Posted by: bkivey | 28 May 2010

Friday Et All

I was watching the local AAA-team Portland Beavers in a double-header when I saw a precious moment. A girl had run down a foul ball in an unoccupied section and the look on her face as she walked back to her seat while rolling the ball around in her hands was priceless. The ball may not last but the memories will be forever. It ocurred to me that the same expression has played across the faces of kids for the last 150 years as they chased down balls in every division from single-A to the major leagues.

The Beavers are being displaced from PGE Park in 2011 because the Portland Timbers soccer team are going to MLS. For whatever reason the City of Portland can’t find a home for a baseball team that has been here since 1906. So this year is very probably the last year for live baseball on a regular basis in Portland. And to think that there are people who want to bring MLB here.

Talkin’ Story

A couple of stories from my cycling experiences. You can see more here.

The Grand Prix in Waikiki

When I was living in Honolulu I’d take a ride after work. Sometimes I’d ride up in the hills above the city, sometimes I’d ride out to Wiamanalo, sometimes I’d head for points west of the city. Although I had one of the best road bikes I’ve ever owned, and the tradewinds and the hills could make for a good workout, these weren’t meant to be hardcore training rides, just a way to unwind after work and see some of the city. This doesn’t mean I didn’t take the effort seriously; I still went for PB’s on rides, but I wasn’t training for, say, the Ironman.

I usually tried to end each day’s ride at Waikiki Beach to watch the sunset. If I had been riding up in the hills or west of the city this meant coming into Waikiki from the direction of the Ala Moana Mall and then up Waikiki’s four-lane, one-way main drag, Kalakaua Ave. It was during one of these rides that the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me on a bike occurred.

Not too far from where Ala Moana Blvd. runs into Kalakaua I was stopped for a light. I was on the right side of the road and I looked over to the left and saw another roadie across the way. I looked at him and he looked at me and right then we both knew that when the light changed, the hammer would drop.

The moment the light went green we took off like bats out of hell. Changing gears chunk-chunk-chunk as fast as I could while riding as straight a line as possible. Within half a block we’d left the traffic behind so I moved out into the center of the lane. For some reason that day there wasn’t any traffic for blocks in front of us so we had green lights and clear road right through the middle of Waikiki and the hundreds of people that are always milling about. For a few glorious minutes it was like every finishing sprint you’ve seen on TV: throngs of people on the sidewalks, no cars, and two cyclist going hell-for-leather down the middle of the road.

By unspoken agreement the finish line was the zoo at the end of the strip, but before the halfway point my opponent was pulling away, and 500 meters from the end I conceded and let myself get pulled back by the peloton (traffic). An ignominious ending, but for a few moments I tasted glory, and the feeling I had sprinting through the streets of Waikiki against worthy competition made up for a lot of pain during rides up hills and into the wind. 

The First Mountain Bike Ride

I started riding a mountain bike when I lived in Seattle, and my first ride came on a visit with my father in Hood River, Oregon. He was there for the windsurfing and I thought that this might be a good place to test my mountain legs. So I packed up my newly-aquired mountain bike and headed down for the weekend.

We spent some time browsing the bike and surf shops in town and my father was kind enough to buy me a guide (Mountain Bike Oregon, Dunegan, Beachway Press) that I had admired but didn’t buy myself. This guide is part of a series of books that detail rides in various states and include a variety of rides and a wealth of information on each ride, including difficulty ratings. I was pretty excited and spent the evening in the hotel room looking at rides in the area and selecting a ride for the next day.

The next morning I was up bright and early and loaded the bike in the car and headed for the trailhead. The ride I had selected was a loop of just under 20 miles that the guide promised included spectacular views of Mt. Hood. What I had failed to notice was that parts of this particular trail were marked double-diamond. Remember, I had never ridden a mountain bike before; not on road, not on trail.

The ride started out easily enough up some doubletrack but before too long it turned to singletrack and went sharply upward (the guide’s word is ‘dramatic’). At the top of the first rise there were indeed spectacular views of Mt. Hood but then the trail went down (Whoa! This is steep!) and then back up (also steep). And so it went, up and down, popping out into clearings to admire the mountains, then back through the brush. At times I was sliding down the trail with both brakes locked and at others I was shouldering the bike and grasping at trees to pull myself up a hill side. The last part of the ride was a descent down a Forest Sevice road where I built up some pretty good speed and found out some of the things I don’t like about aluminum frames (I’d never had one of those before, either).

When I got back to the hotel after about four hours of riding, half of which was hike-a-bike, I was dirty, scratched, bruised, exhausted, and grinning from ear to ear. All I wanted to do was go for another ride.

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