Sunday, September 18, 2011

I Did This Ride Just Because

The R-12 is complete.  I didn't NEED to do another Rando ride this month.  But there it was - the SIR Fall 200km.  Starting in Olympia and heading west.  The Kitsap and areas south.  Bill wanted to ride, but was undecided about going up the night before or driving up in the morning.  Portland Timbers game the night before, so I'd have to drive up.  We joined forces.

Satsop River

Due to the aforementioned Timbers game (they won!) and pre-ride preparations, I had a grand total of 3.5 hours of sleep when my alarm went off at 3:30am.

Collected Bill (who had an alarm clock mishap) and started north, only 45 minutes past our planned departure time.  Would we make it before the 7am start?  Yes indeed, arrived at 6:45am, fell out of Shiny Red Element (Bill now covets my car.  He can get in line.), registered, pulled on my shoes, jacket, helmet and reflective gear, and pulled out with the group at 7am.

Of course, 5 miles into it, that was mostly the last I'd see of anyone else.  The first part of the ride had us working our way up to Steamboat Island.  Saw a pack of riders headed back.  It was grey and gloomy, and after Steamboat Island, it commenced to rain.  I had a rain jacket.  I did not have booties, and I was wearing my Keen sandals.  My feet did get cold and wet.

Then more riding around Kamilche Point and the Little Skookum Inlet (I think) by Taylor Towne, where I checked the route sheet and elected to press on to Arcadia before buying any food.  I had plenty.  The controls on this route were mostly info controls in remote locations.  Only two on-course timed controls.

Rained off and on, finally giving it up a bit before Arcadia.  I felt the lack of my usual coffee intake.  But wait!  I had Penguin Caffeinated Mints!  Time to give them a try.  Not only were they tasty, and perked me up a bit, but my poor frozen feet warmed up as well.  Found another rider at the store in Arcadia, which the map reveals as just SE of Shelton (hey!  I've been THERE!).  I also found an Industrial Size Payday Bar, which kept me going all the way to the timed control at 75 miles.

After Arcadia-Shelton, it finally warmed up enough that I took off the jacket and started taking a few pictures.  The sun came out a few times.

Cloquallum-Satsop Road

Shadow Panda With Chipseal

River near Schaefer State Park

Long stretch on Cloquallum Road, followed by another long stretch on Cloquallum-Satsop Road, and finally at 75 miles, the timed and staffed control at Schafer State Park.



Found Ian and Mill and lots of food.  I stuck around for probably longer than I should have, but it was nice to have a conversation with someone other than myself for a bit.  Ian did tell me that there were 8-10 riders still behind me.  He also said there would be a fun descent from the Satsop (never finished) nuclear power plant, which we'd ride right by.

Satsop road was pretty, if long.  Lots of long stretches on this route, most in what seemed to be pretty remote areas.  Not hardly any traffic.  I had to keep eating.  Still working on that Payday bar.  Yes, it was that big.

building in Satsop

Through the town of Satsop, across Hwy 12, and the flats to the last real climb up to the nuclear plant.

The cooling towers.  Last climb of the day

Mailbox on Keys Rd

Not a hard climb by any means, but after the wind and rolling hills and chipseal, I was starting to fade a bit.  Paused at the summit to get a picture or two, take some Ibuprofen, and eat.  The descent was every bit as wonderful as promised.  I don't believe I have EVER seen nicer pavement.

Cooling tower up close

Another long, mostly flat and headwindy stretch to get to Hwy 12, a couple miles there, and the next timed control in Malone.  I was definitely tired, bought Fritos and a Doubleshot, sat on the store steps and consumed them.  Mox Chehalis road wound its way through a valley.  More chipseal and headwinds.  And some idiots in a pickup with the entire road wide open, who felt the need to pass with less than a foot of room between us.  They were the only ones all day - every other driver was very considerate.

Finally popped out for the 10.9 mile stretch on SR 8.  Slight climb for the first 5 or 6 miles.  But I had my very own lane (a very wide, non-chipseal shoulder) and no headwind.  And then... a descent.  For the rest of the SR-8 leg, and the next bit on Old Hwy 410.

10.9 miles of SR-8 toward the end

Finally, crossing (I honestly don't remember if there was an overpass or underpass) Hwy 101, and back onto Mud Bay Rd.   Past the Blue Heron Coffee Co, up the hill, and into Olympia.  About a mile from the end it started to rain with extreme prejudice, so a brief stop to pull the jacket back on.  Past the Safeway where we started, looking for Division St and the pizza place....  And there it was.

Mill came out and grabbed my bike, pointed me inside, and got me some hot tea.  Enjoyed visiting with the other riders and volunteers and Narayan (who dropped by).  Pizza.  Hot tea.  Listening to many PBP stories.  Gradually feeling less disoriented.  Rode back to the Safeway with John and Jesse to get the car (and the dry change of clothes).  Back to Vic's Pizza as Bill arrived.  Dry clothes, more visiting, and negotiating with Bill on who would drive.  More to the point, if I drove first, Bill could have a beer.

Raji and Narayan

The crowd at Vic's Pizza

The drive home was interesting.  It was pouring and dark, with the attendant limited visibility.  I finally had to give it up at the rest stop around exit 45.  Bill took over, and, of course, it stopped raining.  Brief stop for refueling (both the car and us), and home.  I kept conking out once we crossed the I-5 bridge, but did get alert enough to drive the 1.2 miles from Bill's home to mine.  I didn't even unpack the car.  Shower and bed.

So, 11:06 total elapsed time, 127.52 miles, 13.09 avg (oh, that's slow), 6240 vertical feet.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Bridge of the Gods 200km, Second R-12 Completed

The Portland Crew (David P, Theo and Ed) volunteered to run the Bridge of the Gods 200km route as the Oregon Randonneurs September brevet.  Excellent.  I didn't have to do anything but show up and ride.

I was very familiar with this route - I usually ride it in the other direction, and over Cape Horn on SR-14, rather than via Canyon Creek.  But Cecil and I had done the Workers' Ride for the RUSA 10th Anniversary, which was the route in its entirety.  I should note that the 10th anniversary was in Aug 2008, and Cecil and I have been riding together for longer than that...  2006?  Sadly, no Cecil riding this day.

Michal came up from Eugene to ride as well.  So, there we all were, on a cool but-not-going-to-stay-that-way morning, heading out to the Columbia River and points east.

Marine Drive bikepath

As Michal had not done this ride before, I made him stop at all the photo stops :-)

Michal with the Job Corps dragon

Up to Crown Point, where the east wind was trying to blow us out of the parking lot.  At times, standing up was a challenge.

Me at Crown Point

Michal at Crown Point

The descent was similarly challenging for the first 3 or 4 turns down - every time I rounded a corner, a wind gust would almost knock me off the bike.  Finally down to "the bottom", Latourell Falls.  Beautiful stretch from Latourell Falls to Shepperd's Dell - alders over the road, completely shaded, with the falling leaves crunching under my tires.

Multnomah Falls wasn't too far ahead, and I was jonesing for the famous ice cream sandwich.  Not that it was a control, but there are many stops on this route that are not controls!  Mmm.  Ice cream.  Helped settle the nerves from the descent from Crown Point.

Multnomah Falls ice cream sandwich

Then back into the headwind, and, eventually onto the I-84 shoulder.  Other than the first bridge, not too bad.  Big, wide shoulders, not too much traffic (for an interstate freeway).  Off at Bonneville and onto the trail.  Nice.  Carrying the bike down the stairs, and another couple miles into Cascade Locks.

Strategizing under the bridge, we elected to cross the bridge and stop in Stevenson for food.  If it hadn't been so gusty, I might have finally gotten some pictures looking down.  Maybe next time.  Michal's first Bridge of the Gods crossing; he's happy to have survived it :-)  And so, on to the Stevenson grocery, where we found some riders finishing up their snacks.  Got a jug of water, gatorade, something with salt and a Doubleshot.  Thus fortified, we set out to conquer Wind River Rd.

Michal has wanted to know about my experiences with the Agile development methodology, and Wind River Rd is just the long stretch to talk about such things.  {TOTAL geek interlude. I shall not bore you with the details}.  Gentle 8+ mile climb up, and eventually we could see the info control up ahead.  But wait!  There was Ed, ready to sign our cards!

Ed manning the turnaround control

To this point, the wind had been screaming in from the east, and ALL of us were ready to start heading back west.  But the wind was causing a bit of anxiety on the descent back to Carson - we had a headwind.  Besides being a good descent spoiled, what would it be doing when we got back to the Gorge?  Since it was supposed to remain HOT for the next few days, I was betting on a continued east wind.

And I was right.  Whew.  Back to Stevenson, where the unused part of the water jug was still waiting, as well as a  Sobe and some cookies and a banana.  The forest fires just over the ridge on the Oregon side were blotting out the sun - we could see it shining red through the smoke cover (Darkover anyone?)  

Heading west on SR-14

It did lower the temperature a bit.  We then pressed on all the way to Krogstad Rd, paused briefly, then continued along on Krogstad and Canyon Creek, to the Washougal River Mercantile, our last on-course control.  Fritos.  Water.  Sitting.  The riders immediately previous had left an almost full cup of coffee.  We didn't drink it.  

The next stretch was 9+ miles of Washougal River Road.  The workers' ride had commented on, mmm, impaired rafters heading home, so I was a bit worried.  Fortunately, we rode through before they started leaving the river.  Whew.

Into Camas, out onto 6th, then the Old Evergreen Highway.  Bumpy, but very little traffic.  Pedal, pedal, pedal.  I finally called for a cookie halt.  Fortunately we looked that the street sign before proceeding - we were at our turn onto Ellsworth.

Michal crossing the I-205 bridge

Across the I-205 bridge (downhill from the Washington side, but, again, the wind spoiled a good downhill), past the airport on the south side, over Columbia Blvd, and then just a few quiet miles to the finish.


Theo and Asta

At the finish

My second R-12 completed!   Fitz joined Michal, Cyndi (Ms. Michal) and me at Kennedy School for a post-ride celebration.

128 miles, 14.41 avg mph, 5997 vertical feet
11:03 elapsed time. 2:08 off the bike.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

RAPSody 2011

This year, I had planned to ride with Ross.  The rest of the group I rode with last year, had, for various reasons, not signed up for the ride. Realized on Wed night that I had not packed.  Oops.  Packed in 30 minutes.  It helped that I really had MENTALLY packed earlier, and had ascertained that the sleeping pad and fleece sleepsack were indeed in the house.  Plus, not hardly any food to worry about, just something caloric for the Saturday morning.

the Sound, Manchester

RAPSody is on the kinder, gentler parts of the Kitsap Peninsula, not like my last ride there.

Dinner at the Burgerville in Centralia on the way up, slept at the basic, yet adequate Days Inn in Tacoma.  Breakfast was Nutella in a flatbread.  Oh, so yummy and caloric.  But I didn't get enough coffee.

Found Ross and Dianne (she dropped him off) at the start.  Dumped my bag, visited with Gene from Tacoma (hi Gene!) and snagged a banana for later.

Nice surprise - Einar was riding!  Einar is a former coworker and fellow Portland Velo member.  We spent many years chatting outside the building while we stretched after our respective lunchtime running outings.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge

Ross and I headed over the bridge, through Gig Harbor, chatting and taking pictures.

Gig Harbor

I ate the banana about 15 miles into the ride.  Then, after wandering around in the woods, with brief views of the Sound, we were back along the coast, and eventually into the first stop at Manchester.  Mmm.  Yogurt.  Cookies.

Tidal flats

Ross and Lynne at Manchester

Then off to Port Orchard , playing with the cameras, finding a Bactrian camel (!) riding up and over a spine, down to Victor and around to Allyn.

Bactrian camel

I remembered to eat something about an hour after Manchester, so no bonking this year.  I may be a slow learner, but I get there.

Calzones, other snacks, the community band...

Visited with Dave E and Einar.  Then off again to Shelton.  This had the most deadly dull stretch of riding - 10+ miles with the sense of not getting anywhere.  It was REALLY hot by now.  The water stop was most welcome.  Ross outed me to another rider (he had asked Ross if the dimples on my fenders made me go faster, like on a golf ball), so I got to explain randonneuring.  I'll just call it recruiting, and I'll have to get better at it.  For the record, it isn't the dimples on the fenders, it is Little Pink Bear that makes me go faster :-)

Ross at Shelton

Then we finally arrived in Shelton, where I went off to score a wrestling mat to sleep on in the gym, and Ross got us root beer floats.  He was trying to call Dianne, but she wasn't picking up (still on her hike).  So we went around the back and got post-ride massages.  My masseuse showed me some stuff to teach my riding partners to unkink my shoulders and neck.  I will happily return the favor, as well :-)

Eric S showed up, and we visited for some time, then he was off to his hotel room.

Eventually Ross located someone to collect him (he was staying at a friend's home), Dianne called back, and all was good.  I went off and took a very long shower, and then joined Einar and Dave for dinner.  Some visiting after dinner, but I turned in early.

Set my alarm for 6am.  Someone's alarm went off at 5am (what WERE they thinking?), so I was trying to sleep through a lot of packing up trying to be quiet rustling around.  Finally gave it up just before 6am, and started rustling around myself.  Got all packed up, dropped my bag on the truck, and enjoyed breakfast with Einar and some others before heading out at 7:20am

Ross and I had made plans to meet up at mile 9 at 8am.  I was going to have to hustle.  Through Shelton and up, passing many people. People in Ironman jerseys.  People on carbon fiber bikes.

But yet, I got to the meetup point first :-)

There was a stretch of riding off and on Hwy 101.  We stopped at Blue Heron Coffee, but the line was too long, so we elected to push on to the rest stop.  Ross said they'd have coffee.  The Ironman riders were admiring my bike.  "Coolest bike on the ride." :-)

Off to the rest stop, where I got some more coffee and food.  They had Nutella, too.  By this point, my sports drink bottle was a mixture of Fruit Punch Gatorade, Tangerine-Ginger Nuun and Subtle Mandarin Orange HEED.  Suprisingly tasty.  I think the HEED gave it a slight Creamsicle overtone.  So, not a long stop, and off we went through Olympia.  Ross went to Evergreen; he's familiar with the area, and was being a great tourguide.


After Olympia, we eventually go onto the delight that is the Chehalis-Western Trail - a really long rail trail.

Ross on the Chehalis-Western Trail


Last rest stop - much warmer than last year.  More food was consumed.

Einar and Ross

North down to the Nisqually River (there is a good descent wasted), then up, riding around on busier roads.  Skipped the mile on the I-5 shoulder by cutting through a neighborhood (very brief gravel portage), up a hill.  Ross really didn't like that hill.  I didn't think it was too bad.  My bike computer read out 8%.  His had 12% at times.  Review of the data does show TEENY bits of 12%.

Ross climbing up by JBLM

Ride along JBLM (formerly Fort Lewis and McChord AFB), then a climb up and then down (wheee!) into Steilacoom.  Turned right, rode through town. Steilacoom is a cute little town.  We were meant to ride through here last year, but were re-routed due to some big golf tournament. Ross called Dianne to give our estimated arrival (about 3pm) and ask for a Diet Coke.  I held up a finger and that was amended to two Diet Cokes :-)


Pretty ride through town, some more winding around, and some incredibly evil RR tracks with a police car and a bunch of bicyclists standing around.  We rode by, but I can't help but wonder if someone crashed.  A bit further along, a cyclist came flying by at what must have been 30mph.  Wow.

Ross, Steilacoom

Got to the climb up from Steilacoom that everyone had been obsessing over.  Again, no big deal.  Passed many people, as, indeed, I did for much of this ride.  The women were supportive - "You GO!".  The guys... not so much.  Possibly the combination of blatantly pink bicycle with full metal fenders, mudflaps, canvas luggage, and a little teddy bear...  I would only have made it worse if I had been wearing a wool jersey (not this year).

Climbing out of Steilacoom

The ride back from there to Tacoma Community College was shorter than I thought it would be.  The hills, which Ross assured me that we climbed last year, seemed... rather less significant.

Picture by Ross Carey

me and Ross at the finish
The finish - great band (CD purchased), ice cream, snacks, the promised Diet Coke.  Eric S wanted to know if I wanted to get something to eat before heading home, so I got my shower, and we strategized on dinner stops.

Eric Shalit

We were aiming for Thai, but that one was closed.  Following him around the strip mall parking lot, we found a Japanese restaurant, and elected to eat there.  Bento with tempura, salad, sushi, gyoza and some hamachi (extra.  worth it).  Bliss.  And a nice visit.

Uneventful drive home.  Looking forward to next year!

Day 1: 87 miles, 13.84 mph avg, 4900 vertical feet
Day 2: 82 miles, 13.18 mph avg, 3850 vertical feet

Lots more pics here