26 August 2008

Portland Century

I rode in the Portland Century ride on Sunday, and the swelling in my ass (thank you Boudreaux's Butt Paste!) has now gone down enough to allow me to sit and write about my experience.

For those of you that don't know, a century ride is an organized, fully-supported (rest stops with supplies, support vehicles, and marked courses) 100-mile ride.

It was my second century (but not the second time I've ridden 100 miles in a day. I've done that several times, but not with support). The last one I rode was the Tri-State Seacoast Century in 2003. My total time (including rests) was 7 hours, 15 minutes. My ride time (the time spent in the saddle, chaffing my ass to bits) was 6 hours, 35 minutes.

It was a perfect day for riding; cool, and slightly overcast. I started the ride at 7:30 at PSU in downtown Portland. The ride goes across the Willamette and hops onto the Springwater Corridor for most of the first twenty miles. I hopped in behind a guy that I'm pretty sure was a pro rider (he was totally decked out in Hammer jersey, shorts and socks, had a sweet ride, and crazy sculpted legs). I drafted behind him (we were moving at about 25 mph; I could feel him pulling me along. If I fell too far behind, I'd have to pedal like mad to catch back up, but then could rest once I was back in his slipstream) for most of the length of the Springwater until we reached a cluster of riders that he was able to deftly maneuver around. I was not so lucky.

We started to climb at about mile twenty, and then dropped down a fun descent around mile twenty-five (see the map and elevation profile to the right, or here. Thanks to Matt Haughey). This is where all of the riding in the Hillsboro Hills this summer came in handy. I blew by people huffing their way up to the second rest stop (I skipped the first one) at Eagle Fern Park. I pulled into Eagle Fern Park to re-fill my water bottles, eat strawberry shortcake, a peanut butter sandwich, a banana, and a Hammer bar.

As I was leaving the rest stop, a guy was entering and screaming at someone in a acr. I couldn't really hear what his problem was, but I did hear him ask the driver if he wanted to get out of car and discuss it (this was no hot-head, young rider; he was easily in his 60's). The driver did not take him up on his offer and drove away. I, and everyone around me assumed that the driver had not given the biker enough room on the road.

About a half hour later, while riding a narrow, winding road, this same biker came upon a group of us riding together. Everytime a car would approach from behind, someone would yell "car back" and we would all get a in a single file line to allow the car to pass. Not this guy. He would ride out into the middle of the road to block the cars. At one point, someone yelled, "hey man, car back. Get into single file!" To which, he responded, "fuck them. They need to learn to share the road." I guess he didn't get the irony in his statement.

It's riders like that that piss off people in cars, and make them hate the biking community.

At mile fifty, I went to hop off my bike for a moment, but my right pedal wouldn't clip-out, so I fell on my side and bent my derailler. It made it so that I couldn't utilize my lowest three gears. A total bummer on the hills I was dealing with at the moment! Luckily, there was mechanical support at the Fireside Retreat rest stop at mile 58 (of course, that was the end of the climbing).

The mechanics got my bike all fixed up (sort of.... I think I need a whole new drivetrain) so I could finish the ride.

The ride from the Fireside Retreat rest stop to the next stop at Blue Lake Park was mostly downhill and brought us along the Historic Columbia Highway and through Troutdale and it's lovely outlet malls. I was feeling a little tired, but still pretty good.

The rest stop at Blue Lake Park was at mile 73. After that, we rode on the bike path that goes along the Columbia River. That part was the worst. I was starting to get tired and had to deal with some pretty high winds coming off the "Mighty Columbia" as well as families out for rides and walks on the bike trail.

By the time I reached mile 90, I was pretty sure my ass had fallen off, but realized I was now only 10 miles from the beer. The ride through the wastewater treatment center was almost enough to dissuade me from my longing for the beer. Almost.

The last few miles were through downtown Portland, which was kind of fun, but difficult due to a combination of the traffic, my low energy levels and traffic lights (the constant stopping, unclipping, starting, clipping back in... repeat... was pretty hard). I just kept thinking to myself, "beer... beer..."

As I approached the finish I saw Nikki and the boys. Liam was jumping up and down, and Camper was pointing at me yelling, "dadda, bike! Dadda, bike!"

It was a wonderful finish; I had my family there to greet me, free beer, an incredible salmon dinner, more free beer, and a great goodie bag that included beer and coffee.

18 August 2008

Tour de Fat

Originally uploaded by Nikki McLeod
We checked out the Tour de Fat this weekend. The Tour is an event sponsored by New Begium Brewing (makers of Fat Tire beer) and is a fun celebration of all things bike.

They have crazy, tricked out bikes (as seen to the right), beer, bands, beer, a bike parade, beer, a New Orleans-style funeral procession for a car, beer, The Sprockettes, beer, a slow ride competition, beer, bike giveaways (like, for people that are willing to trade their care for a bike), and did I mention beer?

There was a good crowd (I love the Portland, tattooed bike punk scene), despite the 100 degree, oven-like day. For respites, the kids ducked out to the Salmon Street Spring fountain.... and I drank beer (I highly recommend the Mothership Wit!).

You can see my set of photos from the day here and Nikki's photos here.

13 August 2008

Bald Peak Ride

Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
In need of a different route, today I rode up and over Fern Hill and around the other side of Spring and Iowa Hills, passing through Gaston and Laurelwood before climbing up to Bald Peak State Park.

The route was 36 miles, with a little over 2600 feet of climbing and descending (click the "Elevation Profile" under the "Show" tab).

I've ridden much of the route before when I went around Hagg Lake. The scenery is beautiful, rolling wheat fields, nurseries and open space. The majority of the ride is big crank spinning, with speeds averaging about 20 mph.

The climb up and over Fern Hill is relatively easy, with a fun, winding downhill. The climb up to Bald Peak out of Laurelwood is one of the toughest I've ever encountered. My bike computer tells me that the road incline in some places was a 22% grade! For the most part, however, it's a sustained 12% grade for two miles, with a vertical gain of over a thousand feet.

View Larger Map

The view from the top of Bald Peak is amazing, with views of Mt. Ranier, Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson.

10 August 2008

Providence Bridge Pedal

Fremont Bridge
Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
This week's Sunday family ride was the Providence Bridge Pedal. We rode the 6-bridge, 14 mile, family ride, along with thousands of other riders.

It was estimated that there were over 17,000 participants.

We had a blast and didn't experience any of the congestion that has marred the event in past years. There were only two spots where traffic moved so slowly we had to walk our bikes.

It was so cool being able to ride over bridges that are normally highway bridges reserved for cars. It was fun just being up on the Marquam and Fremont Bridges with all my fellow bikers.

Like all gatherings of humans, 90% of the people were great, and fun to be with, 5% were kinda moody, 4% were idiots, and 1% were just plain assholes. That's life.

After the ride, we went into the Bite of Oregon and enjoyed some good beer (so deserved), fine food and fun music.

Another successful McLeod family Sunday Ride!

Check out all my pictures here.