Monthly Archives: February 2014

Guest Post: Wet and Wonderful

Though I haven’t been doing much in the way of organized randonneuring lately, guest writer Dieter Loibner can fill in the gaps for me:) Get psyched!:)

Oh, so February. Coulda slept in. Coulda watched the Olympics. Or the NBA All Star weekend. Or read a book. But nooo. Up at Zero Dark Thirty, in the saddle an hour later, just in time to catch the first raindrops on what promised to be wild day. Why, the question was posed, would one ride a bicycle 140 miles in the rain?

Because, really, what else is there to do?

the nutty side(The nutty side: Yeah, it was that early. Yeah the numbers were that bad. And yeah, these are Celsius degrees on my weather app…)

After getting angrily honked at by the only car on the road, Hughart and I presented ourselves at the Bybee Starbucks for coffee, sugar and a 0600 time stamp before hustling off on Dave Parsons’ Volcanoes vs. Farmland 200. Some smart wimps did it on Feb 1, on a lovely day by all accounts. We on the other hand picked the lousiest forecast of the month, figuring that we need to get in a tough ride so we can enjoy the soft ones even more.

Dampness turned to wetness and into sogginess by the time we checked in at the Barton control. Pace was slow, but spirits were high and after restocking some carbs, we tackled the yo-yo portion of this loop. Fisher’s Mill, Ridge Road, Buckner Creek, up and down, up and down. The volcanic hinterlands tested the cardio on the inclines (11% tops, per Hughart’s gee-whiz instruments) and the cojones while schussing down into the gorges, dodging potholes and patches of loose gravel.

photo 1(Big hill, small wheels: Mr. Hughart in full orange combat gear, conquering the Boring lava fields. Credit: Dieter Loibner)

On the descents we got lashed by mad drops that came hard and fast. My “waterproof” gloves had a rabid case of continence: the water that went in never drained. And my Gucci bike bell got so wet, it lost its bing. But rain can be fun too, if you learn to listen to the incessant drumming on the helmet cover, the jacket, the pants and the map sleeve. Random splatter eventually becomes a symphony of drip.

By the time we reached Canby we were nearly in the hole, but switched into cruise mode to traverse the flatlands, the Champoeg State Heritage Area before rolling into Newberg. Crossing the Willamette via the St. Paul Hwy Bridge on 219 was the only unpleasant stretch of the ride, and mercifully short at that.

Lunch at Chapters restored caloric balance and core temp, which made the next leg to North Plains a cinch. With a brisk southerly tailwind we got there presto to fortify us once more for that last climb.

But turning east, the friendly following breeze suddenly had become a raging gale that wanted to blow us sideways. We lowered the right shoulder to lean into it as the power lines were humming in ever-higher notes to urge us on.

Turning left onto Old Cornelius Pass at the Rock Creek Tavern, and starting up the hill with water cascading from drainage pipes and bubbling up from storm drains, a strange sensation of euphoria took hold. There was nowhere else to be and nothing else to do. One with the road, the ride and the rain. Nirvana? Nah,  that’s been flogged to death. Let’s just call it a real happy moment.

On Skyline the steady rain was upgraded to Ogygian deluge. With liquid matter splashing up from the road, it felt like riding through Salmon Street Springs. And then the water stopped. Poof. Someone flipped a switch. In the matter of seconds, it went from downpour to blue sky. Ha, the opportunist in me suddenly was wide awake: Time to stop. Time to change into the dry jacket and gloves that were stashed in the saddlebag.

More (dry) happiness on the descent of Germantown Rd. and coasting back into the city. Got honked at again, but on a friendly note. A car went by, all its occupants waving. Maybe they liked Day-Glo orange helmet covers.

Screen shot 2014-02-25 at 10.55.22 AM(Lovely loop: 200 pretty kilometers, even when ridden on a dog of a day)

Toward the end, clearly under the influence of bike brain, we rode down Milwaukie, which is barely tolerable in light traffic, let alone at evening rush hour. It’s the prescribed route, but next time we’ll take the Springwater path to Spokane and backtrack to Bybee and the finish. It might add one bonus mile, but it’s a much better way to end this lovely loop in style.

Yes, it was wet. And it was magic.

Glad I didn’t sleep in.

 

Hagg Lake Mud Run (and muddy it was indeed:)

Biking and running are the perfect exercise soulmates. At least, this non-medical expert thinks so:) They use enough of the same muscles to complement each other, and when you’ve pounded your running body into the ground biking is a nice, low-impact way to stretch out and still get exercise. I know that when I’m really going after it biking (on a tour, say) I maintain my running fitness even without running–and when I’m running, I stay in good cycling shape.

Doing both is what makes me a happy Honnold.

hagg lake mud run(see? So happy!:) at the Hagg Lake finish line)

Regardless, I tend to stay away from organized runs. Not for any reason in particular, just that running is something I do over the course of normal life, and I don’t feel like I need the fanfare (or the cost) of a run with starting lines and music and aid stations and finishing medals to get motivated.

That being said, I am a huge fan of the Hagg Lake Mud Run. This is a muddy, muddy run around Hagg Lake, with both a 50k and a 25k option (and, for the running badasses, a 50k AND 25k option, since the races happen on Saturday and Sunday respectively).

Some years, it’s just a somewhat goopy trail run, but this year it was pretty darn epic.

hagg lake mud run(compared to many, I was actually fairly clean at the end–though some of that is because running through puddles made for a quick and continual wash-on-the-run:)

I managed to fall on my ass twice in the 15 and a half miles, which, all things considered, I thought was pretty good. I certainly wasn’t as crazy muddy as some.

But this kind of run makes me super happy. It’s not a fast course by any means, and it’s not a run to try to get a super awesome time on–but that’s why I like it, because trying to race isn’t what I like about running. I like being in pretty places, enjoying myself outside. And there is something particularly awesome about tromping through mud puddles and skiing down mud slopes in a barely-controlled tumble.

Plus, the people who are attracted to this run tend to be pretty nice. It’s hard to be a pretentious ass when you spend so much time falling on your ass. :)

So for those of you runners or sort-of runners out there, I’d say keep Hagg Lake in mind. It’s the one organized run I consistently consider (and often do) during the year, and it’s a rockin’ good time. Professional pictures from this year’s race should be up soon at the Hagg Lake picture site, should you want to get a feel for what it’s like (and three more pictures from my mom here:) Check it!

Valentine Bike Picture of the Day:)

Awwwww shucks. After I finally bought a saddle for my new bikey from Gladys Bikes (home of the saddle library), I was scheming an awesome post about them.

But they beat me to the love! My new saddle and I stopped at a store by Gladys before I went home, and when I came out, this was on my bike:

soma bike love

The other side, which I didn’t take a picture of, says “love [actually, it's a picture of a heart, just like above], Gladys Bikes.” So fricken cute!

Best bike valentine ever! :) Thanks, Gladys Bikes! :)

Snow: the accidental incentive to carfree living:)

Don’t laugh. I know the snow that we’re getting here in Portland is not, in the scheme of things, very much snow at all. But for a city where it rarely snows and sticks, it’s pretty darn exciting.

Portland snow(getting buried!)

snow--really(Incredulous. But psyched)

Snow that sticks around for a bit is pretty awesome, for many reasons. My favorite, though, is the way it transforms public space. Snow is the great democratizer: all of a sudden, the definitions between road, sidewalk, lawn, path, public, private are erased, all blanketed by the same beautiful white.

Division Street snow(without the stop sign, hard to tell where the street starts)

And I think it’s that magical transformation of the world that encourages everyone to get outside.

It’s possible that Portland has more people than average who like to take advantage of unusual circumstances to go out and play (this may, in fact, be one reason I love Portland so much). And something abnormal like this not only brings out all those people, but also fundamentally alters the landscape.

The pictures of cars up there? All parked. As I’ve walked around the world for the last two days–and let me tell you, I’ve done a lot of walking:)–it has been so quiet. The very few cars that drive past make a muffled whoosh over the snow instead of the normal roar. But really, it seems like no one is driving.

Instead, there are people skiing, walking, jogging, biking, walking their dogs, sledding even down the middle of the streets. (Not that the streets look that different from the sidewalks, of course, or the yards, with all that snow.) Parks like Mt Tabor and Laurelhust turn into giant snow playgrounds. Neighbors you would never expect it from dig up their cross-country skis and slide right off their porches, out to explore.

Mt Tabor in the snow(with all its hills, Mt Tabor has been a super popular sled-ski-snowboard spot:)

I don’t know that this would keep up if the snow lasted more than a few days. As people got used to it, they’d probably start to venture forth in their cars again, start being more annoyed than enchanted with the wintery wonderland that makes things so much slower, softer, peaceful. But for now, I love that the world and the streets are full of people, people who you can smile at and at make eye contact with, people who move at the same speed as you, people hidden behind layers of fleece and wool rather than metal and motors.

People may not be giving up their cars for any reason than that they want to go play in the snow–like I said, the accidental incentive to being carfree–but it sure is nice when everyone wants to be outside:)

(more snow pictures here)