Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"Bicycle Parts"

first, I am SO behind. Eventually I will post about the MS Bike Ride, our summer vacation this year, AND finish up LAST summer's vacation.

A vignette from this summer's vacation...

We are returning home, and are checking in our bags at the curbside in Detroit, because we will never get through the lines inside in time. Skycap comes up, goes off and gets tags for our bags, looks at our id and... "what's in that big suitcase?"

A bicycle.

He sucks the air in through his teeth and starts to tell me I need to pay yet even more, beyond the second bag charge. No. Suitcase is within size limits and under the weight limit. But he can't wrap his head around the fact that it isn't "Bicycle" that costs extra, but size and weight of the bag itself.

"Is there REALLY a bicycle in there?"

Fitz finally says: "bicycle parts".

It was ok, then. Remember that folks.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Gitane goes to Work

Given that Bleriot is in a partially dissassembled state (if you thought that front rack was hard to INSTALL, try removing it...), Gitane was pressed into service as Commute Bike today.

Clearly I got there and back safely, including a stop by Favorite Bike Store to show it off ("look! it's finished!"). Favorite Bike Store was slammed. Many people digging old bikes out of their garage and using them.

Other than the slightly disturbing tendency to want to steer itself (no, I won't be riding this one no-hands), all was good. The gearing gets me home, so I think I've got a usable bike here.

This is an inviting bike, a co-worker took it for a spin around the parking lot ("I've never ridden a bike with drop bars before"), and Rebecca and Jessica give it a try every time they come by. No one but me has tried to shift the gears yet.

It was a bit weird riding unattached to the pedals; one attacked me and drew blood. I'm collecting an interesting bunch of cycling-related scars on the left leg. Installation of the Power Grips is indicated.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The EPIC Bridge of the Gods Ride

Cape Horn on a perfect day

And here I thought the weekend would get away with no bike ride.... Cecil posts on Saturday afternoon - "anyone want to do a BOG ride from my house?". Knowing full well, I'm sure, that I'd bite.

It was supposed to be a hot day. We rode our "fast" bikes. Left her house shortly after 7am, working our way up to the I-205 bridge (passing through the Nautilus Relay in the process),

Heading north to the I-205 Bridge

west on Evergreen to Camas, a short stop at Burgerville (more water!) and off again on SR-14. As I have documented this ride many times, I'll just put in some pictures and highlights:

The Columbia, heading east to Cape Horn

Cecil at Cape Horn

Spilling water over Bonneville Dam

Hot, sunny day.
Lots of sweetpeas blooming, on both sides of the river.

Cecil and a bank of sweetpeas

Speaking of river, the crossing on Bridge of the Gods was notable in that we crossed, stopped at the toll booth to pay our 50 cents toll, and the toll-taker said: "We don't charge bikes anymore. Have a great ride!". Oh MY.

Bridge of the Gods

Snack stop in Cascade Locks. Almost the shortest stop ever in Cascade Locks, but Cecil's rear tire flatted upon departure.
Then the bike path heading west. Always fun. As Cecil and I entered the shade, we both went "aaaaahhhh" in unison. Nice. Carried the bikes up the stairs.

Up the stairs

Rode the wrong way up the ramp to stay on the path (one does need a guide for the first few trips). Through the campground on the Tanner Creek trail and...

What is this stuff on the path?

Yeah. We were not thinking we wanted to ride on anymore of the freeway shoulder than necessary. After a few minutes of pouting, I climbed up to investigate.

Looks doable...

Hmmm. Definitely doable. Cecil concurred, so she handed the bikes up, and we cautiously portaged across. A gentleman out with his family absolutely insisted on helping Cecil tote her bike across. Well, if it made him feel better.

Cecil portaging over the landslide

Back on the trail, telling Cecil to wait for it; we weren't to the section of guardrail that we abandon the path from. There is a nice gate that was installed for Cycle Oregon, but one can go a ways further on the path.

Looking at the Washington side from the bike path

Then on to Multnomah Falls. I had been planning on ice cream, which is a given on hot days. They had a wonderful homemade ice cream sandwich - soft serve ice cream between two large buttery sugary cookies with chocolate chips. Mmmmmmm.

Ice cream sandwich at Multnomah Falls

Plus we took pictures, and I said hi to some neighbors who were out there showing visiting cousins around.

Multnomah Falls

West again. Love the new pavement! Up to Crown Point,

Looking east from Crown Point

up some more, excellent descent with the Bell Rd option and.... "you think we could get popsicles in Troutdale?" Why yes we could, except the Plaid Pantry was FILLED with persons buying beer and other necessities for hanging out in the Sandy River on a really hot day.

Popsicle in Troutdale

After this, we departed from the scenic portion of the ride, heading in on Halsey, 150th?, Division (way too long on Division; it is a gradual climb and we had a very hot headwind), etc, working our way back to Cecil's.

Just shy of 100 miles, but we were not inclined to make it an official century :-)

All my pics here
Cecil's pics here and her writeup

Saturday, July 12, 2008

They Sounded Disappointed...

This evening I was tuning up my mom's bike, and Rebecca and Jessica came over to pick up their share of the vegetables. "Mom! Why aren't you in Seattle?".

They also took turns riding the Gitane around :-) Neither of them has owned a road bike, so that was entertaining. They have non-functional mountain bikes, which need to come visit for awhile.

A few hours later, I rode mom's bike around a bit (after installing some lights!), testing out the shifting (it does that now) and checking out the ride up the hill (I can make it do that, too). Stopped by my parents' home. My mom: "Why aren't you in Seattle?"

Hmm. Guess I'm missing the big ride, with 9,999 of my closest friends.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Timothy 200 Pre-Ride

The day started much too early, as I was heading in from almost-Beaverton, picking up Cecil, picking up Michael, and then driving to Estacada. If I wasn't picking them up, I'd have gone south from home, and then west. Probably shorter. But then I would not have had such excellent company for the long drive.

Actually the ride started the day before, with Cecil and I exchanging clothing thoughts. She thought I was bringing too much; I countered that I could always leave it in the car. Made sandwiches, gathered accessory food. This is a ride with about 80 miles between food availability. And if you are later or earlier than the store hours, figure 100 miles between food availability.

Food: 2 brie and apricot jam sandwiches on Dave's Killer Bread, 2 Sweet Salty Peanut Bars, 2 Espresso gels, 2 bananas, water bottle, Gatorade bottle, 2 Heed packets (I was experimenting).

Michael was still finishing up getting ready when we arrived, so we admired his cookbook collection and bulletin board with the medals and ribbons. Way cool. After a little wheel removal, we had all three bikes in the van. Recumbents are different than tandems.

Michael entertained us with his story of the Cascade 1200 ride on the drive out.

Arrived at Faraday, did the pre-ride assembly (hmm. chilly and damp. knee warmers, wool arm warmers, light wool gloves over the shortfinger gloves, and my blue Nike jacket that converts to a vest, is reasonably water-resistant and breathable and folds up to nothing.

An enjoyable ride on the private road, with a brief glance at the site of the landslide ("nothing to see here. Move along. No stopping"), then onto Hwy 224, with a quick stop at the Promontory Point store and flush toilet. One young man, waiting to go boating with his family, was absolutely FASCINATED by Michael's bike. We told him it was much faster than our bikes, especially on downhills.

Bikes at the Promontory Point store

Up 224, riding, chatting, taking pictures... Every other time I've ridden this stretch, there was never a camera along.

Clackamas River, Hwy 224

Cecil and Michael on Hwy 224

Michael on Hwy 224

The ride is easy and scenic at this point, but for the 7% grade right by Indian Henry campground. It isn't that bad, and less than a mile long. You can take the extra time to admire the wildflowers blooming by the side of the road.

Wildflowers on the climb after Indian Henry campground

Some rollers, then we arrived at the Ripplebrook Ranger Station. The store is open from 9-5. Cookies, coffee, soda, other junky food. Hose bib to the left of the door in a nice thick hedge with a narrow open spot. Pit toilet in the parking lot. Good place to put on sunscreen, eat a banana and half a sandwich. I've been up here on really hot days, when they have been watering the lawn, and also a group of hot, sticky cyclists :-) Today I just took off the jacket.

Beyond this point, all new road for me. More rollers through the forest, and a few miles of climb for a couple of miles, past the now-repaired road washout. I asked Michael if this was the start of THE climb. He was positively gleeful in assuring me it wasn't.

Just past the Ripplebrook Ranger Station

Eventually we arrived at the turn onto NFD 58. Or, to quote Michael: "Now we're going to have some fun!". Approximately 7 miles of it. The climb varied from not really steep at all to, well, steep. The forest cover decreases as you climb. Lots of wildflowers growing by the road, occasional National Forest signs, and pointers to trailheads.


Is is steep, yes.


Also, happy faces painted on the road, and some Dan Henrys. I think the Portland Wheelmen Mt Hood Hoo-Haw uses this as part of their route. The road kept going up - it would look like maybe it would let up just over the next rise, or around the next bend, but no. Then it really looked like the top - lots of sky, no taller trees... before it took a sharp turn left and went up some more, and with more enthusiasm.

High Rock

Michael eating his lunch at High Rock

At the top of this, we found Michael chatting with a couple of cyclists. We visited a bit, then ate again. I pulled my jacket back on for the descent (the armwarmers had come off some time ago), and we rollered our way along. Great view of Mt Jefferson to the south! It isn't all downhill for the first part, but then it really does drop. Nice lines of sight, and the pavement LOOKS smooth, but it really isn't. It was chilly up there, with the snow by the road. It will probably be much diminshed for the riders on the day of the brevet.

Cecil, with Mt Jefferson in the background

Found Michael and Cecil by Little Crater campground. There should be water there, if you need it. A bit further along, the right turn to head to our first control. More rollers for a few miles and then the most amazing meadow, with the Historic Clackamas Lake Ranger Station just a bit further along. Check out the displays, water fountain, and flush toilet. Refilled our water bottles, ate a bit, mixed up a bottle of HEED, applied more sunscreen (much warmer now) and headed off.

Clackamas Meadow

We are riding through forest now, with a long grinder of a climb. Cecil was waiting to take a picture of me, except I was just the accessory - turn around and get a great view of Mt Hood! She needed a picture, too, so a quick re-enactment was in order.

Cecil and Mt Hood (re-enactment)

We arrived at Peavine Rd, to find that Michael had done some investigating and decided it was a no-go. It certainly didn't look particularly inviting, unless your first name is David or Joel or John...

Peavine Rd

I was sucking down the HEED. Nice flavor, actually, not too sweet. Cecil: "HEED makes me barf". Michael was somewhat more graphic ("hurl"); it doesn't work for him, either. I was beginning to wonder if I'd survive the balance of the ride. However, for the record, HEED does not upset MY stomach. It will be nice to have a change from Gatorade, which works, but it is really, really sweet.

Michael said we could continue to follow NFD 42 until Clackamas River Road, which we would have picked up at the other end of Peavine, and just shorten the out-and-back to Bagby Hotsprings. The road got narrower - I'd say lane and a half?, and there was really no traffic to speak of. There was a roller-coaster section (way fun!) and then a truly wonderful downhill. Mostly clear sight lines, perfect pavement and great scenery. I enjoyed myself all the way down. My idea of a great downhill is one where I'm not always reefing on the brakes. I should point out that my "need to slow down NOW" threshold is much lower than most folks...

The start of the kick-ass downhill

Found Cecil and Michael at the intersection with Clackamas River Rd. We turned right, and kept going downhill. Pretty much the story for the rest of the ride - a few rollers, a few flat spots, but mostly downhill :-) Michael, being on a recumbent, went downhill much faster, so he'd stop and wait from time to time, we'd meet up, and take off again. Eventually we arrived at NFD 63, Collowash River Rd - just after the Two Rivers campground sign. After some calculations of how much out and back we'd need, we headed on in. Relatively flat, and very, very pretty. Trees, rock walls, river... Arrived at the turnaround and cast about for an info control question. That managed (we decided "how many big rocks...." was subject to misinterpretation; that was discarded), we turned around; Cecil and I stopping for some pictures on the bridge over the river.

Collowash Road

Collowash River

More rollers, nothing exciting, then we were back at the Ripplebrook Ranger Station and Store (sadly, closed). Topped off our water, ate a bit more, at least I did. Then down, down the 7% grade (headwind, darn), down, down, down,.... I realized I was descending faster than Cecil; not the usual state of affairs. I waited for her to catch up, and offered food. Down, down, down... While it was not dark, the sun was getting low, so we were in the shade for much of the descent.

We found Michael at the Promontory Point store, which was still open. We scored the last two pints of chocolate milk and Cecil got a bag of Smartfood. We parked ourselves outside the store and did some concentrated eating and drinking. Then the last bit up to the turn on Faraday. We spent the 4+ miles on Faraday figuring out how to add a couple more miles. There is that brewpub in Estacada... Continued on into Estacada (easy), officially finished the ride at Fearless Brewing, rode back to the car, loaded up, and returned for DINNER!

After an enjoyable meal, we drove back. I dropped everyone off, returning home at 10:45pm...

All my pics here
Cecil's pics here

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Livestrong Challenge, 2008

Portland Velo Commemorative Dogtag, with call sign

The event really started Friday evening, with the course marshal pre-ride meeting. Our responsibilities were described, including this is a ride, not a race, traffic laws will be obeyed. Stop signs with white borders are not optional. And so on.

We also received nifty commemorative Livestrong dogtags with our call signs. I was assigned "Betty". Cecil was "Chipper" (wood or disposition? you decide.) Jason was "Tomcat". Jim M - "Hercules". John - "Kojak". Alan J - "Falcon". My personal favorite - Marc M - "Yard Sale".

After the meeting, Betty, Tomcat, and Falcon rode on home, each peeling off at their final turn.

Beth came out Saturday night, so she wouldn't have to do the long MAX ride in the morning. Cecil was at the door at 5:50am. She wasn't adventurous enough to wear the wool jersey :-) From there we proceeded west to collect Jason and go the back way into Nike, giving Beth a tour of some local neighborhoods.

Why is it most of our pictures involve reflective gear?

We went to our pre-ride meeting; Beth went off to check in and ditch her bag. We all met up again in the 70 mile route start lane. Standing around. Taking Riding Course Marshal group photos. Taking pictures of each other.

Doug, Traci, Einar and Martin

Portland Velo Course Marshals

Beth and Jason

Squadron Iota

And then we were off. Squadron Iota (Betty, Chipper and Tomcat) were to be riding near the rear of the 70-miler crowd. Not difficult. Only a few miles into it, we had already picked up some lost water bottles. Finally off Farmington, and into less-trafficked riding. We stopped briefly at the first rest stop, running into Beth as we were leaving.

Jason and Cecil heading through the wheatfields

Gave the next rest stop a miss. Got to suggest a few riders single up because there was traffic. The temperature was still quite pleasant.

After crossing Hwy 47 without stopping (thank you WashCo Sheriff!), we spied a motorcade coming at us. My, who could that be? Sure enough, there was Lance, headed back from Hagg Lake, probably 20 miles ahead of us.

A pause for food and visiting with the pirates at the Hagg Lake rest stop.


Then off again, where we saw a woman by the side of the road. "What is with this lump in my tire?". Excellent! Course Marshal duty! We were on it like flies on..... yes, well. The tire was immediately deflated, and found to have a disintegrating casing. We waited for a SAG wagon - the first along was a medical SAG, so they called for a mechanical SAG. Leaned against the guardrail and visited with Katherine, who had on the enviable CH2MHill jersey and had lived in Alaska, until the SAG showed up to take her to the next rest stop to buy a new tire. She was riding a classic Waterford, and was worried that it was the heaviest bike on the ride. We invited her to take a closer look at what WE were riding - a Bleriot, a Sweetpea and a Sekine, all set up as commuter and rando bikes. Fenders, mudflaps (and these were the only mudflaps spotted ALL DAY), generator hubs, lighting... She had nothing to worry about on that score.

And why were we riding those bikes? Cargo capacity. Extra tubes, extra filled water bottles, food in case someone bonks, lost items we picked up...

Off again, enjoying the ride around Hagg Lake. Always scenic and fun. Headed back out, and on the rollers past the Lake Store, we found a couple by the roadside. Flat tire. So we asked for their spare tube... "we don't carry tubes". New bikes, how could they possibly get a flat? Fortunately we had spare tubes just for this eventuality, and set to changing the flat. The SRAM Neutral Support vehicle pulled up and the driver offered to help. He had a floor pump, so, of course we let him. The top of the SRAM van had about 4 Orbeas and lots of spare wheels. But yet, he looked at my bike and.... "that's a beautiful bike you have there".


It had started heating up. After we crossed Hwy 47 again (without having to wait, so cool!), a rider passed us, and then blew by the turn onto Fern Hill. Mind you, he'd have gotten all the way to Gaston before he figured out he was lost. We all yelled, but he didn't stop. Cecil chased him down (where DOES she get the energy?). She caught him and yelled, and at first he didn't hear her because he had headphones on. Idiot.

North through Cornelius, working our way to North Plains and the Portland Velo rest stop. We would all wait there for the last riders and escort them in - "wingmen". It was getting quite hot and a bit sticky. Gordon Rd was endless.... it usually isn't. Over Hwy 26, into North Plains, only to pull in, park the bike, and get squirted by Fitz with the hose. Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh.


Fitz taking a break

We also scored the hidden Maggie's pastries and split a burrito from the worker's food delivery. Yum. A nice change from the pbj, oranges, bananas, pretzels, snack mix and Gummi Bears. We were then pointed at the baby pool filled with icewater. As ride marshals arrived, they all went and put their feet in the pool.

Portland Velo Party

We spent about an hour soaking our feet, visiting, eating... Eventually it became clear that there weren't going to be a lot of tired riders who would need that escort in, so the three of us took off. By this point it was whacking hot.

The last part of the course could be considered, well, demoralizing. West Union is a series of widely spaced rollers, with a narrow to non-existent shoulder. Then, turning onto Bethany, there is absolutely no shoulder, and a climb. Both West Union and Bethany have a fair amount of traffic. There were law enforcement vehicles at various spots, so drivers were a tad more attentive. Then the left onto Cornell (under construction for the past decade, probably continuing for another decade), and FINALLY, south on 158th, with wide bike lanes. Aaaaaaahhhhhh. A few climbs left, before crossing Walker Rd and turning left onto Jay, then into Nike.

Cecil gave me her sash somewhere along West Union - she wanted to head home before the promised thunderstorms, so continued on West Union/Thompson/Cornell (yes, there is a big hill in the middle).

Traci was there. "Did we not just see you at the last rest stop?" At which point Jason thought he'd head home, too, so I was now wearing three sashes. Rode into the campus. There was the small difficulty of being a ride marshal with no numbered bib, I could not put my bike in the secure parking. Figuring no one would take it, I leaned it up against the wall at the patio of the Tiger Woods center, went in, returned the sashes, and got my post ride "meal". Came out and found more PV course marshals, so I joined them. Nice visit all around. It turned out that Kristin, Alex, and Matt all wanted to ride up to Sylvan to get home. I mentioned that I knew how to get there WITHOUT riding on Walker Rd. Instant friends :-)

After more liquid ingestion (of various sorts) we headed out. Either Alex or Matt was wondering about my different-looking front hub. They didn't THINK it was a PowerTap. So I explained. They'd heard of them, but never seen one. They were all very nice and did not zip ahead on the Park Way hill (they are all racers. I plod.)

We said our good-byes at the top of the hill and headed our separate ways. Downhill to home for me. I'm trying to remember if I even had another dinner... Ah well.

All my ride pics here