Monday, May 19, 2008

Etiquette Lesson: Proper Passing in Portland

Oregonians take bike riding to a different level. At least that was my experience last week during the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic. Portland has the reputation for being one of the greenest and most bike-friendly cities in the US and I believe it. We received a map with bike friendly routes clearly marked and rode several of them, even right downtown. Most of the routes have bike lanes; for the most part, all are bike friendly with cars actually driving by slowly and giving the cyclists plenty of space. But by far the best aspect, now take notes here, was the bike commuter passing lane (above). Part of the bike route design is to actually allow SAFE PASSING for cyclists- go figure! There are clearly marked lanes for the cyclists, designed to guide both riders to ride straight and avoid any sort of potential collision that could be caused by the passing rider. What a concept- there are so many applications for such a principle...whether actual lines or imaginary lines are utilized. After all, other sports have a similar visual guides...swimming has lanes, track has lanes...why not cycling?! Think about it...oh wait, we do utilize an imaginary line system...I learned that in bike racing etiquette 101. I must have hit my head and forgotten.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Hey Alison, we're in New Mexico!

The 2008 Tour of the Gila was last week and left this Florida girl feeling a little out of her element! Silver City, New Mexico, host of the race, resides in what is termed "the high desert." It's basically dry, dry and more dry...oh and with mountains...and tumbleweeds! Silver City's humidity is 9%- slightly lower than the 85+% we have at home in West Palm Beach. The town itself is an eclectic potpourri of free spirits of all ages from all walks of life. The downtown area looks as though time forgot it...a lot of time forgot it! Yet the coffee shops all offer free wi-fi and Issacs (restaurant and bar) offers a quite extensive wine list. We felt a bit like we might be in the twilight zone, especially the night when we dined in town, seated next to a group of about 15 of the hugest Harley dudes I've ever seen, when one of our three Canadians asked sincerely, "are we in New Mexico?" Love ya Alison- it was actually a really good question!

The race itself consisted of five stages, 3 of which were road stages and included substantial climbing and the other two being a time trial and a crit. Aside from my sinus longing for the tropics, things went quite well for me. I finished 6th overall, was in the top 10 every day and I even won my first-ever sprint bonus on the road! The Aaron's team had a great week too with Julie finishing in 8th and Felicia in 3rd and Alison taking 2nd in two stages. This is Julie at the top of the climb on the time trial course; the finish is 4 miles downhill toward the horizon.

A special thank you goes to the pharmacist at Super Wal-Mart who helped me turn my bedroom into a sauna with the help of a $12 Vicks Vaporizer!!! And thank goodness for Vaseline (use your imagination)!!!