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).