Monday, July 28, 2008

Century Recap


You couldn't have asked for a nicer day for the third annual Portland Velo Club Century!  Never one for shying away from the norm, this years event had a number of brand new twists and sponsors that made it the best event that PV has pulled off to date. 

Early Saturday morning saw a small team scurrying to get things setup for the early start time.  As if on cue, the first riders start to arrive for registration once we have everything in place.

Numbers get pinned on, and maps handed out.  Big John gives us some final ride information and we are on the road shortly after 7:30.  This year I'm hoping to enjoy the ride rather than suffer the second half like I did last year.  A number of the race team have pledged to the "Bagel Sandwich Treaty" (BST) that was formed a few weeks back, to ride sane today...  we'll see how long it stays in place.  We head out of FG into the cool temps of the morning.  The climb up Cedar Canyon into the sunlight at the top of the hill makes for a good warm up.

Things stay fairly social up into Hagg Lake, where the entrance climb separates those riding hard and those content to ride in the Groupetto.  Unfortunately I'm sitting someplace between with a handful of other riders.  We crest the climb and decide to make some harder efforts for the next few minutes.  Rob, Jeremy, Javad, Matt C and I trade small pulls, towing along a group for the ride.  About half way around the lake we turn the corner and see a number of bike on the ground and people milling around.  Not good.  A small touch of wheels lead to a few of the race team members hitting the deck.  Mike A is on the ground a bit slumped over.  Jamie and I check him over gingerly, making sure not to disturb any hidden injuries.  His helmet has a good crack in it, but it did its job.  Jamie finishes his assessment and we all agree SAG wagon is necessary.  At least it isn't a call to 911.

None of us have cell reception in the area, so Mitch Lee heads one way with a group and I the other with Russ Patterson, phone numbers ready to be dialed as soon as we have a signal.  We make it all the way down to the guard station and use the phone there to get in touch with Jimmy who happens to be less than 10 minutes away.  I notify the groups heading back that the wagon is on the way and roll on to catch the rest of group.

We hit Gaston to a rousing chorus of cheers from the folks stationed there.  Food is eaten and the crash is discussed.  Mike Kender decides he wants to be like the rapper Nelly and band-aids a penny under his eye.  (Rumor has it he got stung coming into Gaston, but we all think he want to look cool.)  The faster group decides to hit the road, and two members of the BST defect and go with them.  Their membership cards have been ripped up and the remaining members decide to shun them whenever we can.  Sal calls out for the formation of the Groupetto, and a good size group of us head out of Gaston and head south.  We ride in a nice double paceline through roads with no car traffic.  The tempo is quick, but not strenuous with the leaders taking long pulls before moving to the back to relax.  Marc Mazzacco and I are lucky enough to set the pace up the gradual Laughlin Road climb.  Many of us make note to come out this way again for more riding soon.

We get into Carlton to behold the beautiful grounds of Canas Feast a quick top off of snacks (mmmm gummy bear) we hit the road once again.  The century loop was a mixed bag.  Our group was buzzed constantly by unfriendly cars and tormented by local yokels who decided to change the direction of route markers.  However once we got to Dopp Road we enjoyed the peace and quiet until Jeff B had the unfortunate luck to wrap a random wire around his cassette a number of times and ripped a gash in his shorts and his leg.  Ouch.

Sal and I spend the early part of the Calkins road climb trying to discover the mystery behind the sudden large quantity of bee's we star running into.  He decides to blame it on a pair of llama standing under a tree.  Oddly enough, once we pass the llamas the bees are no longer an issue. 

After the climbs on Calkins our group slowly regroups on North Valley before we head back down Kuenhe.  We see Sherry and Sierra motoring along the other way and cheer loudly for them.  We get strung out on Kuehne due to differeing climbing speeds and a lot of car/bike traffic.  Javad, Sal and Kender get far up the road before we are able to pass some slower traffic.  I break clear and wait until our crew bridges up to me before doing my best Stuart O'Grady impersonation and bridge up to Javad.  I crack just as we catch him, which happens to be just as he catches Sal and Kender.  I peel off and dangle on the back of the paceline until we get back into Carlton.

At our second stop in Carlton, I drop my bike off with the gang from Veloce.  The BB sounds like there is a duck in it.  I figure its shot, but they are optimistic that something can be done with it.  At the food table we were treated to some delicious pasta salad and bread.  Carlo hands me a half glass of a wonderful Rose wine that we were able to sample.  So delicious!

The traitors to the BST are back at the reststop looking a bit haggard from their jaunt up to McGuire Dam.  They wish to rejoin us, to bask in the glory of the Groupetto.  We tell them to get bent and suffer with the group they ditched us for.  No love for the traitors!  I check in with the pit crew after wolfing down my pasta and my ride has new life!  My oh-so-wonderful FSA BB had come loose on one side (to the point where it could be moved by hand.)  Some additional lock-tite and some lube had things running silky smooth.  We fuel up for the final 25 or so miles.  Someone jokes that we can be into Maggie's in an hour. 

It was almost prophetic though, the next hour and 10 minutes roll by quickly and with a bit of pain.  A steady diet of flatland diesel engines eat up the miles and cut through the headwind that decided to blown down from the north.  Kristin and Heidi, the two hardwomen of the Groupetto help spell the men on the front and allow them to regroup for the final push into town.  With two miles to go we cross 47 into Forest Grove and tell Sal to shut it down, he nods in agreement and our happy pack cuts through the back streets back up to Maggie's (but not before I snatch the KOM jersey from a napping Kender on the final climb of the day!) 

We make the final turn into Maggie's, and the party is going full tilt.  Our crew scoffs at the idea of parking the bikes and literally rides through the crowd directly to the beverages calling out "BEEEEEER" along the way.  I grab a pint of IPA and take a slug before passing it along to my brothers and sisters in arms.  A shared toast to the shared work of the Groupetto!

We change and make our way back to the event to full our empty stomachs with amazing food from Maggie's and our hearts and minds with the stories of the day.  We are happy to hear that Mike is okay and doesn't require any surgery from his crash.  Cheers go up for each group of finishers as we cap off a wonderful day with wonderful people. We cringe when Carlo starts singing disco songs. :)

If you had told me the day after the LAF event that PV would be turning around and putting the final touches on our club century in under a month, I would have called you crazy.  However that is exactly what a small dedicated group of individuals ended up pulling off.  We took some risks and went big... new sponsors, a new route, and new riding areas most were not familiar with.  We had our share of bumps and bruises and missed turns along the way, but at the end of the day PV put on a pretty damn good party, and the mistakes made will just make next years event that much more solid.

A big thank you goes out to all organizers, volunteers, participants, and especially our amazing century sponsors.  Three cheers for Veloce, Canas Feast, Maggie's, and Madison's!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Fear the Fixie Freak and other random stuff...



Quick post before we kick off the weekend!  Last night I was seriously humbled by Bigwood on his Fixie climbing Pumpkin Ridge.  Churning his 66inch gear, Bob probably beat me to the top by 45s or so on a windy-as-hell climb.  The flat section of the climb in the middle was horrific due to the wind.

The saving grace to the ride was that I put out more power than my last climb up it, and was only ~30 seconds off my PR. Without the wind and a bit better pacing at the start I might have set another PR for the season.

Was also funny watching Bob spin back down the 6.5 mile descent.  I think his shorts caught fire a few times. :)

The TDF this year has been interesting to say the least.  I'm glad Ricco was shown the door.  I thought the boy needed to grow up and gain some respect for other riders before taken more seriously.  I mean, who the hell gives themselves their own nickname?  I hope the Alps bust the race open and Vander Velde makes a run for yellow.


Hoping to work some beer magic next week with a co-worker.  If all goes well, we'll be making a Marionberry Ale which should be ready to rip mid to late September. Mmmm beer.  Speaking of beer, Stone released their 12th Anniversary beer.  This year it's a Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout.  I plan on cracking one open tonight to try out. 

My other brewing mentor Todd, reports that the CCX Imperial we kicked off Memorial Day weekend is blurping along nicely in the primary.  If it's anything like the batch he made earlier this year, it should be a nice kick in the head.


Like millions of other sheep, I got an iPhone the week.. weee!  I'm pretty damn impressed with the thing so far. has a free application which allows you to stream music over Edge/3G/WiFi.  Was pretty cool being on the top of Pumpkin Ridge getting tunes while we waited for the rest of the group.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Step back to ride forward?


Rest is supposed to make you feel better. It allows for muscle to heal, wounds to repair themselves, the spirit replenish.  Last week I took as a rest week and took a step back.  I had noticed looking over my TrainingPeaks data that I was running a very high Acute Training Load, and my Training Stress Score was at its lowest point this season.  The last week of June and first week of July had seen a good 400+ miles roll by with a number of high intensity workouts mixed into the fold.  I did no hard rides during the past week with the hopes that the rest would allow me to hit that next level I'm searching for.

The off week was actually more difficult that I imagined.  My body felt restless, and my spirits raised by the coverage of the Tour.  I wanted to ride.  I was looking forward to the weekend.

Saturday the club route took us up one of the nasty small climbs in the foothills of Bald Peak, a road known as Unger or Iowa Hill depending on which side of the road you decide to go up.  I decided to take the Hammer & Nails group out on this day, which should lead to an entertaining ride.

I was happy to see that a number of new riders had joined the usual crew of PV racers and weekend hammerheads, the number possibly buoyed by a stern reminder I gave to the club about sandbagging in slower ride groups.  Unfortunately newcomers means unpredictable riding, the first ten or so miles were much harder than they needed to be.  A constant series of surges and braking to compensate for poor paceline work. 

The beauty of the H&N group is that it eventually becomes self sorting.  The weaker riders, or those with poor performing rides tends to drift off the back over the first half of the ride, a series of dropped chains, flat tires, and "bio-mechanical" failures.  It sounds harsh, but its designed to be difficult to elevate the performance of those who try and ride with the group, and it works. 

I remember the first time I finished with the H&N group last year.  I celebrated by shaving my legs for the first time.

Unger road loomed ahead of me, a two stage climb that can seriously work over those who are unfamiliar with the climb, and just puts the screws to everyone else.  The first time I went up the climb, I remember seeing a faster group ahead of me on the second stage and watching some members of the group tacking back and forth across the road to maintain their forward momentum.  On this day I was with the lead group of 10 or so riders at the base of the climb and immediately knew I was in trouble.  My legs just wouldn't turn over and my cardio system couldn't handle the stress.  With a bit of dismay I watched as the crew rolled away from me up the hill.  "This is Hammer & Nails, we don't wait."  I hear the words I spoke minutes before echoed ironically in my ears amid the pounding of my heart.  I relegated myself to grinding up the two sections of Unger, the blazing sun my only companion.

I eventually crested the beast and started the decent.  A sharp impact at the corner of my lip reminds me to be wary of the not so friendly  bees that have stung more than a few cyclists on this stretch of road.  I took a bee to the tongue two years ago and it's not a event I'd like to repeat.

On the descent Russ Patterson and Greg Magnus bridge up to me as I pull out the queue sheet, confirming that most of the group went the wrong way.  The three of us make the turn on Nursery Road and see Carlo and his father on the side of the road cameras in hand.

Greg and I decide to ham it up and engage in a mock sprint at a not so blazing speed.  The two of us are out of the saddle, our tongues hanging out like madmen.  I'm sure it will make for a pretty picture.   Greg's father Ron joins up with a short bit later and we make our way to Blooming Fern road and discover its been completely resurfaced.  I'm concerned as it will make an already fast decent down to Spring Fern Hill road even faster. 

We reach the bottom and stop to wait for the rest of the group, acting like sentries and watching for cars that could cause serious issues for anyone with bad brakes.  Fortunately the club members are familiar with the road and exercise caution coming into the intersection.  The final members of my group arrive and we depart for Forest Grove and Maggie's.

Maggie's Buns is a small off the wall bakery in the heart of downtown Forest Grove, and one of the clubs awesome sponsors.  If you've never had one of her famous cinnamon buns, you haven't done yourself justice!  "Best Buns in Town" isn't just a catchy phrase.  Maggie mans the water faucet and the two off us top of close to forty riders water bottles in no time at all.  I can't wait for our upcoming century that she is catering.

I retrieve my bike from the limited shade and see the swarm of cyclists that have gathered upon the small store.   I call out that the H&N's group is rolling out and head on our way back into Longbottoms.  A half mile down the road I glance back and the original two dozen that left at the start of the ride has swollen to close to fifty riders.  I formulate an evil plan.  The pace is causal heading out of town, allowing us time to warm our legs back up after the elongated stop.  As we approach the HWY 47 crossing, I ask Ron Babcock to park himself at the front of the line and ramp the speed to the mid twenties when we get across the road. 

The group is so large that a natural split occurs at the crossing.   "Play time's over folks!" I call out.  I hear Ben Johnson cheer with approval from behind me.  Ron obliges by dropping the hammer, with Ben coming up to lend a hand.  The group strings out into a long line as we cruise through the fields of overripe strawberries.  Another intersection splits the group further again, Sean and I find ourselves on the wrong side of a gap and work hard to close it around the traffic circles of Verbort.  A small Toyota pickup truck causes us to loose ground right as we were within striking distance.  Frustrated, we sit up and wait for more riders to join us before making another dig at the leading group.  We eventually catch them on the run up to Long Road.

Things cool down until we hit Hornecker.  I try to lead Bob out for a sprint but go too early for what limited strength my legs had left.  The remainder of the ride is thankfully low key.   

Short term pain for long term performance?  I hope that's what this rest leads to.

Thursday, July 10, 2008



As I mentioned in my previous post, it's time for a recovery week.  This week my riding has consisted of commuting to and from work, a massive 9 miles a day.  My legs actually feel heavy when I get on the bike right now, so I'm hoping the light cycling load will be helpful.  I'll find out on Saturday when I go for some climbs with the team.

The light workload doesn't mean I'm not staying active however!  Any training regiment needs to be varied in my opinion, so I've supplemented my cycling with a weight program.  I believe it's important to have strong stabilization muscles to maintain form, and prevent injury.  So at the start of this year during my first training phase, I spent at least two workouts a week in the gym doing a high rep-low weight lifting regiment. 

From past experience, I've found I'm the type of person who can gain muscle mass by simply walking past a weight rack.  Oddly enough that wasn't something that very evident to me until a number of years after I was diagnosed as being diabetic.  My endocrinologist stated it probably has something to do with extra insulin I sometimes have in my system and went on to state that insulin is often abused by body builders and other athletes as a performance enhancing drug.  (Anyone want a hit off my insulin pump?)

As a result, I've found I have to be super careful when doing any sort of lifting program to not add bulk when increasing strength.  I'll have to admit its hard for me to go to the gym and complete sets of 30 reps with a really light weight.  Part of me knows that I can lift far more weight than what I'm currently working with.  I guess in some strange way it's an exercise in mental discipline. 

However strength work doesn't need to be done with free weights or machines!  This weeks strength routine I've named "4X4ftw".  A deceptively simple series of 4 different exercises done in a circuit 4 times.  As an added bonus, when you are done it feels like you've been beaten with a 4x4!  (I seriously wanted to barf last night.)  Doesn't that sound like fun?  Here is what made up the 4x4ftw circuit.

  1. one leg squats:  I actually do these on the stairs as it gives you the ability to dip low.  This is your basic squat with one leg.  It works your quad/hamstrings, gluets, and calf muscles.  While you squat down, keep your core muscles tight to help with balance.  I tend to also do a knee lift with the leg I'm holding up to further emphasize the contraction of the core muscles.  It's like a standing crunch!  15 reps per leg then immediately on to...
  2. planks: this is a ground based exercise, so having a yoga mat or something similar is helpful.  Start in the push-up position, then drop your upper body so you are resting on your forearms.  Here is a video demonstrating the exercise.  Engage the core muscles to hold your body as stiff as a "plank of wood".  Don't let your back round up, or sag down!  I try to hold the plank position for a minute.  It's harder than it sounds.  Once done, stretch the lower back, abs via whatever yoga pose you like, but don't take too long.  One of the purposes of doing something in a circuit is to keep your heart rate elevated.  Next up...
  3. jump squats:  crouch low, loading the leg muscles with your body weight, then jump upwards using your legs and arms to propel you skyward.  When landing, absorb your descent with your legs again.  This is a standard plyometrics based exercise.  You don't have to jump to your max on every attempt, but do make sure you start and end each rep at your crouch or "loaded" position.  15 reps then on to...
  4. decline push ups: there are a lot of variations of this exercise, but I put my feet up on one of those inflatable exercise balls, but you can use the stairs, a bench, or the edge of a couch to prop up your legs.  I personally like the exercise ball as I've found propping the legs up on an object that moves requires your core, lower back, and gluets to constantly shift and adjust making the push up more difficult.  As with most of these exercises, keep the core tight!   20 reps.

Once I finished a circuit, I move directly into the start of the next one.  You'll find that the the jump squats will elevate your heart rate, making the push-ups much harder then expected.  I normally take a short 2 minute break between the second and third circuit in order to hydrate.  A circuit will take me about 5 to 6 minutes, allowing me to complete the workout routine in 25-40 minutes depending on my pace.  The best part is all of this can be done at home, so its great if you need to shoe-horn a workout in.

The addition of strength and flexibility work into my routine has definitely paid off this year, and I'd strong suggest it to anyone looking to improve their performance.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Things that explode...

  1. Volcanos
  2. Fireworks
  3. Valverde
  4. My legs...

Hope everyone had a good 4th of July weekend!  The fireworks here started early as the Portland Velo race team met in downtown on the 3rd for the "It's on like Donkey Kong with Volcano's" ride.  The Thursday night team ride is in its infancy, however leading into a holiday weekend there was a huge showing.  Unfortunately, our instigator decided to totally bail on us and not show up until we finished.

All was not lost however!  Mike Kender lead us on a truly epic journey that climbed the three local Portland volcano's.  Almost 20 of PV's racers met in historic Ladd's Addition on the east side.  It was definitely a sight to behold as only three riders decided to not sport the PV colors.  (Let Couzens, Magnus, and Burke be shunned until they buy us beer!)  First on the list to conquer was Mount Tabor, home of the circuit race and a stage in this years Mount Hood Cycling Classic.  Second on the list was Rocky Butte, and finally Council Crest.  The route took us through every major neighborhood in Portland, and we were constantly stared at in amazement.  I guess it's not often that a ton of cyclists roll down 42nd.   It was awesome to hang out with some team mates I haven't seen in a while and have a nice social ride to kick off the weekend.

Highlight of the evening for me had to be getting stopped on the Hawthorn has a sail boat when through, as the blues fest was in full tilt on the waterfront.  The small gang that was heading back to Palio's at Ladds was treated to some great music while we waited.  Huge props to Kristin, Sherry, and my lovely wife Traci who was out on her first team ride ever, for hanging with the boys for the evening.  Roughly 35miles with 2500 feet of climbing!

Upon our return to Palio's, the evil Heidi decided to show her face. All was forgiven  when she suggested Hopworks for a late dinner and some beer.  Heidi, Sal, Javad, Kender, Alex, and Sherry joined Traci and I in "The Vault" for a few pints and some good food.

We got home late, and the next morning was the PV "Firecracker" ride.  Ty, our "Director Sportif" had decided to create a secret course that would take us roughly 60 miles through unknown territory.  The only things we know going into this ride is that it was going to be fast, and winners of the hotspots were getting free beer!  Roughly 40 riders from PV, Team Rose City, and Clint from Bicycle Attorney met at the Cornelius Pass Roadhouse early on the 4th to launch some fireworks of our own.  The ride took us up Thompson to Skyline, where Magnus took the first hotspot of the day.   We descended down Old CP Road to Phillips then up to Jackson Quarry where Ron Babcock took the K.O.M at the top of the climb.    Ron again took the third hotspot leading into Roy, barely nipping me at the line.  Clint took the hotspot at the Clapshaw summit, and I was able to thin the herd down to Springer, B-Rat, and Ty on Hillside.  Springer played his cards right and took the prime there, barely edging out Ty who I lead out.  The final hotspot of the day was won by Ron again, out kicking Springer and I on Hornecker Road.  Ron was the big winner on the road, but since he doesn't drink beer, he was automatically DQ'd from the competition!  Huzzah!

The gang returned back to CPR and met up with some of the club members who went out a bit after us for some good times.  Big thanks to Ty for organizing the ride and providing the liquid bread during the afterparty.  This was easily one of the hardest rides I had been on this year.  40 or so folks started, and roughly 20 rolled back into the Roadhouse.

Saturday morning brought the best time of the year for any cycling fan.  TOUR TIME!  I got out of bed earlier than I normally do on a Saturday to catch portions of the prologue.  I was more than a bit confused when I turned on the TV and saw a peleton of riders chasing down a break.  (I'll be the first to admit I haven't scoped any of this years stages.)  It wasn't long until good old Paul Sherwin mentioned that it was the first time in the thirty years he's been working with the tour that they didn't have the prologue.  I guess the ASO didn't want Cancellara in yellow the first day?

Watching the final run up to the finish was amazing.  I thought Kirchen was going to take the stage, he seemed to attack at just the right moment and had a huge lead from the overhead view, but then out of the pack shot this crazy orange, yellow, and red bullet and Phil Liggett starts screaming "Valverde! Valverde!".  I wish I had that type of acceleration!

Saturday's club ride was a fairly quiet one.  A lot of the race team had put in their hard efforts the day before and the old and overcast weather had chased away a good number of riders.  I made a gametime decision and took the club a different route than we originally planned, much to the dismay of Russ Patterson who was planning on meeting us halfway up Thompson (sorry Russ!).  Instead of the Rose Garden, we decided to visit the rainforest known as Dairy Creek. 

I rolled out with the first group of the day, intent on enjoying a nice tempo ride.  As always, things got a bit spirited towards the end of Dairy Creek, but nothing like the leg shredding from the day before.  On the way back down we broke up into two smaller groups and worked rotating paceline skills.  It was a bit harry with a few riders new to the technique, but we made it down in one piece.  Remember, be predictable and smooth.  Don't force any accelerations.  After Dairy Creek we decided to take on a few more miles and had fun playing with a new comer to our rides who had earned a less then savory impression with some of the race team during other non PV rides.  General consensus seems to be that sucking wheel on a tempo climb up a hill only to attack the last few meters for "the win" is only good form if you weigh over 200 lbs.  This dude did not qualify! BAD FORM.

Today was a day for recovery.  The 4th consecutive day that I had been on my bike for an extended period of time.  My body definitely felt it even just rolling over to Longbottoms to meet up with the group.  Fortunately the ride was very mellow and I was able to just spin for a few hours to loosen up the legs.  Probably a bit longer than I should have been out for a recovery ride, but the company was good, even if they were making fun of my circa 1986 Team Lemond tour Winner jersey by Puma.  High point of my ride was trying to punk Bob at the Cornelius city limit sign via a sneaky sprint.  For those of you unfamiliar with the area, the sign is less than 100m north of the intersection of Golf Course Road and Lafolette.   (Use the Google Street , which rocks by the way, to see the sign!)   The two of us were laughing so hard that we nearly fell off our bikes.

We got back in, had our lunch and parted ways.  Once I got home I pulled up all of my stats for the past few weeks.  I'm currently sitting at both a season high Chronic Training Load, and Acute Training Load.  Basically, it means my body is more tired now than it has been all season as far as the amount of work I've done short term (a few days), and the amount of work I've done long term (a few weeks / months).   No wonder I'm tired!  While I'm not yet suffering from over training, if I were to keep up this intensity it would probably burn me out in fairly soon. 

I'm pleased with how the season is going so far and I'm looking forward to a few races in August, with maybe a race this coming Friday at the Velodrome (if I get my bike ready in time!)  Hopefully the easy week I have planned, mainly commuting with a bit of tempo work mid-week, will help with some recovery.  Now I just have to make sure the Tour doesn't get me all hyped up!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

An epic post for an epic weekend...


I apologize in advance for the overkill of detail, length and slew of grammatical errors that will be in this post... So many memories were made this weekend and its hard not to share.

This past weekend was the 4th Annual LIVESTRONG Challenge here in Stumptown.  I decided ahead of time to take the 3 days leading up to the weekend and the Monday after the weekend off so I could attend to the things I needed to and not be burnt out for the event.  As it was, I spent much of the days leading up to the event prepping a trio of bikes and attending to last minute details, requests, and meetings.  By the time 5:00am Sunday rolled around, I was flat out exhausted.  Having Monday available to relax looks like a stroke of pure genius in hindsight.

I started my event weekend on Wednesday morning with a double dose of riding.  First a 9am club ride out of Longbottoms, followed by the 11:30 Rose City / iBike ride that meets on the corner of Sewell and Evergreen.  Day ended with 70 miles, 4 major climbs, and me with a serious case of stomach cramps from not having enough food in my system.  I was also having issues with my rear derailleur which made climbing fun to say the least.  I spent the rest of the evening prepping the house for our guests to arrive on Thursday.

Thursday morning I attended the final All Agency meeting for the event.  Law enforcement officers, medical personal, and LAF volunteers went over the organizational  plan and last minute course details for the event.  That afternoon our guests arrived and we spent time catching up and fitting Brad to a bike we had borrowed from a teammate in the evening.  This will be the second year that Brad has come up to participate in the event, and this year he brought the heat from Arizona to go with our humidity.  Fun times.

Friday morning Brad and I joined the PV club ride out of Longbottoms.  It was a shakedown ride for Brad as he was getting used to his loaner.  The TREK OCR he was riding was a standard 53/39 crankset with a 12-25 rear cassette.  His bike at home is a triple.  We laugh a bit nervously as we discuss "the climb" on Sunday's ride while on the road.  I point out areas where we are going to be riding as he gets the feel of the bike.  The pace floats between 17 and 21 mph and he hangs on no problem.  He's trained much more for this ride and looks strong.  We hit the only climb of the Friday ride and I tell him to ride his own pace.  The ride always regroups at the base of Blooming Fern.  I move to the front and ride with Ty and a new comer named Ray.  In months past I've never been able to hang with Ty while climbing.  I'm happy to be at least holding his wheel although noting I'm breathing a lot harder than him.  He mocks my long sleeved baselayer that covers my UV sensitive arms.  I tell him I'm channeling my inner David Millar.  My rear derailleur is still chattering while I'm climbing and the new bottom bracket I had installed days before is grinding already.  Note to readers, Ultegra BB + FSA SLK crankset = fail.

The regroup happens and Brad is the last one down.  Climbing in the bigger gear than he's used to has strained his calves causing them to cramp.  We roll back with the shorter group and make plans to hit a bike store to get a 12-27 cassette.  That evening we install the new cassette, change out Traci's worn tires, and think we diagnose the cause of my poor shifting when I pull a frayed shifter cable out of the housing on my shift lever.  I have enough time to fix everything, chow down a quick dinner, then run off to meet with my Ride Marshal team before the final LAF walk through meeting before the event.

The Ride Marshal meeting was something special.  Every single person showed up on time and was ready to go.  Although we are all volunteers at this event, the level of professionalism displayed by the PV crew was very evident.  We went through the final schedule and ride groups, and I got the opportunity to hand out the special PV dogtags we had made for the occasion.  Each rider and rest stop volunteer from PV had a callsign assigned to them.  Like real fighter pilot callsigns, some are jokes and light hearted jabs at the recipient, while others are simply a pairing of a person to an available cool sounding name.  The effort seemed to be appreciated and I had a fun time working on it with Linda.  The team meeting ends in time for me to grab a beer with Carlo and Mike before the walk through starts.  I make a number of last minute notes and question to address before getting the tubes and signing out the radios we'll be using.  I roll into the house at 9pm, fire off some mails and crash before 10.

Saturday's club ride was a quiet affair for me.  The weather was expected to be hot and the ride leaves a few minutes ahead of schedule causing some riders to scramble out of Longbottoms.  I make a note to hold riders to at least the start time to avoid this in the future.  I volunteered to take out the last group today, knowing that I'd be on the road for a long period of time.  My group had a number of riders who were with PV for the first time today, so I was happy to make sure they had a good experience with the club.  I spent much of the ride with the new folks and hoping to leave a lasting impression on them. 

I arrive back at Longbottom's in time to check in with a few folks.  I mentioned to Bob the issues I was having with the rear derailleur.  He took a look at things and noticed that my rear cassette was pretty chewed up.  Another rookie mistake on my part.  At least I had all the tools needed to fix it.  A final trip to the shop for a new cassette and chain and the problem was gone.  After reviewing things it looked like I had about 2400 miles on that cassette since January, so it was about time to change it out.   Saturday night is spent organizing things for the early departure on Sunday.  I roll into bed around 10pm and sleep fitfully all night.  4:45am comes quickly.

The day I've been working on for 6 months has finally arrived.  Brad, Traci, and I eat breakfast quietly as the sun rises and change into our gear.  The weather report shows a slightly cooler day than Saturday, with highs getting into the 90's only after 3pm.  Martin comes by the house at 5:45 sharp and we load Traci's bike on his car.  The four of us head to the Nike campus as the sun breaks over Skyline. 

At 6:45 a small army of PV riders decked out in the 5 generations of club and race team jerseys we've had meets outside of the Tiger Wood Center.  I pass out last minute supplies and remind people to take care of each other in addition to the riders on course.  As I wrap up, Roger Mast from the LAF comes by and thanks us, telling us we've set the standard for Riding Marshals that will be hard to match.  There is a look of pride on the faces of the crew present.  At 7:00am we head down to the staging area.  A gang of black, blue, white, and red, each draped with a neon yellow marshal sash.  We pause to say hi to other riders we know and ham it up for a large group picture.

My riding group for the day consists of Matt "Kiss'n" Couzens, Bryan "Meatball" Molloseau, and Jeremy "Jester" Schultz.  We are joined at the line by Scott Springer who was able to help out last minute.  We move from the staging area to the start line and watch the festivities.

At promptly 7:30, we are released.  The sound of cleats on pedals fills the air as hundreds of cyclists shoot out of the gates many hoping to catch, and maybe ride with Lance.  This is the most dangerous time of the ride.  I cringe watching riders fill the road which thankfully is closed to car traffic.  Washington County Motorcycles leapfrog the front group, stopping traffic at all intersections.  Somehow a few miles in one of them dumps into a ditch, but no one is hurt and everyone is back on there way quickly.

My team works hard, trying to herd the cyclists to the right side of the road.  We've exited the closed part of the course and cars are now on the road intermixed with cyclists.  Some people heed our requests to double up and ride to the right as we make our way through the crowd in front of us.  Up the road I see a lone rider riding beyond the double yellow line trying to get near the front of the pack.  We shake our heads in disgust and hope a car doesn't come around the blind bend.

The first rest stop comes and goes.  No one in the front group stops.  A few miles down the road the course splits and the century riders are to go straight.  Lance throws them a curve and makes the turn, taking the police escort with him.  Shows over folks, time to pay attention to the road.

Eventually our group of five rides in a familiar cluster.  We chat with the riders on the road, making sure they hydrate and all is well with them.  The miles tick by and the outline of Bald Peak grows closer.  A fire truck passes us going the other way, siren and lights blaring.  I scan the radio channels but hear nothing, hoping the incident was not cycling related.  The climbing starts in the foothills of Bald Peak, a road called Mountain Home, which is a favorite among the PV climbers.  It's my first time climbing from this direction and I can see its appeal.  Jeremy and I ride with a gal with a WCCC leaders jersey on up the climb.  "I'm more a flatlander" she admits, but continues to grind up the hill as we pull away from her.  We pass dozens of riders on the ascent.  Some already pulled off into the limited shade in the area.  We check with each cyclist as we pass, and all say they are okay.  I silently wonder how many matches had been burnt chasing Lance.

We arrive at the rest stop and tanked up.  Food and hydration are the keys to the day.  I learn that a cyclist went down hard behind us and was taken away by the EMT's.  Fortunately he crashed not 500 meters from a stationed emergency unit.  A group of riders thanks Springer for pointing out a bad rut in the road on the descent.  I radio into the command center to see if we can get it marked.  Couzens makes a new friend giving up his spare water bottle to a rider who lost his after hitting a bump in the road. 

Once again we rolled out, setting an easy pace up the hill and down the twisting descents that followed.  These roads are Springer's playground and he picks clean and safe lines through the corners.  The climb was coming.

We inevitably turned back towards Bald Peak, looming some 1400 feet above us.  The sun was up and it was starting to warm.  Each of us picked our own climbing pace and toiled up the hill, calling out support to each rider we passed.  Eventually we string out and I could see only Jeremy ahead of me, each of us lost in the personal hell that a 16% grade inflicts on the body.  My heavy breathing and rhythmic tick of my gears is the only sounds for minutes until I'm deafened by chatter over my radio.  Volume needed to hear while riding at 20mph is much more than what is needed to hear at 6mph.  I fumble with the volume and eventually turn it down. 

The worth part of the climb passes and we make the turn on to Bald Peak road itself.  A 6 to 8% grade climb feels easy compared to 14%-16%.  My legs eventually recover and I pull myself up to Jeremy.  Springer and Couzens are just up the road.  We finally make it to rest stop 2 and are startled to learn that we are close to the first people up top.  Bald Peak and the heat took a heavy toll on the riders in front of us leaving the previous stop.

We spend some time at the top of the climb, cheering on the riders making their way into the park and joking with Dominick the Mechanical coordinator.  He passed us on the climb and asks what took us so long.  The WCCC rider pulls in to the park with a big grin on her face.  She's informed by the rest stop staff that she's the first female to make it to the top and gets a big hand from the riders around her.  It's the little victories that make life what it is.

The descent off Bald Peak fast, punctuated with laughter as Springer pays tribute to a fellow club member.  The five of us scream down the road brushing near 50mph.  The descent was almost worth the climb.  Once on the flats the strength of the group becomes evident.  We pick up riders along course and soon are towing a dozen folks along the country roads.  Dominick passes us again on his scooter and waves.  We make it into the next rest stop a quick 25 minutes after leaving Bald Peak and stop for a taco. 

Springer turns off at this point and heads back to his domain.  We thank him for the help in the hills.  The next rest stop is 15 miles out with the first 8 being pancake flat before entering the roads around Hagg Lake.  Dominick yet again passes us as we are on road.  Jeremy suggests that he moto-pace us to the next stop.  We make good time and hit the rest stop shortly after noon and the pirates greet us by shooting off their muskets.  Yes... the ride had pirates.

We leave the rest stop at 12:30 and make the turn off the dam about fifteen minutes later.  I look up the road to the left and see a number cyclists still making their way up the first hill.  On the ride out of the park we pass by three more cyclists on their way in.  "Those folks are the last on the century course" I remark to others.  We catch riders on Old HWY 47 and cheer them on.  They pass us a short bit later when Couzens flats after hitting a ninja pothole.  Its the only tire change we have that day.  We pick up a handful of riders on the flats once again.

We make a unanimous decision to by-pass rest stop 7 and head directly to 8 where PV has set up shop.  As we approach the rest stop all our companions save a couple from Seattle pull off.  The male comments they know a good thing when they see one.  Dominick waves as well roll by and we yell to him that he's slacking.

Be it by the familiar roads or the knowledge that we were almost done, the four of us ramp up the pace taking long smooth pulls at well over 20mph.  On Susbauer road we all start to look puzzled as heavy rain drops randomly hit us.  The sky above us is hazy, but not cloudy.  Dominick comes past us for the final time and we laugh about the rain.  At 1:50 we arrive in North Plains to a swarm of cheering club members.  Our new friends from Seattle thank us for the tow in.  Ice baths and a spray hose are a welcome sight.  The next hour and a half are spent swapping stories with our other club mates and staying cool.  

Brad calls from the Nike campus.  Leg cramps prevented him from doing the entire 100 mile ride, but he finished with 84 and climbed Bald Peak.  His progress from a year ago is staggering.

As the afternoon progresses we begin to get reports trickling in on the number of riders still out on course.  The numbers trickle down until just a handful of riders are between the last two rest stops.  Tired but determined riders roll into North Plains, the final oasis before their destination.  Our marshal teams mobilize for the final task, to make sure all riders who want to make it in, get in.

Teams of two and three introduce themselves to these folks, and group by group they leave North Plains.  Jeremy and I mount up and ride with a participant named Travis was was sagged in from the previous leg with mild heat exhaustion.  The cooling temperature and rest has lifted his spirits and he's decided to finish the ride.  The miles slowly tick by as we are trailed by a SAG van and an EMT vehicle.  I make idle conversation with Travis, riding just behind him.  He shares that he's riding for his mom who lost her battle with cancer recently.  The pain is evident in his voice and how he's holding himself on his bike.  8 miles to go, then 5, then 3.  Travis's spirit begins to pick up as does his speed. 

We turn on to 158th and I see a rider on the side of the road with one of the motorcycle units.  I leave Travis with Jeremy and check in with them.  The rider had felt a bit dizzy and got a can of coke from the support cycle.  The sugar was exactly what he needed.  John Ohnstad, the Portland Mentor is riding sweep and arrives on scene as the rider mounts his bike. 

An errant timed traffic light cuts John and I off from the rider we were escorting, and we laugh as he continues up the road.  Each subsequent traffic light we miss as he doesn't and soon he's out of sight.  We ride through the finish together in a shower of yellow pedals and fan faire.  The volunteers at the finish look tired, but their enthusiasm is genuine. I run into Travis on the way into the Village and I congratulate him on finishing.  He thanks us for the support and we part ways.

My marshal team has done its job, and many of them have made their way home.  The Village is being broken down and I'm too tired mentally to look for food or the free beer that was available somewhere.  Seven plus hours in the saddle and 3400 calories later, I leave my sash and radio with Linda and call it a day.  As Traci and I make our way to our car the gal from Seattle stops and thanks us once again.  She's showered and changed into comfortable clothes, and I try not to envy her.  The drive home is quiet, and I try not to doze off.  We unpack and Kirsten and Brad have dinner well under control by the time I'm out of the shower.  The remainder of the evening is relaxing as we crack open some beer and eat, reliving moments of the day between the bites of pasta and chicken.

By 9:30 we are all ready for bed.  The day was the result of months of planning and coordination by a small group of folks to let a big group of folks help make a difference in the fight against a disease that impacts millions.  I am immensely proud to have been part of that team.