Saturday, July 01, 2006

Back in the saddle again! (sorta)

Argotnaut has done quite a nice post about why we visited our local recumbent bike dealer recently. She talks about the bike she had to have, and now I get to talk about the bike I got!

Ever since we moved out to Portland, I've been keen to ride the "Summit to Surf" ride that happens every year in late July/early August for the American Diabetes Association, a cause that is near to my heart. This is not a little 20-mile charity ride, you understand. Noooooooo. One must cycle up the side of Mt. Hood and then blast back down to the Columbia River (thus the "Summit to Surf"). And of course, the STANDARD ride (54 miles, 5400 feet of elevation gain, which would obliterate all but the most hardy Chicago cyclists) wasn't good enough for me. Again, nooooooooooooooo! Being a recumbent cyclist, I have a little chip on my shoulder about how standard diamond-frame cyclists think recumbents can't climb well and the people who ride them are nerdy engineering types. Which is somewhat true, but also it made me want to do the KILLER ride up to Timberline Lodge, which is at 6000 feet. The ride then becomes a 65-mile ordeal with 6500 feet of elevation gain. ALL RIGHT! LET'S DO IT! But one just doesn't jump on one's beater cruiser bike and do a ride like that. Well, one could, but one would go about 20 miles and then do one's best impression of road kill. Thus, training is required.

But every year, something happened to sabotage my plans. In 2001, I was working for myself and had the time to train, but then Arggy and I got kicked out of the house we were renting because the owner needed to sell it. So I shelved my training plans while we endured the horror that is finding new digs and then moving. In 2002, I was in the best shape of my life, riding 200 miles a week, including 40/50 mile rides with 2,000/3,000 feet of elevation gain. Then in June "The Calamity" happened. In 2003, I was simply physically unable to ride because my hip was a disaster and, unbeknownst to me, had started to fuse. In 2004, I had just had a total hip replacement in March, so training was RIGHT OUT!, plus there was also Argotnaut's understandable aversion to my getting back out on the road. In 2005, I was in Germany.

But in 2006, all obstacles have finally been overcome. Well, for the most part. My doctor has cleared me to ride long distances. Argotnaut has given her tentative blessing provided a) I train primarily on bike paths that are separate from the road (which there are enough of in Portland to suffice) until I'm strong enough to ride with groups, which afford more visibility on the open road, and b) avoid twisty rural roads where dumbfuck drivers tend to blast around hairpin turns, driving so fast and so lackadaisically that they fail to see a cyclist dressed completely in chartreuse and wearing so much reflective material that he/she appears to be radioactive. And there are my own caveats: no more riding at night (which really sucks because it's really great), no riding in rain or any other conditions that hamper a motorist's range of vision.

Of course, if we move to the Netherlands, where they have a separate system of roads for bikes, all caveats are moot.

But until then, I have the plan and, soon, I'll have the bike (it's on order). Now the only question is, is there time to train? Because the event is in a month, probably not. But there's always next year! And there's also Cycle Oregon!

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