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The ride, the magic
Last Post 08/09/2021 11:51 AM by 79 pmooney. 4 Replies.
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06/03/2020 02:54 PM
I'm back into riding.  Rode little over the winter.  (House project being my main excuse and it happened so no regrets.) Took the whole month of April off just feeling like it was my duty to play along "behaving" as authorities asked us to stay inside.  (Yes, riding the bike should be about the safest thing we can do, but being another citizen pushing the boundaries - I just don't need to do that.  I have the Declaration of Independence hanging in the living room.  Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.  In that order.  I don't think that was accident.

So, early last month I started riding once a week.  Sunday.  Added Thursday afternoon or evening.  Just doing my well worn route into the county.  Not "flat" but basically so.  On Jessica J, the sweet fix gear.  2 cogs, first 18 and 19.  A lot of 19!  43 X 19.  Little gear.  Not much fun downhill.  I wasn't smooth and my undersides took a beating, even deep in Bag Balm.  30 miles was a long ways.

Sunday, May 10th I rode a 40 mile out and back.  Hard, butt killer, but I did it.  The next week I stretched it to 50.  Added 25 miles that Thursday.  The 25th I did the 50 miles and continued to the toll gate to the park around the Hagg Lake reservoir.  (I love riding around it but it's 1000' of climbing in 8 miles and I am far from ready!)  Came home hammered!  Rode Tuesday evening.  Not much get up and go but not too bad.  Again Thursday for 35 miles.  Sunday the 50 miler out and back again and it was actually kinda fun.  Butt felt much better.  By now I was a couple of weeks on 17,18 and starting to ride the 17.

I'd been seeing the moon lying in bed so I looked at the calendar yesterday morning.  Full moon Friday.  Weather forecast - warmish, high 70s with evening clouds.  Whoa!  If I want to do an evening ride past sunset this is it!  Almost solstice.  I'd be riding west into a cloudy sunset so not blinding the few following drivers.  Near full moon through clouds; nice uniform light.

Suited up in my bright orange Mavic jersey that still has some reflecting on its silver stripes.  Stuffed my bike vest with its two taillights in my pocket with a pair of armwarmers,  Cliff bars, water bottles and my commuter headlight.  Headed west, leaving around 6.  Sun was still good and high so no visibility issues and the clouds were moving in.  Mid 70s, perfect riding.  Before leaving I unscrewed the 18 and put on a 16!  Left on the 17.  Brisk cross and headwind but I fell completely up to it.  I can do this for an out and back of 35 miles.  (I did ride 50 two days ago so that is asking plenty of this body.)

I started feeling better as I rode.  Felt on top of the gear, even into the wind.  Yes, out of the saddle at all the usual spots, but it wasn't lugging!  Decided to push a little further, to the "northwest corner", the furthest upwind I can get on that ride for the best sail home.  Got there and decided my turnaround was going to be at the road 1 1/2 miles further even though that meant a 3/4 mile slog upwind coming back.  So I didn't "waste" the downwind getting there, I stopped and turned the wheel around.  16 tooth!  I hadn't ridden it since last fall.

Now I was on the really fun gear - big enough that seat issues just aren't.  Big enough that downhills are fun.  That slightly downhill 3/4 miles was a blast.  The next stretch of the same distance, slghtly steeper down but sheltered from wind was also.  Turnaround.  I stopped and put on my vest.  Taillights on.  Still a lot of light but the sun was now just a glow behind the clouds and low.  Now the mile and a half back to the "corner" will be uphill (gentle, all in the saddle) and/or upwind. I'm in the big gear.  And my legs are completely in to it.  No big deal.  Turn the corner and it's fun time!  I come to the golf course and then, instead of rounding it and taking my usual gently undulating road, I decide to stay out in the following wind then add a loop toward the county seat and past my favorite park.  Again the little downhill was fun and the gentle up into the ind no big deal.

Decided to ride through the park.  Narrow trails but it was getting late and few people.  The park is just off the river of our county.  Lots of water birds.  It is used primarily by immigrant families, especially Hispanic.  I love seeing the big, active, loud families enjoying the park, so different from the reserved and quiet I grew up with.  Last night only a couple of families.  Then quiet.  Birds, my quiet tires and not much else.  (Wind was coming down.  My sail was over.)  Then onto the final 18 miles.  First few were in the open.  Farmland.  Big sky.  Clouds and light different every time I looked.  Sun had found a slot and sat low, orange and big.  At my right side.  I was escorted by a 50 foot shadow on a bike.  Wind was fading but at my hind quarter.  Legs felt great.  Yes, they'd done something and I was going to feel this but they were looking forward to the final miles.  Bike felt super!

(Jessica J, the 1980s super race bike - except from a fictional world with no freewheels and gears and clinchers at the weight of my old winter commuter wheels.  Yes, Corsa rolling resistance, not dogs at all but the wheels much heavier than my old tubular training wheels.  But the ride!  Steel at it best and then some.  (Stiff ti, steel fork.  Sugino 75 crankset, pista bars, Cinelli stem, D-A semi-platforms; for a few years the preferred velodrome pedal.  Terry seat that my butt is now relearning to be comfortable on.  Basically the old "classic" Selle Italia I raced and rode for 25 years till my body said "enough; gotta get that hole!")

Rode that race bike home, on top of the gear the whole time.  (Yes,I was backing off.  I'd done a lot and it was wind-down time, but the rises were easy and no need to stop and flip back to the 17.)  Final dip and rise.  Started down with slightly waning enthusiasm, then remembered "rollers!  Fix gear!"  Just before the down slope ended I spun,  Accelerated through the bottom.  Spun up and easily came out of the saddle and rolled over the top,  Oh yeah!  I know how to do this!  I'm back!  Rolled into the driveway on wonderfully hammered legs.  9:45.  What a ride!  (I ate 1/2 a Cliff Bar and drank 1/2 a waterbottle.  Bathroom, food and water - all at once!

Went to bed after midnight with those hammered legs.  Took two aspirin.  (I knew my knees had done a lot plus without massage it would take two for good sleep.  Woke up this morning at a no-alarm 9am felling great!

Now I get to take Jessica into the hills.  She's always been ready.  Now I am.  And start plugging away at getting the good bike's FD to sift me into the inner ring keeping as much of the super low-Q as I can.

What a ride!  What an evening!



06/19/2020 09:55 PM
The magic for me right now is getting the 4-year old grandson on his balance bike and striding along with him. He makes me younger every day. The granddaughter is just 9 months old, so a bit too soon for the bike, but she does cheer us on.


06/01/2021 11:38 AM
I've been struggling with enthusiasm and doing regular enough rides to build anything this year. (House and projects have benefited so not all is lost. Many of my Saturday farmers market rides have been done by car to buy plant starts. Veggie gardens are looking their best in years.)

Sunday I went for a near 50 miler on Jessica on a realistic gear; 42-18. Except for a quick stop behind a tree, no stops. Beautiful day and the real Memorial day, the day of my dad's birth. Yesterday I pulled out the workhorse, my winter/rain/city fix gear that hasn't been ridden this calendar year. Put air in the tires, looked at it, bounced it on the garage floor and rode it. Old reliable. 20,000 miles. Everything was just fine. Starting at my home just outside SW Portland, I rode downtown, then across to a neighborhood in NE that was alternative lifestyle and is now gentrifying. I used to volunteer at a coop there. 10 clocks further is one of Portland's best (to my tastes) espresso cafe. They were open and I indulged in my first since many months ago. (And didn't have to pay! Got to use my new "passport"!)

Went outside and sat at a sidewalk table, mask down and basked in the shade of an oak, sipping some excellent espresso. Rode back to the river and across to NW Portland, an area I have spent a lot of time in over the past 20 years. Stopped at my favorite Mexican place. Had an "El Cheapo" and a hibiscus drink. (El Cheapos, the one food on that avenue of expensive restaurants that I could afford the winter my marriage was falling apart. A (very simple but) quality meal that sat very well for the tough climb home. The whole crew there is Hispanic. I always thank them. They love serving me. Felt so right to be back. That hibiscus drink hit the spot! Clean, tasting of rose flower, barely sweet. Big cup for a warm (high '80s) day. The most isolated sidewalk table was free so I sat with my bike in view, watching the (many) pedestrians and again, just basking and enjoying my burrito.

Then the ride home on the full stomach of good food. And up the climb. There are dozens of options from there to home but I have 3 that are regular. The longest and flattest (and out of shape fix gear default). The shortest, a much tougher climb to 200' higher and a fun descent. The Rose Garden and Zoo, another 250' higher still with a very short pitch that is fix gear hard!!! (The test of toestraps and cleats. Too worn and I'm walking.) Did the Zoo. On a 28 pound fix gear, 44-17. Not fast at all. That steep pitch I was at an RPM of 15(?) But I made it.

Today it's going into the '90s. I'm staying in or just going for a neighborhood walk. Quick weight session, otherwise, rest. But all is good. I can climb on the fix gear; go where I want! Yeah! Strap the chainwhip and spare cog on Jessica and ride Bald Peak Road. (200' at one end, 600' at the other. 1550' at the mid point. 2000' of up (and down). That I cannot do it fast doesn't matter. That I can does!

Oh, fun reading my opening post of this thread. My ride Sunday was that exact ride on the same bike, just not the same cogs. Opened Coffee Shop to see what old thread I should dump this post in and this one was a no-brainer.
Orange Crush


06/01/2021 11:22 PM
Thanks for the write up Ben. Good stuff.


08/09/2021 11:51 AM
It's house project time again and very little riding. Now, I'm tiling the concrete patio with concrete "flagstone". Up to 45# per tile. Hard work! Using a fast setting mortar and can rarely work past noon so 5-9 tiles/day is max. Rides are to the farmer's market Sat and "long" one on Sunday.

Rides are either 25-45 miles on Jessica J or up to the ridge along the Chehalems (1200-1600' elevation). Three weeks ago I went up the gentle climb on Jessica J on the 23, then along the ridge to the high point. Went slow. I was pleasant,y surprised that the steep parts were not all that hard. (Good hand/wrist/forearm/shoulder and torso strength go a long ways on fix gear climbs! And handling those tiles sure does that!)

Well, I started thinking I wanted to see if I could get up McCormick Hill Rd fixed. 42-24. I've done it recently with a 24-28, then 24-25. (The first pitch is steep! A little under 3 miles, 1100'.) Left the house not sure if I was going to go up and had the cogs both for a flat ride and 24 and 13 for the hill. Before I got to my espresso stop, I knew I was going up. Rode out easy. Stopped and flipped the wheel. Hit the steep. No big deal. (I did get that I wasn't in good shape and had no business sustaining that breathing and heartrate when the pitch lessened; that I had to slow and conserve every time I got the opportunity.

Went in completely accepting that I would stop as needed; probably several times. Never did. Just moseyed on up, working harder as needed. Out of the saddle for long stretches. I tuned out, doing calculations and planning on projects, recalling past rides, etc. for long stretches of the hardest parts, coming back to reality with "wow, that's almost done!" Got reminded that Jessica is a great big gear climbing machine. The fit is all there. Rear tire is tucked in very close so it doesn't skid on the steep stuff even when I am full forward in the give it all standing grunt. That frame doesn't bend. Only soon to be addressed issue - I need more padding on the brake levers and hoods! The Tektro rubber is too hard and even though the lever undersides are smooth, it is not enough for this kind of climbing by a near 70 yo with the strength but not the callous building miles.

After the road top, I continued NW along the ridge, down a small decline, up a slightly larger hill and down a second small one, all in the 42-13. Then flipped back to the 24 for the final grunt which turned out to ve pretty easy, then the slight uphill roll into the parking lot Bald Peak State Park and the mountaintop. Down the big hill. 4 cars passed early and responsibly. I had a welcome headwind to keep the 88" gear quite reasonable with not a lot of help with the brakes. (My old crazy seems to have packed up and gone. I'm not really complaining.) Then it was the nominally flat 17 miles home on the 17 tooth. Now, all that climbing was catching up! Got home fully cooked but in a really good way. Not drained to the core but feeling every muscle really did something. Went to bed on half a shot of scotch and an aspirin. Slept like a log. (And my knees felt good! The whole ride, after and today.)

So once again, that sweet reminder - I love fix gear riding! Yes I have to stop and change gears. The chainwhip come out 3 times yesterday. But the ride! So pure. And how I feel after. My upper body really did something!
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