Sunday, January 23, 2011

Beat the Retreat, or Hoo-Boy!, am I out of shape!

I should NOT be tired. I should NOT be winded. I should NOT be thinking of taking a nap. But I am nevertheless all three of those things. And all because I rode a lousy 37 miles, with just a little bit of a hill climb.

Today was the Bicycle Transportation Alliance's "Board Retreat." My friend Susan was hosting it at her company headquarters in Hillsboro, and I figured I'd ride out there from home, just to get a little exercise in before and after what promised to be many hours of intense discussion (we are formulating a 20-Year Strategic Plan). Susan offered to ride from her home out in Hillsboro to meet me in SE Portland, and then ride all the way back. Friend Lynne, who isn't on the Board, but who is a known ride harlot (i.e., she'll join a bike ride at the drop of a hat), said she come with us. So we agreed to meet at Kettleman's Bagels, my Eastside ride start point of choice, at 6 AM, which would give us about half an hour to scarf down some bagels before we had to leave for Hillsboro at 6:30.

Earlier in the week, the weather forecast was for a slight chance of rain. I had ordered some new rain pants from Team Estrogen last weekend and figured I'd have them in plenty of time for the ride. That was, of course, before the USPS decided to ship them from Hillsboro to Portland via Santa Clarita, California. Thus I was glad that by the time Saturday rolled around, the chance of rain had evaporated. (The rain pants are still somewhere between California and Oregon).

I had already gotten to Kettleman's and ordered my breakfast (an "everything" bagel with hummus, tomato and cucumber) when Lynne arrived. She'd had a small breakfast at home, but after a 10-mile ride over the hill to town, she was ready for second breakfast. She settled on a bagel with some sort of pinkish cream cheese (I could not tell if it was strawberry or fish; she said it was fish). We munched away and chatted, and wondered aloud where Susan was. I decided that she'd probably delayed her journey so she would not have to watch us eat solid food (she's on an "elimination" diet of some sort), and figured she'd show up right at 6:30. And, lo, at 6:25, she rolled up, ready to turn around and go back.

After winding our way through downtown Portland, we tackled the first climb of the day: up to Skyline Blvd by way of NW Lovejoy, Cornell and Thompson. It's about a 4-mile climb, with an average grade of about 4%. I knew I was in trouble when I had to bail into my granny gear before I even got to the point where Lovejoy turns into Cornell. I spent the next 4 miles huffing like a freight train as I tried to keep my speed over 5 mph. Usually I take that climb at between 7 and 8 mph at the steepest parts. When we finally reached the "summit" on Thompson, I really needed to rest, and we'd only ridden 7 miles. Pathetic.

From Thompson we rode northwest on Skyline for a few miles. I love riding on Skyline, with its gentle rollers and lovely views. Or what used to be lovely views. Now it's mostly ugly houses blocking the lovely views. I especially love riding on Skyline in the early morning, when there is no traffic, because it is a narrow road with no shoulders and terrible sight lines. Mid-day on a sunny weekend, it can be downright scary with all the sports car drivers pretending to be Steve McQueen at Le Mans.

We dropped down to the west side by way of Springville Road. The pavement was wet, and there was a lot of gravel, which made the drop less fun that it might otherwise have been. We detoured over to Susan's house to pick up her change of clothes (I had mine in a pannier; I tried to use that extra weight as an excuse for my suck-tastic performance on the climb). Susan and I then headed for the Board meeting while Lynne rode off to Longbottom's coffee house for a third breakfast, after which she would lead a 40-mile Portland Velo club ride that started at 10 and gloat with smug superiority over the people who got at 9:30 and drove their cars to the start (by the end of the day, Lynne would have put in 80 miles).

I did not feel all that tired by the time we got to the meeting, but as the day progressed I could feel my muscles starting to check out. When we were finally done, and I was suiting up to head back over the hills to home, I wondered whether I would even be able to get my legs to move, let alone move fast enough to stay vertical on the bike. I had no choice but to try, however. Once I got going, it did not seem so bad, but I was definitely making use of a gear range that I do not normally need.

Up, up up. Huff, puff, puff. Rest, rest, rest. Across, across, across. Down, down down. Home, Sweet Home. Clearly, an hour on the trainer everyday and the occasional morning commute is NOT getting me ready for brevet season.

Anyway, this shows the second half of the ride (I sort of messed up the GPS tracking for the first half, but the first half was almost exactly the same except for a detour through downtown Portland). I love the fact that the heart rate and speed charts look like photo-negatives of each other.

Times Two


lynnef said...

Ride harlot? Depends on the ride and the company :-) YOU DID NOT SUCK. Look where you were three weekends ago!

John Henry said...

I find it strange that the BTA Board Retreat was not in Portland.

Cecil Anne said...

John Henry, not strange at all.

Anonymous said...

What Lynne said. Definitely! I mean the "you did not suck" part. BTW, what would the male version of a ride harlot be? And I love the idea of third breakfast.

Gene in Tacoma

bikelovejones said...

Girlfriend, any day you "suck" you can still kick my butt.
(Though I think it would be fun to take you on a playdate at the pump track...)

Oldairhead said...

You could have taken the Max back and just lied about riding home?

Cecil Anne said...

Heaven forfend!