Friday, December 31, 2010

Year in Review - Cycling

Just the totals :-)

Lemond: 1492 miles
Bleriot: 1575 miles
Sweetpea: 1353 miles
Grand total 4420 miles (must have missed recording something...)

So, none of the bikes can complain of neglect or favoritism.  This year, anyway.

Rides of at least 100 miles in 2010: 11

Organized rides: Monster Cookie Metric Century, RSVP, and RAPSody
OrRando brevets/populaires/permanents: 8. 1509 km worth
Disorganized rides: most of them. Best kind.

That said, there is a 200km brevet tomorrow, must get ready.

Best to you all in the new year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Deliveries and a Milestone

I needed 23 more miles on the bike to get a nice round number for 2010.  I also had some new socks to deliver.  The distance was about right.  The weather wasn't.  Two out of three gets it.

I was headed in the vicinity of the SW corner of West Union and Cornelius Pass, coming in from the east and south.  No problem, I'd do the standard westward route to Longbottom's, but turn north on Cornelius Pass and worry about turning left across it when I got to there (5 lanes, speeds well in excess of the posted limit).

A brief disheartening encounter at the corner of Park Way and Marlow.  Someone (not me) did not fully learn the concept of right of way and taking turns at 4 way stops.

Onward west, through a very heavy and persistent rain.  After passing the trail entrance on Evergreen, I thought - I could go under Hwy 26 on the path, and have a nice quiet neighborhood cruise and skip Cornelius Pass altogether (I'd just have to cross it at a light).  Did I mention heavy and persistent rain?  Most of the way along the path it was good, then the path just... vanished.  To be replaced by class 5 rapids!  :-(  Turn around, go back, follow the original plan.

Arrived at my destination.  Jeff opened the back door for me - best workplace bike parking ever.  Hung up the bike, peeled off layers of wet clothing and hung THEM up.  Gave Jeff a tour of Sweetpea - I've had it for several months now, but not a lot of folks have seen it in person.  Mostly just randos and some Portland Velo folks :-)

Delivery accomplished, we settled down for some visiting before the boss had to get back to work.

I thought I'd try heading home north of Hwy 26, but didn't particularly want to ride on the major roads (West Union, Bethany, etc).  You can't get there from here.  The entire area bounded by NW West Union, NW 185th, NW 143rd, and Hwy 26 is a collection of subdivisions with winding rounds, cul de sacs, and exits only at busy, high-speed roads, with poor sight lines (NW 174th).  So you CAN get there from here, but it gets a little confusing.  I hadn't ridden that stretch for some time, and some roads were renamed (the northern terminus is NW 143rd is now NW Kaiser).  Joy.  Eventually found myself at the northern terminus of Murray Rd, and headed south over the highway to eventually cross Murray at Butner, at which point it was reasonably quiet roads all the way home.

(addendum 12/30) email exchange with Tualatin Hills Park and Rec reveals that in 2013 there will be a path from Somerset to Oak Hills through Spyglass Park/Crystal Creek Park, as part of the Waterhouse Trail extension.  This will cut out the necessity of ending up on West Union.  Of course, one will still have to cross Bethany, which, by that time will be 5 lanes/high speed :-(

At the corner of Laidlaw and West Union, I was surprised by a cyclist asking if I had planned to do the upcoming New Years 200k. (yes).  Not someone I knew, and not a name I recognized, but he recognized the bike and Little Pink Bear :-)

Milestone accomplished - 4400 miles for 2010.  Most ever!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Not Epic - the Bakery 61km

After the past two weekends of epic rides, I, at least wanted a break.  A month ago we had planned a Sweetpea ride - Natalie (Ms. Sweetpea herself), Cecil, Susan, and me.  We'd meet up at a coffee shop/bakery in Portland, and ride between other ones.  And take a few pictures.

Pod of 'Peas outside Kettleman's Bagels

Since then, Cecil hurt herself, but she is allowed to GENTLY ride a bicycle.  Natalie is a bit slower these days, but still faster than me :-)  Susan and I are maintaining, except my lower back is not my friend.  I am laying off running for awhile, in the hope that it gets better.

So.  Easy ride.  Later start.  We agreed to meet up at the Kettleman's by Cecil's home at 9am.  The weather forecast was not promising.  So much so that snow was forecasted.  Susan and I were going to ride in from our side of the hill, but if it snows anywhere in Portland, it snows on THAT hill.  Susan got on the MAX (our light rail) out by her house; I joined her at my stop.  Yes, there was some snow.

Two stops later we were at the Goose Hollow stop, where we disembarked, headed east through downtown, and over the Hawthorne Bridge.  Got to Kettlemans, locked up the bikes, sat where we could SEE said bikes (Susan thinks Lynne is very paranoid.  Damn right.) and dug into our beverage and food.

Coffee and Rugelach at Kettleman's Bagels

Cecil arrived, followed shortly by Natalie.  We sat and ate and talked for a very long time.  Cecil: "in the event that we actually go and RIDE our bikes, here is a proposed itinerary..."

We started wending our way a bit east and then north.  Eventually we arrived at Cup and Saucer on N. Denver.  Coffee, tea, fruit cups, basket of scones...

While unlocking the bikes afterward, a girl out with her mother allowed as how they were cool bikes.  Cecil (or Susan) said it was even cooler that (pointing to Natalie) built all of them. :-)

It hadn't rained, and the sun was peeking out.  We headed off to Smith and Bybee Lakes, only to be presented with a possible roadblock of a very long train sitting right on the crossing we needed to cross.  We noticed that the end wasn't far away, and there was another crossing of sorts there, so a bit of cross-wet soggy grass later, we were headed back to the lakes.  Birds in the Slough, ducks in the lakes.   Brief pause for a few pictures of my favorite spot at the lakes.

Cecil, Natalie and Susan

Smith (or is it Bybee?) Lake

Sweetpea hanging out

Then back, where Natalie peeled off to go home and we continued on to the New Deal Cafe.  Mmm.  I went for the amazing hash and chai (I was coffeed out.  It happens).  Susan had the cranberry-walnut pancakes with cranberry-orange sauce; Cecil had the hummus plate.

Poster at the New Deal Cafe

It was raining lightly when we finally left.  After some discussion Susan and I elected to ride back to the Goose Hollow station, rather than catching the MAX on the east side (Slow.  Many stops. We can ride faster.)

From my MAX station, 1.5 miles downhill to home.  Fabulous company, and a great ride!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Armageddon 200km

No, there really isn't a ride by that name.  It is a name that could be assigned to any ride, depending on the circumstances. :-)

Susan and I were set to ride Marcello's Hillsboro-Dallas-Hillsboro 200km.  The weather report, a week ahead was not discouraging.  As the week progressed, it turned into this: "However, a strong wave of rain was expected to push in Saturday, bringing anywhere from 1-3 inches of rainfall for the metro area and Willamette Valley. From 3-5 inches of rainfall was possible in the Coast Range and, with slightly less for the Cascades. As the system approaches, some east wind will kick in giving us the potential for some wintry precipitation for the Upper Hood River Valley."

So, what's a little rain?  haha.  Susan offered up a pair of rain pants to wear (I don't have any, I find that my PI Amfib tights and Sugoi Firewall tights do a decent job of keeping me warm enough and not terribly wet).  Someone who shall not be named, because it is SO out of character for her thought we might consider waiting for another day.  Nothing like developing common sense in your old age.  Remind me to guard against that.

In deference to the probable presence of overwhelming amounts of water, I did pack extra socks, gloves, my Firewall tights, and another baselayer.  I've pretty much given up carrying extra clothes on rides, except for socks, because I've never yet broken into them.

Put some Finish Line Cross Country (sturdiest chain lube I've got) on the already very grubby bike, and figured out a way to mount my new RadBot500 rear flasher, so I'd be running two very bright rear lights.  A Gino mount might be a better long-term solution.

Met up with Susan and Tom D (also riding) at Marcello's, and headed out at 7:03am.  It was still quite dark, and, you guessed it, raining.  Got a bit of the way down Baseline, only to realize we had lost Susan.  I stopped and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Eventually I saw a bike light in the distance and started up again, knowing Susan would catch me.  It turned out that a piece of Marcello's landscaping had insinuated itself around her cassette and was difficult to extract.

So, west on Baseline, though Hillsboro proper.  A place I don't usually go.  They've spiffed it up over the years.  Pretty with the rain and Christmas lights.  Eventually it merged with TV Highway, and so did we, continuing west.  Just before Cornelius, Susan came up with a flat.  We pulled off, and, after a brief discussion (all this writing, and we'd gone maybe 7 miles), I continued on. Susan would fix the flat, and get to flex her wattage catching me.  I figured she'd find me on Fern Hill or Spring Hill.

Cornelius/Forest Grove was the first control, to ensure we did not shortcut the route by riding over Bald Peak.  Right.  Like ANYONE would shortcut the route by 3-4 miles by voluntarily riding up Bald Peak.  I pulled in at a gas station, bought some sunflower seeds, made a little stop, and pulled away singing along with the Christmas carols blaring over their loudspeaker.  Daylight joined me!  Yay!

Southwest on Hwy 47, south on Fern Hill.  Still raining heavily.  The Fern Hill wetlands and the fields on the west side of the road were full.  Not to the road yet, but I did wonder what the conditions would be on our return.  Turned onto Spring Hill.  No Susan.  Started to wonder how long I'd be riding solo.  No traffic.  I love riding Fern Hill/Spring Hill - wetlands, hills on either side.  Got a kick out of the homes to the west with the long flooded driveways.  One was for sale.  Wonder if they tossed in a small ferry for days like this.

The rain pants Susan loaned me gave it up at about 24 miles; I could feel my shoes filling up.  I was still warm enough, no worries yet.

No Susan.  Ribbon Ridge/Kuehne/Abbey/Lafayette.  Then Dayton, first control at 35 miles.  Stopped in at the Center Market for hot chocolate, Fritos and a receipt.  The folks in line in front of me INSISTED on paying for my stuff too.  Susan showed up a few minutes later.  Whew!

She vanished into the restroom to change her baselayer.  I chatted up the cashier.  Nice guy.  Eventually, off again, into the rain.  We both agreed that the stretch from Dayton to Amity seems longer than it really is.  Through Amity, south on 99W.  This is where the route quits being flat.  Big rollers.  Eventually right on Bethel, then left on Perrydale.  The antique firetruck at the corner of Bethel and Perrydale is tastefully decorated with twinkle lights.

Conversations included variations on "But I will be an Iron Man" theme.

Rollering our way south, we found Tom heading back, just before the US-22 crossing.  More climbing (I always forget that the steepish climb into Dallas is only the first of two.  You'd think I'd remember by now.), then into Dallas proper.  The control (another Center Market on Washington/Kings Valley Hwy) is a ways into town.  We planned to go there, get a receipt, and head back to the Safeway, with its indoor seating, restroom, and hot soup.  The cashier at the Center Market signed my card with no instructions needed, and I bought and inhaled a Milky Way Dark.  Not too big, not overly sweet.  Have to remember that.

Back to the Safeway.  Susan had a lock and cable, so we secured the bikes and took over the women's employee restroom (the customer restroom was out of order).  Giant puddles formed on the floor as we removed successive layers of supersaturated clothing.  Admired our frozen feet (Susan's were white, I was part way there) I squeezed out my gloves, and wrung out the insoles of my shoes.  Stuffed the shoes with paper towels.  Squeezed out my booties.  Blotted moisture from my (wool) cap,  (wool) jersey and (wool) shorts.  Changed the paper towels in my shoes.  Realized my dry socks were still on the bike.  Wiped up the puddles.  Pulled on a dry baselayer (Smartwool microweight LS; received a big shipment of woolly goodness on Friday, yes I did)  Pulled on the damp jersey.  Pulled on the dry Sugoi Firewall tights.  Put all the wet clothing in the plastic bag.  Walked, with bare feet, stopping in the produce department to snag some more bags and put things into them, out to the bikes, where I got Susan's tire pump and my dry socks.

Found Susan working on her bowl of soup.  Bought some for myself - cashier called me "dearie" in that "aren't YOU mentally deficient!" tone of voice.  Put on the socks (ahhhhhh!), ate my soup, called home, ate my sandwich, watched Susan patch her flat tube from earlier.  She reused my plastic produce bags as protection for her feet.

Another employee came by and asked if we were out running the rain.  No, we were riding.  "Oh, I could NEVER do that!  I'd die after a mile!".  Susan and I gave the standard "you'd be surprised at what you could do" response.  Not that we'd recommend this day to start :-)  More polite conversation, where the conversant is either mentioning the weather, or how brave we are, and the non-stated subtext is "you two are completely mental".

Eventually, after 90 minutes of being in Dallas (the control closed 20 minutes ago), we left.  I thought I'd try dry gloves for awhile, not that the Firewalls were not keeping my hands perfectly warm.  If my Wombats got saturated, I could always go back to the Firewalls.

But it was NOT RAINING!  Yay!  Headed back along Perrydale Road.  Every other ride I've done through Dallas involved coming in on Perrydale, then heading out on Ellendale to Rickreall and then north on 99W.  It was a climb both ways, which I thought was odd.  Wouldn't it be better to ride back on Perrydale?  Now that I have done it, perhaps not so much.  The rollers are equivalently soul-sucking in both directions.  I will say that Perrydale is much prettier and quieter.

Back to Amity, were we made a brief stop, and Susan updated Jeff on our progress.  The boring stretch to Dayton; another stop at the Center Market, where we had more hot cocoa and visited with the wife of the morning's cashier.  She also signed the cards with no instructions ("we get a lot of you all through here and Dallas")  Susan did the night riding additions (helmet light).  I was already set up, having not taken off my reflective vest all day.  I switched my helmet light on.

It started to mist a bit as we headed north through the increasing gloom.  Three miles into Lafayette (again, a shout out to the polite drivers in Lafayette who ALWAYS stop to let cyclists and pedestrians cross 99W.  Always.), through, and out onto Abbey Road (there really is an abbey).  By now, full dark, with the mist getting somewhat more like "rain".  Susan and I rode side by side, enjoying the illumination from our Supernova E3 headlights.  Not much traffic, and what there was generally stayed back until it was safe to pass.

Susan: "I've never ridden this stretch in the dark".  Me: "Seems I've ridden it more in the dark than in daylight!"

Pulled over at Laughlin Road for a stretch and a snack.  A car stopped.  "Are you lost?"  Uh, no, thank you.  Susan later said we should have replied "Not all who wander are lost".  The best comebacks always wait until it is too late.

As we wandered closer to Gaston, the oncoming headlights and rain speckled glasses combined to make it really, really hard for me to see.  I finally found a spot where I could pull over (I couldn't even see the driveways that I knew were there) and take off the glasses.  Immediate improvement; I'd just have to hope I didn't get any stuff in my eyes.

The spot where it would flood if it was going to flood was still clear.  We both were thinking that "if this ride finished in Forest Grove we'd be done soon!"  Headed into Forest Grove for a receipt.  There is a Jack in the Box at the corner of Maple and Pacific (TV Hwy) that served nicely.  I sucked down a carton of OJ.  Then, off for the last 10 miles into Hillsboro.

TV Hwy has a bike lane, but it is a very busy road of varying road surface quality.  Just on the west edge of Hillsboro we were directed off to a parallel, and almost deserted street.  Aaaahhhhh.

And then, finally, back on Baseline, watching the street numbers count up to 70, where we stopped at the gas station down the road from Marcello's for our final receipt.  I bought and inhaled a banana.

Susan had visions of a sub 10 hour 200k, but with the mechanicals and the extreme weather, we did it in 12:33.  Susan: "that's the longest 200k I've ever done!".  Me: "I've done longer :-) "

Coasted to Marcello's, where Kathy and Marcello welcomed us with "you two look much less hypothermic than the other guy!"  We sat down and organized our receipts and Kathy gave us big mugs of hot tea, and, in my case a bowl of Shepherd's Pie.  Mmmm.  Hot.  We enjoyed Andrea Bocelli's Christmas special on the Tivo, and received our cards for this ride and last weekend back from Marcello.

And then home, to a towel by the back door :-) and a wonderful surprise.  Totally off subject, but there was a letter at the top of the mail pile...  The US Patent Office granted me my 5th US Patent!

Sorry, no pictures - too wet!

Gear notes:
Rain pants from Susan gave it up after 24 miles of incessant heavy rain.  Nice while they lasted. They'd probably work perfectly under less-intense conditions.
Sugoi Firewall gloves - they get saturated, but still keep my hands quite warm.  I just wring them out every so often.  Definitely keepers.
Sugoi Firewall booties - they gave it up after many miles of heavy rain as well.  Darn.
Sugoi Firewall tights - wore them the second half of the ride, legs were warm the entire time
Smartwool baselayers - wool.  Nuff said.
Smartwool cycling shorts - I finally performed the chamois transplant (a wool-faced chamois is just a bit too itchy for me), and they were great!  They actually dried out on the second half of the ride!
Bell Metro helmet with fitted raincover - awesome!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bald Peak Populaire

Bald Peak is not a climb that I would get up one day and say "ooh!  I'll go ride up Bald Peak!".  It is a local climb with several ways up, all of which hurt.  There is no easy way up Bald Peak.

That said, friend Susan suggested we ride Marcello's Bald Peak Permanent Populaire.  64 miles, 3000 vertical feet.

Bald Peak Perm

Weather was low 40's, maybe a teeny chance of rain.  It did not say windy (insert foreshadowing music).  I put some lube on Sweetpea's chain and called it good.

Met Susan at Marcello's just before 10am (it's only 100k.  we had a leisurely start.).  Marcello was going to ride as well.  It turned out that Susan and I were the very first to ride this perm other than Marcello.

We took the standard "escape route" out to Laurel, but stayed on Bald Peak Rd rather than heading south to the store.  Not so challenging right at the start, but just before mile 10, the road starting going up.  Seriously up.  The incline averaged 7% over 4.5 miles.  It got to where I'd think "oh, this feels easy!", only to look down at the computer and notice that the incline had dropped below 10%.  Found Susan about 1/3 of the way up.  Ate my banana, Marcello came by (he rides a recumbent trike), and we pressed onward and upward.

Looking back, about 1/3 of the way up Bald Peak

At one point, I was hoping the grade would slack off as the summit got closer, but then I'd turn a corner and see another wall.  One more very brief pause, and then the last mile.  Found Susan at the park.  Total climb time was about 50 minutes.  Susan was cold, so we only lingered long enough for me to write down the info control answer and pull my jacket back on.  Marcello came by and we all set out.

Now we were headed along the summit ridge, with the wind roaring in from the east and, to our west... air.  Susan and I both hugged the center line, for fear of getting blown over !  Eventually we dropped below the ridge, but the descent did not let up.  The only other time I have climbed Bald Peak was by the route we were now descending.  Whacking steep.  Turned onto Chehalem Drive - more hairpin turns and bits of gravel.  Finally the grade slacked off, and I found Susan and Marcello at the intersection with North Valley Rd.

We all headed into Newberg.  Susan wanted coffee and plumbing, so we elected to head over to the Coffee Cottage ("time sucking vortex").  Our receipts (allowing for that their cash register was still on daylight time) had us there right at closing of the control.  If you do this ride, keep that in mind - no faffing between the start and Newberg :-)

Susan at the Coffee Cottage in Newberg

We misplaced Marcello at this point, and didn't see him until we finished.

I had a mocha, and we shared a scone.  The cheery young barista wanted to know if I wanted whipped cream on top - yes indeed, I need all the calories today that I can get :-)

Back out to North Valley Road, where we had a nice push westward and discussed the joys of surfing the rollers on a tandem.  We've both done it, and the rollers are spaced just right.

Then we turned north.  The wind was still blowing hard from the east and north; there were many miles of it work our way through.  The scenery on North Valley / Spring Hill is amazing as always.  The wetlands are full.  Susan's friends Catherine and Rick were out in their driveway near Gaston, so we stopped to chat.  I was looking at the ridge waaaaaaay up there behind their house.  That was the Bald Peak Ridge.  Looks very steep from below.  I ate a couple of Sweet Salty Peanut bars while riding along.

Brief pause just before the Fern Hill turn to get wetlands pictures, then north through Forest Grove.

Wetlands just before the intersection of Spring Hill and Fern Hill roads

The eastward stretch on Cornelius-Schefflin was tough.  Susan's comment after the turn onto Gordon - "well THAT sucked".  Into North Plains for a brief stop at the store for a receipt (and some sunflower seed kernels).  Another eastward stretch on West Union to Helvetia - strong headwind and rolling.  I kept looking for the school zone sign that signaled our turn to the south.

Finally, south on Helvetia, across Hwy 26, onto Huffman, then south on 229th/231st to Cornelius Pass.  We had a quartering tailwind.  Whew.  Then the last bit east on Baseline, and a stop at the gas station for our ending receipt.

6:19 elapsed time, with, according to my bike computer, 45 minutes of not riding.  Average of 12.26 mph.  The temperature was mostly in the low 40's.  No rain to speak of.  I did not eat or drink enough.  I really need to keep eating and not worry quite so much about keeping up with other people, because then I haven't eaten and I can't keep up!

After which, Susan and I went to our respective homes and cleaned up, Susan found us a restaurant downtown, and we all enjoyed eating at Mandarin House before all going off to listen to Target for Tomorrow and the Cherry Poppin' Daddies.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


This Saturday's excursion was the Skyline-Vernonia 200km permanent.  Bill A sent around an email looking for company, and, after a cautious inquiry on the proposed pace, I was in.

Skyline Vernonia Route

Bill lives just over a mile from me, so I offered to drive us to the start - he knew where it was, and I was a bit fuzzy on the St John's neighborhood.

The weather was earlier forecasted to be not raining (that's the best we can hope for here after October :-) ), but that changed.  I suffered a severe perceived wardrobe inadequacy.  Fortunately, Team Estrogen was here for me, and I bought new gloves, tights, booties, and they tossed in a hat.

Bill appeared, we loaded up the van, and headed over.  Found Ed G, Adam G, and David P. waiting in the St John's Starbucks, along with Amy, who was there to see us off.

David, Adam and Ed at the St Johns Starbucks

Bill at the St Johns Starbucks

Official start was 7am.  We started at 7:24am.  Across the St John's Bridge in the grey, persistent drizzle, then south and up through Washington Park.  I'd pedal, then swipe my glasses so I could see.  This pattern would continue for the entire ride...

Up through the park, up Fairview, brief pause at the corner of Skyline for the info control, then continuing up on Skyline until the top of that climb at Greenleaf.  Normally, at this point, I'd bomb on down, get to a stop sign, do a short climb up, and bomb on down again.  Skyline is fun that way.  Not this day.  It was very foggy and drizzling.  I was muffled - couldn't see the road well enough to go as fast as I wanted to.  Pulled over at Skyline School for a snack and regroup, then down Old Cornelius Pass (another fun descent curtailed) onto the flat part of the ride.   David P and I spent some time grumbling about the fog in the hills. :-)  I was actually starting to worry about missing the control time in Forest Grove, but we picked up the pace on the flats.  Once I averaged over 10 miles covered per hour, I relaxed.

South and west to Forest Grove.  I could see Adam, Ed, and David up ahead, but when I got to the corner of Gordon and Harrington, they entered some space-time warp, and I didn't see them again until Maggie's Buns in Forest Grove (42 miles).  They said they had just gotten there, and indeed, were parking their bikes.  Okay.  I had a hot cocoa and ate my sandwich and banana; everyone else ordered something more substantial.

Bill and I left ahead of the others.  Bill slowly dropped behind on Gales Creek Rd.  I stopped at Glenwood for a brief pause, and headed out again.  Didn't see anyone else.  Was I riding THAT fast?  I didn't think so, but I hadn't seen anyone behind me (we were all running our headlights all day).  Almost up to Timber, where I found everyone.  Ed wanted to know if I was happy with my job.  Well, yeah...  Turned out there was an ATM dumped by the roadside.  Adam was calling it in - the person at the other end said (and I quote) "it's cheaper to buy a new one... you can have it."

So Ed and Adam were trying to determine if there was anything still in it!  I eventually left them to it (I am used to being slow and last, and have gotten into the habit of trying to limit my stops) and proceeded down through Timber and off to Vernonia.  They caught up somewhere along the deadly dull boring 11 mile stretch from Hwy 26 to Vernonia.  David and I rode along for quite some time, chatting the whole time, which made that deadly dull stretch go by much faster!

We planned to regroup at Black Bear Coffee in Vernonia (77 miles), where I had my other sandwich, and a bowl of wonderful soup, amazing buttery, spicy cheese toast and coffee.  And some more Advil.  It had ceased drizzling when we arrived.  Sadly, when we left, the drizzle was back.

Potato Chowder and amazing Cheese Toast in Vernonia

Our bikes in Vernonia

Adam, Bill, Ed, and David in Vernonia

I squeezed a lot of water out of my gloves, but they were keeping my hands warm, for all that.  My hands weren't getting wet - they'd sweat, but nothing came in from the outside.  They are definitely keepers!

Off again, and time for the major climb of the day.  The Scappoose-Vernonia Road.  Starts out innocuously enough, then starts gently up.  Then not so gently up. 4.4mph is a speed.  You can see clear air up ahead, and think, ah, that's the top.  No.  The grade ranged from 7% to 9% for a couple of miles.  David and I ground our way along, eventually summiting in the clearcut between mileposts 9 and 10.  I just wanted to be down the other side before it got dark.  It was definitely gloomy (and still persistently drizzling).  The first 2 or 3 miles of the downhill is over bad road, but then the road gets much better.  You'd THINK, that coming into Scappoose you'd see something resembling civilization.  Nope.  Pretty much nothing but managed forest for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles.  FINALLY, we could see the Hwy 30 traffic light ahead (and Scappoose).  Bill had stopped awhile back and caught up with us; we crossed Hwy 30 to do our tour of the Scappoose Dike Roads.

Now, this is a loop added in to make the distance right.  I am sure there is something to see, in the daylight.  By now it was very, very dark.  Nothing to see but pavement, and Bill and David's lights.  And drizzle.  There was an info control, and we stopped there, but could not make a perfect determination of the answer.

Back onto Hwy 30, and a stop at a Texaco mini-mart.  Hot coffee, plumbing, a Sweet Salty Peanut bar and gel with 2x caffeine...  I squeezed more water out of my gloves (hands still just fine).  Ed found us there.  No Adam...  After enough dawdling there (took some Excedrin this time; my lower back and left hip were just not happy all day), time to finish off the ride.

Thus began the most epic (or hellish, your choice) part of the ride.  Hwy 30 has a nice wide shoulder.  But it was dark and raining.  My glasses would get wet, and the taillights of the bikes in front of me would flare, and I couldn't see.  So I dropped back a bit, which helped, but the shoulder line would go away at the cross streets (not many, but enough).   I wanted a drink, but I also did not want to take my hands off the handlebars.  I can do dark, and I can do rain, but I really prefer to not do them at the same time.

Passed the Cornelius Pass interchange.  Passed the Sauvie Island bridge interchange... Getting closer.  Caught up and rode by Ed for awhile.  Finally got to Linnton and street lights!  Whew.  Sort of.  Bill had a squashy tire and dropped back.  Ed, David and I crossed the St Johns Bridge in a pack, taking up a lane.  Coasted down, and we were done.  Whew.

Leaned the bikes outside (very brave, doing that in Portland), went in, dumped all the wet stuff on a table and ordered a Pumpkin Spice Latte.  I earned it.  We had a nice celebratory post-ride round of coffee drinks, and a nice patron took our picture.

Happy Finishers!

Finished in 12:35.  We'd get to a control with 45 minutes in the bank, faff it away, then get up another 45 minutes before the next control.  I wasn't having any trouble keeping up, except on the last climb.  Delightful ride with the guys.

Clothing review - Sugoi Firewall Booties are definitely keepers.  Feet did well.  Sugoi Firewall Z gloves, also keepers.  It rained the entire time, and I wore the same gloves the entire time.  Hands were NOT cold.  Sugoi Firewall 220 tight - mostly good.  As long as I was moving they were excellent.  The rain did not get in.  My knees would be a bit chilly on startup, but they'd warm up.  I wore them over my booties.

What else did I wear?  Long sleeved wool OrRando jersey (no base layer, just the jersey), Showers Pass Elite jacket, Smartwool socks, PI X-Alp shoes, and some Shebeest shorts.  I wish I had been wearing wool shorts.  As soon as the chamois transplant is complete (in process, Smartwool Ewetopia shorts, and a Shebeest chamois), I will have some.

The new saddle was a wonder - no platform issues on this ride at all.

Sweetpea rolled over 1000 miles :-)  127.59 miles, 12.73 riding average. 6600 vertical feet (claims my cyclocomputer)

I did not take pictures during the ride, because I did not have easily accessible fingers.  What pictures I did take are here.

Bill took several, but they aren't up yet.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Verboort Populaire - what a difference a year makes!

November... time to ride the Verboort Populaire again.  Last year, I was one of the ride organizers, and pre-rode it in 6:13.

Snooseville Corners Control

Today is an anniversary - 1 year post-treatment.  I think I can say with some confidence now that my body is finally back to what my head thinks it should be able to do.  Actually my body is exceeding expectations. (really big grin here)

So, the ride.  I wasn't riding WITH anyone this year - Susan was off running another half marathon, and Cecil wasn't riding either.  So I thought... suppose I could do it in under 5 hours?

This ride requires no major preparations - I tossed a banana and a couple of bars in my bag.  The weather was going to be cloudy and 50's, with the rain holding off until the evening.  So I added booties to the bag, and extra gloves, and called it good.  Oh, and pumped up Sweetpea's tires.

Sweetpea has yet another saddle.  Got another Terry Butterfly Ti.  While the Brooks is a lovely saddle, and makes any bike look darn cool, I just cannot sit on it for any length of time.  So, I've got a Brooks Flyer "S" with a Selle Anatomica cutout AND the Brooks saddle maintenance kit (includes Proofhide AND the special adjustment spanner) for sale...

Arrived at the Grand Lodge around 8:30am, carefully threading the van around all those cyclists milling around in the parking lot.  Checked in, visited.  Pulled on my rain jacket and long finger gloves.  It was not raining, but the mist was pretty thick.  Made sure the lights were on (see previous comment about thick mist).  Off promptly at 9am, headed for Longbottoms'.

Waiting to start

I found myself toward the front part of the group (!)  As I completely knew where I was going, no need to consult the cue sheet.  Alan Bell from SIR rode up and introduced himself; we rode together all the way to Longbottoms.  There was a crash on Hornecker.  As there was very large crowd already there, we edged around and continued.  Alan was talking up the SIR 200km Solstice Ride :-)  Ride all night and watch the sun rise.  (I can hear the husband now: "can't you stay in Portland and ride all night in the dark when you can't see anything anyway?" :-) )

Alan got a flat just before Longbottoms.  I got my card signed, ditched the jacket and long finger gloves, ate the banana, and elected to ride on.

Rode with Ron H until the next control at Snooseville.  He was riding a single speed.  I am impressed.   Oliver and Megan found us heading out of North Plains; we all continued up Dairy Creek Rd to the control together.  I took pictures, and Oliver took my camera and took some more pictures.  Getting pretty confident here, passing a camera around WHILE RIDING.

Oliver and Megan

Me, with Ron and Megan behind

Fern Flat Road

Still not raining.  The mist had lightened, but the air still felt very, very damp.  Got to the control, to find Ed G with strong hot coffee and vegan sausages!  And cocoa mix!  Mixed myself up a Rando Mocha in a real mug and shared a Smoked Apple sausage with Ron.  We both figured half a sausage would not be too much.

Vegan Smoked Apple Sausage in a Bun

Finished eating, took a few more pictures, and then Ron and I headed out.  It was, um, a bit chilly, but I resisted putting the jacket back on.  I warmed up after a couple of miles.  And eventually realized that Ron had fallen back, and I was on my own again.

The fabled Frogger Junction

Back onto Mountaindale, then over to the Highway 26 crossing ("Frogger Junction").  Scott and Linda found me there (they had gotten in some bonus miles.  Normally they are so far ahead of me...)  We crossed together, and they rocketed off ahead.  Pretty ride west on Mountaindale/Wilkesboro, then turned north into Banks, where I found Kyle, who was having a navigational quandary.  Turned out he'd already gone through Banks, west on Cedar Canyon, east on Hwy 6 and... found himself back in Banks.

Kyle on Cedar Canyon Rd

We rode together until the end. :-)  Cedar Canyon and the wetlands were pretty, but no birds in the wetlands yet.  We found Diane at the info control, and all proceeded onto Hwy 6 and then OFF Hwy 6 onto Stafford Rd.  And up.  The climb seemed easy this time.  It never seems easy.

Strohmayer Road, plum orchards in fall

Not too much further to go, and definitely on track for a sub-5 hour finish.  Onto Strohmayer with the plum orchards in fall colors, the road changing to Kansas City, then Thatcher.  Left onto Kemper, cross Hwy 47 (I should have eaten something in Banks), south on Visitation, where we could see the flashing light that marked the sausage feed and... done.

Diane came up shortly after that.  We found the bulk sausage sales and did a little shopping, then walked over to the bingo tent for sausage to eat right now.  Ron found us there.

Mmmm.  Sausage.

Mmmm.  Sausage.

After eating, we walked back to the bikes to head back to the Grand Lodge.  I collected a whole crew of riders who weren't clear on how to get back; we all rode together.  It was still not raining :-)

Dang.  Look at that time.

4:41 total elapsed time (yes, I am shouting! Best time ever, by 30 minutes, and that was back in 2007!), 62.7 miles.  Moving average of 14.82 mph, including the ride back to the Grand Lodge (overall total, 65.21 miles).

All the pics here (there's lots more!)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Things I Did Not Know Were On My Bucket List

(me, run a half marathon?  No way!)

Way back last fall, friend Susan guilted peer-pressured recruited me and some other friends to join her in running the Girlfriend's Half Marathon.  I dutifully started running again, starting from nothing (run 0:30, walk 4:30) x 10 and got myself up to a 10K distance.  Then backslid (running by myself is LONELY.  Running after work isn't gonna happen.  I despise getting up early and running by myself in the DARK).  Then, noticing that dates in the calendar were closer than they appeared, started running again in July.  3 times a week, two shorter runs (4+ miles) and a longer run with Susan, starting at 6 miles and going up every week - 8, 9, 10, 6 (rest week), 12, 6, 6.  I was toast after that 12 mile run.  Fortunately I am working at a place where they understand runners. :-)

The Sunday before, Cecil, Susan and I ran 5.9 miles on the Wildwood trail in Forest Park.  In the rain.  There are muscles used in trail running that are not used for road running.  Ow.  Was I going to feel better by the next Sunday?  I got in one more run in the Nature Park over lunch.  (Another good thing about where I am working - easy access to my favorite trails in the Nature Park.  I have missed running there)

Ok, so night before, gear all collected for a run that would be done in temperatures from 42 to 46 deg F, no rain (yay!), and a lot of time thinking I'd really rather ride a 200k...

Pre-crinkled bib

This has been counting down for months

Nice bowl of oatmeal and a cup of coffee.  Susan and Jill appeared, we piled into Susan's car and drove over to Vancouver.  It was cold.  Really cold.  There were runners walking around in SHORTS and SPORTS BRAS!  I got hypothermia just looking at them!  Mostly we stayed in the car; Jill and Susan discussed pre-race anti-inflammatories.  I had already taken my Advil.

"I take these before a run..."

We are very cold.

My former co-worker Jerry was there volunteering; we caught up.  He runs a marathon pretty much every weekend (!)  Cecil and her friend Judy found me right before the start.  We jumped around trying to warm up.  Finally, it was TIME!  We had all split up before starting, so I didn't see anyone for awhile.  First mile was gently downhill.  I had to thread my way among the walkers.  We ran by the Vancouver Farmer's Market and then down to the Columbia River and headed east for about 4 or so miles.  There was mist on the river, the sun was just above the horizon, and it was completely gorgeous.  As I approached the turnaround, I saw Linda, Susan, Jill and Cecil. Heading back myself, I saw Judy.

We eventually split off from the outgoing runners and ran west along a parallel street, then did a hard right turn into Historic Fort Vancouver.  Ran by the old fort, Pearson Airfield, Officers Row, then out the east side of the fort, north a few blocks, then turned back west and through the fort again.  There were some little hills here, nothing to get excited about.

My little toe felt a bit disturbed around mile 9.  About mile 12, my right quad spoke up.  At that point it was "suck it up, almost done".

Lots of families out along the course, cheering on their runners.  Little kids wanted to high five everyone :-)  And then we crossed back over I-5, into downtown, around the block and FINISHED!

Fitz was there waiting (yay! plane landed in time!), and Susan, Jill, and Cecil were there.  I finished only 1:17 behind Cecil...

picture courtesy of Cecil R-S

We hugged.  We took pictures.  We ate and made plans to meet at Gordito Taco in Portland and eat some more.  Changed out of the running gear into dry clothes, adjourned to Gordito Taco (where Linda, Scott and Fitz joined us) for more yummy food outside in the sunshine.

bib number:514
overall place:597 out of 1394
division place:48 out of 111

The average time was 2:30:26.

My pace was reasonably consistent throughout.  I walked through each water station (every 2 miles) to drink some water and ate a gel every 3 miles.  Never felt bad, never had to have arguments with myself.  HR Avg was 155, which, for me, running is pretty decent.  My pace was the best in a very long time for anything over 5 miles.

Race pics here

It is now over a week since the race.  I have been heard to utter the words... next time.

Monday, October 11, 2010

sweetpeas in trout lake

sweetpeas in trout lake
Originally uploaded by tangobiker
This picture cracks me up! Thanks for taking it, Bill!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bingen Bikenfest 2010

'Peas at the Klickitat scenic overlook

The Kramer's annual fall 200km romp on the dry side of the Cascades (mostly). This year's route was similar to the 2007 route, except, rather than taking SR 14 east to Hwy 97, and then north into Goldendale, we cut off SR 14 at Lyle, and went to Goldendale via Centerville. Longer climb, but probably not quite as steep.

High Points:
I finished before sunset! (she says, jumping up and down)
Riding average of 13.7mph
Total ride time of 10:49. I'm making these sub 11hr 200km rides a habit :-)
Did NOT, repeat did NOT finish last. Far from it, even.

The ride details here.

Susan O and I thought we'd ride it together.  She even offered to drive (yay!), and arrived at my house at 5:30am.  Loaded up the bike, and we were off.  I had gotten all my food and spare clothes and such ready the night before.

Finally found some coffee for Susan in Hood River, then headed across the bridge to find the start point.  Lots of checking in, milling around, and then we were off at 7:30am.

The first 6 miles on SR 14 went quite quickly, then off the highway for 3.3 miles on Old Highway 8.  Pretty.  Nice views of the Columbia River; maybe 500 feet of climbing.

Pause on the Columbia River outside of Lyle

Back down to the river at Lyle, and immediately back up, for the major climb of the day. 2000 vertical feet over 8-10 miles.  Mostly 4-6% grade.  I had ditched my jacket on the previous climb.  It wasn't even 60 degrees yet, and I was very very hot - sweat running down my face!  Pulled over to lose the armwarmers and find a bandanna for my head.  This was one of those climbs where you THINK the top might be JUST around the corner, and you get to that corner  I decided it was time to eat something, and started working on my TJ's Sesame Crepe while riding along.  Ate almost the entire thing (half of one.  500 calories).  That was really yummy.  More climbing.  We were on the dry side of the Cascades, so rounded golden hill after rounded golden hill, inching upward...  Susan was long out of sight by now.  I thought I might be at the tail end of the ride.

Is this the top YET? no

Finally, came up and around a corner and saw... a valley.  Thank you Lord! (those were the exact thoughts in my head).  Down....  found Susan and the Hughart brothers, Holden and David.  We headed off through the valley to Centerville (the grain silo was visible long before we actually arrived).  Nice views of Mt Adams to the north, cattle grazing, ...

Admired Holden's new International Orange Bike Friday.  He admired my new Sweetpea.  When we last rode together at the Birkie 200km, we were both getting new bikes, but didn't have them yet.  Susan and David were up ahead a bit.

Scenery on the dry side of the Cascades

Oreo Cows!

Eventually found ourselves in Centerville (population -5, or something like that) at our turn, where Susan and David were having a snack.  So we joined them.  Someone was walking down the road...turned out to be John, and did we need more water; his car was just up the road.  We relocated and topped off our water bottles.

Off again - I could see signs of greater population up ahead, and eventually found myself in the outskirts of Goldendale.  We were directed to the combination DQ/Subway/Gas station/Convenience Store as the control (44.6 mi).  Long lines for the food, but I didn't want any of that - bought a Gatorade and a Starbucks Mocha Doubleshot (the darkside claims Lynne), and went outside to eat my sandwich.

We have gone over to the Dark Side

Many other riders showed up as we were eating.  Guess we weren't at the end after all :-)  Topped off my Gatorade and water, and left the extra Gatorade for the following riders.  (On a rando ride, if one arrives at a control, there will often be a partial gallon of water or other beverage left for the next group of riders.  This is a nice convention.)

Passed through Goldendale, and very soon, Susan and I were back out on range land.  Cattle could conceivably be roaming around unfenced...  We didn't see any.  Lots of great views of Mt Adams and Mt Hood and lots of wide open space.

Mt Hood, between Goldendale and the Klickitat River

After 10 miles of this, we turned onto the Glenwood Highway.  I was anticipating the drop into the Klickitat River canyon, but we had a few more miles to ride, and about 500 more feet of climbing before that happened.

The Klickitat River canyon is, for me, the major highlight of this ride.  Riding along, stair-step climbing up, and then, the sign... Truck on a Triangle.  The scenery is breathtaking.  I told Susan I was planning to stop at the scenic overlook.  We started the descent, and maybe a mile into it, pulled over for pictures.  A group of motorcyclists was also out enjoying the day, and one volunteered to get pictures of us.

Me, Susan, the 'Peas and Mt Adams at the Klickitat overlook

Pictures accomplished, we continued on down.  It goes on for seemingly MILES and is just gorgeous scenery - oak trees, a bit of fall color, sunshine, the canyon walls...  Then we did a hard turn right, descended a bit more, crossed the river, and it was time to ride back up.  The first mile is a bit special, but then it turns into a gentle stair-step climb.  Brief stop for clothing adjustment (my Carradice bag started out the day with lots of empty space, was now filled with windbreaker, long finger gloves, armwarmers, kneewarmers and toecovers).

Mt Adams from just outside Glenwood

Eventually it leveled off (in reality, we were still climbing) outside of Glenwood, past the pond, the great view of Mt Adams, and finally, the Glenwood General Store (80 miles).

Hanging at the Glenwood Store

A few cyclists were there, more showed up as we were sitting and eating (sandwich and banana).  Even Bill A, who I did not know was on this ride! (He got to the start shortly after we all had departed).  Susan, Scott P, Bill A and I started out, moving at a very brisk pace.  After about 6 or 7 miles, I couldn't hold on, and they slowly pulled away.  Especially since we were starting the last climbing stretch (700 ft) over the hills to get to Trout Lake.  Several false summits, and then the very nice descent.  The view of the valley is wonderful, but I couldn't bring myself to stop and take a picture - flat, green, farms...

Approaching Trout Lake

Working my way west to the Trout Lake control, I could sometimes see Scott P up ahead.  I found them at the intersection with Mt Adams road, but I kept on going to the control at the RV park.  A very quick pause to answer the question, and back to the Trout Lake store.  No doubleshots, so I had to console myself with a frappucino and bag of Fritos.  Susan offered to help if I thought the bag was too big.  Which it was, but that was the smallest bag they had.

Scott and Susan at the Trout Lake store

Bill and Scott left a bit before we did.  We were hoping there would be no headwind back down to the start (24 miles, 2000 ft total drop with an annoying 400 ft uptick a few miles before the end), so we could enjoy it.  No headwind.  We were riding between 18-25mph all the way to Husum (the uptick).  One brief stop to turn on the rear blinkies.  Scott got a flat outside Husum - there was a fair amount of broken glass on the shoulders.

Our goal was to finish before 6:30, which would make an 11 hr ride.  A secondary goal was to finish before dark - the last time I finished this ride, it was downright scary dropping through White Salmon and Bingen with the lighting I had at the time.  I think I bought my SON28 and IQ Fly right after that!  Turned on the headlight just outside White Salmon, just to alert oncoming vehicles.

Mt Hood

Racing the sun to the finish, but I did stop to take a picture of Mt Hood.  The stretch from Husum to White Salmon seemed WAY too long, but eventually I found the drop through town (yes, at or exceeding the 35 mph speed limit, and then reefing on the brakes to get down to 25 mph).  Last info control in Bingen (I didn't write it down), then west on SR 14 for just over a mile to get to the finish.  In daylight.  Not at the tail end of the group.

Sunset over the Columbia River

Changed out of the cycling gear, enjoyed snacks, and then Susan and I got a recommendation for a place to get some dinner in Hood River.  Off to Ixtapa.  Yum.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sweetpea headbadge

Sweetpea headbadge
Originally uploaded by Lynne Fitz
I never did share this one...