Monday Night PIR (Portland International Raceway)

PIR onlyA staple of my riding routine is Monday night PIR. And while I enjoy racing on the closed

circuit course, I really enjoy being able to ride there and catch a train or ride home.

I climb over 1,000 feet in the first 6.5 miles. And the climb is on one of the least driven hills near the city. There is no center line and I can often make the climb without seeing a single car.From there I roll down through Forrest Park. I usually make it 2/3 of the way down before being stuck in traffic. After I patiently wait for traffic to clear, it’s up and over St. Johns Bridge.









Past the University of Portland and into center city neighborhoods. There are some amazing and not so amazing homes, and sights along the way.

Dancing Bear, or Dancing Bare. Then it’s a short jaunt onto the raceway. Lots of circles, last night 14 laps of the 1.9 mile track including a couple trips to the front. Hey Jim, could I get a video clip?

Once the racing is done, it’s a nice mellow ride along the Columbia River Slough to Royale Brewery for some food truck and IPA.

It was another fun, relatively safe night of hard training / racing. And best of all I get to do it all over again next week.

My Best Race

I’m not sure if I have had my best race yet or not, or even what that means. I’ve had cookie rides where I went so hard I felt sick after. And I’ve had races where I felt I could move wherever I wanted in the field with little effort.

Sean in the 50+ group, having raced a fraction of what I have, can still out-kick me. So does that mean I can aspire to get better still? Or do I re-define my best race as something other than placing or making others suffer or comparison to those around me?

For some, illness, accidents, or life choices create a time barrier between the past best race and the future less than. Over time for us all it will become clear we will never again be able to compete with our former fastest selves. Since I was never that good, it is conceivable my best performance is yet to come.

The goal of beating the strongest version of my historic self is part of why I’ve made some changes for the 2018 season. Considering my life and the goal of having cycling be additive instead of definitive has me questioning if that is a healthy goal.

Ultimately, perhaps my best race will come when I am no longer concerned if I am putting the hurt on the group or if I am struggling to hang on. Perhaps my best race should be judged by the size of the smile on my face and gratitude in my heart for a healthy body, supportive family and the ability to do what I enjoy so much.

If those new definitions of my best race can be applied I should have many best races yet to come.

Saddle Battle

It has been said the best advice is that not taken. In my writing about beginning racers I advise a Bike and saddle fit, and I should have followed my own advice sooner.

I had a bit of a scare last week, which resulted in a doctors visit, a super awkward ultra sound, a urologist visit and perhaps surgery in my future.

On the plus side I got a cool new saddle that seems to alleviate the pain and discomfort. Today I got out on the bike after a couple of weeks of mostly being unable to ride.

Here is to hoping that bad business and awkward exams are over!

Some discomfort from a saddle is to be expected as time on the saddle goes up. I think the mystique of suffering on the bike lead me to wait too long to get a better fitting and set up saddle.

To be fair, I think my old saddle was just a bit out of position more than anything. But I’m not taking any more chances and got this Selle SMP.

See you at Portland International Raceway Monday!


“If you race long enough you will break something” – Steve Redmond circa a long time ago.

Andrew is broken!

As I recall I had just met Nichole Bossie Johnson (of Boyd cycling ) who had a broken wing. I was contemplating a switch from triathlon to road cycling.

What I’ve found over the following 10+  years is, Steve was right. It might not be your body needing fixed, but your carbon frame being sent to Rukus for repair.

Baby Pro’s broken face

In a race this weekend there was a LOT of complaints following the event about the race being dangerous. So here is my take, the course was great and what was unsafe were the riders.

As a rider, we each have responsibility for our own safety. It may mean moving to the front of the pack to stay safe, or allowing yourself to float off the back of the pack if you don’t have the strength to set the pace.

You may need to bark at a rider who is sketchy, or tell a rider who is tense to lighten their grip and relax their elbows so they become less jerky in their movements.

When I put together the beginner guide post, I tried to include information on how to train safe. The truth is, accidents happen. One of my worst spills I was training alone and going through a round-about and dumped the bike on some oil.

Matt’s Ass

Front wheels slide out, a moments lapse of concentration can lead to overlapping a front wheel and a pile up.

If there is one thing I would like to impart it is this.

“Experienced cyclists have a responsibility to guide those less experienced.”

And we all have a responsibility to ride and race within our ability.

That and make sure you have a ready supply of tegaderm at home to cover the occasional road rash!

Beginner’s guide to bike racing

Image may contain: 1 person, riding a bicycle, bicycle and outdoor

Wooten drags me around at the head of a wet race

There is no definitive guide to starting on a path to bike racing, at least not that I am aware of. And this blog post isn’t going to be a definitive guide either, but hopefully it will be a resource. First, do not be intimidated. You can find an event that is a good fit for your where you are, and progress if you want when you want. So, no pressure!

Most of us come to bike racing through some form of progression, from cookie ride to endurance event and some eventually enter the world of licensed races. So let’s look at some attributes.

Choosing an Event – Selective or inclusive

Gorge Roubaix

Bike races are different than other endurance events such as running and triathlons, because they are selective by nature. That is, riding in the group allows you to ride faster than you ever could on your own. But if you can’t keep up with that group, without working with others you will quickly fall off the pace.  Selective events, particularly those with multiple fields or on a circuit may “pull” riders or remove them from the course if they are unable to keep pace. Most of us have at one time or another been pulled from a field, myself included.

Non-selective events will allow you to finish the event and get your personal best time. Cookie rides and endurance events are often fund raisers and great ways to build condition without the worries of being eliminated from the field. They are a great way to get started and often support a worthy cause. There are often distance options that will offer a challenge for beginners to advanced riders. These are NOT races, so while some people are competitive and will “race” them, generally that’s not the purpose.

Endurance events are similar to cookie rides, but sometimes last for two or more days. Think Seattle to Portland, Reach the each etc…

Gran Fondos are very popular and great events for riders of all abilities. The front of the race and the longer distances will be occupied by highly competitive athletes.

Generally   will require a racing license and are selective by nature. Time trials may or may not require a license, but will not be selective, so is another great way to enter a more competitive field without the worry of being pulled from an event.

Alexis plays bikes for real

Google is amazing and will help find an event, but there are three other resources I would point to. USA Cycling is a good way to find an event nationally. For Gran Fondos and Oregon has OBRA and Washington State has WSBA .

Choosing a bike

Now that you have an event, it’s time to make sure your bike is ready. Bike type, brand, size component and wheels are a HUGE topic. So rather than diving into all of that here is my recommendation. With the knowledge of a target event or two, find a couple of local bike shops to go spend some time learning about the bikes they recommend. Do not rush into a purchase. You should be allowed to test ride as many bikes as you want from as many shops as you want.

Buying from a bike shop is a good way to ensure there is a local company to stand behind the purchase. Whether you buy new from a shop, used from a shop or used from a friend or Craigslist, bike fit is paramount, by a LOT. It is better to be on a properly fitting entry level bike than a poorly fitting top of the line $10,000 bike.

Pro races offer sportifs

When buying a bike, the shop should fit you to the bike and be able to make adjustments to the stem length, as well as saddle height, and handle bar angle and width. While it is an investment, many shops offer a “professional” bike fit that goes beyond a basic stand-over height. And I recommend a professional fit.

While I haven’t used it, Retul, if I were in the market for a new bike and looking for a fit, I would probably look for a shop that has it as a fitting system. Not only does it fit you to a bike, it recommends which bikes geometry are right for you.

Buying a Saddle

Your ass is one of a kind. So don’t settle for the saddle your bike comes with. You local bike shop should have a lot of test saddles to try out. You should be able to try out a saddle for a couple of rides, to make sure it is a good fit. The saddle is pretty small so there is lot of pressure on a relatively small area. If you have a poorly fitting saddle you can not only be uncomfortable but also develop saddle sores. They are even worse than they sound.

Clothes – does this make me look fat?

Road cycling clothes are famously unflattering. What you want is highly comfortable and clothes to match the range of whether you ride in.

Getting started in the sport is expensive. It is better to have one really nice bike kit (outfit) than to have two that are not as nice. You already know I am a fan of Classic Cycling. Classic Cycling has their own brand of clothes that are second to none.

To ride in cooler weather, get arm warmers and a vest rather than a jacket. They will combine to give you a much broader range of whether to ride in. Invest in a nice base layer. Knee warmers before you get leg warmers, because they will be comfortable in a broader range of weather.

Training – beginning

While riding a bike solo or with friends is fantastic, nothing will prepare you for a mass start event like joining group rides. Your local bike shop (LBS) should host weekly rides or be able to point you to some to choose from.

Training rides often have groups broken up by average speed. Be sure to find out if there is a ride leader and introduce yourself if there is. Also, like races, rides are either “drop” rides or “no drop” rides. No matter what the ride is labeled, be prepared. Carry a phone, hydration, food, spare tube and a way to change and inflate your tire. Unless you know the group well, you should assume you will be left to your own devices if you cannot keep up with the group.

Training – structured

It hurts

If you chose an audacious goal to begin with or are just highly focused, you will benefit from following structured training. Here are some options for you.

Simple event based plan: There are plenty of free plans online and in magazines designed to “prepare for your first century” (100 mile ride). Free training plans are available for nearly every discipline in the table above.

Some riders progress to competitive level plans. These too can be free, but are often paired with software such as Training Peaks. From there the sky is the limit. You can purchase a pre-written plan or hire a coach who will prescribe workouts and track your progression.

Have some heart – Many bicycle computers and smart watches track or pair with heart rate monitors. Heart rate can be used to set and stay within specific training zones in order to focus your structured training.

Power up- Heart rate monitors are great, but the pinnacle of structured training now involves using a power meter. Power meters come in many forms, from a rear wheel up, to a pedal to crank arms, all sending a message to your bike computer about the power you are producing in the form of Watts.


Progression to Regression

Get a bike, join a group ride, train for a cookie ride, try out more cookie rides, try a Gran Fondo or Time Trial, decide you need a more expensive bike(s), follow a training plan, enter a bike race at the lowest category. Realize you are not as good as you thought you were. Strictly follow a training plan CAT up (move into a harder racing category). Join a racing time. Realize you are not as good as you thought you were. Focus on diet, increase your training volume, hire a coach, create a pain cave at your house in which to train indoors when you can’t go out. Volunteer at bike races. Get burned out with it all. Go for a ride without your power meter, heart rate monitor or even GPS unit. Realize you were too wrapped up in it all. Relax and have an extra beer. Go out for a training ride you haven’t joined for a while, realize you are no longer at your best, dust off a structured training plan and get back after it.

Training safely

Riding safely has a lot to do with where you ride and when you ride there. A good starting point is to find a group ride with your local bike shop. Strava is an app that also offers insight into where cyclists ride.

I wear an ID bracelet (Road ID). I have a head and tail light. I have routes that I think are safe(er). Group rides will open up new routes to you and introduce you to roads that are used to seeing cyclists.

Oh, and both Strava and Road ID offer mobile apps that can keep your loved ones informed about where you are. Road ID even sends an alert of your current location if you stop moving for a certain amount of time. For me that often is a notice to my wife as to when I have stopped for a post ride pint when I forget to turn it off!



What is missing?

So what is missing from this guide. Give me some comments and I’ll see if I can improve this post over time.


Not the bunker and canned food kind, but getting ready for the next ride and new season kind.

This year I’ve decided to keep my gear in better shape. That includes new training and race tires.

Since my bike time was spent this morning on the bike, service course becomes the skate park with the boys.

Speaking of boys, had a great ride with my Team O boys this morning. Like actually outside and everything.

Wish I had some pics of the amazing Tuscan vineyard house we rolled past.

Thanks Jim and Sean for the great ride.


When I asked friends about what topics they would like to read about here, balance was on top of the list. It’s on the top of my personal goal list as well.

We all are doing a balancing act, all the time. Family, work, friends, training and racing. Expand time in one area and you have to remove time from another. Sometimes it is easy to have things balance out. I worked until 2:00 AM delivering a change to production for work; I B&Wleave work for a 2 hour lunch and go see one of my boys at school. Most of the  time, it is more difficult.

In graduate school at Queens University, we did a time management exercise where we stack ranked what is important to us, then filled out a pie chart on how we spend our time. It is such a great exercise to go through.

Chico stage race has been on my calendar as a goal for a couple of years now. This year, I’m actually in condition to try an early season race, but my oldest son Foster has a soccer game in Eugene that same weekend, and it was an easy decision to make. I’ll be going with the full family to Eugene for a weekend, and we are taking the RV.

I did look for a local bike race in Eugene and found a collegiate race that Sunday is at the same location as Foster’s game later in the day. But for men it is collegiate only. It is an open race for women who want to race, and for those in the area it looks like a great Ominum.


Balance, like control is a tough nut to crack. I feel fortunate to have so much support from my family to pursue racing, and spending this weekend with the family seems like a great alignment between my values and how I spend time.

I also get to enjoy events due to volunteers giving of their time. Who knows, perhaps the weekend away will be a good time to give back to the cycling community. That would feel like a good balance!