Sorry. I just noticed that comments were closed on 44 posts. I’ve just fixed that.
Sorry. I just noticed that comments were closed on 44 posts. I’ve just fixed that.
I am in Portland OR attending OSCON 2008, I’ve brought my mountain bike. On Saturday, I had the amazing Siouxon Creek Trail ride with Gabrielle. Last night (Monday), she led me to the Portland Mountain Bike Short Track Series 2008. This was race 5 of 6.
The event is held at a motor raceway. At the same time the mountain bikers are inside the oval, doing the cross country, the roadies are on the race track, doing their stuff. The off-road course is different every week.
The trip started off at the conference center and headed towards Portland International Raceway. We rode for about 45 minutes, much of it uphill. We arrived with plenty of time for me to register, get a day license, and have a quick look at the course. I also watched Gabrielle’s race and noticed the gravel pile and the log overs, the two most technical parts of the track.
There were a lot of people here. This is a big event. Social and competitive too. I was in the Sport Master Men class. I guess there were about 30-40 men in my class. They were fast. Starting after my group was the 50+ Sport men…. I am positive all of them lapped me…
The course was fun. It was fast. Not very technical, in my opinion. I could ride all of the course, not necessarily quickly. It starts out with a short prelude before you hit that part of the course which forms the basic lap. Included in this prelude is a gravel pile which you must go up and over. This was great. It appears in every course, but in a different place. Many people cannot ride over it, and a bottleneck often occurs at the top of the pile and at the bottom of the other side. I was able to ride over it and avoided those riders who were stuck…
The hills were what killed me. When I cycled around Wellington, New Zealand, we had lots of hills. I rode them every day. But having recently lived in Florida, where the biggest hill around was the Interstate overpass, and now in Philadelphia, where the biggest hill lasts 20 seconds, I’m not in hill climbing shape. My opinion conflicts with that of Lynne who told me I climb hills like a skinny guy (that was when I lived in FL). I could climb the hills, no problem, just not several in a row. It was not my legs, it was my lungs. Or so I think. I could get up over the hill, but would almost come to a complete stop at the top.
There were two log overs. I’d checked them out beforehand. They were easily handled and had good lines, both on the right hand side of the log, next to the tree they were up against. This didn’t stop a guy from trying to pass me between the two log-overs. Silly punter, expecting me to give way right in the middle of my approach to the log. I cleared that sucker easily and kept going. Cow-bell and all!
Gabrielle and her friends formed the cheering section right at the logs. They knew when I was coming around on my lap: the cow-bell gave it away. They cheered. I rode. It was great. :)
The only other incident was someone calling “on the inside” when going through an s-bend. I gave way to him but then he forced me off the outside of the s-bend, forcing me to brake, and slide to avoid running into a hay-bale. I called him a choice name as he disappeared. I have no problems with giving way to faster riders when they are clearing passing. Please, just don’t expect me to call a halt to my fun so you can gain 0.78 seconds.
It was also funny to see some riders short-cutting the corners by riding outside the cones.
Most riders were great. Calling out “on your left/right” etc, and passing with appropriate respect to the other rider.
Don’t read the above as me bitching about the event. It was a great event. I enjoyed it. The above is just my comments on some things I saw.
The people running the event were great, friendly, and helpful. The riders I met were fantastic. Don’t let my tales of a few minor incidents taint your view of Portland MTB.
From what I can tell, the Portland MTB scene is big. Lots of people. Very active. Diverse. And for the most part, amazingly active and fit. Damn are they fit.
Gabrielle: thanks for taking me there. It was fun.
I finally picked up Emma Jane.
The goal was to escort her from Portland airport to downtown upon her arrival. This was Emma’s first trip to Portland. I think I’ve been here 3 or 4 times now. This was planned for 2:30 PM on Monday. At about 1:10pm, I get a phone call. EJ is still in customs in Vancouver… Her flight is due to depart in 5 minutes. There are twenty people in front of her. No way will she make it here for my convoy. We abandon the plan. I was scheduled to race in the Portland Mountain Bike Short Track Series 2008. More about that in a later post. Short version: Portland has an insane MTB scene.
After the race, we cycled back into town. My plan: eat, write, and sleep. I called Emma to get an update. I could not believe she was still in Vancouver. This was 8pm and she arrived there before 1pm. She was booked to leave, but the plane was not yet boarding. I had time to find food, eat, shower, and get to PDX to meet her.
Emma had left Leslie a message at her hotel: “Air Canada is a tool”. After ensuring the message taker that the message was indeed as heard, it took a little longer for it to sink in.
I arrived at PDX about 2 minutes after Emma had retrieved her bags. I wish I had been there to greet her off the plane, but my timing was poor. I had estimated the flight would be slightly late, given it departed late. I was wrong. Fortunately, it was the shortest wait of the day for EJ.
We got straight onto the MAX and headed to her hotel. This took about 45 minutes and cost $2.05 each. CHEAP! On the way in, we chatted lightly and I was impressed at how conscious she was. Arriving at Pioneer Square, we walked the 3 blocks to her hotel. The hotel staff at the desk were pleased to meet the author of “Air Canada is a tool” and expressed their admiration and mirth at being able to give Leslie such a message.
We left her bags at the desk, for transport up to her room, and joined Leslie and Debra in the restaurant. Emma and I were taste-testing the scotch at the bar, and blocking the access to Leslie’s table, when Cat excused herself to get past me. Little did she know who she was trying to get past. She didn’t recognize me from the back and was focused on getting to the table. Given the time of day and that she had just arrived from the airport, it’s no wonder she didn’t notice me.
Scotch in hand, we returned to the table. The conversation was a lot of fun. I swear, if I’d had a video camera running, the content would go viral on YouTube. I can’t remember everything we talked about, but it was bloody good fun. Debra and I had never met, but she had some zingy one-liners. Cat and I hadn’t seen each other since OSCON 2007, so we briefly caught up.
I had last seen Emma and Leslie at BSDCan 2008. I’d heard some updates from Emma since then, but Leslie and I hadn’t been in touch. She was in classic Leslie-mode. You know what I mean if you know Leslie socially. Oh were is a video camera when I need one! I missed Leslie.
About 12:30 am, it was time to depart. The others were headed to bed, and my escort duties performed, I was homeward bound. As I walked toward Pioneer Square, I saw a MAX train slide past. Oh… ummm, it’s two blocks away, I won’t make it in time. I soon learned that was the last train of the night. Ouch.
Cabs? None to be seen. OK, I’ll start walking. Eventually I caught a cab and got back to the DoubleTree. Safe, but not necessarily sound.
Tuesday morning, I awoke with a headache and very hot. It appears I did not drink enough water after my 30+ km ride. It’s now 2:17 pm and I’m still fighting off the pain. It was not the scotch. I’m sure. Perhaps I will resort to drugs later. The Venti 4-pump Mocha Frap isn’t doing it. Hmmm, perhaps I need to have a second.
I do wish Emma, Cat, Leslie, and Debra lived closer to where I did. So I could have this much fun more often.
Josh has always been a foodie. He has recently left Sun. I have it on good authority that he will be moving to Finland to work with Monty Widenius. Monty is opening a new restaurant and Josh will be helping out in various capacities. Rumor has it he will not be washing dishes or clearing tables, expect when the need arises.
More details later.
I meant to include these tid bits in the prevoius post:
I’m in Portland, for OSCON. I arrived Friday night. Saturday morning, I headed north into Washington to do some mountain biking. The trip leader was Gabrielle. She led Jonatha Leto and me into the Siouxon Creek Trail. This is described by the locals as rolling single track. Umm, yes. That’s right. Rolling.
Compared to what I rode in NZ, yes, this is rolling. Compared to what I’ve ridden in Florida and Pennsylvania over the past year or so, this was hilly. Not really big hillly. Just some slogging long-ish hills. 10 years ago, they would not have been a problem. But age and lack of practice made this a puffing trail for me.
I’ve added this trail to my collection of Google maps.
The trail is amazing. Green. In the trees. By the creeks, rivers, and streams. Beautiful smooth trail. Fast, nice corners. The whole trail was about 22 km (about 14 miles). We parked at the trail head, which was unusually busy given the temperature and weather (overcast and 54F). The parking lot was full, so was parked on the side of the road. We started by riding back up the road from whence we came. This started off easy, but became harder as we went. I claim the road got steeper, but I suspect it was simply my lungs and legs getting tired. The ride up the paved road was about 4.5km (roughly 3 miles).
Only a few spots were get-off-and-walk. These were creek beds with large rocks and really rough spots.
The single track from our alternative starting point was wonderful, and well worth the warm-up climb. Great flowing single track, and mind-blowing scenery. The trail was lightly used and we saw relatively few people. Probably more people then we’d see at Pennypack Park in Philadelphia, but the trails don’t really compare.
Shortly after starting the ride, blue sky came out. The sun shone. By the end of the day, there were no visible clouds and it was in the low 70s. This was wonder riding weather.
Our destination was a waterfall. About 2 miles before that fall, we had the first mechanical. Gabrielle broke her derailleur. It snapped right off. The only practical solution was a single speed. This suited Jonathan and me very well. Gabrielle was kicking our asses and putting her onto a single speed should level the playing field a bit. It was a group effort on the chain for about an hour to get a combination that worked. She wound up with middle in the front, and 5th biggest in the back. The chain was tight. Very tight. But it never came off during the rest of her ride.
We zoomed up to the falls. Tossed sticks for the dogs that were there, talked to the hikers, watched the falls, and relaxed in the wonder of the local scenery. Then it was time for us to head back.
The ride back seemed to have more uphills than on the way back. I think that was merely perception.
However, the final hill, back up to the parking area was the hardest of the day. Perhaps because it was the last hill, but that was hard… I was getting tired. We started the riding at about 11:30 and got back at about 3:30pm. That include the hour of repeated efforts with the chain tool.
I’d do this trail again. It was good fun.
Some pics from Gabrielle.