Sunday, February 28, 2010

Becoming a Cyclist

I rode off today squeezed into my best cycling lycra. I have on a white dry-fit shirt, chamois shorts under my cycling tights, cycling gloves(ugh!) and (I can't believe I'm going to admit this) a black fanny pack around my waist. Since I wasn't wearing a coat and I don't have a jersey I needed somewhere to put my keys, phone, wallet and 1/2 sandwich. Riding away all clipped into my new road bike I think, "Is this really who I am becoming?"

Riding to Tabor is effortless and familiar. I have really mastered Mt. Tabor and I need to ride in places that are unfamiliar to prepare me for RAGBRAI so I round the top of Tabor and head down Yamhill towards Rocky Butte. It's a quick trip on the bike streets on my new bike and before I know it I'm heading up my second volcano. Just as I am starting I see a weed growing up out of the middle of the asphalt. For a few moments, I admire that little weeds ability to grow in the most inhospitable environment and I hope it survives. About 1/2 way up is the first time I even notice my back and I think, "I think this fanny pack is keeping my low back warmer."

I stop at the top to eat my sandwich, admire the beautiful view, and curse that I forgot my camera. As I ride around the castle-like top a beautiful Mexican girl runs down the steps dressed in an absolutely stunning ball gown. She stops to let me pass and I say, "Pretty" as I ride by. "Thanks!" she beams.

I decide to try today to ride down the back side of Rocky Butte, which I have never tried before. Unlike Mt. Tabor, the road is well-maintained so I feel more comfortable as I scream down the mountain. Tears stream away as the wind gets to my eyes. At the bottom on this side is a GIANT domed shape building with little eaves and windows sticking out all over it that looks nothing short of ridiculous. Checking out the sign for the building as I turn around to climb back up I see that it is a church. "Well, that's appropriate," I think.

Climbing back up I see that I am only going 6mph, but I make it to the top without too much of a struggle and head back down, through the tunnel, towards Tabor. As I ride through the neighborhood a 10ish year old kid is dancing in the street listening to his Ipod. I smile as I pass, and he becomes shy and turns away.

Turning to climb back up Yamhill I am faced with a short monster climb. Before I know it I am in my lowest gear and huffing and puffing. I make it to the top and head back into Mt. Tabor park. The park is busy today which is not my favorite time so for a moment I consider not doing the 5 climbs that I had vaguely decided I'd like to do today. I stop at the top to admire the view, get off my bike and stretch my back. Then I get back on and decide to climb one more time.

As I climb up the Salmon side a group of 6 skateboarders pass me, weaving gracefully and somewhat unpredictably down the mountain. I have such admiration for the balance and grace it takes to skateboard and think there are few things more beautiful than a skateboarder coming down a hill. It's a nice moment and before I know it I am at the top. 5 climbs, 2 volcanoes.

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