Start of the Slow Season.

The Twin Peaks loop is easy. It’s short, carries two easy climbs, ones that can easily be hammered in less than six minutes if the rider is willing. And that’s when it’s ridden as a loop. No loop for me today, so it should be really easy. It may sound like I’m slamming this ride. I’m not. Right now, easy is good, because its the slow season and I have no qualms about taking it easy.

This was my first real training loop in Portland. The first ride where I knew how long it should take me. Giving me something to measure my fitness against. This was before I knew about testing my LT. Before I owned a HR monitor. When the only thing I knew about training for racing was get out and ride lots. Ride lots, and try to spin circles, and maybe do some intervals like when I race track and cross country in High School. I might be a bit nostalgic for those days.

Today there is a heart rate monitor, but no intervals, no threshold, just a bike ride from work to home. A commute really. I’m just planning on taking the long way home. No loop, just a “straight” line from point A to point B.

I push off and clip in before I’ve even made it through the door of the warehouse. After a day of being subjected to all kinds of music I want some news. Really though I want something that’s easy to ignore. Something that will slip easily between my ears through my brain and into my nervous system. A quick fading memory.

A short while after making a left on Fremont and crossing NE 82nd I roll toward the first climb (or the last one if you’re riding the loop from my house). I could probably walk this part of the route. Eighteen months ago I was walking this section of Portland with a bag full of climbing gear.

Reaching the stone wall at the top I roll an easy loop around the cell phone tower before diving into the descent off the back side of the butte. I rail the corners inside knee out, pushing into my outside pedal while opposing that weight with a push into the inside drop of the handle bar.

That gets me through the tunnel and onto NE 92nd heading south. I cut through the neighborhoods of NE Portland, trying to keep it slow. Trying to remember the street names, which I’m terrible at, I just seem to know where to go.

Then I hit SE Stark and hang a right at Beet’s auto repair, where there used to be a car filled with dirt and flowers. Now its covered in brightly colored signs screaming “Drive now text later!”

Next it’s through the Mt. Tabor neighborhood, past the nice houses, that in other cities would only be found in the suburbs and up that damn hill one more time. I focus on my spin, not worried about going fast, just trying to be smooth.

I try to bomb the descent. I’m finally feeling confident on sweeping downhills. Confident enough to gun it, but today I’m slowed by a driver who seems to be a bit worried about his suspension. That, or he’s just trying to slow me down. Descents are the only acceptable time to go fast during slow season.

Slow season is also the time to build the base that will make you fast for races that don’t start for another six months. Its where your body adapts to the rhythm of riding and the mechanics of pedaling. Its how you go fast. More importantly it’s a time to collect my thoughts. Let the world and all my troubles melt away. Just be here now as George Harrison would say.


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