The First Hundred

By: Matthew Karre Jan 17

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At mile 66 I said, “Officially the longest ride of the calendar year, mileage wise.” To which Matthew Slaven responded, “That’s funny, I remember saying that last year when we did this loop. Only it was ten miles earlier and August. Getting a jump on things this year, turns out.”

The first hundred of the year is special. Yes, because of all the silly cliche reasons like dusting off the cobwebs and doing ‘base miles’ and finding out where the legs are, all of which assume an “off season,” a religion I prefer not to practice. More importantly, the first hundred is the start of the calendar—those who ride a hundred on New Year’s Day have the rest of the year logistically pretty easy. In the same way that the Tour Down Under starts the only sporting calendar worth paying attention to, the first hundred starts the calendar of importance, priority and appreciation.

“Did we do a hundred last January?” I asked Ward.
“Yeah,” she answered. “You, me and Brant went way out to Banks and explored all the gravel roads that later became your crazy Gentleman’s Race route. And we did that secret squirrel route over the gate where Brant dropped us on the long gravel descent like he was on a mountain bike.”

“That was January? Huh. That was hard. Seems like it rained a little that day but all that rolling gravel was punishing. I recall a gourmet convenience store feast with 25 miles to go: two corn dogs, a coke, a king size Snickers and some Salsitas. I recall mildly regretting that food decision later.”

“And Brant had a V8, a bean and cheese burrito and some of his anchovy paste. Was that the ride he bought Zingers, too?”

“No, I think that was Northwest Passage earlier that fall.”


The first hundred, especially if it’s in January in climates that change, is a special commitment. More so than a summer hundred where one starts, continues, and ends without wardrobe modification, the first hundred requires special kit attention. In the Pacific Northwest, a January hundred will likely mean 2-3 hats, minimum 3 pair of gloves and probably 2 sets of shoe covers. This most recent hundred was something of a fluke as it was sunny the whole way, and the only extra garments needed were for temperature change from morning to afternoon, uphill to descending. It’s a commitment to ride the fender bike for that many hours (fender bikes are ridden in January in Portland regardless of conditions. I have certain rules, that’s one of them.) For this ride I chose the aforementioned Double Entendre Light Rain Bike or DELRB (Cannondale CAAD9 frame, full carbon fork, Ultegra/Dura Ace mix, split fenders, 25mm tires, roughly 20 pounds, works best for wet roads and showers), rather than the Double Entendre Heavy Rain Bike or DEHRB (Raleigh Clubman steel frame/fork, downtube shifters [ten speed, of course], 32 spoke hand built wheels, 28mm tires, full aluminum fenders with extra long flaps, roughly 29 pounds, works great in legitimate rain. Double entendres work better when they don’t have to be explained. Oh well.) While positionally, each road bike is within a close tolerance, the efficiency, obviously, is dramatically different. To purposefully work harder than necessary takes commitment to improving mental fortitude and physical strength. It also displays a respect for differently crafted bicycles: winter bikes ache for punishing gravel, road debris, a bitchy Mother Nature, and all the other over-used cycling prosaisms found in glimmery, gritty writing. Summer bikes prefer to shine without unnecessary environmental factors. The first hundred, if ridden in the winter, should be ridden on the winter bike.

“This one counts,” I said. “Even though it’ll be short a bit, it counts.”
“Hell yes, it counts,” Slaven replied. “It counts because the last 47 miles were into a gnarly headwind. And because we had that same headwind going up Old German Town road.”

“And because of all the farting and talking about farting I did,” adds Amy.
Yes, definitely because of that. 94.7 miles equals the first hundred.


The Outcoming and Upgoing

By: Matthew Karre Dec 28

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I’m testing some new end of the year clichés/metaphors. Here’s my favorite so far: “As the gas station attendant takes his final squeegee swipe on the windshield of 2011, I look forward to collecting more dead bugs and road grit on 2012.”

Not bad.

Or perhaps more appropriately: “As the lonely mechanic peels the last bit of glue from the carbon rim of 2011, I anticipate 2012’s rim will be a deeper, lighter, faster, more fire-cresty version.”

I’ve got one about chamois cream, but some things are best left for next year… In keeping up with the clichés, I offer another Cyclophotoretrospective for maximal viewing and minimal reading pleasure. These are in calendar order, but I failed to make that evident with progressing tan line images. Oh well. Another dead bug for next year’s windshield.

2012 will likely be a year pushed further into the bottomless pit of abbreviations, initials, anagrams and occasional acronyms. We’ll see EBH used frequently (and not for English Boot House as I originally thought. An easy mistake; it is Pakistan’s largest footwear store, after all). Edvald Bossan Hagen will win plenty. AC will be cleared to dominate. He’ll trounce AS and CE the way that LA did to JU, JB, TH, AK and IB. The show will be a fantastic one starring the usuals like MC, PG, TH and TV. We’ll likely start seeing 2013 bikes under the pros in March and in the stores by May. Why wait until June like 2011? (Speaking of looking forward to things to come in 2012, what about the new Dark Knight movie? Hopefully it’s stellar. From the looks of this secret clip I found, all signs point to awesome. It gets really intense around the two minute mark.)


And now the real stuff:

San Diego in February. This shot will likely be our cover art for the forth coming electronic album. In stores soon! That’s not true.

A great sign in Camp Pendleton in North County San Diego. Never figured out why the tank crossed the road, though.

The Ryan Weaver climbing Palomar Mountain, San Diego.

The incredible roads of the Kings Ridge near Santa Rosa, CA. Without a doubt the best new ride of the year for me.

Beautiful plummage.

A great jersey but did you notice that calf muscle? Wow.

A straight forward notice, but positioned up high enough that one wouldn’t notice until one was already breaking the rule.

Reason #427854219

Single. Track.

View from the top of said single track. Pure bliss.

That other sport.

Symbolic end of the year photo. Toodles, 2011.

Here’s to great miles, great roads and more mountain biking. Thanks for reading. Ride well.


Ride Detail, Or: Dear Diary...

By: Matthew Karre Dec 6

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Dressed in my easter egg whore outfit (v2.0 Embrocation Bibs, pink Rapha Wind Jacket, high visibility gloves, Rapha/Focus cap—Not a criticism, just a description), I pedaled under glorious sunshine. I cautiously chose the double entendre light rain bike for the day; a 30% chance of precipitation around here usually means guaranteed sprinkles. This time, though, the majority ruled and all was dry. It was a ride that allowed many checks on the high quality bike ride list: sun, conditions, scenery, route, sun and level of satisfaction.

Upon reaching the first scenic section of the route we spied hundreds, if not thousands, of birds in numerous flocks flying noisily past. The smaller birds flew somewhat chaotically in barely discernible V-formations, while the Canada geese displayed grace and uniformity. Oddly (at least to the ornithologically untrained like myself) they were heading north. But there were a lot of them, so clearly they knew what they were doing. The image reminded me of looking at stars on a clear night: focus a few seconds longer and hundreds more will appear. These moving stars seemingly never ended. Finally the road turned and I had to pay attention to my bearing. Sadly, I took no pictures.

Behind me, my riding companions spoke of dietary delights: juicers, oatmeal, fried eggs on toast. The three-person group ride usually forces one to be a listener so I listened, but my metabolism responded. As we headed south, the tailwind lent a hand allowing the cadence to ease with the pace increasing slightly. The sun threw shadows long and distinct.

Once finished with the island loop my two companions headed home and I strolled uphill and west for more. Regardless of conditions or pace, the climb up Newberry relegates one’s previous clothing decisions to too much. I did my best to exhaust unwanted heat, and reached the summit only marginally sweaty. As I headed west I consumed my only Clif Bar and plugged in the head phones. I leave one ear bud dangling, so don’t judge me. It’s possible to listen to music, hear traffic and enjoy nature at a medium pace all at once. Now on the longer open roads I let the mind wander, generally thinking about what next to write for this website. Appropriately, I thought of a conversation I had a couple weeks prior with a friend while at work.

She stopped by the shop while on a ride. We greeted each other then she asked if I ‘wanted to hear something creepy?’ ‘Always,’ I replied.
‘Someone recommended I read your Embrocation articles, so I did. And then I read all of them aloud to Jonathan. In bed.’

A brief conversation that served up heaps of flattery and creepiness all at once. Jonathan was there to confirm, not that I doubted her for a second. I laughed approvingly and went back to customer service, fully aware that you can’t step in the same river twice.

I cruised the long standing staple route called Pallet Factory, during which we ride by a pallet factory like this one:

The roads wind and weave through bucolic arcadia that never ceases to inspire. Around this point I began to foresee the satisfying sense of fatigue I would soon experience once at home and off the bike. Prelude to this was the final climb of Old German Town Road where the eerie rustling of the trees signified the closeness of the man with the hammer. Had I not been listening to music I surely would have heard his imposing footsteps. He swung his hunger knock hammer softly this day, for while I was relegated to an uncomfortable-but-gratifying pace for the final nine miles, my vision stayed clear and my motor functions remained relatively astute. As I rolled up the driveway, the sun sitting low for four o’clock, I relished this ride in the sun. Then I ate every scrap of food in the house.


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