Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I first met Graciela at Nora's Tango Week (in the SF Bay Area) in 1998, back when I had only been dancing tango for one year. I liked her approach to the dance and her style of teaching, and ended up (along with Robert Hauk) inviting her to teach workshops in Portland in 1999.
Carlos Rojas organized a subsequent visit from Graciela to Portland in 2001.
I saw Graciela in Buenos Aires in early 2002, where she got up from her seat at Salon Canning (one of the nicer tango dancing venues there) and walked out to the center of the dance floor to greet me. A nice welcome to tango mecca for a gringo like me! I ended up going to her practica in San Telmo a few times, even though it wasn't on the itinerary of the tour I was on.
What I like about Graciela's teaching style is her deliberateness. Rather than bombarding you with information, she meters things a bit more slowly, allowing concepts to seep into your body more thoroughly.
Luisa Zini organized this month's visit of Graciela's to Portland. I agreed to dance a demo with her at the Thursday night milonga at Urban Grind. We danced one tanda (set) together beforehand, and then performed to Donato's "La melodia del corazon." I think it went okay. I basically tried to give her space to be expressive.
The next day I took a private lesson from her. Boy was it humbling ... but in a good way, methinks. We worked on frame, posture, turns, and calisitas. Graciela's main message to me was to "stay with my follower." (Not unlike what Chicho told me 8+ years ago!) It's like you think you're doing it, but in reality you could be doing it a lot better.
I attended Graciela's "leaders' workshop" at Paradise Studios the next day. Wish there had been a few more guys there ... her technique is so solid ... but those who were there seemed über-appreciative.
Graciela also taught at the Sunday Afternoon Practica. Even though it's billed as an "all levels basic technique" class, the level ended up being a little higher, as she catered to the majority of people in attendance.
Cool to have Graciela in Portland! Thank you Luisa!
Thursday, September 25, 2008
I have never worked as hard on a bicycle as I did on that 7½-mile approach to Goldendale, and then again on the rolling 17-mile stretch of Hwy. 14 approaching
And that I was still riding at all, close enough to finishing on time to even think about “going for it,” was a personal victory.
This was my 3rd attempt at a 600k brevet.
First two attempts
The first try (Hot Springs & Dune, June 2007) ended at the overnight control in Newberg with knees that would no longer pedal. This DNF could be attributed to a bike fitting the week prior, which left me using muscles not accustomed to long distances.
The 2nd attempt (
But that didn’t address the general soreness I feel when riding over 200k. Just 3 weeks ago I experienced a bunch of knee pain that slowed me down on a 150-mile ride. This left me less than über-confident about my chances of finishing the Desert Rivers 600k. But dangit, I was sure gonna give it my best shot …
… which meant a lot more mental preparation and planning than is my nature.
Rewind a few years
About 8 or 9 years ago, I took a private Argentine tango lesson from a hot shot teacher from
I was more up for the Desert Rivers 600k than any brevet to date, at least mentally. And I planned. I scheduled time off from work on the previous Friday and made a point to sleep in. I commuted over the Sylvan Hill (between
I guess planning doesn’t guarantee success. But lack thereof inhibits it on a ride of this magnitude. A 600k is just too challenging for someone of my riding ability to take lightly. Sure, I had ways of not feeling devastated if I DNF’d (again). After all, there were quite a few wild cards to deal with (knees, wind, etc.)
I planned on the first day to stay inside myself, and not to try to keep up with anybody. I wanted to be able to ride on day two (from
So that’s exactly what I did. I lost sight of all riders well before crossing the
The Ride: Day One
Seven hours and 104 miles into the brevet, I arrived at the 3rd control in Umatilla. That was an
unbelievably fast time for me to do century. “Is this what it feels like to be
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
It was raining and dark by the time I arrived at the Holdman info control, but the weather mostly dried up by Hermiston. Bought two Odwalla drinks at the Safeway control, drank one, emptied the other into a water bottle.
In some aspects, the most difficult part of the brevet for me was the 12½-mile ascent up
The eventual descent on
I arrived at the
Before my nap, I took a bath to soak my thighs, and then applied two heat wraps to them. Philippe Andre had helped me purchase these heat wraps 15 months earlier in Stayton during the Hot Springs & Dunes 600k. These heat wraps didn’t seem to help much at all during that painful ride back to Newberg in June ’07, but they sure seemed to work on this brevet! I kept them on the whole 2nd day … didn’t remove them till my shower in
The 2nd day was amazing for me … particularly for how much I was able to stand in the pedals. I don’t know how much was attributable to the cleat adjustments, or to the heat wraps. But being able to keep going up those hills and into those headwinds was surprising. I knew 600k would be challenging, but not this challenging. And to still be pushing it on Hwy 14 at against those headwinds back to
I started at with Cecil, Sal, and Andrew, but fell off their pace soon after leaving
I used Starbucks for the control in Prosser, and an independent convenience store in Sunnyside. This area of
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
For some reason, I thought Goldendale would be lower in elevation than Bickleton. If it is, it sure didn’t feel like it. Relentless false summits and headwinds is all we encountered. No wonder Cecil was worried about making the Goldendale 6:20pm control in time way back around . I was blissfully unaware of the Goldendale control time, only conscious of the finish time in
Sal passed me, and later Andrew, as I fixed my flat. Narayan caught up and announced that we weren’t gonna make Goldendale on time. And I (with naïve optimism) said “sure we will!” … and took off like a mad man. I still thought there might be a sizeable descent into Goldendale. But the descent wasn’t that sizeable, and what there was was well disguised by the wind.
The effort I put into the 7½-mile approach to Goldendale was like doing a time trial that meant something to you, or a 15 kilometer event at the velodrome … with no drafting. As I passed the 1-mile marker heading into town, my watch said . The cashier at the control wrote on my brevet card.
Sal and I left Goldendale at the same time, but then I had to make some minor wardrobe adjustments. He’s a fast enough rider that it was a real effort to catch him. Having done so a few miles down the road, we tried doing the mini-paceline thing, but I was still worn out from my sprint into Goldendale, and let him go.
I was still on track to make
I guess there were 3 other cyclists who turned left onto Hwy. 14, Sal among them. He might have caught up with Cecil had he gone straight to
After those 17 miles, the bridge back towards
Thanks to Paul Whitney and the volunteers for putting on this ride, for finding such cool roads, and for the encouragement. Next time, though, they need to be given access to the wind machines’ breaker switch!
Monday, September 22, 2008
It occurred to me that a cyclist could make significant headway into authoring a novel if he/she was properly wired to a dictaphone-type machine. The inspiring scenery coupled with the constant churning of legs allows one to reflect on a lot of life experiences, which can metamorphose into phases, sentences, and even paragraphs (in the rider's head). Could these narratives become interesting to anyone else? Hmmm.
On other rides, I've dissected many life decisions. I've catalogued most of the things I would do differently ... let's say within about the last 30 years ... if given the opportunity. Kinda like practicing extended solo psychiatry.
But on this ride, I created a blog. Not a blog entry about the brevet (that’ll come later), but a blog itself. What will it look like? What should I name it?
After many hours in the saddle, I came up with “rändo adagio.” With the obvious nod to long-distance cycling, the added umlaut is meant to encourage a pronunciation closer “rondo,” which relates to my previous life as a musician. “Adagio” reflects my natural gait as a cyclist (relative to other cyclists), be it at the velodrome, doing cyclocross, road racing (ha ha), or randonneuring. (I usually lose sight of other cyclists after the first turn or mile of whatever event.) The irony here is that the rondo form in music is generally known for its brisk character.
Randonneuring is a very conducive to journal writing, methinks, hence the many "blogified" brevets on the internet. Ironically, I stopped blogging soon after I started cycling over 3 years ago.
But I do like journalizing. And with the just-finished epic 600K on my brain (and the pain still in my legs), my re-entry into blogville commences.