Monday, June 16, 2008

What Can I Say?

I love Portland. I really do. With the mildest climate in the 48 states, plentiful clean water and air, and people who actually care that we have plentiful clean water and air, I'm glad to call this my home.

But...sometimes people are just weird here.

Check out this news article from the weekend. Umm. Yeah. The thought of riding a bike without any clothes on kinda makes my hide twitch. A positive and health bicycling culture has a lot of great side effects. However, there are some things that happen here that I really don't get, like
shift2bikes, the Zoobombers, and Critical Mass, not to mention the really fringey things like Dykes on Bikes.

Honestly, this place is so weird even the UFO's don't land here any more. (No, I didn't make that up, but I do have it on good authority from the extraterrestrial I had over for dinner the other night.) Recall that King George the First termed this place Little Beirut because it was such a tribulation for the the secret service to keep him alive when he visited here?

I can't even presume that the Willamette Valley got this way since I moved here. Remember this bumper sticker?
(I'm distancing the population west of the Cascades from everyone else, because I think the folks in Bend, Pendleton, and LaGrande would prefer it that way .) Heck, I usually buy Nancy's yogurt at the store (I'm lactose intolerant), and--in case you weren't aware--this is a daily reminder in my life of the legacy of Ken Kesey. Yes, it's that Kesey family that owns it. And I buy Nancy's because they don't add nonfat milk solids (read: lactose) into their yogurt after they culture it, and they don't add gelatin (read: makes it hard to cook with). It's just plain better.

Want another example? We had our Gay Pride Parade here in Portland over the weekend, and who's prominently featured in a float?

Yup, Sam Adams. And in Portland that's not just the name of a nationally renowned (and revered even here in the land of microbrews) ale; Mr. Adams is none other than the mayor-elect of Portland.

Sam Adams is also an ardent advocate for bicyclists. He even wanted to relocate the Sauvie Island bridge to make a pedestrian overpass in the Pearl District, but that's another story.

So, anyway, that's the news from the Land of the Stumps of Mystery as of today.

Saturday was another epic bicycle
ride for the Oregon Randonneurs. You had your choice of a 200km and a 400km route. Those who opted for the 400km tended to finish around 2 AM Sunday, and...seeing as it was Father's Day, I didn't think that was politically correct. Yeah, that's the ticket. That's why I didn't do it.

The worst part about this ride for me was actually starting it. In order to afford the riders with the maximum amount of daylight, we were to start in Newburg at six in the morning, which meant rolling out of bed at four. I spent the entire trip to Newburg wondering how I was going to feel being on a bike. I like my sleep!

The upside is that the weather was absolutely fantastic. It started out just chilly enough to require a windbreaker, but we were down to arm & leg warmers by lunch and then we were out of those by the return trip.

Yes, we had to bypass the Road to Riches in order to stay on our route. So shoot me. (See how blue and clear the sky was!)

However, it was just after I took this photo that, heading southbound down a hill at 15 mph, I noticed that I was feeling absolutely no wind. Bad news, boys and girls. I told myself that the wind would probably die down before heading back north.

As the morning progressed we got our obligatory covered bridges. The last one ended up being blurry, sorry about that.

The descent to Shimanek Bridge was most notable. Even taking it easy I hit 42 mph dropping down to the bridge.

You have to wonder why there are covered bridges here in western Oregon. It's not as though we get that much snow or sleet in the winter. Must be something about the settlers who moved here. The 400Km folks got the other four bridges. Thanks, I'll do that some other year.

Lynne and I called this ride the Dies the Fire ride. At one point just north of Sublimity as we crested a roller, I said "Hey, Lynne, I keep expecting Clan MacKenzie to ride out from behind some trees; this is exactly like the terrain Sterling writes about." Lynne: "This is the terrain!" (Those are terrific books, by the way; check them out.) We kept speculating where the Lord Protector had put is fortresses, and we all agreed that the only way to tour Dies the Fire country is by foot, horseback, or bicycle (the way they travel in the books).

Cecil and the preride crew had warned us about Cole School Road, but it still has to be experienced to be believed. It consists of two climbs; the first one is 15% and perhaps 0.3 miles. It's pretty demanding, then you get a all-too-swift descent paycheck before starting a second climb of similar length. Let me tell you, that climb looks awful impressive at the bottom, and Cecil assures us that it measures 18%. What's the difference between 15% and 18%? Well, at least for me, visualize climbing, standing, in your lowest gear. On the 18% grade your foot gets absolutely no free ride as you shift your weight between the left and right foot; the bike snakes forward for the pedal stroke and is pretty much motionless as you pull the other foot around and then down.

This was also the point in the ride where my derailleur started acting hinky, which was a big worry for the remainder of the day; I kept adding tension to the cable and it kept acting like it was stretching out. I probably gave the adjust two full turns during the course of the day: a twist would make things behave for about an hour and then I'd start getting phantom shifts. Of course it has to happen when I'm literally hours from home.

In Scio we caught a huge herd of randonneurs who were fueling up, including Natalie "Sweetpea" Ramsland and Mr. Sweetpea (Austin). This was where the 200Km and 400Km riders parted ways. We saw a helmet there that had us scratching our head. I'm pretty sure it didn't belong to one of our crowd, but you can't quite be sure...

After stopping at the Sentry Market in Jefferson for the jo-jo's that Lynne raved about...well, that's when it got...grim. We were aimed northward for pretty much the remainder of the day, and no, the wind had not died down. Can you say "ride on the drops?" There, I knew you could! The sap-the-will-to-live moment came, at least for me, when we struck north on Howell Prairie Road. What part of "north", "eighteen miles", and "prairie" isn't clear?

By the time we got to Champoeg Park I could smell the barn. I'd never realized how close Champoeg is to Newberg. My bike rides always come in from the east and, of course, why would you go through Newberg when you have all of the rest of that beautiful scenery in Yamhill County you could be riding through instead?

Total for the day: 128 miles, 9:05 in-saddle, 11:10 elapsed. My HRM says I burned about 7100 Calories, so I "ate with impunity" that night and slept like a log.

1 comment:

Kristen T said...

You are correct about SM Stirling's books... and I love the Dies the Fire series! His website now has maps showing where things are, so if you are really curious, you could download them and take another round-about.