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.