Ahem, that's TEAM Bag Balm and TEAM Estrogen. TBB is a very loosely organized riding group to which I belong, and TE is an internet vendor of women's cycling, swimming and running gear that is owned and operated by a fellow TBB member. On Saturday, June 28, there was a rare confluence of the two, when TE held a parking lot sale and barbecue at its World Headquarters in Hillsboro and a few of us decided to combine some shopping with a group ride. Our friend Don sent out the call, and after a few e-mails back and forth to coordinate times and distances (did I mention that we were LOOSELY organized?), the plan was in place. We would meet at TE at 9:00 AM, browse the sale racks for a bit and then roll out by 9:30 for a 40 or 50 mile ramble before heading back to TE for some more shopping and lunch.
As usual, I rode out to Lynne's and we rode together to the start. A heat wave had started two days earlier, and Saturday was forecast to be the hottest day of the week, with temperatures predicted to rise to over 100 degrees. When I left home at 7:00 AM, it was already over 70 degrees and the sun was very bright. Because I was riding with TBB for the first time in a long time, I decided to haul out my TBB jersey, even though it is a little less "breathable" than some (it makes up for that in pure style - it gets more "Cool jersey!" comments than any of my others).
Because I needed to get up and over the hills between my house and Lynne's quickly, and because I wanted to cut down as much as possible on my cargo-carrying capacity so as not to go nuts at the sale, I rode the Bianchi - my "fast" bike. Fast being a relative term, of course. Between that and a tail wind that helped propel me up the hill through Washington Park, I arrived at Lynne's house 10 minutes early. She was almost ready, and I took advantage of the time to use her bathroom. I knew she would understand.
Lynne was on her fast bike, too, and she was also flying the TBB colors.
She had also cut down on cargo-carrying capacity, but only because she was counting on her husband, Fitz, coming by the sale later in the car to carry home her purchases. She reminded me that I could have him do the same for me . . .
On the way over to TE, we rode by Jason's house where he was outside waiting for us. He too, was representing TBB. We had ourselves a herdlet. We wove our way through some parks and side streets, with a brief period on busier streets like Evergreen and Cornelius Pass Road (we took the sidewalk on CP - it's just too scary), and arrived at TE shortly after 9:00. The sale was well in progress, and we quickly spotted our friends Don, Laura and Diane in their herd gear. Our friend Linda was there, too, but she was traveling incognito in a possibly more sensible sleeveless red number.
Although the plan had been to roll out no later than 9:30, it was difficult to tear ourselves away from the bargains. And my carefully thought out plan of forced frugality was dashed when my friend Slug, whose wife Edna works at TE and who was helping out at the sale, mentioned that he could drop any packages off at my house for me on his way home. Thus, by the time we finally rolled out, I had picked up a new pair of summer gloves and a completely frivolous hoodie. I knew that I would probably add to the pile after the ride - they had an enormous selection of Smartwool socks on sale and I can always use more socks. But the temperature was rising and the riders were getting restless. On the way out, I ran into the fabulous Natalie and Austin from Sweetpea; Natalie had a feeling we'd run into each other at the sale and she'd brought me the extra key for the Pitlock on my generator hub (they'd had to order it from Germany). I passed the box off to Slug, apologized to N & A for not being able to chat, and hurried to catch up with the herd. It was about 9:45, so we weren't TOO far off schedule. Especially by TBB standards, which must always be adjusted for faffing times.
The plan was to do a route that included two different "out and back" components - Dairy Creek and Pumpkin Ridge. After some discussion, we decided to go out to Dairy Creek first, because on the way back from Dairy Creek and over to Pumpkin Ridge we would pass a water source. The temperature was already into the 90s at this point, and hydration was a key consideration.
Our little group quickly separated as the speed demons Don, Jason and Linda bolted ahead. Laura and I were setting a fairly brisk pace ourselves, but I could not keep up with her for long. Diane and Lynne were not far behind, and had caught up with me and Laura by the time we reached the 4-way stop outside of North Plains. There we decided to turn right to go up to North Avenue to cut through town, instead of staying on the main drag, because the pavement was smoother and there was rumor of a blue room at the school on that street.
There was no blue room at the school, but there was one at a nearby construction site. We spent a little time taking care of business and then continued on our way. We were in no hurry-we figured the speedsters had already zipped through town and were well on their way to Mountaindale, and maybe we'd catch up with them there. Suddenly Lynne's back pocket started singing. It was her cellphone. Jason was calling. They were sitting out in front of the market on the main street of North Plains and were wondering where in the heck we were. Whoops. So we stopped at the intersection of North and Gordon and waited for them to catch up. They caught up, and then quickly outdistanced us again. Oh well.
I really like the ride out to Dairy Creek. It's relatively flat until you get to the turn off onto Dairy Creek Road itself and none of the roads are heavily traveled. Once you are on Dairy Creek, the road takes just the slightest of inclines - no more than 2% at any time. Just enough to make you wonder if you have a flat tire or rubbing brakes, because you shouldn't be going so slowly on what LOOKS like a flat road.
It was QUITE warm at this point and Lynne and I were ambling along at a sensible pace. In other words, we were well behind the rest of the pack. I slowed us down even more when I spied some adorable alpacas with poodle cuts in a field to our left. (At the time I identified them as llamas - I do know the difference, but sometimes still mix them up). Anyway, I felt obliged to stop and talk to them.
As soon as I pulled my bike over to the fence surrounding their pasture, three alpacas came running over. I think they thought I might have some sort of tasty alpaca treat for them. Sadly, all that I had was a camera. I wasted a significant amount of time getting extreme close-ups.
Lynne finally pried me away from my Peruvian pals and we rode on to meet the rest of the gang at the end of the road, where they were taking advantage of the shade to rest, re-hydrate, and apply sunscreen. At this point it was close to 11:00 and really hot and none of us seemed to be in any hurry to get back on our bikes. But we were less than 1/3 of the way into our planned route, and after some discussion Lynne, Jason, Don and I decided to head back for TE from there and skip the rest of the ride. Linda, Laura and Diane rode back with us as far as North Plains. After some more time hanging out in the shade at the North Plains market, downing sport drinks and eating salty snacks, we split up, with the four of us heading back to TE and the other three off to tackle Pumpkin Ridge.
We rolled back into the TE lot at about noon. Jeff had fired up the grill, and called out to us "beef or veggie?" "Veggie, please." "Cheese?" "Oh, yes, definitely." In addition to the burgers, there were coolers filled with ice cold water and pop. Aah, now that's how to have a parking lot sale.
One Boca burger and two ice cold Diet Cokes later, I was ready to do a little more shopping before heading for home. Over the next half hour I collected a new pair of running shorts (uh-oh, that's not a good sign), a NON-frivolous hoodie, and a whole lot of socks. I handed the bag off to Slug, refilled my water bottles, said goodbye to the gang and rolled out for the last leg of the day. TE is just off West Union Road, which if you follow it long enough turns into Thompson Road which goes up and over the West Hills into town. It's one of the easier ways back over the hill - about 4 miles at a 4% grade. Not bad, given some of the alternatives.
At this point it was astonishingly hot. Throughout the day as we were riding I had watched as the temperature gauge on my cyclometer ticked up, each time thinking, "Okay, that's it, that's as hot as it can't get." Each time it got hotter, until by the time I was about to start the steepest climb of the day, it was showing 106 degrees.
In my experience, accounting for radiant heat that it picks up from the road this particular cyclometer has a margin of error of less than 4 degrees, so I figured that it was really only about 102 degrees. Not that that really made a difference. I bailed down to my lowest gear and spun my way up the hill. 31 minutes later and 700-plus feet higher, the air temperature had fallen six degrees. Not that I could tell. But I was about to take advantage of the "poor man's air conditioner" - nothing like a steep decent at high speed to cool oneself down after a hard climb. One more long drink of water (very HOT water by this point), and I pointed myself down the hill and toward home. 20 minutes later I was home. 22 minutes later I was standing in a cold shower, tasting the salt and sunscreen as it rolled off my face and down the drain.
All told, I did 73 miles with an average speed of 14 mph. Not bad considering the heat and the climbing. The rest of my pictures are here. Lynne' pictures are here.