Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part . . . .

After more than 35 years of riding "off-the-rack" bikes, I finally decided it was time to plunk down some of my hard-earned cash for a bike built specifically for me and my riding needs. But it couldn't be just any bike - I wanted something very special. Something I could potentially take to Paris in 2001 for PBP (hey, a girl can dream). I had heard about a woman in town that made bikes just for women - so this past February, I looked her up . . . .

Meet Natalie Ramsland. . . .


Natalie (and her hubby Austin) are Sweetpea Bicycles. From the moment I met Natalie, I knew I had found my builder - and it was time to order a bike . . . .

Natalie worked with a local bike fitter to get all the necessary measurements, and came up with some drawings . . . .

Then I chose components: Brooks saddle (of course), rear rack with built in bottle opener, generator hub with front rack-mounted dual headlights, gearing that can climb telephone poles, couplers so I could take it apart for that trip to Paris (or Connecticut) - the usual stuff . . . .

Now all I have to do was wait. I am not good at waiting.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Volunteering Vor the Verboort

[Click on any photo to go to my Flickr page]

Today was the annual Oregon Randonneurs Verboort Sausage Populaire. Bill Alsup and I had volunteered to staff the first control at Longbottom and then to set up the final control at the Sausage & Kraut fest and hold that fort until Susan could take over. My plan had been to ride out to Longbottom and then over to Verboort and then home, but a false step in aerobics class nixed that plan. Ah well.

So Much For That R12

Instead, I started the day by driving out to the Grand Lodge in Forest Grove to meet the other volunteers for breakfast and discuss our plans. In addition to me and Bill, volunteers included our RBA, Susan France, my friend Andrew Black, and Barb Oliver, whose husband, Ray, would be riding. Andrew was helping with registration at the start and then staffing the Snooseville control with Susan. Barb was in charge of bulk sausage buys. Last year some riders got to the end too late to get sausage, so this year we had a designated buyer.

Andrew Learns the Alphabet

The weather forecast was promising, and the ride had been talked up on a few listservs, so we had a pretty large group -- many of whom had never done a brevet before. Lots of folks on recumbents and tandems, lots of very nice custom touring bikes.

Calling All Bents

Leslie and Pencil

Susan took special care to make sure everyone heard the final instructions.

Come Fly With Me

The ride started off cold. Waiting around for the start was inducing some serious shivers in folks dressed to ride. Lynne had brought her very cool insulated bottle, in which she had hot Gatorade "tea." It fits in a water bottle cage and has a pop-top like a regular cycling water bottle. I am jealous.

Mmmm, Hot

After 100km of riding, and a lot of bright sunshine, however, most riders were down to the bare essentials.

He's a Maniac, Maniac, for sure

The scene in Verboort was, well, a scene. If I had been there to check in riders, I would have stayed very far away - lots of very big people driving very big trucks in search of very big sausages.

The Approach

I arrived in Verboort at about 11:00 - I expected the first riders (who I assumed would be Michael W., Del and Sam) to arrive around noon. I spent the next half hour looking for a place to park that wouldn't require me to navigate a rutted dirt field on my crutches while trying to carry the control sign. I wanted to be near the dedicated bicycle parking, so I asked every festival worker I saw where that parking was. NO ONE KNEW! It was advertised on their website, yet two different workers asked if I had called ahead to make special arrangements. AAARGH! I finally gave up, and with the help of my friends Richard and Nance who rode up at about 11:30, I simply staked out a place by the road. About 15 minutes later, I spied something hidden behind a wall of blue rooms that looked like it MIGHT be a bike corral. I hobbled over to confirm, and then asked a random stranger to help me move the sign to better indicate the location. As it ended up, the blue rooms so concealed the control that we had to stand out by the road to direct riders in. Bill had ridden up shortly after I discovered the bike parking and he and I took turns waving people in. Eventually, he took over control duties and I stood lookout. Susan arrived sometime around 2:00 or 2:30, and it was finally time for me to drag myself home.

It wasn't nearly as much fun as riding (nothing ever is), but it was fun.