Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Worst Day of the Year Ride

With a name like that, how can you not love it?

The Worst Day of the Year Ride is planned for mid-February, and is the earliest entry in what's shaping up to be my yearly biking calendar. It's a testament to Portland's wackiness not only that people would get out in such a cold, rainy month, but that many do so in full costume. This year's favorite was a family of four, two adults, two trail-a-bikes, all in full body felted dinosaur costumes, complete with spiky helmet covers.

I haven't dressed up, but I've ridden the 45-mile challenge course twice now. Both times, contrary to the name, the weather has been spectacular--cool but dry, bright winter sunshine.

The long route goes from downtown, up over Washington Park, out into Beaverton (around Rock Creek), before doubling back along Germantown Road (with a significant dip down Old Germantown Road for extra hilliness). After climbing, you get to zip down Germantown (brakes please!), cross over the St. Johns Bridge and then mosey back into town.

The first year the hills were pretty rough, especially up through Washington Park. Apparently my base fitness has improved though, since this last weekend it got me sweating, but wasn't the struggle I remembered.

There is a shorter, urban course (around 15 miles or so), part of which overlaps with the challenge course. They stagger it, letting the challenge riders go early, but everyone ends the ride together. Surprisingly, I didn't find the shared part of the course to be unduly congested, and it didn't much impact my overall average speed.

There's a lot of support, especially on the urban segments. Tasty soup is served at the end, although the portions aren't huge and the beer from Lucky Lab is an extra charge.

Overall, highly recommended. If you want an organized ride before spring's even arrived, well, you don't have many other options do you?

The Numbers: 2012, 2013

Riding Away

In the time since I last blogged, a lot has happened. Another big item on the list is that I started biking.

I've never been much of a fitness person, but this change had its roots in our family bikes. We purchased family bikes in the summer of 2010 to help us keep healthy and get out in the evenings. Unfortunately, the first few rides threw Amber's back out. My inner cheapness came to the fore then, as I looked at the bikes waiting there, unused. I decided I'd cycle to work, at least a few times, so they wouldn't just be stalled on the porch.

I fell in love.

Since then time, I've traded in my lovely 7-speed hybrid for a full road bike (thanks Andrew!), wrote a website for tracking my stats, started obsessing over my Strava segments, and ridden over 5000 miles.

Along the way, I started to participate in longer organized rides. With that in mind I'm going to start jotting down my thoughts on the events, in large part to keep track of things myself, but maybe someone else will get useful ideas about rides to join in on around the Portland area.