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Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Challenge is over!

The rain came early and stayed late at the Portland LIVESTRONG Challenge. The usual Oregon soaking drizzle greeted us as we got out early this morning. Mark, Greg, Rick and I rode from the hotel to the Nike Campus at about 7:00 a.m. We got separated when I went to check a bag and they started queueing everyone for the start. I got stuck in the 40-mile group and had to hoof it across a grassy hill to join the "100-milers", much to the chagrin of the organizers.

All the 100 riders were told yesterday we would be doing the 70-mile route as the ride up and down Bald Peak would be too dangerous. I happen to agree with the organizers' assessment because there are an awful lot of very inexperienced cyclists who do this event as what it is meant to be: a challenge to improve your own life and the lives of others.

The rest of the crew was way ahead once Lance got his seat adjusted and they let us all take off together. The streets were closed much further than I remember in 2005, which was really nice as I was juicing it to try to catch the rest of the crew. Mark was the first I caught and he was feeling a bit sketched out by the big group and the rain. He wasn't feeling like gassing it in the group so I charged on ahead to try to catch Rick and Greg, not really expecting to. I stopped at the first rest area to make a deposit and remove the leg sails, er, I mean rain pants. I was already wet inside rain gear anyway, so I figured it wouldn't hurt, I caught Mark again just a little bit beyond the rest area.

Mark and I rode together past the next rest area (still under construction) but separated as we hit the rollers on the way to Haag Lake. I stopped into the third rest stop for food and drink. Pirates greeted us complete with a pistol salute. Eddie, a teacher who I work with, pulled in as I was getting the fenders adjusted so I waited for him to fuel up and Mark swung in shortly after. I was going to try to wait for him but started shivering pretty bad so I decided to get pedaling to warm up.

Eddie and I rode together the rest of the way around Haag Lake and down the hill toward rest area 2/5. Eddie told me to take off if I found a group I wanted to join so I did a little while later. It was a fairly big pack of about a dozen riders that stuck together for about 20 miles or so. I broke away from the group a little before the last rest stop when the pace slackened a bit because I really had to make a pit stop.

I rode solo for a while before settling in with a guy who had been leap-frogging with me most of the ride. We rode the last 8 miles or so through town together and up to the finish. Being soaked and cold, I made a beeline to the bike corral.

As I pulled into the bike corral, Lindsay called and wanted to know where I was because she was waiting at the finish. Of course, I was done about 10 or 15 minutes before. She felt bad but secretly it's nice to finish before she thought I would. I picked up my bag and started shedding the wet gear as Linds and Jana came back to meet me.

Once I was changed, we grabbed food and beer and hung out at the post-ride party for a while. The girls started to get tired at about 2:00 p.m. so we said goodbye to Team Knucklehead 2 and took off to go home.

The girls didn't end up going on the 5K because of the rain. It was probably better not to have two soaking wet girls under the age of two for Momma's sanity. They had a good time in the Kid's Zone anyway. It was fun to share the experience with the whole family and I really look forward to next year.

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