Sunday, September 9, 2012

Long Beach, WA

In August, Jeff and I took a weekend trip to Long Beach, Washington.  It's about two hours from Portland.  We didn't know what to expect since we had not been there, but we ended up loving it.  Long Beach is such a cute little beach town.  When we planned our trip, we had no idea the weekend we picked was Jake the Alligator man's 76th annual birthday party and boy was it a party, more on that later.  We stayed at the Adrift Hotel, which was right next to the ocean and it was great to have such close beach access.  Along the coast there is a 8.5 mile paved trail called The Discovery Trail which has monuments along the trail to celebrate the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  We had a lot of fun checking out the trail on bikes we borrowed from our hotel.  Here are some pictures from our trip.  

 Watching the sunset

 The sunset from The Discovery Trail

 A view of the coast out on a morning jog.

 We went to breakfast at Benson's on the Beach.  I had scrambled eggs with crab, but it was more like crab with a few scrambled eggs, there was so much crab!  I loved it!

 Jeff enjoying his breakfast.

We went to the North Head Lighthouse on the Long Beach Peninsula.  We also wanted to go to Cape Disappointment, but it was so crowded and there was no parking.  We didn't want to wait for a parking spot, so we'll have to put that on the list for next time. 

View from the Lighthouse

 It was a bit windy up there, but the weather was great.  

 View of the Washington Coast from the Lighthouse.

Jeff took this panoramic view near the Lighthouse. 

 As I mentioned before, it was Jake the Alligator Man's birthday and Jake resides in Marsh's Museum.  It's basically a tourist trap, and of course we had to check it out.   

 And here is Jake the Alligator Man, yep, he's half man and half alligator.  

As part of the birthday celebration for Jake, there is a Bride of Jake contest.  Women come from all over to win Jake's heart and become his bride for the year.  We saw about half of the show and that was enough.  Let's just say it was very interesting. 

Along with the birthday celebration there is a car show.  That was also very interesting.  Here are some pictures of that. 

On the way back to Portland, we spent a few hours in Astoria.  Here is a view of the Columbia River from the Astoria Column. 

 The Astoria Column, the weather was perfect, we couldn't have asked for a better weekend. 

The Goonies Museum in Astoria.  We didn't go inside, that will be another trip, but we did get to see the Goonies Jeep outside bullet holes and all. 

It's kind of hard to see in this picture, but the cast members signed the dashboard.  

More panoramic views from the Astoria Column.

We loved Long Beach and can't wait to go back. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Tour de Cure

Last weekend I rode in the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure bike ride.  It was my first organized bike ride and I had no idea what to expect.  I was so happy it was so organized and all the rest stops were stocked with great food and drinks.  Jeff and Lisa did the 43 mile route and Barry and I did in the 27 route.  I was a little worried I might make a wrong turn and get lost in the countryside of Hillsboro, but the routes were well marked and it was easy to know where to go.  As I mentioned before, Jeff did the 43 mile route, the same route he did last year.  This year he shaved an hour off his time from last year.  Way to go Jeff!  You can read more about the ride on his blog, Large Plotting Beast.  I had a wonderful time and I absolutely loved it, in fact I was a little disappointed when I came up to the finish line, I wanted to keep riding.  I've decided to sign up for a 30 mile ride in Beaverton at the end of August.  Here are some pictures from the ride.

Before the ride

Lisa, me and Barry crossing the finish line together.  We met up with Lisa and Jeff at the last rest stop and were able to ride the last few miles together.  

Showing off my medal.

Jeff and me right after the ride.

Enjoying lunch. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Jersey Boys

I can't tell you how long I've wanted to see Jersey Boys and so when I heard it was coming to Portland, I was beyond excited.  We went Thursday night and Jeff and I really enjoyed the show.  The music was great, I'm still singing The Four Seasons songs from the show.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Jeff: New Blog

So as you have seen I've been doing a lot of riding this year. So I'm going to try and document what I'm doing with riding and life on my own blog: Large Plodding Beast Not that I'm a pro or anything near it, but I've found that the more I talk about riding the more I'm encouraged to ride more. So writing should have the same effect, I hope. :)


Jeff: STP Day 2

We started a little later the second day, 6AM instead of 5AM. I don't know if it was the extra hour or the beds at Motel 6, but I felt really strong the second day. I'd like to think my training had something to do with it also. We rode to the starting area from the motel, which again helped to loosen the legs and warm up. The weather again had been forecast to be warm, but the clouds remained and kept it cool. We had reports of heavy rain in Portland and hoped it wouldn't hit us on our ride into PDX. We did have some light misting in Winlock and coming into Kelso. You can see the moisture on the ground in this shot of the Winlock "Egg."

Lisa and I rode together for the most part until after Winlock. I was feeling fresher and she said it was ok to go ahead. I was able to catch on a great pace-line for a good stretch of the way from Winlock to Longview. They did a great job of signaling potholes, tracks, etc... We even had someone throw tacks on the bike-path and luckily no one flatted as everyone signalled the obstacle. 
In Longview, we had to queue up again to cross the Lewis and Clark Bridge. Everyone was in good spirits and excited to be back in Oregon. Lisa caught up to me here and joined me in the lineup. We joked with other riders and even started the wave for a brief moment before we got to cross. You can see the excitement on my face here: 
Lisa again said not to wait for her. I think she was more tired than I was, but I appreciated the offer, so I took it. Crossing the bridge was fun, but we weren't allowed to stop for photos as we were already holding up traffic as it was. The descent off the bridge was a lot of fun and after a short traffic stop, I sprinted to the head of the pack. Well, maybe not sprinted, but I got ahead of the group and soon started catching up with the previous bridge crossing group on the next set of climbs. 
I caught onto another good pace-line and rode that most of the way into St. Helens, which was the final official rest stop. I took a longer break here and waited for Lisa. I ran into some more friends from Portland who were on the ride. Again it's always fun to see people you know on a ride. I sent Lisa a text letting her know when I left the stop and checking in with her. As I was leaving, we passed each other. She looked pretty tired, but said to go on. I was about 20 minutes ahead of her at this point. 
This final leg of the journey had its own challenges. Having had some great pace-lines, I caught onto a bad one. They set a great pace, but the couple who lead the way didn't signal for anything except stoplights. I was lucky to miss most of the potholes they didn't call out, but those behind me weren't always so lucky. I should have pulled ahead, but was glad to just draft for a while. I did this until the St. Johns Bridge coming into town and then I'd had enough and passed them on the descent. 
Back in Portland, seemed like everyone slowed down a great deal. I guess we were all tired, I know I was at this point, but I just wanted to finish. I kept my speed up pretty well until the Rose Quarter. ODOT decided to close I-5 South for repaving and so there was a lot more traffic in this area. That combined with the riders made it difficult to go very far, very fast. Most lights you were lucky to get through on the first try. 
I was able to get a head of the pack and made the last couple of lights and came to the finish with a big smile. 
I met Jamie at the finish line and it was a great feeling to be done. I'd accomplished one of my big goals for the year, completing STP. 
We were able to find Barry in the mob of people at the finish line. I'd told Lisa that we'd wait for her to come in and I relayed texts to Barry about Lisa's location. She came in about 30 minutes after me, tired but happy. 
Having completed STP, I'm already thinking about doing it again. Maybe not next year, as we're talking about doing RSVP (Ride from Seattle to Vancouver BC and Party!), but I hope to do STP again. I don't think I'm ready for the one day assault yet, but I'd like to see how much more I can improve over the next year, both with my riding and my weight (I've lost over 15 lbs since I started riding).

Jeff: STP Day 1

This past weekend, I accomplished one of my goals for the year. I rode and completed the GroupHealth Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic. My friend, Barry, had challenged me to ride with him this year. He'd rode last year, wanted to finish as his ride was cut short due to injury. His wife, Lisa, also accepted the challenge. Barry, unfortunately, injured his knee again and didn't make the ride. However, he and my wife agreed to provide support during the event. Having survived the traffic getting into Seattle on a Friday, we were lucky to stay close to the starting line on a boat. You can see Lisa and I ready to go early Saturday morning.

We were able to ride a few miles to the start. This was a big help as I was able to determine a rear derailer issue and have the onsite mechanics fix it before the ride. I'd been having a lot of issues with the components in the weeks leading up to STP and thankfully, the tech figured it out quickly and I didn't have any issues the whole ride. We had to wait for one group of riders to leave and then we queued up.

It was really great to start with a large group. The other rides I'd done this year were loosely started or you just took off on your own. After the start we found our rhythm and speed and rode through Seattle. The first day Lisa and I rode together for the majority of the day with Barry meeting up with us on his motorcycle to take photos or give us extra water or snacks beyond what was available at the rest stops. The event had official rest stop every 25 miles or so, with unofficial stops more often. The unofficial stops were put on by the small towns we rode through during the events. All the stops were well planned and staffed and had the usually fare of bananas, water, PBJs, etc... I wish there were some more protein options, but I'm being picky. The ride was fairly uneventful, but we kept hearing about "The Hill" outside of Puyallup. Everyone said it was a killer and that we should rest up before the climb. But the story was better than the climb. Having done a lot of hill intervals as part of our training, "The Hill" wasn't much. Yes, it is a Cat 4 climb, but slow and steady conquered the day. I felt less plodding as I was able to pass a lot of riders on the climb. I got passed also, but it was a nice feeling to pass people on a climb. We were lucky the first day with the weather. It had been forecast to be sunny and in the mid-70s, but ended up being overcast and in the high 60s for most of the day. We did get some misting at times, but it was quite refreshing and kept us cool.

One of the highlights of the ride was running into a friend from high school on the ride. I hadn't seen Sean since high school graduation, but we'd kept in touch in recent years on Facebook. Sean and Darby, another friend from high school, have ridden STP several time and we'd discussed meeting up. Logistics didn't work out, so it was great to hear Sean ride up during the last third of the day. We rode together for about 15 miles and got caught up. We rode together until the Tenino rest stop and then he took a longer break and we continued on to Centralia.

Centralia never seemed to get closer, but we finally made it around 1:30pm. There was a midpoint finish line and there were Creamsicles waiting for us to cool off with. They were awesome! Here's an Instagram of Lisa and I enjoying them.

After that we took advantage of another bike repair service and got the bikes ready for another day on the road. Then it was off to the motel, food and rest and lots of water for our tired bodies. But a great first day of STP.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sweet Summertime

I love Portland in the summer, it's my favorite time of year!  A couple of weeks ago, I took a bike ride along the esplanade.  It was such a beautiful day!  Here are some instagram pictures.

The Portland Blues Festival from the Hawthorne Bridge.  It was great to stop on the bridge and listen to some of the music.

 View from the other side of the river, not a cloud in sight, what a great day.