Yeaaaaaaa!  So we finally got out there and raced cyclocross--CrossCrusade--today.  Dan bought some shoes & pedals (all he had were speedplays) and I quit being a sissy and decided it was okay to race my mountain bike (I was being stubborn about it and wanted to wait for my cross bike).  

It was SO FUN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  It was chilly out, cloudy, a bit misty, and MUDDY.  PERFECT!  The race was in Hillsboro; we picked up the max (lightrail) right next to our apartment and it took us directly to the race.  So easy! 

Dan raced first.  He started in the back of a field of about 100 riders (Cat. B) and moved up fairly well.  I guess he had a bad crash into a wooden wall or gate on the last lap and was knocked off his bike.  He ended up in the second half of the field.  Poor guy, racing his trashed-after-riding-3000-miles cyclocross bike with an uncomfortable Brooks saddle, running a clunky-shifting 9 speed chain and cassette on a 10 speed group...  yuck.  He'll do better next time!  Now that he's in shape, he surely didn't look as tired as I'd seen him after races last year.  He was covered in mud too, and had a great time.  45 minute race.

I went next.  Lined up toward the back of a field of about 50-60 riders (Cat. B) and gunned it on my 29er when I heard the whistle.  I chased the leaders and got up toward the front of the pack.  It was hard to tell where the front was because the masters women went before us, and some were dangling off the back toward the front of our field.   If I went too hard at first, I was afraid I'd lose steam...but then I just quit thinking about that and went hard, because the worst is when you finish a race thinking you could have worked more.  

That 29er is awesome!  The course was muddy and flat; there were a lot of tough corners.  My tires gripped the corners so well!  I ended up passing a lot of girls on those corners, but losing time in the flat straightaways where the cross bike has a sure advantage.  People kept yelling "catch the mountain bike!"...."don't let the mountain bike beat you!!!" and some people were cheering me on, which was cool because I was afraid I was going to have a serious disadvantage with that bike.  There was one spot where there was a straight part that had a deepish trench, and a hairpin.  Most people took the low line, but I stayed up high and was able to take that sharp corner quickly and pass people every time.  There were only two barriers (two pairs) and those went better than I had expected also.  I can't shoulder my bike, and my upper body is weak, but I managed to pick the thing up alright.  Luckily, my dismounts and remounts when smoothly and fairly quickly.  A cross bike definitely has an advantage on barriers though!  

I ended up placing 7th, which was a whole lot better than I had expected!  My fitness felt great.  The course was fairly mountain bike friendly, as there were no stairs or huge hills where you have to shoulder the bike and run up, so I got lucky there.  Woot woot.... It was soooo muddy!  AND we raced 45 minutes also, just like the guys.

Watching the pros race is pretty amazing.  They are so smooth.  So good at bikes.  Geeee......  

Both Dan and I agree that it feels so amazing to be racing again.  It's so satisfying--Dan's words.  Really, life doesn't quite seem complete without racing bikes.  It's fun to feel fast, to compete against people, to get caked with mud, and to be seriously tired after the race.  

We'll race again next weekend in Astoria, Saturday and Sunday.  It's Halloween so it should be a blast.  We've rented a car to get there...it's my birthday on the 2nd :-)  

So now, B.Chan and I are thinking about reinstating fastgrrrls  !!!!!!  


hoi! a new dinette set!

Dan & I got a kitchen table and chairs today!  It's a faux wood grain piece from the 60's with some gold & white print vinyl kitchen chairs.  Real classy!  It looks cute in the apartment, and the table is nice and small so it fits.  Dan also got a small table/desk for his computer.  It's nice to get off the floor!

We've been hanging out with friends here more than we did when we lived in Champaign, which says a lot about our former social life.  Tonight Anna & Jeff came over for dinner, and we went to their place a couple of days ago.  They are perfect friends because they also eat burrito variations almost every night.  Last night Dan & I went to Amnesia Brewpub, and played cards with Ryan & Ashley for about four hours.  I totally shot the moon in hearts.  We played a hilarious partner game that Ashley knew, and ate tofu-brats.  Yes, they were grilling tofu-brats outside the bar!  To be fair, they did have "regular" brats.  We've spent nearly every night with friends, which has been a whole lot of fun.  We all just moved here and are having a lot of the same experiences.  

During the day we've been out exploring.  Today we went to the farmer's market in downtown.  They have an amazing mushroom stand with chanterelles, shiitakes, fried chicken mushrooms, lobster mushrooms (really smell like lobster), chicken mushrooms (not to be confused with fried chicken mushrooms), and others.  They are pretty pricey, and because I only had a bit of cash we opted to buy a bunch of veggies instead.  I'll definitely be back another week to stock up on cool mushrooms though!  We bought some fingerling potatoes, dinosaur kale, a huge red pepper, the juiciest grapes ever, pears, and carrots.  Tonight for dinner, we had polenta foccacia, which you make by just putting polenta in a hot cast-iron skillet and baking until it's crispy.  The polenta had jalapeños in it, and we put caramelized red onion on top.  We also had lentils, roasted golden beets and turnips, and broccoli.  Obviously, I go ga-ga over vegetables.  

Tomorrow I am going to the Portland Children's Museum for an orientation because I'll be starting to volunteer there soon.  That way when baby Lonnie visits I can show him the ropes.  


Oh, the essentials...

Manda & Billy visit. I forgot what it's like to have an appetite ginormous enough to eat a whole thing of ice cream in one sitting.

The Interwebs
love the window in the kitchen <3

Long awaited PB Texas-French toast with egg on top


Our first meal in the apartment! Note: Cast Iron Skillet

Now imagine 5 more bikes and a few wheelsets and a trainer and... ha ha !

Our New Apartment !

When you come to visit, this is how we will buzz you in to # 406 ! It really works !

Checkered kitchen floor. Note: Our tiny fridge makes it possible for us to only eat the freshest of foods

Windows with real trees outside !

Claw foot tub !

The bed rolls out of the cabinet, so it's not always taking up space. Note: new bamboo floors!

Last stop before we moved in: The Joyce Hotel in downtown PDX

Taking advantage of the cleanest surface (?)

Very secure.

We rolled out our sleeping bags.

It's too bad my camera failed to capture the puke on the windowsill!

The Last Day

We finally stopped to look at the view.....wow

Bienvenidos a Oregon! : Noche #1 en el Gorge

we picked this spot over the $21 RV park down the road
Free camping next to the river

Ms. Misty Gorge
Kind of a bittersweet moment...knowing we were going to cross into Washington again tomorrow

Finally !!!!!!!!

El Gorge del Rio Colombo: Día 1

What country is this?

The beginning of the Colombia River Gorge.

Dan got a flat...little did we know this was the 1st flat of about 20 in the last 3 days of our trip!

Windmills on the hill outside of Walla Walla, Washington:
they reminded me of Axel (well, and of the constant headwind)


O no....

Five boxes that were supposed to be delivered yesterday are damaged and have been shipped back to the sender.  
This morning, we did receive my 29er and Dan's Davidson.  But what about our road bikes, and Poprad?  And hot wheels?  And Powpowpowtap?  Did five boxes get run over by a truck?  Avalanche?  Dragons?  WTF ?????? 

I am really angry.  So, I've spent the last hour on bikesnobnyc to try to cheer myself up.   How can Dan sleep through something so agonizing as not knowing what happened to our bikes ????? 


got a job !!!!

woooooooooooo  !

I have a job!

I will be doing returns processing (and customer service) for Team Estrogen !  In case you are not familiar, Team Estrogen is an online women's cycling (and triathlon, and swimming, running..) apparel retailer based in Hillsboro, OR.  You can go to their website and check it out.  

On Thursday I met with Susan and Jeff at their office, which is an incredibly comfortable "green" building with lots of windows and gorgeous natural light ahhhh...  Susan also moved by bike to Oregon and has done a million cool touring trips and cool bike things.  I enjoyed the interview and was really excited about the job.... and today got the call that I was hired.  I start October 27.  YAY !   So excited.  Oh, and no weekends.  And they really promote bike commuting.  And they have an espresso maker.  And no more business casual...whew!  (And important things like benefits, its not seasonal...)  So yeah, can't wait to start, and to meet the other employees, each of whom have their own individual bike thing going on (recumbents, 'cross, touring, super-commuter...you know, bike thing) and to get my hands on some returned bike clothes!  

Oh, and the commute can be as epic as I want !  It's only about 15 miles from our apartment......but 15 miles here is a lot different than 15 miles in Central Illinois.  To get to Hillsboro you have to go over the hill.  There are a few ways to go.  One way is to ride through downtown, go up (literally) to the zoo and Japanese Gardens, which are on the hill, and then go down to a bike path, which is next to but separate from a main highway, to the suburbs of Beaverton, and then Hillsboro.  This is a fairly easy way to go, but it still requires way more climbing than the Shire to Shop commute that I'm used to.  Another way to go is to climb like 6 miles up this steep windy hill, and then wind through some country roads---really pretty.  If I feel really hardcore, I can take a 15 mile offroad route through Forest Park, and then go down to Hillsboro.  And then there's always the MAX for when ice covers the road and it's below zero....what?  Oh yeah...it doesn't do that here!  Take that midwest suckas!  But yeah, a great commute.  

And now for the bad news.  Turns out that our bikes are en route to Champaign Cycle, in Champaign Illinois.  Yes, that's right!  Apparently, FEDEX  decided that we contacted them and said that we didn't want to receive the packages.  FEDEX then promptly sent our bikes back to the sender.  BOGUS.  We were home all day waiting for these packages, which we had been keeping track of all week.  Dan got a call this morning from FEDEX asking if we were home, and he called back and left a message saying that we would be home all day.  That's all.  And surely didn't try to deliver anything today, and apparently didn't even put the packages on the truck!  Ugh .. I'm FEDUP 


dan hasn't updated the blog yet, that slacker!

So I guess it falls on me... :-)

Friday night we had Ashley and Ryan over for dinner and they brought cushions, which made the whole evening a lot more comfortable. We made stuffed peppers that turns out kind of dry and not very stuffed. We went out to the White Eagle (not the Eagle) for a couple of beers and the best fries in the world. Oh disappointment.. when the server brought the fries she asked "Are these alright?" That should have been our first clue. The portions were considerably smaller than the first time we ordered them, and the fries were a droopy greasy mess. Ryan thinks they had been re-fried. Dan ate them all, nonetheless. When the server came back, Dan politely asked why the fries were not as delicious as before. The server gave a cop-out answer about how the "potatoes are always different". Uh..what? Freshly cut, once fried by standard restaurant protocol russet potatoes should yield standard restaurant fries. Oregonian potatoes must be finicky. Anyway, it was a fun night with friends.......(and I am a food snob).

Our days have been spent job hunting mostly. It's pretty inactive. The bikes have not arrived yet.

We learned that our friends Manda and Billy had made it to Portland, so we invited them over for coffee before they left town. Billy got his first flat since Madison, WI on his way to our apartment! His valve stem had a mysterious crack in it, like in the metal part. Seeing our friends with all their gear made us realize how quickly we forget the day of the bicycle tourist! It took some time to fix the flat, and it was late, so Billy and Manda decided to just hang out that day, spend the night at our place and leave the next morning. We waited in a 20 minute line at VooDoo Donuts, which is a now-famous vegan and non-vegan punk donut hole-in-the-wall in downtown PDX. (There was a homeless man outside asking people for donuts. He said he preferred if people give him donuts rather than money because he didn't want to wait in line. He also does not accept pennies.)

We all went to see "The Invention of Lying" last night. It was the worst movie ever. The kind of movie that makes you embarrassed to be sitting there watching it. Oh Ricky Gervais, we thought you were funny..

One of the first things Dan & I did after we got our computer is watch season 6 of The Office (5 episodes so far). We'd been looking forward to this since Nebraska, where we saw a preview/commercial about the new season while watching tv at a Super 8 during our first hotel stay of the trip. My favorite line is where Creed says "If I can't SCUBA, then what's this all been about!!!?????!?!"

Manda & Billy left this morning, and I went off to a job interview. It's a customer service rep position with a women's cycling apparel retailer. I pretty much have all of the qualifications and experience for the job and I think I am a perfect candidate....but how many people just like me are competing for this job? I actually had fun writing the cover letter. I have many opinions about cycling apparel. Today the interview was with the staffing agency that interviews for companies. (I had no idea how that worked, so the interviewer explained it to me.. weird big city stuff). It went well, and I guess I find out soon if I get an interview with the president of the company. Fingers crossed! I did meet a friend at the interview while waiting--it was another girl interested in the job. She and her boyfriend just moved here from Minnesota and she likes biking (duh) so we are going to hang out. Dan counted the number of friends we have in PDX on TWO hands!

So, for the job interview I didn't own any business casual, so I went to the Nordstrom's down the street and asked the saleswoman to help me find business casual. She dressed me, and now I own business casual for whenever I need to pull it out. The outfit includes smart black slacks, black kitten heels, and a greyish short sleeved sweater. Sorry Rosalind, but I honestly did not have time to get creative or excited. Tomorrow I am going to another job interview which will also require business casual. I certainly hope that business casual does not become an everyday requirement.


plugged in PDX !


Please excuse us for not updating the blog sooner!  We have been using our hour-a-day computer time at the Portland Public Library to scour craigslist for jobs, tables, and desks.  But now...ta da!...we have our computers!

Finally !!!!!!  Plugged in!  ...at around 2:30 today six boxes arrived at #406 via UPS.  Christmas in October!  It was my turn to wait at home to buzz the UPS person in; Dan was at the library applying to be a soupcycler extraordinaire.  I hauled the boxes up 4 flights and opened box One.  Box One contained some of Dan's clothes and a couple of bath towels (how did Leslie know that blue and green match our decor?), a dish towel, and a dish cloth.  Box Two contained the espresso machine and coffee grinder!  I quickly set it up in the kitchen, plugged it in, and made an Americano.  AHhh!  Box Three contained my Vitamix, which I also set up in the kitchen.  Box Four was my computer and a couple of "important documents" and dear mementos from *sigh* the past.  Box Five and Six I left for Daniel to open when he returned; they contained his computer and monitor.  

Oh my MacBook!  I didn't have the internet for about an hour so I made toast with the handy stove-top camping toaster that we bought at the conveniently located Goodwill down the street, and settled down to watch some old videos of Nick's cat Oliver that were on my computer for some reason.  Cute cat.  Glad he's not here to fuzz up my life.  

Our new friend Jacob, who lives in 403, kindly let us share internet with him, so that's how I happen to be here on the interwebs at the moment.  It isn't a super strong signal, so we'll see how it goes.  It just doesn't make sense for Comcast to make a killing by having every single unit sign up for their own internet!  

That's life for the past two hours.  Let me back up, moving backwards:

Yesterday Dan and I went to the library to job search, found the closest Whole-Foods store (nutritional yeast in bulk!) and bought 300 thread-count sheets, bath towels, and a sharp knife that doesn't fold and is not plastic.  Last night I took a shower and actually dried myself with something other than a ShamWow!  (Shamwows, contrary to the popular infomercial, do NOT work.  They do NOT dry as well as a towel, nor do they themselves dry by simply wringing them out.  Shamwows are a sham.  I do not recommend.)

Yesterday morning, Dan and I lived out a dream by finally making french-toasted peanut butter sandwiches smothered in oatmeal.  Delicious.  Almost as delicious as I thought they would be a few weeks ago when we, completely loopy from burning about 5,000 calories the day before and about ready to do it again, were eating breakfast on a cold morning in North Dakota and dreaming of the perfect breakfast.  Someday you will be able to try them at our bike shop bakery, where they will be served as your choice of either a neatly wrapped snack or full-on sit-down breakfast.  

On Wednesday our gas was turned on sometime after 6 pm (Dan had to stay home all day and wait for the gas man) and we were finally able to cook our spaghetti that we bought 4 days earlier.  Boy that tasted good!  Wednesday was a funny day.  I left our place in the morning to try out a new job: canvassing for a campaigning organization that works on behalf of the ACLU.  I had replied to a newspaper ad, and was going back for a 2nd "interview" or a "day in the field".  We had to memorize this spiel about protecting women's rights (which I am totally for) and tell it to people on the street to try to get them to donate money.  What a horrible job!  I did it for....like 30 minutes before I decided that there is almost no worse job than harassing people as they try to do their midday grocery shopping.  I'd rather move back to Champaign; I'd rather move to Montana; I'd rather do almost any job than that!  I told the people who were training us that it "just wasn't for me" and copped out early.  I mean, I know the job market isn't good and all...but there are jobs out there.  I've done some searching and found jobs which I am probably qualified to do and would probably enjoy, I just have to get a good resume and cover letter together.  After all, I do  have a degree and some job experience and I'm not an addict and I am personable, etc.  Receiving the computers in the mail was the first step.  

Tuesday:  Tuesday?  I can't remember!  We'd been in PDX (Portland) a week on Tuesday.  Maybe that was the day that we went thrifting for some necessities.  Dan and I are both pretty particular about our kitchen utensils.  We were both looking forward to picking out a few drinking glasses.  I emphasize glasses because we hate drinking out of plastic  if we can help it.  Camping is a different story; it becomes sporting, but in everyday living glasses are a must!  We also bought a $6 set of utensils.  They were mostly spoons; 4 forks and 2 knives, but these also were not plastic.  We got a saucepan and wok, and a colander with pineapples on it.  (The straining holes are pineapples.)  Good finds.

Monday...Sunday....Saturday we moved into our new place!  It's a 4th floor studio apartment in a 1910'2 or 20's building.  It's got new bamboo floors, a small kitchen, a small bathroom with a claw-foot bathtub, and a Murphy bed.  A Murphy bed folds into the wall, or in our case, slides into the wall like a big drawer.  Ours slides right under the bathroom floor, which is raised.  It saves a lot of space and is hella convenient if you want to put 8 bicycles in your studio apartment.  (OUR BIKES HAVE NOT ARRIVED YET!!!!)  The apartment is located near the stadium and convention center and some hotels; not really a cute or fun neighborhood, but it is a really close bike ride to anyplace in downtown Portland.  A good find for the 2nd day in town I'd say.  

Tonight we are having dinner guests!  They are bringing pillows to sit on because we don't have chairs yet.  Ryan and Ashley are also from Champaign and moved here a couple of weeks ago.  Ryan used to work at Cafe Kopi, which is how I know him.  We bumped into them at the Goodwill.  Friends!



Homeless in Portland! (possible knock off movie of Sleepless in Seattle?)

life is good on the streets....

We made it to Portland Tuesday night! Actually, the last 3 days of riding ended in darkness. Being so close, we wanted to get as far as we could. Sunday we had an incredibly rare tailwind coming from the east! We made it about 110 miles that day, but woke up tired and with an even stronger headwind the next. Worst headwind of the trip! It took us probably 9 hours to make it the 60 miles to Hood River...painfully slow. I have a friend that lives in Hood River, but forgot to save his number. That woulda been nice. We ended up getting pizza and beer and staying at another hotel. (it rained that night so im glad we did) The next day it rained ALL day...and we got flat after flat. I think we spent 2 hours changing flats. As miserable as the day was, we tried to just laugh it off. And the ride really was gorgeous once we got on the historic highway.

We've been staying in the White Eagle Hotel the last couple nights, which is a really swanky place. There's live music everynight right under our bedroom! The hotel/bar is on N Russell street, but we couldn't find it right away. Looking at the bike map of the city, I mistook Russet street for Russell....the 't' really looked like an 'l' I swear! There also just happened to be a bar called the Eagle in about the place The White Eagle on Russell would be. So, assuming that we were on Russell, this had to be it! I walked in and told the bar tender we had reservations for tonight. He looked at me with a blank stare..."Uhh, excuse me? I have no clue what your talking about. We don't have rooms here" Hmm, had we just been scammed?! How can this not be it? I take a moment, look around...there's tv's all around the bar showing gay porn. OOPS! awkwardly thank the bartender and head for the door. I look at Anona..."This isn't it!"
We did finally make it to the real place, which was just a block away from where we were looking in the first place.

Today we rode to downtown and Anona had a meeting with the coach of a local team. We also stopped by Voodoo Doughnuts (the hippest doughnut shop ever). While eating our oreo topped vegan doughnuts, one of the employees started chatting with us and mentioned he had a room in his house that his roommate is trying to sublet. $250 for the month of October! Think we might have to take him up on it. We'll check it out this afternoon, and if the realtor doesn't call us back today I think we'll just stay there. We can't wait to be able to drop all our gear off and not have to haul it everywhere. Also can't wait to start some cross racin! Today, while waiting for Anona to get done with her meeting I saw a bike messenger that was in Cog Magazine! (Erin) He's some kind of courier idol around here...legs like Mario Cippollini. I couldn't help staring.

More updates coming soon! We'll try to keep going with the blog for a while at least. Hopefully we'll have a place soon so we can spend a little more time writing. Come visit soon!

we are here!

yikes we are in Portland!

Tuesday was the day from hell. I got five flats. It rained and was cold. Only 50 miles to go, but that slowly tuned into 78 miles. We rode on the interstate (the only way) for 15 miles; not too bad, but it was raining, and the tire pieces containing wires give hard-cases flats. Ugh...! The ride was beautiful though, once we got onto the historic highway. At some point, the terrain changed from desert-like to gorgeous waterfalls and trees. We finally got into Troutdale and found a bike path, which led us right into Portland. We saw the "Entering Portland" sign and though OOOHH we're THERE!! Not yet! It took us 2 hours to get into the city an find the hostel! The hippy-dippy hostel was booked, so we ate at Taco del Mar (now hiring!) and crashed at Motel Six. I slept so well!!! Well, after I stopped worrying that we had no place to live and no jobs. It's not as much of a relief to get here as we thought!!!!! But I guess really it does feel great. We MADE IT!

The next day we looked at a studio apartment in downtown--super cute, hardwood floors, clawfoot tub, Murphy bed (slides under the bathroom floor into wall) and month-to-month rent. The realter is supposed to call back today. Hopefully we can move in tonight! If not, we can maybe stay for a month at the house of a guy who works at Voodoo Donuts--his roommate is subletting.

Last night we stayed at a cool hostel called the White EAgle. It's a funny story how we got there! I'll let Dan tell it!!!! We failed to make reservtions for tonight (the busy, hard-to-find-reservations-for night b/c it is friday) hence the need for an apartment ASAP. The White Eagle was wonderful though--above a bar with delicious and cheap happy-hour food! Try the beer garden burger when you are here and the Dan say's best french fries in the world.

Now we are taking shifts at the library (high theft area we suppose) while one of us watches the bikes & gear. I'll let Dan tell the many gaps I left!!!!!! All I want to do right now is hop on Poprad...IM READY FOR CROSS SEASON !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I would love to do laundry. And drop my panniers. And cook on a little gas stove instead of eating out.

Oh, but WE're HERE !!!!!!!!!! Time to relieve Dan!