Tag Archives: bicycles

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.

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Norma!

One month ago I traveled to Hamilton, Montana, to interview an energetic woman named Norma. Ever since, I’ve been hard at work making my first short film—and now it’s done! Copious amounts of time went into this seven minute video, which I’m considering the crowning achievement of my MPub internship.

Won’t you give it a watch?

The Cycling Eight also went up on the Adventure Cycling Association blog earlier today, where you can read a little more contextual information if you’re interested.

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Presenting…My Adventure Cycling Portraits!

My internship at Adventure Cycling Association is over, but it’s almost as if I’ve never left. (No, really—I’m still working on a couple projects and just got a couple more when I went in the office today!) While these portraits are great mementos of my internship, I am also blessed to have an original Greg Siple embellishment that was presented to me on my last day.

Man, I really like that place.

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The Adventures of Lycra Grrl: Touring to Clinton

“Hey, look at that bird!”

“A great blue heron!”

“My dad says they’re good luck.”

Indeed, we did have pretty good luck. Riding without a bike pump, we were tempting fate. But there were no flats on our four-hour ride to Clinton and back.

Sarah and I originally had planned a longer bike ride to Alberton on Adventure Saturday, which would have put us at 65 miles for the day. But the weather forecast predicted hot temperatures, so we set our sights on Clinton. No, not that Clinton—the town of Clinton, MT, about 20 miles east of Missoula.

We met at 9am at our office and started heading east. Our first short stop was so I could view what I had been calling “the gay wedding altar,” which ended up actually being a memorial to two teen girls killed in 2009. (Oops. My bad.) It was easily the most extensive roadside memorial I’d ever seen, with a cement patio, two benches, a decorative street lamp, pink petunias, metal artwork, and a large stone pulpit with their photos and story. After leaving Bonner/Milltown, we rode the adjacent multi-use path for a few miles, but then got back on the road until we got to Clinton. In Clinton, we hitched our iron steeds to the horse hitching post and visited the local market for refreshments.

This was the first time I got a close look at the unusual billboard outside Clinton, advertising their annual Testicle Festival. Another first: riding on a two-lane road with no shoulder that had a really high speed limit. Because there wasn’t much traffic I often found myself riding beside Sarah so we could chat as we rode. Gabbing away, just as I noticed an approaching car behind us I would try to fall back and—too late, they had already passed. The cars were going too fast for me to do onesie formation. I guess this is why people wear eyeglass mirrors. Fortunately since there was barely any traffic, all the cars passed us in the other lane, and only one gave a honk. Not even an aggressive honk. Maybe this rural road riding doesn’t have to be so bad after all.

The day brought a couple other discoveries. First: my sunscreen has been really useful this summer. How do I know? In my morning rush I hadn’t put it on, and I don’t tend to stop for such silly trifles on the road. Back at home I discovered my face was rather pink, my tan arms stung, and a clear line dividing cherry and porcelain skin was visible on my lower thighs.

The second discovery? Look at the photos: I thought the blue wicking shirt, being looser than a regular jersey, would be more flattering on my body. Nope! This is why being Lycra Grrl is kind of a big deal: as a person who does not have what people think of as a cyclists’ body, form-fitting clothes are scary. Sarah was wearing a skinsuit, and we talked a little about the Sweetpea Ladies’ Auxillary skinsuit. Her thoughts: Want it so much! But it’s so expensive. My thoughts: Uh, not even an option. Can’t even pull off lycra in a two-piece format!

Once we were approaching Missoula, Sarah suggested we race back to the office before the Saturday greeters closed up shop. Then we could get immortalized on the wall for our big tour. Paul and Tom had already locked the door, but they let us in anyway and shot our photo before heading out. Rather than partake of the free ice cream at the office we headed over to the Big Dipper on the other side of the river, where a helpful mother volunteered to memorialize our post-ride gluttony.

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Nerd Alert: Resource for Oregon Bike History

While doing some research on a mostly unrelated topic this morning, I ran across “Oregon on Two Wheels: The History of Cycling in Our Historic Newspapers.” This blog post features some interesting bike-related clips from Historic Oregon Newspapers, a database of digitized newspapers hosted by the University of Oregon.

This made me wonder what Eric Lundren has been up to. I met Eric while working on the BTA’s Alice Awards for the first time in 2007. After his stint there, he moved back to his hometown of Salem, reportedly to be closer to the Oregon State Archives and do research. Eric’s area of scholarly interest is the early bicycle history of Oregon. In late 2007 I attended his presentation at the PSU Transportation Seminar class (scroll down to November 30, 2007, for his slides, or to watch the lecture online). At the time he said he was working on a book. Besides a couple of BikePortland articles he wrote a couple of years later, I’ve heard nary a peep from him since.

(Photo: Downtown Portland, OR, May 1974.)

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Portrait of a Disheveled Intern

Sunday evening the water heater in my house died. I made the discovery Monday morning, when my attempts to take a shower were thwarted by the complete lack of even lukewarm water. After trying to troubleshoot the problem, I looked at the time and resigned myself to having a braids day.

The problem hadn’t been resolved by this morning. But I couldn’t suffer another day! So I packed up soap, conditioner, deodorant, a towel, and other shower supplies in one pannier, and a set of clean clothes in the other (just in case the soap tried to mess up my work wear). After zipping up my rain jacket, strapping on my messenger bag, and fastening my helmet, I was on my way to work a half-hour early.

When I arrived I felt sheepish about my grimy hair, wearing yesterday’s pants, sporting unsubtle and uncoordinated colors, and carrying way too much stuff for a one mile trip to the office. Of course as luck would have it, the office shower was already in use. I started walking toward my desk to put down my messenger bag and kill some time.

It was at this point—and you’d understand if you had met him that it could only be at this point—that ACA co-founder Greg Siple walked up behind me and wanted to take one of his cyclists portraits of me. With all the gear and everything. Despite the fact that I am not a touring cyclist—just an extremely overpacked intern.

But I had some time to kill before the shower was free, so I agreed. While I refastened my panniers, unlocked Sweetpea and wheeled her around to the back of the building, Greg started unfurling the backdrop he uses for these portraits, taken in front of the loading dock of the building. Normally he does portraits during the afternoon when the sun is positioned better, but mine was done on a very gray, almost drizzly, morning.

Hey. I’m an Oregonian. We do things in the rain.

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