Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I did it.

I did it. I actually did it. I biked 102.5 miles and raised $2,445 for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

My greatest joy is that I raised more than $600 over my minimum needed and I have all of you to thank for that. I know some truly generous people and I am so grateful to have you in my life.

The Peach of a Century team raised $50,000 to fund research to cure blood cancers. $50,000! As a team we rode 2,200 miles on the event day. Amazing accomplishments all around.

So event day. I won’t say race because it wasn’t. The ride was not timed (thank goodness!), there was no official start time, you just had to finish. I drove down to Salem on Saturday and stayed at a hotel with the rest of the team. We had the usual pasta party that night along with inspirational speeches from those personally affected by blood cancers. It’s a good reminder that what we might have to endure the following day is nothing in comparison to what cancer patients deal with on a daily basis.

Sunday morning I got up at 5:45, got dressed, finished organizing my stuff for the ride (packing snacks, gear, etc). At 6:30 I got some breakfast (bagel, banana and coffee) and then at 7 we all headed to the starting area. After picking up our packets we gathered as a group for some pictures at the Team In Training tent. Around then I really had to use the bathroom but there was a huge line. So me and another participant heard rumor that a few people snuck off into these nearby woods to go all natural. So we did. Yes, I really did. I would have been standing in line another 30 minutes if I didn’t! Check out the pics. You’ll understand.

So we take off around 8am. The first 22 miles were great albeit a little cool. A fog had come in and numbed the fingers quite quickly. It was definitely pretty though. We had done this portion of the route before during a training ride so it wasn’t anything new. At the 22 mile mark was the first rest stop. Again, HUGE lines for the bathroom. Luckily I didn’t have to go again. I rested up a little, chatted with some teammates, the coach and supporters before taking off. The next bit was also pretty comfy riding. There were some moderate rollers but it was up and down so pretty fun riding. I even hit my top speed of 37.1 mph! The second rest stop was at 55 miles. I ate my PB&J along with other snacks. The sun was finally peeking out from the fog and I could tell it was warming up. I checked in with mom (who couldn’t be there to cheer me on due to knee surgery) to let her know I was surviving. It was only 12:30 so I was making pretty good time.

I took off for the next leg of the ride. I instantly knew I was going to be in trouble. I was so sluggish – just on a flat spot! The sun was out in force, the food was settling in and I was tired. I had been fighting a cold and allergies all week and I could see it taking toll. Then we hit the hills. I had been told this was a relatively flat course with one lengthy hill around mile 74. Yeah, not even. The hills hit around mile 61. And they weren’t little. We’re talking STEEP. As steep as the horrid hill of the Eola Hills ride. Yes, I admit, I had to walk a hill. I tried, I really did. But my asthma failed me. Dang lungs anyway. At the top, a large group was waiting for me and another team mate. After a rest we headed down a fun slope only to be hit by more hills. And more. I swear it was never ending. That 22 mile segment took about 2 hrs. There were lots of friendly people on the road giving encouragement as they passed me on the hills. Slightly humiliating but it was okay. I was doing my best – who cares if I had to stop 5 times up a 300 foot hill.

I hit the 3rd rest stop at mile 77. I kept my break short because I knew I had to keep going or I might just quit. I ate some pretzels, cheese and orange slices. Oh, and some macaroons. Those were tasty although quite sweet. I also checked in with mom again and started feeling the tired and pain set in. I was so tired. She reminded me that I’d done 84 miles before so at least I knew I could do that. That was true but it didn’t make me any less tired. So I set off for the last leg. It was only 24 miles. Right? Only 24. I can do that. I biked for awhile with a couple of people from my team but eventually had to let them go on ahead. They tried to wait for me but I was so low on energy I couldn’t keep up. But I pedaled. And pedaled. I hit that 84 mark and thought, I should call for the support vehicle. At least I’ve done what I did before. I’m not a failure. I’m doing my best. But I kept going. It wasn’t hilly – just long, flat, and hot. I was at 91 when a friend texted me asking how I was doing. I was so ready to quit. I told her I had about 10 miles left and she said “you got it girl”. So I kept pedaling. I could get it! It was the longest 10 miles ever. One of coaches drove by to check on people. I kept pedaling. I could have easily thrown my bike in her truck and gone back but I didn’t. Another cyclist was heading backwards on the course at about mile 99. He yelled to me “You’re almost there”. I yelled back “I sure hope so!”. It was hard not to swear at him – he was being encouraging after all.

I rolled in to the finish line around 5:45pm. Yes, I was on the road from 8am until 5:45. The first 55 miles took 4.5 hours and the last 47 miles took 5.25 hours. I was so happy to be done. I called mom and almost started crying. I was so, so tired. Weepy tired. I finished though. 102.5 miles. That was the official course length. My cyclometer only read 100.5 miles I’m sure all my stopping and starting and walking on the hills threw it off. I rested a bit, stretched, had a small bite to eat and then headed home. Mission accomplished. I hit my fundraising goal and then some. I biked 100+ miles. A day well spent.

For the pictures I took, check out my usual spot:


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thank you

I want to start off by saying thank you. Without your support both financially and emotionally, this journey would have been so much more difficult. In the past several months I managed to raise $2,320 to help fight blood cancers.

This journey has been difficult, fun, challenging and rewarding. I've met many people who are now great inspirations and discovered that many of my friends have been impacted to leukemia and lymphoma.

This Sunday is my biggest challenge. The Peach of a Century. The course is approximately 102 miles long and we'll be starting around 8am. While I'm looking forward to getting my weekends back, it will be bittersweet as my journey ends. For so many inflicted with cancer, they aren't lucky to just "get their life back". It is truly a life long challenge for them and I will keep that in mind as I pedal my way to a cure.

Be on the look out for my final event report sometime in the next two weeks.

Again, I thank you so much for your support this season.

All my best,


Sunday, September 7, 2008

84 miles!

Yesterday we hit our peak riding miles before starting to taper down for the big event. Here’s the story.

We started the ride at the beautiful Champoeg State Park. I bet the majority of you have no idea how to pronounce that. Sham-poo-ee. Yeah, not what you'd think The first 25 miles was a flat and fast. We had a great tailwind which kept my pace about 17mph with virtually no effort. The entire time I was trying to convince myself that the winds would reverse by the time we returned on that route and we'd also have a tailwind on the return. (foreshadowing here). Along this route I discovered that I left my memory card for the camera in my pc so I was limited to the 16mb (if that) on my internal card. I did see some pretty things so I took a few. There were tons of hop farms and trucks loaded down with hops which were then scattered about the roadway.

Around mile 22 we reached the Wheatland Ferry. It's this barge like boat that ferries cars and people across the Willamette all day. Free for bikes, we hop on and continue our ride.

Our ride continues through some gorgeous farmland. We hit a pretty long hill but with one stop to catch my breath, I make it to the top. I knew that was just minor to the hills to come. This is called the "Eola Hills" loop for a reason.

We reach Amity at mile 50 and break for lunch at a little park. Probably not the smartest stop since the "hill" was only 1.5 miles from there. Never ride up a monster hill on a full stomach. But I was feeling great after 50 miles and thought - dang, we only have 35 miles left to go! I don't remember what time it was but I want to say it was close to noon. At that point my average pace was about 14.5mph which is huge for me.

So then we head out to attack the hill. I immediately felt sluggish and tired. I was practically in my granny gear on the flat approaching the hill (there was a bit of a headwind at that point). Coach Becky had warned the hill was about 3.5 miles long and the first .1 of the hill was STEEP. Uh, you ain't kidding there Becky. I had to stop twice going up just that 10th of a mile (after stopping at the bottom before even starting!). After that, it was a bit less steep but still one heck of a hill. I can't even count how many times I stopped. Every time I hit some shade, stop. It probably took me an hour just to climb that 3.5 miles. However, as promised by Becky, there were some gorgeous views at the top.

I started the descent which was super steep but fun. I had to stop myself once because I was feeling out of control. Last thing I wanted to do was crash going 27 mph.

After the hill, it was basically heading back the way we came. Unfortunately that nice tailwind we had coming out had NOT reversed. It was horrible (like last week on Marine Drive) but still difficult. My pace slowed down significantly. I was also running out of steam so that probably had more to do with my slow down than the wind.

But I finished the ride, dang it! Here are the stats:

Miles: 83.8

Saddle time: 6:16:56

Average Speed: 13.1 mph

Max Speed: 32.2 mph

Calories burned: 3418

Total time out (including breaks): ~8hrs

For a few more pictures check out the usual place:


Elevation of the Hill:

Views from the top:

Sunday, August 31, 2008

We're almost there!

Hello my fellow followers of my infrequently updated blog.

So I missed training rides for two weekends in a row. Not only did I not ride on the weekends, I pretty much didn't ride AT ALL for two weeks. That last update when I said I was going to ride with my coach on Sunday? Yeah, I didn't go. I woke up with some gastrointestinal issues and that is something you do not want to be riding with. During that next week my mom was in the hospital for a knee replacement surgery so immediately after work I'd head to the hospital. Yeah, I could have ridden but when you have to get to work early and don't get home until 8 or 9, it makes for a long day. All whining aside... The next weekend mom got discharged on Saturday so I had to be here to make sure she was settled okay, etc. The next week was craziness at work and I just didn't have the energy.

So along comes Saturday the 30th. 80 miles scheduled. Starting on Marine Drive (at 33rd) out past Multnomah Falls and back. Epic. Here is my story.

I woke up tired and grumpy with a bit of a headache. It was a cloudy and cool morning which was perfect riding weather. We headed out on Marine Drive for a fast and flat first 14 miles. We hit Troutdale and then started our gradual climb up the Historic Columbia River Highway.

It was totally gorgeous of course and the climbing while a bit long was not too bad. This guy who was traveling by bike (4 panniers and looked rugged) was doing the route. I'd pass him then have to stop. He'd pass me. It was kind of funny. He was just plugging along. I told Ellen - he's going to make to the falls before me!

We get to the Portland Women's Forum for the first SAG vehicle stop.
I replenish water, whine a bit and eat something. My head wasn't feeling any better and I just felt crappy all over. Yet it was nice to be on the bike again.

We then started a descent down towards Multnomah Falls for MILES. It was so much fun. I topped out on speed at 29.2 but it was pretty curvy so you didn't want to get going too fast. Of course the entire time I was descending I was thinking "uh, there is no way in hell I'm riding back up this!!"

I make it to Multnomah Falls, break for a bit, whine some more and take two Tylenol Noreen offered. We then had to head out a little further (mostly flat) past Horsetail Falls and then back to Multnomah for lunch. We're riding along and we get to signs for I-84. Reading the directions it sounded like where we were supposed to turn around but the mileage didn't match up. So we turned around anyway. Apparently we were supposed to keep going for about 4 more miles. Whoops. We eat lunch at Multnomah and I whine some more about the upcoming hills. Everyone was calling it "a hill". No, the appropriate description is "one long ass mother fucking hill"

So we take off pedaling. It was sort of up and down for a bit then we started the climb. Slow and steady. There was 3 of us riding together. Heidi took off a head of us and Erin was hot on our trail. We probably averaged 5-6 mph going up that long climb but we did it. Stopped a couple times but not every 100 ft as I thought I might. But dang, was that long. After we hit the Women's Forum again, it was some great descents back into Troutdale.

Then it was Marine Drive again. THAT is when the ride sucked even more. MD is always great riding up but sucks ass going back because there is always that headwind going up the Columbia River. It was only 14 miles but the longest 14 miles ever. We did some pace lining to give breaks to people facing the headwind. Eventually it was just Heidi and I and she was a doll who did much of the pulling because I just couldn't. When we finally saw our stopping point we both got this burst of energy and went from battling the wind at 11-12 mph to 16mph because we just wanted to be done!

Our final mileage was 70.7 and my total ride time was 5:53. Yes, my ass was on that saddle for almost 6 freaking hours. It was such a long ride and the going was so slow. I thought the fast descents would make up the slow ascents as far as time went but apparently not. We left that morning at 8:30 and didn't get back to the cars until 4:30. oy.

When i did get back to the car and got off my bike, my entire body HURT. I sat down on the car seat. My butt hurt. I leaned back into the seat and every muscle that touched the seat back HURT. I've never been so pained from a ride before. I'm sure a lot of it was from the tensing up during the headwinds and ascents. I took a couple of mom's arthritis strength Tylenol last night and two more this morning. Seems okay when that's working. I just need to make sure I keep moving today so I don't stiffen up that much.

As always, to see more picture check out my Flickr collection:

Michele Cycling Pics

These are the elevation changes. Unfortunately you can't see the mileages on here:

I had to paste in the elevation scale on the first one since it was only on the end so it looks a little funky. These two pics only display the ride from Troutdale to Horsetail falls. The rest of it was relatively flat.

Click on the graph to see the full length. We took the HCRH so follow the purple line.

If you want to see the document about riding the Columbia River Gorge (most of you probably don't) it's here:


Next weekend is 85 miles which is where we stop increasing mileage. Then it's 80 and 50 as we taper to get ready for the big event on Sept 28th!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Quickie update

Hot, hot, hot!! We are currently working on our THIRD 100+ day in a row here in Portland. It's freaking ridiculous. I decided to think of my health and skip our 68 mile ride today. I know me and I know my body - it shuts down in heat. Yes, it would have "only" been about 91 degrees by the time I finished but that's too hot for me. I would have ended up with heat stroke. Afterall, on our last 100+ day of riding I couldn't even finish 45. You think I could last for 68? No.

But don't worry by dear supporters... I'll still get my ride in this weekend. Tomorrow should top out around 92. Still hot, but more doable for me. My coach gave us the option of riding with her tomorrow when she scopes out our ride for next weekend - a 70 miler which will include our 50 miles up to Estacada with a 20 mile extension along the way. According to the hour-by-hour forecast it will only be 78 at 1pm tomorrow vs the 91 at 1pm today.

Since my last update we had another 50 mile ride around the Hagg Lake area and a 62 miler last weekend down in Salem. Each week my average speed is increasing and I'm feeling stronger and stronger. I really think I can do this!! I've had time when I had my doubts but lately those have been dwindling.

If you want to see some pics from the last two rides check them out on Flickr.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

So much for weekly blogging!

I really did intend to blog weekly. :)

Yesterday was our first 50 miler!! We started out in Estacada and rode up to the Ripplebrook Ranger station and back. It was a glorious day. Started out cool and misty as we headed up into the mountains along the Clackamas river. Since we were headed up a river valley, it was pretty much a constant elevation gain. Sure, there were some declines but they weren't as easy as one would think given the nature of the landscape. We hit one long hill - it was tough but I can tell my hill technique is definitely getting better. I was totally looking forward to the descent on that baby during the ride back. At the ranger station we stopped to eat lunch and by this time the sun had come out. After lunch and a short break I started heading back. I quickly realized the ride back would NOT be as easy as I thought. You know, you figure if it's a constant elevation gain on the way out, it'll be a decline on the way back. Yeah, that might be so but it sure didn't feel like it with the massive headwind we had to pedal against. Jiminy crickets! That big hill? My max speed down it was only 27mph. I even had to pedal to reach that. Pedaling down hill? Gah. But I made it.

My total ride time ON the bike was 3:46:18, 50.5 miles, 13.4 avg mph.

Here is a link to some pictures I took along the route:

Another recent notable ride was a few weeks ago at Hagg Lake. We were scheduled to do 45 miles which started at McMenamins Grand Lodge, out to Hagg Lake, two loops around the lake, a little loop around a near by town and back to the Lodge. Sounds easy enough. It was hilly around the lake - great time to practice shifting. This all would have been completely doable had we not had record breaking heat that day. Yes, the final temp that day was 102 I think? When I thought I'd pass out at mile 40 it was 92 degrees. I was beginning to have symptoms of heat stroke/exhaustion so I called our support vehicle to pick me up. This happened of course because I was too stubborn to skip the loop around the town like some people did and just head back to the lodge. Nope, not me. I can do it! Yes, sometimes I'm not the smartest kid on the block. At least I had the sense to get picked up and not pass out on my bike along the highway.

So those are the latest updates. Training is going fantastic, the team is amazing and I'm looking forward to continued mileage increases!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Long Update

So, where did I leave off? Oh yes, the second training weekend. As it turned out, I ended up having a minor surgery on May 30th which put a halt to my training for 2.5 weeks and I missed 3 Saturday rides. I wasn’t happy about this but that’s okay. It’s better to happen early in the season when I have more time to catch up on the miles.

I went for my first ride since the surgery last Tuesday to start warming up for Saturday’s 40 mile ride. I rode to work (10 miles) and extended my route home by 5 miles for a total of 25 miles that day. I could tell I was a little out of it after not riding for so long. Wednesday I rode to work again and then met the group after work for the optional weekday ride. Coach Becky decided it was time for some hill work. Eeps! Hills are not my strong suit but I know I need to start training for them some day. I was still a little worried about my incisions (which are in the abdomen) but I decided to do what I can without hurting myself. We left from the waterfront and rode the 7 miles to Mt. Tabor. Then we rode up Mt Tabor. TWICE. It starts with a fairly low incline (I was good), becomes steeper for awhile (yikes!), and then returns to a moderately low climb for the rest. I was being my blonde self that day and totally spaced taking my albuterol inhaler before the ride so I had some breathing problems heading up. I had to stop a couple times to let my lungs get air, and then I continued on. But I made, dang it! Yeah, my hills need work.

Saturday we headed out to Hillsboro for a 40 mile ride. I was feeling a bit nervous and apprehensive since my longest ride prior to this was 22 miles. Jumping from 22 to 40 is huge! Especially when you’ve been out of it for awhile. The ride started with a few rolling hills, a great descent and then… a .7 mile incline. And it wasn’t a minor incline (at least not for me). I shifted into the granny gears (yes, the easiest one I have) and just pedaled. And pedaled and pedaled. I almost stopped about 4 times but instead I pedaled. I probably could have walked faster at a couple points but I pedaled. Guess what – I made it up that hill! I was so freaking happy with myself. From there the ride continued on with some rollers, nothing too bad. Around mile 18/19 there was an unexpected stop as one team member had a flat. None of us were experienced with changing a flat (plus his tire actually blew out) so that was a funny site. At mile 22 we stopped for a bathroom break at a shooting range. At mile 30 we were back at the parking lot for a quick bite to eat before finishing up that last 10 miles. The last 10 miles was a loop that included the killer hill I had already rode up plus one other monster (shorter in length but steeper) that Coach Becky hadn’t warned us of previously and gave sort of an evil laugh as she mentioned it then. NOW, I’m worried!

I was starting to feel a little sore in the abdomen (where I had surgery) so I was a bit iffy as I took off. I knew that there was a shorter 6 mile loop that avoided one of the hills (the one I had already tackled) so I could make a decision at one point to cut my ride short. We’re pedaling along pleasantly and come to a bit of a hill. I was thinking “I hope this is the surprise hill that Coach didn’t tell us about”. I ride up that with only minor struggles, see a downhill, look up and wham! Yeah, that wasn’t surprise hill. I see this hill looming before me and dread washes over me. I shift into my granny gear again and start pedaling. I stopped. I rode. Stopped. Rode. Yeah, I made it to the stop but it wasn’t pretty. By the time I reached the top I knew I was done for. I thought for a moment I’d do the last hill but realized at the split point (back to the car or finish the last hill) that I’m an idiot if I do the last hill, cause myself internal bleeding and miss even more training!

I think my final mileage was about 38 miles (my cyclometer apparently needs a new battery). The route I did was 35.9 miles according to the map but 3 of us took a bit of a detour when we missed a turn and we figured it added on a couple miles. Not too shabby I think!!

Our next training ride is Saturday – 45 miles around Hagg Lake. Supposedly it’s a beautiful ride and I’m looking forward to it!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

First Training Update!

Our first official training date was last Saturday (May 17). The team met on Sauvie Island at 9am and it was already over 70 degrees. It was a scorcher of a day! I had liberally applied sunblock everywhere but still managed to get a bit of a burn. Coach Becky went over some typical road rules with us and we were on our way at about 9:45. The plan was to do a 12 miles loop through the island with an option 3 mile extension for those that wanted to complete 15 miles. Since I typically already do 15-20 miles every weekend that was a no brainer for me!

The ride was great. We started out a bit slow as many were getting used to the road and the bikes. Sauvie Island is really pretty filled with farms, lamas and views of Mount St. Helen’s. We picked up the pace a little in the middle which was great because I was getting a little antsy. I’m have to keep reminding myself though that a slow pace will needed as the miles get up there.

We finished up the 15 miles (actually 15.5) in 1:05 so that’s a pace of 14mph. Not too bad. I was so pumped up though that I really wanted to do the 12 mile loop again. Alas, French toast, bacon and eggs were awaiting me at Fat Albert’s breakfast cafĂ©. Poor Michele, huh?

On Sunday I decided to head back to Sauvie Island to do that loop again but headed out one road for a longer extension and ended up completing 20.2 miles. I’ve never spent much time out there so it was fun to explore it by bike.

On Wednesday we had an optional coach led ride after work. The plan was to meet north of OMSI and head out the Springwater Corridor as far as we could get in 30 minutes then head back. It was a rainy gloomy day and only 4 people (including the coach) showed up. We got rained on the first 10 minutes but then it let up and we had a great ride. Funny enough, the turn around spot was only 1.5 miles from my house. We clocked 15.5 miles that night.

Yesterday was our second Saturday training. The team met on Marine drive and headed west toward Blue Lake Park. Thought we were going to get rained on but 10 minutes into the ride, the skies cleared and it was gorgeous and sunny. It was fantastic riding along the Columbia with the sun glistening off the water. On the way out to the park I was really booking it. I thought – hot dang! I’m like Wonder Woman clocking a 16.1 mph average. Okay, for experienced riders that may not be much but for me it was! At the Park the few people I was riding with stopped for a bathroom break then we headed back. THAT is when I realized why I thought I was Wonder Woman. I had a tailwind the ride out there which meant I had a headwind the entire ride back. Oops. So that awesome average dropped to 14.7mph by the end of the 20.3 mile ride. That's okay - it was a fantastic ride and I can't wait until the next ride.

Wonder Woman:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Training Theme Song

I recently discovered this song that I'm claiming as my new cycling theme song! If you haven't listened to it, go check it out! Here are some of the lyrics:

"No Handlebars" by The Flobots

I can ride my bike with no handlebars
No handlebars
No handlebars

Look at me, look at me
hands in the air like it's good to be
and I'm a famous rapper
even when the paths're all crookedy
I can show you how to do-si-do
I can show you how to scratch a record
I can take apart the remote control
And I can almost put it back together
I can tie a knot in a cherry stem
I can tell you about Leif Ericson
I know all the words to "De Colores"
And "I'm Proud to be an American"
Me and my friend saw a platypus
Me and my friend made a comic book
And guess how long it took
I can do anything that I want cuz, look:

I can keep rhythm with no metronome
No metronome
No metronome

And I can see your face on the telephone
On the telephone
On the telephone

Look at me
Look at me
Just called to say that it's good to be
In such a small world
I'm all curled up with a book to read
I can make money open up a thrift store
I can make a living off a magazine
I can design an engine sixty four
Miles to a gallon of gasoline
I can make new antibiotics
I can make computers survive aquatic conditions
I know how to run a business
I can make you wanna buy a product
Movers shakers and producers
Me and my friends understand the future
I see the strings that control the systems
I can do anything with no assistance
Cuz I can lead a nation with a microphone
With a microphone
With a microphone
And I can split the atom of a molecule
Of a molecule
Of a molecule

Look at me
Look at me
Driving and I won't stop
And it feels so good to be
Alive and on top
My reach is global
My tower secure
My cause is noble
My power is pure

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Welcome to my training blog!

Over the course of the next 4.5 months, I am training to complete a century (100 mile bike ride) as part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program. I hope this blog will keep you entertained and informed about my progress and The Society's mission.

Last year I completed the Portland Marathon (walked, ran, crawled) as part of this same great cause. This year I switched to cycling for many reasons. I enjoy it more, I can go faster and further and it's not as hard on my asthma.

At this point, the furthest I've cycled is about 22 miles. The first two team training sessions are 15 and 20 miles so they should go smoothly. After that is when the real work begins. I'll tell you now - hills freak me out. I ride a few on my way home from work (go bike commuting!) and they always stress me. So expect that to be one of my many "tribulations" along this journey.

If you're already willing to donate to this fabulous cause check out the links to the right for my fund raising page. I have to raise a whopping $1800 so every penny counts!