Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Li'l HW Jr.'s First Brevet

Wilson River Highway

HW was two weeks old last weekend, and it was time for her to hit the road for her first brevet - a 300 kilometer jaunt to the coast and back, by way of the Wilson River Highway, Tillamook, the Three Capes, Pacific City and the back roads of Yamhill and Washington Counties.

The brevet was originally scheduled for April 19, but the weather was uncooperative. On our rescheduled date of April 26, the weather was spectacular. Although it was only 33 degrees when we started out at 6 AM, it quickly warmed up and by the time we reached Tillamook at about 10, it was 70 degrees. The temperature stayed right around that mark until the sun went down, at which point it started to drop, but not much.

I started the day hoping to complete the 300 km in 15 hours. And for the first 10 hours, I was on target. But my energy level, which had been low all day, took a nosedive at about 6 PM, and I ended up not getting in until 10:27 - 16 hours and 27 minutes after I started. But I had a great day, nevertheless. I rode for quite some time with Tomas, one of my "contacts" whom I had not yet met in person, and also with my friends Sal, Lesli, Sara, and Peg. Plus, I got to go to my favorite bakery in Pacific City, where I partook of a delicious apricot scone . . . .
Apricot Cream Cheese Scone

Not to mention the chance to commune with friendly farm animals
Friendly Llama

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Heliotrope Wonder (Jr.)'s First Ride!

Behold The Heliotrope Wonder (Jr.)

Sunrise Sweetpea

At long last, she is mine. I picked her up from the builder on Monday, April 7. It was late, and I was still getting over the flu, so I only rode her around the block a few minutes to check the lights. I was not able to get out for her first REAL ride until the weekend. The weather gods looked kindly upon my plight, though, and served up the most spectacular two days that Portland has seen since sometime last September.

On Saturday, I got up very early and rode up and over the West Hills to Longbottom's, the coffee shop in Hillsboro where my cycling club meets for its rides. I couldn't ride with them, because I had to get back to Portland for a much-needed massage appointment, but I wanted to show off my new toy. I left a little earlier than usual and detoured out to Sellwood and then back downtown by way of the Springwater Corridor.

On my way to Hillsboro, I stopped by Lynne's house. She had left a phone message the night before that she would ride out with me. I had not been able to call her back, but figured she'd probably be up and ready to go. She was, and we headed off. We took a slightly different route, and I was going a little slower, so we ended up getting to Longbottom's just in time for Lynne to take off with the group she was leading. I bought a muffin and headed for home.

The weather was shaping up to be spectacular. At 9:00 it was already almost 70 degrees. I decided to take a longer, steeper route home, and headed up West Union Road to climb up to Skyline on Thompson. There were bicyclists everywhere I looked! I was anxious to see how my climbing would be on the new bike, given its somewhat heavier weight and fatter tires. I needn't have worried. I'm running a 30-42-53 triple with a 12-25 10-speed, and I got everywhere I needed to go with no more effort than on the ol' semi-speedy Bianchi.

When I reached the top of Skyline, I stopped to eat the rest of my muffin and take more glamour shots of the bike. Another cyclist stopped to make sure I was OK. I told him I was fine, just admiring my new baby. He joined in the admiration session and we had a nice chat about what a great bike builder Natalie was.

Sweetpea on Skyline

Then it was time to get home. The drop down from Skyline on Thompson is a glorious series of steep, sweeping curves. I took full advantage of both the curves and the new bike's exquisite balance and blasted my way down. When I got back to my neighborhood, the odometer showed 48.7 miles, so I obsessively rode around the central circle park to reach 50.

Sunday dawned bright and sunny again, but the weather forecast was for cooler air and clouds later. Lynne and I had decided to ride out to Multnomah Falls from my house, so this time she came to meet me. The first (and last) 14 miles of our route was urban riding at its worst - busy, dirty streets filled with fast cars driven by rude or oblivious people. I can understand why a lot of cyclists choose to drive to a less stressful starting point. I don't approve of it, and lecture them every chance I get, but I know that some folks are just daunted by all the traffic on some surface streets.

Once we reached Troutdale, the route became MUCH nicer. We took the Historic Columbia River Highway (of course) which climbs up, up, up to just past Corbett and then goes down to Crown Point and the Vista House, a lovely historic building (a WPA construction).

Li'l HW Jr. at Vista House

It's just abut 11 miles from the Vista House to Multnomah Falls. It's not ALL downhill, but mostly so. It's never very steep, though; I don't think it ever exceeded a 4% grade. Again I took advantage of Li'l HW Jr's superb balance and went for maximum speed. What fun, especially on those parts of the highway that were recently repaved.

Once we reached the Falls, we spent a ridiculous amount of time screwing around, taking pictures and eating pastries. We chatted with a couple of guys who were riding speedy little racing bikes (their two bikes together plus a couple of U-locks would still have weighed less than my fully-loaded baby). They were very admiring of Li'l HW, Jr., and condescendingly told Lynne that she had "a nice bike, too." She was very gracious, but later told me that Little Pink Bear had advised her that her bike, Bleriot, was a little jealous . . .

Heading back up to Corbett from the Falls, we stopped many times to take more pictures. Our plan had been to stop at the McMenamin's in Edgefield for a tater tots snack, but we had also wanted to go to Clever Cycles back in Portland (I've had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket since Christmas and Lynne had never been there). Once we realized how much time we had wasted, we decided to skip the tots and head straight for the bike store. The fact that the store was across the street from the Lucky Lab helped us in the decision, because we knew we could repair over there for a snack. No tots, though.

I had to stop by the house to pick up my card, and we reached Clever Cycles by 4:30. I managed to spend the whole card in less than 15 minutes on a headset bell, wool socks, wool bra, and nifty gloves. Again, much bicycle admiring took place.

And then it was across the street to the Lab. Greg and Fitz were meeting us there. The weather had taken a turn for the freezing, and Lynne and I were in lightweight riding gear, so we wanted to eat inside. I didn't want to leave Li'l HW Jr. outside (soon enough she will rained on, I just wanted to spare her that for now) so I asked the server if I could bring her inside. He grudgingly said yes. I explained that she was brand new, and that I was being overly protective. He responded, "Everyone thinks that their bike is more special than anyone else's."

Well, yes. Yes, I do think my bike is more special than anyone else's. Got a problem with that?

Li'l HW Jr. and Bleriot at the Lucky Lab

My photos

Lynne's photos