Posts Tagged ‘athletics’

Lincoln City Triathlon

Simone and I have been friends since the first day of college orientation in 1988.  That means (yikes!) we’ve been friends for more than half our lives.  A few months ago, Simone talked me into trying out a triathlon.  The photo above was taken the evening before the race, and my hand is clenched behind her back and I’m whispering, “you’re in a different age group than me, right?”

Here we are right after the race (yes, those are real–if tired– smiles– and yes, we were in different age groups, since Simone’s birthday is a few months after mine).

The triathlon was a good experience.  As usual, I had my bout of nerves and didn’t want eat anything ahead of time, and visited the port-a-potty about 16 times before the race started.  I worried about the lumps in my swim cap due to my braids, losing my way on the swim course (which I did, but just a little), bursting a tire on the bicycle leg (nada), and keeling over before the run was over (nope).  I did the whole thing without a watch, and I felt good at the end!

Between the two pictures above were these (thanks, Sue, for being such a good papparazzi!):

And so it goes… I’m not sure all the nerves beforehand make it worth doing again soon.  But I will definitely do it again!  Maybe next summer…


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Mt McLoughlin

Bo at the trailhead sign, sort of

It was the place to be on a Saturday in mid-August!  We just didn’t know it until we arrived.  We’d been sort-of planning to climb Mount McLoughlin since last year, and definitely planning to climb it since last week.  Not until we were on our way to the trailhead did Bo mention that the Klamath Falls Herald and News had printed a front-page article on hiking this trail just a few days before.  “Great!” I said, “We’ll have all of Klamath Falls up there with us!”

whitebark pine and me

Mt. McLoughlin is the southernmost “big” peak in the Oregon Cascades.  At just a smidge under 10,000 feet, the ascent consists of a hike and then a bit of  scrambling or bouldering near the top, where the ground is unconsolidated and covered with rocks large and small (anchored and not- anchored).  In the summer, you don’t need any special equipment, just a decent set of lungs and joints.  It’s nothing to sneeze at, either, though.

When we parked at the trailhead, sure enough, there were almost two dozen cars already there.  We cleverly arrived at least two to three hours after most self-respecting hikers would have started up the trail, so that gave us the feeling of relative solitude.  Of course, we saw lots of people on their way down, including the entire Mazama High School football team (that would be the Vikings– see my earlier post about midges– it took me a minute to figure out that it wasn’t a bunch of teenaged boys who all just happened to be fans of Minnesota’s NFL team).

lunch stop, and first panoramic views

The first 3.5 miles or so were really nice– a bit of climb, but mostly smooth walking through a forested landscape.  The last mile and a half or so are the part that take some fortitude.  Above treeline, this part of the trail is not very well-defined, and it involves climbing over boulders and/or sliding your way through ashy, volcanic dirt, and at a fairly high elevation that might make you short of breath or make your head a bit spinny when you stand up from the crouch you’ve been in as you hop and crawl along.  And then, finally, after yet another break to catch our breaths and enjoy the view– voila! we climbed over another rock, and there was nowhere else to go!  I actually asked a woman sitting next to a rock if this was the top (it must have been a side-effect of the shortage of oxygen; normally I would never ask a stranger a dumb question like that).

ah! Summit!

So, that was it.  We sat for awhile, ate some food, Bo took video and I took photos, I rooted around in the foundation of the old look-out tower until I found “the canister” (a mountaineering tradition: a container where you can put a piece of paper with your name and the date you were there), which turned out to be an empty plastic Gatorade bottle stuffed with business cards and such.  I didn’t have a pen with me and had to use the burnt end of a stick as a charcoal pencil on the back of a piece of paper ripped off my photocopy of the trail guide.  The sky was hazy with smoke from nearby wildfires, and some weather seemed to be coming in, too, but we could still see Mt. Shasta to the south and most of the the closer peaks.  There’s just something about being up at the top, above treeline, that is different from any other experience– any other hike, or even flying over in a small plane.

The clouds getting darker and gathering over our heads, we came down.  Bo proposed pizza and beer at a Klamath Falls brewery, and I think that sped our steps.  When we got back to the parking lot, most of the cars from the morning were gone.  And that was it!  We did it.

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I’m reading a book called Bicycle: The History by David Herlihy.  Having spent time around my share of bicycle enthusiasts, collectors, maniacs, and freaks, I’m familiar with those who wax romantic about this machine and its associates: the Tour de France, Breaking Away, the LeMond/Armstrong/Contador of the moment, the Women’s Mountain Biking and Tea Society (aka WoMBATS), the latest and greatest in innovation or craftsmanship.  But it’s not until recently that I’ve stopped seeing all bicycle enthusiasm as another ho-hum occasion to listen politely, appreciating but not really caring that much about bicycles or the sport of cycling.

Fort Collins Bike Library

Something has changed.  Maybe it was getting a new road bike last fall.  Maybe it was feeling how good it is to ride when my bike actually fits me.  Maybe it was stumbling upon a Bike Library this spring while I was in Fort Collins for a week on business and realizing how incredibly nice it is to have your own conveyance around a strange town without having to rent a car.

At any rate, I’m hooked.  Hence, the choice of reading material.  Hence, this blog post.In this photo, you can see the two bikes I owned while living in Dayville.  On the left is my mountain bike, a design tailored for small women by a female cyclist named Georgena Terry, and on the right is my road bike.  I bought the mountain bike in 1995 with extra money I earned by fighting fires in Utah and Colorado.  Terry bicyles were somewhat popular for awhile, but they either fizzled out, or were never popular in eastern and central Oregon.  I found this out while trying to buy tires and tubes that fit the bike.  When you scale down the size of a bicycle, you almost have to make the wheel size smaller (this is not always the case, but leaving the wheels at a standard size can lead to other problems, a subject of vigorous debate among cycling enthusiasts and one that I won’t get into here).  I finally got supremely fed up with the tube and tire problem one day in 2003 while trying to bicycle the ten miles to work and found myself at the side of the road with two pancake-flat tires, 2 miles from home and 8 miles from work.

happier days with the Terry

Within a few weeks, I found myself at a used sporting goods store in Bend, where I bought the road bike, a Peugeot.  I did lots of customizing: painting over in blue what I thought was a horribly ugly design of orange, red, and yellow on white; replacing the (awful!) white handlebar tape with black; installing a Terry women’s saddle where there used to be a (sinful!) white men’s seat; mounting new/used pedals and crank arms, gear shifters and brakes (okay, I admit, I didn’t do a lot of this work, but instead turned the steed over to my soon-to-be-ex-husband and other gear-heads who were thrilled to bequeath their old hardware to me).  I rode my first race on this bicycle– the 22-mile bike leg of Bend’s Pole Pedal Paddle event.  We didn’t win any mugs that year, but in subsequent efforts (2008 and 2009) it carried me through to a mug-worthy performance.

The G-Strings team, Pole Pedal Paddle 2005

I rode miles and miles around Dayville and Bend on this bike.  And then I moved to Crater Lake and Klamath Falls.  This was when I started to notice that it was really, really hard to climb up hills.  Since the bike had only two chain rings up front (medium and large), it was impossible to set the gearing to a really low resistance, which would allow me to pedal more easily up steep slopes.  Also, the bike was too large for me.  After five years, I was used to the size, but once I started trying on other bikes, I realized how much nicer it was to ride a smaller one.  I tried on more and more bikes, traveling to Bend, Eugene, Portland, and various websites to see what I wanted.

Sadly, one day the decision was made for me.  As you can see in the first photo, I was in the habit of transporting my bicycles on the roof of my car.  One day, shortly after moving to my current house, which has a GARAGE… well, maybe you can imagine what happened.  The Peugeot wasn’t completely ruined, but the collision with the garage door frame bent it enough to no longer be safe for long rides up and down the hills of Crater Lake and Klamath Falls.  It now sits in the living room hooked up to a wind resistance trainer, a stationary bike peacefully looking out a window facing Klamath Lake and the mountains around Crater Lake (reflecting on its former glory days, I imagine).  Enter my new bike, the Motobecane.  There is no love-at-first-sight story for this bike, no surprise greeting at a used sporting goods store.  Indeed, on my first ride, the chain broke, ruining part of the rear derailleur and the rim of the rear wheel and tossing me off onto the road shoulder.  But after a long, cold winter, we became reacquainted, and I’ve cycled more this spring and summer than in any other year recently.  It has a 42 cm frame (as opposed to the whopping 53 cm Peugeot) and three chain rings up front, so I can pedal up even the most stubbornly steep hills at Crater Lake without standing up from the saddle.  And its weight– so light!

I rode it in the Pole Pedal Paddle race this year, and now I’m planning to compete in my first triathlon in September.  I have yet to pedal all the way around Crater Lake… but stay tuned.

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The Tuffs 2010We surpassed ourselves this year!  After skiing, cycling, running, and paddling our hearts out, The Tuffs discovered our efforts were rewarded with a FIRST PLACE in our age category!  Not only that, but we were a good five minutes faster than all the other female teams close to us in age.

My prize mug is more beautiful than those from other years, and every day as I sip coffee, I’ll be thinking about our great performance, but more important, how much fun we had!  Way to go, Tuffs!

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Pole Pedal Paddle

It’s a 33-year-old tradition that every year on the third Saturday in May, if you are in Bend, Oregon, you will be assaulted by the sight of thousands of people wearing spandex moving through town very quickly (or not so quickly, but they will be working hard at it).  If you are lucky, you will not be interrupted in your drive and forced by a volunteer in an orange vest to wait for these silly people to cross the road.  Or at least, the people crossing the road will be wearing interesting costumes over the spandex, such as Elvis suits, pirate outfits, housewife dresses, union suits, or– this year’s apparent favorite– brightly colored tutus.  It’s the annual Pole Pedal Paddle race.

Emily, Gillian, me, Regan, and Kristen

Emily, Gillian, me, Regan, and Kristen

The Wheeler Tuffs have never gone in for the costumes, but we’ve been falling for the silliness every year since 2004.  Well, they have at any rate– I was a new addition to the team beginning in 2007.  Here’s how the whole thing goes:  Emily, Regan, and I get up early and go up to the ski area at Mt. Bachelor.  After what seems like an interminable amount of time, Regan goes up on the lift, plops her skis down at a certain place, and hikes about 200 yards downhill.  When her wave is called, she runs up the hill, puts them on, and skis down to the bottom, where Emily is waiting with her nordic skis.  After Emily skis an 8-K course around the parking lot, she hands off to me and I go off on my bicycle down to town 22 miles below.  There, I pass  the metaphorical torch to Kristen, who runs a 10-K course around town before handing off to Gillian, who paddles her kayak on a 2.2 mile course up (yes, up) and down the Deschutes River.  PPP mugShe then jumps out and turns it back over to Regan, who sprints 400 yards to the finish line.  During most of this time, we’re not really sure how many people we are competing against or exactly how well we’re doing.  But the suspense is easier to forget, because we’re  so busy watching the people wearing tutus, clown wigs, etc.

This year we managed 2nd place in our category: Women’s Teams 35-39, which entitled us to the traditional prizes: large handcrafted mugs.  As our team founder Jenny would say, we were mugworthy.  Way to go, Tuffs!

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