|Friday afternoon I flew up to
Portland to join the local skaters on Saturday night on their second time to skate the
Midsummers Night Tour (http://www.portlandskate.com/midsummernight2002.htm),
a midnight bike ride around Portland. The weather was fabulous and I had a good visit with
some old friends from school on Friday and Saturday before the big event. I also had a
chance to enjoy some fresh Pacific salmon as well as some tasty sushi. Saturday morning I
set to work talking my buddy Dan into joining us on the ride, he's not a skater but
decided to dust off the bike and join the fun.
The parents came up from Eugene for lunch and then it was time for a nap before the big tour. The tour started at the Oaks amusement park. The oaks has been around a long time. I remember it when I was a kid. The skating rink still looked pretty much the same with the cool wavy floor and old pipe organ.
We met up with the first group of skaters at about 10pm and the rest slowly trickled in until there was about 20+ ??. Several of them knew of the Pegasus Flyers and were aquaintances of Gordon. There were a ton of bikers with many of them dressing up in costumes to be crazy and to try and win the best costume contest.
Since it was midnight Dallas time it was fortunate for me that Starbucks was one of the sponsors and had coffee and frappucinos for everyone. The course was divided into 17 mile and 23 mile routes. The Portland gang had wisely decided to stick with the 17 mile as the 23 had a nasty mountain and a bike trail that set the feet to vibrating.
While waiting for a couple of late skaters I had the opportunity to talk with Andrew, the guy who had done the 23 the year before and tried to do Mt. Tabor in the dark. He told me he was doing the 23 again and wanted to know if I'd join him. I secretly had wanted to do the long skate as I've never skated that far and the mountain was a challenge. Nancy Hartman from the Portland Inline Skating Association had warned me repeatedly that the 23 mile was not the way to go and that Mt. Tabor was a tough skate. However I really wanted to give it a go, after all I had come clear from Dallas for the evening. I asked Andrew if anyone else was doing the 23 and he replied that he had several "maybes" and no "definites". That should have been my first clue.
We finally headed out on the tour after most of the cyclists had gone. I don't know what time it was but must have been between 11:30 and 12:00. The first part was a climb up the hill out of the Oaks and then on to the streets through some fun older neighborhoods. We headed northwest over to the Wilamette river and a real nice trail called the esplanade for the first rest stop of the night. After a few minute break we went north along the river.
It was a perfect skate, the weather was cool, the city looked great at night, and it was nice to skate the river. One section was a pontoon bridge which was pretty fun. Then it was across the steel bridge and back south on waterfront park. We completed the circle by going East back over the river on the Hawthorne bridge. I was wondering if the hills would be tough on the route but they weren't too bad. We skated up Hawthorne to the turnoff point for the 17 mile route. I missed the turn and the rest of the gang went for the 17. Andrew wanted to know where the guy from Dallas was and if he was dong Mt. Tabor. I asked my buddy Dan what he wanted to do and he said to go for it so we broke off and headed for the mountain.
At the base of Tabor we stopped again for some water and candy that they were handing out. Then started the ascent. I don't now how far up it is or how high, but it was tough. The road is wavy and all form was gone as I tried to flail my way up. It was embarassing, but I was just worried about surviving. Dan wasn't having near the trouble on his bike. We took it slow and inch by inch we made the summit. My ankle was complaining pretty good by then and my skates were hating me, but we made it and were rewarded with a great view of portland.
Some of the cyclists said they had seen another skater do Tabor that night. After a rest at the top the real adventure began... going down. Last year Andrew had to tow on the back of a bike to get down the hill, he had no brakes and only a small light. This year he had attached his brake and brought a good sized flashlight, I had done the same. Not being the greatest at slalom I tried every trick I knew to slow down. My brakes were the worst idea and my skates got pretty tired of trying to T-stop. Slalom worked the best though the road was full of moguls (ok, they just seemed like moguls). I did ok until I thought the far right of the road was paved. As I cut left to go back across the road I hit the gravel and did a belly plant which scraped my knee, chest, and tore my fancy sliders I got from the Matzger workshop... dang.
Other than that all was well. We finished our run down the hill and headed off for the rest of the 23 miles. My skates started to squeal so we hand to stop and get the goop out of them from the gravel on the hill. The next several miles were through a nice bike path some of it was pleasant but several miles of it was asphalt that vibarted our wheels pretty good. The only relief was when we crossed streets. The final mile or two was back on the streets and up a couple of hills.
We skated in somewhere after 3 a.m. (5 a.m. Dallas time) with a few cyclists straggling in behind. Next year I'll probably do the 17, but I am glad I had the big adventure.
Thanks to all the gang in Portland!