01 December 2010

New Chetzemoka Ferry & Bikes

On Sunday, Nov 28, 2010, Mary, Gary and I went over to Whidbey on the ferry Chetzemoka to try out the bike facilities on the new ferry. David and I had ridden on the Nov 14th inaugural sailing and had some concerns about configuration, rack choice and the ramp/door issue. We each had a regular road bike with fenders and a bag, pretty usual for what a day cyclist would have.

Going Up - The Ramp

Ferry Chetzemoka Going UpThe first step was getting on the ferry and then up the ramp. As you can see from the photo, the ramp is fairly steep. We  managed to navigate it but it would be quite challenging for other cyclists. If you had a loaded touring bike that weighed more, were older or less strong, had a trailer, trike or recumbent it would be more difficult or impossible. Ferry workers did mention a couple getting their tandem up the ramp fairly easily.

Depending on which way you are traveling, the ramps on the stairs are both on the inboard side so that we entered End 2 with the ramp on our left and descended with the ramp on the left. The return was the opposite at End 1, with both up and down on the right.

Measurements made indicate 6.5" rise and 11" tread equating to an angle of 30 degrees, which is the shallow end of what is considered to be the low end of the preferred stair angle (30 degrees to 35 degrees are the preferred range in a house).

At the Top - The Door

At the top of the stairs is a large door that must be opened, but it was easier than it seemed for us. Other riders may have more difficulty. Next to the door it says "No Sports Cleats", but no one said anything to us and we would have ignored that request anyway as it was wet and 35 degrees out...Once inside we racked our bikes.

Inside - The Racks

Ferry Chetzemoka Bike RacksThe racks are the standard "wheel benders", which are rarely used any longer, but did hold our bikes pretty securely on the crossing. A more secure way of holding the bike frame securely against a padded bar would be preferred, especially if the crossing is rough. Looks like you could have at least 16 bikes up there without jamming them together; two on a side. The wall is close on one end, but only a longer chainstay bike would be affected.

The flooring wasn't slippery and our walkable mountain bike shoes made no marks or scratches. Not sure how it would be if it was really wet, but on all other ferries cyclists have never had much problem either. I think they are more worried about football or soccer cleats, or road cycling shoes without covers (which are deadly anywhere).

Coming Down - The Ramp

Ferry Chetzemoka Coming DownThis was where things got a bit more challenging...the only way to get the bike down is to apply the brakes and preferrably both, but if you slipped on the stairway you'd have to grab for the rail and then the bike is loose on a narrow ramp and very difficult to handle. It was not easy. Mary grabbed the rail for stability and had no brakes to slow the bike. Both Gary and I rolled the back wheel off the ramp and had to continue with it bouncing down the stairs. Gary felt like the rear of the bike was trying to come around and push him down the stairs. There is definately some real liability/saftey issues with using the stairs/ramp especially on the way down. There will be problems if this not addressed, hence our feedback and input.

Ferry Chetzemoka Coming DownDavid determined the angles and said the ramp angle for current ADA requirements is 1" rise in 12" run which is 4.76 degrees (calculator used to determine the degree translation). Obviously ramp angles have to be much shallower than acceptable stair angles. They cannot get the ADA slope in the available space. There are probably other guides out there for ramp angles that are acceptable but don't meet ADA (wheelchair) standards.

Be very careful descending the stairs with a bike. It is by far the most hazardous part of the trip. For some it would probably be easier to shoulder your bike and walk it up or down the stairs if you are able.

The Salish is already built with the ramps and so it will be the same. This may be our only ferry we ever have again, so let's get it right!

Final Notes

All in all it was a good test for basic bikes and single riders. I want to note that the ferry workers were all very accommodating and asked for our input and suggstions on options for anyone unwilling or unable to navigate the stairs with their bike. Fortunately, it looks like there are some options in the photos below if tie-downs were available.
Ferry Chetzemoka On Deck Bike Parking
Ferry Chetzemoka on deck bike parking possible inside of well under stairway and passenger compartment - maybe trikes or recumbents.
Ferry Chetzemoka On Deck Bike Parking
On deck bike parking possible beneath passenger compartment - maybe a rack in this space? 
Ferry Chetzemoka On Deck Bike Parking
On deck bike parking possible along inside of narrow lane (left in this photo). This space is only for small cars and drivers not paranoid about tight spaces.
With a combination of providing Barb Culp at the Bicycle Association of WA with info, talking to David Moseley's office to take up these issues and Gordon Black who consulted with the ferry designers early on in the process to see what they told him, we may be able to come up with as many choices as possible for the safe passage of cyclists on the Ferry Chetzemoka between Port Townsend and Keystone (Coupeville) on Whidbey Island.
Beverages and food supplied by the fabulous Toby's in Coupeville...

Also posted at the PTBA web site ptbikes.org

15 November 2010

Off Road Bike Touring and Wilderness Restrictions

So this is what's occurring on the Olympic Peninsula: increasing the Wilderness areas...

Is this a good thing or not?

A secret place in the Olympics...
While on the surface a Wilderness designation provides certain protection for some areas, the continued inclusion of mountain biking in the "prohibited motors & mechanical transport" category prevents me from supporting any movement to take away access. I've seen this happen too many times in the past 30 years and until the criteria consider bikes as lawful users in Wilderness, we will never be on the same footing as horsepacking, hunting and other uses. It is simply not fair or equitable to those of us who are truly devoted to wild places and yet shunned from them.

With the increase in off-road bicycle touring (like the Great Divide Route and others), it seems a most natural fit to have the access across areas in a continuous manner so one could actually go from Lake Cushman to Hurricane Ridge area or along the West End without running into barriers or laws that prevent movement. Arguments that the mountain bike community is getting what they want through exempted trails is just for those who drive motor vehicles to the trails and unload their bikes for a few short hours of riding, it does not address off-road touring by bicycle at all.

What about those who ride into the Olympics or want to camp and tour by bike off-road on the closed old logging roads? Will we be prevented from crossing into Wilderness because we are "mechanical transport" by some archaic law? Crossing the drainages in the Olympics is difficult enough without adding additional barriers to connect the entire Olympic Peninsula as a continuous circular bike touring route seem short-sighted and not economically sound. Why shut down a possible revenue generator for the small, rural communities along the way? Less and less people are taking long backpacking trips into the backcountry, but "bike-packing" is increasing. Shouldn't we make our decisions based on trends that will benefit the most in the future?

I am opposed to any additional Wilderness designation on the Olympic Peninsula until bikes are removed from the out-dated Wilderness law that include them with quads, motorcycles, etc. Getting a few trails exempted does nothing for a bike-packer or our local economy. Evergreen MBA and the Wild Olympics Coalition don't want to take on the onerous legislative task of trying to change a federal law (will IMBA?) - but do we want to lose access for a complete Olympic MTB Route like the GDMBR in the future?

How can we make this work?

23 October 2010

Now for Something Completely Different

As the fall season came around, I was again drawn to help coach cross-country. This time it was for the Port Townsend High School XC team and it has been a blast! A stellar group of kids and coaches really makes it a special part of every day. Seeing my daughter run like I did in high school (and loving it) got me back to running more regularly and rekindled my passion for it. After so many years of cycling, it's been exciting to partake in a new endurance sport (and one that will help my skiing).

So, as things tend to go with me - nothing worth doing is done marginally - I have signed up to run the Surf City USA Marathon on Feb. 6, 2011, the last day of my 49th year! I'm done with the first 3 weeks of "training" and have 15 weeks to go. So far, so good and I love it more every day. My wife Carrie and friend Laura are also doing it (though they both have run 2-3 marathons), so the fun has begun!

 Here's to new adventures! We're even talking about also doing Big Sur in May...but I'll try one first!

06 September 2010

Sadie Creek Labor Day Exploration

The dismal weather cancelled a planned ride for today with The Broken Spoke shop crew but as I had the time I went and did a ride I hadn't done before in the Sadie Creek ORV trails. The trailhead is about 8 miles west of Joyce on Hwy 112 past Port Angeles on the left at Twin River Rd. Got there a bit late in the morning and didn't get riding until around 10am. It wasn't too bad at the start, just a light mist. A family was there with 3-wheelers and motos and looked like they had camped for the weekend.

In the spirit of trying new routes, I opted to go out what I knew would be the less fun direction from what the topo map showed. Needless to say, it wasn't long before I was doing more hiking than biking and the rain really started to pound. I wore a couple wool jerseys, arm warmers and knickers and was pretty comfy as the trees kept the rain off some. On a dry day I probably could have ridden more of the climb, but parts were just relentless and it's doubtful whether I could have done it anytime. My low gear is 27" (32/34) and maybe a 22/34 could have coped, but mainly it just let me know I was not quite in shape for it!

Once I made the ridge after an hour the terrain became better, but the rain increased and so did the wind. Every viewpoint was shrouded in fog and clouds, but it was quiet. No doubt the weather sent most folks home early for hot cocoa and warmth. Smart. As with every ORV area, there were a fair amount of rocky sections, which is fine for a 3-4" tire, but at 2" I was getting pounded a few times on my rigid Redline, but all the better for improving my line picking skills! Could have let more air out, but was trying to avoid the chance of a pinch flat, but next time I think I can go down another 10lbs and do fine.

The ridge rolled up and down all the way to the intersection with trail/road PA-S-1300 which drops to road PA-S-1000. There I opted to cut the ride short and head down. I had already been out for over 2 hours and wanted some warmth and food...that and hitting the ground a few times was enough to make me a sissy-boy. Visibility varied from great to less than 100 feet with the fog, with a good dose of rocks and mainly a descent through a drainage creek encouraged rapt attention. There was a recent clearcut to navigate with berms dug every so often. When I finally got to PA-S-1000 I was cold and wet, so on with the Patagonia shell, which was like heaven.

The way back was just a smooth gravel road with some small bridges and a couple of big diameter rock sections where they must have put in culverts lately. It was an easy return and lots of deep puddles - one even on one of the bridges!

By the time I returned, the whole ATV family was gone and I was alone. Total time out was over 3 hours and I covered a whopping 15 miles! With stopping and photos, I think I averaged about 4 miles an hour. It was a good day though, and I was glad to have gotten out!

Can't wait to ride the rest of the trail, but I'll try the clock-wise direction. I've opted to call the counter-clockwise direction "Sadistic Creek".

At home it was time to clean the Redline...not bad once I rode through a few of those puddles!

04 September 2010

A Quote to Ponder

"Modern industrialized states [are] resentful of a few cleverly arranged pounds of tubes and spokes. The cyclist creates everything from almost nothing, becoming the most energy-efficient of all moving animals and machines and, as such, has a disingenuous ability to challenge the entire value system of a society. Cyclists don't consume enough. They can propel themselves 1500 pollution-free miles on the energy equivalent of a gallon of petrol. The bicycle may be too cheap, too available, too healthy, too independent and too equitable for its own good. In an age of excess it is minimal and has the subversive potential to make people happy in an economy fueled by consumer discontent." -Jim McGurn, 1994

--As I have tapered off the randonneuring season and moved into the fun ride season (including more dirt), I find myself caught up in planning, dreaming and thinking about bike touring. I miss that feeling of daily movement, new places and being outside. A time when the burden of making dollars and being occupied with paying for things that have limited value in a real sense become mere memories. Here's to all those who are out there now - I hope to be joining you soon!
Now, where to go?

09 August 2010

Three Volcanoes 300km - Top Ten Ride

Despite having spent the last two months basically off the bike, the motivation to ride the Three Volcanoes 300km again after 5 years was strong. It would be the final ride to complete the series and possibly the last brevet for a time as I review my goals for the coming year. It would be a fitting ride - nothing better than mountains and gravel roads for a whole day!

I made it to the Packwood RV Park around 5pm and had a nice dinner and beers at the Blue Spruce Inn. They were very friendly and I was obviously the only patron who didn't live in town, but I've always enjoyed the place. Afterward I headed back to the camp to prep for the early start and get into bed early. Joe Platzner came over and we chatted while I laid out my gear, then I headed over to his campsite (much nicer than mine!) and enjoyed the smoky fire and blueberries and cherries he brought along. We had a really nice chat and it was a relaxing way to ease into sleep mode. By 9:30 it was lights out in the orange bus. I slept well and woke up 10 minutes before the alarm. Had a nasty sore throat and knew a cold had begun, but figured it was early enough in its course that I could make it through the day. Met Ward Beebe putting a good dose of sunscreen on in the restroom and we both looked rather sleepy. Then it was on the bike and off to the start at the Shell station. Hoping to see some wildlife on the route, I was startled by an elk that ran out from the bushes behind me and could hear its heavy hoofs echo as it ran across the highway. One goal checked off and I hadn't even begun the ride!

About 50 riders were at the start, and Mike Richeson and Robin Pieper were handing out cards and cue sheets. Everyone seemed pretty psyched about the ride, as it truly is one of the best SIR has to offer and much discussion surrounded the issue of tires. I opted to just stick with the usual Michelin ProRace 700x25 tires I've been using. Some folks went pretty big, with Amy Pieper and Peg Winczewski on the Co-Motion tandem with 700x42s. They would be the first to even try this route with a tandem, but as both are "strong as bulls" (insert Russian accent), they would have no problem.

Everyone pacelined out to Randle, which seems to be the normal method of rushing to the first climb and I stopped to peel off a layer as the climb up FS Rd 25 began. I like riding alone and really wanted to revel in the whole experience, so blowing up on the first ascent was not the plan. Most everyone else was long gone as I made my way up in the quiet morning. As we came to the first control at Iron Creek the sun had risen and the day looked great weather-wise. I made sure to stock up on water at every opportunity, as the last time it was very hot. Three bottles with over 90oz. of water was just right.

Next up was Babyshoe Pass. This is my favorite part of the ride and I had enough energy to power up the front side and fly down the back. Got up to 30mph on the descent which was exhilarating. When I got back on pavement I got to see Mt. Adams towering over the road and I was all smug knowing I had enough food and water for the nice long trek to Trout Lake...except that one of my big bottles was gone! Alas, though I usually compress the cages before such rides, but obviously didn't do it and was now down to only one empty bottle and one full small one. Oh well, it wasn't overly warm, so I knew it would be OK. A while later Ian Shopland came riding up and asked if I'd lost a bottle. Yes! It was even still full, a tribute to the well sealed Zefal lid (so tight I can't even get it off sometimes). Thanks Ian!

We descended into Trout Lake where we could get some good grub and watch the annual parade. It was funny talking about how many parades most of us have been through, in and near while riding brevets. What could possibly be the connection? Time of year of course, but maybe it's just a general sense of pride each community feels when this band of merry riders comes through. Who knows. Along with the usual townies, the rando crew overwhelmed K's Corner as everyone stocked up on burgers and a variety of huckleberry shakes, pies and lemonade. I had a Mt. Adams burger in honor of the great peak. Delicious!

Subsequent climbing was pretty pleasant as the heat never quite materialized and fighting the cold that gave me chills all day. I think I only took off my arm warmers twice. The roads were mostly free of traffic which is always a joy. Felt pretty good on the bike with only my right knee acting up on occasion and a good headache. Taking it slow was the best medicine and thankfully I had some Hall's cough drops for the sore throat. Off and on during this section I would run into a few other riders while we ambled toward Northwoods. I was looking forward to another bunch of food and soon had a scrumptious turkey and provolone sandwich provided by our fab volunteers with some Cool Ranch Doritos - yum. Though I had been riding with Ian a bit, he headed off before me and I opted to get prepped for the last climb and deteriorating weather. A few raindrops and cloudy skies indicated that our run of sun was about to end.

Looking forward to the descent off Elk Summit I noodled my way to the top - most of the time was inside the clouds, so visibility was decreasing along with the light. With only 100km left I knew I'd be in before 11pm, so I was on about the same pace as 2005. Too bad we didn't have the views like last time though. I saw Dave Rowe, Jon and one other rider getting rain gear on for the descent, but I just kept going. It was another thrilling drop through the clouds and I had a blast hopping cracks and straining to see ahead. The E3 light worked pretty well, though it was crooked, but definitely was bright enough. Too soon though the end came and Kole, Jennifer and Frank all caught me on the flats, just as I knew they would. I do much better just going up and down!

I tried to stay on the "Kole Train" but couldn't jive enough to maintain it for more than a few miles so slowly I watched their lights fade away in the rain. I stopped at Bennett Rd. for a quick snack of homemade chocolate chip bars and slowly rode the remainder of the ride looking for elk in the dark. For some reason, we passed a perfectly good end of the ride at the Shell station and kept going to the Four Square Church...unknown as to the meaning of this gratuitous few kms...maybe some conspiracy of some sort. All was well though when I saw Robin and he offered me a chilly beer to distract me. My 2010 series had finished!

James and Andy showed up soon after and Andy and I headed to the pizza place before they closed - James was actually going to drive home that night! All I wanted was some food, shower and sleep as my cold would soon catch up to me full force. We ran into Noel, Ian and his girlfriend (who were now off for two days of hiking) all lounging in the warmth of the booth. The staff were very nice to us as we only got there 10 minutes before closing and I was so appreciative of their service! Soon headed back to camp and by midnight was fast asleep in the orange bus. A very good day on all accounts.

Chris Heg has some photos and a great write-up of the ride here.

02 August 2010

Chris Ragsdale's World Record Ride

What an amazing weekend! I had the pleasure of being one of the support crew for Chris Ragsdale's attempt on the 24 hour road distance record and the first 1000km road time record. Both of these are daunting for an endurance cyclist, even someone as fit and motivated as Chris is. They are basically individual time trials on the open road with just your mind, body and crew...a fairly lonely endeavor and exceptionally challenging.

Chris heading down Best Rd. on Lap 21
It was honestly one of the most emotionally and physically intense efforts I have ever witnessed and the outpouring of desire to see Chris succeed was humbling. We all love Chris - he is sometimes so nice and soft spoken you'd hardly know what he is capable of when on a bike - and to help him make this happen was really special. It felt like one huge community goal, albeit with only him to take the brunt of the suffering!

He started at 7AM Saturday July 31st on a 10.8 mile circuit in the Skagit Valley outside La Conner with the base at the Queen of the Valley Inn. The course was chosen for it's relative flatness, a combination of only four right turns and minimal places to have to stop at lights (one must follow the rules of the road) along with a good time of year for weather.

His initial laps were very fast with the first at over 25mph! While the day went on he kept a good buffer until the evening when a series of flats ate away the minutes. Tension was in the air as the crew scrambled for repairs and plans for contingencies. The spare Cervelo had no aerobars, so was a slower option, but he still could pound out the miles. The main bike was a Lightspeed TT bike with a disc rear and a variety of front wheels depending on wind issues.

As the night wore on the fatigue began to set in and it was a monumental effort for Chris to stay awake and focused. We realized he was not going to get the necessary time to beat the 24 hour record so everything switched to the 1000km. It was hard for Chris to accept - after all the planning and energy I think he felt quite down...but of course, between our insistence and his fortitude, the new goal became everyone's mission!

I became a roving cheerleader during the long dark night before dawn - always one the most difficult aspects of riding around the clock. I went from one point near Highway 20 and another back off Best Road back and forth so I could be there for him a couple times per lap. Not sure how it went as I would see him for about 10 seconds as he roared by each time, but wanted to show we were rooting for him all the way!! The orange VW bus got in some serious time in the Skagit...

Sleepy but looks good!
Morning dawned and he was still going, really amazing to see. Some laps were slower and some faster, but his biggest challenge beside physical fatigue was the need to sleep. He was so tired! At times, he would stop and we'd get to him and try to re-focus him and get him going again and he would slap his own face a few times to wake up (we would have done the same!) then he's continue on for another lap. What awesome effort! At 24 hours he'd reached 494 miles and ate a the fried egg and cheese sandwich the Jan from the inn made. Very good people there!! 

Chris just kept pounding it out till he got on the last lap - as he passed my cheer spot on Best he let me know he was on the final stretch - I quickly headed to the little white line on La Conner-Whitney Rd and met up with Chris' wife Lara and his mom who came all the way from Michigan to see him. Soon others came and we all waited as Chris came up the road. Finally done!! 1000km. 31:40:10. You are the best Chris!! Congratulations!!

The official finish line.
More about Chris
Event Photos
Event Videos

09 June 2010

600 km: Saturday & Anti-Saturday

Well, for a variety of reasons, this was one of the hardest 600s I've done in the past 10 years! Partly due to a lack of mileage and just plain forgetfulness about what sort of effort is entailed in such ventures, I blindly headed out at 5AM with about 50 more prepared and motivated folks to finish this awesome route within the appointed 40 hours.

A few weeks ago after the 400 km I mistakenly felt like I could do a pretty fast time, but I only got on my bike for a piddly 100 miles in three weeks and that didn't quite do it for preparation! Decided to choose a lighter bike this time (Merckx Corsa-01) and test out some battery lights and low-spoke count wheels too. Nothing like trying a whole slew of new things at once. Risky, but you never know until you try!

I'd gotten some good sleep over the past few days and the night before, so the early start was no problem. Steve Davis was staying at the Motel 6 too and we rode the couple miles to the start. I missed a good breakfast so had to snack a bit and then collect some food early in the ride to eat. Not a great way to start, but it worked. The ride along Ben Howard was really nice and I got to the first control at Skykomish by 9:30 with Jennifer. Spent about 15+ minutes getting my act together - a long stop for an early control and she had gone on without me (smart girl). The climb up Stevens was the usual noisy traffic but I felt great and motored to the top when I noticed a little twinge in my left achilles. This being an ongoing issue, I changed to a higher cadence and lower gear and felt better pretty quickly. We had a nice reprieve on the Old Cascade Highway and Jennifer saw a bear! I missed it. Soon we were over the top but the descent is slow but the ride into Leavenworth along the river was really beautiful. What a sunny day after the whole week before was just plain wet!

I got caught at the intersection before the Subway for a long spell and chatted with some cuties in a pickup who were curious about our adventure. They were mightily impressed with it all and I felt all manly telling it. I got a half sandwich and some chips and ate with Mike who was giving updates to his sweetie. Slammed down a nice lemonade and stripped down to shorts and got on the road for Blewett Pass. That one is very gradual and pretty, with good shoulders and not too much sun. In a short while I was at the top where Amy and Robin had set-up a secret control with snacks. James had carried a sandwich to the top and was going to throw it away, but I snatched it and enjoyed a nice warm meatball sub...must have had it in his jersey....very tasty!

Another fairly slow descent - none of these passes has much in the way of a steep drop, but it was nice to rest the legs and cruise. The winds were pretty light though, so it was a good feeling to know that wasn't going to be a challenge. In Ellensburg, Noel, Ian and I stopped for something different than the usual speed grub - at a little Italian place I had a nice Ceasar salad and a root beer. It felt good after just too much bread. They headed out before me and I finally got going only to stop a moment later for some extra PayDays and nuts as there wasn't much else in the next 120 km.

As the light began to fade I came up on Jennifer, Dave and Steve heading into the Yakima Canyon. This was one of the highlights of the route for me and I should have been there a bit earlier to get the full sunset light show, but it was still pleasant. I did manage to acquire about 100 gnats and other flying creatures in my beard but the mustache kept them out of my mouth. Better to breath through the nose anyway as it's supposed to keep your heart rate down. It got really dark and I finally put on all lights (one Cateye single LED and a small Cateye 3 LED) and they did a good job. I'd never ridden with anything but a generator hub and Schmidt light before, so this was a new experience. Not sure I'd want them in a really nasty night with rain, but they were fine. Ian and I had a good chat while riding through some of the fabulous valleys around the area.

Made it to the Silver Beach Resort overnight control around 2:30AM which would give me a good amount of time to eat and sleep for a few hours. I roomed with James and Chris who both had drop bags and actually showered...they smelled good and I just crawled into the sack with a dry wool top on and crashed. Hope I wasn't too offensive, but I've never taken a shower on a 600 km and wasn't about to start - there's no sense when you have nothing clean to change into!

I was up before Don came in to wake us and got some pancakes and ham with coffee and a yogurt and banana for dessert. The rain was coming down hard, but knowing that there was only 200 km to go made it palatable. It was also not too cold with all the climbing up White Pass and the descents were much more fast and fun, so I never really got cold. Had I been more prepared I might have brought some booties and wool gloves, but it turned out I was on the inside edge of adequate.

Corey and Ian had a control at the turn for SR-123 to Cayuse and they tanked me up with a nice mocha and some water. We shared our secret CapForest MTB handshake but I didn't stay long so I could get on with the last climb of the day. That control was a nice reprieve for many - all crowded around the space heater under the tent! The climb was sweet - quiet rain in the trees and very little traffic. Waterfalls cascading from  the cliffs and wisps of low clouds hanging in the vibrant green forest. It was truly magical. I rode with a number of folks on the way up, Joe Llona, Tom Brett, Mike Huber  and a few more of us were all winding our way up in a long line, always getting closer to the top and speed decreasing every mile. The snow depth increased proportionately. The minute I got over I cruised down the other side and on to Greenwater for a nice cup-o-soup and some chocolate milk with Dave Harper and Mike Huber and eventually Joe again as we headed for Redmond.

The last stretch was long, I kept yawning and was feeling the previous 33 hours of effort. I finally had to let Dave and Joe go as my achilles was hurting and I was just not able to keep a reasonable pace any longer. We regrouped at the Shell station control where Dave had just flatted and Joe provided moral support. It almost happened again as the tire bead had come off the rim after it was inflated, but he saved it in time. We left for the last 16 km and finally arrived a bit after 5 or so. It felt good to be done!

Brad and his wife had plates of pasta ready to eat with beverages and snacks and a few of us sat around chatting in the driveway. Noel made sure to point out my totally useless tail light mounting which was completely blocked by my saddle bag...a well-deserved ribbing as it really was bad. 10 years later and there's still things to learn!

A big thanks to Jeff Tilden, Brad Tilden & Don Smith plus the intrepid pre-riders and volunteers who made it all happen. Hard ride for me, but very memorable!

29 May 2010

Flat and Fairly Fast 400 km

Finally getting around to writing a bit about the 400 km on May 15th! It was one of those really fabulous spring days, warmish with a hazy sun above and lots of very anxious randonneurs at the ferry terminal in Bremerton. We got a bit of a late start and everyone rolled off quickly. Poor Peter Liekkio had a flat right after exiting Hwy 3 and Wayne shot past the exit completely and had to climb over the barrier to get back.

I quickly settled into a great conversation with Mike Huber and we rolled through the first few km on our way to Shelton. He eased back and I took my usual solo jaunt. Near McCleary I got pulled into a paceline with a few folks who were attempting a rather stringent paceline routine...it was pretty functional, but these sorts of things are never quite smooth enough and required too much attention from me. When we hit the Cosmopolis control I made a quick exit and promptly overshot the first turn - I've done the route before and knew where it was, but the brain just sputtered.

Heading to the coast we took some of my favorite roads paralleling Hwy 12 and eventually made it to the Westhaven State Park control where I had a big sandwich and had to battle cars and chemically altered surfers both in and out. The next leg to Raymond is really sweet and takes me along the coast which was pleasantly calm with only some headwinds. It felt really good to be riding!

In Raymond I somehow mis-read the cue where it said "US 101 and Heath St" and proceeded to take a left and up the climb to the top of the big hill - it was then I saw Mike Richeson and a few others who I knew were ahead of me and I had to go all the way back down and get my card signed in the right place. Back up the hill for a second time I barked at myself for being too scatter-brained, but then laughed it off as another lesson.

The tailwind from Raymond and on SR 107 to Potlach was fabulous and I gained back some of the time lost. Bill Dussler and a few others caught up with me and we hung together till just before Potlach when my quads just about burst. I've never had cramps quite that bad but the sustained 46-32 km pace for a few hours had burned them up. Wasn't sure how the last 60 km would be, so I foolishly let the gang head out before me as I finished a cup-o-soup, Coke and a couple ibuprofen. Surprisingly, when I got back on the bike I felt great and enjoyed a really splendid night ride back to Bremerton along the Hood Canal's great hook.

Cruised in at 18:03, only a few minutes past my goal, but still the fastest 400 km I'd done in 10 years. After chatting with Peter Beeson, Maggie and Eric and consuming a few slices of pizza I headed home and finally flopped into bed at 4AM. What a lovely day!

04 May 2010

NW Crank!

Always one of my favorite times of the year, NW Crank in Wenatchee brings together a fabulously fun group of riders for all over to revel in the excellent riding in Eastern WA in the month of April. Last year I only did support as I was recovering from surgery, so this year I could ride! I got a room at Inn at the River too as the bus was in the shop and I needed to do some work while there, so lots of comfort this time around.

First day was the classic Colockum, Malaga, Stemilt Hill with the added bonus of Mission Ridge. Very cool ride which provides over 8000 ft of climbing in about 75 miles and the views are stupendous! Amy and Nicole provided a nice break in the woods and everyone was looking very happy with their day.

Thankfully, Bob Brudvik kept me company and the way up and there waited the whole gang anticipating the descent, which is one of the best downhills around. I was the last one up, and had to beat tail to be the first down...I love my orange Eddy!

Now that's a happy group of riders!

On Saturday I embarked on another one of my fav rides - the Rock Island Grade ascent with 20 miles of gravel road, a bit of wind and some really expansive views. We made it through numerous snow squalls on our way to the Badger Mtn. support, which I needed as I was famished. Most of the crew took off early and I needed to finish the massive sandwich that Nicole so graciously made for me. Delicious...

At the top of Rock Island Grade ready to cruise through the gravel toward Waterville.

By Sunday my arm was spasming so I took the day off and strolled along the river for a few hours, had lunch and a beer at McGlinn's Pub and came home for a nap. Drove out to the end of the 200 km to help Wayne out and haul some happy riders (Jennifer, Eric, Maggie and Bill) home before dinner and the white elephant exchange at Garlini's (what fun!). A very pleasant day all in all!

Monday I met up with the always cheerful Jennifer Chang in Leavenworth and we tooled up Chumstick Canyon to Plain where we enjoyed a break and chat with Maggie and Eric. Cruised back to our cars and then went to Red Bird Good Mood Food and ate and talked for a couple hours. A perfect end to the weekend.

A big thanks to Mike McHale for organizing this event again and all who helped make it happen. I will be back again for year 6 next spring with the orange VW bus! (And thank you Jennifer for the parrot - Peri loved it!)

17 March 2010

Spring 200 km, Mostly about Jimmy

Having to ride at 3AM for a 7Am start over 100 miles away is not really that difficult, except that I am out of practice. It was too early to eat when I left, so coffee was it and on arrival at Greg's place, the anticipation and gear check took precedence over food - needless to say, I started at a deficit that would dog me for 130 km.

It was a blast seeing all my favorite folks on the ride, but I was preoccupied with thoughts of my dear friend Jimmy who had been shot and killed in Seattle this day 20 years ago (Seattle Times). It was a somber remembrance and something I pondered all day. He would have loved this, or more likely would have been at the start with his guitar and harmonica with his dog Salvador at his feet, playing some funky tune he wrote. The ride was a good time to connect with the good memories we had. I miss you Jimmy.

This is a popular event and one that I've done since 2001 (most years). The Cox's have decided that this was the final Chili Feed though, so no way would I miss it! Their gracious hosting of this event for 11 years is above and beyond what most would take on, but I hope they know it is so very much appreciated!

Though I was happy to be riding with the gang again, I mostly wanted to ride alone and think. I told this to a few folks that came alongside and I apologize to them all for not being very social, but it was a roller coaster emotional day for me.

Next up is another 200 km from Arlington to Bellingham. I hope there's more sunshine.

Jon, Noel and Joe cruising up another hill...

01 March 2010

100 km Populaire - what a great day!

I cannot say how nice it was to be back riding with the SIR gang. Today was really stellar weather-wise  and with friends David and Dwight from PT headed to Renton. A big crowd and many familiar faces greeted us and off we went in what was to be a day of dry roads and sunshine!

Lots of good climbing on the route, but nothing too taxing. The usual suspects were off the front and gone, but I took a more leisurely start and later picked up the pace first with Matt Newlin and then Bill Dussler. Fell off Bill's increasing diesel pace on the way up Tiger Mountain but hooked up with Corey Thompson, Ian Shopland and a few others for the final third of the ride at the info control. We did a few bonus miles as Corey and I talked our way right past the 224th turn and finally found our way back. Al (?) on the beautiful chromed, lugged Davidson had a map...thankfully. I need to get one of those...

The finish at the Dog & Pony Ale House was rockus and fun, with the US-Canada hockey game going on and everyone talking about the ride and the season now underway. Enjoyed a big fish and chips and pint of IPA before gawking at all the glorious bikes on the patio and heading home.

Thanks to all for a wonderful day!

04 February 2010

Hike to Mt. Royal

My parents and I decide to take a Sunday hike to Masontown on Mt. Royal near Frisco. We can just start from the house and in a few short minutes we are on the trail. It rises immediately and there are a few folks on the trail. Masontown is an abandoned mining area, with little remaining, but makes for a nice destination. When we arrive, I decide to continue to the summit while my parents head down.

The first stop is an old mining cabin and mine up the slope I decided to see before heading to the summit. There are piles of tailings still remaining from the late 1800's and great views. I can only imagine what this was like when it was a working mine.

The view here is toward Lake Dillon and the towns of Dillon and Silverthorne. The patchy clouds allowed some sun to shine and I had to add some wind pants and a shell to stay warm as the wind was more evident.
The trail was fairly hardpacked from snowshoers, but in a few spots I would plunge down to my waist and have to wrestle my way out. I was the only one up here by this time, so I reveled in the solitude.

The summit of Mt. Royal is pretty bare and the wind was howling, but I spent quite a bit of time strolling back and forth exploring. Elevation is 10,502 ft. and I could see I-70 about 1500 ft. below...if you fell you'd basically land on it....
Trees were pretty tortured on the exposed summit, but made some very interesting shapes! With the lack of snow lately I could see footprints from all the people who'd made it up here in the past two weeks.

The wind was really blowing and there was a constant stream of spindrift flying over the saddle. After about 30 minutes I headed back down for a nice warm lunch and a nap! So wonderful that this point is under 2 miles from the front door!

29 January 2010

Frisco to Breckenridge and Back

There are those times when you just have to get out and spend a day skiing in the woods. Last Saturday was it for me, a 20 mile roundtrip from Frisco to Breckenridge and back along the Peaks Trail. It's not a real difficult route, but mostly it allowed a bit of solitude, good physical effort and some truly fun backcountry skiing.

The start of the Peaks Trail, just past Rainbow Lake and about 2 miles from where I started from Frisco.

New snow left gorgeous marshmallow lumps in all the creeks.

One of the main intersections along the way - the Miner's Creek Trail heads east to Hwy 9.

Next intersection about another half mile on leads to Wheeler Junction near Copper Mountain ski area and would be a challenging 9 mile trek west. Maybe next time!

Lost the route here and had to break trail in 2-3 foot snow over downed trees and stumps in really gusty winds and blowing snow, but just enough sun to see shadows.

Middle Barton Creek crossing near Breckenridge.

Broke another trail on the way back that was more direct but still a slog.

The treat for all my efforts: a moose! I had just found a loose binding and had taken a break to eat and fix it. When I stood up, there was a moose cow about 20 feet away and I startled her and she took a few strides and made her way behind some trees before I could get the camera out. So beautiful!!

And that was my day in the snow...the 20 miles took about 6 hours, though I did a fair amount of just oggling my surroundings and chatting with the few folks I met along the way. Got lots of kudos for making the roundtrip and numerous comments about wishing they had done the same. Don't we all feel like that sometimes?

22 January 2010

18 January 2010

Ten Mile Canyon Hike

Took advantage of the limited snow to hike the entire North Ten Mile Canyon trail about 10-12 miles roundtrip. 17 below zero to start at 9am, but it warmed up by the time I made the turnaround point under Eccles Pass in the saddle where the trail ends. A great day in the snow.

Saw no creatures or people for over 4 hours. There was a sundog that formed overhead around noon-time but difficult to get a photo of it. So much glorious silence!

Hiking up about 1700 ft. from the trailhead near Frisco, CO. A fairly easy hike.

Amazing snow formations...also creeks had swollen and frozen into huge whalebacks of pure ice, even covering one of the bridges for over 40 ft.

Time for contemplation...and lunch.

Shadow guy...enjoyed sunshine most of the day, but still clod in the trees.

The only tracks were mine at the very end...well, the turnaround point. From here on it was post-holing, even with snowshoes.

Taking a break at the Gore Range trail crossing.