A Peach of a Century, Finale

If you missed part 1, you can read it here.

After the first rest stop, the route wound through the town of Scio, over some bridges, across the Santiam River and into farm land. It was miles and miles of corn fields and recently tilled land. There were very few trees in this part of the route and because it was down in the valley there was just WIND. Wind, head wind, side wind, unfortunately no wind at our back making it any easier to ride!

This was the most difficult part of the metric century for me. I was feeling slow, lethargic, my lower back was starting to ache, I was getting a bit saddle sore, my neck felt fatigued. It was just hard. We were working so much harder than we had to because of that damn wind. I stopped a lot during the next 15 miles. I just had to. If I didn’t, I think I would have felt the mental fizzle and lost all of that excitement and fire that was motivating me to the finish line.

We were riding in the middle of nowhere, ironically not too far my aunt’s farm. I recognized a lot of the landmarks and road signs because of summers spent down on her farm when I was a kid. We rode over a covered bridge, which was really pretty.

Mentally I used the tactic of denial to get through this stretch. I refused to let myself dwell on the discomfort or pains I was feeling. None of it was so bad that I was miserable but it was definitely difficult and uncomfortable. Michael and I stopped under a tree in the shade to reload on water and apricots and just rest for a few minutes. I asked him how close we were to the last rest stop. “Have we at least gone 30 miles so far?” Yes we had. But not by much more. Okay. I can do this.

The last ten miles or so to the rest stop were hard but I made it. I was ready to eat lunch, too. The last rest stop was at the Pioneer Park in Stayton, at mile 43.5. That meant we had about 20 miles to go to the finish.

The food was set up in another covered bridge in the park, right next to the creek. They had the same food that was at the first rest stop, but also the sandwiches for lunch, too. You had to pre-order them and I’m glad we did. I needed something more substantial than trail mix, bagels and cream cheese.

I ate most of my ham sandwich, which wasn’t exceptional in any way but who cares at that point? I’d burned around 1900 calories by mile 43 and was ready to EAT. It came with Sun Chips and I ate 3/4 of the bag, and a Snickerdoodle cookie which I devoured all of. We let lunch sit a little bit (but not long enough for my liking) and then got back on the bikes. The thirty minute lunch break was a good rest. I felt like I got a second wind after lunch and the last 20 miles were MUCH easier for me.

DON’T GET CONFUSED! Make sure you take the right route! That could be awful! Like I said, I was feeling much better after lunch (despite a too-full tummy) and made better time. My body felt better, too.

There was still a heavy wind but it wasn’t as miserable as the other part before lunch. The back roads were pretty quiet and it was such a scenic route that I just enjoyed myself. I thought about how happy I was that Michael and I were able to do the event, and how happy I was that my body was relatively good.

See! I’m smiling! More cornfields. More farms. GENTLE rolling hills…at least for awhile. Then we saw came around a bend and saw this:

I think my exact words were: “Are you kidding me? COME ON!”  I mean really, who puts the hardest hills at the last 10 miles of the event?! That’s just mean. I saw the hill coming so I had plenty of time to dread it, anticipate it, and get nervous butterflies in my stomach. I huffed and I puffed and I made it up that hill without feeling awful! I was really proud of myself. Michael and I took a little break at the top.

Thankfully, the next part was a downhill coast. I’ve never been more happy for a downhill descent. We were so so close to the end. The next part of the route was on a really busy road. The bike lane was pretty wide but the cars were going really fast. It made a little bit nervous. Luckily there weren’t any crashes or anything (that I am aware of) during this event but when we first started out I did see a car almost clip one of the cyclists and that was scary.

We arrived at the starting point happy and accomplished! Michael reached out and held my hand for a second while we rode into the college parking lot. I had a big smile on my face and I felt SO HAPPY that I ended my summer on a high note. We did it!!! 5.5 hours of actual riding time! (I didn’t stop my watch during our lunch break.) It was a little slower than I had predicted we’d be but that damn wind slowed us down.

Stats:

Time: 5.5 hours
Miles: 64.2
Calories Burned: 2768

How was I feeling? Awesome! I felt even better once we changed out of our spandex! My body felt really great after I got off the bike. I was expecting to be stiff or sore but I wasn’t. After we changed and locked up our bikes, we grabbed our pie reward. You could choose Marionberry or Peach. It’s been years since I had Marionberry pie so that’s what I got. Michael got the peach. (I won’t lie, I was tempted to go back for a slice of the peach, but I resisted).

That pie was to-die-for.

Doesn’t that look good? After relaxing for a bit, we drove home. I was sweaty, sticky, sleepy and ready to be home. I took one of the best showers of my life, second only to the post-Hood to Coast shower–slathered on some Biofreeze and put on my compression tights while I relaxed. I felt awesome.

Dinner was simple. Michael grilled up some steaks, I steamed the last of our broccoli and made salads.

I also opened up a nice bottle of red wine that we got the last time we went wine tasting. I figured a nice bottle of wine was a good way to celebrate a good day! I had one glass of the red with dinner and it made me want to sleep. I may or may not have been in bed by 7:30 p.m. Sunday night!

This is what I wanted. I wanted to finish the summer with a happy fitness memory. Sure, it wasn’t the full 100 miles like I had hoped to do this year, but that doesn’t mean 64 miles is anything to sneeze at. I am proud of myself. I’m proud of Michael for doing it with me even though he wasn’t really in cycling shape (he’d been golfing and using the kettle bell more than cycling this summer). I was happy he was at my side to do the bike ride and that we both felt pretty good at the end!

QUESTION: Did you have a fitness event this summer? How did it go?

Killer Hills That Killed Me

Monday morning it was hot. Like at 8am hot. I know I sound like a whiner compared to my dear readers who live in the South or on the East Coast but damn….! As a Pacific Northwester my entire life, I’m not used to heat. We ate a big breakfast and lounged in front of the TV for an episode of Entourage and Curb and then saddled up to go for a quick bike ride. It was quick because we didn’t have the time to set out on a long ride around town. We had some car shopping to do.


Instead we did Michael’s commute. Michael’s commute is fairly short but it’s all hills. Like uphill both ways kind of hills. There’s no route he can take to avoid the big hills so it’s just a matter of sucking it up. Which is great for Michael. He’s conditioned for tackling hills and recovering quickly. I’m more conditioned for longer bike rides. For example, he wasn’t bothered at all by the hills on the Portland Century but he was saddle sore after 72 miles. I had no issues in that department but those two hills in the Century were a challenge for me.


None of my pictures do ANY of the hills justice. One day I will go out there with a video camera and take video of myself walking up the mountains just to prove it. But trust me when I say the hills are challenging. We set out on the neighborhood loop of slow, steady, rolling hills. The first challenging hill is what I call “The Mini Wall” and it turns a corner right at the top.


That little dot at the top is Michael blazing a trail up the Mini Wall. What you don’t see is the steady upward climb right before this–for probably half a mile–complete with a stop sign in the middle. Just what I want to do when I have momentum going up a hill–stop and then start again. 😛 The below photo is the steady incline to get to the Mini Wall.


The good news about the Mini Wall: it may be challenging and steep but I recover from it very quickly now. It used to KILL me when I attempted it and I would need to stop at the top for a few minutes to rest and drink water, catch my breath. Now I just keep going, no resting. We looped through the Poison Oak Park (an empty park with signs about poison oak) and then looped around to Michael’s work.


This is where we get to the Monster Wall. It’s a short, neighborhood street that connects to the main road with a bike lane and it is literally a wall. It’s straight up. There’s no funny business when it comes to doing this hill. You either commit or just get off your bike and walk. It’s that steep. It resembles the second big hill in the Portland Century where everyone around me got off and walked their bikes up it.

I don’t have a photo of the Monster Wall because damn, it killed me. I was dying. I committed to the hill and ran out of gears. So I stood up in the saddle and had to climb up the whole way standing. And I barely made it. I got to the top and pulled over in the shade because I had to rest. My legs were Jell-o. It was brutal. This is how I feel about that Monster Wall:


Need further evidence of how challenging this freakin’ monster is? How about my heart rate when I got to the top and had to rest?


It peaked at 189 beats. That’s high for me. 189 is “I need to stop to catch my breath” high. We stopped for about thirty seconds and then continued home. There was one more challenge to face: the insanely vertical hill that we have to go DOWN. I hate this hill. Hatred. It’s so steep. Michael goes down it during his commute at 40 mph. It’s so awful in every way. It gives me massive anxiety. I would much rather go UP that effing hill than down it. I know, I’m crazy.

So we did that and then decided to do part of the loop again since we had time. We did the same Mini Wall and then turned around at the Poison Oak Park.


Then it was time to turn home and do the steady climbs and rolling hills.

Ride Stats:
Time: 1:09
Calories Burned: 557
Distance: 11.65


We headed to Noble Rot on Monday evening for dinner with some friends. The original restaurant we planned on going to was closed for the holiday. It took some leg work and lots of phone calls to find an alternative restaurant. I think it worked out for the best. I’ve wanted to check out Noble Rot for a few years now.


The restaurant is on the forth floor of the building with a deck overlooking the city.


The restaurant was trendy and cool looking. I liked the decor. Despite the hoity-toity look to it, the patrons were pretty casually dressed. But that could just be Portland. In Portland you can show up at a really nice restaurant in jeans as long as you have a nice button-down shirt.


It was a hot evening and it felt nice to sit out on the patio with the occasional breeze. I ordered a nice glass of wine to start. I tried their house Shiraz and was surprised at how lovely and mild it was for being a house wine.


Our friends arrived–Shoe, Michael’s old roommate and my friend Ember (she recently did her first sprint tri!). We shared an order of onion rings to start.


The onion rings were tasty, salty and crunchy without being overly greasy.  It was nice splitting it between four people (less fried-food guilt for me).


For my entree I ordered the panini with butternut squash, caramelized onions and goat cheese. I got the salad instead of the fries.


I loved the sandwich. It never occurred to me to put butternut squash on a salad and I love the idea. The flavors went together really well. Despite the sweet squash and onions it was not overly sweet. My salad was simple with onions and sunflower seeds (great addition). Ember’s salad looked really tasty, too. I think it was the endive and beet salad:


Shoe got the pork shoulder and he said it was excellent. Michael got the burger with fries. He said the burger was just “okay”–nothing special about it. He liked the bun a lot and the fries were really good–crunchy and not greasy.


The conversation flowed freely and the food and wine was good. I had a great time. The sun set over the trees.


It was a very romantic spot.  Michael wanted to order dessert and he doesn’t really need to twist my arm. 😉


He ordered us the brownie with ice cream and caramel sauce to split. Shoe and Ember both got the creme brulee but they said it wasn’t very impressive.


The brownie was just okay–it was rather dry in my opinion. But I enjoyed the caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. It was a nice night and I was glad I got to end the long weekend hanging out with friends.

QUESTION: What was the highlight of your long weekend? And what’s your favorite panini sandwich combo?