biking the Portland Century Ride

The Portland Century – Part 1

I’m writing this recap freshly showered, foam rolled, fed and wearing my compression tights. I have a few hours before my massage. When I signed up for the Portland Century Ride I had only one goal:

I’m not a fast cyclist. I’m pretty steady and consistent rather than speedy. I had no expectations of completing the ride in a certain amount of time. I just wanted to complete the 70 miles successfully. Michael and I woke up early Sunday morning, 6 a.m. early, and ate our normal breakfast before heading downtown to PSU. Michael was silly in his suggestion “we just bike from the house to downtown.” Hmm nah. If I’m going to do 100 miles it’s going to be on a course not commuting home. πŸ˜‰

We parked the car and checked our bags at PSU and then we were off!

It was about 7:45 a.m. and 65 degrees–no need for arm warmers or warm cycling gear at all! Michael and I set out following the yellow signs. I almost bit it right off the bat. We were biking down the street from PSU when suddenly the street ended in a sidewalk. Michael went over the sidewalk with his bike and was okay. I knew I would not be okay and I slammed on my brakes–of course forgetting I was clipped in. I came “THIS CLOSE” to just falling over two blocks from the start. Luckily I caught myself and did not crash at the start of the race.

We rode through downtown in the quiet of early Sunday morning. They had part of Naito Parkway closed near the waterfront. We biked along the water and then up to the top of the Steel Bridge.

I’ve never ridden over the top of the Steel Bridge–just on the lower deck. It was a little nerve wracking being that high up. We got to the Rose Garden transit area–part of where we’ve been riding during our training! It felt comfortable and familiar.

The trail changed from the familiar after that. We biked up Interstate to Greeley-which is a very slow, long, gradual hill up passed the Adidas Campus.

I’ve never biked over in that area. It was really scenic. It winded around to Overlook/Willamette and overlooked downtown and the city. I wasn’t familiar with that area at all and basically just followed the guy in front of me.

The bike paths through the neighborhoods in North Portland ended when we got to I think Columbia and the route turned onto a path that wound through the area to the first Rest Stop.

So far I was feeling really good. I think the first rest stop was at about Mile 10.

Bike N’ Hike (a local bike store here) was one of the sponsors and they had a booth set up helping people fix bike issues–which made me feel pretty safe and confident that if something happened along the course I’d be okay. I honestly wasn’t that hungry at the first Rest Stop. Our breakfast was pretty big and filled me up. But I did eat a few donut holes…

There was a lot of options but like I said, I wasn’t hungry. I skipped the Larabars, bananas and bagels. Michael had a bagel with peanut butter on it and then we continued on.

The first half of the ride was the most comfortable. The weather was perfect–not too hot yet. We left the area and biked through winding roads in the middle of nowhere and finally looped around to Marine Drive! Familiar territory!

For most of this part, including the Marine Drive path, I drafted off a group of riders in front of me. They were going about my pace and it made me work less! Smart Lisa. I barely had to pedal. It was a nice break. After Marine Drive the route diverted. The 33 Mile Route people crossed Marine Drive to the 1-205 Path and the 70/100 Mile Route people turned left onto Marine Drive. This was a pretty long chunk in areas I wasn’t entirely familiar with it. This part was a bit hard–my lower back started to ache. I was worried and anxious about it but tried to put it out of my mind.

We made our way to Blue Lake Park– the second Rest Stop. By that time we’d done about 24 miles I think.

I got off the bike and used the port-a-potty (which was super fun when you’re wearing bib shorts under your jersey!), reapplied lots of sunscreen and stretched a lot. At this Rest Stop I ate two mini cookies, half a banana, 1/4 of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and some cantaloupe slices. I just wanted a little pick me up before we got to the hard part…

Β To Be Continued….

QUESTION: If you are a cyclist, which part is more challenging: hills or sitting in the saddle for long periods of time?


What’s Blooming This Week

The recent (and fleeting, apparently) heat wave in Portland really sparked some growth in my garden. The roses and Lucifer plants are all blooming:

The roses are always different colors each year. I don’t remember there being an orange rose last year. The yellowish-pink ones are the norm. They look so pretty! On the vegetable front, the lettuce is flourishing! I had to take some into work to share with coworkers because there was just too much all at once.

The acorn squash has flowers and a teeny tiny little squash.

And the zucchini plant has an ACTUAL zucchini! I was thrilled to see this:

If the weather holds up, I think that zucchini will be ready to eat next week. The tomato plants are growing tall and I have tiny green tomatoes but nothing near close to being ripe.

The progress on the yard work has been going swimmingly. It really is satisfying to see progress after hard work. The sweat, blood, blisters and sore muscles were worth it.

I wasn’t prepared for how much WORK a garden would be. I have to admit, I was a bit naive. I thought “we’ll just let it all grow and harvest yummy veggies!” But it takes time, dedication and work. There’s weeding, pest-control, watering, but not over-watering. There’s maintenance and upkeep I hadn’t imagined. So far it’s been worth it.

I also learned that I did everythingΒ wrong when I planted it. I planted too much in our raised beds. I had been skeptical that anything would survive the soggy spring so I went overboard. The lettuce plants that looked close to death came back with aΒ vengeanceΒ and now the raised beds are too cramped for things to really grow properly. The lettuce is all growing INTO each other. Oops! Lesson learned for next year.

On another front, Michael and I have discussed the Portland Century and now that the route and elevation has been published we have decided to make a change. Instead of doing the full 100 we are going to do the 75 route. The full 100 had too much of an elevation climb for either of our abilities at this point. Part of me is disappointed that I’m not doing the full 100 but honestly I had doubts in my abilities to even do 100! So that’s kind of a relief.

The way I see things happening now: we do the 75 miles in the Portland Century in August and maybe in September or October we try to do a different Century Ride.

QUESTION: How do you keep up with your garden if you have one? Any tips for a newbie? And how do I harvest the zucchini??