Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Banks - Elsie 200k

With finals almost over, my first board exam out of the way and my 100k completed two days earlier it was time to do my 200k for the month.  I would have preferred to wait a few more days to do my 200k but I have lots of travel setup for spring break and would probably not complete a 200k by months end.  My choice for this month was a 128(ish) mile adventure leaving out of Banks Oregon through Vernonia past Birkenfeld with a turn around near Elsie Oregon.  A route that should be mostly flat...with a weather report for clear to cloudy skies I felt this ride was going to be perfect for this introvert to recharge and regroup after a long term of school.

Sunrise on the trail
I arrived at the start point at just after 07:00, used the restroom and got ready to head out.  The temperature was a balmy 36 degrees with no wind and a tiny sliver of sun peaking through the clouds in the east.  Stopping at the ATM to get my official start receipt I was on my way, assuming the cold morning air would give way to warmer temps I rode with fewer layers than I usually do, but was prepared with rain gear and an extra shirt just in case the Oregon weather folks screwed up my "day of nice weather".

Facing Northwest on the trail 
Meeting up with the Banks Vernonia trail I headed northwest towards Vernonia enjoying the quite morning.   Once getting into the actual forest I was surprised to feel moisture accumulating on my face, legs, glasses and jacket, must be the morning dew...Plodding up the 2% grade towards Vernonia the air stayed cool and the moisture increased, knowing that the weather reports are always accurate I stayed the course and rode to Vernonia, feeling a little chilled and fairly damp when I finally arrived there for the first control.  The first control, which I have used on one other ride, is actually a hidden gem of stops.  You are probably holding your breath wondering "well what is it?" Subway, yes Subway why?  Because only in Vernonia do they not charge you for the coffee, Seattle's Best Coffee to be exact.  Yes folks Small Town USA is alive and kicking right here in your own backyard, if your out riding stop in and get a couple of cookies and some coffee (the cookies are fresh in the morning).

Gearing up in my rain jacket because I was finally feeling the chill of the morning and the dampness was not helping my body warm up I headed on to Bridge Street to finally get the the meat of the ride, Highway 47/202.  Having rode this part of the route in February I was well versed in my water stop/restroom break area (Big Eddy County Park), which, like last time also served as my put on the rest of your rain gear because the weather folks screwed the pooch on their prediction again spot.  Well the first part of my hope for this ride had fallen apart, dry weather ... poof gone, let the Oregon rain begin.  Ironically this county park is about 10ish miles outside of what should be Oregon's nickname city Mist, Oregon.  Well played weather gods, well played.

Sore Donkey chilling in Birkenfeld
All bundled up in my rain gear and spinning towards my next stop, Birkenfeld, I was treated to on and off rain, suffocating mist and rogue wind blasts from the north and south, all in all not too bad.  Spinning along the Nehalem River enjoying the somewhat quite road, except the bazillion log trucks that were blowing past me in both directions showering me with road grit and grime.  I rolled into Birkenfeld to discover the general store, my second control, was closed until Thursday.  Eating one of my many sandwiches I rested and got ready to head back out, with the hope that the current sun and cloudless skies would hold out long enough for me to dry out a bit.

Somewhere on HWY 103
Moving on from Birkenfeld I was treated to about 2 miles of clear skies and no wind, but around every turn something has to change, for me it was the weather.  As I came around one of the many curves on this route I rudely interrupted a downpour that was in progress, deciding not to wait for this one to end I stopped and suited up again.  Enjoying the raindrops on my head I continued on to what would be my 4th turn on this route (if I counted correctly there was 7 total turns each direction) on to highway 103.  This particular section of road takes you through a gem of a town, small and quaint, Jewell Oregon.  Observing the school zone speed limit (small towns can be unpleasant for cyclists) I plodded through the town and back out to the wet but refreshing rural country.

General Store near Elsie
Still dealing with the log trucks about every 15 minutes, which I do have to say they gave me more space than the other traffic and never honked, Jake braked or gave me the finger, I cruised the last few miles, through some rural township, and up a fairly punchy climb to get to the turn around control stop.  The stop was much nicer than I expected, seated directly on highway 26 with not much else around is a newly remodeled general store that among flush toilets has a bakery, deli, hardware section and just about everything you ask for in the middle of nowhere.  Refueling with some coffee and potato chips (and another sandwich) I hung my rain gear on the chairs to dry and switched to a dry shirt (so glad I am mister over prepared).  Dry shirt you ask, but you had rain gear.  Rain gear keeps the water out, but also only selectively lets about 1/10th of your sweat out thus equaling a wet shirt, eVent fabric is nice, but "breathable" still has a long way to go.

Feeling good that there was no rain while I was stopped I neglected to put the rain pants back on in hopes that the weather gods would provide me with less rain and more sun.  Not to say that I was wrong, but I did have to put my rain pants back on 4 miles into the return ride.  Since this is an out and back route I got to encounter all the same features that I did the first time through, only this time there was more traffic.  Spinning back through Jewell and turning back on to HWY 202 I headed back to my next stop, the same closed general store in Birkenfeld.  Again taking a short break there to strip the rain pants off, I know I really should have learned by now, I was back on the road...and shortly back in the rain.

Rolling into Vernonia I swung into Subway again to get a bite to eat and hopefully warm up a little bit.  I was successful at both, although the sandwich I ordered was really not that great (mostly due to the fact that I ordered gluten free bread, which should just be called crumbly breadlike option for suckers). I packed up and headed back on to the trail to blast back to Banks and finish this ride.  Oh, and yes I removed my rain pants while in Vernonia, and this time was successful in riding rain free for the last 20 miles!

The trail home was really nice, there was sun breaking through the trees, I was cruising at a moderate pace of 18+mph and just enjoying the last remnants of my ride.  I also had the pleasure of riding with a roadie all kitted out and amazed that 1. I had ridden 120 miles at that point, 2. was on a single speed bike keeping pace with him and 3. still smiling.  I typically smile when I ride, because there isn't much of a point to riding if your not having a good time...
The rest of the ride into banks was quick, its easy when its all down hill!  Pulled into the credit union to get my ATM slip and close out my ride at 18:08 just under 11 hours, and in daylight the whole time.  Even with the poor weather it was a great ride, everyone who gets to ride it on Saturday March 30th will enjoy it!  Until the next adventure...
Still Smiling at 120 miles 

Rickey's Populaire 100k

Saturday, March 16th, was the first series ride with the Oregon Randonneuring crew for 2013, a nice mostly flat 100k that wandered through Washington County.  Knowing that my days were limited on when I could ride for my 100 and 200k's this month my brother (Eric) and I pre-registered and showed up at the Cornelius Road House pub at 08:40 for the 09:00 start.  With 55 cycling companions ready to tackle the ride we waited for the start in the parking lot, realizing that we appeared to be the only ones on single speed (ss) bikes, we hoped that our decision was going to work out for us.

At 09:00 40+ cyclist bolted out of the parking lot and onto the route, Eric and I hung back a bit to let the masses move forward and give ourselves a little more space on the road.  Spinning down to the first rural road we passed, and were passed, by several other riders who had the same idea as us, letting the masses trudge forward.  Riding this route was a bit like riding every route that I have done so far, it included parts of every ride I have done over the one and a half years randonneuring and a few parts that were new to me.  Our ride was going stellar until the curse of the Wittinger bladder kicked in, which is a common issue that I often don't write about, where either Eric or I, or both, have to take a bio break.  Holding out for 13 miles was almost a record for both of us, but alas we had to find a cozy patch of blackberries to water.  Moving on from the bio break we wandered toward Banks along the same roads that always take us to Banks.  Rolling through Banks we turned left onto Cedar Canyon road which takes us out towards highway 6 and our first large hill of the day.

Before turning onto HWY 6 we changed our layers in anticipation of the downhill that will freeze us if we don't prepare ahead of time.  This stop also allowed about 6 cyclists to pass us...When we turned onto the highway we were greeted with a fairly nice shoulder and the view of a long slog ahead, with many other cyclists already attacking the hill.  On we go, with a single gear, and ultimately a mechanical advantage, we passed cyclist after cyclist greeting and encouraging each one along the way.  After passing the 6 cyclists who passed us and then a few more we hit the descent which hit back with some rain, boo.  Getting to the bottom of the hill we made our turn for the first info control, this little stop allowed everyone to catch up and for us to eat a little snack.

Riding on from the control we were treated to on and off again rain, a couple of narrow shoulders and a little traffic.  Plodding along we caught up with Ray and I got to chat about my upcoming 200k that was one of his routes, getting the subtle details of that route and having a good chat it was time to catch back up with Eric and hit the next control.  A easy turn onto a very rural road, which reminded me of much of the eastern United States I had ridden through in 2010, we came to the control.  Reading ahead we saw there was one more info control until we came to the actual signature required control.  Heading on we encountered the second large hill, which was much harder than the first with lots of twists and turns but zero traffic.

After a lovely descent through beautiful farmland we rode on to the last info control, a grocery in the middle of nowhere. Quickly moving on we rode the next few miles along quite country roads to our signature control, where we met up with most of the cyclists who had left ahead of us.
Eric and the line o' bikes
At the store we were able to get some essential items for the ride back to the start, Necco Wafers being the most essential of all the items.  Eating the sandwiches that we had packed and some chips and drinks we saddled back up and headed back out to complete the loop.

Sore Donkey made an appearance!

Riding down familiar territory we enjoyed a lovely tailwind that helped push us through the Forest Grove area and back out into the rural areas of Washington County.  The country roads were soon coming to an end however, as we approached Glenco Road and eventually Evergreen Parkway for our straight shot back to the Road House.  Where we were logged in for a 62(ish) mile ride at 4:44 minutes, not too shabby for single speed riders.

Overall the ride was great, the roads were fairly quiet and had excellent surfaces, the controls were easy to complete and the general attitude of the day was "enjoy the ride".  We were not on a mission to finish as quickly as possible, or to pass as many people as we could, we simply were out to ride, enjoy the company and conversations with others and ourselves.  Mission accomplished!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Cutting it Close...Again

It's taken me a few weeks to get the most recent ride report posted, its been a busy couple of weeks which kind of eased up last Saturday when I passed my first National Board exam for Acupuncture (only 2 more to go).  The last 100k snuck up on me and I almost missed riding it, thanks to studying, a shorter month and just general business.  I did however complete the ride a sort of repeat of what I did on the 200k earlier just much shorter and quicker.

I chose Ray's Banks-Vernonia 100k for several reasons: 1. I have ridden it before and would not need a cue sheet 2. Ray responded quickly and got me the info I needed even on short notice (thanks Ray!) 3. It should be a quick easy ride mostly on paved trail with little to no traffic on the roads I would be on.  All three made for an awesome ride.  There is something to be said about not having to use a cue sheet, it feels so much more like a spontaneous ride than an event you scheduled.

Starting at the McDonald's in North Plains at 07:27, I had a light misty drizzle that forced me to wear my rain gear to start, I head out through the old part of North Plains that I have become so familial with over the last 2 months.  Heading through the back roads and over to my first info control at the church in this small village on Roy road (I can't remember the name of the village but its small, real small). From here it was a nice little plod to Banks and my favorite ATM at the credit union on the main street for my next control.  Which I almost missed because I was slow to actually start from McDonald's by about 12 minutes for actual receipt time.

After getting my slip from the ATM I headed over to the Banks-Vernonia Trail, one of my favorite trails because of the low foot traffic and smooth surface in the middle of the woods.  Once on the trail I had to stop and dress down a little bit as the layers were getting to be too much, and I didn't want to be complete soaked on the inside of my rain jacket, which is not uncommon if you have ever ridden with a "breathable" rain jacket.  Layers removed, but rain gear still on due to the dreadful Oregon mist I headed deep into the woods.  Speeding along the trail I only encountered one person heading to Vernonia, a jogger, who I'm pretty sure almost died when I said "on your left, good morning" oops sorry my bell is on my single speed.  Racing along the trail trying to make good time I got to Lake Vernonia and the second info control.  It was raining in full earnest now and I took a few minutes to let the storm pass while I ate some snacks.

Heading from Lake Vernonia  I meandered into town and found a Subway to get a coffee and to warm up.  After getting a coffee and a cookie (apparently coffee is free at this Subway so I bought a cookie to get a receipt) I mounted up and headed the same way back home.  Which turned out to be a real thigh burner until the downhill in the last 8 or so miles of the trail.  I was also lucky to no longer have rain/mist/drizzle yay!  Instead I traded that in for a headwind boo!  Which went to help explain the thigh burner part of the ride.  Dropping back into Banks the winds changed and I all the sudden had a stonking tailwind yay!

Blasting through town on the winds of change I headed back out to the nice quite country roads and enjoyed the boost to help get me back to the start.  Riding with a tailwind makes you feel like you are a superstar Lycra-clad Kit wearing racer boy, its impressive how fast you feel and go!  I rode the last 8 miles back at a pace that I could have never kept 50+ miles into a ride, my average speed on that section was 19.5 mph (ish).  I cruised into McDonald's feeling great and even went so far as to partake in a order of small french fries...they were delicious!

The ride was great, one that I will probably end up doing again, I suggest to all you non-rando folks who like to ride to take the short drive to Banks and get on the trail, they have parking at the trail head!  I was also focused on getting this ride done quickly so I neglected to take any photos, I'll get some from my next adventure though!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

One Chain Ring to Rule The Day

     Saturday the 9th completed February's 200k, at least the brevet card and receipts are in the mail, pending approval from the ride owner.  I can say that the ride was great, I thoroughly enjoyed the route and the ease of the open controls.  I decided to use my Single Speed (SS) bike for this ride because I enjoy challenges and I am a glutton for punishment!  The weather and all the other crazy bullsh!t that happened before the ride I could have done without but I finished the ride and did it in a respectable time too.

     Imagine the joy of waking at 05:30 to pack the car, eat breakfast and drink coffee all while planning  enough time to drive to my brothers house to print out my cue sheet (our printer ran out of ink the night before) and ride to the start (since it was only a couple miles away).  Sounds like a flawless plan...except I got out of bed a little late and left later than I wanted to only to arrive at my brothers to find that his printer is out of paper (I had plenty of paper at my house) damn!  Quick change in plans, scratch riding to the start, instead drive to FedEx Kinko's to print the cue sheet (thankfully Kinko's is literally across the street from the start), all this change also set back my anticipated start time from 07:30 to 07:50ish (07:49 to be exact).  All in all it could have been worse, and with as much that seemed to be going wrong I thought about bagging the ride and shooting for Monday instead.  But my stubbornness prevailed and I left the Starbucks on 117th and Canyon at 07:49 heading west.

     Getting through Beavertron was easy, it consisted of a similar route I used to ride to Intel in 2007, so the riding was pretty quick and simple.  The first section new to me was a turn onto the Rock Creek Trail, a nice 1/4 mile tarmac trail that cuts under highway 26 and pops out in a quiet low traffic neighborhood.  Meandering through the lovely Intel induced neighborhood I crossed over Cornelius Pass road and slipped back into business park suburbia only to come to my first challenge on the route an unexpected road closure due to a half marathon...But the friendly Washington County police officer told me an alternative that would get me back on track and he let me wiggle through the runners before all the cars could go.  With a short detour I was back on track heading out on West Union road all the way to North Plains, a familiar town on these west-side rando rides.

      Since North Plains wasn't a control this ride, I cruised on through riding towards the quieter country roads towards Banks, the first control on this ride.  Having fully stocked up on food at my house (3 homemade PB & Nutella/honey sandwiches plus snacks and fruit) I swung in to the US Bank to check my balance at the ATM (09:47ish), which is my budget way of going through some of the open controls on this route (Hey, I'm a student with a house sized loan bill and counting).  Grabbing a quick snack out of my bag, put on my rain gear (damn the mist) and headed towards the allure of this route for me, the Banks-Vernonia Trail.

Arriving at the trail head I was glad I had put rain gear on, the mist had turned to more of the typical Oregon drizzle.  Getting out of Banks the trail was pretty empty of users, which proved pretty consistent all the way to Vernonia.  Riding up the trail had seemed much easier on my road bike, however my SS made things a little more entertaining.  Its gotta be between a 2%-3% grade uphill for about 6 or more miles which is just a slow grind when you only have one gear (42x16).  I'm not complaining, I have found that I actually enjoy riding my SS more than my road bike, too bad my SS is as heavy as my touring bike (39lbs).
The Trail is a wonderful riding experience, you get to ride through great forested areas, across a huge redone train trestle and through a state park, all on nice pavement!  If you get the chance I highly recommend riding the trail.  Anyways after all the nature and quiet time it was time to get back to civilization, Vernonia the next control (11:40ish).

     Vernonia is a small sized town that has had major flooding issues for decades, but for some reason it stays alive and has cafes and stores galore (not really galore, but my vocab is limited for the right word...).  Stopping at the Sentry Market I got some much needed Ibuprofen for the slight headache that was nagging me over the last few miles.  NSAIDS on board I headed out to a place in Oregon that I have never been to, Brikenfeld.  Riding out highway 47 was quite nice, fairly low traffic and decent tarmac, except one spot that had a landslide and the road is all messed up.  I probably crossed the Nehalem river 5 times on this 20 something mile ride, not an issue rivers are much nicer to look at than building and shanties.  Riding what felt like an endless amount of time got me to where I though Brikenfeld was, only to find the sign that says 5 more miles, uggg I was getting the lunch time hunger pangs and felt the energy slowly dwindling.

     Struggling the last 5 miles into Birkenfeld I came upon the general store/bar/restaurant/coffee shop/everything else that is the control point.  The shop was great, the owner was super friendly and knows all about us crazy rando riders, offering to sign my brevet card which was nice, even if he wrote the wrong time down first...sometimes the 24 hour clock can confuse people.
     Grabbing some liquid calories, chips and the best candy ever, Necco Waffers, 97% of the people reading this will say WTF Necco's are the worst candy EVER, but the other 3% know what I'm talking about!  Sitting outside with my bike I ate my chips, 2nd sandwich (the other was consumed some time ago) and Necco's I relaxed for a few minutes before doing the entire ride in reverse (13:30).
Sore Donkey made an appearance

     Heading out I knew what I was in for, I really wouldn't need the cue sheet until Hillsboro area and was planning on using some of the tailwind I was fighting coming in to propel me back home easily and quickly.  Highway 47 looks no different heading the opposite direction which was no surprise, but did make for a pretty trip back to Vernonia. I again stopped at the Sentry Market for some coveted gummi bear treats (15:17ish).
     After gobbling some gummi treats I headed back out on the Banks-Vernonia trail, which was almost completely empty now.  The mist had stopped awhile back and I had the opportunity to ride without rain pants for about 35 miles, until getting deep into the forested areas on the trail.  The trail proved to be a wonderful downhill return to Banks, it was nice to cash in some of that uphill energy investment for a simple cruise back to the trail head.  Heading into Banks proper for the 6th control I stopped at the credit union to again check my balance at the ATM (17:00ish), and eat the rest of my chips and last sammie, which was much needed!

     The ride back to the start was gonna be a dark one, plus the drizzle that was back made it less fun as well.  Winding through Washington County was great, since I have ridden most of the route out here several times the cue sheet was not really needed, until dark.  Rolling through North Plains the sky had finally turned dark and I was forced to use my NightRider 350 light, which is an awesome lightweight solution for me since a generator hub is expensive, see above statement about my home loan sized student debt, and just impractical on a SS.  The other nice thing about getting back towards Hillsboro later was the half marathon was over and I could take the correct route back.  Again riding through the quiet neighborhood and back out onto the busy roads of Evergreen Parkway, to Cornell, then on 158th back onto Jenkins then over to 117th down to Starbucks made for a quick ride back.  Unfortunately the Starbucks was closed and I was forced to get a receipt at the frozen yogurt joint (19:15ish).  The ride was done, I was feeling good glad that I was done and glad that I did the ride on my SS.
     Now I only have to do a 100k for the month and study for my first board exam on the 9th of March and do all my other school stuff too.  Until next time!

Keep the rubber side down!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Just under the wire

Reaching the goal of a 200k and a 100k once a month every month may not seem like a big challenge but when you have national boards to study for, a relationship to focus on and family obligations it sure makes it tough.  So when the Facebook post came out for a Saturday morning 100k with Ray and company I jumped on it!  For an added bonus my brother Eric wanted to join, so he could pop his randonneuring cherry finally!

The morning started out well, I met Eric at his house at 08:30 to prep and drive to the start point, North Plains.  For this ride I chose to bring my commuter single speed (SS), a 42x16, because the route appeared pretty flat/casual and it has been one of my goals to do as many of these rando rides on my SS.  When I showed up with my SS Eric decided to swap over from his road bike to his SS as well since its the same gearing.  With a quick change over of lights and saddle bags we were ready to roll.

The weather was fairly mild out with no sign of rain on the 11 mile drive to the McDonalds start point, that soon changed.  Arriving about 7 minutes before 10:00 Eric and I started to gear up, another set of riders, Lynne and Bill, also showed up while we were changing so the total ride group would now be 6.  After fiddle farting around we got over to the check-in with Ray picked up our Brevet cards and cue sheets and saddle up.  

Heading out from McDonalds the rain started, not a surprise but a bummer.  Riding through the fine town of North Plains was pretty quick, then over the freeway towards Forest Grove on some moderately busy roads.  With the rain coming down pretty hard it was nice to have fenders, but they were truly of little use because the wheel spray was still huge from everyone but Lynne and Ray, who had the exteno-fender thingies.  

Riding through Forest Grove, now covered in road dirt, we hooked a left on to some familiar territory Fern Hill Rd, which has a brand new bathroom at the wildlife preserve, yay for me!  Breaking from the pack Eric and I headed to the bathroom for some much needed relief and a short break.  Eric was getting pretty cold in the hands and feet from not riding fast enough to keep his HR up, I was a bit cold but a second set of gloves solved that.  After about 20 minutes at the Wildlife perserve we headed on to try and catch the other riders.  

Back on Fern Hill Rd we were able to kick the speed and cadence up for Eric and get him warm, which was good for both of us.  At the end of Fern Hill Rd we hooked a left on to Spring Hill Rd and were promptly passed by group of road bikers.  Riding the familiar route from a few weeks prior we headed on for miles gliding around corners and over hills until we reached our eventual right hand turn on to the highway.  A short-lived jont on the highway to merge off on to Abby road towards Lafayette, and again merging onto quieter roads which were actually dry.  Rolling into Lafayette we caught up with Ray about 1/4 mile from the turnaround, a small hispanic grocery store.  Cruising in to the parking lot RB was waiting by the bikes and Lynne and Bill were inside getting some much needed fuel for the trip home.

Stripping off the wet gear to head inside for some snacks, Eric and I had little illusion that there would be much that he could eat (Gluten/Dairy free), or that I would want to eat (Dairy free Gluten sensitive). Finding my go to food of choice, a banana, I checked out and got my receipt and headed back to the bikes, Eric uncovered some gummy bears in the candy section and came out and we feasted on our spoils.  Quickly realizing that it was cold but not raining anymore we decided to start on our way back, hoping that the slight headwind that we felt would turn into a massive tailwind for the ride home.  

Since this route is an out and back it was a little easier to ride back because I didn't have to check the cue sheet for any of the turns or directions, at least until we got back to Forest Grove.  As luck would also have it we did have a small tailwind that helped keep our pace above average for SS's on a flat road.  Eric and I had a leisurely ride back chatting about all the stuff that is happening and how things in life are going, you know the great parts about riding with people you know well.  

Arriving back in Forest grove was also a bit of a reminder that the quiet country roads were behind us.  With a quick snack stop, about 4 miles from the finish, to keep from bonking we rehashed the ride and how it is a great to get out of our comfort zone and ride to areas we may never get to.  Eating the last of the gummy bears we headed to North Plains, where I got turned around we were treated to a second loop of the older part of the town.  After the second tour I navigated us back to the McDonalds and we changed out of our wet shoes and clothes and got our final receipt to end the ride.  Lynne was kind enough to give a quick tutorial on proper brevet card etiquette which also gave time for the last riders to roll in.   

We completed the ride in 5h 21m with the total mileage 63.75, I'm sure if I'd had my GPS it would have shown the actual ride time much shorter but who really cares, we finished!  As you may have also noticed there are no pictures of this ride, two things happened with that, rain and poor planning.  I bought a new point and shoot camera the other day that is water/shock/dust proof and forgot it boo, and secondly my gloves were so wet that if and when I took them off I had to spend 10 minutes getting them back on, not worth it, sorry folks.  However Eric enjoyed his first rando ride  wants to do another ride, maybe try his luck on a 200k next time...we'll see about that though.  Until next time!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

First 200k Completed...

After several days of pondering whether or not I would do my first 200k on Saturday 01/12/13, mostly due to the changing weather in the area...from snow all weekend to freezing temps with clear skies, I finally bit the bullet and got up at 06:00 to meet the ride owner, Ken, at Grand Central Bakery in Multnomah Village at 07:30.  Opting for the day with freezing temps, start temp was near 28F. I layered up as best I could, with double gloves and leg warms under my cold weather tights.  After my usual dillydallying at the start point I got on the road and headed West towards Hillsboro 08:05.

The ride to Hillsboro was pretty cold but had low traffic as expected at 08:00, there were lots of stop signs and lights plus the excitement of icy roads.  The temps had not gotten any warmer on my way there, in fact I could swear that it actually got colder.  Once I got into the Silicon Forest part of Hillsboro I got to experience the Semiconductor Factory Effect (as it has been called by some), which is when it's cold enough for ice and snow the Fab's put out enough steam to actually make snow or freezing fog happen.  It's like a microclimate, which is fascinating, if you are in a car with a heater and not on a bicycle at 09:00 getting frost accumulating on your gloves, jacket and face...    
Freezing Fog in Hillsboro
After riding through the fog in Hillsboro I headed northwest to a small town called North Plains.  About 6 miles out from North Plains I had to stop and remove one of my three shirts so that I wouldn't sweat too much as I was already feeling the sweat on my base layer which was not a good thing.  Shirt removed and stuffed in my rear seat pack I was off to the first stop North Plains Grocery, which is run by a friendly woman who insistently told me that it is far too cold to ride my bike today.  Agreeing with her as I was emptying my water bottles in her sink because the water was icy and had frozen the nozzles shut.  After a quick banana and fresh water I headed southeasterly towards Forest Grove, which would be the next "big" town before I got to the turn around point of McMinnville, time 10:01 miles 25ish.

The ride through Forest Grove was pretty benign, low traffic, wide shoulder and freezing temps.  Once through civilization it was out into farm country on some gorgeous low traffic back roads.  After many miles of wetlands and fields I finally stopped to eat a snack and snap some shots of the area, which were also the last shots that I took of the day...mostly because getting my gloves on and off was becoming very difficult. 
Laughlin Road 
Cruising on from here I encountered the only gravel section on the route, which was more hard packed dirt with a sprinkling of gravel mixed-in for good measure.  The road was actually in better condition than many of the asphalt roads I have ridden on, which was a surprise.  Thankfully the sun was finally starting to break through the fog allowing for the frost to melt, bad part was I was still on a dirt road, which meant I got pretty muddy.  After the mud road it was on to McMinnville, which was about 20 miles out.

All good things do have to come to an end and that was when I had to ride into McMinnville.  Highway 99 is a bit more heavily traveled with lots of debris on the shoulder; likewise, there is no shoulder over the bridge to get into town which puts you in traffic.  After navigating through the city to the historic old town, I found a pizza joint that had several slices still available, so I partook in a slice of Hawaiian and plain cheese, time 13:18, mile 62ish, temp 35F.

After getting out of the busy part of town I was back on the scenic roads that I had grown accustom to. The wind had finally started to blow, which was a slight surprise, since I hadn't had any wind yet due to the fog earlier.  Now it was time to put the head down, tighten up and ride fast enough to stay warm, without sweating, which is harder in a headwind than one may think.  By the time I got to the gravel road the wind had started to die down, which was nice, but short lived.  After traversing the mud and gravel I was back on asphalt and cycling back into the headwind.  After winding back to one of the longer stretches of road I could see the fog again, hoping that the wind would calm down in the fog was at least a good thought, just not a reality.  Mind you that these winds are only 6-9mph winds, but it was the temperature, 33F in the sun, that made it more difficult.  Once back in the fog I also noticed the shift to colder temps again, below freezing judging by all the frost and ice on the trees, roads and wetlands.

Rolling into Forest Grove I was hoping to make it to Hillsboro before or at dark, because at least I know my way home without directions from there.  Rolling back into North Plains, the wrong direction due to missing a turn, for the last control on the ride the store owner again reiterated her earlier statement about it being too cold to ride a bike.  In total agreement with her I bought some almonds for a little fuel and headed out, Time 17:01 108ish miles.

Getting back out on the road I realized pretty quickly that my water was once again frozen, so it was going to be a longer ride back than I expected (having to actually stop and twist the top off my bottle to drink).  My predictions were correct, I made it to Hillsboro by dark, which was also going to slow me down at least a little bit.  Winding my way back through Hillsboro and into Beaverton I was glad that I had my "Night Rider 350" light, it was bright enough to see the road at the lowest setting.  This was an improvement over other lighting options I have used in the past.  Finally, I rolled into the Lucky Lab Pub at about 19:05 completing a total of 130.9 miles in a total time of 11 hours 5 minutes.

Fortunately Kelly was waiting in the Village at a bookshop figuring I would be done around 18:30 or so.  She came and picked me up and we headed to the ride organizer, Ken's, house to drop off my RUSA Brevet card to get it stamped and approved.  The ride was officially done!
Completed Brevet Card

Now I have to figure out which 200k to do next month, and if I can talk anyone else into riding with me.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year, New Action List

I am not one for doing New Years Resolutions, I feel they are crap and a waste of time.  What I do try to do is change small things in my life by making a list and posting it somewhere I will see it every day.  Last year I made quite a few goals, and surprisingly, I accomplished a fair majority of them; moreover, they helped me shape what my list would include this year.  Last year some of the big goals that I wanted to complete were: Lose weight [done, dropped 30 lbs], complete the Insanity Workout [done Jan - Mar 60 days of the hardest workouts I have ever done], Eat out less and cook more [done, limit myself to 1-2x a week with a budget of $30] and another big one was to bicycle more [done, around 4000 miles for the year].  All these goals were accomplished through hard work and difficult choices but I did them, they made me stronger, healthier and happier.

So why am I blabbing about this in my cycling blog?  Because I feel it is important to lay the ground work for understanding what I want to accomplish this year.  I have a smaller goal list started this year, but I will add to it as the year moves forward and I come up with useful goals to work on.  For this year one of my big goals is to ride 10,000 km from 1/1/13 - 12/31/13.  This will be a challenge with grad school coming to a finish (board exams, thesis and clinic) but I feel that I can do it. It works out to approximately 6213.7 miles, which is not that many more than I did last year.

Why is this goal important to me and how do I plan on doing it?  Fitness and weight management have become an important part of my life over the last 24 months, and I feel that sticking to attainable goals is important.  6k miles is not that much really, when you figure in commuting, touring and training it should be a snap.  I also plan on doing a second set of goals this year that relate to me completing the first, I plan to do an R-12 and a P-12, both of which are Randonneuring awards accomplished by completing certain rides in an allotted amount of time.  R-12 = 200+km single rides once a month for 12 consecutive months and a P-12 = 100+km single ride once a month for 12 consecutive months.  This should be fun, if you want to learn more go to and check them out!  

Other goals I want to complete are: lifting weights 3x a week to increase my strength and flexibility, meet up with an old friend once a month, and blog about all my cycling and other experiences on a weekly basis, if not more (we'll see how that one turns out...).  I bought the weight set over my break, I have the phone numbers of friends and have had this blog for almost a year.  As I progress through the year I hope to keep everyone up-to-date on the progress of my goals.  I may even post a before and after photo from last year to this year to show the results of my weight loss.  Until next time...

First Ride of the New Year

The new year is upon us and knowing this I felt the need to hit the gym for a spin class and then the road for a nice 30 mile ride.  The spin class is a new adventure for Kelly and I, we both like cycling but Portland, Oregon doesn't always allow us the luxury of warm, dry and windless riding.  So on Sunday we gave spin class a try, and both liked it.  The upbeat music and fun groups and instructors make the pain almost bearable...almost.  For those who haven't attended a spin class I recommend at least giving it a chance to see how it goes, it is a fun way to burn LOTS of calories.  Go on give it a try.

Mt. Hood from the middle of the I-205 Bridge 
The road ride that I embarked on this afternoon was with a friend from school who has recently gotten into cycling.  I enjoy riding with him because we can have both school and non-school conversations all while enjoying the unseasonably nice, albeit cold, weather.  Our ride started out from NE Portland Near 15th and Going, and took us in a fun loop back to the same area.  The ride started with a balmy temperature of 36 degrees, and really never got any warmer.  We headed through NE Portland to the delta park area where we could hook into the bike path that would lead us into Vancouver aka Vantucky.  The I-5 bridge crossing was a first for Abe, which like most people who cross it the first time comment on how much of a climb there is to get over to the 'Couve.  With the perfect amount of layers we zigged and zagged through historic Fort Vancouver, then into "old town" Vancouver (more like ghost town Vancouver).  Dodging frost and ice on the shoulder we found ourselves near our midpoint stop, my parents house.  Stopping and warming our toes and fingers with some hot coffee, emptying the bladders and chatting with my dad we suited back up for the big descents for the day the I-205 bridge.  For those who have never ridden across the bridge, it is 2 miles of dust, noise and exhaust with some pretty nice views of Mt. Hood.

Abe Enjoying the Tailwind on the bike path
Mt. Hood From the Marine Drive Bike Path
After the cold and windy descent from Vancouver to Portland we decided to head back west on Marine Drive and use the tailwind to our advantage.  Well played!  With almost zero effort we were able to cruise a modest 18mph for the entire 7 miles, what a joy!  Alas all good things and tailwinds must come to an end, and heading back up 33rd towards Abe's house we were buffeted by and COLD ESE wind, which made the last push home a bit harder than either of us wanted.  After navigating the sketchy overpass back into urban life we meandered the remaining 3 miles uphill with remorse that such a beautiful day was coming to a close and that school was starting up tomorrow.