Wednesday, August 15, 2012

La Lanterne Rouge

One thing that Portland does rather well is bicycling.

Don't mistake me; we're smack down in the middle of Northwest Redneck Gooberland, where trucknuts and mudflap girls roll throughout the outer Southeast and beyond Beaverton to the west, but in our downtown we have worked diligently to make riding the velocipede safer and more beguiling than most other parts of the U.S.
Back in the day I used to commute to my old job over the West Hills on my lead-pipe-construction Kona hybrid, grunting and sweating up one side and freewheeling down the other morning and night. Sharing Barnes Road with the cars sucked, but the ride through the Washington Park forest on the east side of the hills was a hell of a great way to imagine yourself breaking away from the peleton through the hills of the Vosges or up the wooded slopes of the Pyrenees.
My present office lies too far over the hills and far away from North Portland even assuming I wanted to risk the ride up and down Germantown Road. And my uneven legs have made cycling - exercising in general - a less regular event for me. So it was with a little trepidation that I entered the 17th edition of the Bridge Pedal, Portland's annual mass celebration of cycling, and headed downtown before dawn to try and ride over nine of our ten Willamette River bridges.
Well, I didn't make nine; between the St. John's Bridge and the long ride back downtown to cross the Fremont my right knee just crapped out. The fact that I had just ridden past the Fire Direction Center probably had something to do with my unwillingness to ride through the sore knee and achy hip. As did the realization that my fitness is completely gone.

In the day I was a beast of a climber. Not much on descents for fear of falling, but going uphill I was relentless. Sunday, however, the second small incline set my legs to burning with lactose buildup, and by the ride up the road to the big green suspension bridge to North Portland I was gassed. The feeling that your body has betrayed you is an ugly one, and bone loss or no, I have got to figure out how to get back in the saddle. I despise my weakness; I'd rather hurt than simply give up my strength.
So Team Me recorded a DNF on Sunday, I'm afraid, and is now looking for a new directeur sportif to get the boys back into the peleton, if nothing else, as the red light at the tail end of the train.


Lisa said...

Good for you for entering the race. We all must try our best to stay fit as long as possible.

Onward and upward :)

FDChief said...


Tried to get on the exercise bike today only to find that what I had mistaken for a bruise or bump to the heel was, instead, some sort of strain or pulled achilles tendon.

So stationary and couchward with an ice-bag on the heel, for the moment, at least.


Big Daddy said...

You still got out and rode more than most people on the day and a biomechanical happens to the pros too.
After the ice and a good bike fit you will be out there dueling for Maglia Nera again. If nothing else the Trailhead coffee was really good.

FDChief said...

BD: Damn right I did. Still, I need to ice down that tendon and get back on the bike; I am ashamed at how poorly I did in the saddle. Pure unwillingness to work at it, was all, and I need to find a way to MAKE it work. If not my low overall fitness will find a way to bite me eventually...

FDChief said...

Oh - and I should add that Big Daddy was my GC rider for the day - he powered through the field with the sort of elan that fitted a much lighter cyclist. We'll be pulling for you when you attack the cyclocross course this season...

Podunk Paul said...

Structural problems are hell, Chief. I used to run marathons and now cannot stand up for more than a few minutes without assistance. Low-impact exercise does seem to help. If you can, you might consult a physical therapist.

On another matter, why don’t you write about mistakes in utilization, in the way that you did recently about the Japanese failure to understand submarines? Seems like the current U.S. passion for ever heavier armored vehicles is a case in point. Shaped-charge explosives have, I suspect, pretty much put the end to the utility of steel plate.