Sunday, March 15, 2009

Snooseville Populaire, continuing the series of wet, windy, cold rides

The yard finally contributed some flowers for Bleriot's little bud vase :-)

As usual, the weather forecast was not encouraging. I was hoping the excellent spring weather we'd had all week would hold on for one more day, but not.

It wasn't raining when I left the house at 6:20 to meet Cecil at the top of the hill. She and Joshua had just started descending when I met up with them. Pitch dark of course, because of daylight savings time, but we were all prepared for that.

It was warm enough that I ditched the jacket just before the Park and Rec, and enjoyed the rest of the ride over to Cornelius Pass Roadhouse without it. The drizzle started just as we arrived.

Checked in, visited, saw Scott, Linda, Diane, Rickey, David, Susan, Bill A, Bill S...

Received some completed permanent cards and a RUSA volunteer polo from Susan.

Put that jacket back on. Sigh.

And we were off. I'd say I rode 99% of the time solo, knowing there were riders behind me (not many) and in front of me (most of them).

The wind was mostly unfavorable. Saw a group of riders stopped in North Plains, no problem, just doing clothing adjustments. There was a tailwind for a bit heading up Dairy Creek, but the hills did weird things to the wind direction. The rain increased. There were some excellent bright yellow curly willow shrubs at a nursery along the way; still must get one for the yard.

I did not see returning riders until after Meacham Rd, unless there was a PV rider concealed in the peloton from Finnegan's.

Nice control setup at Greener Rd/Fern Flat. Yummy snacks, rando mochas (coffee with a packet of hot chocolate mix stirred in), the delightful company of Susan, Ray, and Barbara, and a place to stand out of the rain. I told Susan I didn't think the weather was quite as bad as last Saturday.

Mossy Trees on Fern Flat Rd

Then back down Dairy Creek (headwind). Watched a couple of riders abandon at the corner of Dairy Creek and Mountaindale. Headed off toward Frogger Junction. With the rain, spray, and some cars not turning on their lights, it was a bit hard to see when a clear crossing gap was available, but eventually I got one.

The fields on the south side of Hwy 26 were nice and flooded. Then through Banks, and rolling (and I do mean rolling) west along Cedar Canyon Rd. The area before the Killin Wetlands was flooded, as were the wetlands themselves. Birders were wandering across the road with their spotting scopes. A driver of a massive pickup with an oversized sense of entitlement looked right at me as I headed up to the intersection with Killin Road, and then turned left without stopping. Hit the brakes. Yelled. Did not engage him further. Probably mistreats his girlfriend. If he has one.

Wetlands off Cedar Canyon Rd

Got the info control question. I should have looked at it back at Dairy Creek, so I wouldn't have to take off my gloves and open the bag in the rain. Or at least put the control card in the bag inside out. Next time.

East on Hwy 6, up Stafford Rd (no problems on the climb, or any other climb this day), to find Joshua, standing at the top. Does he have a flat? Is something wrong? After a bit of conversation, he asked for my card to put a sticker on it. Secret Control! Stuck in the rain and wind for a few hours there, poor guy. Definitely above and beyond the call!

Now I was headed south for Forest Grove, and the delights of Maggies Buns. Specifically, the sticky buns as big as my head. Saw a couple of women consulting a map. Did I know the way to Maggies? Yes, follow me. I had to slow down some to keep them in sight, so they'd know where to turn - the route I was to follow into Forest Grove was not the one they were given, but it got us off Thatcher Rd sooner. I'd have preferred to get off Thatcher Road even sooner, at David Hill Rd, but that wasn't the route. Not that Thatcher is bad, but it is narrow, and traffic picks up, the closer one gets to Forest Grove.

Still a few randos at Maggies. But no buns! I was profoundly disappointed, and had to console myself with coffee and a lemon bar. I was cold and wet by this point (headwind blasts and very heavy rain on Thatcher Rd will do that). "Hand over the coffee and no one gets hurt", as the sign says over the cash register. Called Fitz and suggested he meet me at the finish with a bag of dry clothing. As Brian was visiting, they thought they'd both show up.

Visited with Bill and the Maggie's control worker (did not get his name), said hi to the PV group that showed up, and then set out for the final 15 miles. Was caught up in the PV group until crossing Hwy 47; visited with Mike S, then they pulled away. Nice tailwind on Porter, finally!

The PV group took the Cornelius-Schefflin (N), Wren, Leisy, Hornecker route; the Rando route called for Cornelius-Schefflin (S), Long, Susbauer, Hornecker. I haven't ridden the southern route much since Tim's death, and not at all since the northern stretch of CS has been repaved. It was kind of creepy (I was riding solo), but there was no traffic to worry about at the left turn onto Long. For the record, I much prefer the northern route - much, much less traffic, and better roads. It is .5 miles longer, but ever so much more pleasant to ride. It isn't just the left turn onto Long that is problematic, but the heavier, high-speed traffic on Susbauer. Since it isn't a shortcut, I might choose to go this way next time.

The rain had let up, and the wind was either cross or tail, so this was a relatively pleasant change. My feet had not been with me since, oh, crossing Hwy 6, and my shoes were full of water. (These are Gore-Tex shoes, with booties over them. Hah.)

At which point, I was on autopilot. There is another 6+ miles to ride, but I do this stretch so often, I don't even think about it.

And there Fitz was, with the car keys. In retrospect, I should have turned in my card first, then put the bike away and put on dry socks and shoes, but there was still plenty of time. Changed, ordered a small beer and lunch, and visited around. We were all enjoying dry clothing.

Introduced Brian to his new co-worker - he's starting an internship at Mentor Graphics in June, where a fellow rando works. :-)

Nice long visit with Susan (there will be a sneaky info control on the Three Capes), where I took back the statement about the weather not being as bad as last weekend. :-)

I'm guessing 72 miles total for the day (bike computer not yet replaced. I completely did not need it on this ride). Heart rate monitor was non-functional as well, so a completely uninstrumented ride.

Friday, March 13, 2009

There will be a fee to pay your bill...

Context: The other person went on an interview trip, and, somewhere between filling up the rental car and returning it, the credit card went missing. So he cancelled it and that was that.

Except today I realized it was due in a few days and logged in to pay it electronically. And, of course, that account was gone.

Oh. Called the credit card provider, finally punched "0" to talk to a human, and spoke to the very genial Michael. No problem paying it, but.... "it will be plus whatever fees".

Me: "shouldn't be any, it isn't due for a few days"

Michael: "we charge $14.95 to make a phone-authorized transfer payment. But seeing as how your card was lost or stolen, we'll do the right thing and waive that fee."


Make them give back their stimulus money, if they are pulling tricks like that!

Monday, March 9, 2009

And no working bike computer, either...

We managed to complete Saturday's Permanent without a fully functioning bike computer among the three of us.

My venerable (10+ years old) Cateye Astrale finally gave it up. It will reliably pick up cadence, but not speed. It has gotten new batteries, sandpaper on the contacts... There is a nick in the speedo pickup cable, which maybe needs new electrical tape, but I'm thinking it is just dying of old age and too much riding in the rain. So I'd be seeing my speed vary wildly, from 0 to whatever I was really riding. I've got to say, it is really demoralizing grinding up a roller on the Cascade Highway, and seeing a readout of "0".

Lesli's computer was flaky, but at least recording total distance.

Tom didn't have a computer.

New bike computer for me. Good thing there is a gift-giving event in the near future.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Rando Amnesia Needs to Set In

Up this month, the Scio Covered Bridges Permanent. Lesli and Tom were coming up from Eugene to ride it with me.

Covered Bridges Route

The weather was supposed to be, in short, not good. was promising clear until 11am, then 50% chance of rain the rest of the day, with 15mph WSW winds. Highs, mid 40's. Maybe. The route headed pretty much due south for the first 44 miles.

So, suitably fortified against the expected weather, we headed south. The first thing one does on this route is cross the Willamette River. The only way across the river for miles in any direction is I-5.

Tom: "are you sure this is legal?"

A long run south, mostly on Meridian Rd (strong head/cross winds) until we got to Silverton, where we had a brief stop, then another long run south to Stayton on the Cascade Highway (much strong head/cross winds, enhanced by rain).

Long conversations going on in my head, along the lines of "this isn't any fun. Wonder if Fitz would pick me up in Scio (not very likely). I could turn around and go back." Found Tom and Lesli in Sublimity; they were eating corndogs. I changed my gloves for dry ones, ate a hard-boiled egg, and pressed on. I'd consumed a Payday bar in Silverton, and a banana at the start (for the record, I had a major breakfast at home).

Off though Sublimity and Stayton; Lesli and Tom caught me at the initial turn onto Cole School Road. I made the first roller (ow). Started at the second roller, and, well, it wasn't going to happen today. I walked up it, and we proceeded into Scio, passing through the Shimanek Covered Bridge.

Now, the last time we did this, we faffed around in Silverton, and got to the control at the Very Last Minute. No faffing this time, just very strong headwinds. I looked at my watch and promptly bought a candy bar :-) Seven minutes to spare. Ate the candy bar, and half a pbj. This was the slowest, hardest 48.7 miles ever.

The checkers in the store were nice, wishing us a good ride. The patrons were similarly polite: "bit of a day for a bike ride, isn't it?"

I pushed off again; Lesli and Tom found me by the Hungry Hill Drive turnoff. Lots of pretty farms there. The rain had let up a bit. Another covered bridge (Huffman), then into Crabtree for the info control.

The wind was not entirely unfavorable at this point, and the rain had let up. We wandered around and found the Gilkey Covered Bridge (construction entirely finished), then rode almost to Jefferson and up and over Parrish Gap Rd. I had to stop three times on the steep bit, which was worrisome.

Then, heading over the rollers to Turner, I was buzzed twice at very high speed. Silver/taupe sedan Oregon plates YBU-something and a dark SUV-type thing Oregon plates 601 CTG. Neither of them needed to do that; there was no oncoming traffic. Bullies. They probably torture small animals, too.

Lesli and Tom were long gone. Rode through Turner, then onto Salem, and (I'm proud of myself here) followed the cue sheet exactly. Found Lesli and Tom at the corner of Liberty St, in the Starbucks. We all ate, drank, and the very kind barista also filled my water bottle with cold water, and my thermal jug with hot water, so I could make up another batch of Gatorade tea. Ate the other half of my sandwich, and the banana. The barista offered up wishes for a good ride back to Wilsonville.

Lesli took many pictures of my Acorn bag at this point. A bystander asked if our hubs were generators. Not many folks would have gotten that, and he'd never seen any before today, and didn't even know such things existed.

Some young male college students worked themselves into the pictures, then, as they were walking off, one proudly informed us that he was majoring in dickology. Tom: "did he say what I thought he said?" Me: "I'm pretty sure he's an honor student in that department". I thought Willamette had a better class of students (the other two I know are wonderful kids), but I suppose there are always a few.

And, wow! That tailwind we were owed? It showed up, blowing us north. We were on (for me) very familiar roads now. There were even brief bits of sunshine. We didn't pull on the reflective gear until somewhere just south of Donald. The last 15 miles were uneventful. Dark, but uneventful, until the last bit on the freeway to cross the river again. I will say that my Petzl E+Lite was great. I could read the cue sheet AND street signs; just had to tweak the angle - easy to do, even with many pairs of gloves on.

Someone had to honk at us on the on-ramp (what? there are cars here? going fast? I never would have known, thank you for alerting me!), but other than that, no issues. We found the spot to jump off the freeway before the offramp. Tom: "are you sure this is it?" Me: "follow the tire tracks" :-)

So, back to the Starbucks, where beverages were consumed. I had orange juice (sugar. give me sugar). Came back out to find that I really had gotten a flat tire, but just took the bike to the car, and I'll get around to fixing it this week sometime.

Lesli assured me that she was having similar conversations in her head, during the first part of the ride :-)

And we did it in 12:34; faster than our outing a year ago January.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I heart Yehuda Moon and the Kickstand Cyclery

Yehuda Moon is on online comic strip about Yehuda, Joe and the other characters that inhabit the Kickstand Cyclery in Cleveland, Ohio. Yehuda is a cyclist after my own heart - he rides a total retrogrouch bike, and does it in non-lycra.

Today's comic had me rolling on the floor:

Compare with Bleriot's latest incarnation:
Does it look like a rando bike now or what?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Knitting Flora

Flora swatch

Way back when, when Threads magazine was new, one of the early issues had an article about Alice Starmore and Fair Isle Knitting. I didn't knit much then. I mean, I knew HOW, but I hadn't done anything complex. I drooled over the pictures and figured I'd never, ever be able to knit anything as complex as that.

The gauge swatch, about 2/3 done

Four years ago, I got back into knitting (thank the ladies on the beach in Michigan). My first project once I remembered how to knit - a Fair Isle sweater. Worsted weight, only 4 colors, reasonably sized needles, not really all that hard, once I taught myself how to carry a color in each hand.

Then I saw the Flora waistcoat. Oh my. Dither, dither, dither. I finally ordered the kit from Virtual Yarns (Isle of Lewis, Scotland). Finished up another sweater, some socks, some lace...

Flora waistcoat kit and pattern from Virtual Yarns

Looked at the pretty yarn (13 colors, I might add!). Wound the yarn. Knitted the swatch. Those would be 3mm needles, if you are wondering. This will take awhile :-)

Box of yarn, ready to go

Ok, can't put it off any more. Cast on 299 stitches (ack. you try that sometime.) and started out. The first row was torture (first rows always are if one casts on too tightly). I'm up to row 7 of the bottom ribbing. Assuming I don't screw it up, it will be spectacular.

And the yarn feels wonderful.