Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Riding With A Friend

Pablo and his new bike are rippin' up the asphalt these days. Between commuting and riding for pleasure, they get lots of miles in every week and it shows. Sunday afternoon we took a spin through the countryside from Champoeg to Willamette Mission State Park, using the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway to get us on our way.

If you haven't tried this route yet, add it to your "summer bucket list." Miles and miles of seldom-used roads that wind through local agriculture, with sweeping views across the valley to the mountain ranges east and west. The predominantly flat profile of this route makes it quite accessible.

Even on a weekend, traffic was pretty sparse. We could ride two abreast and catch up on the usual stuff: kids, spouses, work, riding. For the record, Pablo's puns exceeded mine in number as well as groan factor. Vegetable puns are hard to beet.

Oregon's Tallest Black Cottonwood. Gezundheit!
We rolled through Willamette Mission State Park as our turn-around point. I realized that my allergies and asthma were basically non-existent, despite all the mown grass, horses, and cottonwood around us. I offered up a prayer of thanks for modern medicine. Just a few minutes later, a sign pointed us to the state's tallest black cottonwood tree. There it stood on the edge of the river, a dubious-looking symbol of allergies for folks in the valley.  

We stopped for a photo op, ambled a bit longer through the park, drank our water, and then the ride suddenly and inexplicably changed. Without so much as a word, we both elevated our pedaling cadence, found optimum gears, and hammered the entire way back. Trading the lead, using each other's draft, we flew. You don't need words in order to make agreements about who leads. You just know when it's time to charge ahead, and when to relinquish the lead to your buddy. 

This is something you don't get to experience when you ride solo, or with novice riders. Drafting has some inherent danger. You have to keep tabs on each other's position and make sure not to let wheels get too close. Once you figure it out though, it's a great way to increase your speed. The scenery rolled by much faster, and before we knew it, we finished the 20+ miles back to Champoeg.

A fresh strawberry milkshake is just the thing after a long ride. For the record, I finished mine first, but Pablo was drafting close behind. 

Next time, he'll take the lead I'm sure.


MLove said...


You would be miserable at the Lovestead these days. The cottonwood has been drifting through the air for more than a week now. I'm ready for it to end.

Terrible to have newly mowed lawns turn white in the middle of the summer.


Kelly Carlisle said...

Makes my sinuses hurt just reading about it! Hopefully it will get better fast! Until then, keep the Kleenex handy.

Jessica said...

Drafting is fun, but scary. My dad taught me a couple months ago.

A good friend also recommended that ride this weekend.