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?


Drafting and Sprinting Practice

Saturday morning Michael and I woke up in Yakima ready to tackle a bike ride. It was HOT out. Eastern Washington is desert and it was nearly 90 degrees by 10am. I’d found a place we could ride our bikes so we got ready. The hotel we were staying in didn’t offer a continental breakfast and we didn’t want to go out so we grabbed snacks. Michael ate beef jerky and raw almonds and I had leftover pasta salad. Not really the best breakfast but it was what we had!

We drove to Sherman Park where we parked the car and headed out on the Yakima Greenway trail.

It was early enough that the trail was pretty empty for most of our ride. It was hot out but it wasn’t uncomfortable.

The trail was flat. There were some other cyclists out and a few walkers but not many. I realized that my bike seat was crooked–I think from when I fell on the bike a month ago. That could explain some of the knee/back pain I was having recently when I rode. Michael fixed my seat and it made a world of difference!

The trail went right a long the river and it was a beautiful place to ride. The mountains in the distance were scenic and the water was fast moving and looked refreshing.

Since the trail was pretty flat and straight, and there weren’t a ton of people on it, Michael suggested we do some training. First we practiced Drafting. I’m not very good at Drafting. It makes me nervous to be that close to someone on the bike.

He instructed me to get my front tire about 1 foot from him back tire. He said to pay attention to which direction the wind was coming from and be either on the left or right side of his tire accordingly. We practiced for awhile.

He instructed me that if I lose him that I should sprint to catch up and get back on his tire. We passed by a few parks, a dog park, and some playgrounds while on the trail.

There were a few short hills that we practiced sprinting up. It was a nice exercise. My heart rate recovered quickly.

We took a quick rest under a bridge in the shade so I could drink some water and we continued on. The next thing to practice was sprinting. Since it was a flat, long road it was ideal for sprinting.

Speed training on the bike is just like interval training for runners. It’s also a crucial part of training.  Doing short, explosive sessions on the bike (5-30 seconds long) builds speed, stamina and recovery time.

We continued on the trail. I thought it was a 10 mile loop for some reason but we rode around a small lake and then reached the end of the trail. We turned around and practiced more sprinting and drafting.

The day was warming up nicely and I was kind of sad that the bike ride was coming to an end. We talked about doing the trail again but we had a time crunch.

I liked practicing the Sprints the best. It was really fun. I tried sprinting up hills too.

The Yakima Greenway Trail was a success in my book. I would definitely do it again if we were in that city.

We got back to the car in no time. I was happy to get in a workout on our vacation.

Ride Stats:
Time: 1 hour 11 minutes
Calories Burned: 517
Distance: 14.9 

Total Distance for the week:  63.03 miles! Yay! My goal was to try and get in 60 for the week and I did it!

It was such a fun morning. The trail is really the winner in Yakima. There’s nothing else there worth writing about! 😉

QUESTION: Do you practice sprint drills on the bike or with running? What differences have you noticed as a result?