Monday, February 19, 2007

JaVa LaVa

This was a recumbent ride starting in Camas. It was supposed to start at the Java Coffee House but that has closed since the last time this ride was offered. Java House is now Sushi Land. Luckily, I recognized someone in the parking lot as I looking feverishly for a coffee house. About 10 people showed up at the start and others joined in later. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. If anyone had said it was going to be 63, sunny with no wind I would have said they were crazy. The weather before and after this day was typical grey and rainy. What a day to be on a bike!! We meandered our way to the downtown Java Coffee House and met a half dozen other riders. There were additional bikers enjoying a break from thier own rides. The place was hopping. It was Diana's birthday and her husband Jeff pulled a package of cupcakes out of his panniers for everyone to enjoy. After coffee and sweets we headed down River Road and out to Vancouver Lake where we met up with some more riders. A few guys were out there preparing for the upcoming Jack Frost time trials. Most everyone decided to do the 12 mile Jack Frost route but Diana, Jeff, Jim and I headed back to Camas. We put in 32 miles by the end of the ride.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Worst Day of the Year

Now that was an event!! This was a charity ride benefiting the Community Cycling Center. There were 2 ride choices offered - an 18 mile SE neighborhood family ride and a 40 mile 'challenging' ride. It was my first time trying it out and I chose the 40 mile challenge. Being February - the weather can be unpredictable. This year saw sunshine, rain, wind and then cold heavy rain. The 40 mile option took some of the 1500 riders from the Lucky Lab Brew pub in SE Portland to REI in the pearl to REI in Hillsboro and back. I got there early to get going with the first wave. Waiting for the official start I found myself with 2 other trikers. We had a good time yakking it up. There were lots of people with decorated bikes and in costume. The drummers sent us off regally through a flurry of bubbles on an easy ride to the REI in the pearl. Sipping on a delicious chai tea I ran into some recumbent rider friends. These are all very strong riders and didn't expect to see them again on the ride. I hopped back on Myrtle and started climbing a pretty steep hill. Reaching the top, I turned the corner to find myself climbing even more. Entering Washington park I had a flat and pulled over where another biker was just finishing up fixing his own flat. It was nice having the company as he helped and gave me pointers. So many people passing offered to help - very comforting. Back on Myrtle, we kept climbing and climbing. I couldn't believe how big this hill was. A couple power walking passed me and we all had a good laugh. Then I passed a couple of teenage boys one who hissed at me like a cat - he even extended one of his hands out like he was taking a swipe at me with his paw. Well - I, of course, hissed back even louder. I think he got a kick out of that. I did too. The climbing continued on and on and up and up for miles and miles. It started to rain lightly on the way up. Almost at the top a guy on a regular bike passed and we exchanged a few friendly words of encouragement. I noticed he was taking a very long time waiting at the lights and pretty soon I caught up with him. He would set out and get to a light and then wait. Eventually we were riding together. We arrived at REI in Hillsboro - the half way point and had some snacks, chai tea and rested while I had a mechanic check my tire to make sure everything was ok and there was enough air. I started back and the guy that rode in with me started riding back with me. I am so slow this must have been difficult for him. It was sure nice having the company. Pretty soon we were back to climbing what turned out to be an even bigger hill than the one on the first half of the ride. I was riding 3-4 mph - I don't know how this guy stayed upright. He must be very stong to keep riding with me. He didn't really talk much and I finally got his name - Carter. What a nice guy to hang with me. As we got to the top of the hill it started raining very hard. The view was lovely and we stopped to catch our breath and enjoy it. Then came the screaming downhill. I'm still squimish about downhill riding. I've gotten to 30 mph and then I panic and start breaking. This downhill was very steep and winding, there was no shoulder, lots of traffic and it was pouring rain. I think I got to 32 mph. I knew there were riders behind me that couldn't pass and I'm sure they could have ridden much faster. After we crossed the Broadway bridge I got another flat tire. At this point my buddy Carter rode on - oh well, it was nice having his company. The wind was really blowing and it was cold. This flat was annoying, it took me awhile to find the glass buried deep in the rubber. Luckily I was only a few easy miles from the finish and my car. By the time I made it back I just wanted to get home and take a warm shower. All in all, I was very proud of myself for completing this ride. At first when I realized what kind of climbing was being asked of us, I couldn't believe the organizers would create such a difficult ride. This was a charity event after all. Much of the roads we took had quite a bit of traffic and most didn't even have a shoulder. That really surprised me. But once I finished the ride I couldn't believe I had done it. I felt good at the end physically and mentally. And cold. This was one of those confidence building rides I'll remember for a long time. It really felt like if I could do this ride any ride was possible. I may be slow but I'll get there.