My Other Bike is Shadowfax

American Lung Association charity ride
Newberg to Pacific City, Oregon, ~80 miles

5:30 am on a cool, but clear Saturday. M arrives at my house and loads my bike, along with four others, into his truck. We pick up three additional riders, one family member and Burgerville breakfast sandwiches on our way to Newberg. In Newberg, said family member becomes the most intelligent person in the vehicle as she then takes off to drive the truck to Pacific City. The remaining five of us clip into our bikes and begin pedaling our way to the coast.

Newberg start: still clean

Last year I bought a bike. It was supposed to be for fun rides and commuting. I've been chased by geese, dodged bunnies and dogs, and lost battles with some railroad tracks. I commute to the OHSU tram regularly for the trip up to school. I'm a poser cyclist. My dear friends, M&A, love road cycling and triathlons. Somehow, somewhere, sometime a few months ago, they persuaded me to participate in Reach the Beach, a fundraiser for the American Lung Association, that involves biking from various start points to the coast. For the last five years, it's been a family affair for them, typically involving a Newberg start which puts the course at 80 miles (85ish when you include the in-town Pacific City mileage that is getting to and from a rented beach house). 

Funny how anything that is a few months away feels completely do-able. The closer you arrive to the doing, however, the less do-able that anything feels. Today, I'm wondering if I really can keep up with the four other people I am with, or whether I'm going to be calling Andy to come scrape me and my sure-to-be-jello-limbs off the side of the road somewhere.  

44° and sunny in Newberg made for a cool beginning to the ride, but the rolling hills of the Oregon wine country quickly warms us up. It's beautiful country, punctuated here and there by little farm houses, front yards in full bloom with the newly arrived spring. I've driven here many, many times, but taking the countryside in via a two-wheel point of view is so very different. I consider myself a hiker and not a bike person, and experiencing the road from bike, touring the countryside that way, has never really occurred to me. Yet rolling up and over and down the hills between Newberg and Amity into the Willamette Valley, I am completely enamored and becoming addicted to the feel of my bike eating up the miles, chatting in easy camaraderie with my friends and their family.

I will admit it definitely helps to be on a fully supported ride- rest stops with water, electrolyte replacements, granola bars, PB&J sandwiches and cookies every ten to fifteen miles makes the day much easier. 

A&M: love these two crazies

Amity to Sheridan lies deep in the heart of Willamette Valley agricultural land. The road feels built for cyclists- flat but curving, hugging the invisible property lines of farms. At one point, as we pass the Brigittine monastery just outside of Amity, I seriously contemplate stopping for truffles. Random fact I learned many, many years ago. But seriously, these gentleman make The. Best. Truffles. Ever.  

Upon hitting Sheridan, approximately forty miles into the ride and the halfway point, I am officially on the longest bike ride I have ever accomplished. M&A had been taking me on training rides prior to RTB, but I had only ever made it up to thirty-five miles. A fifty mile weekend was kaboshed by illness, and school mayhem/homework chaos sabotaged another planned long training ride. But, as A so quaintly stated before we set off, by Sheridan it's just a far to go home as to complete the ride. So, Sheridan becomes the committed point. 

Still life at Sheridan rest stop
Sometime after Sheridan, the long, gradual winding climb over the Coastal Range begins. I have been dreading the hills, and although I slow down to tortoise speed on a few climbs, mostly I am finding myself in the cycling zone, and no one is more surprised than me. I am in love with the day, with the scenery, and sharing fantastic company on a journey I really wasn't sure I could complete, but am finishing strong. Suddenly, without warning, I find myself cresting the coast range, sixty miles into the ride, a long downhill portion stretching before us and Pelican Pub beer in Pacific City calling our names. 

cresting the Coast Range

The five of us finish strong, even given the rushing headwind that fills the final fifteen miles to the coast via Highway 22. The air changes, now salty, cool and fresh as we turn on to the famous 101 and make our way along the final, remaining miles to Pacific City. The road is lined with families and cowbells, honking, hollering and clanking as approximately 3,000 cyclists wind their way to the finish line. It's pure chaos at the Pelican, my legs are sorely confused being asked to use different muscles to walk (what's that?), and we're all cheap, one beer dates at this point in the day.  

Pure cyclist chaos at Pacific City

I love my friends.

**To those of you who donated, a huge THANK YOU. Signature events are one of the main ways the American Lung Association raises dollars to support it's research, education, advocacy and community service on various lung diseases. So while it's a supported ride, those of us who ride pay for that privilege, and fundraised dollars support the mission. Thank you, again.**