Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Year End Wrap-up

Yep - it's not the end of the year; but, I'm calling it anyway. It's done. This bike-season is now complete. If necessary, one can think of it as like x-mas music and decorations at malls - earlier and earlier. As commercial-x-mas-season-start creeps forward so does the end-of-bike-season. It's called. This season of not-biking-enough is over. I reset the metaphorical odometer. It's finished. Moving on...Wait, a few rituals to ensure the finality of this season.

Tradition demands the usual end-of-season questions:

  • How many miles did you ride (5200km for me this year - should have been double that for optimal results)?

  • What are your goals for next year (ride more and enjoy it well)?

  • Any rando specific goals (yes - a super randonneur series, good progress towards an R-12 and a great kick-off of the Tri-Cities Area Randonneurs (TAR? - funniest option for a name yet. We could also get HAR - but, that's too obvious))?

  • Any new bikes on the horizon (yes - but not this year - whatever bike it is will come from the Northwest)?

  • High point of the previous year-in-cycling (Lots of candidates)?

It's enough. I think I'll ride tomorrow.

Extruded grease and pine needles

Monday, November 24, 2008

Around the Bend - A Monday's Ride

Well, it's sort of vacation time. And it's not raining or snowing. So, the road-bike is in play. Nat and I set out from the local Starbucks around 6:30am, and head out around the bend of the Columbia river. Mostly because we haven't ever been there and it's an appropriate distance for our current lack of conditioning. It's dark, below freezing, and the fog from the river dominates for awhile.

Fog frozen on roadside plants

The usual happens - ice in the beard. Cold toes. Nat's hydration pack hose collects ice. Mine doesn't - electrolytes. I'm toying with bailing; but, around Wallula I'm 'committed'.

As we get beyond Wallula the fog starts to break, and we're biking through the gap. It's spectacular. It's a truck route; but, the traffic is tolerable. The shoulder on the road (US 730) when entering Oregon get's too narrow for comfort. Light traffic though. Some folks are fishing in the Columbia as we ride by. The route is amazingly flat. We take it in and then we're in Umatilla. My favorite stop is the Tesoro. I have the coffee and chips; Nat goes with the subway. Here's a pic:

Still Life - Rando Style

Finally, we're left with the climb over Clodfelter. We do it. It takes a good amount of time - we're working, but not so hard that we can't talk. Then we get the descent. Still cold; but, easy work. Next month is a 200km.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Brevets in the Tri-Cities, WA

Randonneuring is an organized form of long distance bicycle riding. And it's a blast. There is the benefit of meeting our fellow bicyclists, the interesting routes that take us to parts of our regions we wouldn't otherwise see, and the challenges. The distances are challenging, and the challenges ratchet nicely with ones abilities. Slower riders (like me) have the challenge of finishing within the time limit, faster riders can try to best their previous marks, or take advantage of the time for photo explorations, diner diving, etc.

Good description of Randonneuring and the rides (Brevets) are available on the web-sites linked below (don't miss the RUSA web-site), and here:

The national organization for Randonneuring in the US, RUSA -, breaks the country into (approximate) regions, and in my part of the world the closest regions are in Portland, OR - and Seattle, WA - Each of these is a good 3-4 hour card drive from the Tri-Cities, so, we're going to run a couple of Brevets (the rides) from the Tri-Cities this next year (under the auspices of the Oregon group).

The two rides we currently have schedule are a 200km Brevet on April 18, 2009 and a 300km Brevet on May 2, 2009. If we have enough participants, we'll expand our ride offerings in the next year and perhaps form a region. Stay tuned!

Richland-Pendleton-Richland - RUSA Permanant 567

This (proposed)permanent route starts in Richland, WA - and takes the 'natural' route to Umatilla, OR, and then to Pendleton. And then you reverse course and head back. The distance is a safe-and-sane 210km. The highlights of the route include a nice climb up Clodfelter, a bike path over the Columbia River, a ride along the Umatilla River from Umatilla to Hermiston, and, the canyon road from Echo to Pendleton. Some photos, for preview purposes, are here and here.

More details:
The precise start location is the intersection of Leslie and Gage roads in Richland, WA. There are numerous potential card-signing/receipt-offering mechanisms near this intersection. Albertsons (also has an ATM inside (and a Starbucks)), Albertsons Express minimart, a Shell minimart and a stand-alone Starbucks.

There are five controls: Richland, Umatilla, Pendleton, Umatilla and Richland. The control on Pendleton is open. There are a variety of options in Pendleton - ranging from minimarts to restaurants. A recommended option in Pendleton is the Hut, see a previous posting for a description and coordinates.

A bikely-based description of the route is here.

The route sheet is here.

The overall elevation gain is approximately 2000meters - the biggest climb is the ridge between Richland and the Columbia river (a Clodfelter climb on the way out and a Plymouth Road climb on the way back).

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Biking North


We set out to Grand Coulee Dam at 5:30am from the Starbucks in South Richland. The picture above is from North of Soap Lake - the best part of the ride. We ended up getting 190 of the 250 'available' kilometers, before being intercepted by our pick-up-person a few miles before Coulee City. The ride picked up nicely in scenery and traffic conditions (less!) From Moses Lake on, especially after the highway headed North towards Soap Lake.

The early start made for some interesting light-effects. The angle of the sun gets extreme and the smallest things cast shadows for the longest time. This picture captures it, somewhat. Between Pasco and Basin City. The yellow dot in the picture up ahead is one of us.

Sun's Coming Up

The bike ride North to Basin city has been great both times I've taken it - this ride is the second. There is light traffic, and a sense of direction and purpose (heading North, to get to Basin City. It works somehow). Basin City is small town, and seems to serve the local Ag community/industry. There are a couple of places to eat. I haven't stopped there yet but a restaurant-ride is a good option for the future. The place shown below - mini-mart/gas-station is abandoned.


After Basin City, we get to climb. The name of the town makes sense. We climb up out of the basin onto a Plataea. While biking up, I'm interested in the road-cuts on the way up (I swear it wasn't to catch my breath - there are interesting features to be seen in the cross-sections). There's a lot of loose stuff that was cut-through to get up to the top:

Loose terrain P9060141

The ride North continues up on the top - some rolling, and then a ripping trip down into Othello. We take the traditional mini-mart stop before heading on North to Moses Lake. Pretty much the most direct way, by car or bike, from Othello to Moses Lake is Hwy 17. We take that highway. It's not a road I'd put cyclists on at all during the night. The rumble strip has eaten what little shoulder there is. I spend most of this part of the ride reflecting on that and swearing to find another way to bike between these two nice cities (still haven't found it).

We stop in Moses Lake for a sit-down meal at a sports bar. It's great. We take a lot of time here. Finally we head out. I'd asked the proprietor for how to head north from there to get to the next cities (Soap Lake, Coulee City,...) and apparently muff the translation of his directions. We get to see a lot of Moses Lake before I head into a local Real Estate agent office for relief from our route miscue. The receptionist listens, gets out a Moses Lake map, points us to the bike path along the lake, and on North out of town. She also gives us the map. Very kind.

So, we bike out of town along the lake for which the town is named:

Along Moses Lake Moses Lake - The Lake Fountain Fountain

And then we're out of town. The road's great North of Moses Lake - much better than from Othello to ML. Traffic's died out a lot, and the topography starts to have a different feel. Here's the all-important views of the shoulder-riding-conditions:

North of Moses Lake - Looking South North of Moses Lake - Looking North

The sign in the north-facing picture is kind-of amusing. It says Grand Coulee Dam next right. Not really a lie, but, the dam-and-destination is still 60-some miles away. We make the right turn. And it really starts to get good. This view is a hint:


And I liked Soap Lake - we stopped at a drive-in on the way back. The malt was good. Just out of Soap Lake, the city, we're biking along Soap Lake - The Lake. I took my time:

Lake The scenery is cranking up a couple of notches
Where we were riding along the lake


P9060171 P9060172

The traffic after Soap Lake was very light. I took a picture of the shoulder of the road, on-purpose, as a reminder and indicator. Weeds are growing on the shoulder:

Road side garden

I don't know what else to say. We may have stumbled on the perfect time of year for this particular ride. We didn't quite finish it, though. Our arrangement was to ride North, and when The Driver intersected us, get in and call it good. She found us around kilometer 190. We were close enough to the Dam, and none of us had ever been there yet, that we drove north to take a look before heading back home. Another great day on the bike.

Grand Coulee Dam By Grand Coulee Dam

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Tri-Cities to Electric City

This weekends adventure is a ride straight up the middle of the state. We hope we make it, and that we have a tailwind. Here's the proposed route - except for the shenanigans involving getting across the Columbia into Pasco. We'll start at Starbucks (sponsorship would be appreciated - we'd accept tubes and chain-lube).

View Larger Map

Here's a quick route sheet that starts in Pasco.

We'll have services at
0km The Start
50km Basin City
65km Othello
120km Moses Lake
155km Soap Lake
190km Coulee City
235km Electric City
249km Grand Coulee Damn - OK, I don't know if there are actually services at the Dam, but, figure there's a restaurant nearby

Here's hoping for winds from the South.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ride to Washtucna

Making Good Time on the PK Highway

So, it's Saturday and we set out on bikes for Washtucna. No actual reason but some bits of convenience - #5081 needed to train and couldn't run quite yet, and same for me (except for the running part). The plan was simple: bike to Washtucna, and pick up a car ride from there to Pullman. Retrieve daughter (visiting) and return home.

We set out at a leisurely time - 8-ish. Wound our way through Richland, along the Columbia River, across the Cable Bridge and through Pasco. All of this to get to the Pasco-Kahlotus Highway - a two-lane road primarily used for Ag purposes, and lightly traveled except for that purpose and by folks taking the 'interesting route' from the Tri-Cities to Pullman/WSU. An excellent 40 miles of biking. We mostly blasted along in good time and form. Stopping to eat. Take a few pictures. Fix a few flats.

The PK Highway comes down out of the high-plain with a ripping descent into Kahlotus. Then we follow an old river valley from there to Washtucna. Celebrated with Coffee, Sandwich and Frito's. Another good day on the bike. Photos here.

Bikes and Bike Leaning Post Agriculture along the PK Highway Ahead On the Pasco-Kahlotus Highway

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Oldie - Write-up of 2001 RAMROD

Ran across this pre-randonneur ride report. What the heck, here it is...


The RAMROD is a bicycle ride; a 154-mile day long road ride around Mt Rainer with an estimated 10,000 feet of total elevation gain. It’s a loop, starting and ending in Enumclaw, so there is also 10,000 total feet of downhill riding.

Pre ride impressions

We drove into the park. The hills were long. In pieces, they were similar to many that I had done before. They were longer than anything I’d ever biked up before. In this ride the hills would start after 60 some miles of gradual uphill riding; I’d be starting to hit the passes tired. Psyched. I’d recently completed a 150-mile ride (day 1 of the STP) and a 105-mile ride (a week later, a reprise of the local century, plus some bonus miles). Both experiences were somewhat painful. Psyched again.

Dad and I drove the out to Enumclaw, the starting point of the ride, the night before; ostensible to pick up my packet; but basically I needed to see the route, and needed to start thinking about how to do the ride in some detail. The drive turns out to be much longer than estimated (2 hours each way from National Park Inn). We barely make the last call for dinner at Eatonville; grabbing a burger at Aarons just before close at 9pm. Got back to National Park Inn a little after 10pm. Did my final packing for the ride and went to sleep.

Started the morning getting up a little after 3am. Got dressed. Took some stuff out to the car. Put the rack on. Woke up Julie and we left. Arrived eventually at Enumclaw. Started riding around 6? Maybe sometime after; hit the restroom etc. before heading off. It was cold. I was wondering what the hell I was doing out there. As I was clearly and evidently apprehensive, Julie reminded me that it was my vacation; and that I needed to enjoy the ride. I remembered this during the ride; but still didn’t stop for coffee in Elbe.

Ride log


It was cold, 50 degrees and foggy. Didn’t get a good breakfast and missed my coffee. But, starting was the first thing to do. Found a paceline early; invited in. Pulled me out of a funk; all the way to Eatonville. Got to re-ride part of another organized ride, the Daffodil, with that line. Nice to see it again; I’d ridden that with my son David and daughter Rhea earlier this year. That paceline and the first hill out of Eatonville did a good job of reviving me. It was great to get to the park. Spoke with a few riders as they passed me. We were all glad to see the sun out; as we were cold at the start. It was good to start the long climb into the park, and eventually up to Paradise.

A bicyclist got pulled over in Eatonville. Maybe ran The Stop Sign? The hills up outside of Eatonville were significant; but, well within bounds. Weber canyon-like; although not as steady. Although when I hit the resistance of the first hill; I though something was wrong with the back (tire rubbing). Nope; just uphill. Kept riding.

The sun came out for me first near Aldar Lake; outside of Elbe. It felt good. Had good speed. Had a good view of the lake. Probably should have had the coffee in Elbe. No big lines.

The ride from Elbe into the park; up to Longmire, is similar to heading up Edison/Union from the river; but longer. From Longmire up to Paradise is like heading up Leslie, but a whole lot longer.

At this point I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. But, I’d felt that way on other rides and completed them.

In the Park

Enjoyed the park entrance to Kautz creek. The bike provided a great view of the undergrowth in the rain forest. Much moss and fern. Good riding.

Lunch at Kautz creek; A bagel, banana, fruit. Filled the water bottles with Gatorade. Someone made a crack about the sanitary conditions. Lunch was set up right by the can. I agreed and then dove into the bagel.

Saw Dad and Laura watching for me outside of National Park Inn. Stopped; talked; some pictures happened. Claimed I was on course for a 12 hour ride. And then took off as best I could. Did alright up Paradise. Up to Paradise

Got passed a lot by skinny people on good bikes, with a good cadence, in groups. Saw a lot of familiar sights. Even on a bike, going uphill, it seemed a little too fast to take it all in. The park is great. The road and traffic were favorable. The road grade varied, which is helpful. Built in rest.

Hit the top; tired. Saw a water stop. Rolled right by. Once I started downhill, I figured I would be finally committed to the completing the whole ride. I started downhill.

Descent 1

The descent from Paradise was good fun. I had to stop after ¼ mile to put the sunglasses back on and zip the vest up the rest of the way. Going down this road was a blast. Good speed. Good bike handling. Good views. Good concentration. We went down the scenic loop; no car traffic. A couple of other bicyclist there as well. We sort of rode together, as we’d spoken over the Nisqually glacier. Tended to get passed by other bicyclist; never exceeded 40mph (the computer recorded 35.something as the max). Easily avoided road hazards. The turns were good. Went by the lakes. Pushed up a small rise and then on down. The descent down to box canyon was done in a group. Some of the folks in the group could hop the gratings. Would have been a very useful skill if it were wet at all (and the gratings were slick). I rumble over them; beat the crap out of the wheels and tires. Tires and wheels took it fine.

Up Backbone ridge

Did well on the climb up backbone ridge. Kept folks in sight and didn’t get passed. Pushed it well; another checkpoint near the top. Stopped just before beginning the descent to refuel; thinking of the final climb to come.

Descent 2
Lots of bumps in the rode to watch for; got by them well enough. More fun on good switchbacks; can take them faster on a bike than in a car. A longer descent than the previous uphill, since we were going to a fairly low elevation (somewhere in the low 2000’s above sea level).

Up Cayuse pass
Up Cayuse pass is very steep. And long. During the ride up, the grade appeared flat but the inclometer indicated a steady 7-8% grade. That was almost comical given the contrast in appearance. I was working to go 5-6 mph. I knew that if I looked back it would look downhill. I didn’t look back. A little steeper than Weber canyon; but consistently steeper. I was in danger of overheating and so planned to stop about half way up. That turned out to be the Deer Creek watering stop. The watering down I got at the Deer Creek stop was a lifesaver; there for a good 15 minutes. Shade. Watered both inside and out. From there I was in trouble; still in danger of overheating. Had to stop one more time in the shade. More water and maybe downed my last gell there. My heart rate was in an easy enough place (around 140 BPM); but I had no push in the legs. It turns out I wasn’t eating enough (about half as much as a recommended .5g of carbo per pound of body weight per hour). I finished the pass at a paltry 4-5mph. Spoke with a woman on the way up. She was resting, so I could catch her. She rode with me a few hundred yards. Training for triathlons. Going to switch from endurance mountain events to track riding; thinking she’d enjoy sprinting hard more. Then she powered on up and away.

Cayuse pass was hard. I’d fueled up for it at the top of Backbone ridge. Had a gel; drank half a bottle. Clearly, I should have pounded down some more (note: used up all the gels I’d packed (5?), but left a couple of bars in the saddle bag. Gels win. No noticeable stomach problems (Clif brand)).

Got to the top. And there, even with 45 miles left, the ride was in hand. Downhill all the way; and I was conscious, reasonably coherent and could turn the cranks. The ride folk stationed at the top of the pass took a look at my number (keeping track of who still existed where) and down the other side I went.

The downhill from the pass is likely the steepest, longest descent on the ride. It’s straight, down a bumpy road. Fortunately, there were no cars to deal with; turns out that most of the cars were backed up behind a tandem. Lightly peddled down to keep the legs loose.

Ride back into Enumclaw
Nobody passed me for the longest time on the downhill. My goal at this point was to get to the next rest stop and have a sandwich. It took longer than I thought it would. Fortunately, there were folks pointing out the stop to weary cyclist. I pulled in, laid my bike down on the ground (I was tired, and mistakenly laid it drivetrain side down. No penalty apparent for that mistake though). And got in line for a sandwich (nobody ever uses the restroom in movies, so it’s the same in this narrative). Ham, white cheese, mustard, lettuce, tomato. Pounded it down. Had a few ounces of Coke. Refilled the water bottle. Overhead someone say: “Our next assignment is to find a tandem and follow it on home”. Tandems are fast on the flats. I headed out. Trying to make as good a speed as I could. Held 20 mph awhile (remember: it’s still downhill somewhat). The wind seemed against me somewhat, but it always does on a bike. Saw a cyclist ahead of me and tried to catch him. Couldn’t, but kept him in sight. Good for pacing. Rode and rode. I was passed by a somewhat faster rider; didn’t latch on to draft. Next I was passed by a much faster group of 4; didn’t try to latch on. The single rider ahead, that had recently passed me, did latch on. Then a paceline lead by a tandem passed. The recently formed group latched on, and I pedaled hard and grabbed on as well. We were going a safe-and-sane 25mph, my heart rate was up (for this stage of the ride) to 149 BPM. I wasn’t going to hang on with this group all the way for the rest of the ride. We passed the solitary rider that I’d been tracking, went through some town (Greenville?) and then I dropped off. But I’d spent some useful amount of time/distance at a high speed. Not really sure how long that lasted. After dropping off, had trouble keeping my speed up at first. A lot of 12-14 mph crud while I was recovering from trying to hold on to the paceline. The solitary rider passed me by. Managed to regain my cruising speed of 17mph (being in the drops helped, and could push it up to 19-20 mph for a few minutes).

My bike computer reset itself at some point during this stretch; not a good thing, as the total mileage, in conjunction with ride sheet, was how I was going to not get too lost. Fortunately, the final key turn I had to make was well marked by a sign and some people, apparently there to make sure bleary/weary riders didn’t just pedal on past. Made the turn. Reset the computer to zero, so I could wander on in the last 6.1 miles. Found the final curvy downhill. I was taking it easy down the switchbacks and got passed again by a fast group. One of them almost lost it. I wandered on in and was greeted by the family, and some food. A warm welcome. A good ride; barely in bounds for my ability.

Post ride impressions
A good ride. A good goal achieved. But, very difficult and nearly too difficult. About 12 hours and 20 minutes total duration. Maybe as short as 12 hrs 5 minutes with the time it took to get started.

There were lots of small groups on the ride; I needed one as well. Pacelines are good for almost 90 miles of the 154 mile ride, and could easily cut an hour off of the total ride.

Screwed up the logistics (although it’s hard to call staying in Mt Rainer park a screwup). Needed to be closer to the starting line the night before, so I could grab a good breakfast, maximize sleep etc.

Still have to learn to eat and drink more. The Clif stuff and Gatoraid seem to work fine though. The salt tablets are good. I cramped up on the drive home, indicating I hadn’t eaten and drank enough. Lack of push up Cayuse could have also been fuel-related.

The bike worked. The tires worked (Vittoria’s). No flats. The cheapo large water bottles were champs (Diamondback; purchased at GART. Nothing fancy). The sunglasses were poor; too scratched up. Ditched them except for the downhills. I’m replacing them. The bike computer failed AGAIN (Specialized pro model). Managed to reset itself around mile 135. On the STP it reset itself (back to zero) around mile 155. It’s out of here.

Clothing was fine. Minor saddle soreness. Still need to look into a leg length inequality. Might be worth trying another saddle. The bike shorts are starting to get a little baggy due to weight loss. Could use some knee warmers. Not sure how to carry enough food for 154 miles (with altitude gains).

Empty gell-packs are disgusting. How to contain them until a trash can appears is a problem.

Training and Conditioning
Lost ~15 pounds since Jan, and am back in some previous clothes, but still have 25 pounds to give.
Lungs/heart seem good, but need to work on leg strength.
Lower back soreness; the recommended cure is crunches. While I did some weight training, and crunched on the weight days, can always crunch more.

Do it again?
Yes; but, only if I’m in better shape and a better rider. Need to be in better condition to get the maximum enjoyment from the ride. See notes on training, fuel and pacelines. A good group of 3 or 4 would make a huge difference in the effort required.

Didn’t stop long at rest stops; I think this was good. Never stopped at a rest stop at the top of a long climb, as there were food/drink stops shortly after down the hill, and I could always coast to food. Kept getting passed by the same folk throughout the ride who were better riders, but stopped longer. This efficiency was good to keep the total day’s duration in bounds.

Figure I’m a 5 to 10-th percentile RAMROD rider. They were a lot of young, skinny folks on really nice bikes. Only saw a couple of Mt bikes; although the gearing is clearly favorable. I could have used an even lower gear up Cayuse.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Oregon Randonneurs Summer 600km

Note - changed start location to a cheaper hotel. Corrected end time. There will be baggage transport for the overnight in Richland. And a variation in the route. See here.

Ride: Desert River 600km
Organizer: Paul Whitney (509) 438-2934
Date: Start date: Saturday September 20, 2008.
Time: Start time - 6:00am, Registration - 5:00-5:45am
Start/End Location: The Dalles, OR; Motel 6; 2500 W 6th Street, The Dalles, OR - (541) 296-1191
Finish by: 10:00pm September 21
Entry fee: $40 (+$5 non-RUSA members) - with reduction for own accommodations at overnight. Checks should be payable to "Oregon Randonneurs", also, Oregon Randonneurs membership is required for this event. You can download a membership form and bring it with you. Register Now!
See here for a listing of registered riders.
Medals: Available directly from the RUSA online store.
Route Sheet: Here

Overnight accommodations will be in Richland at the Days Inn - there will be a vehicle to take a small bag for each rider from the start to Richland, and then back to The Dalles.

The Summer 600km for the Oregon Randonneurs will start and end in The Dalles, OR - at the Motel 6. The route will head out across the Columbia, use Washington State Hwy 14 to Plymouth, WA. Then cross over to Oregon for a loop featuring the valley from Echo to Pendleton. The ride then proceeds from Umatilla to an overnight stop in Richland, WA. The next day return to The Dalles is via Benton City, Prosser, Bickleton, Goldendale and Klickitat. Day 1 has about 6600 feet of climbing, Day 2 6000 feet.

Here are bikely links for the current estimated route - a more detailed description follows.

Day 1:
Day 2:

We start in The Dalles, at the Motel 6, and head across the river to Washington State Hwy 14. A quick refuel in Roosevelt and then continue on to Plymouth:

View Larger Map

We cross the Columbia on the bike path to arrive in Umatilla OR. The ride then takes a loop, following the Umatilla river towards Hermiston, and then ducking into a scenic canyon from Echo to Pendleton, and then back to Umatilla.

View Larger Map

We cross back over the Columbia into Washington, and head up Plymouth Rd, then dive down Clodfelter into the Tri-Cities. We overnight in Richland along the Columbia river. This map doesn't show the bike path that will be used in lieu of the interstate that the map follows.

View Larger Map

We head back to The Dalles along a traditional Tri-Cities training route - to Benton City and then the Old Inland Empire Hwy (the Yakima on the left, Basalt on the right) to Prosser. Bask in it. Then along the Yakima river for one last moment before heading up and over to Bickelton, Goldendale, Klickitat and The Dalles.

View Larger Map

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Okie Ride

The Oklahoma Bike

We went to Oklahoma for the annual 4th of July family gathering. I also managed to get some bicycling in. It was hot, humid, and the bike has one water bottle holder - so, I tended to go from town to town, no more than an hour apart. The above is from the Choctaw-TripleX-Luther-Hogback-Choctaw ride. Light traffic. Decent enough roads (mostly asphalt, much of it smooth enough, and a couple of miles of gravel). Great scenery. The route is driven by the North Canadian River. I took every opportunity I could to cross it on new bridges and old. Once out of the flood plane, the ride went to hills. The hills seemed to be driven by water erosion, and there seemed to be about a stream per mile, so one up-down sequence per mile. Saw a heron, a large variety of hawks, a turkey buzzard (munching in the middle of the road) and a box turtle. One hawk got my attention by diving into a field about 10 yards from where I was riding. Another by flying about 5 yards up and across my ride-path. There were bicyclists out and about other than me. One with a back-pack heading towards Luther as I was riding out. And then a small pack of roadies taking it easy on the 4th.

Farm land and flood plane Bridge over the North Canadian River Triple X and 50th A mile's stream Hogback Rd Box turtle on the road

We also had non-cycling recreation - fireworks and paintball.

Fireworks Sky-shot Face Mask - Post-Paintball

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Oregon Randonneurs Sneeze Grass 400km

Field of Sneezegrass

The Oregon Randonneurs Covered Bridges 400km route went as promised. Lots of covered bridges. My redundant photos are here. My primary reasons for riding though were that 400km is about my favorite distance - plenty long enough so that plenty (everything and anything) can happen - but, done in a day with time to get home and get ready for the work week. And, the previous week I DNF'd the SIR 600km at the 400km mark. This motivation is not unique.

It was a good brevet. Two points of uniqueness were the extreme allergy symptoms I managed to experience (I ended the ride with a good case of Jabba-the-Hut face. All swollen). There were fields upon fields of the grass/allergen shown at the top of this posting.

The other point of note was that I rode about the best brevet I could, given my condition (or lack thereof) and the ride conditions. A nearly even effort over the 400km with no bonking, excess effort or dead spots. Here's the breakdown:

Leg HR Speed
km bpm km/hr
74 116 22.4
29 123 21.9
67 118 21.6
50 116 20.1
38 121 22.5
77 116 20.6
15 104 20
50 104 20.9

Another high point - it was the first Brevet I'd had with Dan Fender in multiple years. Good to catch up with him again, and I ended up riding some with both Dan and Brian. Rode briefly with Lynn and Jason. Also had a good stretch of riding with Narayan, and managed to draft (slightly) off of Scott's excellent recumbent. Had some time to chat again with Bill. Finished the ride with John Vincent - he was riding well. I speculate it was a fast 400km time for him, as it was for me.

The cycling high point of the ride, for me, occurred while toiling on a 30 mile flat stretch against a head wind. I was passed by Dan and Brian, working together. Invited to join in the pace-lining, I did and we turned the chore of that stretch into good clean fun.

Another great day on the bike.

Monday, May 19, 2008

May 2008 400km

The Cow Looms through the Dark

Synopsis: Words escape me. It was a long ride. Had a great time with great people through great geography and towns. A rider was concerned that I'd take a photo of them barfing (I wouldn't). I'm a little beat up but recovering and training to go again. A nice picture of my bike is here.

Slightly Longer: We started early - and I was off the back much more quickly than usual. The sharp uphill made for a quick separation. Rode some alone, then with Peg and Leslie, and then ran across Jeff. Hadn't managed to ride with Jeff since July 2003. We had a nice chat up and over the top of Snoqualmie pass. For some reason, I fell faster than Jeff down the other side; then ran across Gary, a fellow Tri-Citian and one of the three Randonneurs from that part of the world. He was three tubes down at that point. Stopped to chat and offer what assistance I might. The eastward shoulder of I-90 continued to be my personal bike-reunion lane - found Naryan and we rode on into Cle Elum together.

Had a nice stop (grabbed a sandwich and ate a fair amount of it; more water) and headed on towards Blewett pass with Naryan. An amazing day for cycling - third ride in a row this way. We hit an uphill (the wind was amazingly neutral today) and wandered up. Traffic wasn't particularly an issue. A good number of cyclists on were on the road. I enjoyed the climb. Up at the top of Blewett was a water stop and a few other randos. I didn't spend a lot of time there - added some water to the mix and headed down, as quickly as gravity would go. No issues. More sun. Good scenery.

Here are some pictures:

Cyclists on Blewett Pass Raging waters in context Raging waters - further upstream Sunny day Dan at Skykomish, plus bikes

Some more pictures from the event from another rider are here.

Just looked it up - beat my 2004 time on a near identical course by 2 minutes. Remarkably and bizarrely close to the same time. Weird enough.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Youth of America On Bikes Doing Paperwork

The Youth of America on Bikes - Doing Paperwork
The ORR 300km was great. I've been to Balliston. A fine route. Great company. Near perfect cycling weather. From a technical perspective, the ride went more or less according to plan. The technical goal was to ride at about 120bpm and average about 22km/hr. Near hits at 125bpm and 21.8km/hr - close enough, especially given the (lack of) cycling so far this year and the fact that I'm working at my typical January weight in April. Other goals were to ride with people, take a few pictures and enjoy the day. These all happened.

The weather was as good as at gets. A little cold in the morning. A little warm in the afternoon. No rain. The wind was not a factor. Enjoyed the ride out of town, and the ride up the hill towards Timbers. I took a few pictures as we worked our way towards the coast:

Further Up the Hill Reading available at the Scenic Overview Bike Enjoys the Scenic Overview

We got to the coast, there were some nasty hills, and some great views of the ocean. Into Pacific City for a snack (I had coffee). And then back over Sawgrass from the coast - a simple enough climb.

Somewhere after Grande Ronde I realized I had a flat - dropped out of the group. First pass was just to inflate the tire (a mistake - but, it seemed like it might work at the time. Don't ask. It was a complicated rationalization that was shown to be clearly incorrect). This cost me about 4 minutes of non-riding time. I worked myself back within sight of the group (took about 30 minutes) when it became obvious that the tire wouldn't hold the rest of the way back. So, I stopped and replaced the tube completely. More than 4 minutes. Resuming I took it easy at first. Rummaged through the front bag for a snack. Ate a bar. Called home etc. Basically with 70-80km to go I felt great and was taking it easy. Took a picture across a field when I saw part of the group - two riders in the distance (Bill and Ray).

The Approach to Balliston

Eventually caught up with some of the people - the photo at the top was at the point of regrouping. In the group was a person who might know the origin of the phrase 'faffing around'. Enquiring minds wanted to know. I received a little more insight into the phrase (subsequently, at home and hitting the web, I found no satisfactory history of the phrase. The intent and meaning are clear from context though).

Eventually I ended up riding in with Bill - we'd finished another long ride together once. It turned out to be very good for me that we ended up riding in together. I started 'sugar cycling' after dark - and hit a sleepy patch. He was riding stronger; but, stopped at a few key corners to mark them so I didn't miss them in the dark. Thanks Bill. We got in a little after 10:00pm. Another great ride.