Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ride the West - Day 0, Astoria

Melancholic, that's the word that I'm looking for. The “everything is new to me, I hope I can do this” thoughts were not happening this year. Two years ago, excitement was abound among the 50 of us that were about to start the 3700 mile ride across the country. Back then, we didn't truly know if our bodies could take the unending mileage, or the day after day repetition. This year, however, we are all “old hats” at this. We know what the adventure will be about. We know how we ride with each other. We know that we can handle the climbs and miles. Today was more of a revisit of old friends, a renewal of cycling relationships. Twenty-five of us arrived, but only 21 are riding the entire 1400 miles along and inland from the west coast of the United States. The scenery will be wondrous, the sights spectacular.

Getting "The Mistress" out of her cage

My wife Aila was on hand to say hello to my cycling friends, many of whom she knows from her days of supporting us on the Natchez-Trace and the Blue Ridge Parkway rides. We had just completed a 9 day drive of Northern California and Oregon, starting in San Francisco. We drove up through the vineyards of Napa, beside the brown grassy hills toward the redwood forests and along the coast, well into Oregon. From there, we headed for Portland and on to Astoria. After seeing the sights around Astoria, Aila headed out leaving me to start the adventure with my new custom titanium bike, known as “The Mistress”.

View of Astoria from the Astoria Column

We had the usual safety sessions and bike checks to make sure that everything is in tip-top order. Toronto Mark had more than his share of problems, as both of his wheels arrived bent and he snapped a bolt on his seat post. He is taking it all in good spirits, and I hope that the ride improves for him. He has sworn to his wife Susan “The Duchess” that he will stay by her side for the entire ride. That will be a challenge, as Mark is a member of our group, called “The Geldings”. Perhaps on some of the days of riding, he'll get to stretch his cycling legs with us instead. I'm getting a betting pool going as to how many days before Susan tells Mark to go ride with us instead.

Joe Schroeder, Baltimore Mark Koltz and I will be roommates for the trip, although half of the time, the room will only accommodate 2 of us. It should be a lot of fun, as long as we don't kill each other. Note to self: the following topics are forbidden; politics, religion, the south, politics, the confederacy, politics and oh yes, politics. My tongue might be well bitten by the end of this ride.

At the ocean, where we started from 2 years ago

Tomorrow we head out for what should be an easy 65 mile ride along the coast, with not too much climbing. I haven't been straddled over “The Mistress” in almost 2 weeks, but you know what they say, you don't forget.

Let's see what tomorrow brings.

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