Monday, June 19, 2006
Over the years, I've lived in a bunch of places, mainly on the West Coast: San Diego, Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Jose, Santa Clara, San Francisco, and Eugene, OR. Of all those places, I'd have to say only one - Oregon - qualifies as absolutely magic. There's just something different, nicer, more connected about the place. Here's a small example.
After riding for 4 days in Eugene, Randall, Simon and I packed up and scrambled back to Portland on Tuesday night, hoping to catch a race at Portland International Raceway (PIR), where I thought there was a decent chance I would run into some old friends.
Driving over the river, and turning off into the PIR paddock, a flood of memories came rushing back. I used to race here a LOT. Whew. Anyways, I remembered to bring an old team Ciclo-Saturn skinsuit (not so secretly hoping it would attract attention) and I got ready to race.
On the warm up laps, a bunch of people recognized the jersey and rolled up to check in, but no one I recognized. And, as the race started, I still hadn't recognized anyone. Then, halfway through the race I hear, "Hey, LUKE, howya doin' man? I haven't seen THAT jersey in a while!" Kelly Weiber! Wow, it worked. We talked families, changing priorities, adulthood and all that. In the middle of the 1-2 Tuesday-night PIR. How excellent can it get.
Then, after the race, I was recognized by more old-time Ciclo guys and that was that. Or so I thought. Earlier tonight the UPS guy delivered my final package from Oregon: A pair of wheels I had the fine folks at River City Bicycles pack and ship for me. In the box I was TOTALLY surprised by a photo of me and Campbell from the Mayor's Cup in 1992 or '93 (memory's a bit hazy)....a race Campbell should have won, but that he graciously took himself out of contention for, by crashing on the first corner of the last lap (when he had an insurmountable lead)...thereby allowing me to win. Stuck to the picture (which I had never seen before) was a note, "Remember this from wasy back..." with a business card from Michael Adamson. Mike had been Oregon racing's unofficial Graham Watson. Apparently, he works at River City, saw this nice pair of wheels come through - thought it a bit strange that someone was shipping wheels from Portland, Oregon to Oakton, Virginia...and recognized my name. Which prompted him to hunt through his archives to send me the above picture.
I realize it may seem trivial to anyone else reading this...but to me, it's the little coincidences like this....little coincidences that keep happening to me when I'm in Oregon, that make the place so special. Thanks, Mike! I'll be calling you in no time to buy more pictures from you. I'll make it worth your time.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Sunday morning was supposed to be another day of 30% chance of rain, but as previously noted, this being an Oregon forecast, that should be amended to read, “there is a 100% chance it will rain 30% of the day”. So, the Oregonians (Campbell, Randall, and nominally, me) were not surprised to wake up to gloomy overcast weather and drizzle.
Rather than try to slog ourselves over Shotgun in the rain, we rode Long McKenzie (35 miles). It rained the whole time and it was generally miserable weather, but it was nice to be on the bike on such nice roads.
After we cleared Springfield, and crossed under I-5 on McKenzie View, it occurred to me as I blabbering about some memories to John, how beautiful this simple little ride really is. Short McKenzie and Long McKenzie are rides that local cyclists take for granted, because they’re both so accessible. But, because McKenzie View Road is sandwiched between the McKenzie River (to the South) and the foothills of Shotgun Creek park, it is a spectacular road, if you take the time to study your surroundings. At multiple points the road is no more than 50 feet from the river and only about 15 feet above the water level. At the same time, the hills to the north rise some 2500 feet immediately off the road. It is really spectacular, especially because you’re never more than a 30-minute bike ride from Downtown Eugene. The entire road is lined with green. Green everywhere. Trees, grasses, meadows, rivers, moss.
At the end of McKenzie View, the road dumps out to a “T” intersection that is bounded by a huge meadow with a view up the McKenzie River basin. For Oregon, it is a remarkably mundane view, but when you’ve been stuck on the East Coast, deprived of West Coast beauty, it is simply stunning.