The Griswolds Go to Portland!!
(AN LA SWEAT RIDE, RAFFLE AND RAGER RECAP, by Tiff)
When Kelli (the Boss) announced the date of the team party/fundraiser in Portland (February 4), the wheels started turning. It wasn’t a mandatory attendance type of thing, and there are a lot of gals on the team that call Portlandia home. But I was excited to try to make it there to meet some of the new teammates. And maybe to provide first hand knowledge of what having me on the team would be like (aka my 4 year-old comes to lots of races) in case they wanted to change their minds. I was also interested in checking out PDX as I had never spent much time there (I call Salt Lake City--about the opposite of Portland--home). I had so many preconceived notions. Did everyone have tattoos? Veggie gardens in their front lawns? Did everyone have nice skin from there being no sun? Was the bike scene just crazy? Would we even be cool enough to GO THERE? I needed to know.
My husband, Steve (aka the Hubs), was going to be off for 2 weeks as he would be changing jobs around that time. In addition, he was planning a boys ski trip to Bend, OR during this period. I knew he felt a little guilty about leaving his wife (moi) and his kid (the Dman) behind. As a recovering catholic, I’m an expert on feeling guilty, and manipulating the guilt of others, so I pitched the idea of a family trip to Portland ahead of his ski trip down to Bend. Sure it would add a bunch of hours to the drive but then it would partially be a FAMILY trip! Once he acquiesced, we sent word to Kelli and Anna Grace Christiansen (aka my former teammate and bikewife).
Two days before the party, we loaded up the mini van (aka the Limosienna/Swagger Wagon) for our road trip. We made an overnight pit stop in Boise to see our good friends (family of former teammate Liza Rachetto) as they have lots of kids and toys. And Boise is awesome.
On Friday, we started our supposed low key drive to Portland from Boise. Things started out nicely. Dman passed out (after being overstimulated to the bejesus from the super fun times with his Boise buddies), the roads were decent, and the caffeine was flowing. As we got within a few hours of Portland rain started to fall, temps started to drop, and the drive got real. Going through the Columbia River Gorge was the worst experience ever. Black ice FOR REAL, semis doing what looked like couples skate on the highway, cars everywhere and zero traction. Though the Hubs was cool as a cuke (in a white knuckled kind of way) I started to regret the whole idea.
Miraculously we made it into Portland to Anna Grace and Garrett’s house. AG and I were teammates last year (and this year!) and, though she is many years younger, she took care of me on the road last year: bike mechanic, psychiatrist, chef, DJ, Dman buddy. Accordingly, I think of her as my bikewife. The arrival in PDX was consistent with this characterization. She and her partner (because in Portland you say partner) Garrett (and Val the dog) rolled out the red carpet with a super delishy dinner and dinosaur tattoos for Dman.
The next morning AG and I got out for a quick workout on Sauvie Island (aka Tempo Island). In spite of the rain, it was a great ride. We got back to the house for a shower and Dman handoff so the Hubs and Garrett could get in a ride. Bikewife skills were in full effect as she hustled me and Dman through lunch and packing up the limosienna to get to Sellwood Cycle Repair (party and afternoon ride location). Met up with Kelli (the Boss), along with new teammates Erin and Brenna. We helped with some party preparations and Dman made himself at home in the shop. And by make himself at home, I mean he began torturing the employees and getting underfoot as much as possible. Luckily, Sellwood owner, super badass former pro racer Erik Tonkin also has small kids, so there was a well stocked toy area where Dman also logged some serious time. Also, everyone at Sellwood is a saint, including teammate Brenna who also works there.
Shortly thereafter, we got dressed for a ride from the shop. With rain and temps in the 40s, most other places I’ve lived would’ve seen ZERO people showing up for a ride in conditions like that. Not PDX. There were at least 40 people that showed up for the ride, decked out in rain gear and rocking an assortment of fenders I didn’t even know existed (mud flaps?!). The ride had a variety of riders like 13 year rockstar, Madeline, up and coming young racer and Sellwood employee, Clara, and elite racer and bike fitting expert, Annalisa Fish (aka BARB). I chatted with lots of really nice, interesting people on the ride as we rolled.
At one point about halfway through the ride, there was a bike path we needed to take. There were lots of closed signs and fencing. Enter Annalisa Fish, who saved us from the precipice of chaos and disorder promising “a way through.” We pedaled down a road with about 20 gravel sections (because duh) and NO OTHER CYCLISTS. As we approached another closed off area, there were several police cars. Thinking that was the end of everything in addition to a probable citation souvenir from the trip, the cops waved and we just went right through. A couple people rang bike bells. Because yes. BIKE BELLS on road bikes. I was waiting for the Portlandia director to say “and scene”, but it turns out this really is what life and riding is like here. I also flatted and before I could even say “does anyone have a tube?”, teammates AG and Brenna took over and changed my flat in record time because Brenna works at a bike shop and AG knows how to do everything.
Back at the shop, the party was getting underway. Once again, nothing left me disappointed. Yummy snacks, a keg of something local and probably artisan (that’s almost a redundant word in PDX), tons of great people and...an arm wrestling competition. Sellwood actually has a certified, branded table...so what better way to raise money for our upcoming season! The men went first. The competition was fierce and there were some strong fit gentlemen. In the end it was the guy that I think is a bartender and I know I saw him pouring a coffee in his beer earlier. I will say I probably wouldn’t have put my money on him, but he dominated so hard that it almost wasn’t fair. It was still amazing and I’m not being facetious.
The climax of the evening was the women’s competition. Former teammate Beth Ann Orton (a Portlandian) secured a hard fought 3rd place. The ladies that competed? Oh. my. god. It was intense, it was awesome, it was a nailbiter. It ruled. These women were beasts and everyone just gave it. I shouted myself hoarse.
Top finishers in the arm wrestling comp walked away with some sweet prizes including a brand new wheelset! There was also a raffle in which tons of swag was dispensed...kits, gear, you name it, and a silent auction for a complete Cinelli bike.
At the end of the evening, we pulled a cracked-out Dman from the toy corner where we finally tapped out and we let him watch a movie. Had a nice final catch up with AG and Garrett before Dman and I flew home to SLC the next day while the Hubs went down to Bend for his man ski trip.
It was a short but sweet trip. We all had such a great time. PDX did not disappoint and I can’t wait to race with these ladies this year and hopefully get some time with the extended LA Sweat PDX famiglia.
Thanks for reading and a HUGE thanks to everyone that attended the party at Sellwood Cycle Repair! For the record, I’m not getting any tattoos but I did invest in some fenders.