I Can’t Drive 55- Test Of Endurance 7/6/13

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SWEEP – A rider that follows the back of a field of racers on the race course and helps any stranded riders to make sure all riders are accounted for (we also picked up spent gel packets found on the trail).

The Broom Wagon-Mielle & Remy

The Broom Wagon-Mielle & Remy

Sweeping a race sounds easy enough until you realize your slowest day is still faster than the slowest beginner.  But, it’s not all about ME.  I know, what racer ever says that at a race?  Keeping that thought in mind makes the task at hand much more enjoyable, reminding me and my teammate Remy, that we are here so other people can have a fun and safe day on the mountain bike. 

“Keep an eye on that Japanese guy”, says race organizer Mike Ripley. As Remy and I wait for the last straggling racers to start, we only know that ‘the Japanese guy’ rented a bike and rode from Corvallis to Philomath (19 miles) this morning. He doesn’t speak English very well and he was wearing tennis shoes and a fanny pack. Check in asked him which race he wanted to sign up for (25 mi, 50 mi, 62 mi ) and his answer in broken English was “which one is harder?” That answer earned him the 100k (62 mile) race. You never know, he could crush it.

Summertime and the weather is fine

Summertime and the weather is fine

Sun shining and temps in the 70’s, Remy and I chatted, doing our best to ride as slowly as possible on the climbs. Soon enough we found ourselves right behind a woman in pink.  Not wanting to ruin her experience, our pace slowed but short of stopping for 10 minutes at a time, we just kept catching her. So it went. Finally I struck up a conversation and said, “I hope we are not too distracting back here.” Luckily, she found our conversation entertaining.

With 4400 feet of climbing ahead of us, I had to know why our newbie (Jeannie)  decided to race today, posing the question as multiple choice.

“You decided to race today because A. Your husband thought you would enjoy it, B. You wanted a new challenge or C. You thought it would be fun.”  Jeannie answered with , “Or D. I had too much wine 2 months ago when he brought it up and I said yes.”  Her husband was racing the long course so she made the best of her drunken decision, vowing to never again agree to do such things when imbibing.

Jeannie making it happen

Jeannie making it happen

Other than playing tag with Jeannie, our day on the trail was pretty quiet with only a few of the longer route riders coming by after a couple hours.  Trail conditions were the best I’ve seen them in a couple of years so we took advantage of the fun downhill single-track and waited a good long while before descending behind our riders. The leisurely pace allowed for MANY pit stops and time for photos (Bulldog TANK greeted us at Aid Station 1).

TANK keeping watch on the Aid Station

TANK keeping watch on the Aid Station

At 7 miles to go, Remy found Sho (pronounced SHEW) sitting on the side of the trail but he refused any water or food she offered.  She returned to where I was taking a ‘natural break’ around the corner to tell me that he didn’t look too good and he didn’t have a water bottle. When we returned he was gone. My thoughts were, ‘Ripley is going to have to carry this guy out of here at some pointAt 5 miles to go, part way through the beginning of Collar Bone Alley trail, Sho is back on the side of the trail, rear wheel off like he had a flat.

“No pedal. Broke”, he says to me. I asked if he had a flat but handing me his wheel, it is not flat. “Did you crash?” I ask.  “No crash. No pedal, broke.” Hmmm. Looking over the bike, I moved the deraillieur hanger and noticed the chain had fallen to the inside. Yeah, no pedal if you dropped your chain.  We put his wheel back on and handed the bike back. Sho still refused to take food/water from us, but was in good spirits and smiling, even if his shin was bleeding and he looked exhausted. Remounting, he dangled one foot off a pedal and COASTED slowly downhill, too tired to do any pedaling.  I looked at Remy and we both had the same look- ‘This last 5 miles is going to take all day’.

The 50 milers and the 63 milers are coming by us now and we are going as slow as Sho. “GOOD JOB!” they yell as they fly by, not knowing we are sweeping. Eventually, the trail spit us out to the last check point sign, manned by a local firefighter.  “The aid station closed down an hour ago”, she says, ‘but I kept a bottle of water aside for this guy.”  Another rider had come through saying they gave this Japanese guy their water earlier. Glancing at my Cateye computer, it is 4:00 pm. We have been riding since 11 am and still have a couple miles to go.  Our firefighter is gently scolding  Sho, explaining that he needs to research an event like this before signing up. Not sure how much of what she said sunk in, but smiling, he responded with, “Uh, This…not for me”. We all had a chuckle about that.  I asked again if he had eaten. Pointing to his black leather fanny pack, he said, “Yes, chocolate”.  Makes perfect sense now.

½ mile to go and Sho had dismounted, walking his rented bike.  Remy asked if he was tired and he said his legs hurt. Yeah buddy, I bet they do.  I tried to explain that we are helpers. His response was priceless. “ Oh, so I am….last?” Yes. Yes you are. “So sorry, so sorry” he exclaims. We reassured him that LAST was OK but he felt so bad about it that he remounted, laying his arms across the bars as he pedaled and groaned up the last incline to the finish (5 ½ hours to complete 25 miles).

Almost to the Finish

Almost to the Finish

We learned after the race that Sho had only been in the United States for 3 days and was looking for something fun to do on-line. He saw the post for Test of Endurance , rented a bike and found his way out to the race  from Corvallis. Local Team Dirt  racers made sure Sho got a ride home though. In an ironic turn, both Jeannie and Sho WON their Cat 3 races, their first race ever. Promoter Mike Ripley made a big deal about Sho’s podium, telling his story to the trail-worn racers. Standing on the top step, our champion was beaming, bowing to the cheering crowd.  If that isn’t what Test of Endurance is all about, I don’t know what is. 

"VERY TIRED" but very happy says SHO

“VERY TIRED” but very happy says SHO

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Going Back To College-De Ronde 2013

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So, I can neither confirm nor deny that this may or may not have happened. And you didn’t hear it from me since there is never an “official Ronde”. But , there may have been a ride to pay homage to the Belgian Classic race, Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

It is our annual “unorganized” ride, chasing nothing but the gold Lions of Flanders painted on the ground to guide our way.  The plan, to ride 47 miles (7800 ft of climbing) with a few of my teammates; Mary, Audrey, Kim and Beth F and maybe , oh, several hundred other adventurous types on the morning of Saturday April 20th.

Shhh. Don't tell anyone about this....

Shhh. Don’t tell anyone about this….

Unfortunately, I could not find my ladies outside of Portland Brewing in NW Portland. Instead, I found a few of the Team S&M guys. Judd Eustice (bike race reporter for BikePortland.org) and the Leritz brothers, Nick, Aaron and Andy. “Ride with us! We will wait for you at the top of the climbs,” they offer.  “Um, that is nice but I know you guys will drop me”  I respond. The boys insisted.  I agreed to their offer as De Ronde creator Brad Ross (Big boss of Cross Crusade) sent hundreds of lycra clad riders (and one recumbant trike) on our way.

The weather was perfect, mid 50’s and a bit of sun through the clouds. Climbing through Forest Park, Saltzman trail was unusually firm with very little mud for this time of year. My blue and orange band of men did stay with me for some time, true to their word. Arriving at Brynwood, the first of two climbs with more than 20% grade, it’s chaos. The long, narrow one lane road is dry but has moss on the outer edges. As we all try to cram ourselves on the road, men are sliding out on my right and left, rendered tractionless by the mossy pavement or tipping over and hitting the pavement due to the steepness.

Rider Down!

Rider Down!

Brynwood has many bail outs, or driveways. I took two bail outs this year but didn’t do any walking. Brad Ross (driving the course by moto) was standing on the side of the road heckling. “Mielle, if I whip you will you ride any faster? Your whole team is waiting for you at the top!” I stayed in the saddle and ground my way to  the final crest to join the boys.  By the half way point, I became detached from my group but I was never alone. Suffering was shared with many.

The second climb with 23% grade is by Portland State University and aptly named College. The field of riders had spread out so much that I only had a few people  in front of me. Two men started to ride but after a dozen grueling pedal strokes, dismounted and began the long push to the top. I churned, rhythmically turning the pedals in what felt more like leg pressing an elephant for 6 minutes than a hill climb. Passing the dismounted men,  I see photographer Dave Roth taking photos of the suffering from the sidelines.

Yup, a girl is beating you

Yup, a girl is beating you

Keep churning, no more elephants after this climb. Up ahead of me I see a West Coast Women’s Cycling rider pushing her bike on my right and another girl walking on my left. More motivation to make it to the top!  I got a bit of encouragement from another guy walking, cheering me on to beat him to the top, which I did.  I don’t have to win College, I just needed to ‘out ride’ everyone I could see. Done and Done.

I did make an unplanned stop when I rode past Brad Ross’s house, adorned with the Lion of Flanders flag and a keg of beer. A whole bunch of my fellow racers called me by name to come back and join them. I did accept the beer but only took a couple sips and passed it to the next rider so I could continue for the last 10 miles.

Beer stop at Brad's

Beer stop at Brad’s

Finishing my day at the top of Council Crest, I shared some photos with my friends on the Grundel Bruisers. Never did find my teammates. I found out later they too made the steep climbs without walking. You wouldn’t expect anything less from Les Femmes de S&M now would you?

Photo Credits: Dave Roth http://www.dmroth.com, Mary Fordham

Playing Hooky at Blackrock-2/1/13

Rock out with your shock out

Rock out with your shock out

With Beth Ann and Audrey both starting a new job in a few weeks along, they have some free time to head out of town for a day trip of mountain biking. I took the day off work to join them and we set off on a Friday with Beth Ann driving the giant white whale of a pick up truck that her fiance’ Matt has owned since high school.  An hour and a half south of Portland,OR there is a freeride bike park called Blackrock that is fairly new in the last 5 years, located in Falls City, OR. This would be a new ride location for all of us. 

Camp Tapawingo-Gateway to Fun

Camp Tapawingo-Gateway to Fun

Gearing Up

Gearing Up

The sun was out for us even though there was still a slight chill in the air when we arrived at Camp Tapawingo, “A place of joy” according to the words etched in wood at the park entrance. Only a couple of cars here on a work day. Hitting the trail, we passed a large group of guys doing trail work and building more freeride ramps. A small fire was burning at the work site but I’m not sure if they were discarding the old ramp bits or burnishing the new ones.

Trail work in progress

Trail work in progress

The climb to the first GREEN line trail was 3 miles up. Beth Ann was chatting along with Audrey and I but once the trail got steeper, Beth Ann and her mighty quads of power were a little too much for Audrey and I to follow at the same pace. Bonzai Downhill was the first run down. We had options to go around the freeride ramp features but the trail still held some up and over options you could roll or catch air on. A tiny water crossing and one small wood bridge with a broken slat in the middle offered a few challenges. Trail conditions were pretty excellent and only a couple of boggy spots on the way down.

Better check the map

Better check the map

Working on Skillz

Working on Skillz

On run #1, we came upon two narrow log ramp ups, one with a drop but opted to walk it this round. The run was fun but too short for such a long, steep climb. This trail was listed as the most versatile run of the bunch.

Take a ramp to the wild side

Take a ramp to the wild side

Run#2 we climbed up even higher, and steeper, with amazing freeride features like gaps and huge jumps and big, scary looking ramp things that probably have even cooler names. We found an eyeball in a tree (painted basketball) watching out trailside pit stop. After more photos, we dropped in to a series of banked turns, table tops and a few small dirt jumps. Skirting around the bottom of the wood ramp jumps, we continued on to connect up with Bonzai Downhill again but this time, we knew what was coming. I took on the log ramps in one shot and cleared it, followed by Audrey.

Up and over on the first try

Up and over on the first try

Beth Ann decided those would wait for another day. At the bottom, the three of us debated another run. The climb was steep and while Beth Ann had been doing nothing but ride her bike every day for the last few weeks, Audrey and I did not share that much bike time.

Audrey riding into beauty

Audrey riding into beauty

EYE SEE YOU!

EYE SEE YOU!

Run#3 we pass our trail building boys again, fire still blazing. Climbing up again, we check out the sign markings and trail map we have. We took on a different trail that was marked as more challenging-SICKTER GNAR. I’m sure it means something to those that named it but once again, I’ve not a clue. This was by far my favorite. It most resembled the cross country racing conditions we have in Oregon. Rocks, tight descents, roots and switchbacks. Cruising along with Beth Ann leading, she stops suddenly without warning. “WHOA!”. She has come to a steep drop and opts out, taking the slightly less steep B line to the right. “I’m riding it” I say and let Audrey and Beth Ann watch me walk my bike back up the hill so I can remount and enter the drop with some speed. Beth Ann was coaching from the sidelines, yelling “WEIGHT BACK WEIGHT BACK!” I am off the back of the saddle, hovering over my rear wheel as I work my way to the bottom of this steep hill.

Bottom of Bonzai Downhill

Bottom of Bonzai Downhill

More-Better-Funner

More-Better-Funner

The funny thing is I had no fear about this run. For me that is a good sign. Just try something new and see what happens. At the bottom I hollered some expletives and my cohorts commended my efforts. As we dropped down into the lower forest area, we were stunned by the beauty before us. Sun coming through the trees, illuminating thick moss that hung on branches like tattered sleeves. Breathtaking. A short , punchy climb up takes us by a long ramp and then back to the connection to Bonzai Downhill. There was quite a bit more to explore here but we called it a day as the sun was starting to dip and legs getting tired.

Back at the parking lot, bikes are loaded and clothes changed. Key in the ignition, all we hear is ” rrrhhhhwwwwooorrrrr“.  Uh oh. “rrrrbbbrrwrroorrr“. Crap. “Dead battery. Did you leave the lights on?” Beth Ann gave me that  oh shit look. Being a very old truck, the lights are on a push/pull button. No magic bell to remind you when you leave the lights on for 3.5 hrs. No cell service and the ride out to the main road would be 3 miles and another 7 back to town.  Luckily, the guys were still working on the trail at 4 pm. Beth Ann road back up to find help and lucky for us, the big white truck came with jumper cables.

Trail builder Patrick saves the day

Trail builder Patrick saves the day

We were rescued by Patrick, a very nice trail builder that was happy to come to our aid. He chatted us up about our trail experience and what our interest in a freeride clinic would be. Patrick also wanted to know if we would be more comfortable with a male or female instructor. We agreed that the sex of the instructor didn’t matter as much as making sure the clinic was women only. Generally a more comfortable learning environment when dealing with a variety of women and skill levels. I did tell him about our own pro coach, Angi Weston/Kona as a possible instructor.  Thanking Patrick for his help, we were on the road, well before dark and plenty of time to stop at the bakery in Falls City for some sweet treats for the road. Freeride day for the Les Femmes may just be in our future!

Blackrock Mountain Bike Associationhttp://brmba.org/

Sunshine faces in February-Beth Ann, Mielle and Audrey

Sunshine faces in February-Beth Ann, Mielle and Audrey

Lost in the Castle- Growlers Gulch Ride 1/27/13

Mielle and Mary smiling early on

Mielle and Mary smiling early on

Hi, I’m here to pick up Tony” I say to a woman peering through the screen door with a confused smile. “Am I at the right address?”  “Yes, but Tony left 10 minutes ago. He drove himself because he didn’t know what the plan was.”  Crap. My job was to pick up Tony but I guess nobody told Tony. Worried about being late to our meeting point, I hauled ass (with my Kona Kula Supreme locked safely to my roof rack) out to the PIR park-n-ride from the Hawthorne area.  My ride companions for the day are just shooing the shit when I get there and don’t notice my tardiness. My  teammate Mary Fordham, Tony Ohotto ( Yakima Vigillantes) and Dave Condon (Trusty Switchblade) will be my co-pilots to uncharted territory (at least for us) up in Castle Rock, WA. I was the instigator for this mountain bike outing since I really missed the trails. Our original destination, Wilson River trail, was snow covered and off the menu today.  We will have to settle for cold and rainy instead.

Dave, with his shiny new Ellsworth full suspension, made the realization that his skewer for his through-axel was at home. No skewer, no ridey. We had two other riders that were meeting us at our destination to help navigate but now they would have to start the ride without us. Dave and Tony drove off to Tony’s to get a skewer. Our 9 AM departure time turned into 10 AM. No biggie. We would just find our people when we got there, right?

An hour plus later, we arrived at the tiny Growlers Gulch parking lot. 38 degrees and light rain. At least it’s not snowing. While there are maps on-line for this trail system, the trails are NOT marked because it is private property.  So, enter at your own risk.  I had been here once last February (it was snowing), with the Growlers Gulch Girls through the Northwest Trail Alliance.

Growlers Gulch Girls Feb 2012 ride

Growlers Gulch Girls Feb 2012 ride

We had a guide but I remembered it being a spider web of trails and doubted my ability to navigate them on my own after just one ride.  Tony took the lead with a plan to take each section one by one, mark 3 big lines in the dirt across the trail at each fork or maybe an arrow so we could figure out where we had been. Simple enough. Our version of bread crumbs that the birds wouldn’t eat.

The trails were in great condition, mostly sheltered from the rain under the pine tree canopy.  Undulating trails, whoop de doos, huge logs to attempt.  Letting the boys scamper ahead, we rode some of the sections in reverse of the natural flow and had to hike-a-bikeup a few short, steep sections, too slick to actually ride. Fog hung eerily and the forest was quiet. We seemed to be the only ones out riding today. Riding reverse direction was more fun because these climbs were now quick descents. The fern covered forest floor offered soft yet tacky mud and pine needle covered trails, not as fast as mid-summer would be, but still fast enough that mud bog patches were few and far between. For Mary, this was her first adventure back on the mountain bike since the bike vs. car incident a week before Alpenrose Cross Crusade. That day left her with a busted collar bone in September.  Getting our “trail legs” under us, Mary and I took the more cautious role until an hour or so in to the ride when things started to feel familiar.

Darting through the trees

Darting through the trees

We’ve gone 3 miles in one hour” says Dave.  Whew! Big difference between trail miles and road miles for sure. Our foursome bombed down damp descents, dodging small trees and launched over logs and small rhythm sections. I may have ridden around a few of the bigger logs today but I’m sure another trip out here and I would have at it. As we exit one of the loops and stop for a mid-ride snack break, Tony’s friends, a husband and wife team, appear from a descent across the service road from us.  They proceed to tell us that there is snow if we ride up towards the top and to just head up the trail they just exited. “The main service road out of here and back to your car is always on your left,” he says. I thought to myself, trails flanked both sides of the main road so at some point the road would be on your right.  He continued with an extended list of directions but our ride captain Tony made the executive decision for us to just go explore on our own and wished them happy riding.  As long as we keep track of the service road we can find our way out.

Masked man Tony and Dave

Masked man Tony and Dave

Our climb to the top turned out to be less interesting than the rest of our ride had been thus far.  A gravel double-track seemed to be the only option and there wasn’t any view accept the trees that flanked us heavily on both sides. The temperature had dropped and rain was still coming down lightly. Now that our group was more exposed, gloves and shoes were getting wetter and colder. All agreed  continuing up the road would not be very fun. Turn around and find our way back to the more fun trails and then, start heading back to the car by 2pm. I remounted my bike as we turned back and fell over in the gravel half clipped in (only crash of the day). Totally pro. My knee really hurts but I just figured it was from the gravel. Looking down after a few minutes, the blood is spreading across my black knee warmer, forming blood droplets on the surface of the fabric. All Tony could say was “awesome”. Thanks doc (he is an MD).  It is so cold out that I am hoping the bleeding will just stop on its own since my wet knee warmers are doing a good job of acting like a cold pack as we work our way back to the last trail exit point we marked. I also have to pee but I am waiting till we get back to the car because bib shorts are not ideal when it’s this cold out and I don’t feel like stripping my layers off at the moment. I’m thinking we will be back in like an hour.

More logs, twists and turns but with me leading (briefly) I miss the turn. Tony calls out, “WHOOP WHOOP” like the trail police.  Back track and we hit it again. Coming out at one of the gravel roads Dave exclaims, “We’ve been here before.” “Yup” I confirm.  Tony wasn’t quite convinced but Mary chimed in that we had indeed just gone in a big circle. We just went up a different trail and ended up right back where we started. With the hour growing late and the rain not really letting up, concensus was to skip any more ‘exploring’ , much to Tony’s displeasure, and to work our down and out.  Heading down a trial we aren’t quite sure if we’ve been on before, the plan is to get back to the car with plenty of light left.

Hike A Bike

Hike A Bike

Legs feel good so I’m solid that we should be back at the car in like 20 minutes since we are not detouring for exploration. Our small trail drops onto another gravel service road of rollers,  and things look kind of familiar but there aren’t any markers, just the random piece of garbage. Did I see that Coke can on the way up? Eventually we arrive at the open hilly field single-track and the humming power lines that loom overhead like they do at Sandy Ridge. This is where things started to go wrong. The rollers eventually open to a fork and we have to decide, right uphill or left downhill. Because there ARE so many rollers, UP could be down.  Dave’s GPS isn’t really helping find the tiny dot that is my car. Mary had told us stories today of being a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts but at the moment, our decisions are based on our gut and not a merit badge in wilderness navigation. A pick up truck passes us and we decide to go RIGHT, following down the same road. Cue ominous music. Our gravel road links to an actual paved road with a road sign. Oh no. This is NOT right.

Tony, Mary and I in 2011 Browns Camp-Not lost that day

Tony, Mary and I in 2011 Browns Camp-Not lost that day

None of us remembers seeing this street sign for Melton on our way in. The country road is dotted with small houses, expansive properties and the random batch of clucking hens. Still not in panic mode but fingers are pretty wet and cold now that we are at the mercy of the elements. We might as well have done ‘rock paper scissors’ for our directional choices. Nobody wants to climb back into the woods for fear of getting more lost so late in the day. So down the road we go, seeing there is a stop sign coming up and maybe another street sign. Short but steep, the decent is like sticking your face on a wet ice pack. At the bottom we find Delemeter road. Still no idea where we are.

Mary and Dave making decisions

Mary and Dave making decisions

Dave’s magic phone tells us that there is a road, back up the road we just descended, that will take us back to the car. Up we climb, passing the sign for Melton again, up and up until we see the power lines humming over our heads.  “We passed the turn,” says Dave. Impossible! Other than Melton, there wasn’t any road to turn on accept maybe a homestead driveway. We are standing at the top of a hill in the middle of the road in the rain trying to figure out what to do. Spotting a guy doing some work in his yard, Tony rolls down to have a conversation with the locals. It was a long one. When he makes his way back up the road to us I ask, “So, how far off are we?”  “Quite a bit.” Tony won’t say how far which means it must be A LOT. Ok, that’s fine. I have the legs to get there so just point me in that direction. Back DOWN Melton again, with the face piercing wind and rain on the descent to Delemeter.  This is a two- lane highway with a small shoulder and fast moving pick-up trucks. I am in roadie mode now, fully expecting my soggy band to form a functioning pace line. Nope, all different speeds and energy levels now. I keep shaking my fingers one hand at a time but it feels like tiny knives stabbing the palms of my hands.  Fingers hurt really bad.How I wish I had packed an extra pair of gloves. Our next turn is on Cline which is more country road with very few houses or traffic. A random dog comes bounding out of his lightly fenced yard to tell us we were in his territory but other than a few barks and some sniffs, he just let me and Dave go by without incident. I keep the thought pushed down that other than a random dog attack, a flat tire would really suck right now. Mary and Tony are in the back, Dave is riding ahead of me. Head down and get it done. We pass a guy out for a walk who smiles and shakes his head at me like we must be crazy. He said to Mary and Tony something about him HAVING to be out in this weather but why would we do it by choice. That is an excellent question sir.  I don’t know how long we were riding for but when we finally found our left turn onto PH 10, the road we had driven in on, I immediately knew we were several miles from our car at that point. Very hilly miles.The battery on my computer died so I hadn’t kept track of how far we had come. Other than Mary feeling a little under trained for all of this extra riding, I seem to be the only one that is dealing with freezing body parts. Up we climb and climb until we see the left turn onto Growlers Gulch road.  There is a side road that we almost took on our drive in but kept going to the left instead and we found the parking lot. But now that we are tired and a little punch drunk, the self-doubt creeps in. Dave and I are ahead and I am just plugging along in my granny gear with a “get to the warm car” mantra in my head.  “Are we sure this is the right way?” I ask Dave. He was starting to have doubts too. It seemed like a VERY LONG steep climb. We stopped in the road again and waited for Mary and Tony. There was enough doubt that Tony and Dave were going to head BACK down to the bottom of the climb and check out the side road just to be safe. I had about reached my breaking point. The thought of another freezing cold descent and back track combined with my screaming hands was almost too much. “If we have to go back down I am going to cry” and I was pretty close. Mary could see it on my face.  I did my best to keep the emotion and frustration in check. The boys sped down and back pretty fast and confirmed that yes, we were going the right way up the hill. Back into climbing mode, no tear shed, power up the road. Rounding the bend I see my rig in the tiny parking lot. Ughhhh. We  f@!%ing made it. Unfortunately, the climb didn’t really get me warm enough. Once the stripping of the wet clothes happened I couldn’t stop shaking. Under my wet knee warmer I found a slice of pre scarred knee flesh gone but nothing major.  Felt a lot like finishing a wet, cold cross race (Krugers anyone?). Mary announced we had done just over 20 miles. 20 FAT TIRE miles and almost 5 hrs. That is way more than any of us planned today.

Dave sent me the Strava map after the ride. We missed our turn in the woods by a tiny fraction. The quote of the day came from Mary and this is how she summed it all up; “This was still better than sitting at home on the couch”.

I’ll let you decide.

Green dot is the car

Green dot is the car-Giant loop is paved road

http://bikemountain.info/MountainBikingGrowlersGulch.html

Annual Thanksgiving Shop Ride-11/25/12

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Throngs of spandex clad men and a handful of women streamed into Sellwood Cycle Repair in the early AM hours Sunday morning. The shop is normally closed on Sundays but today is a special occasion. Once a year a shop ride is held for all of the teams sponsored by Sellwood and friends of the shop. Gentle Lovers, Les Femmes, Team S&M, Cthulhu and Lazy Tarantulas represented the kit clad riders that snacked on pastries and donuts while sipping coffee from Les Femmes newest sponsor, Blue Kangaroo Coffee. Some debated the race, I mean, ride plans for the day. Even though this is a casual ride you can’t stop folks from trying to out ride each other. Others lamented that they hadn’t been on their mountain bikes in months. Yeah, me neither.

Suzanne, Mielle, Julie and Audrey

Spilling into the street with ride maps in hand, we mounted cyclocross and mountain bikes for the 8+ mile road ride up to Forest Park. The gray skies were a welcome sight to the heavy rain just days before , and nobody seemed to mind the 37 degree temperatures. We are, after all, a hardy bunch. We didn’t even make it off of the Willamette waterfront when someone crashed. That someone may or may not have been me, and I may or may not have a large lump on my butt and scrapes on my elbow. Runners and walkers on the Esplanade caused some unexpected slowing in our huge pack and I crossed my front wheel with the guy in front of me. As soon as his rear wheel came in contact with my front wheel I hit the ground.  I hopped right back on my bike and off we went. Bruise coming soon I’m sure.  Teammates Deanna , Julie and Audrey ended up with another group and we didn’t see them again until we were back at the shop.

Gettting ready to ride. You too Peter.

Our ride group was split into shorter/easier and longer/climbing. As with most large rides like this, we splintered into sub groups and I found myself riding the steep Holman trail with teammate Kim. Wet leaves covered the muddy ground but the trails were good condition considering the time of year. Fog greeted us at the top and caused more than a few riders to miss their turn from the road section to the trail, only to be chased down and located by other riders. Kim and I joined up with Buy Local Team rider Suzanne Marco, riding her cross bike, a smattering of boys, and Matt Mahoney ( Gentle Lovers,shop mechanic and hubby to our own Christy Love)  accepting the position of impromptu sweeper until we got on more familiar ground. I swear the fog changed the way everything looked.

Do you know which way we go Kim?

Paces changed and conversations came as easily as smiles. On the way down and out of the park on Leif Erikson trail I tried to throw in some friendly race pace attacks but alas, I didn’t have any takers today. All of the different groups of riders met back at the shop by 12:30 PM for a huge pot luck and beer for all. Friends and teammates not on the ride today showed up to hang out and socialize. To show his appreciation for all of his customers, big boss Erik had a raffle and gave away bike parts, accessories, Blue Kangaroo coffee, gift certificates to The Bottle Shop, Sellwood Yoga and C-Velo Cycling studio located upstairs at the shop.

Everyone hung out for hours and stuffed themselves silly on brisket, stews, pastas and piles of sweet treats from the desert table. Tired and well fed, we pointed our ponies towards home for one more bike cleaning. Can’t wait for next year!

Flying down Leif Erikson trail

Rite of Passage-De Ronde van West Portlandia 2012

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We are a mighty team of climbers. You throw it in front of us and we will try to climb up and over it on 23’s or 29’s. The Portland Ronde (created by Brad Ross to mimc the Liege-Bastogne-Liege race) gives us a chance to ride both road and dirt in the most challenging route linking all of Portland’s steepest climbs in the West Hills together. 47.5 miles of challenge and two climbs with a 25- 30 percent grade. Ouch! I had not done this ride before but many from the Team S&M and Les Femmes family have. With no race set for the April 22nd, this would be my year.

I don’t know what the total count was on turn out but I’m guessing over 800 of our closest friends were there. Weather was absolutely perfect reaching close to 80 for the day. Local cycling photographer Dave Roth was on hand to get photos for everyone in Forest Park and cheering sections popped up in quiet little neighborhoods as we wound around the beautiful West Hills neighborhood trying to find that perfect gear. Just follow the spray painted Lions of Flanders on the road and try not to get lost.

My favorite part of this day was all of the water stations set up by supportive neighbors, offering a water bottle fill, banana or maybe just a quick spray with the hose. With 15 + miles to go we all funneled into a narrow street where beer flowed freely and pb&j sandwiches were waiting in a big pile for hungry riders. “Donation” jars were posted and riders were happy to chip in.

Personal success for the day was riding the two steepest climbs, Brynwood and College, in the saddle. Margi told me that she rode Brynwood in one shot two years ago without having to take a break in the driveways like the rest of us did. I’ve got something to shoot for next year.  And in true Les Femmes style, Lisa rode the whole thing on her 29’r mountain bike. Way to go ladies, we have been officially Rondercised!

Femmes that came out were Lisa, Kim, Margi, Erin, Mielle and Alice.

Photos courtesy of :

Dave Roth,www.dmroth.com

Tedd Mann/carbonbikesdirect.com

Mountain Bike School is in Session

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Five femmes showed up for our tour of the Lewis and Clark trails on this warm Wednesday night.  Beth Ann, Christy (our tutor), Julie, Erin and myself. With all of the time Julie spends working at Sellwood, this was her very first MBS. The previous days dry weather gave us slightly better traction, but the forest floor was covered in a thick layer of leaves that made the trail and roots difficult to see. Rain started about the time we rolled out, but with temps in the 60’s nobody was cold.

We did have some mud surfing sections which led me to drop even more air out of my newly tubeless tires. Christy told me this ride would make Bear Springs Trap XC race (April 28-29th) seem easy. And with most good training rides in the dirt, I left a little blood on the trail too.

This ride takes place Wednesdays and leaves from Sellwood Cycle, rain or shine. Meet at the shop by 6:00 pm.  It is a great way to practice steep climbs and rooty descents.