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Ride diary

I've taken hundreds of bike rides, and had some fantastic moments; but my chances of remembering any of them are pretty slim. So, from the launch of this site on, I'll be jotting down a few notes about each ride right here. Some will be uneventful, but others will surely be really special -- and I'll have something to remember them by!

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Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 8:00 am

Duration: 0 hours, 15 minutes
Distance: NA miles

It's been quite cold here lately, but I still have my indoor trainer and rollers, so I set up the rollers and brought my bike into the basement this morning. I never could use the rollers as a real workout -- just a technique tune-up -- and the first few minutes on these (after at least two years) was not fun -- but eventually I decided to stay on for 15 minutes and that was fine. It's a good thing to do in the off season, so I'll leave them set up down there.

Sunday, January 15, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 15 minutes
Distance: NA miles

We're meeting friends at the Rose City Rollers roller derby event tonight, but after a day of random housework tasks, I had just enough time for another quick spin on the rollers. It feels much better this time. Maybe I can make this more of a workout after all. A fast, more intense working, though ... you can't coast on these!

Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 28 minutes
Distance: 23.5 miles

One thing that's still sinking in about Portland is that I really can ride year-round here. I'm usually not inclined to ride if the temperature is below 55 or so, but it's not that bad riding down to 40 and it never gets colder than that during the day. Of course, you have to get wet, and cleaning/lubing the bike constantly is a drag. Anyway, today was on the warm side so I took some time out of my Saturday afternoon to ride my Willamette Blvd / Kelly Point Park loop. The last segment on Marine Drive was fast and furious as always ... love it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 2 minutes
Distance: 14.5 miles

Well, we got up to 55 today and I haven't been terribly busy, so I took a quick ride to Rocky Butte. It felt really nice and the view of the mountains from the top was excellent. The only problem is that I underestimated how fast it would get dark, and only brought tinted lenses for my glasses. I had to take them off and deal with wind in my face, and bugs -- bugs, in January -- on the ride home.

Wednesday, February 3, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 14 minutes
Distance: NA miles

My sister joined a team in Colorado and immediately used her equipment discount to buy me a really nice winter jacket. It's warmer than any other cycling clothing I have, so I tried it out today ... very nice! I was toasty as I headed to Mount Tabor, then when I started climbing I opened the "pit zips" and kept comfortable. It reminded me of the first time I tried real cycling shorts, or shoes ... wow, what a difference. Anyway, I did a couple loops of the Tabor Park criterium circuit and then couldn't resist one more climb to the top, where I saw a stunning sunset ... and would have lingered, but the sun setting meant I needed to get back home.

Friday, April 1, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 4 minutes
Distance: 15.0 miles

Except for a couple short spins on the rollers that I didn't log, I've been way too busy with work recently to do any riding. It's too bad, too, because I'll be visiting my sister in Colorado in early June and it would be nice to build some fitness for that. (smile) But today I finished two of my three big projects and reached a milestone on the third, and managed to tidy everything up with time to spare for a quick ride. Oh, and this was the warmest day of the year so far, at 63 and partly sunny.

I rode to Rocky Butte and, although I felt out of shape, was ready to tackle the climb. Unfortunately when I got there an officer stepped out of a parked police car and waved me down. He said they were performing a "search and rescue" there and only residents were allowed in. Jeez ... I couldn't think of an alternative route from there, so I just headed home and took a quick detour over the Lombard Ave. bypass and back when I got to 33rd. It's just as well, it was getting late, but now I'm definitely ready for more.

Friday, April 8, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 32 minutes
Distance: 24.6 miles

First, a word of advice. If you ever find yourself directly in the flight path of an F-15 fighter as it's taking off -- as I was during the last leg of my ride today, past the airport -- plug your ears.

The rest of my ride was less militant! I'm eager to get into some serious rides after hardly riding at all over the winter, so I did my "two bridges" loop into Vancouver, WA today. The I-5 bridge was scary as ever, but I basically ignored it; the I-205 bridge was fine, in fact quite fast with a tailwind. In between I kept a decent pace and had a good time.

Another rider passed me on Old Evergreen Highway and said, "Nice day!" as he went by. Indeed, the forecast was for 60, but when I finished my work for the day it had only climbed to 55. I decided to dress for 60 anyway ... and it turned out to be about 67 on the road. And plenty of sunshine. Yay!

This ride did wear me out a big, though. I just set up the breadmaker for pizza dough ... should have done that before I left.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 11 minutes
Distance: 16.5 miles

I bought a new pair of tires recently, and was planning to put them on when summer arrived ... but when I went out to my bike today and found a flat, I figured I might as well change the tire along with the tube ... and then the other one as well. The new tires are the closest model to the previous ones I could find, but after I mounted them I saw that they were a good 2 mm narrower. Does that matter? In the rain? On curvy descents? I rode to Rocky Butte and it did make me nervous to have them. That's kind of annoying. Also, how did they get so scuffed up after just one ride???

Friday, April 22, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 31 minutes
Distance: 40.1 miles

When I rode to Vancouver last week, another rider who passed me continued on Old Evergreen Highway past 205, a route I had never considered before. I checked it on a map and decided to try following it as far as downtown Camas. Fortunately, it was a terrific ride, with rolling hills, scenic views and very little traffic -- whee! Unfortunately, it was about 10 miles longer than I expected from my quick glance at the map, so I was pretty worn out when I got back. But it's Friday, and it feels good to start doing some longer rides.

On the way out, I-205 was nearly at a standstill and I was passing all the cars while climbing. Toward the top I saw the reason, a multi-vehicle accident that tripped a few airbags and left a few drivers sitting on the shoulder in shock. But I almost had to join them, because another cyclist flying down the bridge with a tailwind decided to shout some asinine thing like "get a bike" at them, and in the process veered right toward me. I felt him brush my arm as he went by. Idiot.

My next incident was a flat just after getting to the nice part of the route ... on my brand new tires! Caused by a piece of glass half the size of a grain of rice! Grrrr.

Other than that, a great day. I'll definitely do this route again.

Saturday, April 23, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 34 minutes
Distance: 21.4 miles

Yesterday was warm enough for shorts, but today was warm enough for short sleeves! So I took another ride, this time to Mount Tabor. I was actually warm in my undershirt for most of it. Woohoo, spring is here!

Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 54 minutes
Distance: 21.4 miles

This is the day everyone has been waiting for: 70 and sunny all day long. And to our great luck, the jug band even got to play opening day at my neighborhood farmer's market this morning! But the afternoon was destined for a bike ride, and I celebrated by taking my first trip to the West Hills this year.

I also tried out a new iPhone app called Cycling Buddy, which tracks my speed and distance like a regular cyclocomputer, but also plots my route on a map, and keeps track of that most elusive statistic, my cumulative climbing. I don't have a handlebar mount, so I can't watch my altitude as I ride, but I can at least get a better idea of what I've been doing after the ride is over (and remember the details for this diary).

So, I rode over the newly renovated Broadway Bridge to Cornell Road (actually accidentally taking a different road up the first part of the climb), then turned off to 53rd and Thompson (which I thought would be easier but now I doubt it) up to Skyline, where I planned to head back to Cornell and home. But I was feeling frisky and having a good time, so I did the extra loop up Greenleaf (seated the whole time) and to the highest point (according to Cycling Buddy) at Skyline again. Wow, what a fun ride ... and pretty quick, actually ... not too much longer than a trip to Mount Tabor.

Actually, Cycling Buddy doesn't track "moving" time as opposed to total elapsed time like my old cyclocomputer, so my ride stats are going to be longer from now on. Today's ride, for example, would have had more like a 1' 40" duration but I spent almost 15 minutes waiting at stoplights and stopping to check the map.

Oh, and by the way ... 2892 feet of climbing ... can that be right? It's more than I expected.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 20 minutes
Distance: 16.3 miles

Quick ride to Rocky Butte today, climbing it once from each side. The temperature dropped back to the 50's, so I wore the new jacket my sister gave me and was quite comfortable.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 39 minutes
Distance: 19.9 miles

I don't have any band practices this week, my work is in a brief lull, and I'm preparing for my birthday this weekend, so I'm enjoying a little extra riding. I went to Mount Tabor today for the third hilly ride in four days. According to my new Cycling Buddy, the Tabor climb is higher than Rocky Butte (250-700 feet versus 225-575 feet), but is also longer (1.2 miles versus .8 miles) which makes it less steep (7% versus 8%). I think that first part on Yamhill must be the steepest of all, though ... maybe 10-12% I'm guessing?

Anyway, I rode to the top, then rode the criterium course three times -- once backwards just out of curiosity -- and then to the top again. I saw a few other cyclists multiple times as we crisscrossed on our varied routes through the park. Very nice.

Friday, May 13, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 39 minutes
Distance: 10.3 miles

I've been rushing all morning to get to the grand opening ceremony for Sally's new art therapy studio -- from which we're leaving together for two days at the Tour of California -- but after a hard workweek, I really wanted to get a bike ride in, too. I finally threw my things together for the trip, slammed some lunch and got out there for a planned 50 minute ride. But I quickly realized the new chain I put on last weekend was not compatible -- argh! -- and skipped badly on the small half of the cassette. It's just as well ... I turned back a bit earlier to give myself a bit more time. But now I need to find a new chain. Maybe in California this weekend.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 53 minutes
Distance: 14.9 miles

My last ride was an aborted trip down the Marine Drive bike path, due to having purchased the wrong chain for my drivechain (I keep forgetting I actually do have nine speeds on my bike). Today I finished my work, then went to buy a new chain, got it fitted and took it out on the same route ... success! It sounds beautifully quiet, too. I wonder how long that will last.

Thursday, May 20, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 44 minutes
Distance: 25.7 miles

Today I wanted a ride that was long but not too long, and hard but not too hard, so I did my East Portland loop: Killingsworth to 205 to the Springwater Corridor to the East Bank path. It was nice, uneventful ... a good way to end the week.

Monday, May 30, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 33 minutes
Distance: 39.7 miles

I've been really wanting to get some good rides in to get in shape for my visit to my sister's in Colorado this week, but it hasn't been working -- lots of music gigs and terrible weather have kept me away from the bike. But mercy came today -- after gigs Friday, Saturday and Sunday, today is Memorial Day so I was able to get out for a relatively long one! I went over the I-205 bridge and rode the Old Evergreen Highway to Camas again ... a good long ride with plenty of leg-softening hills.

The really interesting thing about this ride is that I've started building an elevation tracking app for my iPhone, and today was the first real-world test. It worked great! In fact, I thought the GPS would show me at water level as I went over the bridge, but it actually uses triangulation for elevation as well as location, so it showed the real altitude on top the bridge ... one of the highest points of the ride, in fact! This will be fun to keep working with.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 16 minutes
Distance: 16.3 miles

One more ride before the Colorado trip ... three times up Rocky Butte, which according to my new elevation tracker app has a max elevation of 572 feet (it's about 100 at my house and 250 at the base of the climb) and a maximum gradient of 9%.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Duration: 4 hours, 39 minutes
Distance: 43.2 miles

Hello Colorado! The real purpose of this trip is a family reunion, which my sister is hosting, so today was really our best day to get a good ride in. And did we ever. Within an hour of arriving from the airport we were suited up and headed out -- her on her new road bike and me on her boyfriend Randy's bike, who is conveniently exactly the same size as me -- for a ride from her home in Louisville through Boulder, up Boulder Canyon and proceeding on a 3000 foot climb -- the second half of which was unpaved -- to the tiny mountain town of Gold Hill.

After regrouping at the top (she had a triple crankset and I didn't, so I was literally forced to climb faster) while drinking Cokes and chatting with the bartender at the Gold Hill Inn (which is included in our ride time above) we headed out of town and up yet one more climb, topping out at just over 9000 feet, then began a long descent through Sunshine Canyon. Again, the first half was unpaved, so it was very uncomfortable squeezing the brakes to stay upright in the gravel for several miles. But once the pavement started, it was a delight. There were a few spots where the road stretched out wide open ahead of us and I realized how rare it is to just be able to open up and go full speed without worrying about anything. I've never ridden that fast on a bike before!

We proceeded back through Boulder and up a few smaller climbs to Louisville, where Randy was waiting for us in the driveway. He was shocked by the ride we did and kept telling us how epic that was, which made us feel great! So then we got cleaned up and all went out for Indian food. Perfect.

Sunday, June 3, 2011 at 7:00 am

Duration: 2 hours, 6 minutes
Distance: 25.0 miles

After celebrating Randy's birthday with a long hike yesterday, my sister and I decided to get up early and squeeze in one more ride today before family started arriving for the reunion. This time we drove into Boulder to save time, parking in front of the FasCat Coaching storefront, then headed north out of town on Foothills Highway before turning west and looping back into Lefthand Canyon.

It was a bit chilly, especially in the sheltered parts of the canyon -- down to the 40's actually -- but the ride was nice, a good workout but nothing like the unpaved steeps we had to deal with two days ago. About halfway to Jamestown, I heard voices behind, coming up fast, and before I knew it a pack of about 20 riders, two abreast, came around us. They all called out a chorus of "hello's" and "good morning's," which was really nice, and then the last one to came by shouted "Cyndi!" and slowed down to give my sister a hug as he went past. I guess they had met at a bike race a few weeks earlier!

We continued on to Jamestown, then stopped for a few photos and turned around to bomb back down the canyon. Whoo! A rushing creek runs right alongside the road, and every time I started to slow down, I'd glance down at that, become reinvigorated, and stomp on the pedals again. My sister said later, "You were flying!" Heh ... she's so supportive.

We took a slightly different route back, turning onto Old Stage Road, for one more climb that my sister described as a killer. I kept saying, "Is that it? Where's this climb?" and she was saying, "Oh, you'll know it when we get there." And indeed I did. I didn't do too bad going up -- had to unzip my outer jersey finally -- but then made a very awkward stop on the steep descent because I couldn't resist stopping for a photo of the view in front of me. A big valley rose beyond the road, sprinkled with homes and gardens -- it looked like a postcard from Switzerland.

My sister caught up while I had stopped and we rolled the last short couple of miles back into town, passing a couple dozen cyclists who were just starting out on the same route. Cyndi even bought me a huge smoothie at the coffee shop across the street, and then we rushed home to clean up and start greeting the arriving family.

Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 58 minutes
Distance: 13.7 miles

Just a quickie after work today ... I rode the Denver/Marine loop, tested my elevation tracker app some more. When I crossed Marine Drive going north to get on the river path, I saw an eagle landing in a nest high on the railroad bridge. As soon as I finished crossing I stopped and tried to get a closer look, but the only good view was from the middle of the road and I wasn't going to go back there! I thought it was a bald eagle, but couldn't tell for sure. I've never had a good look at a bald eagle in the wild, and I know they live around here but I don't know if there are other kinds of eagles as well. Anyway, next time I ride this route I'll keep an eye out for it again.

Friday, June 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 36 minutes
Distance: 20.6 miles

It was a busy workweek, but I finally got out again today, and went to Mount Tabor. I wanted to test my elevation tracker on that criterium loop I often do, so I went to the top, then did three laps, then went to the top again. Unfortunately my data didn't save correctly -- oops! Well, this is why I test. But I don't really want to repeat that ride again now.

I did have a good ride, though. There were several other riders taking the same route as me. One guy made a point of coming up behind me and then sprinting past (and then slowing down around the next bend) on my first two laps. So I let him take a big lead starting the third lap and just rode my own pace. But he rode steady and my pace was a bit faster, so I slowly caught, then passed him ... then rubbed it in by continuing up to the top while he turned down to continue the circuit. Ha.

Saturday, June 18, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 26 minutes
Distance: 27.0 miles

I met someone at a party a few weeks ago who told me about the Ronde PDX, a bike route some local riders put together than encompasses all the steepest climbs in the West Hills. YEAH??? Turns out there's an enigmatic website, a route and even an OPB segment about it. And whole the route is marked with straypainted "Lion of Flanders" icons, which I may have even seen in the past but didn't process.

Anyway, it looks like a hard route -- 45 miles from downtown, over 50 from my house, with 8000 feet of climbing -- and a difficult one to follow, so I decided to try it a piece at a time, to locate the route and make sure I could get up all the climbs (some exceed 30% and my lowest gear is 39x26). Then later in the summer I'll try doing it all at once.

Today I started with the first segment, up Saltzman Road to Skyline. It's been rainy, so I was prepared for some wet, but it actually started to rain as I rolled out and rained the whole time. Oh, and Saltzman is an unpaved fire road. This is the longest climb on the route, about 3.5 miles, but not too steep and I had few problems even in the rain. It felt pretty good, actually.

When I got to Skyline I had a new challenge -- I had basically climbed up into a cloud, so visibility was terrible, and the traffic seemed more impatient here than usual, so that was a little hairy.

I continued on to a side road that was new for me, but as soon as I turned on to it and the road dropped straight down I knew I'd made two mistakes. First, this was the feared Brynwood Lane, the steepest climb in Portland at 31%, and second, I had taken this part of the route backwards. I hit the brakes and slid, skidding, for about 30 feet before I regained my traction, then tiptoed the rest of the way down. And then, although I wasn't planning to tackle this until later in the summer, I decided I was here and I might as well try it now.

That perhaps wasn't the best idea because first, it was hard as hell, and second, traction was a real problem in the rain. As it was, I rode about a quarter, then stopped in a driveway to rest; then another quarter, then stopped to rest again. Keep in mind this is about a half mile climb, and I'm having to stop and rest every eighth of a mile! At the second rest stop I said hello to a woman who was working in her yard, and she said, "You're doing pretty good, most people don't make it this far." That heartened me, so I headed up again, but by the 3/4 mark, my arms were giving out and I stopped again before the last ramp. I was good for it, but at this point the road was so steep and so wet that I couldn't get started again! I tried five times and could barely even stand on the road, so I finally put on my cleat covers and walked the last bit.

That was discouraging and I felt mentally and physically beat up on the way home. But I will be back!

Saturday, June 21, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 33 minutes
Distance: 19.3 miles

Another quick ride after work today. I went to Rocky Butte and climbed it three times, testing my elevation tracker app through the tunnel!

On the way up the first time I met a guy standing on the side of the road with a disabled bike. I asked if he needed help but he had a broken spoke and already had a friend coming to pick him up. After finishing the climb on the first side and coming up the second side, he and his friend passed in a car and he shouted "Good work!" as a climbed, so that was nice.

Saturday, June 22, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 47 minutes
Distance: 19.8 miles

Ha ... my first experience with Brynwood Lane has been weighing on me, so today I went on a mission to complete that climb. I skipped Saltzman and went straight up Cornell and straight to the base of the climb with grim determination. Once I got there, I rode the first quarter, took a break, then the second quarter, took a break, then managed to do the second half without stopping. Whew!

I thought I was going to throw up toward the top, my arms almost gave out again, and I was physically exhausted riding back home but mentally I felt relieved. If I can get up this climb, then theoretically I can do the whole Ronde route.

Anyway, it's amazing what one climb can do to you if it's steep enough. I realized that I mainly use my glutes and calves for seated climbing, but standing climbing relies a lot more on the quads -- so my quads were SORE after this. I'd have to get back into weight training if I did much more of this. Meanwhile it might be nice to find a short but similarly steep climb close to home, just to spend some time strengthening my quads....

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Duration: 0 hours, 0 minutes
Distance: NA miles

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Distance: NA miles

Sunday, June 26, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Distance: 23.8 miles

I had a gig this morning, but was able to get home, eat a couple tamales I picked up there, and then get out for a nice ride. My plan today was to try the second section of the Ronde route; this one took me up some neighborhood roads parallel to Cornell and up to Pittock Mansion, then Barnes Road to Skyline (OVER the Burnside tunnel, cool) then down Burnside (fast!), then up through Washington Park (relatively easy) and up to the arboretum (watch that gravel section!) and up to Skyline again. Then I headed back down Burnside on the way home, because that was so much fun the first time.

I couldn't get up that first section of gravel in the arboretum without stopping, and I was getting pretty beat on the last section of the first climb on Barnes Road, but otherwise ... so far so good.

Friday, July 1, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 45 minutes
Distance: 25.2 miles

When I road Brynwood Lane the first time, I realized how much quadricep strength that kind of climbing required, so I started thinking about ways to build up that strength without going so far away. With that goal, I rode over the 205 bridge to Vancouver today because I thought I could do some laps up one of the short but steep climbs on the riverbank there. The first road I tried was too busy, but then I went down closer to the river where I found a very steep, 1-block climb. I did five laps up that, with no rest between, standing out of the saddle and using a larger gear the last two times. I'm glad nobody came out of the houses to see what was going on, because I was rattling up the climb and probably doing a little grunting, too!

Saturday, July 2, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Duration: 3 hours, 8 minutes
Distance: 29.7 miles

Today I rode the third of four segments of the Ronde route; this was the most confusing on the map because it looped around the same area a couple times, and indeed it's quite a squiggly mess on my Cycling Buddy app now! But it wasn't actually too bad to follow the Lion of Flanders markings. I only got really lost once (and had to make an extra long, steep climb as a result).

The only hard part of this ride was College Ave., which is the second steepest of the route after Brynwood. I was able to get up it without stopping, but that's good because there was really no place to stop. It's a very narrow road with high bushes on either side, AND it's actually a one-way, downhill route. So if a car had come along, I don't know what I would have done.

Anyway, I'm developing quite an affection for those Lion markers, and this climb had a sign on a light pole with the gradient (I can't remember what percent it said) just like on Brynwood. It's a little extra motivation and a point of pride to get up these.

Unfortunately, just like Brynwood this short climb sapped a surprising amount of my energy, so I was dragging after that. Overall, I don't fear this ride except for the effect that these two short but amazingly steep climbs are going to have on me.

Oh, here's a funny thing. The last few weeks I've been noticing a clicking sound when I pedal hard, and it's been getting worse. Today my shifting between the chainrings also started getting unreliable, so I was feeling pretty unlucky to have two problems at once. Then, on a long downhill I suddenly heard a tremendous rattling sound from my bottom bracket, like a bag of loose change. I finally pulled over to check it out, and all my chainring bolts had come loose, and were almost falling off. Yikes! I pulled out the toolkit to get those as tight as I could, and was relieved that I just had one problem after all ... they were all caused by the loose chainring bolts.

Saturday, July 4, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 47 minutes
Distance: 40.4 miles

Ah ... holidays. For Independence Day today, I took our new bike rack and rode out to Troutdale for a spin up and down Historic Highway 30 ... to Oneonta Gorge and back. I wore my Saxo Bank / Luxembourg Champion jersey and had a great time. Best of all, I could really feel a jump in my fitness compared to last year. The 6.5 mile climb up to the Women's Forum went by just like that! And the climb on the other side, from Latourelle Falls, which makes the same elevation gain in half the distance, wasn't too bad either. Not easy, but not painful like last year. Yay!

Friday, July 8, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 1 minutes
Distance: 14.4 miles

I just wanted a quick ride today, and I was getting tired of my usual after-work routes, so I decided to go over to the 205 path and ride down to Halsey, then come back up Tillamook and 72nd. Unfortunately, as I have discovered before and then forgotten, there is no connection between the bike path and Halsey on an overpass high above. I ended up going all the way down to Burnside, which took a little longer than I wanted. Oh well.

One interesting moment is when I was coming down a steep hill on Burnside toward the busy intersection at 82nd. I saw the green light, so I shifted into my big chainring, but then dropped the chain! With cars all around and at a high speed, I was able to jimmy it back on pretty quickly, and then crank on through the intersection before the light changed. I felt like such a pro.

Saturday, July 9, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 33 minutes
Distance: 24.5 miles

I wanted a medium ride today, so I headed up Ainsworth and Willamette Blvd. toward Kelly Point Park. Unfortunately, the bridge was still closed just before the park (which didn't stop a few cyclists from slipping through the fence and picking their way through the construction equipment to get across), so I had to backtrack all the way back to the Peninsula Path. Ah well. It was a warm and windy day and good to just do some flatland cranking.

Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Distance: 36.0 miles

I haven't been on Skyline Road much this year, with my focus on the Ronde route, so today I did my favorite loop up Cornell, then north to Macnamee, and back home on 30 and the St. Johns Bridge.

I've been curious about the dwarves on that old railroad trellis at the end of Macnamee, so I actually stopped this time to get a closer look and take some photos. It turns out they actually have a website -- -- or they did, there's no site there anymore. Too bad. They're cute.

When I got back to 30 I realized that once again, I was on the Seattle to Portland route. This time it was just kind of annoying. I wanted to ride at my own pass and not worry about passing hundreds of tired cyclists and negotiate every intersection with them. Fortunately they kept going on Rosa Parks when I jumped over to Ainsworth, so I got to take the last couple miles in peace.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 12 minutes
Distance: 16.0 miles

Just a typical after-work ride today, three laps up Rocky Butte. The only notable thing here is that, while flying down the backside for the last time, a rickety old van pulled out of the church parking lot right in front of me, then slowed to a crawl before each speed bump, which really killed my buzz. Then just before Fremont it came to a complete stop to talk to someone on the sidewalk, so I had to slow down again and pick my way around it. Then, after passing me on Fremont, it stopped at the stoplight at 82nd, and, as I approached, pulled to the right to completely block the bike lane so it wouldn't have to yield to me for a right turn. Man! What the heck was that driver's problem! Drivers here are hardly ever rude to me, but this one was three times in a row.

Wednesday, July 16, 2011 at 11:45 pm

Duration: 3 hours, 30 minutes
Distance: 48.3 miles

Although I'm still focused on that Ronde route, the Columbia Gorge ride is fun, too, and I've been curious to test myself on Larch Mountain again. So I once again put on the bike rack and headed to Troutdale.

Unfortunately, the ONLY road through that town was closed for a parade, so after messing around for 20 minutes I had to go back to I-84, where I discovered that the next exit is a much more direct route to the Gorge ... and goes past the Lewis and Clark Recreation Area, which has a much nicer parking lot, with a bathroom -- bonus! So that worked out. But I was feeling anxious because I had to leave for a gig at 5:30 and I needed to get back in time to get ready.

The morning had been rainy and the roads were still wet in the Gorge, but I just headed out in normal clothing plus an insulated jersey. The ride profile, as I kept telling myself with some pride, was 2.5 miles of flat, followed by 6.5 miles of climbing to the Women's Forum, followed by 14.5 miles of climbing to the top of Larch Mountain, and then back again. Wowsers! Actually the first few miles of the Larch Mountain climb were rolling, and even the main part of the climb had some breaks in it. But the last third of the climb was relentlessly uphill. Not too steep, I could stay in the saddle the whole time, but my lower back started hurting really bad in the last few miles.

However, as I've been noticing already this year, I'm in much better shape compared to last year. I didn't feel particularly tired at the top and my back settled down after sitting for a few minutes. But then the real challenge came ... it was 10 degrees colder at the top, and as I headed down it started to rain. So the first half of the descent was very cold! My fingers and toes went numb and I had to take all the corners fairly conservatively.

Then suddenly, I dropped down out of the cloud and got some sunshine and dry roads, so I got to have a little fun at the end after all. The feeling in my toes didn't come back until I got back to the car, though!

All in all, though, it was a great ride and I got back in plenty of time for the gig. I'd like to do this one again this year -- hopefully on a fully sunny day.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 3 minutes
Distance: 14.5 miles

Today I did the ride that I tried to do last week, taking the 205 path to Halsey. I knew where to get off the path this time, but it was very confusing getting over to Halsey. I ended up doing a lot of backtracking ... for future reference, just go to the end of the bus terminal and take ... Pacific, is it? I forgot already ... and over to the main N/S street there. It's kind of a drag, but a nicer ride back once you find it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 59 minutes
Distance: 36.1 miles

I didn't get to ride last weekend because I had an out-of-state gig, but as a bonus Cyndi and Randy were in town briefly today, and after dropping Cyndi off at the airport, Randy came back to take a ride with me. I'd been looking forward to this for a while and wanted to recommend the 30/MacNamee/Skyline Cornell route, but I was afraid we wouldn't have time. But he was up for it so we went for it. As it turned out, we had just enough time, returning home at dusk.

Randy had just finished the Cascade Classic two days before, so he was in great shape and looked great on the bike. But when we hit MacNamee (measured on his computer between 9 and 12%) he was complimentary to me for my ability to keep up. I rode it a little faster than usual with him there, but felt good overall and totally under control. Then when we hit Skyline we really cruised ... the relatively low gradients there felt like flats after MacNamee. Whee! We picked up another rider about halfway down to Cornell and chatted with him about different routes before he turned back toward town at Cornell.

We, however, had agreed to try the Brynwood climb. Randy had watched the Ronde video I sent him and was curious to try it. This made me motivated to try without breaks! But as we approached I thought maybe I'd take a break at the first corner. As it happened, Randy danced right up it while I had to take two breaks at the same spots as last time. I didn't rest for nearly as long as before, but the last, steepest part almost undid me and I had to growl pretty loudly as I fought to keep my bike upright and my pedals turning through the last corner. In the meantime, Randy had ridden back down to try it again! But he later said he regretted it, and was pretty out of it after the second time up. Well, I don't know anyone who would have tried that, so I was impressed!

We bombed down Skyline and back into town feeling pretty good. Randy was excited about the ride and Portland in general, even stopping to look at a house for sale at one point. Heh ... maybe he'll visit again and we can ride in the Gorge next time.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 32 minutes
Distance: 18.6 miles

I was out of town again last weekend -- doing some blues sightseeing and attending a family reunion in Mississippi -- so I haven't ridden in over a week. Today I was eager to get back into it and decided to go to Rocky Butte and try five laps instead of my normal two or three. It started well enough, but coming down the front side after the second climb, I saw a sinkhole in the road just before the tunnel -- it was about a foot in diameter and at least six inches deep -- and a split second later hit it dead on. I had enough time to imagine the crash, and when I didn't crash I had enough time to imagine one or both of my wheels being destroyed, before I miraculously came to a controlled stop. As it was, both wheels were fine -- not even out of true, dang, Ksyriums! -- but I hit so hard that my handlebars and brake levers were jolted out of position. And my arms and back weren't feeling too good, either.

I quickly readjusted my handlebars but couldn't remember how to locate the bolt on the brake levers (I looked it up when I got home, duh, it was easy) so riding was pretty awkward after that. And to tell the truth, I felt a bit beat up. I ended up just doing one more climb and then rolling home. Whew, I still can't believe my wheels survived, though.

The next morning I called Portland's "sinkhole hotline" (distinct from the pothole hotline) to report what I saw. The woman who answered was surprised but took it seriously and said they'd send a crew to check it out.

Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 7 minutes
Distance: 14.4 miles

My third weekend trip in a row took me to San Francisco for a jug band festival, so it's been a long time since a serious ride, with just that "bumpy" trip down Rocky Butte in the meantime. Today I eased into it with a spin over to the 205 path, then down to Burnside and back home.

Saturday, August 13, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 33 minutes
Distance: 39.4 miles

I'm ready to resume my Ronde training, but today I decided to get in some miles at a medium intensity, so I rode to Camas again. It's a nice ride ... some decent hills and very little traffic. I saw one very serious guy filling a 5-gallon bucket with blackberries on Old Evergreen Highway -- not a bad idea! And one of these days I should figure out how to ride up to the bluff above Highway 14, just west of town, that looks like some nice climbing.

Sunday, August 14, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Duration: 3 hours, 17 minutes
Distance: 29.9 miles

I still haven't ridden the entire Ronde route, so today I went to try the fourth and final section, starting with the College Avenue climb and continuing from there to the OHSU campus, through some labyrinthine neighborhoods and finishing at Council Crest. This time when I rode up College, a car came down from the opposite way, so I had to pull into a driveway and stop to let it pass, otherwise I'm sure I could have done it in one shot again.

My confidence fell quite a bit by the end of the ride, though. This last bit has some real biting climbs, and this section is even harder to read off the map than section 3, with more double-backs and repeated sections -- and the first turn I've come to that actually had no lion to guide the way. It's demoralizing to keep stopping and checking the map, and even more so to have to turn around and ride extra to get back on track. I made it to Council Crest, but I never did find a couple sections, so I returned home feeling rather pessimistic about this whole adventure.

Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 55 minutes
Distance: 13.8 miles

Just an uneventful mid-week ride on the Denver/Peninsula/Marine Drive loop, loosening up for another weekend of hard riding.

Saturday, August 20, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 33 minutes
Distance: 18.5 miles

I had a Spodee-o's gig this afternoon, so I couldn't do an epic ride, but I did go to Mount Tabor to do some climbing. Usually when I go there I do a few laps of the Mount Hood Classic criterium course, but today I tried something new. The hardest part of my ride is usually before the entrance to the park, on Yamhill, so I decided to try riding from the base of the mountain to the edge of the park via each of the four entrances: Yamhill at the northeast, Harrison, Salmon and Yamhill again at the northwest. The two Yamhills were definitely harder than the other two. But this was a nice variation on a nice ride ... and left just enough time to get ready for the gig.

Saturday, August 21, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Duration: 3 hours, 35 minutes
Distance: 32.7 miles

Since I had such a hard time finding the route of Ronde Pt. 4 last weekend, I figured I'd better go back and try again today. This time I bypassed College and jumped into the ride after that, up through what is becoming my favorite section above PSU and on into the labyrinth.

I did a little better today, but I still missed a section, and eventually came upon a lion pointing in the opposite direction. What the.... While I stood there staring at my map, two riders came up the hill and I gave them kind of a wry smile. One glanced back and yelled, "Do you need help finding something?" and I said, "Oh, I'm just looking for this Ronde thing." "The what?" "The Ronde..." "Oh!" he said, "I was just telling my buddy about that. Just follow the lions on the road!" Yeah, right.

I ended up heading back down the way they had come up and found the route I was supposed to have taken ... an unpaved hiking path connecting two sections of road. That's when I realized an important rule about this route -- ignore dead end signs. I must have seen a dead end sign and turned, when in fact I should have gone straight and connected with this path. Sigh. As a consolation prize, I got to see my new favorite house, a stunning Italian villa with a five car garage and huge windows overlooking the city ... and got a few new perspectives on the tower at Council Crest, too.

Overall I felt better about things today. Knowing what to expect makes all the difference ... like that crazy, rocky, off-road descent on 18th, which feels like going through someone's back yard until it turns into the edge of a cliff ... yeah, it was nice not to be taken by surprise by that again.

Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Duration: 0 hours, 55 minutes
Distance: 14.1 miles

I'm getting into a nice routine this month, with a mid-week warmup ride and then harder rides on Saturday and Sunday (one or both scheduled around all my music gigs), with the ultimate goal of riding the entire Ronde route ... which I'm now targeting for September 10. I decided to do it on a Saturday so I can spend Sunday recovering! Anyway, today I rode up the Columbia River path to I-205 and back.

Saturday, August 27, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Duration: 2 hours, 52 minutes
Distance: 31.1 miles

I don't want to be too distracted by navigation when I ride the Ronde, so today I decided to go and try that last section one more time. Aha ... this time I figured out the missing lion, the dead end leading to the (very bumpy) hiking path and even got a handle on old Bertha, the final and quite steep climb of the route.

I did have one mishap ... I had been looking forward to Terwilliger Road, which is a relatively easy, long and steady climb that is a nice place for recovery (using a climb to recover, that's what it's come to). So I reached that and started to relax when I suddenly saw a lion on the road, pointing me off to the left and down a steep ramp. I could hardly believe it, so I checked my map ... sure enough, the nice steady climb is actually interrupted by a little detour down through a neighborhood, the only purpose of which seems to be to come back up a short climb that provides a full view of Council Crest far above. Sigh. This is a devious route, to be sure.

But overall, this is feeling pretty good now ... or maybe that's just because I rode early in the morning than usual, when it wasn't very hot!

Sunday, August 28, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Duration: 4 hours, 15 minutes
Distance: 63.6 miles

With all the climbing rides I've been doing, I almost forgot that the Ronde will actually be the longest ride I've done this year, so I figured I'd better get some "LSD" in, too. This is partly training for my legs and partly for my stomach and its ability to digest a huge amount of carbohydrates while riding. So I loaded up my pockets with energy bars and gels (and graham crackers -- some real food is nice) and headed to Camas and something on the map called Washougal River Road beyond that.

This river road ended up having some distinct pros and cons. On the good side, it follows a river for about ten miles, so it's a long, gentle climb followed by a long, gentle descent. I guess that's the only good thing. On the bad side, it's filled with oversized pickup trucks and drivers who didn't seem to care I was on the road ... perhaps this is because the river was filled with tubers and swimmers and during the "off season" it would be a better ride. But also on the bad side, the road condition was terrible, with a construction method that seemed to consist of laying down some hot tar and then dumping rocks on top of it. V-e-r-y b-u-m-p-y. I think it actually destroyed my rear tire ... on the way back I started noticing a wump wump wump as if there were dips in the road, but as I progressed across a few different road surfaces, I realized it was my bike. But I was on a mission and didn't even want to know what the problem was, so I just kept riding. When I got home, I dismounted and saw that my rear tire had developed large bulges in three different spots. Yikes. My first thought was to get a refund on the tire, but after realizing it's six months old I'm going to just have to write that off.

After all this, though, there wasn't much "slow" in the LSD and I rode pretty steadily fast the whole time. That was nice. In fact, the limiting factor was neck and shoulder pain. Eating was no problem, and I ate nearly all of what seemed like surely an excessive amount of food when I set out. So, it's another good step toward my summer goal.

Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 1 minutes
Distance: 14.0 miles

Today I returned to Rocky Butte for the first time since I slammed into that sinkhole there a few weeks ago. I was satisfied to see that a very large area of the road had been torn up, so it must have been something fairly serious ... a water main leak, I guess. Anyway, I just did two climbs and took it easy on the descents since I was still riding that bulging rear tire. Wump wump wump.

Saturday, September 3, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Duration: 4 hours, 26 minutes
Distance: 45.5 miles

All right, this is getting serious now ... it's my last weekend of training before my Ronde attempt. It's Labor Day weekend, so I have three days with a wide open schedule. My plan for today was to ride the first three of the four Ronde sections ... 3/4 of the total ride. And it went great! Saltzman was surprisingly hard (lower back pain from so much seated climbing) but Brynwood wasn't any harder than usual and didn't seem to sap me particularly badly for the rest of the ride. Most of these sections were feeling pretty familiar now, and a big part of my attention was focused on planning the big day and decided where to take rest stops. Turns out the 1/3 point is at the Arboretum, where there's a water fountain and bathroom, so that's perfect.

The only thing not so perfect is that I temporarily replaced my rear tire with an older one I had on my backup wheels, and that did not have nearly the traction of what I'd been riding. I was sliding out on Brynwood and sliding out on the gravel climb up to the arboretum. It made me appreciate my newer tires and made me happier about paying an express shipping charge to get a replacement.

Oh, and this is the first ride where I did Brynwood and College both, and I did feel it by the time I got to College. I had to stop and rest on that one, which I hadn't ever before. I can live with that.

Overall, though, I felt as optimistic as ever at the end of this ride. In fact, I was tempted to just do the whole thing ... I thought I probably could have ... but that would be a bit anticlimactic, wouldn't it? All in good time ... I'll see how it goes tomorrow.

Sunday, September 4, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Duration: 4 hours, 34 minutes
Distance: 44.2 miles

Today I continued my final prep by riding sections 2-4 of the Ronde ... so now I've ridden 3/4 of it, two days in a row. I have to say I wasn't feeling as energetic after today's ride as I was yesterday. I don't know if that's because I was tired from yesterday, or if the final section is the hardest ... I really hope it's the former. The good news is I think I finally got all the navigation right, and I even tackled Bertha with gusto and got a taste of the rush that will come from climbing that for the last time next week. (At the same time, my cautious side wondered just how much harder that would be with Saltzman and Brynwood in my legs.)

Anyway, these were two good, back to back rides, and I think the best thing I can do now is rest and recover for next weekend. So instead of riding tomorrow I've planned a mini holiday trip with Sally, which will be a nice break from all this work!

Friday, September 9, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Duration: 1 hours, 6 minutes
Distance: 13.2 miles

I could probably use one more day of rest, but I do feel ready for tomorrow. Today I just took a warmup spin on the 205 path (with a couple decent hills) before coming home to a classic pre-event dinner of spaghetti with marinara sauce and green veggies.

Yesterday I mounted my new rear tire and gave the whole bike a cleaning and lube. It's funny, the bike has gotten noticeably more beat up this year (using a car rack is partly to blame) but still functions as well as ever and still looks sleek and sexy to me, too. Well, old buddy, tomorrow is the big day, don't let me down!

Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 11:10 am

Duration: 5 hours, 5 minutes
Distance: 49.3 miles

Mission accomplished! Today I completed the entire Ronde PDX route for the first time ... whew. I rode conservatively and felt good for the first two-thirds, but then I started dragging in the Westwood area (between Terwilliger and Sunset), and by the last two climbs I was nauseous (either from too many energy gels or just too much climbing) and disoriented and only some kind of unconscious will kept me moving. It felt like an out-of-body experience -- or more accurately, my mind shut down and left my body there to keep working. And I had actually thought I'd saved enough energy to push the pace and finish strong on the last two climbs! Oh well, I got it done, and as I coasted down toward the entry to Council Crest park, I got choked up and tears welled up under my sunglasses. What a ride.

I took my usual two stops on Brynwood (the resident of driveway rest stop #2 was pulling out and thankfully gave me a big smile and wave) and one on College (I had considered riding non-stop, but ended up pulling into a driveway just as the mailman came around the corner down the hill), and my two planned rest stops on the route (for 10 instead of 15 minutes to make up for miscellaneous stoplight stops and things like that on the route). The final section might have been easier if I'd taken a rest stop there, but I was so close to my 5 hour target that I didn't want to add any more time. And I didn't feel like eating or drinking or walking or anything else at that point ... if I'd stopped I might not have been able to get started again. When I did stop at the end of the ride I was quite dizzy, lay down and couldn't get up for five minutes or so. Ouch!

On my longer rides this summer I've noticed that each ride has a "limiting factor," or a single weakness that slows me down before other forms of fatigue set in. For example, when I rode Larch Mountain it was lower back pain, and when I rode to Washougal River it was neck and shoulder pain. On this ride I had expected it to be hand or foot pain from all the hard-pushing, out-of-saddle climbing, but in fact it turned out to be stomach upset toward the end of the ride. A few times I thought I might actually vomit, and when I felt like I should have been eating or drinking more, I just couldn't. Perhaps it's the different brand of energy gels I had brought (I prefer Clif Shots but was tempted by Gu's wider variety of flavor choices) or just too many gels or just too much climbing. My legs had a definite hollowness toward the end, too, but the stomach is what really dragged at my motivation.

I did have a few light moments. I was able to make that sharp right turn on the steep gravel climb into the Hoyt Arboretum without putting a foot down, for the first time today. And climbing up to Fairmont after leaving Washington Park, another rider passed me and said, "I didn't expect to see one of the Schleck brothers out here today!" (I was wearing my Saxo Bank / Luxembourg national champion's jersey, which Andy signed for my at the Tour of California last spring.) I had a bit of worry when I realized my second rest stop had no water fountain, but I found another water fountain and got a bottle refill on Terwilliger Road. And my bike worked fine except for the return of the front wheel creak -- which I fixed by tightening the skewer again -- and a left cleat creak, probably brought on my this week's cleaning, and temporarily mitigated with a squirt from my water bottle, a trick I picked up on recently.

The temperature reached 91 according to my computer, but the heat wasn't really a factor ... much of the ride is shaded. I was continually thankful that I wasn't doing it in the rain, because that would have made some of the climbs and most of the descents much more difficult.

When I reached the finish, Sally was waiting for me as planned with the bag I had packed for myself -- cold drinks, fruit and a change of clothes -- and after relaxing for an hour and taking some photos, we went out for pizza. I didn't have much appetite, but drank a lot of water and cola. When we got home, she presented me with a box of chocolate covered "nuts" and I was feeling normal enough to enjoy a few of those while we watched a movie and chilled out. Tomorrow I don't have to go anywhere, so I'll just be able to rest while I catch up on some music chores and maybe even take a nap.

By the way, the Cycling Buddy app on my iPhone shows 7422 feet of climbing and an average speed of 9.64 mph. Also, here's a blog post about the ride, including some rider reactions that pretty much match my experience, and a nice summary with some funny notes.

© 2002 Arlo Leach, all rights reserved.