Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving day fixie ride...

Even though David Auker's "chatty" pace is quite a workout for me, I still look forward to what has become his annual Thanksgiving fixie ride through the West Hills of Portland.

I don't know how long he's done it. My first Thanksgiving fixie ride was two years ago, where he and friends did his "traditional" route from River City Bicycles South through Milwaukie and back. (photo from Nov. 2007 above)

But last year, he and his wife Sarah started a "new" tradition of starting from his home near Dosch and Hamilton in SW Portland, and feeding everyone beforehand.

This year, though, I've been riding my fixed-gear bike a lot less. Ever since I moved to the SE part of Portland 6 months ago, I've been favoring geared bikes, particularly in commuting over the Sylvan Hill between Beaverton and home. Between that and randonneuring, my fixie's sat largely unused since last May.

Fairmount Blvd. loop (2)
Originally uploaded by tangobiker

And hills on a fixed gear bike are tougher than ever. Nevertheless, I more-or-less stayed up with David and friends. The group got separated around Sunset and SW 18th, but regrouped after a couple laps around the Fairmount loop.

cleat problem
Originally uploaded by tangobiker

As the group approached Patton Rd, my left shoe-pedal connection started to feel sloppy, but it never occurred to me the screws were about to completely come out. By the time I reached Hewett Blvd, the cleat had totally detached itself from my shoe.

It's hard to remove a cleat from a pedal when it's not attached to a shoe. My small Crank Brothers multi-tool didn't seem up to the task, until in the hands of passerby Lonnie (of Portland Velo).

Originally uploaded by tangobiker

John Forbes, and later David, were already returning back homewards on Hewett Blvd. when I finally got rolling. I continued over to Fairview, through Washington Park, and downtown. Started to rain by the time I crossed the Steel Bridge and returned home. Total distance: 35.5 miles.

a few more photos

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

hiccups from hell

It's never happened before ... at least nothing close to this extent. Seven hours of hiccups! Started 'round noon yesterday, and they got "stronger" (complete with reverberations) throughout the afternoon and early evening. Made the commute home tedious. I elected to take the Max part way rather than cycle over the Sylvan Hill. 'Twas also accompanied by chills and mild sore throat.

The hiccups didn't abate till 7:00 PM. I went straight to bed ... didn't pass "Go," didn't collect anything to eat ... barely got my clothes off. Consulted Scott and Joy on the phone, each of them coming back with doctor recommendations.

Glad it's over. I called in sick from work today.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Olbermann on CA Proposition 8

This is interesting. (Saw it on Cecil's and Beth's blogs.)

I remember Keith Olbermann as a free-thinking, somewhat irreverent sportscaster back when I lived in LA (over 15 years ago; his hair's shorter and grayer now).

It's fascinating now (and good) to hear him deliver something so poignant and passionate.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Eleven down … one to go

poster gals ...
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
Even though I ride most brevets alone (‘cause of my speed, or lack thereof), I am not totally by myself. There are people tracking the riders’ progress. There are people to call if I need to bail.

Less so on a permanent. I have only done one 200k permanent totally on my own. That was last February … from Clatskanie to Cape Disappointment and Astoria and back. Despite one mishap on the Westport Ferry near the beginning, and a scary return on Hwy. 30 after dark, the ride went okay.

I was prepared to do another solo permanent in November, as it didn’t look like my schedule was gonna coincide with Cecil’s and Lynne’s. But when they mentioned the Prairies & Wetlands 200k on November 11 (Veterans Day) as a possibility, I decided to jump on it, and take the day off work.

Mother Nature, however, put doubt into the plan. Weather forecasts predicted a particularly wet and ugly day. Unbeknownst to me, Cecil and Lynne conversed the night before about alternative plans. But since I didn’t hear from them, I showed up in Newberg well before the scheduled 6:00 AM departure time. As did they.

The weather turned out to be manageable, even though it slowed us down quite a bit. Last year (September ’07), I completed this same permanent in 10 hours and 30 minutes. This time, we were well over 12 hours.

The first info control was at the Gallon Bridge, followed shortly by the first timed control in Mt. Angel. The headwinds were stiff enough during these portions of the ride that we didn’t arrive till 10 minutes before cutoff. I didn’t bother to take any pictures until we verified our time at an ATM.

We got some tailwind relief on our return to Newberg, although our rest stop there was quite lengthy. While Lynne and Cecil went to the Thriftway, I checked in at Chapters Bookstore for a dry cappuccino made with Stumptown coffee. The 3 of us reconvened at the parking lot where we had left our cars, and then departed on the next leg.

Hwy. 99W from Dundee to Dayton is pretty abysmal. Lotsa traffic. Lotsa debris. Lotsa irregular pavement. I was amazed how thoroughly I blocked out this portion of the ride from my memory of last year’s adventure.

“Merkeley.” “Obama.” Left-over signs from last week’s election, seen on Gun Club Road (near Carlton). I guess street names have nothing to do with political persuasions or issues. Or perhaps nothing to do with anything at all.

Cecil rode in front most of the way to Forest Grove (actually for most of the ride), but got really hungry before finally arriving at Pizza Schmizza.

pizza in Forest Grove
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
Up until this point, the rain was fairly mild, even though my gloves were sopping wet. I put on a dry pair as we left Forest Grove, but they wouldn’t stay that way long. The return to Newberg was probably the rainiest part of the ride. It got dark ‘round Springhill Road, and the traffic on North Valley Road seemed particularly busy. Cecil had a little spill on a crease in the one-lane bridge that was reminiscent of my fall on the ramp to the Westport Ferry nine months earlier. Later on, Old Yamhill Road was pleasantly quiet. And navigating the rest of the return to Newberg benefited from Cecil’s and my previous ride of this route last year.

I guarded Cecil’s and Lynne’s bikes as they had their brevet cards signed at the Thriftway in Newberg. After a quick pit stop and getting my card signed as well, we headed back to our cars, loaded our bikes, and had some dinner (and changed into dry clothing) at the local Burgerville.

The three of us are now one permanent away from an R12. Sounds like we’ll do the Three Prairies 200k on either December 6 or 13. Anyone care to join us?

a few more pictures
Lynne's account
Cecil's account

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

121 miles (including a 100k populaire & some sausage)

Okay … blame it on David Sedaris.

I was an hour late to the start of the Verboort Sausage Populaire last Saturday, perhaps in part because I made a spontaneous visit to the Schnitzer Concert Hall the night before. During my Friday morning commute, I noticed on the Schnitz’s marquee that Sedaris was to perform that night. So even though the show was sold out, I stopped by on my way home from work and scored a scalped ticket at face value. (BTW, I’ve enjoyed his books, listening to him on radio, and his CD’s. But I think he’s funnier in person!)

Attending Sedaris’s performance on Halloween night created a cascading lateness effect on everything else I needed to do before Saturday’s 100 km ride. Bike prep. Dinner. Sleep. Yadadada.

On top of that, I had decided to ride my bike out to Forest Grove, so to keep my longer distance endurance more-or-less in tact. While it may have been prudent to take the Max from Goose Hollow to Hillsboro when I didn’t leave home till 7:40 AM, I took advantage of the full hour that the start of a randonneuring event is usually open. Even then, I ended up putting my bike on a bus between Cornelius and the Grand Lodge to ensure getting there by 10:00.

And boy was I happy to see Kathy there, along with Joel, a rider who I hadn’t met before who was equally late getting started. It was coincidental that Joel and I were both wearing STP windbreakers.

I enjoyed Joel’s company for the first 20 miles or so. He’s a nice younger guy who rides a carbon Raleigh and who's lived some interesting (to me) cities (like Milwaukee, WI). He pulled away in North Plains when I stopped to buy two AA batteries, cuz my freshly charged rechargables apparently didn't hold a charge any more.

Greg and Marcello ...
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
Hence, my first picture of the populaire is of Marcello and Greg at the Snooseville control/turnaround. Greg had his own adventures on the way to Snooseville that involved going back to Forest Grove to get a new tire.

‘Twas funny to me to have forgotten about the yellow pom poms at Cedar Canyon and Jack Road. I didn’t pre-read the info control questions, so the surprise happened upon arrival at the intersection. There they were, sadly weather and water beaten, but still hangin’.

weary pom poms
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
The pom poms were my contribution in hosting the Snooseville populaire 7 ½ months earlier. I remember driving out there well after dark last March and attaching those things by headlight. They were souveniers from a U of O football game at Autzen Stadium in Eugene over a year ago (the only football game I’ve been to since college).

On Kansas City Road I caught up with Beth, who I was happy to see pedaling strong with only 20-30 minutes to go. I was also happy to have a chance to talk to her … about bikes (xtracycles in particular) … and her blog (which I enjoy reading).

There was a nice little congregation at the finish that included Marcello, Kathy, Susan, David, and Kevin. After partaking of a sausage dinner

making it official
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
(with a nice lemon cream pie!), I headed back home, through Cornelius, Hillsboro, Beaverton, and over the Sylvan Hill (where it got dark), to SE Portland. Total miles: 121. (195 km)

A few more of my photos of the populaire are here.
Cecil's pictures.
Beth's blog report.