I'm somewhere on Skyline North West of Portland following friends Slate Olson and Daniel Wakefield Pasley (the Rapha U.S. crew) when Daniel turns in the saddle and says, "Otto Miller is one of those places than can get to you, I mean it's sort of mystical, stuff happens out there... I mean mechanical stuff."
The gravel road named after Oregon's legendary woodsman* was waiting out there in the fog for us like Kurtz in Conrad's Heart of Darkness.
Ninety minutes earlier Slate, Daniel, Carey and I were sitting in Rapha's small but comfortable office in a charming second-floor walk-up off North Mississippi, Portland. The office looks down on a garden filled with organic plantings and a roost of exotic free range chickens. Carey was still suffering from a nasty cold that should have kept her home – riding was out of the question for her today.
Three of us suited up for the ride then, unanimously settling on the 3/4 bibs for our legs. Slate and I stuck to our religious convictions with a black Base Layer. Daniel who's apparently blessed with the biological equivalent of central heating remained agnostic and base layer free.
Slate added the new Winter Jersey and Black Stowaway Jacket to his base layer, while I selected the Cross Jersey and Classic Softshell. Daniel topped his purple Long Sleeve Jersey with the Summer Gilet and he took his acid green Stowaway along in case it got colder, and it would.
Footwear – with plenty of water on the ground and more in the forecast Slate and I produced our Specialized Defroster Winter Shoes. I added a pair of Campy Textran liners over my socks and sealed the top of the shoes with that self-adhesive medical tape. Slate went the other way with over-the-shoe booties and finally Daniel took the prime with pristine white oversocks. Nothing white would stay that way long.
After donning our Rapha caps, helmets and Softshell Gloves we descended to the street and headed out in search of Otto Miller.
Two blocks into the journey we emerged from the shelter of nearby buildings and angled into a blustery cross wind. This part of Portland, near the River is dingy and heavily industrial. We rode West over the Broadway bridge buffeted by strong winds mid channel then picked our way through traffic and leave-covered streets to the base of the first climb up to Skyline Blvd atop the Western Hills.
to be continued...
*Daniel is working on a comprehensive Otto-biography of the man who's real life was so much grander than any legend.