Monday, June 28, 2010

Surprise 32 miles

This morning I woke up to late cancellations from both of the clients I had scheduled this morning. This meant I had more time to ride than I expected, so I quickly dressed, made a picnic lunch and hopped on my bike. At first, I thought about doing the Two Volcanoes Ride, but since I actually had more time today to ride than tomorrow I thought I ride down to the Springwater via the I-205 bike path and ride out the Gresham and back. To my surprise, upon reaching the Springwater, a sign said that it is closed. So, I figured, I'll just continue south.
Riding along the I-205 isn't really all that pleasant because of the constant noise of the cars, and before I knew it I was most decidedly lost. I had followed the signs to turn left up 92nd, past Johnson Creek Blvd and over a big hill that actually had a pretty view. I could see the freeway to the right so I just kept riding. Eventually, the road I was on came to an end (at a mall) and I asked for directions. A very nice lady told me how to get back to the bike path and I kept riding south. At 82nd, the bike path ends for a while and as I was riding away from the freeway I was thinking, "Oh man, this is not good. This is just the kind of thing that gets me turned around."

I eventually found the bike path again and even found a beautiful park on the Clackamas river to stop and eat my sandwich. I called Peter to warn him that I might need help getting home. And, predictably, I got lost trying to find that same stretch of 82nd. There are no signs and I went way out of my way trying to find it. In tears, partly because I was so lost and partly because I had gotten cut off by three separate cars coming back towards I-205, I called Peter and he helped me find my way back to the bike path. Thank you, Peter.

It was at this point that three young, fit road bikers passed me. We did a little "Where ya headed?" chat at the light and I tailed them all the way back to Division. They were faster than me on the flats, but I kept catching them on the hills. I saw exactly where I got lost as we came back and it seemed like a pretty easy mistake.

Riding back in the neighborhood I passed a little girl at a lemonade stand. I was out of water so I figured I'd buy a couple of bucks worth of lemonade from her, but when I opened my wallet I remembered that I'd given all my cash to Peter. Darn. I'll have to catch her next time. Since I now had a hankering for lemonade, when I got home I made myself a quick citron presse. Mmm...French recovery drink.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fun in the Sun

I rode off today with 30 minutes of stationary bike under my belt. I wanted to get my back warmed up before riding, and to be kind to my back I took out my hybrid, Reilly. The sun was out, the sky was blue and Portlanders were positively beaming. I made my way towards Mt. Tabor (my favorite place to ride) stopping for a bit to take some pictures of poppies and lavender. Riding towards Tabor is a slow steady climb and it was fun to remember how many times I had done this ride on Reilly in the last year. As I made my way up the mountain, feeling like my legs were as strong as ever, I stopped for some shots of Mt. Hood and pondered for what must be the 1,000th time if I was taking the right bike to RAGBRAI. Climbing the last bit to the top amidst many scantilly clad hikers and their dogs, it felt good to be riding again. I had decided before leaving that I would just climb Tabor once so I made my way down, along Lincoln, and stopped at Safeway. After purchasing six new bottles of wine, a baguette and getting a chuckle out of the toughest looking guy ever coming out of the store with kitty litter, I rode home and parked my bike. I finished my cardio with a 2-mile walk with Dexter and made plans for taking the road bike out on Tuesday. My plan is to be careful and conscientious with my training and to give myself the best chance possible of completing RAGBRAI. And, hopefully, along the way actually have some fun.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


I haven't been on my road bike in two weeks. I can hardly believe it has been that long, but my back has been bothering me. I really need my back to be in its best possible shape for RAGBRAI so I've been restricting my riding to transportation plus the stationary bike. I've also been doing lots of icing and my PT exercises to hopefully get it all settled down soon.

Today we took some cookies to a friend who just got out of the hospital. I'm getting a little bored with the "here's me riding on my bike in a cute outfit and a grin on my face" pictures, so here are two slightly different ones. You can see the cookies in the basket in the shot Peter took of me from behind. I like how the scarf is blowing in the breeze. Pretty much any errand is more fun if you don't have to use car. At least, that's my humble opinion.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


On my way out to North Portland for ramen. I've gotten many compliments on this cute dress, not the least of which seeing the huge grin it brought a woman watching me pass her while I was riding my bike.

Friday, June 11, 2010

47.6 Miles

47.6 miles! The most I've ever done on my road bike! I feel great too. My back did better on this ride than on any ride I've done before. We did most of the 38-mile loop we did last week but added coming home on the Springwater by way of the river. As I rode I thought about the things I have learned since I started doing long rides:
  • Drink plenty of water before you leave. You can only carry so much.
  • Eat before you are hungry and drink before you are thirsty. We've started eating every 15 miles even if we don't feel like it.
  • Stretch while you ride. I do this on-bike stretch where I push my hips forward toward the handlebars. Then, I ride standing up for a bit and then stretch again. I do it every 5 miles whether I feel like I need it or not.
  • Change hand positions frequently.
  • Point out bumps or holes in the road to your riding buddy and signal if you have to slow down. Peter actually ran into me today when a kid swerved toward me and I had to brake suddenly.
  • It's amazing what getting off the bike and walking around for 10 minutes will do.
  • Rest days are important.
  • Shrugging up your shoulders and then dropping them down actually relieves pressure off the neck and low back. I do this repeatedly while I ride.
  • 3+hours of cardio makes me lose my appetite, but I can easily down a sports drink with protein powder when I get home. A couple of hours later I'll be ready to eat.
Today was the first day that I really felt like I could have fun on RAGBRAI. I could have easily done 60 today if I needed to. But, for now I'll just celebrate feeling this great after 47.6. Woo hoo!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Peter's Music

This morning when I left for my 37.5 mile ride I had the thought, "Gee, this new tube is blown up so much it feels like I'm riding on my rims." Then, I looked down to see that I WAS riding on my rim. Crap! My new back tube was a was leaking a bit when we put it on. So, for the 4th time in the last week I went over to Coventry Cycle...20 minutes and 11 bucks later...I was on my way.

Yesterday, I thought it might be fun to ride up to the Columbia River, along it, and then down to the Springwater and out to Gresham. Because of this flat and some very frustrating attempts to revive my now disabled ipod, that wasn't going to be possible. I still had time to do a nice ride, though, so I wasn't too unhappy.

Peter said I could borrow his MP3 player which is a beast so I started with the last thing that he had been playing: Louise Attaque's See You Later Alligator. Right away, I could tell this was going to be a fun ride. Peter has a much more voracious appetite for music than I do. I think I have only surprised him once with a new band. I listened to this album twice and it got me all the way to the place where we had stopped for sandwiches on Saturday's ride.

At this little cement structure was a woman feeding the birds. We got to talking and apparently she feeds the birds every day riding her bike to get too and from this spot. Then, she took off and I decided I needed some new tunes. I looked at Peter's playlist and saw one labeled "Driving With Sara" with 128 songs. Awww, how sweet.

So I started back down the Columbia (really flying now because I had a tailwind) listening to Autolux. About a mile after I get started I see the bird lady. She's texting or something and pretty swervy so I yell out as loud as I could, "On your left!" I must have surprised her when I passed though because she started yelling and swearing at me as I rode away. "Bird lady's got a mouth on her," I thought and continued riding east. The whole bike path is framed by beautiful tall grass which every once in a while whips my calf. It's idyllic.

Autolux was getting pretty brooding so I switched to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Getting better. Then the album Parklife came on by Blur. I love Blur and listened to most of the album making my way back south. The sun has really come out now and I'm feeling good. I am, however, a dirty, sticky mess because I doused myself in sunblock after getting pretty burnt Saturday.

Just as I make my way home, climbing over Tabor, Eels comes on. "This playlist just gets better as it goes along," I think. Rotten World Blues, and Last Stop: This Town are great songs, but when I make it past Tabor and start the easy last 4 miles to home Mr. E's Beautiful Blues comes on and I'm almost giddy. Endorphin high + Sunshine + The lyrics: "Goddamn right it's a beautiful day" = One very happy cyclist. Oh yeah.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Warning: I talk about science below. If you hate science, you've been duly warned.

My ride today started with a trip to the bike shop to get a backup tube. Then, I was off for a two volcano ride. I didn't want to push myself too hard because I plan on doing a long ride tomorrow, so a short 18 mile, two climb ride seemed nice. My mind today was in that sweet gentle place where you just move from pleasant thought to pleasant thought at an unhurried pace.

As I climbed the steep side of Tabor, grinding out each pedal stroke, feeling my back (but not too terribly bad), and relaxing in the beauty of the park, I mostly thought about what I was reading. I have three books right now. One easy, one medium, and one hard. As I bombed (okay, to be honest, I don't really bomb down hills...I carefully brake my way down hills) down Tabor on my way to Rocky Butte I thought about the easy one: Star Trek...something or other. It's number six in a series of nine and just mindless fluff. Everybody needs mindless fluff from time to time.

Making my way north and starting up Rocky Butte I get passed by a couple of road bikers (serious road bikers. I know I'm on a road bike, but I'm just a beginner) and one of them yells back, "How's it going?" "Great!" I respond. I think then a little bit about my medium book. This one is about the inheritance through genes and memes of inheritable traits and certain ideas in our culture. I really like this book a lot, but I really don't have anyone to talk about it with. This is one thing I miss about school. When I'm almost to the top, I stop to take the picture, above.

I round the top of Rocky Butte twice to really get a good view. I switch water bottles from water to my homemade "sports drink". Yick! It is way too sweet. I need to get some kind of formula down. As I came down the hill and made my way home I started thinking about my hard book. This book is about Einsteinian Relativity and requires paper and pencil because there are problems to do. This is the book that really is lighting me up right now. Last night as I was working through the problems about general relativity I really grasped with my whole mind the concept of time speeding up as you go faster. I mean, I really got it. "Yes, that's it," I said. "It absolutely must go faster." Not bad for a 34-year old pilates teacher. But, then when I was trying to explain my Aha! moment to Peter I couldn't quite figure out how to put it into words. Books like this are what I don't miss about school, actually. I like learning about whatever is intriguing me at the moment.

And, so I rode through the bike streets back to my home...relishing the general relaxation I felt. Pondering this, musing about that, thinking about how much fun it is to learn and to live in a time where so much information is at our fingertips. I got back to my house, parked my bike, and then walked back to the bike shop to pick up Reilly. She looks great with her new wheel and I was happy to bring her back home.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

38- Mile Loop

It is sunny in Portland! When we got up this morning, Peter opened the blinds and said, "I'm being blinded by this strange yellow orb outside our window. " We decided to do the 38-mile loop we had been talking about doing for months. As you can see from the picture above, (I cannot figure out how to get text in before the picture) we had a flat tire. About 8 miles into our ride my back tire just blew. Pop! We took turns getting my kevlar tires on and off the wheel. (Not an easy task). A really nice lady stopped to see if we needed help. In the picture, Peter is actually pointing and laughing at someone that was riding their bike with a dog running beside them. They were really moving too.

Our ride took us north to The Columbia Slough Bike Path and along Marine Drive. There are a couple of nice stretches where it is all bike path and the parts on the road are not too bad.
Hello, mountains! It's been a while. The river was beautiful especially on the little stretch just past I-205. There was hardly any sign of human habitation for a little while and I felt a little part of me breathe a sigh or relief. That is, I guess, no sign of human habitation except for the cyclists. That's alright with me though. :)

(Grass, water, trees, clouds, mountains and sky. Ahhhhhhhh!)

We came home on the I-205 bike path, stopping for sandwiches at Maywood Park which is darn cute. This was our second sandwich stop (the first was hummus, guacamole and lettuce sandwiches). This time was peanut butter (almond butter for Peter) and homemade blueberry jam.

We rode down to Division, up a little bit of Tabor and home. 37.9 miles. Awesome.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Gone Riding

Peter had a dentist appointment this morning so I decided to get myself up, moving and out on my bike. It's amazing how many things you have to do to get ready for a long ride. Make sure your chamois shorts and jersey are clean, eat, drink lots of water, get dressed, make sandwiches, pack up your trunk bag with sports drinks, bars, and your sandwiches, fill your water bottles, make sure the coffee pot is off, walk the dog, load up your jersey with camera, keys, wallet, phone and ipod, unlock your bike, tighten the stem, oh wait, run to the bathroom one last time, load up the bike, lock the garage, and your off. Oh wait, crap, I forgot my helmet! Ride back home, get helmet, and're off!

Peter and I have Thursday and Friday off which is really nice for riding...well, it's nice for everything, actually. It's nice to be able to do things without crowds. This morning, the Springwater seemed extra quiet and about 7.5 miles into my ride I see why. A huge stretch of it is closed. "Okay, no need to panic," I think. "I can follow the detour signs. No problem." I'm a a little scared because I don't have the greatest sense of direction. When I get lost, I rely on Peter to help me, but he wouldn't know where the detour is. But, okay, just follow the signs. I set off down a gravel trail and already start to question if I'm going the right way. The cute cat below came over to see me as I rode up a hill so I stopped to take a picture. She had beautiful blue eyes. Too bad she blinked.

As I'm bent over taking the picture of the cute cat, a road biker passes me. I quickly put away my camera so I can follow her. And follow her I did. When she turned left, I turned left. When she stopped to pick up her bike and carry it across a muddy, messy section, I did the same. I wasn't being a wheelsucker or anything. I kept a good 20 foot distance, but when we stopped at the bottom of a hill to wait for a light she turned around. "I'm going to be turning left up here at the next light to go home," she says. "You want to keep going straight." Woops. Guess it was pretty obvious I was following her. That was awfully nice of her. Knowing me, I would have probably followed her all the way home.

The next little stretch was hilly and didn't have a bike path so I was happy to get back on the familiar Springwater again. When I passed the I-205 bike path I decided that I was going to go back home that way and avoid the whole detour thing. Powell Butte was just a hair under 15 miles so I stopped for a peanut butter and homemade blackberry jam sandwich. I had been standing up and pedaling to stretch my back every 5 miles and I was pleased with how my back was feeling. My stem was doing it's job and felt much better after I'd tightened it.

The next section of the Springwater is my favorite. It's smooth with few roads to pass and you get to ride past sheep, goats, and horses. Sometimes you see some peacocks. I didn't today, but I did see a scrub jay and a mallard. At 20.1 miles I turned around. It felt like my back was ready to head home.
I stopped again at Powell Butte and called Peter while I ate my second sandwich, this one with honey. It's amazing how just stopping and resting for 10 minutes can really rejuvenate you. The rest of the ride home was pretty easy. My body was tired, but I could have done more. Great feeling. When I got home I sat down on the kitchen floor to stretch and snapped this pic of my dog watching me. It's not a great pic but you can still tell how cute he is. So, that was my ride. It sure was nice to get a break from the rain today and get some miles under my belt. RAGBRAI here I come!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bonding With Amie

So, Reilly, my hybrid, needs a new back wheel. She has had three broken spokes in the last year and the bike mechanic said that is the magic number. It's amazing how much I love that bike. Sun, rain, or snow I've happily ridden that bike dressed for work or dressed to the nines. But, today Reilly stayed in the garage and I took out the road bike, Amie.

As I rode I thought about why I haven't really bonded with this bike. First, she asks a little more of me and my back. Reilly can make my sore back feel better...Amie makes it feel worse. This has been somewhat remedied with a new stem, but, let's face it, the stem sucks. I love that it puts me as upright as I can be on a road bike (well, assuming I don't outfit her with some comfort handlebars - trust me, I've thought of it), but it is an adjustable stem and so it wiggles a bit...sometimes more than a bit. This sometimes gives me a feeling of vertigo as I go down hills and you know how much I love hills. Sigh.

I also feel like I have to be "outfitted" for her. Her seat is not as comfortable (enter chamois shorts) and she doesn't have a chain guard so I feel like I have to wear skinny pants. Today, however, I rode her in my regular clothes. I just slapped some rubber bands around my ankles and I was off. This actually worked pretty well.

But, as I was riding, I thought about what I do like about Amie. She's fast. 15 miles per hour on 46 pound Reilly is about as fast as that bike can go. 15 miles per hour on 17 pound Amie is a walk in the park. For RAGBRAI, this could make all the difference. Clipping in is easier on the knees and feet. She stops on a dime. Her handlebars give you lots of positions. All good things.

So why haven't I bonded with her? Is it that I just prefer bike commuting to road biking? Maybe. But, I sure had fun on my long rides with Reilly. Whatever it is, I'm taking Amie to RAGBRAI, because it is the only way I'm going to keep up with my dad. That for me is the whole point of the ride. Hopefully, the sun will come out again in Portland so my husband will go on a long ride with me. Those kinds of experiences make you bond with a bike. Otherwise, I hope that somewhere between the Missouri and the Mississippi I will finally bond with the bike that will carry me 442 miles. Then, Amie will live up to her name: friend.

My Tricked Out Bike

I realized right after taking this picture that Reilly had a broken spoke. So, I ended up walking to the store for coconut milk and cilantro to make moqueca. It was a good walk. I was listening to Paul Oakenfold and when Starry Eyed Surprise came on I was most definitely groovin'. I was waiting at the light doing the little head bob and heel tap that just can't be avoided when a song comes on that really fits your mood. I just watched the Cosmos episode about the stars today which I'd highly recommend if you haven't seen it. So, this ended up being a post about a walk, but I thought it'd still be fun to put up the pic of the umbrella.