The Adventures of Lycra Grrl: Sauvie Island Savvy

Adventure Saturday has been on unintentional hiatus due to life circumstances, but this week it made a magnificent cameo—on Sunday! Just goes to show you—adventure can surprise you on any day of the week.

After all, how often does one get to claim a mountain of firsts and a new personal best on a single bike ride? In a nutshell:

• First time biking on the St. Johns Bridge!
• First time biking on Highway 30!
• First time biking on Sauvie Island!
• First time keeping up (sort of) on a ride with “Lightning Legs” Ed Groth!

If that wasn’t enough, I yet again racked up a new personal best in terms of distance: 63.3 miles. In winter no less! And I bumped into my lovely friend Michelle, who was participating in a group run on the island.

Successfully awake from a 5am alarm, I hurried through my morning routine and made it out the door shortly after 6:30am. It was about 10 miles from my house in Clackamas County to our group’s meetup point in North Portland—a deliciously quiet ride with few people about so early on a Sunday. (Here I am, ready to ride!) When they arrived, I discovered my co-riders were all very fit men—including the only person I knew in the group, who is reputed among friends for his speed. GULP!

What-ifs danced around my head. Had I made a horrible mistake? Was I going to fall behind until I lost the group completely? Was the mileage too ambitious?

Expressing my concern to the others seemed to help—although their “social pace” was indeed a tad speedier than mine, all three of my co-riders took turns hanging back with me. This also gave me a chance to chat and get to know them individually, and to point out notable birds along the way.

Yes, I’m a bit of a birder, and Sauvie Island is a prime birding spot in the Portland area. We saw (and heard!) quite a lot of sandhill cranes loitering in farm fields, several great blue herons, and a couple kestrels without even leaving our bikes. Other wildlife sightings were roadkill: a freshly dead rat in inner SE which was just a bloody pancake on the way home; two dead opossums on Sauvie Island Road; and a dead skunk in the bike lane coming back on Highway 30.

At the end of what ended up being a great ride, we thawed our frozen toes at Dragonfly Coffee House in NW Portland. The boys sipped coffee and forgot-her-wallet HA drank water and nibbled on the rest of the almonds in her bag. After an hour and a half three of us rode back over to the east side where I bade my new riding friends goodbye and headed southward for the last leg of my journey.

In tackling a challenge head on (and handling it beautifully) I expanded my own vision of what I’m capable of. Turns out my fears about this ride were unfounded—I did not get left behind in the middle of nowhere, I wasn’t looked down upon for being slow, and I didn’t get a flat. Handling these mental barriers and other challenges on my terms has been key to my recent string of confident successes.

How empowering.


Filed under Bicycles

7 responses to “The Adventures of Lycra Grrl: Sauvie Island Savvy

  1. Erinne

    That’s great!!! Wonderful job. The picture looks like Chris from Crank–was that one of your riding partners?

    I love riding Sauvie, but it’s only 30 miles door-to-door for me!

  2. Impressive! I can’t quite seem to find my winter riding (commuting not-withstanding) gumption quite yet, much less for that distance. It’s so much harder to keep warm in the roadie gear.

    Does this mean we can look forward to seeing you get muddy in some cross races next year? 🙂

  3. My first ride over sixty miles was to Sauvie, too! I was so gosh-darned proud of myself. I was also exhausted!

    That was also the day Shawn started the habit of stopping at Proper Eats when we come back over the St. John’s Bridge for any reason. They have really yummy food and beer!

  4. Kirsty

    This is one of my favourite rides! Granted, I think it’s only about 50 miles round trip from my flat.People always whine about the terrible drivers out on Sauvie, but I’ve yet to encounter anybody rude in a car there. The terrible drivers are out en masse on HW 30, but there you have a shoudler the width of a house in most places, phew.

    Have you ever stopped off at the birdwatching embankment opposite those noisy dog kennels? There are so many herons out there! Herons are awesome, because they are solitary, and cranky, just like me, hee!! It’s somewhere along the 10-mile loop. It’s my favourite place to stop on this island, and a great place to have lunch, since I refuse to do a ride longer than 20 miles without copious amounts of REAL food.

    My favourite thing about Sauvie Island however, has to be the small chocolate milkshake from Burgerville on the way back, as it beckons to you lovingly at the end of the St Johns Bridge, aaahhh!!!

    • Kirsty

      PS – forgot to add. the worst thing about biking to Sauvie for me, is my backside starts to hurt like crazy after being on a saddle for more than about two hours. it hurts being a girl on a bike sometimes! i guess i need to start hinting to santa about that brooks saddle, eh?

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