Tuesday, September 29, 2009

“Thanks for the wheel.”

(Note: this post has nothing to do with the tire roll-off incident I had at Barlow, so if you are looking for a race report, sorry!) -m

In 2005, I worked in a very small building at our mammoth company.  While this had a number of bad aspects, it was nice to know just about everybody that worked in the building.  So when a group of guys around my age moved into the cubes around me, it wasn’t long before we got to know each other and found we had a lot of similar interests.

A few months later, another member of this group moved to Oregon.  Shortly after he arrived, I noticed a lot of bike gear in his cube and stopped by to say hello.  Jeremy introduced himself and we chatted for a while, talking mainly about cycling and what brought him to Oregon and parted with a “we should ride together some time.”  Little did I know…

My first attempt to ride with him was a dismal failure.  A combination of my (lack of) fitness, a lack of sleep due to some major blood sugar issues, and a horridly cold May day caused me to cut the planed 75mi RACC route short after just 15miles of riding with him.  A second friend who joined us reported back that Jeremy effortlessly pulled him along for the remainder of the ride and it was all he could do to hold Jeremy’s wheel.

Jeremy, as it turns out had a few years of racing in him back in AZ and was somewhat of a fitness nut.  (We used to joke that he ate “Cyborg Food” at lunch since he always had odd healthy snacks.) I on the other hand was just starting to get back into riding after a number of years of being out of the saddle and enjoyed Doritos.  My fitness was coming back, but it obvious I wasn’t anywhere near the level where he was at.  The good news though was that we had fun together and we continued to ride on Saturday PV rides throughout the summer when he could make it out.

At the end of 2006, the Portland Velo Race Team formed and I joined in on its inaugural season.  I became more dedicated in my riding and rode frequently with the fledgling team.  I was new to racing, and to race tactics and frequently asked Jeremy about things I saw or read.  We swapped weekend ride stories when we couldn’t get together, and shared routes that we had found.

In April of 2007, a friendly rival team invited PV down for a “social ride” of the Monster Cookie Event in Salem.  Ten of us, including Jeremy and I, traveled down to Salem for the event.  It was clear from the start that this “social ride” had “hammerfest” written all over it.  Jeremy towed my sorry ass back into the group on a number occasions, postponing my inevitable ejection from the speeding pack.  When I finally cracked for good, he selflessly pulled out of the paceline and waited for me so I had someone to ride with the rest of the way in.  It wouldn’t be the last time I limped home on his wheel.

Over the next two years we rode together frequently, my fitness improving by leaps and bounds due to dedicated training and racing until it got to the point where we were on about equal footing.  On the bike friendship spilled over to surround our wives and another couple whom we spent a great deal of time together with.  The six of us formed an extended family and enjoyed countless hours in each others company. 

Unfortunately for us, Jeremy and Kimberly found a beautiful house in Arizona and will be leaving the land of liquid sunshine this coming weekend.  We knew the day was approaching, but its always a shock when it arrives.

So this past Saturday, Jeremy and I rolled out one last time on a PV group ride.  I had no intentions of going hard since I had a race the following day and when the pace heated up, I drifted off the back.    And as it had happened so many times in the past, Jeremy waited for me and we rode together.   We picked up another group along the way and traded attacks, laughing at the pain we joyously lobbed at each other.   Ten miles from home we left the group and struck out on our own, determined to make it back before them.  We traded pulls into a howling headwind, wordlessly knowing when to pull through.  It was a fitting way to log the last miles of a great journey with a great friend.

So to Jeremy I say, “Thanks for the wheel.”

Friday, September 25, 2009



Been a whirlwind 3 weeks since I last updated.  Pain on the Peak 2009 was a raging success with 20% more racers year over year, 100% less dust, and 100% more pain!

This years course was longer than last years by about a 500m and saw some great racing action.  Big thanks to all of our sponsors and racers for coming out, and congratulations to Ryan Trebon and Sue Butler for their wins.

Unlike the 2008 edition of the race, I actually the opportunity to race!  My first race of the 2009 cross season, first race on the new rig, and first cross race since the knee injury.  I’m happy to report everything worked out fine, although I’ll need to do some tweaking on the bike to get a few final things dialed in.  Hopefully I’ll have them all ready for this weekends Battle at Barlow!

My ultra-sexy wheels showed up last week, and Bryan over at Bike’'N’Hike in Hillsboro did a stellar job getting the Fango’s glued and mounted on them.  Now I have a fast bike and fast wheels.  Hope the engine doesn’t suck this year.

Training took a bit of a back seat the last two weeks as Traci and I traveled to the East Coast to visit a number of friends in the Boston area.  We were graciously hosted by Irena and Danny, the same folks who we ventured to Miami to be part of their wedding in May.  The trip was perfectly timed (with the exception that the Sox were away rather than home) and we packed a ton of fun into a short stay.  Got the opportunity to see some amazing things at 38 Studios (what they are doing is going to explode minds.  No, don’t ask me, I can’t tell you.) and meet some really great people.  Didn’t see a ton of people cycling, but I hear that Mountain Biking is huge out there so they were probably all in trails.

I was lucky enough to get some pizza at Depot in Andover, which made my day.  We don’t get pizza like that out here.  Irena, Traci and I went apple picking and I probably ate a dozen apples while there.  The ladies then made an amazing pie which vanished as soon as it entered 38 Studios.

The highlight of my trip (that I can talk about) was Sunday when I spent the day catching up with friends new and old.  Danny, Irena, Traci and I  met in Boston with Chris, Jay, and John for brunch.  We ate and laughed and mostly made fun of Chris.  The time sped by and we had to head out sooner than we would have liked.   We then hit the Blue Man Group show, and Irena and I were pulled out of the audience before the show started and made fun of about 25 minutes later as “LATE ARRIVERS”.  Irena hammed it up by hiding under her jacket.

After the show ended, we met with Jim and Dorothy.  Jim and I were friend all through out grade school and into high school.  He hosted my going away party when we moved out to Oregon and was one of the folks I really missed those first few years out here.  We unfortunately drifted apart in the following years but thanks to the miracle of Facebook we were able to get back in touch.  I hadn’t seen Jim in 17 years, but it was like yesterday when we got back together.  Jim and Dorothy took us to a great place for dinner then another place for desert.  We talked and caught up on old times and told stories that made us laugh.  We parted ways late in the evening happy to have had the chance to see each other.

By the end of the trip I was craving some bike time, my legs hurt and were “twingey” which made for an entertaining flight back.  Barlow should be entertaining this weekend.  My ride yesterday I felt fresh, but ya never know how you’ll do after a layoff!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pain is almost here….


Just a few more days until the 2009 edition of Pain on the Peak.  The team has been busy at work these past few months putting together an even better event than last year.  With the lucky addition of rain this past weekend, the course should be significantly less dusty than it was last year as well!

A number of us spent Sunday morning last week up at the venue in a driving rain / wind storm to get the course cleaned up, parking area staked off, and make some new changes to the route the course will be taking this year.  The fast downhill “aim and pray” entrance into the woods has been re-routed into a technical pair of corners to let racers scrub a bit of speed and enter the woods not directly facing the sun.

The course will clock out longer this year than last year, which means the “evil climb” will be visited less times than last year.

My new rig, a Velo Vie Versa 300, has been built up and I’ve been able to ride it a number of times this year.  Dan Barnes of Velo Vie was kind enough to help me out in a pinch and sent me the paint test frame he had set aside for himself.  The Versa 300 will be on the market soon, so I’m riding a one-of-a-kind rig!  It’s a great bike, and I look forward to crashing racing it this season. 

Off to CX practice at Alpenrose!