Monday, September 26, 2011

Cycle the Lakes, Cottage Grove, Oregon

I did it! I rode all 59 miles of the Cycle the Lakes ride! I feel an overwhelming sense of awesomeness and relief that it is over. It was an amazing ride that put me through all phases of emotions from excitement, bliss, exhaustion, soreness and in the end a stubborn tenacity to finish the ride. 
Hubby and I drove to Cottage Grove, Oregon for the start of the ride. Here we are at Coin Park, waiting to start. If you click on the pictures, they will enlarge.
 We  look so eager to start.

 We made sure to start off our ride with a nice healthy breakfast (haha) with a gigantic cinnamon roll. No, we weren’t completely evil; we only ate half. 

 Like I promised, I took teddy bear along for the ride. Yes, I had a lot of people ask about him. Most seemed amused and enjoyed the story of how I acquired him. All of the riders were so friendly and there was a real sense of camaraderie with them.

 We started out the ride going along a beautiful bike trail that headed towards the mountains.
 This bike trail lasted much longer than I expected. It went about seventeen miles back into the woods, clear past Dorena Lake. It made for a beautiful ride without any cars. Hurrah! I hate dealing with cars, they make me very nervous.

 Along the way, we saw several covered bridges. This one was right next to the trail.

 And this one was visible from a bridge we crossed over.

At first, the climb was very gradual, and hardly noticeable. Thank goodness, because otherwise, I would have been pretty crabby and not have enjoyed the scenery as much.  It is hard to look at barns and lakes when you are just trying to suck in air.
So I noticed a lot of things as we rode the first twenty miles. Here are a few highlights of the ride.
 I loved this barn! Do you see the horse looking out of the window? That was picture perfect. Just behind that barn was another cool old barn.

 Hubby flew across that trail never once even looking tired.
 I loved this picture of him looking off a bridge.

 This was a neat little church that had a mid-century modern flare about it. I love the stained glass window.

 That brings to mind this picture. AHAHAHAHAHA! This was in someone’s yard. Yes the cross has lights around it and those are toilets in the background. On closer look, the toilets are labeled his and hers.

There were other signs of interesting inhabitants along the route. Like this barn proclaiming their patriotism.

And this unique trailer sitting out in a field.

Someone had a teepee in their backyard. I thought the kids would love that.

Dorena Lake was huge and seemed to go on forever.

Someone put up a little tire swing on a tree by the lake. By then, it was getting warm enough that I contemplated using the swing!

After passing Dorena Lake, the bike trail ended and we merged onto the main road. By then, most of the car traffic was gone.
 This was when the road started to get steeper and I had to start concentrating on pedaling. You know how I feel about hills. There seemed to be a lot of them.

 At the half-way point, there were tables set up with lots of yummy snacks and drinks. Since it was right at the end of a particularly grueling hill, I was happy to stop and relax for a bit. The people working the checkup point were very friendly and talkative.
Okay, the struggle to get to the top of all of those hills was completely worth it! I can’t express the pure adrenaline rush to ride at breathtaking speeds downhill for miles. It rocked! I love my bike too, because it rolls really well, so I can go really fast. 

On the way back down, they had us go a different route. This took us along a moss covered road that was spectacular!
We drove past this neat old house. I loved the rock chimney.

And cattle were sleeping in a grassy field.

There were some teenagers jumping off the cliffs of this waterfall into the pool below. That looked very inviting. By then, it was really hot.

It seemed like no time at all before we were back down the eighteen miles to the lake. There we stopped at the last check-in/water point.
That is when I heard about the hill. Yes, that was bolded on purpose. You know that chapter in a novel where a main character reaches a point where they need to make a decision and that decision affects that outcome of the book. Well, this was that point for me. There were ominous warnings that I just plain ignored. I should have realized that there was a reason 75 percent of the riders around me were deciding to go back on the nice little bike trail around the lake.
They all kept mentioning this hill. They showed us a little map that gave the altitude changes of the ride. There was this nasty spike at the end of the ride indicating this hill.

Of course I ignored them. I wanted to do the full ride in all its glory. I wasn’t going to wimp out at the end. So hubby and I continued on our way joined by another biker who had been abandoned by his group that chose to take the easy way out.
It started well enough, down hill most of the way. I didn’t like that it followed the main road. There were cars, and I hate cars. Especially when they decide it's fun to honk.
We neared the end of the ride and I was feeling all spiffy, then we took a detour road off the main highway. Immediately I knew I had made a really, really bad choice. Those liars—that was no hill. That was a mini mountain.
That incline went on and on. I was in my lowest gear creeping up at 4pmh. If I had hopped off my bike and walked, I would have been faster. But there was no way I was going to walk and suffer that humiliation. My lungs were burning, my head was screaming, I had to stop to breathe once along the way. But, I did it; I made it to the top of that mountain. And hubby was at the top cheering me on. Instead of being grateful, I’m pretty sure I gave him a look that said I would hit him if only I could move my exhausted body fast enough to catch him.
I hated that hill. But I am glad I did it, otherwise I would have regretted not doing the full course.
But the last eight miles after that were a complete endurance test. By then my left calf was doing some weird things. My upper arms were on fire and I was hot, crabby, exhausted and not very nice.
When we stopped to take a picture of this covered bridge, I barely acknowledged its existence. I just wanted to finish.

Hubby noticed this mini covered bridge. By then I was in auto drive and didn’t even see it.

So when we finally came to the end of the ride, I had never been so happy.

It helped to get this massive helping of pie and ice cream from the kind people at the finish.

Here we are, relaxed and contented, grateful that we had finished. Already we were talking about doing the ride next year.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying

“Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying”, every once in awhile that powerful quote from Shawshank Redemption comes to my mind. While sitting on the ground next to the bones of Joseph W Houck, “died at age 17 years 4 months & 24 days”, the quote hit me with all its force. I am mortal being, someday I will die. I may even die on my bike ride home.
So why was I sitting on the ground next to this gravestone? I’m not a complete freak—there really was a pretty good reason. And I will really explain it after I post this. Because this picture made my day:

I started my bike ride in a nasty mood. I was grouchy, already tired, and I wanted to consume large amounts of chocolate. Instead I hopped on my bike. Since the teddy bear I picked up last week cleaned up really nicely, I decided to drag him along. He will be my new bicycling buddy. I think I will take him every time I ride now.

I started my usual ride going to Riverside Loop. There, I was instantly cheered by this llama. Isn’t he cute? When I stopped to take his picture, he ran over to me and let me pet him. I was instantly happy. Who couldn’t be cheered by this face?

I was now grateful that I had forced myself out for the ride. I was ready to bike forever and never stop. Though I did stop to take this photo:

Ahahaha, it is a bicycle lawnmower. It is in a yard full on antiques.

Seeing these antiques set me into a more contemplative mood. I knew I was heading towards the cemetery, and I got to thinking about discarded things, especially since Teddy Bear had been abandoned in the mud too. So when I finally reached the South Yamhill Cemetery, I was ready to sit and think about things for awhile.
This is where the gravestone of Joseph W Houck came in. Last week I had wandered through the graveyard, looking at the various stones and wondering about them.
When I came across this gravestone I was instantly intrigued.

It wasn’t the most beautiful marker. It wasn’t the oldest, the biggest, or really that different from most of the stones in the cemetery. But something about it pulled at me. Perhaps it was the age at death. There was something tragic about it.
So I went home and looked Joseph W. Houck up on the internet. The only thing I could find was a census report of 1880. His father was James and his mother was Adeline. They are also buried there in the cemetery.
I also realized that the date I had visited the cemetery and first became fascinated by the headstone was also the anniversary of his death, September 8, one hundred and twenty-nine years ago.
So being the morbid person that I am. This time I decided that I would do my contemplating sitting next to the gravestone of this person who had caught my curiosity. It was then that I decided that I wanted to live my life to its fullest. I wanted to immerse myself in existing rather than placidly sip it.
I want to live my life so that even if I die tomorrow, I will say “I loved my life”.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Hitchhiker at the Cemetery

Hot, hot, hot day! Even though I left at 9:00 am. It got hot fast. First I took the usual ten mile loop that always take through Riverside drive. It was fun seeing the changes in the leaves and the grass. Autumn is approaching quickly!
     I didn't see the sway-backed horse out there today. I hope it is okay. I will have to ride soon just to make sure the horse is well.
     For those of you car drivers out there. Please, please, please, do not honk at bike riders just to get a laugh. It isn't that funny, it definitely isn't original, and it's a guarantee to have me think very evil words towards you. My rant is done.
     Anyway, I took Old Sheridan Road out to the South Yamhill Cemetery. I love that place! It is creepy and serene. It is also the best place in the world to contemplate, life, books, and new plots for ghost stories.
     Yes, I did come up with a fun plot for a ghost story. All the gears in my head are on psycho mode planning the storyline. It does involve the cemetery, bicycles, and that little muddy teddy bear that I saw on the side of the road.


Do you remember him?
Well, I rode back down the road and found that poor little teddy bear stuffed in a ditch. Luckily, I had my backpack with me, so he hitchhiked a ride back to my house and got a bath. He is going to play a very important role in the book.

Here are some interesting pictures of the cemetery too. I think I might slip my laptop into my backpack and ride my bike up there to spend the day writing. It sounds perfect!.

 I loved the lily detail on this gravestone.

By the time I got home, I was boiling hot. But I got 23.3 miles in. I will definitely do the same ride next week.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cycle the Lakes

Hubby and I have signed up to do Cycle the Lakes for September 24th. The route we are going to ride is the 58 mile ride. Yikes! So far, the farthest I have ridden is 30 miles, which is only half of that. So I am going to get my big bum into gear!
     I have been a good girl and a bad girl at the same time. I've been good in that I have been to the gym regularly, and I have concentrated on building up my leg muscles. The bad thing is I didn't ride my bike very much in August because I hate being hot.
     So, I will stop whinging about the heat and start riding my bike. Expect lots of fun photos for the next month.