Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween and One Year

I am in Astoria at the annual Cross Crusade Halloween races. Our team stays in a rented house for the weekend. There are 10 of us and this is the third year we have done this. It is a good way to be with friends, and teammates. Community dinners, breakfasts and lot of support out at the race. We have our tents set up on the course so in the rain and weather we have a place to cheer and stay dry.
The first race was today and it was an important date for me. One year ago I was here as a spectator as I was injured with a ruptured disc. I could walk around the course, ride my trainer and enjoy the spirit of the team. I couldn't race though, I could only watch. I totally enjoyed my weekend but I was thinking in one year I will be back. It is one year and I am back. Today I won my category for the second week in a row. These are tough guys who do not give me an inch. I was in third for a few seconds as we all stuck in traffic when we caught the young 50 year group. I soon made it to the front after a brutal climb and fast descent. Then it was a matter of trying to catch as many 50 years old as I could. I managed about half I think.
I am very thankful to be out here racing. I love to race cross and last year was tough for me. What a difference one year makes. This year I am winning races, last year I was barely walking up stairs. I had a lot of help and support to get here and I appreciate all of it now. Tomorrow is another race and I am sure Ron, Ken, Amory and the others will be there to keep me honest. I will go hard and remember that just one year ago I was on the sidelines.
Thanks to everyone and see you at the races.

Monday, October 25, 2010


If you like pictures of sweet Scottish girls look at last week's blog, today is about some mud racing and fun. It was so muddy I was thinking they should have added a surcharge to our entry fee. PIR (Portland International Raceway) has two coursed. The wooded technical course we use for the GP races and the Open behind the bleachers course we use for Cross Crusade. The Cross Crusade course needs to be muddy to be truly fun, and yesterday was all of that. The good thing is the sun would come out ever so often to dry and warm things up, then the rain would return. In my race we started in the sun and then it just poured. I had my contacts in and a couple of times mud got in my eye and all I could see was a brownish haze. They added a new older category this year so I get to race in the 60+ group. We start 15 seconds behind the 50+. This is an interesting group. The faster members have been racing for years and have similar skills to the pros, the slower ones are somewhat new to cross and haven't developed those skills, and believe me it is hard to develop new skills at the 50+ age. The faster 60+ racers have to navigate through the slower 50+ and then fight with the faster ones to keep moving up. Part of the strategy in a race like this is to pass at the right time so the racers behind are slowed by the traffic.
I managed a rookie mistake and came out of my pedal. So I started dead last. It took me a lap and a half to pass Ron and get into the lead. It was then a matter of pushing past the racers in front and getting some distance. Ron Strasser (the nicest man in bike racing) made me earn my victory. It was sweet to be on top of a cross race again. Last year I sat out most of the season with a ruptured disc. I managed to race at nationals but I thought of that as an honorary start. This year I plan to be fit and ready. This was a good step.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


After 10 days in France and 4 fun days in Scotland it was time to test the legs. I was doing a Scottish Cyclocross Series race at Strathclyde County Park near Glasgow. This is also the same sight Scotland's Theme Park. I am not sure what the theme is, Marty suggested it is rust. It was cool day and the park was full of fun enthusiasts, riding ferris wheels, roller coasters, even some kind of water slide.
We were on the other side of the parking lot in a large grassy field along side a wooded creek. It was perfect for cross. This was more of a Cross Crusade 10 years ago. I started with the 40+ racers and I really didn't know what to expect. I was borrowing a bike from a new friend, Simon Muir. I had met Simon in Bend last August and told him I would be doing this race. He offered me a bike to use so I accepted. It fit me perfectly with even the brakes being left rear (standard british practice).
My start was OK and then I just generally moved up through the field. I still don't know how I did place wise, but my body felt good, a little back tightness on the last lap is all. I had be chasing a couple of younger lads and finally made my move on the last lap, but then a rookie stumble over the barriers allowed both of them to pass me at the finish. I had just put on my spikes and the barriers were a little higher than what I am used to. I was tired and sprinting and just couldn't quite pull it off. I was asked by a lad doing the race report if I would ride a practice lap with a helmet cam. I did and it will be posted soon on the British Cycling sight. When I get results and the video I will add them to the blog. I was well chuffed on how I rode. Another similarity to cross crusade was the cheering. Andy, Ros, Simon, Marty and Paul were all there giving me encouragement but then I started to hear some other folk. The announcer was telling the crowd I had come over from the United States to race, so I got extra cheers then, but still there were more voices. It turned out Pete, Ali, Eifa, Ione and Kevin all showed up from Selkirk to cheer Andy and I on. They had called that morning and said they couldn't make it because Eifa had been not feeling too well. It was great to be able to see them one more time before I went home, and it was so nice they came just to cheer us on.
Andy had a great race also. He has been taking it easy for a couple of years letting a health issue take care of itself. He started off calm and ended up a respectable 5th place. He looked like he is getting ready to go a little harder soon.
After the race it was hot flasks of water put into tea cups, sandwiches and lots of talk. I got a couple of photos of Eifa and Ione hanging out, riding bikes etc. It was a good way to end my fall holiday. I am now at home catching up, doing laundry and getting ready for the Ochoco retreat.
It is great to be home, be near my sweetheart, see the kitties and eat some of our chickens very fresh eggs.
You may notice I am not in my Sunnyside kit. This is because in Scotland I am an honorary member of team Velo Moulin. It looked odd to me not wearing my usual kit.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


You don't come here for the weather, in fact I rather enjoy seeing the clouds on top of all the hills that surround the Tweed Valley. One of the nice things about Scotland is one doesn't have weather anxiety. That is when you are on holiday and you are expecting sun (France, Spain, Bend etc) and you get rain. Here you expect rain and dress for it. If the sun comes out then all the better. Today we are going for a road ride, I will bring my rain coat, but ride we will. Tomorrow is a cross race. How cool is that, to be able to travel over here and do a cross race. I arranged to borrow a bike last August when Simon Muir, a friend of many of my Scottish friends was in Bend. We were out to dinner and I mentioned I was going to be doing a cross race. He said he would be there and if I needed a bike he had and extra. So tomorrow is all figured out.
Yesterday was a group meal. This seems to be a tradition when Don from Oregon comes to Scotland. Pete and Ali organize this event. Friends from the Borders and beyond seem to show up. Pete cooks a meal, friends show up. There is lots of talk, laughter, and catching up. I invite everyone to visit Oregon, and we all promise to meet in Mallorca in the Spring. We are all true friends.
Today was a group ride, a real group ride. All levels of riders. We stayed together, stopped and bought some cheese at a farm, and afterwords it was "tea" at Pete and Ali's. Tea in Scotland means a meal, probably a big one. We had soup, buns, tuna, cheese from the farm, tea and coffee. More talk, more laughter, we relived the Shleck-Contador moment from the tour. Disagreed a bit, but respected the others opinion. More fun and socializing. Here is the ride we did. It was everybit as good as any ride I did in France. Somewhat cloudy, no real rain, 3000 ft of climbing without any big hills.
I can't leave this post without a mention of the lassies or bairns. This is Ione and Eifa, Pete and Ali's two beautiful daughters. Ione is 4 and 1/2 and Eifa is 2 and 1/2. When I walked in yesterday Ione grabs my hand and upstairs it is to see her room and all of her stuffed animals. I was charmed for sure. It is nice to see these girls grow up so happy and I am afraid that Ione has the early signs of bicycle disease. She has a skut and a real pedal bikes which she loves to ride.
Tomorrow is a cross race near Glasgow, with the whole entourage coming to cheer and race. I will then pack and come home on Monday. This has been a great week. If any of you think this sounds like a good holiday let me know as I am thinking about a trip here next year. We would road bike and mountain bike and visit and have tea.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


This years France trip seemed to flash by, as compared to last year. I am not sure why. It could be the late arrival of Linda's bike which caused concern, it could have been the cold that seemed to go from person to person, it could have been the general strike in France which led to many of the group leaving a day early so they wouldn't get caught up the the trains not running. I guess it was all of these things. Deborah, Joe and I were the last to leave. Deborah and Joe were not leaving Paris until the 14th so they had one day of cushion and I had changed my flight from the morning of the thirteen (which would have taken me home) to an afternoon flight to Scotland so I could visit some friends.
The point being all three of us had an extra day to ride. We needed to be in Brive so we get the train to Paris, so we sent our baggage with Andy and Ros (my English friends who were in France with us) in a taxi to Brive. If you have been paying attention to my blogs of France you will know that picking the correct road is quite easy. Stay of the Red and Yellow roads and stay on the white roads. There had to have 5 or 6 ways to Brive. We picked the one that seemed the most interesting. The day dawned beautiful, and off we were. About half way we had coffee in Martel (a medieval merchant town over looking the Dordogne River. Then it was off to Brive. We went by the most amazing castle yet, and when we were close to town we let the madame (my gps) get us to the gare (train station). She did well, she took us off the main road up the steepest road around and right to the Gare and our hotel. Andy and Ros were there along with all our baggage. Andy and Ros went off to get on the replacement bus (the train was on strike) and we packed our bikes up. Later it was out to town. Brive is another one of those marvelous French cities with a bustling downtown situated in the medieval old town. The restaurant we picked was very good. It was a great way to end a wonderful trip. The trains were running the next morning and we arrived in Paris no problem. I got to the airport, a short flight to Edinburgh, Andy and Ros arrived minutes later and now I am in Peebles. Here are some photos to enjoy. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


This trip has seemed too short, it has been actually. The National Strike that is coming on the 12 has most of our group leaving a day early. I think that is too bad as this trip was planned to be a little short anyway. I think a trip is just right when you feel you are leaving a day or so early. We also had the threat of rain today so many in the group rented cars and went off to see some sights too far to ride to. I am sure they are enjoying themselves, but a car is not a bike.
I packed 6 bikes today getting them ready for the trip home. It is always sad to say goodbye to a place as wonderful as St Cere. I will be back though. I am not as prudent as the others and I decided to stay and take my chances with the strike. Tomorrow we will ride to the east and see some new territory, then on Tuesday three of us will ride to Brive while a taxi takes our baggage. We will then pack the bikes and take trains to Paris.
While everyone else will be going home I am headed to Scotland for a few days. My friends Ros and Andy, who are here in France right now, have invited me to their home. I will get to ride some Scottish roads, eat some Scottish food, see the rest of my Scottish friends and hopefully race in a Scottish cyclo cross race. Though I am looking forward to home, and my sweetheart the idea of a few days of Scotland sounds really good.
Thanks for reading.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Lew has created some very wonderful rides for us this year. The smallest of roads, a couple of steep climbs, churches built in stone and good places to stop for lunch and coffee. It thought today would be one of the easier rides. Not. Lew never told me it would be easy, I had just decided it looked easy. We started out on an easy climb out of St Cere and decided we would check out the N D de Verdale. Last year we didn't have clue as to what this meant. It means Notre Dame de Verdale (Our Lady of Verdale). It is an old church that was built in the 14th century and then rebuilt at least twice. It is on a steep narrow road (up to 25%) and then down an even steeper path, or you could do like some of our group and walk up a rocky path from the bottom. Either way it was worth seeing.
So after 5 K or so of knee busting 15% + climbing we then had to continue with 75 more K. It turns out we had done most of the climbing by lunch so it was then just rolling with a kicker climb to the top of our area 2400 feet, our hotel is 400 feet. As we started the descent we realized it was downhill with a tailwind back to home. One quick stop for a cafe au lait and we were done. Not easy but well worth it. It appears the rain is coming but not for one more day. So tomorrow we will have to see what is in store.
One of our group thinks that the cows are more intelligent than the ones at home. I am not sure about that but in this area they sure seem happy. They are big, healthy, clean and not really bothered by us cyclists. The farms in this part of the world look so perfect. France is really a country about fresh food, and the way to have fresh food is to have local food. The Spar grocery store (The french equivalent of our 7-11) has a better local cheese selection the Newport Market, better produce than Rays, most of it local.
We have a few more days here and I will try to keep it updated.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Here we are again in Europe enjoying the sights, the smells and of course the roads. The area of the mid pyrenees is like an amusement park for road bikes. Small paved roads gives a rider numerous choices to go in the same direction. Yesterday 6 of us went to the same area on three totally different routes. We were not being anti social but two needed to stop by the train station, two wanted to avoid some steep descents, and two of us left quite late so we took a more direct route. All had a great time on some of the best roads we have ever ridden. The other group headed south and had a great time on some roads very similar to ours.
Today was market day in St Cere. It is not an amazing market with fresh everything but more of a mercantile market, kitchenware, clothing for everyone, jewelry, and live chickens. I was pretty sure these are chickens for eggs, but they could have been for eating. One man bought one and a woman bought 4. They were all professionally stuffed into a cardboard box. I was wishing my farmer sweetheart was there to see. This is not Bend.
A couple of days ago we went out on a wet day during a sucker hole. This is when the clouds part and the sun appears. Minutes after we left it was pouring rain. Only six of us choose to ride that day. In the first town we decided it was time to have some coffee and see if the rain would stop. The cafe was closed, so was the next one and so was the next one. At that point I needed to eat so we found some shelter under a the opening of an old (very old) church. We happily ate our sandwiches, quiches and nut torts, again not Bend. Everything one does over here is an adventure and interesting.
We have had a few setbacks on this trip. One of our bikes is still missing. Linda has done her best to get by. She borrowed a bike the first day, the second day it rained and most of the group enjoyed the town. Yesterday we expected the bike but it was a no show so Linda and Paul took a hike up to the castle in town. Today we have been assured it will arrive by 1pm. I will get it together so they can have a long ride this afternoon.
Gary has a bad cold and sat yesterday out, today he is back at it though. He is in good spirits anyway. It is Gary and Priscilla's first trip to Europe and they are enjoying it 100%.
We also are going to have to be here during a general strike. This happening the day we were supposed to leave. This means the trains probably won't be running. Most of the group have selected to leave a day early. This is wise as they will be able to get home in time. I have elected to leave a day later. Not prudent but it is a chance I am willing to take. I want to spend as much time as I can while I am here. Here are some photos of our group and some sights.
Thanks for reading,

Monday, October 4, 2010


We arrived in Paris two days ago at 6:30 am. Not much to do until the train was going to take us to Brive-La-Gaillarde at 2PM. That made for a relaxing wait. We had to get to Terminal 2 at the Charles de Gaulle Airport and then wait for Paul and Linda to arrive. They arrived on time except that Linda's bike was left behind in Washington DC. Not good. It is hard to have a cycling holiday without a bike.
We got to the Train station and Muffy and I decided to take a short walk along the Seine River. In the distance we could see the backside of Notre Dame Cathedral, the top of the Eiffel Tower and we ran into Bernard. Bernard is our French friend who comes to OBR almost every year. The chance of seeing him on the streets of Paris (where he lives part time) was pretty impossible, but meet we did. We had a nice chat with him and his wife Dominique. Then it was back to the Gare Austerlitz. We managed to get all of our baggage on the train ( 13 bikes and multiple suitcases) and sit for the long ride to Brive. The train for me was a great choice. One could nap in the seats, walk around the cars and look at the scenery pass by at around 100 miles a hour.
Our shuttle met us in Brive for the short bus ride to St Cere. Madame Berry was there to greet us and help us organize our large numbers of bags. One of my favorite things about returning to a familiar town is seeing old friends. It is comforting to know that we were going to be treated in a warm friendly manner. Though I have heard many stories of being treated unfriendly in France I have never experienced it, and yes they do smile in France.
Yesterday, our first riding day it was off to the Nut Festival. We had been close to the nut festival a few years ago. It happens every two years in Saillac, about 30 kilometers from St Cere. It is a celebration of walnuts and it is called the Fete de Noix. Noix is nut but it actually walnut. They have a big meal (this year the theme was Spanish and the meal was paella). The locals dressed the part as torredores, flamenco dancers, mexican banditos etc.
We tasted nut oil, cocoa nuts, sugar nuts, nut loaf, nut tarts, nut mustard, pretty much nut everything. We were also riding on the Route de Noix. It was kind of nutty.
100 kilos of some of the best riding around.
Today I woke up to a partly cloudy sky that quickly turned into an exciting thunderstorm. Now, at 10 am, we have a steady downpour. Some of the group are headed out with a rental car to see the sights, some are waiting for the rain to stop and I am writing this postponing my interval session in the hill of St Cere (rain or not).
Here is a link of our ride yesterday. I will have photos later. Thanks for reading.

Untitled by at Garmin Connect - Details