Friday, September 25, 2015

Fleece Project Milestone

Recap: Way back in July 2012, a co-worker gave me four fleeces from his pet sheep.  Much washing was done, a little carding and characterization, and then, with me slightly burnt out from all the prep work, the fleece went into hibernation.

lastly, the reddish brown fleece

Then, this past January, I pulled out some of each fleece, and started carding.  Well, picking the fleece (flicking with a dog brush, removing more vegetable matter, fluffing) and THEN carding.

Washed fleece

An improved carder setup

Batts, batts, batts

I ended up with a stack of batts, which I turned into fauxlags, because I wanted to learn how to spin longdraw.

Then I spent some time with Jacey Bogg's Craftsy Class on drafting techniques.  I was spinning up some laceweight, and it greatly improved my technique and speed.

Also had a new spinning wheel, so I figured I'd use this to get used to it as well - direct drive vs drive band, and a few other differences.

Started with the gray wool.  It drafted very smoothly, and I thought I had it all figured out.

Spinning longdraw!

Moved onto the black wool, where I learned that I didn't have it all figured out.  My fiber prep was also not as thorough as it might have been - lots of short bits left in, and it could have used another pass through the drum carder.  But I persevered, and ended up with yarn.  This fiber turned out to be a bit more fun, because at times it was like drafting chewing gum, and I could easily double draft out the slubs.  Lots of lanolin still in this fleece.

Finally, the moorit wool.  It had been a real pain to pick before carding, because it was slightly felted at the sheared end.

By now, the spinning wheel and I were getting along very well, and the actual spinning moved right along.

As I mentioned before, there was still a lot of lanolin present, and I really wanted it gone.  After much investigation on Ravelry, I ordered a bottle of Unicorn Power Scour, and the yarn got its finishing bath in that, with a hot water rinse/soak afterward.

Final wash/scour

Glamour shot

Finished skeins

I am happy with the end result.  This is the squishiest yarn I have ever spun.

Learnings: fiber prep, fiber prep, fiber prep.
Next tool: a wool picker, although I'll have to give the fleece another scour before I use it.
Future ideas:  I've got some brightly colored silk, and commercially dyed fleece to blend it to make the yarn more interesting.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Remind Me Next Time...

The Oregon Randonneurs Wine Country 200k was this past weekend.  Usually, September weather here is perfect for riding - not hot, not cold, and not wet.  We've had an exceptionally hot summer, but temperatures had finally moderated, and we even had bits of rain.  Until the day of the 200k.

This route was last run on November 26, 2005.  I was riding the populaire version of what was to be my first RUSA ride ever.  Result: "Lynne Fitzsimmons & Jason Penney - Medical DNF , tandem, crash near Forest Grove".  It was below freezing; there was ice on a bridge, which was off-route, but we didn't realize that, nor did several other riders.  We also thought it was weird that we all had to wait and start together.  (I have been doing this for 10 years?  Who'd have thought?)

Fast forward to now.  It was going to hit 90 degrees; the route was through the valleys, precious little shade.  No services whatsoever between McMinnville and Dayton, about 45 miles.  I planned to tank up in McMinnville.

Michal was riding with me; it would be his first long ride since his successful PBP finish.

So there we were in Forest Grove, faffing around and then departing at 7am.  Turned out Michal's GPS was forlornly abandoned back at my house.  No worries - although parts of this route were new to me, I had no worries about bonus distance.

Our first control was at the bridge right after the turn onto Stringtown Rd.  Clearly, it was going to be a day of colorful ziptie controls. :-)

Michal had a flat somewhere along here (or maybe later on North Valley?  Laughlin?).  I used the time to pull on my sunskins and apply sunscreen on my face.  I may have helped a bit after that.  Disk brakes maybe make it a bit tricky to reinstall the wheel.

early miles, Dilley Rd

Cornfields.  Headed out to Cherry Grove

Then off to Cherry Grove, which is at the end of a road, pretty much nowhere, unless you are a fan of gravel and logging roads.  There we met up with three cheerful young guys, but we didn't get around to exchanging names.

Once we got back to Old Hwy 47, it was familiar riding all the way to Carlton.  Carlton was a choice of info control or open control; I thought pastry and coffee at the Carlton Bakery sounded much better than a couple of zipties.  The Carlton Crush was in full swing, with more traffic in Carlton than I had seen, ever.  A woman from Willamette Valley Vineyards was in the bakery at the same time, and I complimented their wine.  A few minutes later she gave us a free wine tasting card (!)

It was starting to warm up.  From here we proceeded south, to the brevet/populaire route split at Gun Club Rd.  We then ended up on the Westside Highway, which is a narrow and high traffic road.  I was a little apprehensive, but it wasn't too bad, especially once we entered the McMinnville city limits.

I had scoped out possible open control/food stops, and the Harvest Fresh Grocery and Deli looked pretty good.  Indeed they were, although a little bit too organic to be carrying V-8.  On that matter, I have been carrying a little bottle of salt, and drinking down a half teaspoon or so as needed.  While it grosses out the riding partners, if you drink it down quickly enough, it isn't that bad.  This is in addition to drinking EFS or Skratch.  I seem to need a LOT of salt.  (Hence my non-fondness for riding in really hot weather.)

We saw the three happy guys ride by while we were in there; that was our last sighting.

Now into the lumpy part of the route, Masonville and Muddy Valley Roads.  These are featured in the middle loop of the Grab Bag 300.  Again, today, it was wonderfully sunny, no freaking out in the gloom and wet.  But yes, definitely getting hot.  Much drinking.

We did pause for pictures at Pucara Alpacas, because they are so darn cute.

Baby alpaca, not looking at me

Michal must also get a picture of the alpacas

A few more hills later, and, just before crossing Hwy 18, we passed a house with a basket of water bottles, some apples, and a sign inviting us to fill our bottles with their cold and tasty well water.  We didn't need to be invited twice.  That saved us.

This saved us

Now across Hwy 18, working our way south and east.  The wind had been mostly indeterminate, but now decided to be somewhat of a noticeable headwind.  A hot headwind, but not quite the blast furnace effect of the June 200k.  We saw a boy riding his bike all over Bethel Rd, with his helmet unbuckled and no apparent adherence to the Rules of the Road.  Must be a very safe place to ride.

The heat was starting to get to me.  We stopped for a cooling-down pause (with salt and a gel and a banana) just before crossing Hwy 99W.

The traffic on Perrydale/Bethel Rd was somewhat (much!) heavier than normal; traffic was diverted off Hwy 99 for construction.  The flaggers let us cross over Hwy 99, and we started winding up to the top of Zena Rd (one pause to recompose).  From there, we'd finally turn north onto Spring Valley Rd.  Sadly, Spring Valley didn't drop to the valley floor; lots of ups and downs.  I wasn't burning any matches, just keeping up a steady effort.  Still, there needed to be another sit, salt and gel stop.  This could be a long afternoon.  Me to Michal: "don't let me do this again."  Michal: "I will remind you that you told me to tell you that."

Little house on a vineyard post

Arrived at Hopewell Rd, where I was under the misunderstanding that it flattened out.  Not so much, but when we FINALLY arrived at Webfoot Rd... whew.  All the traffic was now somewhere else, and Webfoot is pretty flat.  Lots of farms and vineyards.  But still extraordinarily hot.  I spotted a man outside his house, pulled over, and asked if he would spare some water.  Very kind man, he filled our bottles.  I think I drank half of a bottle right there.

Dayton and the Center Market were getting closer...  Ahh.  V-8, Red Bull and Gatorade.  When we arrived, we had 3 1/2 hours to ride the last 27 miles.  I needed a pause on the sidewalk.  The clerk allowed as how they really ought to put in some benches.  When I think of all the times I have sat on the sidewalk outside that store, I can't disagree.

Heading north past Lafayette we enjoyed several stretches of pristine new asphalt, and found, turning from Abbey Rd to Kuehne Rd... there was a BIKE LANE!  A welcome improvement in what used to be a slightly sketchy right turn/merge.

We were moving along reasonably well until Ribbon Ridge, where a driver felt it was necessary to emphatically inform us that riding two abreast is illegal.  Well it isn't, especially when there is visibility ahead for a long distance, absolutely no traffic but for us and him, and in a legal passing zone.  After the experience with Mr. Motorcycle awhile back, I can only conclude that citizens of Yamhill County would benefit from reviewing the ENTIRE text of ORS 814.340.  Especially subsection (e).  Also ORS 814.400 (3) 

The headwind really picked up here, which, if it continued, would make finishing in time somewhat of a challenge.  Fortunately, it quickly dropped off once we turned into the valley.

After that turn onto North Valley, it was 6:30, when we planned to pull on the reflective gear. Because we stopped, I got wobbly again, and had to stop, sit, and eat more salt and gel.  And a banana.

Heading north, as I mentioned, the wind abated, and finally seemed to die down, or perhaps become slightly helpful.  The temperature also started dropping.  One more brief, preemptive salt and gel stop, and, about a mile or so out, a stop to pump up Michal's rear tire.

Finished at 8:10pm; 13:10 elapsed.

The three happy guys finished about an hour before us; the RBA commented that they looked very fresh, unlike everyone else :-)

With any luck, the weather has turned slightly cooler.

Aside: Many times I mention that our routes here pass by locations from the alternate history Emberverse series.  This route in particular went by many "significant" locations.  I could figure out a lot of the spots, just based on the description, but a few eluded me.  Then I found this map.  Cool!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Two Perm Pops

North Plains - Carlton

With Ray and Steve.  Nice day, and tasty pause at the Carlton Bakery.

Pastry control

I threw my chain on the return climbing Yamhill Rd - the cassette, not the front chainring.

Fryer Rd headed east

Barn along the way

That barn, Roy

Stripey fields on Dersham

Upshot of that is afterward, I decided to adjust my derailleurs (front was rubbing when in the lowest gear), just like Tori taught me.  It worked!  Success!

North Plains Banks Vernonia

With Ray.  On the Sweetpea.  No chain throwing, no chain rubbing.  Definite success.

Lots of pine needles on the trail, probably due to our very hot, dry summer.

Ray and all the pine needles

Look at all the pine needles!

The trail from Anderson Park to Vernonia Lake (the mill pond) is currently closed.  There are two detours - the road, or "my secret way", said Ray.  Of course there was gravel :-)  And encroaching shrubbery. :-) 

Vernonia Mill Pond

We got to the control, and decided that for proper distance, we'd still need to circumnavigate the lake, in the opposite direction.

Old mill building

The way back was gravel AND uphill.  Excellent.  Called for extra toppings on the heated cinnamon roll.

Heated, with butter on top

We did get some rain headed out of Vernonia, but it cleared off after 10 minutes or so.

Ray was wondering if RUSA had an award for riding a route 100 times.  He's getting close on this one.  I am a distant second.

At Ray's request, stopped for a picture of the soft, cuddly cows.

Take a picture, says Ray.  They look so soft.

Ray spent some time on Harrington and Dersham roads drafting a big piece of farm machinery.  He said it was no work at all, he was just being sucked along.  My loss.

Ray drafting the farm machinery

Finish bonus - ran into a former coworker (and co-inventor), who I'd not seen for probably over 20 years.  Much catching up!

Monday, August 31, 2015

"This is a FLAT Perm!"

No, really, it isn't!

Susan O, being in pursuit of her K-Hound and Mondial (and it looks like they'll happen right about the same time), will ride with anybody.  I realized that, after the wedding, and people departing, and all that, that I did not have to be anywhere or do anything last Saturday, and wondered if she wanted to ride.  I suggested 100k, because it was going to be hot, but she really wanted to ride a 200k.  We settled on Banks-Elsie, which has 42 miles of guaranteed shade, and large amounts of highly probable shade.  Last I rode it was January 1, when it was 21 degrees at the start and finish, and may have gotten above freezing for a couple of hours mid-afternoon.

Learnings - the Thriftway in Banks doesn't open until 7am, but the gas station does have a restroom, and the bank has an ATM for a starting receipt.

Note: my camera lens is not foggy.  That is smoke.

I had gotten the stem raised on the Lemond, and was riding it, with not very much extra stuff.  No lights, so we darn well had to finish before dark, which I knew would not be a problem.  I had even less stuff than I had planned; my arm coolers seemed to have escaped from the front bag.  Oh well, I had sunscreen, not to worry.

It was surprisingly cool - 41 degrees - at the start, but as we were climbing, it didn't seem at all chilly.  When we got to the summit, Susan worried that I might get cold, and produced the bolero sleeve thing from her vest that she wasn't using.  It was just right.

Heading to Vernonia early morning

Stopped at the c-store in Vernonia; I purchased and ate an entire egg salad sandwich and a V-8, plus restocked my bottles.  Brief conversation with the clerk about the edibility of Southern Biscuits and Gravy Lays Chips.  We thought it was probably a fail.

Just say no.

The route is scenic and fairly benign until Birkenfeld (not yet open, but they had a show that night), and then the rollers get rather more frequent and abrupt.  We saw many cyclists out on Hwy 202; they were members of a triathlon club.  As we continued west, we could see the haze from the forest fires gathering in the hills, but I, at least, couldn't smell anything.

Smoke haze looking west

We arrived at the Elk Refuge, and found, much to our surprise, that the heated restrooms and water spigot were a heap of rubble.  There were portapotties, and another water spigot, but still...  Bids are out for reconstruction.

Our triathlon riders were pulled over by a bus, and being served lunch.

Headed back to Hwy 103, and south to Elsie.  Susan hadn't done this route before, and hadn't ridden on Hwy 103.  "Now, how many times, exactly, do we cross the Nehalem River?"  That is one to be solved with RideWithGPS.

Had to wait for a break in the endless traffic on Hwy 26 to cross over to Baker's General Store.  A pizza slice and more V8, plus more Gatorade and water for the bottles.  It was definitely starting to warm up.

Barn on Hwy 103

Back on Hwy 103 to Hwy 202, where we pulled over for more sunscreen and eyedrops.  The smoke haze was getting thicker.  The rollers back to Birkenfeld were getting to me; there was some headwind, and I was slowing down.  We stopped at The Birk for some soda, and, in my case, a handful of salt, washed down by the soda.  Susan: "this is really flat".  Me: "to YOU, maybe!" (44.8 mi, 2100 vf, Birkenfeld to Elsie and back).

In any case, the salt, sugar, and calories perked me back up, and we turned such that there was more of a crosswind/tailwind.  Back to Vernonia.  By now, every single bicycle contact point was, um, uncomfortable.  It wasn't that I wasn't having fun, because I was, but I was kind of resigned to the overall discomfort.

Susan, Hwy 202

Another pause at the c-store, where I had more V-8 (salt!) a Red Bull, and ice cream.  From here, 10 relatively easy miles up, then downhill all the way to the end.

Final on-route fueling

Buxton trestle

The haze was making golden hour even more interesting.

Flying downhill, golden light

End of the world

Just under 12 hours, and an hour till sunset.

(saddle swapped out on the Lemond...)

All the pictures here.

Monday, August 24, 2015

JRA With The Niece

A is the oldest niece on my husband's side.  She (along with many other family members) made the trek west for our son's wedding.  What with preparations and all, I hadn't been on a bike, any bike, not even to ride to the library, since the first weekend in August.  She had asked if she could borrow a bike and ride around Portland.  I had a perfectly nice old Gitane hanging out at the daughter's house, so it was arranged for her to use that.  (We are all about the same size).

Given that it was before the wedding, I couldn't take off and ride with her, but I did plot her out a totally Portland route (Springwater Trail, food carts, coffee shops, bike boulevards) on Ride With GPS, then used the Print Map with PDF feature, which produces an excellent "Triptik" style cue sheet  (remember the old paper ones?  My parents always got one for our cross-country trips!) with maps.  I also made her a standard cue sheet, but, not being from around here, I thought she might like context.  She had a great time!

Then, after the wedding, and, after most folks had gone home, she was wondering where else to ride.  I thought about it for a few minutes, and as it was going to be another overly hot day, offered up the Banks-Vernonia Trail.  We could ride out as far as she wanted, and then come back.  Found a rack trunk for her bike, and made Gatorade bottles for us both.  I picked her up at our transit station, and we headed off to Banks.  She was happy about the rack trunk; she wouldn't need to wear her backpack.

At the Banks trailhead

She thought it was beautiful.  I, in turn, learned about her teaching experiences, and what she's doing with her art.  Turns out she rides her bike to her school in Brooklyn, every day during the school year.

A on the trail

A on the trestle

Old bridge from the new bridge

We weren't in any hurry, but she did just fine.  At the summit, I double-checked - she was good to go, so we went all the way to Vernonia, and had a great lunch at the Black Bear.  Learning - you can order a half sandwich.

Gitane and Sweetpea in Vernonia

Lunch stop in Vernonia

We stopped on the return to get pictures of the red barn she liked on the outgoing leg, but, sadly, the cows eating up in the trees like giraffes had moved on.  Cute calf by the barn, though.

Red barn on Hwy 47

Calf and cows

The shade was excellent; we didn't notice the heat until we popped out just south of Pongratz Rd.

Post-ride ice cream at the Banks Trailhead Cafe.

Post-ride ice cream

All the pictures here

Friday, July 31, 2015

Fifth R-12 Completed

First, for the uninitiated: The RUSA R-12 Award.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, we are having a super hot summer.  It is forecasted to get to 100 degrees F today, and continue for awhile.

Last month I asked Michal if he wanted to ride Donuts to Total Domination, as the prevailing summer winds in the Willamette Valley are north to south.  There is a lot to be said for a constant tailwind.  After working though both our calendars, we settled on the weekend of July 25-26.  Leaving it a bit late, but, life.  The plan was to ride down, and help Michal with his bike packing for PBP.

So, yes, the heat.  We were so lucky.  The temperature moderated, and there was a possibility of rain.

I swapped the bike into touring mode, so as to carry rain gear and a change of clothes.  Cooked up some individual egg-rice-mushroom-onion-parsley-bacon-swiss cheese frittatas, made up a batch of dark chocolate hazelnut spread, and did up some tortilla-spread rollups.  Found a rain jacket, but optimistically didn't carry any other rain gear.  It wasn't going to be cold.

Michal decided to be ambitious, and ride the Eugene to Portland 200k starting the night before, rather than taking the train north.  He started at 5pm, and finished at 2:30am, arriving at the house around 3am.  So he got a bit of a nap before getting up at 5am to do it all over again.  He was very pleased with his pace.

Breakfast (heavy on proteins) and coffee, then we rode over to Sesame Donuts (3+ miles, 15 minutes, give or take) to enjoy some more coffee and sweetened carbohydrates before the start.

starting out Donuts to Total Domination with a Sesame Donut!

We left right at 7am :-)

Suburban riding for the first 15+ miles, until we crossed the Willamette River just south of Wilsonville, and then nothing, really, until Keizer.  We had a headwind :-(.  Also new chipseal on Butteville and Broadacres.  Probably others; I remember endless chipseal.

Bits of refreshing drizzle, not worth donning the rain jacket.

River Rd into Keizer is always a bit nerve-wracking.  Take the lane take the lane take the lane.  No one will honk, but if one hugs the edge, they will try to squeeze by.  Take the lane.

Once into Salem, there are sharrows.  Also a bit of construction.  We stopped at the last place before leaving town - the Arco c-store.  I got more Gatorade; Michal did the same, and added in an ice cream cone.  A local was admiring our bikes.  He thought Michal's was just like a Harley Davidson, what with all the useful stuff on it (note: my bike has the exact same useful stuff...).  Then he asked what they cost.  We told him.  He didn't blanch.

At this point we noticed that it was raining.  Rain jackets installed.  Off to Independence, where Michal claimed there were excellent tamales.  River Rd rolls most of the way there, but it wasn't particularly burdensome.  The headwind seemed to be letting up.  Onto the flats, over the Willamette River, and into Independence.

We rolled up to the convenience store where I usually stop, but I hadn't explored their cooked food offerings.  Yes, there were tamales.  Mystery filling, but I'd cope.  My receipt says it only cost 25 cents.  Must have been an error.  Yum. Consumed the whole thing, along with a V-8 (refrigerated drinks; same aisle as the tamales).

Tamale and V-8, Moothart's Market, Independence, OR

It was still raining lightly as we set out.  South of Independence is Corvallis Rd, with several abrupt climbs.  I didn't like it very much on the Blast Furnace 200k, but it wasn't that difficult this time.  We both stopped before the first climb to remove some rain gear.  In my case, my only rain gear.  It became rather amusing as Michal stopped before most of the pitches to remove another piece of rain gear.  I kept moving, so it was a bit of an equalizer.  That was it for the rain, and the temperature moved perceptibly up, into the 70's.  The wind was crosswind to quartering tailwind, a definite improvement from the headwind.

Michal, wheatfields, Corvallis Rd

Corvallis Rd

Then the fun drop down Buena Vista and the remaining 11 miles into Albany.  Last time we rode this it was stiflingly hot, and we didn't get water or food in Albany and suffered until the exceptionally sketchy off-route c-store on Hwy 34 and Peoria Rd.  This time, I noted the location of First Burger on the cue sheets.  As Michal was starting to feel the effect of riding all night, and I wouldn't have minded an infusion of salt, we pulled in.  We elected to split a burger.  Did we want to upgrade our side?  No, fries with extra salt, please.  Michal got some coffee; I had a Pepsi, and before the food arrived... "pass me that salt shaker, please..."  It is still amazing to me how an infusion of salt makes everything feel so much better.

Splitting a burger and fries, Independence OR

I started getting a tiny bit stressed inside, because we were stopping and sitting down and it wasn't a control.  I probably shouldn't have been worried, but I pushed it to the info control, pushed it to Hwy 34, and pushed it the whole 19+ boring and warm miles of Peoria Rd.  Peoria Rd has reasonably fresh chipseal as well :-(  I took to riding out in the right tire track, and moving back over when a car came along.  Drivers fly low on Peoria Rd, because it is so very boring, low traffic, and they just want to get to Harrisburg.  We wanted to get to Harrisburg, too.

Old building

But anyway, about 5-ish miles before Harrisburg, the chipseal ended.  I was doing time math in my head, and decided we would be TOTALLY fine on time (not sure what I was thinking earlier).  First we found the public restrooms (turn left on Smith St; they are to the left side of the museum which is on the right side of the street.  If you pass the fire station, you've gone too far.)  Michal wanted an expedient stop, so I found more Gatorade, and elected to eat the food I was carrying.

We had a short, annoying stretch on Hwy 99E, then turned off onto Ayres/Lovelake for a bit of peaceful riding before the 9 miles on River Rd.  Lots of traffic, but not stressful beyond that, other than I wanted to be done.

Turning off River Rd onto Owosso and then the bikepaths... "whew!"  Both of us, simultaneously.  We were then in search of the penultimate info control, and eventually found it.  A little more bikepath riding, then onto the surface streets for a bit.

Willamette River, Eugene

Oops.  Good thing we weren't at all close on time - there was a train.  So we waited.

Delayed by a train in Eugene, one block from the finish

Another block, and the Ninkasi Brewery was waiting for us.  Mmm.  Beer.  Helles Lager.

Finish celebration, Ninkasi Brewery, Eugene OR

In case it isn't obvious where we are...  photo by Michal Young