Saturday, September 20, 2008

New Belgium

I rolled out today for a standard weekend ride: 4 hours, 75-80 miles, no real definite goals like tempo intervals or jumps, just straight up endurance riding. It was the first day I really needed armwarmers, one of those days on which you leave home and think I hope I dressed warmly enough...But as soon as I headed up Germantown Road, aiming for the farmland of NW Portland, my furnace kicked in and sweat began to bead. It was a gray, overcast day today, bit of a welcome respite from the dry, sunny days of the past two weeks. You could smell fall in the air and, fittingly, it was technically the last day of summer, which means the beginning of my favorite season, 'Cross.

Now, my 'Cross season is off to a bit of a slow start, mostly because I don't currently have a bike. So it might have been presumptive of me to sign up for what probably will be the last race of 2008 for me, the two days of USGP of Cyclocross, held less then four miles from my new house, at Portland International Raceway. Those in the know will recognize that appellation, as PIR hosted the 2003 and 2004 editions of the National Championships, and several big races since then. I'm hoping Nats will swing back to the West Coast for 2009, after two years in Providence (still my favorite 'Cross race of all time) and two years in KC. Registration for KC opened last Monday, but under my new program of NOT signing up for every race under the sun, I left that race off the Calendar. But, having signed up the Portland race, I pretty much have to get myself a bike and get working. The plan at the moment is to focus on Tri training for the next two weeks to get ready for Austin 70.3 (already a big field is forming: Simon Lessing, Bjorn Anderson, Kevin Lisska) and then roll into the 'Cross scene that second week of October. It feels late, but that's when Gloucester is every year, signalling the official kick off of the "serious" 'Cross season.

Today was the first big race for the pro 'crossers, up in Seattle at Starcrossed. Look for a link to those results tomorrow. But what really got me was this, the trailer for a new documentary about Tim Johnson, amazing 'crosser and all around good guy. Check it out, it should be reaching a bike store near you in the next few months.

Oh, right, what's up with the New Belgium thing? Well, Fort Collins feels like it's got a handle on the clever name, with its lineup of pretty good beers, but I think Portland truly deserves the title. As I rode today past farmland, under gray skies, conversing with another cyclist about wind, I think this area really is the New Belgium. Great beer, rainy days, wind, and rabid cyclists. Sure, it's not flat around here, but that just improves upon the riding, right? I think that's why I feel like I've arrived.

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