Spring

Spring has been crawling onto the scene here like a guilty dog reluctantly returning to the scene of an over-turned trashcan crime. Rheannon and I went out for our weekly Thursday night group ride last night (although the numbers may be too low to technically call it a group ride this time of year). Last week I dressed for a 10% chance of rain, which means no rain jacket or winter tights, and was met with a cold downpour and hail. This week we expected more rain but were treated with last-minute clear skies. The temperature was warmer, the sun set later, orchids are blooming all over the forest, but winter still lingers in muddy puddles, as evidenced by the dirt pants we got from our ride:

Today I finished the last of my 29,029 feet of climbing, one week early. Here is what I’ve learned:

1. Making a goal like that really gets me out on my bike.

2. Getting out on my bike that much is a good way to get burned out.

It’s probably because I just spent 5 hours in the hot sun and I endo’d and slammed my head into my chest, but I’m tired. I need a small break. I need action movies and sleeping in. Pit bulls and ice cream.

We just watched the new Mission Impossible movie, and like any Tom Cruise movie, it was terrible. But with enough stunts and guns, anything can be entertaining for two hours. The highlight of the movie was a sandstorm car chase, which is a pretty good spin on a car chase. Also, Simon Pegg was in it, which helps make up for about 10% of the shots of Tom Cruise in Ray-Bans. One of these days I’m going to compile an ongoing list of the best movie car chases. I can already tell you that the number one spot is going to that scene in Die Hard 4 where Bruce Willis launches a cop car into a helicopter:

What else is going on? Rheannon is back working at the EPA and is very busy and very happy to be back. She likes it so much I think she would be volunteering if she wasn’t getting paid. Besides working there half-time, she’s also juggling work at the lichen lab, 12 credits at school, bryophyte workshops, yoga classes, pilates classes, spin classes, and mountain biking. She sleeps very well at night. Spring fever, have to do it all. Between the two of us we’ve probably got about 9 days left before we crash and end up locking ourselves in the house with nothing but frozen burritos and Hulu for a week.

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Dallas!

This weekend we drove about 45 minutes north to Dallas, Oregon. We’ve been hearing about the trails there and finally got a chance to check them out with some friends. I hear people say that Dallas trails are better than Corvallis trails, and I’ve been pretty skeptical. Turns out they were right. There’s a vast network of really fun, well-built trails with lots of flow. We couldn’t stay out there all day because Rheannon is kind of sick, but we did get to hit Burgerville on the way home. I got dropped off in Adair Village so I could ride home through the forest, and the cheeseburger, fries, and milkshake were not feeling all that awesome once I got back on my bike. Small price to pay. Another couple of hours riding in amazing weather (60 degrees and sunny), and I’m well over half-way to my 29,029 feet. Now I need to get caught up in Calculus and Biology.

So serious.

Burgerville toast.

Syncline

It’s been a hectic start to Spring term. Some of my teachers have the unreasonable expectation that I should have retained some knowledge from previous classes. This is Rheannon’s last term ever as an undergrad (I have about 500 more). And to show how seriously we take school, we went up to the Gorge this weekend and did some camping and riding with friends. We camped on the Hood River and rode at Syncline, a big swath of bluff high above the Columbia River. Featuring lung-exploding climbs, rock garden descents, trails hugging exposed ridges, dry dirt, and hot sun. Just the right stuff to give us a much needed break from the damp and overcast trails of home. Not that we don’t love those. We really do. In fact I couldn’t get through the day of riding without reminiscing about some of my muddy home trails. Which brings me back to climbing and the progress of what is now being called 29 x 29 x 29. That’s right, 29,029 feet on a 29er in 29 days. I thought about making a rule about only leaving from 29th street, which is where many of our rides start, but that’s just too many rules. And it was also pointed out to me that this goal would have been much more appropriate two months ago in February, being that it was a leap year and the only month in 4 years that has 29 days in it. But hey, what are you gonna do? Work with what you’ve got. So what is my progress now that we’re a week in to the month? Well, depending on whose elevation interpretation you trust, it’s somewhere in the ball park of 8,994 feet. Not as far as I wanted to be at this point, but definitely on track. Unfortunately, there are forces of evil out there that would like to see me fail, and they’ve been rearing their ugly heads this past week. School and sick. School, the old fun-killer. And sick, well I’m not really sick yet, but I am teetering. So if I don’t have 15,000 feet this time next week, we’ll know who to blame.

Going Up

Spring visited us today, and even though the cold rain is going to come back tomorrow, it was enough to remind me that summer is not so far off. I spent the afternoon tromping through the forest on my bike, exploring new trails and hunting for elusive pin lichen. This was made all the more fun with our new Garmin bike computer, which aside from having an awesome topographic map with my location and every local trail (illegal or otherwise) displayed, it also has every bit of useless information that you don’t need but you really want anyway. And lately I’m really into tracking my climbing. I love climbing, which is lucky because the forest here is nothing but long, grueling climbs and fast, steep descents. So in honor of spring, and climbing, and superfluous gadgets, I decided to make a goal of climbing 29,029 feet for the month of April. That’s the height of Everest, and besides the significance of being the tallest point on earth, I kind of like the specificity of the number. And if nothing else, it gives me a good reason to update this blog.

So here it is, April 2, and I have officially climbed 2,785 feet.