Monday, December 21, 2009

Three Tabor Rides

Saturday Peter wanted to watch the Montana game so I took off to ride Tabor by myself. I should have felt hungover because we had Taya and Kyle over for a 5-course dinner last night, but somehow I feel fantastic. I get to the park, which is empty because it is cool and raining and put my Ipod on quietly to entertain me while I ride the mountain. I'm listening to my new 100 techno songs I got off Itunes for 10 bucks and feeling quite happy with the world. Compared to the speed I used to go up the mountain, I am flying. I'm a couple of gears up and keeping a steady pace. The techno music helps.

For the third hill I switch to the Matrix and take a picture of the misty hills which fits the mood of the song. For the fourth hill I listen to Chemical Brothers, one of my all-time favorite groups. Riding home I discover that my knees don't hurt when I ride in my hardest gear and it makes me happy that I went through the time to get my bike fit.

The next day, my parents and brother arrive and my mother says I look tired. I'm actually not, but my back has been hurting and I know I need to get on my bike. Peter joins me and we ride the mountain four times again. He's got fresh legs so it is hard to keep up with him. By the time we get home I'm feeling like myself again. We enjoy a sauna with Dad and then have a nice ham that mom made up for dinner.

Today, we got some pilates and weights in first thing. We take off for Tabor again getting a good laugh as we see that someone has left a recliner half way up the mountain. A road biker passes us and I say, 'Oh no, we're getting smoked." He laughs and points to the chair, "Well, if you need to take a break..." We only do the hill twice so we can get back to my family. The road biker seems impressed that we have done it twice. We must look like beginners in our non-cycling clothing and hybrid bikes.

On the way home, we stop at Fred Meyer for some lightbulbs and a toilet seat for Peter's parents for Christmas. They never replace anything unless it has caught on fire so we thought it would be funny to get them a replacement for their broken toilet seat. I hope they think it is funny, anyway. We also pick up some hummus just in case. Five people is a lot of feed.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Bike Fit

Yesterday we ran some errands on our bikes in the morning. We hit the record shop first, then went to pick up a bigger (and hopefully better) coffee maker, and then we went to Stumptown to pick up some beans. Our supply of food in our house was meager so for lunch we ate chorizo sausage, yogurt and olives.

Then I hopped on my bike to go see Tony for my bike fit. He attached my bike to a trainer and looked at my foot position, knee position, hip position, hip and back angle, arm position and wrist angle. He used lazers and a protractor and also asked me subjectively how it felt. Unfortunately, my seat was locked in a position too far forward and I need to go to a bike shop to get it adjusted. It felt pretty good riding home, however.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

We set off this morning for the two peaks ride: up Mt. Tabor then north to the next cinder cone, Rocky Butte. It was COLD this morning and windy so we struggled to warm up our muscles on the slow climb up toward the mountain. Mt. Tabor was almost completely empty. There weren't any children on the playground and we only saw one person at the summit. After rounding the top, we headed down, down, down to and over to Rocky Butte.

I can't believe how much easier climbing hills is since Tony adjusted my back. I feel much more even in my pedalling and I made it almost all the way up Rocky Butte in my 20th gear (out of 24). At the top we stopped to appreciate how pretty Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helen's looked. Then we headed back down, through the twisting tunnel, and home. On the way home we were riding with the wind, so it felt easy and warmer.

I had an appointment on the other side of downtown so after showering and walking Dexter, I hopped back on my bike and rode towards the river. My appointment was half way up the west hills so the 20 or so minute ride ended with another big climb. Before riding home, I called Peter and we decided to meet on the Waterfront near the Hawthorne Bridge for happy hour.

Inspired by the Hungry Cyclist's adventurous diet, I decided to try some oysters on the half shell. So, we went to one of the oldest restaurants in Portland, The Oyster Bar, for my first experience into what I now know is a culinary delight. The server let me try one before I ordered and it was delicious so I ordered 12. She brought me two kinds, a smaller one called Kumamoto that are from Tillamook and a larger one from Washington. Peter got steamed clams which were delicious too. We washed it all down with a Duck Pond Riesling. The clams and oysters were pretty small so we each got 2 fish tacos off the happy hour menu too.

Riding home we could see that the bridges were going up and when we got to the bridge there must have been 40 other cyclists lined up all around us waiting. I wish I would have thought to take a picture because it was quite a site. All those blinking red lights patiently navigating their way over the bridge once it had gone down. It was a thrill to be part of that.

Today was a my favorite kind of day. 3 hours of riding, 2 mountains, 1 bottle of riesling, 12 oysters, and 40 bike commuters on the Hawthorne bridge...that makes a near perfect day in my book.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I set off this beautiful day today for a ride to see my physical therapist, Tony. I had felt a little discomfort in my back this morning, but after a little ice it felt pretty good. I love riding my bike downtown. There is something about the busy streets and pedestrians that focuses my mind and actually makes me feel relaxed. I find it interesting that my two favorite kinds of riding are hills and traffic. I recognize how odd that sounds.

My physical therapy felt good. Tony says I'm a superstar and he definitely thinks I could ride my bike from Paris to Stockholm. He said we should do some things to prepare, but he seemed more keen on the riding thing than on cardio dance. We'll see. I might have to hang up my dancing shoes.

On the way home I rode through Ladd's addition and stopped at New Season's for some dark chocolate and gevurtztraminer. Then I took off on the way home the long way. I was hungry and a taco was sounding really good. I hadn't had much to eat today so I went a little out of the way to my favorite taco stand for 3 tacos al pastor. In sticking with my low glycemic diet I opted for a fork over the tortillas, sighing at what a shame that was. They were as good as they always are...easily outdoing the American taco in beauty and flavor.

I always put on too much salsa so my mouth was on fire as I got ready to get back on my bike. I took out a square of Chocolove and challenged myself to make it the whole way home without finishing the square of chocolate. Pedalling through the streets, past the school, I felt happy. The chocolate was dwindling quickly in my fire hot mouth, but as I rounded the last curve and pedalled down the street I knew the chocolate was going to make it and I felt supremely content with myself not only for completing the challenge but for being so entertained by it. .

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tabor and Tacos

The day after Thanksgiving requires some activity in my book and if Mt. Tabor was any indication, others agree. The park was filled with families walking 4 or 5 across and it was nice to see. Of course, they were completely oblivious about cyclists so their aimless meandering required some careful navigation, especially on descents. We climbed the mountain two times, avoiding the steep side because of my back, but taking two different routes. After rounding the peak we headed back down the steep side stopping to take a picture of the moon.
As we headed back down we decided to check to see if the taco stand was open and it wasn't. So, we headed over to Powell's to pick up my new book, French Revolutions, hoping that it being Black Friday that it wouldn't be to busy. There was no line, however, so we were in and out.
Still craving a taco we headed east past our house to the other cart pod and secured ourselves each a taco al pastor and a chorizo taco. I also got us some guacamole for garnish. It was a very tomatillo rich guacamole so it was very light.
After reading the Hungry Cyclist our thoughts today have gone back to traveling by bike. I read an entire blog today about a family's trip across Europe and we're wondering if we could become accustomed to camping because it might be the only way we could afford 6 weeks in Europe. That remains to be seen, but it sure is fun to dream.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

To the Top Again

I made it to the top of Mt. Tabor today after taking over a week off of riding. Last night when I was trying to fall asleep I noticed how much tension I was holding in my body. I knew I needed to really get a good workout...really sweat. So, I was happy when my back tolerated our pretty hilly ride to the grocery store and decided to give Tabor a try.
The mountains are BEAUTIFUL in the winter. Because it is often cloudy this time of year getting to see them is a treat. It felt so good to circle around the top being among the hikers and cyclists that were pausing to appreciate the view.
I'm in my second reading (in a row) of The Hungry Cyclist. He is in Mexico right and eating his weight in tasty tacos. I've been, understandably, craving a good taco al pastor so on the way home we stopped at Lindo Michoacan, our favorite taco truck. There is really nothing like a good taco al pastor, complete with its spicy sauteed pork, onion, cilantro and a squeeze of lime. I topped mine today with a little pico de gallo, habanero salsa and red salsa. The flavor exploded in my mouth as I tasted my first biteful and before I knew it I was dashing for napkins to blow my nose. A true culinary experience.
After our tacos, we hopped back on our bikes and I realized that my back was feeling the best it had since it seized up last Monday. Happy that my back likes biking almost as much as my mind and heart do, I pedaled home.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Back in Gear

This blog post is in celebration of me getting back on my bike. I hurt my back pretty badly about a week ago and had to take a hiatus from riding. It served to cement in my mind how much I love cycling because I missed it like crazy. My back is still injured and I can't do a long ride yet, but I rode about 2 miles today to the movie store and the grocery store and it felt great. My back actually likes the position of sitting with leg movement. I had actually been doing less riding and more elliptical when my back seized up so I am wondering if there is a correlation. (I was on a Matrix trilogy movie watching kick). Nevertheless, I am happy to at least be able to do a short, flat and slow ride.

Before hurting my back and having to drive to the doctor I had gone 4 weeks and 4 days without using a car or bus. The holidays are probably not the best time to try to match that streak, but hopefully in the new year I can try again.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


There was a rainbow today as I was riding up to Mt. Tabor for a massage with my amazing massage therapist, Taya. It was just the very bottom right portion of the rainbow but it was right in front of me as I was riding east to Taya's house. The little bit of the rainbow you could see was low enough that in a picture you would notice all the power lines in front of it. So, I was content just to enjoy how pretty it was as I pedaled up, up, up the hill. Taya actually lives on the same street as me, only 46 blocks east, but I take a small detour to the south to ride through the park on the way.

As I pedaled up I thought of Taya's beautiful greyhound, Chico and decided that a picture of Chico would be my beautiful thing for today. I have a thing for greyhounds. I love their graceful lines and their athletic beauty. Chico doesn't appear to realize what a stunning dog he is...he just acts like a dog. Maybe that is part of what I like so much about him. When we got there I asked Taya if she would take a picture of me with Chico and she got a great shot of him giving me a kiss. Taya said that last year she took her camera with her every time she went for a walk in the park. There is something about just having the camera that changes the way you experience the world. I can see why we are becoming fast friends.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I Feel Good

I take off yesterday for the mountain in the mood to work hard. It is a beautiful day again...60s and sunny. I am really moving, passing two cyclists on road bikes on my way to the park and by the time I get there I have a stitch in my side. Pleased with myself for having pushed it so hard I pick up the pace and power up the hill. A convertible passes me blasting James Brown singing "I Feel Good," and I couldn't agree more. The mountain is beautiful and clear and I stop for a shot which makes my stitch go away. I circle the top and head back down for a second pass, stopping on the way down to photograph a little vignette with stairs leading up to somewhere magical it seems.
My second time up I think about my client that inspired me to start riding and how she has ridden in every condition, rain, snow, hail. She admitted this morning on Facebook that she rode her trainer inside this morning and I gave her a hard time because it is absolutely freaking gorgeous outside! I start planning on how I'm going to kick her butt in her session tonight and start designing a circuit in my mind. It'll kick my butt too, but that's okay because I'm in the mood to work.
I circle the top again and then come down the steep side pleased with myself for being able to ride up the little hill and around the gate that is closed on Wednesdays. My first time up Tabor I had to get off and walk through the tiny opening on the side of the gate. As I leave the park and am about to cross the first main road I am stopped by a funeral procession. I watch it in its entirety and feel a little catch in my throat. It seems too beautiful today for a funeral.
I ride home, temporarily subdued, but before long the beautiful day has me feeling good again. I mentally sing a little James Brown and pedal with purpose having made one of my best times on a two hill Tabor ride.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Beautiful Day

It was so pretty today. Today was the first day that I had done a fitness ride since Thursday, but I rode to two grocery stores and to NW Portland on Friday and to the Hawthorne area on Saturday just living life. Yesterday I gave up my ride to garden for 3 hours pulling out all the tomatoes, cukes, strawberries and melons.

Today my first ride was to the Mexican cart on Division for a burrito. I was sporting my Iowa sweatshirt and feeling proud of my 9-0 team. After lunch, I rode up to Tabor going to the top just once. It was absolutely beautiful and the views were stunning. The locals were out biking and walking just enjoying the sunshine. It was great to be out although I didn't have much time because I had to be back at work.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happiest on Two Wheels

Yesterday we didn't do a long ride, but we did do a shopping trip in the morning. We also did a lunch trip to the cart pod (above) for gumbo, a burrito and a lemon curd, lingonberry and chevre crepe.

Today was the best day that I've had since returning from Finland. After a nice breakfast of oatmeal and rye bread open faced sandwiches (a breakfast we saw a Finnish woman have in Finland), we headed off on our bikes for a long ride to the Columbia River. We headed east zig-zagging our way through the bike boulevards almost all the way to the I-205 bike path. The bike path mostly runs along the interstate and isn't beautiful but allows you to pedal unimpeded for miles at a time. There is a little stretch at Maynard City that is pretty darn cute, complete with flowers and grass and adorable little houses.

After passing the airport we turned west on Marine drive and rode along the beautiful Columbia River. I remember driving into Portland along this river nearly 10 years ago with my face pressed to the window and thinking we had found the garden of Eden. "I can't not look at it," I said to Peter as we drove in. Today we were riding about 15 miles an hour with an about 15 mile an hour tailwind so it felt like we were almost floating. It was rainy, but pretty and there were birds floating on logs in the river. At one point we saw a Great Blue Heron.

We turned back at a little neighborhood of houseboats and into the wind. As we headed back east we drafted off each other, taking turns in the lead. We turned south and stopped at Ikea for some meatballs and coffee.

I'm not sure if you can ever truly stay dry on a long ride on a wet day, but wool socks help you stay warm. Peter didn't have any so we rode over to The Sports Authority after our meatballs for some wigwams. "Oooooohhhhhh, that feels so good," said Peter as he pulled on the socks.

We heaeded back home, away from the river so it was uphill. We were grateful for the hills to keep us warm.

A couple of hours later, I had an appointment downtonwn and I was psyched to test out my cute outfit raingear. I got dressed on some fun slacks and a cute top and completed the outfit with my Finland scarf. Then I pulled on my bike booties and my cycling waterproof pants. Peter stayed home to finish his demiglace and I headed back out into the rain. I pedaled across the river, through downtown and up giant hill to my appointment. When I got there, I stripped off my raingear and wahlah! all dry! The appointment went great and I headed home.

On the way home I stopped at the two grocery stores for dinner. One for cheese, a baguette, and orzo salad. Another for wine for tonight and our dinner party tomorrow. I even got a wine called Red Bicyclette. As I was riding home I realized I was having the best day that I had had since Finland. With a smile on my face I also realized that I am happiest on two wheels.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It's a Fine Day

I woke up this morning with wanderlust. I just wanted to see something new. Live somewhere new. Well not completely new, but I had a dream last night that I discovered a beautiful new floor to my house. It was full of light, with hardwood floors and I moved my studio up there.

So, I decided to ride somewhere new. I first rode over to the cart pod on Hawthorne and got a veggie chorizo burrito which I ate half of. Then I rode over to Ladd's Addition which is a neighborhood shaped like a wheel with spokes coming out of the central garden. I rode the spokes each time coming back to the center and stopped at some beautiful rose gardens for some pics.

Later in the day I rode up Mt. Tabor to my massage therapist's house and had a great massage. As I was riding up the rain started coming down, but it was still sunny. I looked everywhere for rainbows but couldn't find one. It didn't matter, it was still so pretty. After I was getting dressed after massage I felt I couldn't agree more with the little sign she has displayed, "It's a Fine Day After All."

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I had a hard morning. Work was stressful for a variety of reasons. I was too hungry when I ate lunch so I ate too fast. I started my ride in a funk. I ride first to the pharmacy to pick something up and then on towards Mt Tabor. I can't seem to shake the funk, though so I veer off into the neighborhood, riding on some new streets. I ride directly in front of a beautiful school and take a picture. They should make all schools that pretty. As I ride back towards Tabor I see a splash of yellow and some beautiful roses.
I get into Tabor park and get smoked going up the hill by a 12 year old all clipped in on a snazzy road bike. I can't shake the funk and end up tearing up when I see the beautiful tree I shot last week all withered and almost leafless as it prepares for winter. I decide that I must do the hill again...I can't finish like this. Snazzy road bike kid passes me again.
I get stuck a lot feeling like a failure, or rather that I am not measuring up. I think it is a human problem because people that I think are so much more successful than me tend to get jealous of my life and my successes. As I am riding down the hill I ponder the human condition, the feelings of insecurity that plague us all. Snazzy road bike kid passes me a third time.
I make my way back up and about half way up remember the decision that I made after getting home from Finland. The purpose of my life is to love my husband and see the world. I feel instantly different. Alive. Happy. I make my way to the top feeling like a whole new person. How many times have I done that on this mountain? Been stuck in one way of thinking and then moving through to the other side one pedal at a time.
I round the top and make my way back down. Snazzy road bike kid passes me a fourth time. I feel so pleased with myself for the transformation I have made that I stop on the way home for some sushi to eat after my sauna.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hawks Win!

We got our new fenders today in the mail and spent some time putting on the front ones and my new rechargeable headlight before we headed off to North Portland this afternoon. The Iowa Hawkeyes were playing Michigan State today and we were riding up to the official Iowa Alumni bar, Tom's Pizza. Peter was dressed in his Iowa jersey and I brought my Iowa fleece. My fleece was purchased at the U of Iowa Bookstore in Iowa City when we were there on sabbatical in 2007.

Riding up to the University of Portland Area is fun because you start off by the river which is always so nice. Then you ride past the Rose Garden Arena. Then there is a pretty decent climb for about a mile that takes you past the Adidas campus. After that, we rode side by side through pretty neighborhood streets until we were at Tom's bar.

When we walked in we knew we were in the right place. The bar was filled with about a 100 Iowa fans. All the tables were filled so we asked a table if we could join them and they obliged. We are not heavy drinkers so we were planning on the ride up how we were going to make pub food last 3+ hours. The game had just started and we ordered a couple pints of Guinness and settled in for the first half.

The first half was slow. By the end it was 3-3 and I was feeling more entertained by the steam cleaning infomercial playing on the neighboring screen. I mean, really, what can't you clean with that thing? We were munching on a plate of fries when the half ended and contemplating pizza when the half ended.

In the second half, we ordered another Guinness and Michigan State scored a field goal after we did a nice goal-line stop. Midway through the third we ordered a pizza. Peter got pepperoni on his half and I got ham and pineapple to remind me of Finland.

The fourth quarter is when the action happened. We tied it with a field goal and then got another on to go up by three. And, then with a minute and a half left they scored a touchdown. They set up the drive with an incredibly tricky pitchback play that wowed and frustrated the Iowa crowd. Things looked bleak for the Hawkeyes, but they put together a great drive. At 30 seconds left, 9 seconds left and 5 seconds left we had incomplete passes near the goal line. And then, with 2 seconds, the pass was complete and the HAWKS SCORED!!!!! The crowd went wild. Everyone was on their feet and double high fiving. The guy next to Peter embraced him in a giant hug. It was fabulous! It was pandemonium! The crowd broke out in the In Heaven there is no Beer song and we sang along joyously.

We left the bar on a football high and rode through the streets admiring my new super bright headlight. We were particularly impressed with our timing. Peter had signed the check with seconds left and I took the last sip of my coffee right after our touchdown. And, we have another meal of pizza (possibly two) that we carried home in my basket.

We had the esplanade almost to ourselves as we rode home. It wasn't late (about 8pm) but Portland is a sleepy, sleepy town. It was a happy evening, a happy game and a happy ride.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Wet, Wet, Wet

I woke up feeling bad today because we had a run-in yesterday with a Greenpeace canvasser. We rode our bikes to REI to get a rechargable light for my bike because I have been blowing through batteries with my current one. We also needed a new bike pump as our current one would pop off whenever you got some decent pressure on it. It's a nice ride over their to REI, across the river and along the west side for a bit. We rode past the horses which is always fun. So, we are feeling pretty good when we get to REI and see two Greenpeace canvassers standing in front of the bike racks. Because it takes a while to lock up your bike, we were trapped there having to talk to them. I finally said that I don't give money to people that approach me on the street, but I do give money to environmental charities. The male canvasser says, "Well, do you know about tree topping?" I said no and he says "Well, how do you want us to inform you about it?" "Send me a letter," I said. He says, "But, that uses resources. This is the only way we can do it." Already frustrated I answered, "But, this interferes with quality of life." And, we left and went in.
As we were unlocking our bikes and securing our new bike pump. He says, "Excuse me, did you say I was interfering with your quality of life?" Peter says, "You're doing it right now." And I said, "I just want to be able to ride my bike to REI without being harassed." And he says, "I just care about the environment." I said, "So do we, that's why we are riding our bikes." He says, "But you're still buying things. We're not going to consume our way out of this." And, we rode off.

I do not deal with conflict well. I always feel guilty even if I was totally right, so this morning when I woke up thinking about this stupid conversation I didn't care that it was pouring rain. I wanted to get on my bike. I got all dressed up in my riding gear and Peter decided he wanted to join me.

So, we took off down toward the river, past the submarine at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and on the Springwater Corridor. We were virtually alone on the bike path and Peter commented on how nice this was since we could ride side by side. I asked him what it said about us that we were the only ones out on the wet, soggy day. He says, "It says you're antsy and I love you." It was fun to look over and see Peter's bright smile as we made our way down the river. We took a little detour at Oaks Bottom, then rode down to Sellwood park. It was amazing how many leaves were off the trees that I had photographed last Tuesday.

My shoe covers did pretty good. Some rain still got into them from my ankles, but they weren't soppy. When we got home we jumped in the sauna that we had turned on before we left. I felt so much better and happy to have gone for a ride despite it being so wet.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sellwood Park

The city just before dawn

Sellwood Park

Fun building along the way

It was still dark when I set off this morning down towards the river. My muscles were tired for doing hours of toning work yesterday with my clients, so I wasn't up for a big hill. Riding the river is nice because it is all bike paths so you can ride for miles without cars. I really didn't need to exercise much because I did so much yesterday but I just wanted to be out in the fresh air. Riding for me is a sense of exhilaration and freedom and is worth doing even if my muscles are a little sore.
As I ride south along the river I pass many commuters on their way downtown. Most of them look focused and serious and are riding with purpose. I even saw a woman on a recumbant bike with a tent-like thingie draped over her entire bike. I actually laughed out loud to see this little head poking up from this floating tent on wheels.
I make my way south to Sellwood Park and down to the river. Across the river are a row of houseboats and behind them a giant hill filled with changing trees. A man is fishing in the river and dogs are running free in the park. I snap a few pictures and head home.
Along the way back, past the amusement park, I notice this odd-looking building across the pond with birds painted all over it. I've ridden this path many times and never noticed it, but somehow with a camera in my pocket I couldn't miss it. I snap a picture and marvel at how such a simple tool can actually change the way you experience the world.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Salmon Statue

I set off this morning dressed in my new biker chick socks, shoe covers and reflective vest for a quick ride on Mt. Tabor. I am feeling happy and content today with my life and thinking of nothing more interesting than what I am going to eat for lunch. I contemplate going for some sushi but ended up eating a grilled cheese with gruyere.
It is a foggy day that becomes most apparent when I have climbed the hill. I try to take a few pictures, but it is early so they don't turn out. I look to the west from the top and see only gray where the city is supposed to be.
On the way home I stop by the beautiful salmon statue above for a picture. The statue is carved out of a tree trunk and right behind the tail fin of the salmon clover is growing. I've been saving this statue for a day like today when it is hard to get a pretty shot.
I pedal home weaving my way past the library and the school feeling happy and lucky to have such a great life.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Picture of the trees with the steam coming off my hands

Same trees about an hour later.

If I had been able to get it straight in my head today that it was Sunday and not Monday I would have been less surprised at not getting passed by a car my entire ride this morning. But, alas, the whole day today I have been certain that it was Monday. There are hardly any cars on a weekday too. Portland has these great bike routes on what are called bike boulevards. They are designated streets, many with gentle speed bumps that are specifically for cyclists. Motorists that don't live on these streets avoid them because in my neighborhood 30% of the commuters are on bikes so your drive would be pretty slow. My 90-minute ride this morning consisted of 30 minutes on the bike boulevards, crossing the main streets with lights, and 60 minutes in the park.
I am amazed as I ride at how really beautiful the changing trees are. I think of rain as equalling winter here, but with my riding I am appreciating the season change more. It does rain in the fall, but it is a warm rain.
This morning I am struck by the beauty of the trees, especially the large groups of trees. After climbing the long steep hill I stop to try to photograph them, but I can't get it to come out. The pictures keep showing this white fog in front of the lens. But, the lens looks clean, so what could be wrong. I try turning off the flash until I realize that there is too much steam coming off my hands. The air is thick with moisture. It reminds me of the day I was walking with my dad in the Pearl and he told me that the Irish call this a "soft day."
As I round the top and head back down the shallow side I am thinking about how I am almost incapable of journaling in past tense since coming back from Finland. I have been keeping a diary in past tense for almost three years, but since taking this transformative trip, I just keep going back to present tense. And, in my life I have been more in present time. I'm feeling less regret about the past and less worry about the future than I have in years. It reminds me of learning Italian and how the Italians use present tense almost all the time when they are talking about the future. It think this is undoubtedly tied to their renowned ability to appreciate the present moment. I think too that when I am riding I take a full and complete break from worry and regret and just experience life. This is surely a reason why experiencing a little rain on a ride seems a small price to play for all it has given me.
I make it to the top a second time, stopping on the way for a beautiful shot of some berries hanging from a tree. I am making plans for a new and difficult ascent I rode down yesterday on the way to Rocky Butte. It is fierce, but I know I can do it. I head back down and out of the park coming down the steep long hill of my massage therapist's street. I head back up saying hello to the very elderly couple crossing the street on their way to church. The hill tests my legs and my lungs but I make it back up and into the park. I snap a shot of the trees that turns out and round the top one more time. I ride back down the shallow side, out of the park and home.
Later in the day I ride to the Pearl for some rain gear. REI had all the gear I wanted: shoe covers (I got the cutest ones), rain gloves complete with extra gripping on the first two fingers, a thin hat for under my helmet, and a reflective vest for wearing over my coat. I didn't want to shell out for an expensive cycling jacket so I figured the vest would be a good idea. I shot the above picture on the way home riding down the Eastbank Esplanade. My culture shock after coming back from Finland is wearing off and I'm feeling happy again to be in such a beautiful city with such excellent biking.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Two Peaks

Portland to the east from Mt. Tabor.

The rain coming to get me.

The tunnel on the way up Rocky Butte.

My first shot with a timer.
Mt. Tabor is part of a network of extinct volcanoes called the Boring Lava field. The next cinder cone north of it is called Rocky Butte and my plan today was to ride to the top of both of them. Mt. Tabor is the main ride that I do so their is a familiarity to it, but I am always struck by its beauty. Depending on the cloud and fog cover, the views of the mountains to the east and the city to the west are always changing. I tried to take a picture of the view to the east with my panoramic feature, but it didn't turn out. So, I took a regular picture because it looked so pretty.
I pounded up the rest of the way to the top mostly feeling excited about getting over to Rocky Butte since that would feel so new and different. At the top I got a shot of the city with DARK clouds looming. "Whoa-ho-ho, that rain is coming to get me, " I said.
As I rode through the neighborhood just north of Mt. Tabor I saw a beautiful rose garden and had to stop. I flipped down my new trusty kickstand and got a shot of all the color. It is the middle of October and this gardener still has plants filled with flowers. Impressive.
Riding further north a couple of cyclists on road bikes passed me at a light. This gave me a bit of a challenge so I turned on the gas and powered past them. It was easy riding through the neighborhood south of the mountain and I glided past the most beautiful park filled with giant Douglas firs.
I turned left and started up Rocky Butte. Halfway up I entered the tunnel and realized that I had to turn around to get a shot of it. The two cyclists passed me as I rode back to the entrance and probably thought I was turning back. I got my shot and rode the the tunnel just as my phone started ringing. Must be Peter. I waited until I was through the tunnel, put on my jacket because it was starting to drizzle and called him back. He wanted to know if I wanted him to turn on the sauna because it was pouring at home. "Great idea," I said.
At the top I tried out our new camera's timer feature and got a shot of me with my bike including the camera strap and some of the stone post I set the camera on. Still, I'm really proud of the moment because the rain turned drenching while I was riding up and I was still having fun.
There weren't any good shots of the view at the top so I made my way back home. It was a warm rain so I didn't feel cold, but my feet were s-o-g-g-y. I definitely need to get some waterproof booties for over my shoes. Even though I was soaked from head to toe I was having the greatest time.
The ride home was uneventful. I noticed that the hospital was more beautiful than I had ever realized. I'm always in a bad mood when I have to go there, but as I rode by it I thought about how pretty it was. I also thought how having a camera with me helps me look for beauty.
When I got home I stripped off my shoes and socks, wrung out the socks and padded into the house a soggy mess. The last four minutes of the Iowa/Wisconsin game was on so I watched it with Peter and drank some water. Iowa won 20-10 so Peter was happy he stayed home to watch the game. Just sitting for those few minutes really made me cold, so it was most pleasant to step into the sauna. A perfect end to my first true rainy Portland long ride.

Friday, October 16, 2009

River Ride

Peter and I set off today for a ride by the river. We headed off toward the esplanade passing under the I-5 bridge and passing the homeless people sleeping in their sleeping bags. I wistfully thought of Finland and their lack of homelessness. We wondered what they do with people who have given up on life and chosen the life of the bottle or the needle. Surely they must have them, do they just provide for them and their addictions?
We cross the river and plan on heading north, but the train is crossing the path, so we turn around and head south along the waterfront. We pass under the Hawthorne bridge to be greeted by a gaggle of geese blocking our way. I take a few pictures and wonder why the camera is acting so strangely only to discover that it as stitched the photographs together into one picture. I might have try that feature out again.
We head further south along the river and travel to the south Waterfront for an unremarkable visit and head back. We've been contemplating taking up French so we stop by PSU to see what a French workbook would cost. It comes bundled with the text, they explain and costs 118 dollars. We pass.
We head back down to the river, south, across the tracks and over to where the police horses are stabled and trained. We stop for a picture that doesn't turn out because I was so worried about spooking the horses with my flash. So, we head back and at this point it starts to rain. The rain adds a sensory experience that I really like. I don't like being cold, but I don't mind the feelining of raindrops hitting my skin. We pedal purposefully along the river, up the winding ramp and onto Hawthorne avenue. Then we turn and pedal through Ladd's Addition, remembering how close we were to buying a house here.
We stop at New Seasons for the ingredients to make pea soup and Finnish pancakes. Thursday is pea soup day in Finland, but we missed it so we are going to do it on Friday. Peter is almost sick he is so hungry so we sit out front at the tables and eat a pastry.
Then we head home the long way, past Broder where we stop to check out the menu. We like this way better because it is safer and you get good lights for crossing Division and Hawthorne. It was a nice morning for a ride, and fun to get out and see the city.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New Coat

I didn't do a long ride today, but here is a picture of me in my new wool coat and a scarf a client got me from Paris. I'm about to head off to the store to pick up some olive oil. Like a 16 year old who just got their license, I'm quick to volunteer for an errand if it means I get to ride my bike.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Riding with Peter

Patches woke me up this morning at 5:50 with a string of constant yelling. She was demanding food and since I wanted to get up early I was happy to oblige. Peter was sound asleep so I tried to be quiet while I made myself breakfast. He woke up at 7am and I asked him if he wanted to join me for a ride to Tabor. He said yes and quickly ate and dressed since I had clients this morning and needed to get moving.

Riding with a partner is more conversational and less observational than riding alone. As we navigated our way through the chestnut strewn streets we pondered living abroad. We do this everytime we come home from Europe. Today we are thinking about the town of Grenoble in France where they have a silicon-based fab where Peter would be qualified to work. It is just a musing, but it musing is what we are good at.

Upon entering the park I try for the third time to get a picture of the orange bushes above and it finally turned out. No photographers today...too cloudy. We climb to the top stopping once to adjust Peter's bike which we call "The Crusher" because it is so tempermental. It really needs a new deraileur and shifter...the tires and frame and brakes seem to work fine though. :)

We head down the shallower side and back up one more time and then head home because I need to take a shower before work. We are amazed at how relaxed we are. In everything we have done since we have gotten home, including biking, we have been mellower. I could really use a two week vacation every month.

This afternoon we went for a short ride to the record store to pick up the new David Byrne album and snapped a couple pictures of us in our street clothes on our bikes. I think Peter, especially, looks like a well-dressed cyclist in his new corduroy jacket from Finland.