Sunday, November 21, 2010

and building...

Well, I can't stand it. Here's a little bit that isn't riding or writing:
We have walls!!
Today in Mosier, we were blessed with heat and walls and views that unveiled some of what is to come. Blessings to all.

Monday, October 18, 2010

No world record, but letters...

Today was another one of those October days in Oregon, sunny, crisp, dry-grass smelly. While I broke no world records coming or going to school (my bike held about 20 extra pounds on the way to school because I brought leftovers from Hoda's catering the Friday event. YUM!), I broke through many different subjects: typesetting and letterpresses, novels and storylines, and biking.

Writing is so different if you have to think about setting each letter. Over the weekend 4 intrepid students worked with a most patient instructor, Michael D'Allessandro, and set a line or two of type and printed their very own creations. We worked with tiny presses which print on a 3x5 surface. I can't tell you how amazing it was to use the composing stick, load lead letters into the left hand, write upside down and backwards, lock the words into the chase, load it into the little machine, watch the doghead turn the ink plate, and feed the Rive paper in. It was magic.

As Joanna Rose said today, she was still "letter-y." No kidding.

And besides that this weekend, I spent an hour on the phone with Hannah Tinti, my good friend who has adopted my novel. She has sent me 7 pages, single-spaced, of notes, both line-edits and big ideas. She knows my novel better than I do at this point, and I am in this haze thinking of what to do, or how to do what she thinks I should do. Her comments and suggestions are brilliant. Rarely has anyone had such a friend. So, I'm letter-y and thinking about Kyle and Jack Song and Carla and their stories.

Interrupting this autumn euphoria are some odd people in cars. Today some workers in a big truck whistled as they passed me, not a hubba-hubba whistle, just one meant to freak me out. I was going about 30mph down a very busy 4-lane highway, and this time, it was more comfortable and easy to get my hand in the right position to flip them off.

All of these actions and stories were in the leaves my tires shredded. They were in the headwind, the warming fall of evening.
(for more pictures of the 24-Hour Story Jam, go here.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

More Buddhist

Riding home from work today, I wasn't taking in the sunshine, the heat. A perfect fall day with a hint of ice crystal in the air, a waft of dry grass and tropics. If I were more Buddhist, I could have let go of insignificant things, like making mistakes, like campus politics, like fear. If I were more Buddhist, I would have noticed the new colors in the trees, the pattern of leaves in the bike lane, and the sound of tires over pine needles and twigs. So different. So different.

Instead, I looked ahead, at my handlebars, pushed, shifted gears where I knew I could maximize the slope. Instead of taking in one of the last breath-taking days of the year, I let silly things distract me.

But I have to say... There's nothing like irritation to motivate me in a workout. Today was the fastest I've ever ridden home: 12.7 miles in 51.19 minutes for an average speed of 14.8 mph. I'm going to hit that goal of 15 mph. Maybe not this fall (since I want to be more Buddhist) but soon.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lions and Teenagers, Oh my!

Last Friday as I biked back from CCC, I had just crossed Rt. 99E and started on River Road. There's generally junk in the bike lane there, and cars coming from the right. A big Suburban pulled up next to me, right next to me, crowding me, and someone in the front passenger window yelled, "Hey!" just to see me jump. I did. It took me awhile to find the right fingers to flip the vehicle off because I'm not used to flipping people off, and so, I chuckled a little. I saw the Suburban up ahead make a left turn, and I wondered if that street, into a little housing development, curved back to River Road. Sure enough, the car came back.

They were going to be behind me again, and I didn't want that to happen. So, I swerved my bike back and pulled in front of them as they waited at the stop. I had no idea what I was going to do or say, but I was plenty mad. There were 5 teenage boys in the car.

"What do you think you're doing?" I said to the driver.
"What do you mean?" he said back.
"Do you like to pick on bicylists?" I was pretty much out of breath.
"What do you mean?" he repeated. The other boys were really uncomfortable. "Lady," he said, "you're weird."
Not able to think too clearly, I said, "No, you're weird for picking on cyclists. It's hard enough to be out here without having to deal with people like you."
"You're really weird." And I thought that if "weird" was the worst thing he could call me, then I was dealing with basically good young guys.
"Just be nice," I said and looked in the eyes of each of the boys.

I rode away, and they waited until I had turned before they kept going. They were going a different direction, luckily.
It took me miles before the adrenaline worked its way through my limbs. I kept thinking, "That was really stupid. You could have gotten hurt!" And I thought, "Is this what happens after you're 50? You think you can tell off younger people for their misbehavior?" Oh no!

That night I mirrored this experience in my dream:
My high school, which included boys, unlike my real high school, went on a field trip somewhere in the country. We played a game of Tag, sort of, but the people who were "it" were on horseback (notice the parallel incongruity of size). I could hear them coming, and so, I hid behind an enormous tree. I just walked on the root system and moved around the trunk so that they wouldn't see me.

When more of them came (notice the incongruity in number), I knew I had to make a break for it, to another tree. But that tree was fairly far away, across a savanna (savanna?). So, I sprinted, and as I ran, I saw that I was passing a male lion with three female lions. I saw that the male lion spotted me (Funny the way I don't blend in...). He came charging after me. I knew that I had to stand my ground, so I stopped and faced his charge. I knew I could not look in his eyes, and so, I kept my eyes down and averted. I could smell his dust, the smell of dry grass and something slightly sweet/sour. He came right up to me, sniffed me, then flopped on his back, just like our big dog, Mia. He spread his legs, and showed me his belly to rub. I didn't know if it was a good idea to rub a lion's belly.

Moral? Boys like to challenge, but truly, many of them are cubs.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Well, I can't believe it. I made it: 50 rides AND Cycle Oregon. Thank you so much for cheering these wheels. The rides on Cycle Oregon were... stunning. Doing such long rides back-to-back was really challenging. Unlike most of the 2,200 riders this week, I took 2 days off, the 2 optional days. Even still, I rode 358.3 miles, for a total elevation gain of 21,722 feet.
As you may have read in The Oregonian, the last ride was the hardest last day they've ever planned: 73 miles with 6,650 feet elevation gain. The picture on the right is a sweet canyon we climbed out of at the very beginning of the day. We had approximately 40 miles of climbing. (That may be worth repeating: 40 miles!) And at the summit, we still had rollers. My legs were mush by then. My friend, Dave, who has completed 9 COs and is an animal up the hills, kept me laughing. Otherwise, he might have had to tow me. Seriously, I had nothing in my legs. The good thing, besides the amazing scenery and the shared sense of discomfort and dismay, was the cloud cover. The temperature was perfect: between 60 and 70 degrees.

The last 20 miles were blissful. We glided down along a dry stream at about 25-30 mph on a road with very few cars. The town of Elgin was even more welcoming, and I felt downright euphoric (perhaps deliriously tired, too) returning to Elgin. Here's a picture of Dave and me on the way to the (separate) showers at the end:
After we showered (separately) and threw our bags in Dave's truck, we ate the entire town of LaGrand. The 5-hour ride was tricky because we couldn't move our legs, but somehow we made it home. Phew.

Tomorrow starts my school year, and I know that no one has sympathy if I whine about going back to work. May I just say that this summer has been one I will never forget: the summer of privilege, the summer of love. I have never felt so held. And I can't believe how fortunate I've been: Africa, building a house, the riches of friendship, seeing my sibs, spending time with Cheryl, sending our daughter off to college, transforming our front yard, and more. Overwhelming is one word for this summer. Abundance is another. I am just so incredibly grateful.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cycle Oregon

Here I go. Thanks for your massive support. If you want to follow along, here's the link to the interactive map:

Have a great week!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

many rides, few days

Today was one of those days when the sky opens up and almost swallows you. It was bad news in an email about a wonderful person who is facing very tough medical procedures after having come through cancer surgery and horrendous chemo. But biking a lot helped. Kind of. Yesterday I biked to CCC and back. Today I biked to a hair cut, to a walk with Linda Vogt (which was wonderful), to CCC and back. On River Road in Milwaukie, a woman in a minivan came from the right, and looked to her right, kept rolling. I was coming from her left, slammed on my brakes and fishtailed. When she saw me, she just smiled, not realizing that she had almost struck me, that I was panicked. My fear squeezed tears out of me.

There were good things about the day, though. Walking with Linda Vogt along the Clackamas River was wonderful. She asked what turning 50 has meant to me, and I said that everything seems more precious (not in the cutesy, surgary type of way, but the sacred type of way). She said that's how she felt about turning 60 and 61. I added that I've realized that I have to make my dreams come true because they aren't just going to happen. Of course, I don't need to make all those dreams happen in one summer like this one! Sheesh.

And then, riding home I set a new record for time (52 minutes), and I didn't feel like I was pushing myself. Very cool. So, I've completed 35 rides. And on Saturday I leave for Cycle Oregon and will probably complete 15 rides during that time. I'll also be out of internet range, and won't check back until Sept. 18th.

Have a great week. Please take time to work against ministers promoting hatred, think of all the peace that has been achieved through collaboration, keep up the good fight for me, please. Love you like smooth pavement and a tail wind. -Kate

Monday, September 6, 2010

What a ride!

My good friend, Linda Brumder, who is an ultra-rower, decided to brave 70 miles with me today. Friends are amazing people; they're like salt. They keep your systems working. After the last ride (see post on Aug. 4), I ended up in the ER because a pain I noticed got quite a bit worse. In the post I mentioned that I wasn't feeling 100%... So, Cheryl and I thought that perhaps I was having an appendicitis, but instead, an ovarian cyst had burst. I wasn't in the typical horrendous pain from one of those, but it wasn't a lot of fun. So, Linda decided to accompany me on ride #29.

This ride, the Goldendale Loop, is hugely diverse in scenery: from river, desert, to farmland, to forest, to river. It's a nearly 3,000 ft elevation gain, and I start the ride going east on Hwy 14 from Lyle toward the Maryhill Museum. We started around 8am this morning, and we weren't quite sure we were awake when we saw the following:

What ARE those things? Yaks? Below them were a herd of deer, and Linda thought we just needed antelope roaming...

There are great rollers especially above what used to be Celilo Falls. The wind was carrying us some, and whenever I'm up there, the wind and the silence carry loss; a whole way of life has been totally lost. You can feel it from that viewpoint.

The clouds lifted, and we were able to see Mt. Hood at that point. Soon we could also see the windmills. They are eerie and graceful and majestic. The Maryhill Museum, in all its funkiness, is its own unique landmark on the right.

From there we headed north, up a steep 3-mile climb complete with traffic, through the dancing windmills. Linda smoked me up the hill. At the top we were greeted with views of both Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams. Later as we moved past Goldendale and into the farmland, we spotted the very top of Rainier, up north in WA. Everywhere we looked, it was beautiful.

The wind was incredible, though. It sapped my energy pretty quickly. It was against us most of the ride, but luckily I had my trusty speakers for my iPod, and we boogied up the hills (kinda). I have to say the scariest part of the ride was the town of Klickitat. I usually hear a banjo when I go through there, and today, they did not disappoint. In the middle of town a guy in camouflage was carrying a rifle and walking his enormous pitbull down the rails-to-trails path. And then, later outside of Klickitat, a woman was walking along the side of the rode with a huge pistol. We rode really fast in those places. Yikes!

Anyway, Linda was a champ, and we made it despite the hills at the end of the ride. It was really fun to laugh our way around the loop. Now, I just taper this week before Cycle Oregon. I'm excited. Thanks for all your good thoughts and support. This summer has been a summer of love--I have felt such incredible support, tenderness, from so many people. Those ways of reaching out have been such blessings to me. On the way back from Mult. Falls the other day, I read the sign at a church which said, "The older one gets, the more blessings one counts." Ain't it the truth?!


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Ride #28

September in Oregon has to be the most beautiful. Today from sunrise to sunset, it has been incredible. After a walk with my dog, Rafi, at sunrise, Cheryl and I picked up my former neighbors and drove out to Mosier, to our property where we are building a cabin. It's growing! My former neighbors, Bob & Rosie, are surrogate parents for me, and the sweetest. They are well into their 80s now, and Bob isn't sure who I am sometimes. But every 5 minutes or so, he said, "Isn't it the most beautiful day?! Man, I tell you." Every tree delighted him. Years ago he's the guy who inspired me to bike. At age 60 he started running marathons, and he helped the guy who started Specialized with bicycle designs. Bob would try them out.

So, on the way home, they dropped me off at Multnomah Falls, and I rode home. Maybe it was too much lunch or too many days in a row of riding, but I was not feeling too strong. And well, there was also a pretty good headwind, which prevented the bliss of the downhill from the Women's Forum through Springvale. The few miles along the Columbia on Marine Drive before turning on to I-205 were pretty dicey.

But here's to ride #28, for a total of 534.5 miles since Aug. 1. (the scary thing is that we'll do almost that much in a week on Cycle Oregon!)... Hm...

Friday, September 3, 2010

summer's not over

My life is at its fullest right now: how rich it is to be able to escort my partner to work by bike and not have to rush off to work or grade papers or something else. Well, I didn't go all the way to PSU, just to the Hawthorne Bridge as the sun warmed up the Willamette. Another gorgeous morning.

And then (then!) Rita Shaw, a colleague, came over and we drove to Gail Alexander's kayak shop in Ridgefield, WA ( which is a very special place, tucked in the confluence of 3 waterways. Gail is doing me a special favor of letting me store my kayak there, which we transported there this morning, in exchange for special kayakers being able to use it during the season. It's an incredible deal for me.

Gail joined us paddlers on the water in the coolest canoe, outfitted with an electric motor:
You can see how stressful the time was. The water was flat, no wind, little current, and Great Blue Herons dripping from trees. An occasional Kingfisher kept us alert with its brilling. Rita and I got to float along, under the strong sun, under the steady eye of Gail. An idyllic couple of hours.

So, just a 6-mile flat ride this morning, and a lovely flat paddle this afternoon. I tell you: turning 50 has been the best thing I've done. I wonder why I didn't do it earlier?!
P.S. Gail is offering a poetry and paddling get-together. There's one left this season. The way she describes it gives me chills of delight: paddling up stream, receiving a packet of prompts, pens, paper, and taking some time to write, then returning to the boathouse for sharing or talking or reading or listening. What could be better? Give her a call.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

crossing the half point

Blazing!! Even though I didn't have my heart monitor/speedometer, I knew I was flying. Do you ever have those moments when the bike is tuned, you have kick in your legs, and there's nothing stopping you? It was one of those days. I made it to school, usually a trip of 1 hour 5 minutes, in under 55 minutes. And that included making a phone call on the way up Rt. 213.

The ride back deflated me. The headwind was fierce. Have you ever had those moments when what you thought was true, the way you built yourself up, couldn't be? Reality bites. What carried me there earlier was the wind. Oh well, I hope I'm getting stronger and faster, but the real factor is physics: weight, work, resistance.

Today I rode #25 and #26. Yippee, more than half way there!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

a little scary (ride #24)

Today was one of those inexplicable days. As soon as I set my bike on the ground in NW Portland to take a hilly ride, the skies opened up. I was drenched in a soft rain. Proving how thin the skin of presence is I could hear LadySmith Black Mombasa sing, "brrrrrr, rain, beautiful rain..." and I could smell the grass of the Maasai Mara. The rain is a blessing, but not being able to see as well with spots all over my classes, and not being able to shift gears because my hands kept slipping were annoying realities. I made it up the hills through Washington Park and the Arboretum, and for the first time, I didn't feel like throwing up. There may be a few reasons for this: 1) there was plenty of time between the ride and breakfast, 2) I wasn't trying to chase someone up the hills, or 3) I wasn't pushing myself. Perhaps 4) all of the above.

Once up to Skyline, I was a little more nervous than usual on the windy, no-shoulder road. One car came a little too close, a little to quickly, and about a mile later, his car was on its side, leaning up against the ditch. He was standing next to the car, and he looked unscathed. Luckily. But seeing his car made me realize how slick the roads must be after so little rain for so long, and I decided to get down off the skinny roads as soon as I could.

The ride wasn't long, but it was good to get some hills in. I'm building up to tackle Larch Mtn. And after the next few rides, I'll taper before Cycle Oregon. Thanks for your good thoughts.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

People ask...

After so many rides now (21), people ask me if I can make it through a day without getting on my bike. I've chuckled a little any time someone has asked. I'm not that driven. Well, after this week in which I have not ridden, I really miss my bike. What I know is that I feel much better when I do ride. Today I spent 45 minutes on a stationary recumbent bike, and although it was uncomfortable and, well, stationary, I felt great afterward--uplifted, nearly giddy. This winter, when the weather is formidable, I'm going to have remember the feeling I had today, and get my butt back in the saddle.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

catching up (rides 17-20, I think)

Oh my word, I haven't written in days. So sorry. I've had some glorious rides with wonderful people.

After biking to school and back (which I count as two rides) on Friday, I rode with my friend, Dawn Martin, along the Columbia, a flat 12-miler on Saturday. It was later in the afternoon, and so, we had the bike path mostly to ourselves. Riding side-by-side is a great way to catch up with a friend. Unfortunately, though, there was a strong headwind on the way home. That can certainly add stress. But Dawn's good spirits pulled us through.

That ride capped off an extraordinary day. Cheryl had surprised me with an overnight to Skamania Lodge for Friday evening, and then, as we had planned, we went to celebrate my birthday on Saturday morning by going on a sternwheeler cruise along the Columbia, leaving from Cascade Locks. Unbeknownst to me, my brother and a good friend from Houston flew in to surprise me. They held the door open for me at the dock, and I practically fainted. My body recognized them before my mind did. What an incredible gift.

The picture shows my joy at seeing my brother. Even though my brother was with us the next day, I did do the Portland Half Century, not the whole century. I'm a wimp. The "extreme climbing" of the middle 50 miles scared me for the second year in a row. And frankly, it was a good idea to stop at the split.

My equipment is showing a bit of wear. A bolt had fallen out of my shoe, and so, my clip did not unclip. Yes, that was scary. I had to stop, take my foot out of my shoe, and force the clip out. The next 22 miles were a challenge--keeping my foot on the pedal and pushing metal-to-metal but a half-inch raised. By the end of the 50 miles, my right quad was complaining.

My friend, Linda Brumder, was kind enough to join me on the 50. While it was a flat course, there were challenges, but she didn't show the strain. She could have gone another 50, I'm sure.
Luckily, we had a great meal after. That's the thing about doing 8-9 rides in a row: you get a bit hungry.

While I don't have my list in front of me, I think I have 30 more rides to go. My word, what have I done to myself? Some of the best things about this challenge are people dusting off their bikes and coming along, seeing great sights, and more. I'll ride just about anywhere with just about anyone. Want to ride?

Right now I'm in Connecticut with more relatives, and not riding. When I return on Aug. 30th, I will be focused on training for Cycle Oregon. I might not be riding just once a day or just flat rides for a couple of weeks. After CO from Sept. 11-18, I'll be back to riding a diverse schedule. Wanna come along? I'd love it. Thanks for all your support.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Best. Day. Ever.

This is how the day started,
with a card from Cheryl:

In truth, I am part Golden Retriever, and so, a soggy ball in my mouth, running all day in the water means pure happiness. That's what today was for me.

Two bike rides with great friends, amazing surprise gifts, a poem from a dear cousin, hysterical cards, dinner at a Greek restaurant, calls from my siblings, flowers and songs from in-laws and loved ones, a Papa Haydn's dessert, it's been perfect. 

Nicole and her son, Lukas, joined Cheryl and me for a wonderful spin around Sauvie Island, a flat 12-miler through fields of pumpkins, cauliflower, and geese. Lukas had ridden 70 miles yesterday with his dad, so he was stretching his legs. Cheryl got me laughing so hard I fell over, but drew no blood. 

(I'm sorry I took out most of Lukas's face with my rear view mirror.)

After Cheryl went to work, Amanda came over and we headed out to Hagg Lake (see yesterday's post). Amanda is renewed after finishing summer quarter, and we zoomed around the lake. The clouds parted right as we got there, and we rolled over the rollers and chugged up the hills. Of course, there was a headwind on the way back into Forest Grove. We talked about daughters and when they use the word, "mommy" or "momma." Her daughter sometimes needs practice using a bigger girl voice, and so, maybe A has suggested she not use "mommy" quite so much. And our Kendra used "momma" a couple of times the day she left, letting us know that she had a wide range of emotions going off to college. The use of "momma" meant the world to Cheryl.

After biking I read lovely Facebook greetings, and soon Cheryl and I headed off to Eleni's in Sellwood for an outdoor Greek dinner. Oh baby, that was amazing. Then, to Papa Haydn's (a good walk), and we brought dessert home. What could be better!!

It's been a glorious 50th birthday, full of playfulness, surprise, and love, love, love. Thank you, life.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hagg Lake

Fit and humble are two words that come to mind when thinking of the friend who biked with me today: Jan Fortier. She's all about books, gardening, friendship, good relationships, and health. What a great smile, great friend. She used to commute by bike twice a week from SE Portland to Marylhurst, up the cemetery hill, down to LO, back through Tryon Creek, etc. What an animal.
We started at the McMenamin's Grand Lodge, rode out Rt. 47 to the old Hwy 47 Rd, and then around Hagg Lake. When the clouds burnt off, the lake sparkled. It's nothing but rollers around the lake, and fun.  It was great to share those hills, those osprey, that time.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

a good momma

After two days off, I rode twice today. Felt good. Had lots to think about. Kendra, Cheryl's daughter, left for college today. Two of her bestest friends came over to see her off, and then, surprised her at the airport to say goodbye. I said goodbye from our house, with Rafi in my arms. Cheryl and Kendra took Mia in the car with them to the airport. It's an important day.

Cheryl and I have been talking about the little things that make someone a daughter or a mother, what makes a good mother. In the last ten years I've witnessed lots of little things. Since we've lived together the last two and a half years, I've marveled at the notes almost every morning that Cheryl leaves for Kendra, the lunch she's made every day of school, the laundry folded, the millions of texts sent and received about evening plans and doctors' appointments, and the list goes on. And it's the little things that I'll miss: the way Kendra greets the dogs, her smile in the door when she comes home, and more.

So, the climb up Saltzman Road to Skyline was my grief, my way of using my heart to shed tears. And gliding down Thompson was part of the joy I feel for the freedom Kendra is experiencing, the wild abundance of college. And then, the return up Springville Road was calm, hot acceptance. This is new. This is where we are.

Only 18 miles today, but plenty of elevation. It's an important day.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

to Crown Point

Because of the heat and plans for the rest of the day (fairwell barbecue for Kendra), I changed the riding plan for today to something a little closer in. So, to Crown Point it was! Shortly into the ride, the wind hit. Wow, a head wind going, which is much better than headwind coming back. Huge lines of riders blew by me. I tried to stay calm even when women my age passed me. So it goes. At Crown Point the wind almost knocked me over. Getting back on to my bike was a tricky balancing act, but gosh, oh golly, the ride back down was lickety-split. Way fun. "Can't touch that," Hammer sang.

My incredibly-supportive partner commented yesterday, "You seem like your head is not tripping you up with these rides," or something like that, and it's true. These days I'm out to have a great time, not to conquer anything. I realize I am incredibly lucky to have the health, salary, time, and more to be able to do these rides. The villagers I've seen in Kenya and Tanzania have no time; they are working always, usually with their bodies. I am not wasting these precious rides. At least, I hope I'm not. There are too many blessings to count.

Today was ride #12, 253 miles total. About 203 miles this week.

Friday, August 13, 2010

temperature does a lot!

OK, I have to confess that yesterday I didn't ride. I was supposed to do a flat 50, but I worked on my novel, instead. I don't think I'll be able to make it up, but I could tell that my body just needed a little down time.

Today's ride was fabulous. You HAVE to do this: get up early (5am) and drive out to Mosier (65 minutes). Park near the totem pole, past the ice cream shop... (It's a great town!) Go east on Rt. 30. The first 6 miles are basically uphill to Rowena Lookout, which is as beautiful as Crown Point. And you have exquisite views of the Columbia on your left, as your companions. And then the downhill is quite lovely. Just a little leaning with the hips, and the turns felt like luge (although I have no idea what that feels like...)

Riding through The Dalles isn't much fun. You just go through downtown, and then, after 20 miles, there's 15 miles uphill through rolling wheat fields, past an old, abandoned farm, under views of Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams. That's the Emerson Loop, except when you turn back toward TD, there's a gentle downhill for miles. Coasting along at 21 mph, I felt like a real cyclist, that is until the border collie came out of nowhere and kept up with me. Yikes! Luckily, it didn't try to grab my wheel.

Anyway, the whole trip back was great--no wind--which those of you who have ridden in the Gorge know that is unheard of. Especially on Friday, the 13th.

There are so many things to think about when you're on the cycle for 5 hours: keeping the front wheel steady, figuring out how to deal with 20 degrees more heat, how long is that hill? Well, there are other things, like the sorrow I sense in my chiropractor these days; like the surprise of discovering that my dogsitter, whom I've known for 20 years, died in April and I knew nothing about it (and feel so badly that I did not help or say goodbye); and like figuring out words or twists in my novel. When I get bored with my thinking or need a boost, I turn on my speakers with the iPod inside; the "exercise" playlist gets me going. It's a blast to have music blaring when I'm trudging up a hill.

And it was just plain beautiful today. What a gift. At the end of the day I even got to see the driveway being put into our Mosier land. It's amazing to see a dream become reality.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


You know you have a pal when she makes room in her day between babysitters/kids, errands, and grading papers to ride with you up treacherous terrain. Such is my friend, Amanda.

(Gosh, I look goofy!!)
Well, she is a hill-machine!! She blew up Rt. 213. Cars could barely keep up. 
And on the way back, the sky opened up to show the beauty of a crisp Oregon day. Glorious. (rides #9 & 10).
Tomorrow I want to do a flat 50, if anyone wants to come along. On Friday, early in the morning, I'll drive to Mosier and do a stunning ride along the Columbia, through The Dalles, up into the rolling wheat fields and back, (against the force of the wind...). Y'all come!

ride #8

Yesterday I stretched along the waterfront. The clouds never burnt off, so it was yet another cool ride, which is great. This weekend is supposed to be warm, and with long rides ahead, that's not a great thing...

My friend and CCC colleague, Amanda Coffey, with whom I'm riding to school today, shared the following link. For anyone who loves biking and loves this earth, the next 5-minute animation is soooo worth it:
Thoughts on My Bike...

Those watercolors really capture the carefree, thoughtful, magic passage on a bike.
More later...

Monday, August 9, 2010

downhill both ways

Before I went out to Estacada to start a lovely ride, I had a lovely time riding with Cheryl on her route to work. (see photo).

About 2 minutes later, I ran into Mat Coffey, on his way to work. What fun to live in such a small city.

So, the ride from Estacada along the Clackamas River is one of the only rides I know that feels as though you're riding downhill both ways. Honest. This is my fourth time riding it, and all 4 have started out soggy. Lots of mist. OK, well, there are a couple of hills, at both ends of the ride (it's an out-and-back.) The one closest to Estacada is about 2-3 miles long, and just a slog, but otherwise, it feels like downhill all the way, baby. And then, there's the river the whole way. Then, there are osprey and eagles. Occasionally there are people cheering you on. Living in Oregon we're thick in beauty.

Around mile 17 the clouds lifted, and the river sizzled. Of course, the clouds were still there when I turned around at Ripplebrook ranger station, and that made for a cool ride back, especially with a headwind. But I had my tunes, my speakers for my iPod. The Police (oh, take me back to the 80s!) helped me up the 8%-grade hill at the end.

It was an ideal ride. I'd highly recommend it. Onward...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

had to happen

Well, I knew sometime it would... When I unloaded my bike at the bottom of the hill, I realized I had forgotten some vital equipment: my biking shoes. At least I had my Keens (not the kind with clips in them, unfortunately). So, I had an hour to get up Saltzman Road to Skyline, to a friend's house for a meeting of our writing group, and I didn't want to just "hang out" somewhere and kill an hour. So, up I went.

Saltzman Road is a fire access road into Forest Park and partially paved. It's the least steep access into the part and up to Skyline. Without the draw of the feet on the pedals, it's a little steeper, a little less sure. And yes, it was hot, around 80 degrees, there was plenty of shade. My feet didn't slip. The different angle of my feet played a little with my calves, but I made it up, hit the pavement of Skyline and the traffic of folks heading to the Street of Dreams and later, heading home. Those narrow roads and turns are scary, but so many cyclists up there keep cars alert (I hope). I made my poetry group. I learned.

Off for two days, two days at the Coast for Cheryl's birthday. ( 50+ miles so far this week, good hills, more on Sunday. It's a good return to cycling. Thanks for your support.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Kenyan air

This morning the air could be Kenyan, hazy, the promise of hot. It could be Kenya outside, except the air has that slight sparkle of ocean coolness and no scent of wet cardboard or damp wood smoke. The air showed me that I'm not completely back, that still I am between continents.

...Except I had a latte...

...Except I had two breakfasts and went to an Apple Store to fix an iPod.

Yesterday I rode the third ride of the week, up the cemetery from the Sellwood Bridge to Burlingame, over to Terwilliger down to Duniway track and back up again. Zooming down the hills, I felt for the first time in a long time really connected to my bike, like it was part of my body. All too often the handlebars feel like something else alive; the pedals are their own thing. Yesterday they came together, trusted me, and I them.

Today I'll head up to Skyline, tomorrow the world.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It was a gorgeous day for the first ride of 50, and my friend and fellow dangerous writer, Nicole, came along. We rode along Marine Drive and talked writing and MFA programs and families. Surprisingly few people were on the path, but many osprey above. It was wonderful to be using my body after 3 weeks of sloth. Thanks, Nicole, for a wonderful start.
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Kenya 2010 w/

Monday, August 2, 2010

back in the saddle

The trip to Kenya and Tanzania was a dream come true. Well, actually, my expectations going into the trip were low because I couldn't imagine seeing the Great Migration of the wildebeest and thought for sure we'd miss it. Not only did we see some of the 1.5 million wildebeest crossing the Maasai Mara, but we saw it two days in a row!! We saw so many animals, so many lions and leopards and elephants and giraffes, that now that I'm back, it's hard to believe we were really there, really smelling the dry grass, the marshes, inhaling the incessant dust. At times sometimes we heard hyenas calling, once a lion growling outside my window. (Thank goodness for windows and doors!)

Today I start the 50 rides. One friend is going with me on the inaugural ride, flat, not too long. The most exercise I've had for the last 3 weeks has been walking from the touring vans to the dinner line. Oh my! I had fantasies of riding my bike again, along the basalt cliffs of the Columbia, through the meadows of Lynn Country, over the hills.

Will you join me? I hope so. Can't wait!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hard to believe

It's been almost two weeks since completing the Pedal Petal. It was not easy. The first 30 miles, starting from the Oregon Gardens in Silverton, were  hills, but they weren't as bad as they could have been. My head was my worst hurdle. I kept thinking how unprepared I was, how tired I felt, how unsure I was that I could make it. The downhills into Silver Falls were fabulous, and they lifted my spirits even though it was really cold. My teeth were chattering.

But when I got to 50 miles, there was an osprey circling over the rest stop, crying out that we were too big for it, that we were scaring its fish. And I just got off my feet, sat on a huge rock and rested a bit. The next rest stop was mile 63, and I knew I could make another 13 miles. So, I kept going.

The fields were chock full of crops: onions, wheat, strawberries. Workers bent double to peak beneath leaves and pick the fruit by hand. One small group of workers turned to me, right as I passed. I waved, and they straightened up, laughed, and gave back a wave. Another great moment came when a man, who looked like Rasputin with forked gray beard and Cossack hat, a very stern expression on his face, trudged up the road. When I waved at him, his face burst into a smile, cracked open, and he laughed. Many people who have never seen a recumbent bike think it is a merry machine.

At the very end of the ride, I was not so merry. In the last half mile I knew there was a hill, one of the steepest of the ride, and I yelled out in dismay. But this ride, unlike the last century, I did not walk. I made it.

And two weeks later, I'm a bit stunned that I rode a 100 miles. Why do I do it?
--to test myself because I know there are so many tests ahead
--to explore the edge
--to know which things matter (workers laughing, the smell of onions, the texts from Cheryl encouraging me)
--and more.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pedal Petal

Tomorrow I hope to ride a century, 100 miles through the rolling hills of Marion County. I'll get up around 4:30am, be on the road by 5am to Salem, and I'm hoping to be on my bike around 6am. We'll see. I don't feel ready. I don't feel rested. I'm nervous and somewhat scared. Why do this to myself? I'm not sure.

Part of it is doing something I don't know whether I can do. Sure, last summer I completed 2 centuries. Sure, I've been riding long rides this spring. Part of the reason is that I love long rides. Zoning out to the rhythm of my own legs, not having to worry about getting lost because so many people have worked so hard to make the turns noticeable. And then there's the scenery, usually stunning. Tomorrow's course has some really steep hills, mostly in the beginning. We'll see.

I've gotten to the place in life where walking or taking my time doesn't seem criminal, at least when I'm riding by myself. When riding with others, I can't stand the idea of holding them back, slowing them down. What's up with that? Few people really mind. So much of sports is the mind.

Well, wish me luck. I'm shooting for 100 miles in 8 hours. We'll see.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Laughing all the way...

My good friend, Linda, and I went for a bit of a ride on Sunday, the sunny day. We got to Mosier around 9am, parked near the totem pole, and then, started up. Linda didn't know Mosier, and I didn't know if I could make it up the hill that I've been climbing all these months to get to the land we're going to build on. That hill just keeps going and going. The road is aptly named: 7 Mile Hill. It tours the cherry orchard and town cemetery, curving around knolls, curving past organic farms, up and up. Over our shoulders we could see Hood, like some snow cone, so white in the blue-blue. And then, the road tilted up. Like a machine, Linda pumped up the hill, and I zigzagged, watched my heartrate flash at me from my monitor: 178, 185, 193... I just didn't want the pain when it exceeds 200. And just when I thought I might lose it, the crest came in view. There was Linda staring out at the Columbia, taking in the liminal place between Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams. And we breathed.

Somehow I hadn't thought there was a mile of uphill after the turn off to Dry Creek Rd, which leads to Osborn Cutoff, then to our road, Further Valley Rd. The sign says 6 miles to Mosier, and somehow the math had eluded me. We made it to the summit of 7 Mile Hill, 1780 feet up in 7 miles. 

And oh, the downhill was worth it, 6 miles of screaming turns, basalt cliffs, no guardrails, 15-mile-an-hour turns, wild blue flowers showing off against the dark, dark rocks, The Dalles far below, and we clocked 38 miles an hour and couldn't stop laughing at the bottom. 

It was a short ride, and my ribs hurt from laughing.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


What does it say that I have the images of last week's ride still in my head, the images of three weeks ago, too?

Last week I rode from Lyle, WA 20 miles along Rt. 14 east, to Rt. 97, went uphill to Goldendale, and headed west for another 40 miles. Did I mention the rain? Did I mention the wind? 30 mph gusts. Oh yeah, baby.

But what sticks in me is the viewpoint of what used to be Celilo Falls. As you face south, belly up to the road sign, the guardrail, to the right is Portland, and the mighty Pacific, to the left is The Dalles, the bridge, and in front of you used to be thousands of salmon, a series of falls, and one of the greatest trading places in North America. The wind blasts the basalt columns in there, the sage holds on until it can't, and magpies lift off in all their starkness, their bright black and white. I do not feel alone there.

The browns with the shock of green grass, yellow delicate flowers, startled birds, they stick to my heart during the week. They are the resting place. They are the lingering escape.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pushing off...

Here's to keeping your metal clip off the pavement, raising one foot to the petal, leaning a bit forward, balancing, waiting for the light, the tuck of abdominals, and pushing off with the first sentence of the first post about 50 rides to raise money for 50 African women for my 50th birthday.

Here's for riding together.

Join me?