Part I

This the picture that started it all.
This is the picture that started it all.

It all started with a picture.  It was one of the happiest days of my life, along with getting married, the birth of my daughter and other days that have fallen deep into my memory.  Kathy, my wife, my friends Debbie and Carl were there to witness my installation as Master of my lodge.  I was all dressed up in my tuxedo and looking very handsome, at least in my mind.  Kathy was taking pictures, and boy did she ever take pictures, she got one of me in the dining room.  That was the picture that got my attention.  I was standing there, all smiles, and my stomach pushing way out over my belt line.  Thankfully I didn’t see that photo until later, much later.

When I finally saw the picture I realized that I looked very much like my dad – physically.  That was one area that I never wanted to be like him.  There were other traits I accepted or rejected, but this one I really did not like.  A few months later, when it really began to bother me, is when I decided to do something about it.

My daughter and I had purchased mountain style bikes a few years back, but we did not do much with them at the time.  I pulled mine out of the garage and started riding to work.

At first it was a little at a time.  Riding from home to the light rail station, taking the bike on the train, I rode the train to and from work, and then rode home from the station.   Kathy had been a member of Weight Watchers for a couple of years and was having success; she encouraged me to join too.

It wasn’t long before I started riding home from work.  That is when I started to notice the weight starting to come off.  It was becoming easier to ride and I was enjoying it.  I bought a new bike, a little more recumbent style.  By this time I was riding all the way to and from work.

In the garage I also had an old Peugeot 10 speed I had purchased the last time I was stationed in Germany.  I had ridden it a lot in those days.  When I came back to the states family life, work and school replaced riding, but I hung onto that old Peugeot.  Now I had it out again and started going faster on the old bike than I was on my new bike.

I worked in an office, so I got panniers to carry my clothes to and from work.  I rode to and from work almost every day, few did I not ride, rain or shine.   So I bought clothes for the rain.

Two years later I am looking for more than riding to and from work and around the area on weekends, I was looking for new adventures.  I heard about the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway.  It started at Champoeg State Park, just south of Portland, and traveled down through the Willamette Valley to Eugene, 132 miles.

I saw this as an opportunity for a new adventure in my cycling life.  Kathy was worried because the old Peugeot had just about had it.  I couldn’t get parts for it more and she was afraid it would break down and I would be stranded someplace.  I gave the Peugeot to charity and bought another new bike.

My plan was that I would stop for the night.  I would spend a night in Corvallis and another in Eugene.  OK, but how was I going to get home?  After considering all the options, it dawned on me – the train of course!  Get the train in Eugene and get off in Portland.

Now the problem was how to get to the State Park.  Kathy didn’t want to get up that early and take me over there and drop me off.  Besides she might get lost going home, she has a terrible sense of direction.