling a little under the weather from my brush with exertion-induced anaphylaxis after the Gold Rush, and my friends Lynne and Jason were not going to be able to join me. But after a little waffling, I decided to pull up my big girl pants, invest in a large package of Benadryl and go on the ride alone. The ride started on Friday, August 14, from Magnuson Park in Seattle. Luckily for me, my brother had just moved into his new house less than 2 miles from the park, so I was able to stay there on Thursday, leave my car in his driveway, and ride my bike to the start. Earlier in the week, the weather forecast had been promising, and I had debated bring the "light" bike (i.e., the one with no fenders), but by Thurs[...]

A Fine and Private Place - Emphasis on the "Private"


I actually started this post back in June. At that time I was simply planning on talking about a part of my daily commute, for lack of anything more interesting. Then I got caught up in things, and this post got pushed to the side and forgotten. Recent developments reminded me about it, however, so I am dusting it off and putting it out for all to see.Here in Portland, we've got lots of great places to ride our bikes, either as commuters or as weekend road warriors. Riverview Cemetery is one such place. Almost every weekday morning I ride my bike up the hill from the Willamette River through the cemetery to get to the transit center where I board the commuter bus to Salem. The ride through Riverview is the highlight of my day. A mile and half of quiet roads winding through old tombs (cool!) and new flat gravestones (boring!). The grade is a gentle (mostly) 4% or so, with the occasional 11% pitch, and at 6:00 AM the only traffic is other cyclists and the random deer or coyote.Most mornings on my way up the hill, I meet up with Lee Rogers, the cemetery's supervisor, as he makes his morning rounds. If I have time, I'll stop, and we'll chat about the weather and whatever critters we've seen that morning. Lee thinks it's great that cyclists use the cemetery, because the only other option for getting up the hill is a steep, winding road with no shoulder and lots of car traffic. Lee and I have also talked a lot about certain cyclists who are not content with a leisurely ride through the quiet cemetery hills but, rather, used the cemetery as their own private time-trial course, barreling through funeral processions and cussing out mourners who had the temerity to park their cars in the road. Worse yet are the cyclists that think that graves make good cyclo-cross hazards. Fortunately, the inconsiderate riders are in the minority. Unfortunately, they are ruining it for the rest of us.Lee had told me months ago that the cemetery management was being pressured by plot owners and mourners to close the roads to bicyclists. Management has resisted those calls so far, but last week they took a step toward controlling speeding cyclists by installing speed bumps in three places. Unfortunately, the execution of this plan was not very well thought out. The bumps are higher and less rounded than your typical speed bump, and for at least one day they were unpainted and had no warning marks. That led to several bike crashes, and an extremely vigorous debate on a local cycling blog. Now the cemetery management is once again considering an all-out closure. Needless to say, that would be a huge loss to Portland cyclists. But I can understand the cemetery's position. It is, after all, private property, and we are trespassers upon it. And even though 90% of us are respectful of both the primary purpose of the land and of the extreme graciousness the owners have shown in allowing us to use their roads, it only takes one moron using a child's grave as a mogul to ruin it for the rest of us. And, sadly, just as in every other population subgroup, there are a lot of moron cyclists out there who treat Riverview as their own private Idaho. Thanks for nothing, guys.[...]

Well, Yes, Yes, I am a Cycling Diva.



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Aside From That, Mrs. Lincoln, How Did You Like the Play? Being Part Two of The Story of Cecil's Great Gold Rush Adventure.


(This post is a continuation of a previous post - you might want to read that first, or this will make little sense)And so I was on my way home. The wind was at my back. Sadly, so was a honking huge semi. Not 10 minutes after I left the Davis Creek turnaround, in a scene straight out of Duel, a truck loaded with lumber came speeding up behind me. The driver started blasting his horn and revving his engine and then began to deliberately crowd me off the road. How do I know it was deliberate? First, because there was no oncoming traffic so he could have moved over into the other lane to pass me. Second, because once he pulled up beside me, he slowed until he was pacing me, waited there until I ran off the pavement onto the shoulder, and then accelerated and sped off, with another horn blast to make sure I got his point. I was too busy being terrified and trying to stay vertical to get his license plate number, but when I encountered a CHP officer a few more miles down the road, I gave him a full description of the truck and the incident, just in case the driver should do the same thing to other riders (I learned later that he had indeed crowded another group of riders, but not quite as closely as he had crowded me). What I didn’t say was that the driver could probably be identified by what I had to assume was an astonishingly small penis, because he was so clearly compensating for it by terrorizing female cyclists. On the bright side, I did not crash and the adrenaline rush woke me up and kept me awake all the way back to Alturas.In Alturas, I made good on my promise to visit the nap room, but I had barely reached semi-consciousness when a loud “Bang!” from nearby, followed by a rush of voices, startled me awake again. I briefly considered getting up to investigate, but that would have involved, well, getting up. Which I just did not feel like doing right then. I figured that if there were some real emergency, they’d come get me. When, half an hour later, I finally dragged myself back to the land of the upright, the volunteers on duty told me that a dust devil had blown through town, knocking all sorts of things over. Great. Apparently I was now going to have to deal not only with aggressive drivers, but with whirlwinds. Good thing I’d gotten that nap.The stretch from Alturas back to Adin was singularly uneventful. The expansion cracks on the road did not seem as bad in this direction, but perhaps that was just because I was in a better mood. After turning off Centerville Road in Canby, I made a short detour to the mini-mart for a soda and some popcorn. I chatted with the clerk about the weather—a dust devil had destroyed their sign the day before—and the ride. Another customer came in to ask me why there were so many bicyclists on the roads; he’d been seeing them all day long. When I explained what we were doing, I got the usual “You’re crazy” response. Usually, I respond to such comments by protesting that I am quite sane, but at this point I did not think that I could credibly make that assertion. So I just smiled and shrugged. The other customer, a man who appeared to be in his 60s, then asked “So, you’re mostly college students?” Flatterer. I laughed and told him that most randonneurs were likely to have children in college (or even grandchildren), than be in college themselves.From Canby, I climbed back up and over Adin Pass and onto the flats, which were as demoralizing in the late afternoon as they[...]

Harry Callahan Was Right


Some people just never learn. I am one of those people. At 48, I simply assume that I can still do anything that I did at 18—an assumption that holds up as long as I don't actually test it. For instance, I am pretty sure I can still do a front handspring, but I am not about to try it any time soon. One thing I do know now, however, is that I can ride my bike a distance of 1200 kilometers (that's just under 750 miles for the metrically-impaired) in less than 90 hours. The following is the story of that latest experiment to discover my limitations.It’s been twelve days since I peeled myself off the seat of Lil’ HW Jr. at the finish line of the 2009 Gold Rush Randonnée, and I still have not decided how I feel about my accomplishment.Was it the most awesome thing that I had ever done, or the dumbest? And how does the fact that, 36 hours after crossing the finish line, I found myself in a hospital ER with a face like a pumpkin, hooked up to a heart monitor and gasping for breath factor in to the answer to that question? And (with apologies to Chris Carmichael) how sick a f**k am I that, even then, I took pride in the ER personnel’s astonishment at my cycling abilities? Anyway, without further ado, here is the latest installment of that ongoing series, “Stupid Shit I’ve Done on My Bike.”For the uninitiated, the Gold Rush Randonnée is a 1200-kilometer endurance ride that is put on by the Davis Bike Club, an organization known for its penchant for inflicting pain in the form of extreme cycling challenges. The term "randonnée" loosely translates as a ramble, at least when used to described a walking tour. A "randonnée à vélo," on the other hand, is a long bike ride that may or may not have time contrôles. This particular randonnée was of the timed variety—riders would have 90 hours to complete the course.The GRR route begins in Davis, California and heads northeast through the Sierra Nevada to Davis Creek, California (someone in the DBC clearly has a sense of geographical humor), within spitting distance of Oregon (although Oregonians are more likely to spit on California than vice versa, I suppose). In addition to extreme distance, the course has a few hills. Okay, a lot of hills. As an added plus, most of the riding is at altitudes exceeding 4500 feet. Factor in the notorious heat of the North Central California summer and the 90-hour time limit and you have all the ingredients for an epic painfest. So of course I signed up for it as soon as I learned that registration was open.There was a method to my madness, however. You see, I’ve had this whacked idea that in 2011 I would fly to France to ride the Paris-Brest-Paris Randonnée, the grand-père of all randonnées à vélo (as my French co-worker said, “The PBP? Why, that is the most famous of all amateur cycling events!”). Anyway, I thought that before I shelled out a zillion Euros to kill myself on the roads of Normandy, I’d better be sure I could go the distance on a course a little closer to home. So I signed up for the GRR and began riding my a** off in preparation. I extended the mileage of my morning commute, and found all the steepest hills between home and the transit center. More important, I completed a full series of sanctioned brevets (200, 300, 400 and 600 kilometers), the necessary prerequisite to ride the GRR. The 600 was itself an epic painfest and, indeed, ended up being the perfect training for the GRR.The months flew b[...]

Patience, Grasshopper


Many readers (okay, two) have asked when the heck my ride report for the Gold Rush Randonnée is going to appear. Patience, children, patience. All good things will come to those who wait.

In the interim, enjoy this little clip from one of my all-time favorite TV series . . .

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Science Diet


On-bike nutrition has become my new obsession. For the past 30 years of biking I have been a staunch advocate of "real" food on my rides--the idea of relying on nothing but energy bars, Ensure and salt pills was anathema. "Eschew the Goo!" has been my rallying cry. "Vive les pommes de terre! Vive le sandwich au beurre d'arachide!" My dismissal of Science Diet was also partially informed by the fact that my first experience in trying Clif Shots and Heed resulted in a scene familiar to anyone who has seen The Exorcist.So while other riders packed Clif Shots and Hammer Gels, and downed gallons of Heed , Perpetuem, and Spizz, I packed my bags with boiled potatoes, baked tofu, PB & banana sandwiches, muffins, and trail mix (and, in the pre-vegan days, I also brought boiled eggs). I did make the exception for the occasional Clif Bar; at least those give a person something to CHEW. The closest I would get to Science Diet was Clif Shot Blox (aka Gummi Bears for cyclists).Yes. Well. That was all well and good when the longest ride I did was less than 200 miles and when I was not racing a clock. The extra weight that "real" food added to the bike load did not concern me, and I always had time to unpack and repack complicated concoctions. And last year, when I did two 600-kilometer rides (approx. 375 miles), I continued to pack "real" food with no obvious detriment, but I did begin to question whether I could afford to be pushing the extra weight and taking the time to pack and unpack on the longer rides. It may have only slowed me down a little, but was it possible that without the extra weight I would have been the minimal increment faster that would allow me more than a couple hours of sleep on a 40-hour ride?And then last month I rode the 600 XTR. In my front bag I had some tofu, some licorice, a few apricot bars, a few packs of Shot Blox, some trail mix and cashews. I decided not to bring potatoes and sandwiches, figuring I'd also be foraging along the way.What I did not factor in was that the extreme heat on the ride would switch off my hunger switch. It was not so much that I could not eat what I had with me, it was more that it simply wasn't something I thought much about. As a result, I finished the ride with almost as much food in my bag as I started with; I hauled it for 376.1 miles and took it back home with me.  And since I was trying not to spend too much time at controls, I also was not purchasing mch food or taking time to eat it.  When I tallied up what I had eaten over the 38 and a half hours it took for me to complete the ride, I realized that I had taken in somewhere around 5,000 calories. I had probably expended twice that many. Not good.Now I am preparing to ride twice that distance - something I have never done before - and the terrain and temperature will be equally unforgiving. So I have begun thinking about Science Diet again. Factoring into the consideration is that Hammer Nutrition is supplying the riders on the Gold Rush with gels, Perpetuem and Endurolytes, gratis. But I did not want to just show up in Davis and start ingesting any of those products without seeing if I could tolerate them. I did not want a repeat of the Heed/Clif Shots experience. Since I was signed up to lead a long, hilly climb for Portland Velo this past Saturday, and with the ride to the start and back would have almost a century in, I decided I would use that [...]