Blue Lake Park

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?

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. 😉

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…

 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?