30 March 2010

Centennial Trail of Beauty

This past weekend was another volleyball tournament weekend that took us to Spokane, Washington.  We hit the road just after 6am (all of you shaking your head thinking that isn't possible for me, quit now - it's true!) with my bike packed in the back of the car.  Thanks to the convenience of my daughter's team playing in the afternoons, I figured I'd still be able to ride Saturday morning even though I wasn't with my team.
I set out from River Front Park in downtown Spokane on the Centennial Trail.  This is a paved trail for pedestrians and cyclists that follows along the river out to the Idaho border.  (The trail actually continues in Idaho under a different name that currently escapes me and because it's early morning, I am too lazy to Google it for you.  Sorry.)
It was a fairly flat ride the entire way.  For a section of the trail that runs along Upriver Road (they are so darn creative with their naming system there), cyclists are directed to use the bike lanes on the road.  I apparently missed the signage that directed me to turn back onto the path, though and wound up in a soccer/baseball field sports park.  I figured the trail must continue at the other end or something, but after circling the park and finally looking at the park map, there was no Centennial Trail to be found.  So, I backtracked a bit and found the trail.  This little side trip added a bit of mileage and a short hill.  Gotta love that! 
Back on the trail.  After you get about ten miles out of the downtown area, there aren't many on the trail and with the incredible weather that day, the scenery was amazing.  If I had a bottle of wine with me at the time, I very well could have pulled off and sat by the river enjoying a glass - to get my antioxidants, of course...they were feeling a bit low at the time.  I really did think about this as I was riding, but alas, did not have a bottle of wine with me - maybe next time.  What I did have was a speed limit.  This cracked me up.  On our trip to Spokane for last year's tournament, I got a speeding ticket.  Everyone seemed to remember, as before the trip this year, I received many comments about driving safe and avoiding any tickets.  So, as I passed the 15mph speed limit sign on this path that doesn't allow motor vehicles, I looked down to see that I was currently just over 20mph.  I wondered, "Do they actually patrol this?  Could I seriously get a speeding ticket on my bike?"  Well, I did not, but I am still curious - how do they enforce that speed limit? 
When I got to the Washington/Idaho state line, I had logged 25 miles.  I wasn't sure how much my "detour" had added, but almost hoped I was looking at my first 50 mile ride.  I crossed the bridge into Idaho just to say that I had been to Idaho and back, got a few pictures and headed back.  (The blue sign in the picture on the left is the Welcome to Idaho sign - my proof.)
Even without the added miles of losing the trail, I knew I was about to log my longest ride.  I had no idea how the trip back would be.  Would I run out of water?  Would I run out of energy?  Would my seat be way too sore to handle?  I was taking it easy most of the time, not really pushing speed, but just trying to keep a decent cadence.  Apparently, that was the way to go about it because I was back downtown before I knew it.  No issues.  I ate a PowerBar on the way back and made sure to keep drinking water, but never ran out of anything. 
Total trip came in at 48.25 miles.  It took me 3 hours, so I was averaging 16mph - a bit low for my goal, especially considering this was a flat course.  However, I was fine with it because I haven't gotten a lot of riding in lately and wasn't even sure how I would do completing it.  So, I was happy with the result and it felt great to be out riding on such a lovely, sunny day.  I have never really enjoyed Spokane in the past few years we have gone to volleyball tournaments there. This time, I enjoyed it and even saw why people choose to live there.  No, I won't be moving there, but visiting will be nice.
The next day, I expected to be sore, but was pleasantly surprised.  The girls played in the morning and then we were to head home.  While they were doing some ref'ing duties, I headed out for a quick ride before we hit the road.  It wasn't quite 15 miles and felt EXTREMELY short after Saturday's ride, but it was great.  Rolling hills, nothing terribly steep, but more than I'd had on the Centennial Trail.  I was back after 50 minutes.  The girls had just finished up, so I ran into the bathroom to change and we headed back to Portland.  Home again, home again, jiggity jig.  Great weekend, beautiful rides.  63 miles total and considering we were busy out of town this weekend, I'll consider that good mileage. 
Have you seen my fundraising thermometer?  It's totally up there!  So, I dedicate the beauty of this weekend's ride to all of you that have supported me.  I'll even throw in dedication of the glass of wine I got to have when we finally got home Sunday night.  Mas des Chimeres 2007.  Yum, yum, super yum.  Haven't had it?  You probably should.  Cheers.

19 March 2010

The untold total...

I know I've been a bit whiny about my sickness lately (well, okay, the last month, at least!), but it's not to be mistaken for not wanting to do this or that I really feel sorry for myself.  On the contrary, it's quite lovely to have something like this going on during a sickness to keep me from just staying in my cozy bed and sleeping until I am better...can you imagine the hibernation period?  Anyway, I am incredibly grateful for the support I have received from everyone.  Through words of encouragement (even those that tell me to quit sniveling and get my whiny butt out there), the donations to support such a great cause, and those that head out on rides with me - both my Team In Training group and others outside my group.  Thank you.  Not all of that is reflected in my status bar  - but those intangibles are incredibly valuable and appreciated. 
Speaking of my fundraising status bar, there are several mail donations I have mailed in that are not reflected yet - so it's not always showing the tangibles, either.  When everything is finally in, my total as of today is actually $3970.  Only $1030 to go until I meet that goal!  Incredible.  Thanks so much everyone - for all you do!  I will use the positive thoughts of each of you to complete that ride tomorrow.  Hard to complain about 70-degree weather here in March.  Spring is here and I am starting to think my cold may really be newly developed allergies.  Bring it, pollen, I won't quit!

17 March 2010

End of the Oregon Trail lollipop ride

This past weekend's ride began out in Oregon City at the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center...otherwise known as the place with the big covered wagons off I-205.  The ride was to begin at 8am, but I started mine around 9:30. 

My mom had been in town for a very short two day visit, whereby our family once again proved how well we can consume wine.  Family gatherings for us always mean good food (thank you, Zach & Pizza Fino) and good wine (this time we stuck with several wines from Podere Ruggeri Corsini: Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Barbera "Armujan", and Barolo...ah yes...the Barolo).  Anyway, it was a wonderful two days and mom had to be at the airport around 830/9 on Saturday morning.  The plan was that I would head to my ride and my daughter would take my mom to the airport.  However, as I went out to the garage to get the bike in the car, I discovered my back tire was flat.  I sent a message to the team letting them know I'd be late and not to wait for me.  Once I did that, I apparently felt that meant I could chill and visit a bit more with mom before she left.  Fixed the tire, visited, said goodbyes and finally left the house around 845.  All the while, hacking up a lung because, yes, I STILL seem to have this sickness. 
When I pulled into the parking lot at our meeting site, there were a few cyclists in matching kits.  After a bit of discussion about my being late to meet up with my group and such, I was invited to ride with this team on their ride.  I explained I felt I should do the same route my group was doing and they said that was fine - they may branch off a different direction at some point, but we'd start out the same direction.  So, off we went around 930.  I was only with them for about 3.5mi when my battery in my GPS died.  I hate not having all my stats and such after a ride, so I stopped to change the battery and they continued on.  

As I started back up, I was coughing quite a bit.  I kept drinking water hoping it would make the dry scratchiness in my throat go away.  As a result, I drank my first bottle of water in about twenty minutes.  Then I started getting nauseous.  I don't know if it was the constant coughing, the fullness from water, the may vitamins I took in the morning, or what, but I knew things were about to get really bad, as I rotated between being really hot and then really cold.  I finally pulled off and stopped about 45min in - just before the climb I couldn't see waiting around the corner for me.  When I thought I felt better, or rather convinced myself of such, I continued.  When I saw the climb, I just about turned around and said screw it.  But I did not.  I made it up the hill, closed the loop and considered heading back instead of doing the next loop the route was dictating.  It wasn't the same loop I'd just done, but I knew it must climb over the same hill.  I told myself I would just go to the turning point and then head back, knowing full well this was just how I talk myself into doing the whole thing.  So, around that second loop and stupid, crappy, hill climb I went...coughing all the while; getting pissed off at how weak and slow I was feeling and, of course, at how long this sickness has held on to me.  I stopped halfway up the hill to clear my lungs and let my heart rate drop a bit.  As I glanced up to the summit, a runner came over it and headed down toward me and my immediate jealousy that he was going DOWN the hill.  As he got closer, I noticed he had a big grin and then said, "You're almost there, you can do it."  My replacement team, I guess - thank you, Mr. Anonymous Runner.  Yes, I could do it, so long as I could successfully get started considering I was on a nice slope.  This didn't seem to be the problem I thought it would, though.  I got going, clipped in, and climbed the rest out of the saddle.  As I nice reward, I got a lovely descent shortly thereafter, providing enough wind whipping at my face to cool me down (a bit too much, even). 

Back the Interpretive Center where we began, I literally thought I might never stop coughing - at least for the day.  I'd been out of water from the two bottles I carried (a first for that) for quite some time, so after stowing my bike in the car, I went to locate a fountain, only to find one still turned off for the winter...that or the center relies on your thirst to sell their bottled water.  I bought two and had the first gone before I was back to my car. 
A 35-mile ride doesn't normally kick my butt the way it did Saturday.  Cycling has definitely made me value my health even more.  I take my vitamins daily, I get my sleep, and I keep a healthy, balanced diet (don't even start about the wine...it provides antioxidants and iron).  This next Saturday's ride will be out to Multnomah Falls...plenty of climbing there, so keep fingers crossed that my head and lungs have cleared out.

16 March 2010

Terwilleger loops and all-team potluck

Long, long ago when I kept up my blog, you'd know of all the rides and events we were doing and the struggles and triumphs that came with them.  Then, real life took the reigns and I became its slave for a few weeks.  However, I am going to try to catch up by bombarding whatever readers I may have with several posts that cover the past weeks.

06-Mar-2010 Group Ride
This was our first ride of meeting an hour earlier than usual.  Thankfully, we only met downtown so I didn't have to plan for much travel time.  I am not a morning person.  Don't get me wrong, I think mornings are beautiful.  There is a certain calm about those early hours when people are still sleeping and the air outside is crisp...or even better, the fog hasn't yet burned off.  As much as I like all that, I REALLY love my bed and would be quite content to be one of those that is still sleeping.  In any case, I was up at 6:00 that lovely Saturday morning.  Made sure I had time to have a good breakfast and drink plenty of coffee, so that I didn't bite any of my teammates' heads off.  Another wonderful thing about the morning - I pulled right up in front of our meeting spot at PSU on Broadway and parked.  No circling the blocks looking for a spot.  Granted, it was Saturday.
When everyone finally got there (apparently, I am not the only one on the team that isn't a morning person), we got started on our first loop.  We headed up Broadway, then up and around to the base of Terwilleger.  The first time I had ever ridden Terwilleger, I hated the climb.  I've since done it several times and appreciate the climb as a good workout.  Each time, I can actually tell how much better I have gotten with my shifting.  Now that my cadence sensor is working, I was able to improve upon that even more - shifting at more strategic times as I focused more upon my cadence than on my speed.  Yay...improvement. 
Familiarity with a route goes a LONG way.  Terwilleger climbs, but it does so in a rolling fashion, so you climb, but then you descend just a bit to give you both a reprieve and a bit of speed for the next climb.  Coming up on the Capitol Hwy intersection, though, you are descending and shifting to higher gears.  If you get stuck at that light, you should remember to shift to a lower gear, as you start climbing right out of the intersection and the oncoming traffic waiting to turn left always looks a bit impatient (hard to imagine, I know) as you struggle to climb and change gears then.  This particular factor caused a few members of the group to have to walk their bikes across the intersection and remount.  Not fun - and it also makes me a bit of an ass for not warning anyone.  Second route familiarity note (and one that I did point out), is after you turn onto Barbur to complete the loop.  Again, Capitol Hwy comes into play (problem child?) as it also intersects with Barbur.  Poor signage and paint can lead you to miss the bike lane turn off that routes you around the overpass lane of Capitol Hwy that joins Barbur on the right.  You miss that turn off, you find yourself between two merging lanes, and the merging cars don't care to stop for you. 
We looped back around to the base of Terwilleger after following Barbur into the south end of downtown and did the loop again. 
Super short ride, but some good hill work. 
We had to end early to go grab our potluck contributions and head into PSU to meet up with the TNT marathon and triathlon teams for the 10am All-Team Meeting.

At the meeting they recapped where our chapter was at with fundraising - I believe at that point, we had raised $240,000!  Woohoo - that's all thanks to all of you that are donating.  Honored teammates that are fighting battles with blood cancers were at the event and we got to hear from some great people and what they have endured and overcome.  It was a great reminder as to why we are doing this.  They are people you know, friends of yours, friends of your kids, relatives.  One mother that spoke had shaved her mom's head and pulled out all her son's hair within a four month period, as her mom went through treatment for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and her son fought Leukemia.  All I have to do is ride a bike...and that's something that I actually enjoy doing.