biking the Portland Century Ride

The Portland Century – Part 3

The Portland Century – Part 3

The Home Stretch

 

Read Part One and Part Two.

I definitely felt a sense of relief when we arrived at the Springwater Corridor. It was where we’ve done the bulk of our training and it felt familiar. I could mentally relax knowing how close we were from the finish.


Heading west on the Springwater Trail means two things: the wind is usually at our back and it’s slightly downhill. Which means we can make up a lot of time by going pretty fast on the trail. The only downside is that there are a lot of stops for roads/intersections.


Michael and I stayed pretty close together for most of this stretch. We were in a group with other cyclists.



For most of the ride there weren’t any issues with non-cyclists until the Springwater. There was some guy not participating in the Century on his bike who shouted something rude to the cyclists going by, but I didn’t hear what he said exactly. Then a bit later, we were trying to make the light at an intersection and we had 5 seconds left on the signal so we booked it. We made it through the light with enough time but some guy sitting in his car shouted rude comments at us. I thought that was weird and uncalled for, I mean he’d have to sit at that light anyways so why be a jerk? Who knows.


The final Rest Stop came up pretty quickly. I think it should have been placed closer to the end of the Springwater Trail because that’s where I needed it to be. More on that later. We stopped at the East Gresham Park to rest.


This Rest Stop had Hot Lips Pizza! I was not hungry but had a slice anyways. We found some shade to sit down in and I did some stretching.



After stretching and getting more water, we headed out on the rest of the trail. It was the home stretch, mentally I knew how much was left and I was excited.


My back was also starting to hurt. I tried doing lots of stretches while I was on the bike–every few minutes–but it was getting hard to sit still. I was feeling the fatigue in my lower back and my shoulders and neck.


We biked down the Springwater, through Sellwood, and passed Oaks Park. It was cool to be biking where my commute is.

We passed OMSI and I knew I needed to stop and stretch. I was thirsty. I was starting to get cranky and my back HURT. Michael and I stopped underneath a bridge in the shade. I was trying to stay positive and not give in to the Cranky-Pants-I’m-Crashing-Mentality. I could see it looming over me and I wanted to complete the Portland Century with a positive attitude–not like how I finished Reach the Beach or Hood to Coast last year (near tears). I stretched and drank my water (which was hot at this point–yuck) and Michael said his butt was hurting. We both agreed that 70 was the right distance for us–that neither of us were ready for the full 100 yet.

We continued on up SE Water Street in the bike lanes and then we had to wait for a train to go by. That meant another break.




The wait was probably 3 minutes or so. Then we continued on. We were heading East–which was annoying me because PSU was west! I had no idea where we were heading. We crossed a few streets and then the signs said to turn left. There was a group of us turning left together and we all had our arms out indicating as such. A car behind us decided he wasn’t going to wait and he sped up and cut us off–narrowly missing a girl right in front of me. She came within INCHES from being hit! Whoever that guy was, he’s an asshole! Grrr! We turned and looped around a few blocks and then the route took us over the Burnside Bridge.


I’ve never biked over the Burnside Bridge. The bike lanes were nice and wide. We looped around through downtown once we were off the bridge. We biked through the very congested Saturday Market area and then up to Broadway where we biked the last stretch of the course–uphill of course, and with lots of stops at lights. A car almost hit me. I had the right of way and apparently he wasn’t paying attention to the bike lane when he decided to turn right but he stopped just in time and I stopped on my bike. SIGH. People can be jerks to cyclists.

We arrived at PSU and we were finished. And here is where I have two complaints about the Portland Century. 1) There wasn’t a finish line that we crossed. It was anticlimactic to just be DONE. Where’s the banner to ride under?? and 2) There was no stinkin’ medal. I wanted a medal. I paid $70 for this ride, there should be a medal at the end of it. I know that’s petty but dammit, why not?

Portland Century Stats:

Time: 6:28 (with all the stops)
Calories Burned: 3229
Distance: 71.9 miles


First order of business: get our checked bags and change out of our sweaty spandex!


It felt so good to be in real clothes. The next order of business: BEER.


A Widmer IPA. Then we got our gourmet dinner at the finish line. Salmon, salad, grilled asparagus, Dave’s Killer Bread, chicken, orzo salad (which was delicious) and of course dessert:


The salmon and chicken were a little dry but the food was decent and yes–I had two desserts!

We hung out at the finish line for about an hour. We relaxed, drank our beer and ate dinner. There was a band playing awful music, lots of people. We chatted with some guys that did the full 100 and then we ran into my friend Kristin. She volunteered for the event and rode the 33 Mile Route. (She’s also a runner and ran the Boston Marathon this year!) It was such a fun event! We had a blast and I was glad that I was able to enjoy the after party this time. I missed it at Reach the Beach because I crashed so hard and got hypothermia. That was not the case this time (it was 90 degrees!).


We headed home to shower. We were both truly exhausted and struggling to stay awake. Here are some final stats:


As you can see, our actual riding time was 5 hours, not 6.5. That 1.5 hours was sitting at lights and the rest stops. Also, our actual miles were 72.51 biked. That could just mean that we took a wrong turn at some point and got a few extra miles in. Our average speed was 14.4 mph. Michael thinks the elevation was off but I’m not sure.


What a cool app. I’m glad to see the actual stats from our ride to compare it to our training rides.

QUESTION: Have I inspired you to try something like this? 🙂

The Portland Century – Part 2

The Portland Century – Part 2 

The Hills

You can read Part One Here.

We left the Blue Lake Rest Stop and headed back to Marine Drive. I have no idea where we were. Michael’s cycling computer popped off his bike and fell off. We stopped so he could grab the computer and put it back on. Then a little bit later he hit a hole in the road and his water bottle shot OUT of the case, flew into the air and rolled into the street. It was kind of scary because there were riders behind us who were trying not to hit it. One cyclist stopped and grabbed it for Michael, which was very thoughtful. Weird flukes!

We biked into downtown Troutdale– totally quaint and cute but I didn’t stop for photos. We winded through to the Historic Columbia River Highway. It’s a familiar area (my aunt lives over there–in fact we bike right by her house!) but we’ve only biked over there once.

We had to bike across a very narrow bridge crossing the Sandy River–the bike path too narrow for anyone to really get by. There were some people walking across it so I waited on the other side before trying to squeeze through on the bike. The Sandy River looked crisp and inviting. It was starting to get pretty warm.

 

I used to spend summers in the Sandy River. Borrowing my aunt’s inner-tubes and leisurely floating down the river in the sunshine…perfect way to spend a summer. We biked along the W Historic Columbia River Highway for about 2 miles I think. It was much cooler along the river and it was shaded for most of it. This might have been my favorite part of the ride.

The course split. The 100 Mile Route riders continued on and we turned right across the Sandy River Bridge.

I stopped to take photos and drink some water. I knew what was on the other side of that bridge = THE FIRST BIG HILL. The challenge that had caused me anxiety all week. A few weeks ago Michael and I had driven this part of the course to see the hills before we signed up. I was nervous about this hill. It was a long, steady climb that looked very challenging.

The above photo was taken at the base of the winding hill. Michael had gone on ahead because he’s more conditioned for hills than I am. He promised to wait for me at the top. The photo doesn’t do justice to the hill because it bends around that corner and THAT’S where the hill starts. It’s along a cliff over the Sandy River–with a very small, low brick railing that really doesn’t protect you from falling to your death below (did I mention I dislike heights too?). I shifted my gears (thankfully Michael gave me a lesson the day before on how to use my climbing gears–the ones that I tried to use at Reach the Beach and ended up breaking my bike).



I turned the corner and saw the hill. I also saw a girl in front of me just give up and get off her bike. She wasn’t going to make it up that hill so she decided to just walk it. I groaned and put my head down, determined not to walk. I was breathing hard and my legs were working even harder but I was not walking. 


I got to the top and had a huge smile plastered on my face. I had done it! I’d faced the hill that had freaked me out for weeks and I did it. My heart rate went from the high 170’s to 136 in a matter of seconds. I stopped at the top to get some photos. The girl who was walking her bike had a friend waiting for her at the top. I saw them a few times on the course.

I got a break for a bit and went downhill. We wound through the country roads, passed Christmas Tree farms, vineyards and farms. It was a scenic area and I really enjoyed this part. And it wasn’t uphill the entire time.

 

The next challenge came up quicker than I was expecting it. I wasn’t quite ready for it either– it was the very short but VERY STEEP hill near SE Oxbow Drive. Oh my god, when we saw this hill on our practice run it was the second part of the ride that caused me anxiety. It was short and steep, the kind of hill that looks like a wall–AND it turns around a corner. I shifted my gears and just went for it. Left and right I saw cyclists giving up and walking their bikes up the hill.

 

They were dropping like flies. It wasn’t very encouraging to see and I forced myself to look down and not at the other cyclists who couldn’t make it up the hill. I shifted to the max and PUSHED it. I was panting and breathing so hard I thought I’d pass out. I stood up a few times as I pedaled to see if I could climb the hill easier that way and then sat back down on the saddle. I was halfway up the hill and a guy on a very nice bike passed me, struggling just as hard as I was and seeing him go on his bike gave me renewed energy. He hadn’t given up either.

I was almost to the top of the hill and my legs were screaming at me. I was sort of rocking back and forth in the saddle to get more momentum and finally made it to the top. I pedaled a few more yards and then pulled over to the side to take pictures and catch my breath. I had done it! I had faced both challenges and rocked them! My entire body felt like Jell-O. I don’t know if it was nerves or adrenaline but I was shaking as I was trying to stand still and take photos.


I looked back and saw more and more people walking their bikes. I felt so good that I hadn’t had to walk!

 

 

I biked on and eventually found Michael down the road waiting for me in the shade.

 

We only had a few more miles to bike to get to the next Rest Stop. It was a gorgeous part of the ride! Gentle rolling hills through farm lands, with Mount Hood in the distance.

 

Despite the hellacious hills, this was my favorite leg of the race. It was jus so pretty!

The Rest Stop at West Orient School was the lunch stop. They had lots of fruit, Pepperidge Farm cookies, salty tortilla chips and Dave’s Killer Bread for sandwiches. And ICE! I filled my water bottles with ice and the cold water was fantastic!

 

I had half a sandwich with salami, a slice of cheese, mayo and mustard. It was like the best sandwich ever. 🙂 One of the great things about The Portland Century: the food at the Rest Stops were fantastic. I felt like I was eating the WHOLE TIME–which was weird. I do think that doing this helped me a lot, though, because I never crashed. I never felt hungry or irritable or exhausted. In fact, I brought several GUs to have along the ride and never ate any of them because the food at the Rest Stops were good enough to get me through.

We left the Rest Stop–I hadn’t had to pee since the second rest stop. I think I was sweating it all out of me. I was sucking down water and water with electrolytes like crazy. We biked through countryside in the middle of nowhere (I felt so lost) and Michael was far ahead of me. There were several parts of the Century where I was riding along by myself. I’m not sure if the Century is less popular or if the riders had started earlier than us? But it was kind of strange (and kind of nice) to be biking along country roads alone. It was nothing compared to Reach the Beach where we were always biking with groups of people.

We biked through Boring, Oregon and turned onto a back road. I saw a humongous hill ahead of us. I’d caught up to Michael and another group of cyclists. I had no idea where we were going and when I saw that hill straight ahead I chanted, “Please turn right, please turn right!” The cyclists ahead of us did turn right! Thank the goddess! No more monster hills!

We winded through another rolling country road, through trees and next to a cool creek, and then I knew where we were! The Springwater Trail was right ahead!

Stay tuned for the Conclusion….

QUESTION: How do you stay positive in challenging situations?