It's a brand new year and with it come new adventures, this time from the Pacific Northwest, our new home. As much as we enjoyed California the great move north was always on our horizon. I grew up here and it's somewhat of a bittersweet homecoming. So much has changed, including myself. It feels good to be back home, as I've come full circle now.
So where do I start from here? From my early days of mountain biking at Mt. Hood, Powell Butte and Forest Park, to riding up the river to Crown Point and Multnomah Falls with my dad, everything old feels new again.
Getting to know a new city by bike is the fastest way to know its borders, the ins-and-outs, the shortcuts and hidden gems. In every city I've lived in I was able to close my eyes and visualize the quickest route from point A to point B before the first pedal stroke. A valuable life skill I translated into bike racing. To ride anywhere new requires an adventurous spirit, a willingness to ask oneself "Where does this go and how far?". That same curiosity inspires my creative work as well as lifestyle.
Portland isn't that big of a city, nor is it as hilly as other cities I've lived in (Seattle and San Francisco), but I'm looking forward to exploring the greater area with a fresh perspective and deep curiosity, regardless. The city consistently tops every list for most bike friendly, and I can see why. It's very bike able, aside from the rain, with plenty of routes and lanes. The only thing missing are more inner city mountain biking trails, but I hear they're working on that. Beyond cycling, Portland is such a cool city.
Rain or shine, but mostly rain.
Learning how to adapt to new ground is really challenging. I remember when I moved out San Francisco and getting my ass handed to me on the loose over hard pack single track, especially further up north in Sonoma county. It's like riding on ball bearings at times. I changed my riding style as well as tire combo as a result. I'm no stranger to mud, but Oregon is very slippery when wet. Mud, wet roots and rock will take some time getting used to, not that the Bay Area doesn't get its fair share of moisture.
Besides the change of surface below my feet there's the sky above, and the Northwest is notorious for some serious gloom. I grew up here. I don't mind the clouds and the effect it has on everything else. It strips out lot of life and color, reducing it flat, inanimate objects and lifeforms alike, but the human spirit is resilient and there's something stoic and grand about the great Northwest. The allure of rain and tall evergreens paint the most epic of backdrops for the adventure obsessed.
What say you, Portlanders? Which races and events I should check out, be it gravel grinding, XC mountain biking, 8 & 24-hour events, Enduro, cyclocross or road? I'm new to the scene and could use some recommendations to fill up my calendar.
Finding your tribe can take time. I found mine in San Francisco by way of an early Tuesday morning raid through the Marin Headlands. We all trained and raced together, using Strava as our central leaderboard, motivating each other to get out there and seize the day. They've been great friends and I'll miss swapping stories, tips and tricks and general shenanigans.