pedal often

Velo Cult Team Ride : Rocky Point Road

VC_RockyPoint-18-of-29.jpg

[sliderpro id="10"] Let’s face it. It’s been that kind of winter. The weather has been pretty rough. Even for the most hearty of cyclists who chant death before trainers…….. But what can usually coax anyone into the cold and onto the wet roads of the west hills? A great group of people who actually relish in the exact elements that will drive most folks to a spin class or a trainer (myself included). Thanks to Andy who was the organizer of Sunday’s ride and his choice was Rocky Pt. Road. Logistically we decided it best to car shuttle out of town as opposed to schlepping the sloppy dirty 30. Since it was a day where no amount of gear, no more how high tech or water proof, you were going to be soaked through.

This was a great choice, but it did mean we were in the ride the moment we shoved off and up the average 8% gradient for the first 5 or so miles, eventually reaching the gravel accompanied by steady rain with huge drops making visibility an issue. Everyone had their own pace and seemed to get out of the ride what they wanted. AS per usual with this group, there was no man or woman left behind. This is why I truly enjoy this group and everyone who rides for Velo Cult. It’s about being out there! Being on two wheels and just riding!

Finally at the top of our climbing, we stared down the barrel of a big descent. And once we did descend down the backside of Rocky Pont Rd, streaking by small piles of snow hanging for dear life, the rain cleared up and warmed up a bit making for a super-fast drop to the bottom…where we realized we had to now turnaround and climb up what we just bombed down. Well, some us didn’t realize it was an out and back. OOPS! So, with the same cheer and bravado we had at the start, we made the U-y and headed up.

At this point, I do think a bit of a “ok I’m super soaked and cold. Let’s get back to the cars” mentality set in. So the climb back up and over seemed to be at a quicker pace and we all found a pace that made the turn around feel a bit shorter in length. Maybe it was the cold and wet. Maybe it was a bit of suffering. Perhaps I was woozy from my own effort, but the return trip was a bit fuzzy….unmemorable even. And just like that another great ride was in the books. The hot shower lasted a bit longer than usual, my gigantic robe was oh so welcoming and the soup was steaming hot! SO! Thank you Andy, Adam, Jeremiah, Craig, Chris, Lee and (Bethany?). I cannot wait for the next ride!

Words : Matthew Barney Photos : Christopher San Agustin

vc_rockypoint

Syncline : Shoestring and Little Moab

Syncline_v2-8-of-23.jpg

It’s officially Fall in the Pacific Northwest. The rain is falling and soon the majority of our beloved trails will be covered in snow. Syncline is a trail system just 67 miles away from Downtown Portland and runs all year round. "If you aren’t familiar with the Burdoin Mountain - Coyote Wall - Catherine Creek areas, you’ve thus far missed out on experiencing one of the Gorge’s truly unique treasures. Situated just upstream from White Salmon on the Columbia River, these adjacent areas feature rugged cliffs, Oregon white oak woodlands, wide open meadows and sweeping views of the Gorge that rival any other around. The unique soils and climate have created some very special plant communities that include many endemic and rare wildflowers that deliver a spectacular succession of colorful displays. And with unique plant communities come unique species of animals that are equally as rare as the plants they rely upon for habitat.” - Washington Trails Association 

[sliderpro id="4"]

Our latest adventure started with the long climb up Little Maui and Rim View Rd. The views are gorgeous and I could do hill repeats all day on that trail alone. We connected with Shoestring dropping us into a twisty canyon of tight single track covered in Fall leaves. As the group pulled away I found myself all over the trail. I back off realizing I need to ride at my much slower pace to not only enjoy the ride but to eventually become a better rider. Michael has a catastrophic flat which destroys his rear rim. It’s been an odd day of mechanicals. As Michael walks back to the car we get in one last loop climbing up the Jeep Trail and connecting it with Little Moab. Hugging the cliffside Little Moab is littered with challenging rock gardens and formations. Again as the group pulls off I find myself off the back and over the bars. I am relatively new to Mountain Biking so everyday on the trail is a learning experience and I am ready for more!

RAPHA PORTLAND TROPHY CUP RACE 3

Portland_Trophy_Cup_Race_03-40-of-65.jpg

I am broke off and it’s my second day back on the bike. A week of public transportation was killing me and it feels good to just be able to pedal to work. Theres no way I am racing but I pedal off beneath the grey clouds to support my friends and shoot some photos. I pull up to the race as the B’s gather at the start. I should be lined up there with them but my body says otherwise. Listening to your body is what I learned last week. Is this what 30 is supposed to feel like? Fuck.

[portfolio_slideshow id=4755 width=1300]

My friends are racing C’s and it’s awesome being able to cheer them on. They look good out there.

Tacos and beer between races is always a treat. Portland sucks for tacos but these people do an ok job. Tough love.

[portfolio_slideshow id=4757 width=1300]

It’s dark out now and the Men’s A group is off. God damn there fast! Russ rolls his tubular while he was fighting to stay in third position. I have a feeling his string of bad luck is coming to an end. Wheres Jake? Andriao looks fast as always in Master A’s. All his CX skills training is paying off and he’s fucking killing it. Solid 2nd place finishing. Looking forward to seeing how he progresses through the rest of the season. Aden and Eddie are in taking care of business in Single Speeds. Eddie ate shit on the last lap on the barriers. Luckily Eddie walked it off.

[portfolio_slideshow id=4758 width=1300]

Will I be healed up enough to race next week? I fucking hope so.

Check out the rest of the race write ups here :  Race 1, Race 2, Race 3, Race 5

Oregon Outback : Prineville to Shaniko

OregonOutback_DayThree-4.jpg

The sun rises in the high desert illuminating the canyon surrounding the Prineville Reservoir. One by one we crawl out of our tents. Our weathered hands reach for the sky as we stretch sore limbs and rub sleepy eyes. Brad offers to make everyone coffee and one by one we fill our empty cups. We take our time cleaning up camp and enjoy the beautiful glow of morning. [portfolio_slideshow id=4537 width=1200]

Today is another big push of a 100+ miles. My knees feel broken and it definitely hurts to sit down on the saddle. I take some Advil and try to put the pain behind me.

[portfolio_slideshow id=4548 width=1200]

We hug the canyon walls as we descend down the Crooked River. Fully tucked, teary eyed, the descent is fucking amazing. We pour out onto rolling roads with the Crooked River to our left and towering Canyon walls to the right. The river runs a 125 miles long and is a tributary to the Deschutes River. Its a short push to Prineville.

[portfolio_slideshow id=4549 width=1200]

Call it a coincidence, call it fate; I rather believe it was our destiny to eat at yet another place called Brothers. Yesterday it was Brothers Stagecoach Stop and Cafe and today would be breakfast at Brothers Restaurant in Central Oregon. Coffee and the best Chicken Fried Steak I’ve ever fucking had. Enough said.

[portfolio_slideshow id=4555 width=1200]

It’s a long paved climb into the Ochoco National Forest. My knees crack and I tell everyone to push on. I climb in silence. It’s beautiful here. Alone with thought. Alone with the dizzying pain each pedal stroke makes. I push on and thankful for the friends that await for me at the top. It’s always worth it. Always. The descent through the Ochoco National Forest was good; really fucking good.

[portfolio_slideshow id=4565 width=1200]

It’s our first time that we’ve had to filter water on this trip. It’s exciting and I don’t know why.

[portfolio_slideshow id=4570 width=1200]

I’ve been looking forward to this section of the Outback. River Crossings and incredible remote roads that traverse through ranch lands on the edge of the Ochoco National Forest. This feels like Bikepacking.

My knee hurts so I pedal off the front to give myself ahead start. I approach the first creek crossing. There is a group of cyclists on the other side cheering me on. “Stay to the left. Stay to the left.” I stay to the left. My cadence is high as I cross the rocky creek bed. My feet are soaked and I am properly doused in water. I am smiling. I must be smiling. Fuck. This is so good!

Theres a few more creek crossings. The last one is deep. Dave almost makes it but pinch flats. I dip my cap in the ice cold water while we wait in the hot Oregon sun.

We descend. My front wheel hits a pot hole. I am going fast. I am loosing air and my front wheel is feeling really soft. I corner and my wheel sends me out of control. I panic knowing that I could be going down hard on this fast gravel descent. I have one foot out and carefully apply the brakes in hopes to not skid out. I loose control and point my bike towards a ditch. I feel lucky to walk away.

[portfolio_slideshow id=4579 width=1200]

After I fix my flat we regroup at what looks like an abandoned church. There is still a lot of riding to do. My legs are tired. We fill our bottles in someones yard and push forward. We’re climbing. The road is steep and the gravel is loose. I crack. The sun is really intense, sweat stings my eyes. My legs will not turn the pedals. I walk up the rest. Frustrated; I look down to realize I had been in the big ring the entire time. Fuck. Back in the smaller ring John and I decide to go at a more sustainable pace.

[portfolio_slideshow id=4590 width=1200]

It’s the final stretch to Shaniko. We’re on pavement now and it feels really good. The climb into town seems to go on forever. We’re buried deep in our own thoughts. The sun is setting and the light is incredible. Such an amazing and tough day on the bicycle. It’s rare to live in the moment these days. Setting up camp I come to realize what that truly means. We’re in the moment now and thats something I will now forever search for.

Larch Mountain 2.0

Larch Mountain is an extinct volcano roughly 25 miles from downtown Portland topping out at over 4000ft of elevation. The name Larch Mountain does not come from the Western Larch tree but rather how early loggers would describe Noble Fir. The mountain has been heavily logged in certain sections and is now a mixture of second and old growth forests. It’s become an iconic climb for cyclists due to it’s infamous 14 mile climb to the summit. Most climbs around Portland are rolling while Larch goes straight up for over 12 miles. [portfolio_slideshow id=4448 width="1200"]

After some last minute planning Craig and I set off from the Velo Cult parking lot at 7 am. The streets of Northeast Portland are empty and we gladly take the road. Riding out to Troutdale is probably my least favorite thing to do but with good company it aint half bad.

We cross the Sandy River and head up the Historic Columbia River Highway aka U.S. Route 30 aka the King of Roads aka HRCH. The hangover is fading and the weather is perfect. It’s a little after 9am and we pedal up to the Portland Woman’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint. I take some obligatory photos of the Columbia River Gorge. The view is epic! I’ve taken dozens of photos from the exact spot yet I still feel compelled to snap a few more. It’s our last chance to fill up on water before making the 14 mile ascent up Larch Mountain. Its Craigs first time up. I am looking forward to the summit. I brought a slice of pizza to celebrate at the top; like a boss!

Larch_Mountain-(8-of-21)

Larch Mountain Road is quiet. The occasional cyclists zooms by; teary eyed from the long ascent. We’re all out here early trying to beat the 90 degree heat. Some earlier than others. At mile marker 2 I tell Craig that it’s all up hill from here. The climb is infamous for it’s long 12 mile ascent and probably more so for the incredible descent back down! We’re surrounded by towering Noble Firs and my legs settle into a rhythm. The mile markers slowly go by as we crawl to the summit. I am feeling good and all of this Mountain Biking is really paying off. Mile 9, Mile 10, we’re getting close. The trees are getting shorter, the sky is bluer and Craig is bonking. I back off and we push forward. Cadence is everything.

[portfolio_slideshow id=4454 width="1200"]

We summit. I drop five bucks into the Fee box and we hike up to the viewpoint called Sherrard Point. Mt St Helens, Mt Rainer, Mt Hood, Mt Adams and Mt Jefferson. It’s all fucking there. I love this ride and this is why I celebrate it. Pizza has never tasted so damn good. Am I the first person to bike up Larch Mountain with a slice of pizza? Fuck yes I am.

The descent back down to U.S. Route 30 is incredible. The roads are still empty and we occasionally fly by someone climbing. This time we’re the ones teary eyed, focused on the road ahead. Craigs out in front and I can only imagine he’s smiling as much as I am.