Brad’s Custom ‘Cross Bike.

After a long wait, Brad’s new Ahearne custom ‘cross bike is built and ready to rock! (I apologize in advance for mediocre cell phone pictures.) It’s single speed only with Paragon sliding dropouts and disc brake tabs. Brad is planning on doing some racing on it this Fall, but mostly using it for urban assault and Forest Park runs.

I think the coolest parts are the split seatstays, which are something Joseph has never done before.You can also see pictures of what it looked like before paint on the Ahearne Cycles website.

It also has the new improved super awesome Ahearne Cycles head badge.

Are You Ready To Meet Your Maker?

The South Fork of the Trask River

Looks nice, doesn’t it? Such a pleasant, pastoral image of stereotypical Oregon bliss in no way represents the pain we inflicted upon ourselves on Saturday, April 4th. That’s right, it was THE RAPTURE!

First, a little background. If you’ve read this blog before, you’ve probably seen something about Velo Dirt. The VD (haha, VD) gang inaugurated the Rapture route a few years ago to coincide with one of the many “end of the worlds” various lunatics are always forecasting. Unsurprisingly, the world didn’t end, but a small group of dedicated cyclists did ride their asses off in the Coast Range. I had done the Dalles Mountain last year, and after riding quite a bit this spring, I was thirsty for a new challenge. In the Rapture, I got it in spades. I somehow convinced Senior Chilidog, and Dik Dik Tracy (aka D-Bone, aka Dime Bag) to accompany me on this foolhardy and potentially suicidal venture. The route is tough, around 70 miles in length with over 7,000 feet of elevation gain, virtually all of it on gravel roads. What adds an extra degree of challenge is the remoteness. Unlike other VD (haha, VD. That just doesn’t get old) rides, you don’t pass any convenience stores or restaurants, and hardly even any houses. You are really on your own, responsible for carrying anything the ride might call for, including of course food and water but also anything that might be required to keep your bike rolling through some pretty deep and rough gravel roads.

Girding our loins for battle.

One of the the only easy aspects of our day was the start time, a civilized 10 am. This allowed us to roll out from Portland at a fairly late hour for the drive to the Flying M ranch, the start and end point of the days festivities. A number of riders had elected to camp out at the ranch, and we were greeted by a number of tents with cyclists milling about in preparation for the day. We geared ourselves up and chatted with some of our comrades before gathering around the man who had planned the whole thing for a few last minute instructions.

Donnie from Velo Dirt putting the fear of God into us.

After the safety briefing, we rolled out. I would estimate 60 to 80 people, on a mix of mountain, cyclocross, touring, randonneur, and even a few purpose built gravel bikes. The weather was amazing for April in Oregon, with temperatures forecast in the 80’s and endless blue skies. After 2 relatively flat miles, we passed our first gate, crossing into private timber lands and starting up the first climb of the day, an 8 mile grind that wouldn’t release us from it’s grasp until we climbed almost 3,000 feet.

Just getting started. If you look close, you can see the nice deep gravel on the shoulder.

The climb was steep, but what made it tough was the deep, uncompacted gravel. Log trucks had carved out two parallel tracks that were fairly smooth, but they were separated and bordered by deep, loose, rock. The group stretched out quickly and I found myself at the back of the pack regretting my missed opportunity to gear down to a 34×32 low.

Halfway up the initial climb.

Still halfway, but this time looking uphill. The ridge to the left is where we end up.

We regrouped 6 miles into the climb and paused for some fuel. We had only been riding for an hour, but after already climbing 2,000 feet I was feeling the burn. Fortunately, the gravel mellowed a bit at this point and the riding (surface wise, at least) became a little easier. Another 2 miles of out of the saddle grunting brought us to the top, where a stretch of slightly descending road felt like heaven.

The top, more or less.

We passed a large group around this time, including Johnny 2.0, who you may remember is the guy who (voluntarily) rode the Ronde twice. One of his compatriots would be cursed with recurring flats, and this was the first of several times we would leapfrog each other throughout the day. We then began a furious descent for several miles, winding our way down the West slope of the Coast Range.

This gate marked the bottom of the descent and our return to public lands.

Sr. Chilidog coming in for a landing.

From here we stopped for water in the headwaters of the South Fork of the Trask river.

The boys, making some water safe for democracy.

D-bone had brought a water filter so as to avoid carrying 2 gallons of water on his bike. Streams and rivers were plentiful along the route, it was just a matter of rendering the water safe to drink. I opted for a 3 liter hydration pack and 2 water bottles on my bike, though I was happy to drink filtered river water before the day was done.

How’s that for mountain fresh?

After topping up our bottles, we ventured forward on the now gently descending road, following the quickly widening river. We began to encounter small groups of motocrossers, and could see MX trails branching off the road.

The road ahead.

A few more miles and some more descending brought us out to a main road and something we hadn’t seen in hours: pavement! It’s hard to describe how good a nice smooth asphalt road felt after three hours of gravel. It was not to last, however. Two or so miles and we turned back onto gravel, this time following the North Fork of the Trask. This also meant we had hit the lowest point of the day, and would be climbing until we began to descend the East slope of the Coast Range. Sure enough, after a few gentle meanders, the road turned sharply upward, before leveling out on a moderate cliffside traverse a few hundred feet above the river.

82 degrees and blue sky in May?

Six or eight miles of ups and downs on the cliffside, and we dropped back down to the river level where we took the opportunity for one more water stop. My levels were getting low, so I took advantage of the boy’s generosity to top up.

So thirsty…

It was a good thing we stopped when we did, because immediately after our water stop we began to climb again, this time battling a wicked set of switchbacks that seemed endless. We finally made it to the top and cruised along a nice smooth logging road before arriving at Barney Reservoir. The end was finally in sight. Well, metaphorically, anyway. We still had around 20 miles to go, but most of the climbing was over. We took a break on the shore of the lake and powered through some food before gearing up for the final push.

Barney Reservoir, looking southwest. After this I was too tired to take any more pictures.

The road around and past the reservoir was the loosest and deepest gravel we had seen all day. I believe the cue sheet referred to it as “regraded total shit”. I pretended I was Phillipe Gilbert, put my head down and powered through. By now it was four o clock, and I was starting to feel a little punchy. We were all ready to be done for the day. The cue sheet had mentioned a final “bail out” about 10 miles from the end that would cut 7 miles and 800 feet of climbing off the total. We decided to make for it, but first a bit more climbing followed by a wicked fast gravel descent awaited us.

Finally, we re-emerged onto the pavement like dusty butterflies bursting forth from a gritty chrysalis. The asphalt was even more blissful than before because it descended gently, allowing me to take my hands off the bars and stretch my aching back. We found the turn for the bypass, and limped back to the Flying M. It was 6 pm. The final tally was 8 hours total, with 6.5 hours moving time and about 63 miles total. I found myself thinking “what the fuck were we doing for that hour and a half we weren’t riding?” it certainly didn’t feel like we spent that much time off the bike.

Our timing was good, because the food came off the barbecue right after we arrived. That didn’t stop us from getting milkshakes at Burgerville on the way home.

Summer Night Ride

The view from the intersection of Leif Erikson Drive and Saltzman Road.

Last Friday I made it out to my first Metropolis Night Ride of the season. Hosted (most) Fridays by Lil’ Snacky and the Utard, (aka Kristina and Brad) the route winds from the bike shop over the Broadway Bridge, through Northwest and into Forest Park. Attendants on this particular edition included myself, Senor Chilidog, the Utard, and our friend, neighbor and framebuilder extraordinaire Christopher Igleheart.

Self Explanatory.

After navigating the mean streets of the West side, a short climb up Thurman Street brought us to the Leif Erikson trailhead and the end of the pavement until just before the Saint Johns bridge. Friday had been a warm day, but the air cooled appreciably on entering the newly leafed trees of the aptly named Forest Park. By the time of our arrival, twilight was approaching and traffic was thinning out. We passed a half dozen runners and three or four cyclists on the first leg of our trail journey, before pausing for liquid refreshment at the crossroads of Leif and Saltzman Road.

Okay, on 3, nobody look at the camera.

We hung out at the picnic table at the crossroads for a bit, cracking jokes, enjoying the view and sharing libations. It was getting dark under the trees, so we turned on our lights and embarked on the next leg of our journey. Lil’ Snacky had told us about an old car hidden in the trees below the road shortly after Firelane 5, and we were determined to spot it.

Trust me, it’s a car.

And spot it we did. Judging from the suicide doors and the general shape it looks like an early ’60s Lincoln Continental. Supposedly there are two cars in the same vicinity, but we only found one. After a bit of gawking and photography, we wound on through the rapidly darkening forest. Another 3 miles brought us to another crossroads where Leif Erikson is intersected by Springville Road. A left turn climbs up to Skyline, but we opted for a right and the short, steep descent to Bridge Road and the Saint Johns Bridge.

Looking toward downtown Portland from the bridge. You can see Mt. Hood to the left.

Normally, when I cross the Saint Johns, I like to take the lane, but tonight I decided to take the walkway and enjoy the view, which gave me the leisure to snap some pictures. After the bridge, we headed back into the city along Willamette Boulevard and some welcome post ride drinks.

Friday night Forest Park rides run most weeks from our shop at around 6:30. Call us or check out our Facebook page for more details.

Once More Unto the Breach… Now, With Updates!

The Lion of Flanders marks the way.
(Editors note: I went back up to Council Crest on Tuesday the 23rd and took some pictures of spots I was too tired to properly photograph the day of the ride and added them to the story. This explains the sun and clarity in said photos)

This past Saturday was the latest edition of what has become something of an institution for Portland roadies. In it’s sixth installment the Ronde, or more formerly De Ronde Van West Portlandia promised to send us up some of the West Hills steepest climbs.

The scene at the start. This is maybe half of the starters.

A little background if you’re not familiar. The Ronde started in 2008 as a celebration of the traditional Spring Classic races and is named after the Tour of Flanders (or the Ronde Van Vlaanderen) which is known for rough roads and short, steep climbs. It was the brainchild of local race promoter/ne’er do well Brad Ross (most famous for the ‘Cross Crusade) who wanted to force willing riders up some of West Portland’s little known and punishingly steep climbs. The route is only 45 miles in length, but climbs a hefty 7,800 feet, including multiple ascents of Council Crest. One of the most interesting things is that it is totally unsanctioned. No entry fees, no waivers, no numbers. It definitely appeals to a pretty race oriented crowd though. We recognized many faces from the ‘Cross Crusade and I would guess 80-90% of riders present hold an OBRA license.

Dik-Dik Tracy, the Hymanator and an unnamed accomplice waiting to start.It turns out most of Team Metropolis wasn’t quite up to the challenge this early in the season, so it came down to just myself, the Hymanator and D-Bone (aka Dik-Dik Tracy) to represent the honor of the team. The Schwartz gets an honorable mention because he had planned on doing it but was forced to retire due to illness. We rolled up to the undisclosed start location about ten minutes early and hobnobbed with some of our fellow riders. I chatted with Johnny 2.0 of the Filth and Fury team, and discovered he had already completed an entire lap of the course, and was refueling for his second go ’round. Then, right at ten o’clock, a motorcycle rolled up to the start and off climbed Brad Ross. He yelled something like “It’s ten o’clock! What are you waiting for?” and off we went.

The first leg of the route took us up Highway 30 to Saltzman Road and the first climb of the day. Saltzman starts off paved, but the upper 3 or so miles are gravel. At this point, we were still in a pretty big group and while Saltzman isn’t a super steep climb, it is 1,100 feet of elevation gain over almost 4 miles, so the group started to stretch out a bit. At the top we took a hard left onto Skyline, bypassing the gaggle of riders taking a break at the roadside. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the 6 miles that followed were probably the easiest (not counting descents) and most peaceful of the day. A sharp right at the Skyline Restaurant dropped us down into position for the first brutal climb of the day, the infamous Brynwood Road.

Riders about halfway up Brynwood. To the left you can see people in a driveway resting for the next leg.

Brynwood isn’t a long climb, only about 1/3rd of a mile, but the grade varies between 18% and 35%, depending on who you ask. Let’s just say it’s really, really steep. Stupid steep, not the kind of thing you would ride for fun. I had only ridden it once before, after I missed the Ronde last year. In addition to being absurdly steep, Brynwood has 3 other things that work against you.

  1. It’s narrow. This isn’t a big deal if you’re by yourself, but when there are 500 other people on the road with you, a little extra space is helpful.
  2. It’s slippery. Being narrow and tree lined, it doesn’t get a lot of sun and the resulting moss can be a deal breaker if it causes your rear wheel to spin out.
  3. It’s not straight, but roughly s shaped, and from the bottom you only see the first 1/3rd. The problem with this is you think that first turn is the summit, but once you reach it, you are confronted with another 100 yards of punishing steepness.

The only thing in your favor are the driveways. Clever riders know they can use the half dozen driveways on the upper stretch to catch a quick breath before lurching off for the next toe hold up the line. Therefore, you’ll see 2 or 3 riders in each driveway describing tight circles on their bikes, breathing like a blown race horse before surging off once again.

Brad Ross, delighting in the carnage he has created.

I personally only made it about halfway, even in my 34/32 low gear. But hey, at least I didn’t fall over like the poor bastard on the time trial bike that toppled into me as I was trying to dismount in disgrace.

The final push. Literally.

We regrouped at the top where Brynwood rejoins Skyline, and wolfed down some food in preparation for the descent down Cornell where we would assault the next climb up to the Pittock Mansion. This one was much more manageable, and would set the tone for most of the rest of the day. Climb for 10-20 minutes then rest at the summit, drink some water and snack, then move on to the next one. We repeated this pattern 3 or 4 more times, interspersed with a high speed run down West Burnside, culminating in a lengthy break at Plaid Pantry for refueling. I was surprised at how many calories I was burning through. I had brought what seemed like an adequate amount of food for a ride of this length, but I clearly underestimated.

After stocking up on junk food, we crossed over Highway 26 for the next phase of torment, which consisted of multiple runs up and down the slope between Council Crest and PSU. Finally, we came to the second of the day’s brutal monuments: the infamous and feared College Street.

College. Photos don’t do it justice.College was much like Brynwood, steep, narrow, and unpleasant. D-Bone was the only one of us to make a serious attempt and even he had to pause at the halfway mark.

D-Bone at the midpoint.

The view from College.

From here things began to get a bit blurry for me. The route started to work clockwise up and down around Council Crest, winding past OHSU and the VA Hospital. One of the coolest features of the ride, which I didn’t capture on film, were the numerous homegrown rest stops along the way, some sponsored by bike shops or teams, but mostly hosted by neighborhood residents. Treats included the basics like water and bananas, and the more luxurious like gummy bears, homemade cookies, and of course, beer. I personally felt pretty pro when I took a Coca Cola handup. We were also routed onto several short stretches of singletrack.

Into the woods. Photo taken 2/23.

A little rough, but doable on a road bike. Photo taken 2/23.

Still 3 climbs to go. Photo taken 2/23After what seemed an endless carousel of trips up and down hill, we finally began the ultimate ascent.

The ultimate goal. Photo 2/23.

The view from Council Crest.

The Hymanator had wisely parked his escape vehicle at the top before the ride started, and provisioned it with ice and beer in anticipation of the mighty thirst we would carry to the finish.

The finishers circle, high atop the city.I was happy to finally dismount and stretch my cramped legs. It felt good just to stand in one place and glory in a cold restorative beer.

D-Bone takes a load off.If you decide to do the Ronde, either next year or on your own:

The route is easy to follow, you can find numerous maps online, and the turns are marked with the Lion of Flanders in yellow

Bring plenty of food. There are places to resupply en route, but you will need more fuel than you think.
Unless you are positive you can ride 100% of the route, consider trading your road pedals and cleats for the mountain variety. It’s much easier to walk, especially up a steep grade. Definitely bring at least 2 bottles. I probably went through at least 5 large bottles of fluid, and it wasn’t even hot. There are also a few short stretches of unpaved singletrack. Though not very technical, they’re pretty rough for a road bike.

Spring Break MTB Action.

New bike at Peterson Ridge

We made it out to Bend for a few days over Spring Break, and I took the opportunity to get some mountain biking in. I’m constantly amazed at how awesome the trails are in Bend compared to our meager options in the metro area, even though 80% of them were still unrideable because of snow. Fortunately, the Central Oregon Trail Alliance has a great website that tells you at a glance what trails are open. The flagship Phils Trail complex was still closed, so I mapped out a plan to ride Peterson Ridge outside of Sisters on day 1, Horse Butte south of Bend on day 2, and Burma Road next to Smith Rock on day 3.

There are 8 or 10 gnome figurines perched on this rock alongside the Peterson Ridge Trail.

The trailhead for Peterson Ridge is just a half mile south of Sisters. It’s a complex of 3 or so parallel trails with a number of cross trails that you can use to connect up and create longer routes. It being my first time, I wanted to keep it simple, so I opted to do an out and back on the PRT West trail. It’s a pretty good example of the awesome Central Oregon MTB experience; fast, flowing trails winding around outcrops of volcanic rock and stands of Ponderosa pine. Elevation gain tends to be gradual, unlike the gut busting climbs typical of the Coast Range trails (I’m looking at you, Brown’s Camp). I climbed 600 feet to where the trail opened up to a panoramic view.

Looking West toward the Sisters.

By the way, the new Ahearne is perfect for this type of riding. I built it up with a rigid fork mainly to avoid the expense involved in a new 29er suspension fork, but it ate up the moderately rocky terrain with no problems.

The trail was mostly dry, with only a few soft and or muddy stretches, one of the other great things about Bend area riding. In addition to getting less rainfall, the sandy soil drains better and dries more quickly.

More Cascade views.

McKenzie Pass is over thataway somewhere.

DAY 2: Horse Butte
Horse Butte is south of Bend past the historic town dump, and is popular with both trail runners and (surprise!) equestrians. I can see why, as we passed numerous farms swarming with horses on the way out. After Peterson Ridge it was a bit of a letdown, mostly because it took me a while to find the good trail. I started off on the Swamp Wells trail, which is fairly wide and sandy at first, and not especially challenging or interesting. After climbing a bit, it started to get more technical, but I also began encountering more mud, which forced me to walk all the fun parts. This became so frequent I was forced to turn back in search of drier trails.

Looking south toward Bessie Butte.

After returning to the trail head, I turned east onto what I think was the Arnold Ice Cave trail. The terrain here was flatter and more open, but the trail was narrower, windier, and much more fun. It was also much less scenic than the country around Sisters, so I didn’t take as many photos.

Just in case you forgot what the Ahearne looks like.

DAY 3 Smith Rock
For our final day, we wanted to check out Smith Rock as it’s just east of Terrebonne, on the way back to Portland. I had done some research, and knew that winter conditions should be good, but the riding would be steeper and rockier than the last two days had prepared me for.This would prove to be a severe understatement.

The trail up to Burma Road

First, let me just say Smith Rock is very cool, and worth checking out, but I wouldn’t exactly call it a mountain bike destination. It’s best known for rock climbing, as the numerous walls and spires rise almost vertically out of the Crooked River. Those same attributes that make for good rock climbing make for a challenging bike environment. Everything is rocky and STEEP. I had read about a ride utilizing Burma Road that wound up from the river in the direction of Grey’s Butte. It sounded hard, and while I’m not a fast climber, I do a lot of it so I wasn’t too worried. As it turns out, I probably should have been.

After descending a steep trail down to the , there was a pleasant 2 miles of mellow single track running along the river.

The view from the trailhead.

After that, it got interesting.

That’s not encouraging…

First, I had to hike up a steep rocky trail for 300 or so yards before I even reached the road. Then it was a mile and a half of 14% grade. Awesome. It took waay too long, partly because it was so damn steep my front wheel would hit a baby head, or my rear wheel would spin out in loose gravel and I would be unable to get started again. Pathetic, I know, but also very demoralizing. The weather was better then expected as well, mostly sunny and pushing 70. I can’t imagine what this would be like in the summer. Wait, I can imagine. Hellish is the word that comes to mind.

At least the gate wasn’t closed.

After much panting, puffing and pushing I arrived at the top. Of course, the singletrack that was my goal descended steeply from the crest, and the whole procedure of hiking and crawling up the grade had eroded most of my available time, so I took some photos, powered through some snacks, and prepared to return from whence I came.

View from the top.

The Crooked River as seen from the top of Burma Road.

The second peak from the right is where my ride ended.

In Summation:

  • Peterson Ridge: Great beginner to intermediate trail riding well worth the drive.
  • Horse Butte: Decent riding if you’re in Bend and most of the trails are closed for winter.
  • Smith Rock: Crazy beautiful, but only worth taking your bike if you are ready for an all day epic.

Cascade Snow!

Odell Creek

We took a trip to Bend over Spring Break week and spent the night at Odell Lake, just east of Oakridge. There was quite a bit of snow still, and the wind had blown spray from the lake up onto the adjoining plant life to form some really cool icicles and ice formations. Here are some pictures. I’ll post some more entertaining content about mountain biking in Bend soon.

Odell Lake, looking North

Moonrise over the Cascades

Winter Shred!

Looking southeast across the Wilson River at Highway 6

This last weekend I braved the inclement weather along with the Hymanator to explore a portion of the Wilson River Trail. The forecast called for rain, so we packed up our mountain bikes and hit the road early in an attempt to avoid the worst of it. Unfortunately, we failed in that task. We did, however succeed in having a good ride and a good time.

The Wilson River runs west along Highway 6 to Tillamook, starting just below the crest of the Coast Range at Brown’s Camp. The trail runs for about 20 miles, starting at the Elk Creek campground and ending about 5 miles west of the Tillamook Forest Center. It’s mostly single track, with a few short road connections and there are some significant elevation gains where you swing high above the river to traverse rocky outcroppings.

We parked at the Footbridge trailhead, a few miles past the Forestry Center. This is a popular swimming hole in the summer months, but on a rainy day in March, we had it all to ourselves. One of the reasons I had picked this particular trail was that even though the Coast Range receives heavy rainfall, the WRT (yeah, that’s what I’m calling it now) has good drainage and is less susceptible to erosion and rutting making it a good option in winter and spring. We saddled up and rode a hundred feet down the highway shoulder to the actual Footbridge and crossed over.

The Hymanator warily modeling the spring selection of footbridges.

A short transverse trail connects the base of the bridge to the actual trail. A sign warned of a closure shortly down trail to the west, so we decided to head east and see how it went. It was already raining, but a fairly light drizzle that was barely noticeable under the trees. I had ridden a portion of the trail leading up to King’s Mountain before and it had been a steep ball buster, so I was hoping this portion would be a little more forgiving. My initial hopes were briefly confirmed, but soon dashed as the single track quickly grew steep and rocky, but fortunately mostly rideable. After crossing a ridge about 300 feet above the river we began to descend.

This is looking up at a waterfall that crossed the trail at the top of the first ridge.

The trail was in surprisingly good condition for early spring. No wash outs or big branches across the trail. There were, however many tight switchbacks. We switchbacked our way back down to just above the river where the terrain opened out into a fairly wide and flat bench that made for fun and fast riding. Another mile brought us to the aforementioned Tillamook Forest Center. I would have taken a picture of this and a number of other things, but I didn’t want to risk my new camera in the rain.

Apparently they have bats.

We passed the Forest Center, and another mile brought us to the Jones Creek campground, followed closely by another sharp climb over a ridge to the Diamond Mill OHV area. OHV is a fancy guvmint term for motorsickles and other sweet gasoline powered recreation devices. Fortunately, the area was closed to motorized traffic so it was quiet except for the increasingly heavy rain. At Diamond Mill the trail crosses back over the river and climbs toward Kings Mountain.

The bridge leading to King’s Mountain

We chose this as our turnaround point as the rain wasn’t showing any signs of letting up, and we still had 6 miles and a thousand feet of climbing before we were back at the car. After wolfing down a sandwich and snapping a couple of pictures we headed back.

The river underneath the Diamond Mill bridge.

On the return trip, the trail was noticeably wetter, especially on the parts closest to where we started. On the way out, we had passed through only a brief stretch of mud after Jones Creek, most of the trail was firm if a little wet. No longer. There were large patches of standing water, though little actual mud. I didn’t realize until we arrived back at the trailhead that I was completely soaked, and more than a little muddy. Ahh, mountain biking!

Wilson River Trail Map

Excuses, excuses.

So, this last Saturday was the 4th annual running of the Dalles Mountain 60. I had been planning on doing the ride and then writing up an awesome recap of all the wacky shenanigans, but I unfortunately became sick last week, and opted out of both the ride, and the recap. Props to Saminal, who is the only Metropoloid to follow through and actually do it. Everyone else had an array of lame excuses ranging from being “sick” to “being on vacation in Belize”. Yeah right, is that even a real country? Anyway, to make up for it, here are some similar bike related activities coming up, that I hope to attend.

First up this weekend is the inaugural Oregon Randonneurs ride of 2013, Ricky’s Populaire. In randonneur speak, a “populaire” is a ride that won’t be instantly fatal for a normal cyclist, ie 100K (or 62 miles if you live in ‘Merica).

A little further down the road on April 6th is this, in the same neck of the woods as the Perry Roubaix, only longer and with more climbing.

And of course, if you aren’t already planning on doing the Ronde Van Oest Portlandia, it’s coming up on April 20th.

Hope to see you out there!

Tax Time!

Holy Crap, It’s Spring-like! (Ignore the fall color in the background.)

Don’t worry gang, I haven’t forgotten about you. I’ve just been slightly derailed by The Man., who mandates I file a “tax return” EVERY damn year! Back when I was a normal citizen who received tax documents from my employer, I loved doing my taxes. Well, maybe not “loved” exactly, but it was like getting free money! What’s not to like? Now that I’m my own boss, it’s slightly more complicated, and I’ve made a bad habit of letting it get down to the wire before I file. Not this year! I started early, and I figure as long as I keep completing between 2 and 5% per day (my current average) I will be done well before April 15th. Of course, that cuts into my precious blogging time. Plus, there hasn’t been much of excitement happening lately, so I figured I would just write a quick update and do something more awesome next week. Sound good? Okay, here’s what’s new at Metropolis.

  1. Taxes. See above.
  2. New guy! If you haven’t already met him, our new employee Kevin started 2 weeks ago. He looks a lot like a Viking, but he’s actually very friendly. He has worked at Velo Cult, River City, Coventry Cycles, and a half dozen other shops around the world, so he knows his way around a bike.
  3. New Hours! Starting March 3rd, we will be going back to Spring/Summer hours which means we’re open 7 days a week at 10 AM! We still close at 7 Monday through Thursday, 6 on Friday, and 5 on the weekends.
  4. Brad got a new cell phone! If you have ever been texted a picture by Brad, you will know how exciting this is. As much as I enjoyed getting a tiny, blurry, picture that looked like it was taken underwater, I couldn’t tell what the hell it was half the time.
  5. February March Fakeout! Holy crap, it’s 60 degrees out! Enjoy!

Who the hell is this “Perry” guy, anyway?

This past Sunday, four members of Team Metropolis (The Mayor, The Hymanator, Utard, and Johnny B, Señor Chilidog was supposed to go, but he “forgot to set his alarm”) headed down to the outskirts of our state’s capital (Salem, in case you weren’t sure) to ride this. All the kids are crazy for this new “gravel” riding, I think they call it. Gravel, huh? Those kids are always thinking of weird new shit. But what the hey? We’re game. After an hours drive we arrived at the Oak Knoll Golf Course, between West Salem and Dallas, in the heart of Willamette Valley farm country.

The ride was supposed to roll out at 10, and we were there in plenty of time to get our shit together, offload excess coffee, and chat with some of the other riders. There was a pretty good turnout, between 50-70 riders in my estimation.

The Hymanator, Utard, and Johnny B, the dancing robot.

After a short safety briefing from the ride leader, we were off. Of course, we had to immediately cross 4 lanes of traffic on busy Highway 22, so the group immediately fractured into 3 or 4 grupettos. (That’s pretentious for “little group”. Only race commentators and professional cyclists are allowed to use words like that unironically.) We were all towards the back, and the pace was high, so after the first five miles we couldn’t see the fast folks at the front any longer.  The sun came out around this time, and I for one was stupidly optimistic. That was not to last.

The view from the back.

Of course, Johnny had just put together his new bike the day before, including Velo Orange alloy fenders, and a 50 mile ride on unpaved roads is going to highlight any imperfections in your build very quickly. The metal fenders especially, need a few rides before they’re dialed in. Needless to say, he and Utard stopped multiple times to tinker with the aforementioned fenders, which by the end of the day were rattling like a banshee.

The route wound down and through the Baskett Slough Wildlife Refuge and was quite nice and pastoral overall. Something about unpaved roads leads to a lot of flat tires however. That said, most of the gravel was fairly smooth and well packed, at least in places. Line choice is important.

Flat fix part 1. We passed this group about 15 miles in. They returned the favor shortly thereafter.

The ride organizers hadn’t provided much information besides a map and a cue sheet, and the directions on the cue sheet proved to be somewhere between misleading and useless. Fortunately, we had the Hymanator on our side, who is a full time educator and a part time navigator. He steered us true through the many twists and turns on the route. We heard many stories throughout the day of people getting lost due to the treacherous directions. Around the 20 mile mark we ran into Matt Case, who ended up riding with us for the rest of the day, and helped to keep thing interesting.

Where the hell are we? Shortly after he joined up with us, Case’s rear tire blew. Fortunately, he had a spare. Unfortunately, it was a tubular. For those not familiar, a tubular is the type of tire where the tube is sewn inside the tire and the whole thing is glued onto the rim. To his credit he swapped it out pretty quickly. Of course, quickly in this case is still about 20 minutes.

How many bike nerds DOES it take to change a flat?

The final step in any successful flat repair. After our unplanned break, we were chilled and anxious to make up some time. Nature called, however.

Shortly after this, the sheep all ran off. Go figure. After that, things were fairly uneventful for the next 20 miles. The route deviated off the gravel and onto pavement for a good 10 miles near Sheridan and a headwind started to blow. We put our heads down and got into a paceline to fight the wind. After crossing back over Highway 99 near Amity, we hit a short, steep, downhill through loose gravel that punctured Johnny’s rear tube. In the course of getting it fixed, Case reached into his jersey pocket and produced… a can of Pabst. One advantage to winter riding is that when you pull a can of beer out of your jersey after 45 miles, it’s still kind of cold. Kind of.

Utard found this guy crossing the road while Johnny was fixing his first flat. Unfortunately, Johnny’s fix didn’t take, and it went flat again after about five minutes of riding. Snake bite. He hadn’t put enough pressure in. I volunteered a CO2 cartridge to insure proper inflation this time. Success! At this point we were all tired and hungry, and just wanted to be done. A long straight shot on gravel awaited us after a short climb. It ended in an ominously steep hill, and as we grew closer I could see we weren’t going to turn away. We passed two kids on four wheelers (that’s how you know you’re in the country) and grunted our way up the hill. It’s not often I can beat Johnny and the Hymanator up a climb, and when Case and I were first to the top, and I knew the other guys were pretty cooked. I choked down the last of my food while we were waiting and prepared for the final 6 miles. One more mile of gravel, then it was back to pavement and one final climb. I went all out on that last hill, then it was a decent back to highway 22 and the van.

Packed and ready for home. Here are the numbers.