Monday, October 11, 2010

Lawyer Up!

There is a group ride on Mondays and Thursdays that leaves out of SW Broadway and Yamhill called "The Lawyer Ride". I think that's because it was started by R. Thomas, Esq, back in the day, but I suspect that a fair number of the gentlemen who show up are also in the legal business. I heard about the ride yesterday and went down to check it out this afternoon, having heard the ride described as a quick one.

First, I have to say that it's sweet to see a real group ride happening, an all-comers type of thing that leaves at 12:15 sharp and regroups when needed. It's a bit like a mini mid-week CSC ride, which is the weekend event down in EUG. And these guys don't mess around - there was some serious bike bling being ridden through PDX traffic this afternoon. Check out exhibit A:

Yep, that's a BMC "somethingorother-machine" in full race mode - Edge carbon wheels on DT 240s hubs (cost more than my whole bike collection), full SRAM Red including cassette, carbon SLR saddle, head to toe Rock Racing kit - I was very nearly intimidated.

Next, I have to say that these guys are a little bit crazy. The "route" is a climb up out of town at a chatty pace and then two laps around some road, I think Fairmount or Fairview or something, followed by a ~4-5min climb. They regroup after each lap and before the climb. The laps are, basically, sketchy. It's blind corners, some double-apexes, have leaves and stuff on the roads, and are tight. They start out in a double paceline and then sort of race it in the second half. The twists and turns are such, though, that it's not really possible to drill it full gas. You kind of have to float through and someone eventually just gaps people off to get off the front. I did a lot of jumping and braking as I constantly came into the turns too hot for my comfort. It was fun, but I wouldn't do it in the rain.

After the ride Ben and I rode back to NE so I could borrow his PowerTap hub tool and replace the batteries in my unit, then I rode down to SE to see if I could figure out a better route from there to here - SW, by Alpenrose - for potential commuting. I rode the three routes that seem to be feasible. They all have a certain suck-factor.

As before, getting from Sellwood to SW is not very fun. There just doesn't appear to be a good way to do it. Any way you go is uphill for a good chunk, which is fine since that's a problem of geography more than anything. I went through the cemetary off of Hwy 43, which was pretty, but requires crossing heavy traffic once and the gates close between dusk and 8am. No dice. Going up Corbett is about the best way from a traffic perspective, but it has 20%+ grades. Not fun on a commute, if you have a pack, rain clothes, and a 39t small ring. Then I went and figured the way back if I take Barbur, which isn't awesome either because of the heavy duty traffic, despite the apparent status of Barbur as a main cycling thoroughfare from downtown to SW. And, of course, while grunting up the hills to get to Barbur heading home, I flatted. Thanks, PDX.

I took the wheel off, inserted my spare tube, tried to pump and found the valve stem just a hair short to properly seal on the frame pump as the DT RR1.2 rims are a few mm's too tall. Great. So I pulled that tube out, sat with my $1.99 patch kit and an extra handful of minutes of my time, and patched the original rubber. Not so happy.

I finally made it back on the Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy, and TT'ed back towards the house. Speeding home on the slight downhill at about 30mph, I passed that most ignoble of all PDX commuters, the hipster on the fixed gear. This one at least had a front brake, I noticed as I went around. He was certainly giving it though, apparently in a bit of a hurry. And passing this creature triggered its competitive instinct has he (unbeknownst to me at the time) gave chase. Hipster took the lead for good when, as I stopped at a traffic light, he flew through the intersection's red light about 15s later and very nearly painted the front of a school bus a brand new color. Way to represent the cycling community.

That dude should come on the lawyer ride this Thursday. He's going to want one if I see him between now and then, because I might be tempted to U-lock his skinny jeans to his frame, and his frame to the nearest water tower.

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