22 June 2012

Senior Gentlemen's Ride

My Dad and I prepare our bikes at the start of the Bike Bunch ride.
I arrived in Portland, Oregon on Tuesday and am visiting my parents for a few days before the Cascade 1200.  On Wednesday, I joined my 79-year old father on a ride with his regular group, the "Bike Bunch", which sponsors several rides each week in the areas surrounding Portland.

I cannot remember the last time I rode a bike with my father.  It must have been when I was still in school.  I must admit being envious when hearing stories about London-based Positivista David J. riding with his Dad Alan J., a former professional cyclist and known as "one of the most dangerous men in a sprint".  Of course, David J's uncle was a silver medalist in the road race at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics -- back in British Cycling's last flash of glory before its resurgence in recent years.

My Dad, on the other hand, is rated by those who ride with him as one of "the most dangerous men on a climb".   And he is a bit dangerous, as he weaves back and forth from side to side, even as he spins up a slight rise in the road in his lowest MTB gearing.  I don't think at this age he will actually pass many people on the climbs. Still, at age 79 it is something to be able to ride 30 miles, at an average speed of around 10 mph (16 kph).
Not surprisingly, for a regular ride scheduled for Wednesday morning in the countryside, the group that showed up were largely retirees.  Plenty of riders in their late 50s, 60s and 70s.  But only a few who could have been as old as 79. The ride had a few options, so that I could go for 50 miles / 80 kms, while my Dad could choose the "no hills" version, skip the Dairy Creek option, and go for 30 miles /48 kms.  The faster riders chose the longer option.

And the group doing the longer ride left first, as I was still chatting with my Dad.  I suddenly realized they were gone, mounted my Canyon and took off after then.  I really showed those seniors who was boss -- put the hammer down and within a few kilometers I had passed the entire line, stretched out across the valley, and was up with the lead group of 3 -- two men and a woman.  I passed them ... but was passed back when I stopped for a photograph of some of the local wildlife.
It must be looking for food ...
I hopped back on, passed the lead group again, and never looked back.

The "Dairy Creek" option went up Dairy Creek road to the point where it turns gravel -- a climb of about 7.5 and elevation gain of a little over 300.  So longer and higher than Otarumi, maybe about like going up the Akigawa to Kobu Tunnel?  As I went up the valley, I wondered, why is this so flat?  It struck me, the climb is not 7.5kms and 300 meters elevation, but 7.5 miles and 300 FEET of elevation gain.   Less than a 1% average grade.
View on the "climb" up Dairy Creek Road
As I arrived at the turn around point, I had a strange sense of deja vu.  I had never been here before, certainly not on a bicycle, but where the road turned to gravel, there was a familiar looking sign "Road Closed 50 miles ahead, Local Traffic Only".  This must have been one of the gravel stretches from marketing video for the 2010 Rapha NW Gentlemen's Race. Or maybe it was the 2011 version.  Or 2009.  Anyway, those Rapha rides are all out in this wonderful country west of Portland.

But our cue sheet did not call for riding onto the gravel today.  So after a stop for photos and an energy bar, I headed back down the hill.  After a mile or a bit more, I passed the next few riders coming up to the top.  Great, a 2-mile lead, and they will probably rest at the top as well. I must be going really fast today.

Well ... maybe not, as my Strava segment data puts me at 46 out of 67 riders for going "up Dairy Creek". (Portland is Strava crazy.  I rode into Portland today from Lake Oswego and back again, about 20 miles in total, and unwittingly covered 18 Strava segments -- some overlapping.  On one short stretch of pavement in SE Portland, approaching the Hawthorne Bridge from the East side, I am now ranked number 487 out of 571 riders.  I stopped for the red light.)
I missed my Dad at the lunch stop -- all my extra mileage coming before lunch -- but caught him on the return trip and we could finish together.  A glorious ride on a glorious day.

Since this event, my Dad's cycling has been featured in an advertisement for the retirement community where he lives.  "We're Over the Hill ... every morning by 8AM":

1 comment:

MuAuan said...

Congratulations of c1200 riding successfully. I enjoyed your ride in watching a sheet of time.
I want to hear about the cource, in near future.