The Glorious Century

I rode the Portland Century yesterday. It took me out the back way, pulled out nearly 1100 feet of elevated whup-ass and beat me like a Michael Jackson video for about 7 hours. My riding partner was my castmate, Jeff.


Waiting in Line.

Me: Look at all these people.
Jeff: The guy said that there are five times as many people here as they expected.
Me: That's cool.
Jeff: These guys are pretty hardcore.
Me: Yeah.
Jeff: They got the spandex get-up and everything.
Me: Well, if you're into that sort of thing.
Jeff: I'm just wearing jogging shorts.
Me: It gets the job done.
Jeff: Probably be just fine.
Me: You know, I've got an extra pair of padded cycling shorts if you want them.
Jeff: Hm. Maybe I'll take you up on that.
Me: It feels like you're wearing diapers for a bit, but then you get used to it.
Jeff: It obviously works for all these guys.
Me: Well, if you're into that sort of thing.


Mile 1

Me: Okay, the map says we start at the Hawthorne Bridge.
Jeff: But the bridge is up.
Me: Oh.
(Time passes.)
Me: It's not going down.
Jeff: Nope.
Me: Let's go another way.


Mile 5

Jeff: Well, I think we're back on the course now.
Me: Yeah, I think so.
Jeff: Oh, look, there are other guys with tags and things.
Me: Cool.


Mile 10. The First Rest Stop.

Me: Ooh, the rest stops have peanut butter! And jelly! Peanut butter and jelly!


Mile 14

Jeff: I don't see anyone else.
Me: That's because we're so fast.
Jeff: Uh-oh. It's already 10:30.
Me: Well, we'll pick up a bit after this. Remember, we had all those streets and things. And we kind of made up that first bit.
Jeff: Sure.
Me: Look, bluebirds!


Mile 18

Me: So, do you think the tree grew in the barn, and then pushed it's way out the roof, or do you think the roof collapsed and then the tree flourished?
Jeff: Hmmmm.


Mile 20

Me: Well, that was a hill.
Jeff: Yup.
Me: Think there's more of them?
Jeff: Probably one or two. The guide said there wouldn't be too many of 'em.


Mile 21

Me: Uh-oh.
Jeff: Yeah.


Mile 22

Me: Strong like Ox!!
Jeff: .


Mile 23

Me: Thanks for waiting for me.
Jeff: No problem.


Mile 24

Jeff: Where the hell are we?
Me: .


Mile 25

Me: You tuck your knees and your elbows in and you hunch down over the handlebars, and it's more aerodynamic that way.
Jeff: You're crazy.


Mile 26

Me: Oh no!
Jeff: We can do it, just keep climbing, keep climbing!
Me: [gutteral, whimpering sound of dismay]


Mile 26.5

Me: I think we're in Ohio now.


Mile 27. The Second Rest Stop.

Me: What do you mean THERE'S NO MORE PEANUT BUTTER!?!?!
Some Guy at the Rest Stop: Well, I guess people ate it all already.
Jeff: But we haven't seen hardly anybody else on the ride.
SGatRS: That's because they all passed through before you.
Me: What do you mean they all...?
SGatRS: Well, they didn't want to get caught in the noon heat.
Jeff: [looks at me].
Jeff: Well, at least we're all done with the hills.
SGatRS: That's right.
Me: Yeah, thank goodness.
SGatRS: Sure.
Jeff: I mean, the guide said there'd be a couple of hills, but those were nasty.
SGatRS: Yup. No more hills. Except for that one.
Jeff: What?
Me: [drops banana]
Jeff: But isn't that in Washington?
SGatRS: Nope. No. No. Not quite.
Jeff: Well, but aren't we just going to the river...?
SGatRS: Certainly. And the river is just on the other side of that ridge.

[Time passes]

Jeff: Ready to go?
Me: [Eyeing beautiful British cycling girl in black riding tights with freckles on her shoulders] Not really. But okay.


Mile 27.1

Me: Oh my.
Jeff: .
Me: [humming Journey's "Don't Stop Believing."]


Mile 27.2

Jeff: Well, that has to be the end of it.
Me: distantly ...don't stop be-lieeeving...


Mile 27.3

Jeff: Okay, That's Just Wrong.
Me: But you said that was the--that there weren't gonna be any more--oh no.


Mile 27.4

Me: I'm just going to stop for a sec.
Jeff: Okay.
Me: Just for a sec.
Jeff: I'm out of water already.
Me: Where the hell are we?


Mile 29

Me: Thanks for waiting.
Jeff: No problem.


Mile 34

Me: Strong like Ox!
Jeff: It's not my legs so much as my butt. My butt really hurts.
Me: My leg keeps twitching. See?
Jeff: That can't be good.
Me: At least you're wearing the padded cycling shorts. Think how much your butt would hurt if you weren't.
Jeff: I actually don't really want to think about my butt anymore than I have to right now.


Mile 37

Me: Well, this is more like it.
Jeff: If it stays like this, we can make up for lost time.
Me: Those grandmothers keep passing us.
Jeff: Yes, but the important thing is that we keep passing them, too.
Me: They don't call it the granny-gear for nothing.
[A hill appears.]
Jeff: Uh-oh.
Me: Don't say that.
Jeff: But it doesn't look like it's curving down.
Me: Oh no.


Mile 41

Me: I haven't seen anyone else from our ride since the grandmothers passed us.
Jeff: I know.
Me: Do you think we missed the next Rest Stop already?
Jeff: I was wondering that. I hope not.
Me: Me too.


Mile 44

Jeff: Okay, that hill has to be the last one before the river. It has to be.
Me: I say we stop at that mini-mart and fill up our water bottles again before we tackle that hill.
Jeff: Yeah.

[At the Mini-Mart]

Me: I'm just saying, if push comes to shove, we can use the bus tickets.
Jeff: Sure.
Me: I'm not admitting defeat or anything.
Jeff: Well, you did brag about this to a bunch of people.
Me: If push comes to shove.
Jeff: If push comes to shove, we could take a left there and be at my house.
Me: True.
Jeff: I didn't brag about this, you did.
Me: True.


Mile 46

Jeff: There's the freeway.
Me: Look, the mountain is right there.
Jeff: Wow.
Me: But how do we get to that road? And where's our Rest Stop?
Jeff: What does the map say?
Me: The map... is not being helpful.


Mile 50

Another Cyclist Passing Us Who Isn't On the Same Ride: Are you guys on the Portland Century?
Me: ...yeah....
ACPUWIOtSR: Didn't that start early this morning?
Me: Yeah.
ACPUWIOtSR: Wow. How's it going?
Me: 'sokay.


Mile 54. The Last Rest Stop.

Guy at the Last Rest Stop: Hey! There's a Rest Stop here!
Me: [guttural exclamation of relief]
Jeff: And they have water!
Me: And peanut butter! And jelly!
GatLRS: Are you the last riders?
Me: Um.
Jeff: Probably.
GatLRS: They told me that the last rider would come by to tell me that he's the last one and I can close up.
Jeff: They told you that?
GatLRS: Yeah.
Jeff: But how would the last rider know that he's the last?
GatLRS: I think he set out after everybody else did, or something.
Me: Sounds like that knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Jeff: Who's that guy? Are you a rider, too?
That Guy: Yeah. I'm waiting for the sweep van.
Me: Sweep Van?
GatLRS: The van that goes around picking up mechanical failures, cyclists in distress...
Jeff: ...corpses...
That Guy: It's just too hot. I'm not going any further. I'm throwing in the towel and waiting for the van.

[Time passes. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are consumed.]

Me: Jeff.
Jeff: Yeah?
Me: I'm just going to put this out there... Maybe we should think about... Just for a second, maybe we should think about riding back on the Sweep Van.
Jeff: Hm.
Me: We're more than halfway there.
Jeff: Yes.
Me: It's getting pretty hot.
Jeff: Yes. But it's mostly downhill from here, right?
Me: That's what the map says. But we both know this map is pretty tricky.
Jeff: Unreliable.
Me: In the sense that it lies outright, with palpably malicious intent.
Jeff: Yes.
Me: And there's no shame. No shame in being safe. We've got Tech Week coming up.
Jeff: Right.
Me: It's not the Van of Shame. It's the Van of Glory.


Riding Back on the Van of Glory

Me: Remember everyone, heads held high. It's the Van of Glory.
Others on the Van: Yes. Right. That's right. Glory.
Me: We just didn't want to show off. No sense in making everyone else look bad by finishing the whole thing. Best to let them think they're better than us for this one tiny bit. And besides, 54 miles--that's like 100 kilometers, right?
OotV: That's right!
Me: So we still completed the whole Century! And we get to ride the Van of Glory, no less.


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