Blessed Be the Coffee

I have always maintained that no matter what crazy tweaking I do to my diet I will never cut out coffee. This is more true than ever now that I live in the Land of Stumptown – Home of the World’s Greatest Cup of Coffee.

Seriously. Stumptown coffee makes me so incredibly happy it’s almost sick. This morning I was so excited about Sal finally coming home that, in lieu of a home-brew, I went to the Division location and got a quad 16oz Americano. I’m not sure what got into me – the word “quad” alone sort of freaks me out – but I like it strong and dark, and this morning I needed it in quantity.

Yesterday I decided to stretch out my legs and increase my mileage significantly. I wanted to go long and steady. I’d had two-days rest and my legs were feeling twitchy and eager. I charted a 50 mile course that went east into Gresham, north to the border of Oregon and Washington, and then west around and past the Portland Airport, and finally turning South through John’s Landing and descending back into downtown on Willamette and Greely where I could catch the Esplanade and hit Hawthorne street to go through Ladd’s to get back home.

Considering that just two weeks ago I’d only ridden my bike three times all year (not including commutes, which are so short they don’t really count), it was a pretty big endeavor. I knew it would be a “just keep going” day so I stopped at Veloce Bicycles on my way out and picked up two sports nutrition bars to keep me puttin’ along.

It was an unbelievable day in Portland. Eighty degrees with a slight breeze. I settled in to the ride and enjoyed myself until I started moving north through Gresham which took me through a lot of fast-moving traffic on big roads. Airport Way was a complete sufferfest with a constant headwind and Marine Drive was equally brutal although infinitely more peaceful (bike path, no semis :) ). By the time I skipped off Marine Drive for a detour onto coastal Bridgeton Road I was feeling pretty whooped. I’d gone through two huge water bottles, a bar, and three servings of HammerGel. I was dogging it when I spotted the most beautiful thing I’d seen all ride.

A coffee shop.

A tiny one – tucked in near the boat docks. The sight of it put the fire back in my legs and a huge, sweeping sense of relief into my big, pounding heart. The shop had a big deck and was crammed with quaint knick-knacks. A friendly woman inside called me sweetie and made me the most Wonderfully Mediocre Overly-Large Espresso Shot I’ve ever had the pleasure to enjoy. I bought a bottle of water to replace my depleted supplies, chatted with another cyclist who was enjoying a latte, and then shoved off, renewed and refreshed – hopeful!

So hopeful, in fact, that when I got lost and overshot my originally planned route by a few miles I didn’t totally freak out. I kept turning the pedals over and over until I’d found my way back home where a good square meal and cool shower were immediately in order.

Sal is home now and in the basement as we speak – setting up my new speedplay pedals and polar cycling computer. After 6 years of riding a crappy pair of Looks (that I have always, always hated) I finally bit the bullet and upgraded. No more squeaky climbing or clumsy re-entry!

Now it’s off to Corvalis for the weekend to attend a women’s mountain biking clinic. I caught a whiff of ‘cross season in the air the other day and I’m fixin’ to up the ante on my sorely lacking technical skills. If history has anything to say about this then I’ll be back on Monday writing about the pressing need to add mountain bikes to the collection.

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