Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year in Review - Cycling

I'll come right out and say it - this has been an amazing year. Whatever made it happen, I sure hope I don't lose it.

Total miles: 5805. Almost 1400 more than last year, and highest annual mileage ever. I rode my bike 213 days this year.

Commuted about 1500 of those miles. If I don't ride to work, I face a gauntlet starting with the receptionist, all the way to my desk..."where's your bike?". I love my current contract - lots of meetings on the main campus, our building is not on the main campus, and it is quicker to ride the bike than to drive. And I can park in the buildings and never have to worry about locking up. I had a 100% commute rate in the BTA Bike Commute Challenge.

17 rides of more than 100 miles.

2 centuries

12 200km

1 300km

1 400km

1 600km

I would have to say that Sweetpea got the bulk of the riding love this year - all but a couple of the Rando rides, plus trips to Ireland and California. Bleriot got all the commutes, and poor Lemond has probably less than 300 miles ridden on it in total.

Organized rides - only two, RSVP and RAPSody. I'll probably ride them again next year, lots of fun.

Randonneurs USA riding

4524 km. Most ever.

Completed my second R-12 in September.

Earned my first-ever Super Randonneur by completing a 200k, 300k, 400k, and 600k in a calendar year. I am still stupidly pleased and insufferably proud about this.

Rode a couple of sub-10 hour 200km rides. Whoever that Lynne was, I'd like her to show up more often :-)

The hardest rides I did were:

1. Bikenfest, the Oct 200k. 11522 vertical feet. I am not sure I ever wanted to just lay down and die on any other ride I have done.

2. The 400k. I couldn't stay awake, which made riding through the night somewhat of a challenge. Did get to see two sunrises!

3. The 600k, because, well, it was a 600. Way outside of my comfort zone. I was never worried about not finishing in time on the second day. Well, ok, there were a few bad hours in there on day 1.

Learnings: I CAN pull myself out of a massive bonk. Still to learn: don't bonk in the first place.

I CAN ride >10000 vertical feet in a day. RAMROD is definitely a possibility (I am shallow. I want the jersey.)

Goals. Hmm. More 300km rides. I need to get to where I can just go out and ride one, rather like I approach a 200km ride now. Quit being terrified of 400km rides. A 1000km would be very cool.


Sweetpea, for being such a great bike (thank you Natalie)

Fitz, because I'm out riding a lot.

Cecil, Susan, Michal, and Lesli, for being such great riding buddies. Looking forward to more rides with you in the coming year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Riding in the Desert

We are here for a week, so I figured to get in some rides. Rummaging around on, I found a 60 mile loop by a jckramer. I've met him. Went back later, and that entry was gone, but there was a similar one. Remapped it in bike route toaster, so I'd get a cue sheet. More on that later.

Packed Sweetpea, but left the fenders at home. Yes, Sweetpea will get a sunburn. Little Pink Bear forgot to hop in the bike case. Guess I'd have to talk to myself.

So here is the route, more or less: I did modify it slightly at the end.

Got on the road about 9am. Made sure I had a couple snacks, and two full bottles of water/NUUN. And sunscreen.

Hmm. Windmills. Not a good sign.

The route headed north past an extensive wind farm. They weren't turning, so maybe I was safe. Through some annoying road construction, and gently up to turn right on Pierson heading through Desert Hot Springs. I did pause at a 7-11. They did not have a restroom for customers. Except... "are you on a bicycle?" Nice. Bought and consumed a Gatorade, removed the arm (long since shoved down to my wrists) and knee warmers, applied sunscreen, went to put on some lip glop... Went back into the store and bought a Chapstick.

Evidence of participation

Now heading SE, down Hacienda Rd. It was supposed to turn into Bennett, but never did. Still dumped me onto Dillon, which was where I needed to be, but sooner than the cue sheet indicated. According to my AAA road map, there is no Bennett Rd, so I did not miss anything. Careful viewing of the satellite images reveals that there might be a DIRT road there, but I didn't see it intersect with Hacienda. Gentle climbing again, about 2%. With a slight headwind. I kept pushing myself to keep it above 12mph, with varying success.

Desert view

Starting to get much less populated, and, past Sky Valley, nothing but desert and scrub. The bike computer indicated that I should have found Thousand Palms Canyon Rd by now, but nothing. Pulled out my phone and tried Google Maps (cheating, I know), but it couldn't connect. I had signal and all, but no maps. The AAA map had stuck a big street index right over that whole area. Ok then. I'd go for another mile or so and see if I ran into it. I couldn't see any road, but I did see three cars turning into what looked no different than the surrounding scrub. And there it was.

Dropping down Thousand Palms Canyon Rd

This was a very fun descent. Eventually I found the thousand palms (in the canyon, naturally) in the Coachella Valley Nature Preserve. Then 5 or so more miles and I was back in civilization. Indian Wells, to be precise. Their roads are paved with the nicest asphalt and mostly have wide outer lanes, which, for me, is heaven. There was a stretch of shopping districts that eventually took me to CA-111, where I'd spend the next 16 miles. It started out with a really nice buffered bike lane. And, finally, a tailwind. I was thinking this could be really nice.

Buffered bike lane in Indian Wells

Not so much. The next town along, Palm Desert, didn't believe in such niceties as shoulders or bike lanes. The road varied from 2-3 lanes in each direction, so you'd think there would be enough room for everyone. Mostly, but it was cozier than I would have liked. Many parking lot entries, and more traffic lights than SW Beaverton Hillsdale, all of them red. But yet, there was that tailwind. Rancho Mirage wasn't much better, and I kept looking at my odometer muttering "5 more miles...". Fitz called while I was passing through Crystal City; we figured we'd get back about the same time.

The route had me continuing on Business CA-111. I should have taken the right to stay on CA-111; I could have gotten back from there as well. Eventually got onto the Palm Springs bike path system. I don't like them. They are meant for riders pootling along on cruiser bikes. They meander. They cross driveways. It is not clear who has right of way at intersections. I stopped and looked; didn't want to get run over by a right-turning motorist. I couldn't stand it any longer,and turned onto Tahquitz Way; on street bike lanes. By now I was just about finished.

Turning into the parking lot, I spied a familiar person unloading his golf clubs. Perfect timing!

On that bike route toaster comment - it appears to get its rights and lefts mixed up from time to time. Plus it throws in a "take the first..." when the turn is not the first left or right. Insert control points, rather than a track point at each turn, or they won't appear on the cue sheet. Takeaway - proofread the cue sheet!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Pie Ride

Usually sometime on a Wednesday, I start plotting what ride I'll be doing on the weekend.  This time of the year, I have to (heavily) recruit folks, or go with the local club ride.  When Dr. Codfish mentioned that there would be a Permanent Populaire out of his town (Oakville, WA), well, I was tempted.  Oakville isn't too far away from Centralia.  When he mentioned Pain au Chocolat... that sealed it.  I was completely planning to go by myself, but the lure of baked goods put Susan over the edge.

She showed up right around 7am, so we'd get there in plenty of time for the 10am start.  Then she went back home to get something she'd forgotten (15-20 min round trip), and I loaded the car.  I knew we'd still get there in plenty of time for the 10am start.  We arrived at 9:27am, lots of time to change shoes, decide I didn't need to wear any more than I wore last weekend (starting temperature 33 degrees), and faff around some more.  And watch Albert assemble his S&S-coupled Co Motion tandem.  That's how you put a tandem in a Camaro. :-)

In all we were me, Susan, Paul, Albert, Allison, and Alan.  Off to Harry's Market for starting receipts, and then away we went.  It was cold, and it took about 15 minutes for my hands to join the rest of me.  We headed east-ish, to Rochester, Grand Mound and Centralia.  Somewhere around Grand Mound I realized I had ridden here before - the Capital Cycling Club (Olympia) used run the Two County Double Metric Century out here, and over some of the same roads.

Farm near Rochester WA

Susie drinking something hot

We needed a stop in Centralia, and after some discussion (Texaco or Starbucks?), stopped at Starbucks.  And who should be there but John V!  We had hoped he'd be riding, but this was the next best thing.  A cheese danish and a Pumpkin Spice Latte (mostly into my thermal jug) later, off again, through Chehalis and another 10 or so miles to the turnaround at Mary's Corner.  Pretty farm country, but looking kind of bleak in the cold and clouds. The last couple miles to Mary's Corner were uphill, and with a tailwind headwind.  Discouraging.  But Mary's Corner finally appeared.  I found everyone but Paul inside.  Got some Pringles and my receipt, and we all loitered around and visited, waiting for Paul.

most of us

Dr Codfish (Paul)

And Paul arrived, got some snacks, and we all set out again.  I had been wearing lightweight long finger gloves.  The downhill and cold proved too much for them; I stopped to pull on the lobster claws.  Still not wearing a jacket :-)  We did have a lovely tailwind and it blew me all the way back to Chehalis.  It blew almost everyone else back faster.  Oh well.

The ride through Chehalis was interesting.  My bike computer display completely checked out, and none of the streets I was riding on (which seemed to be the correct ones) matched the street names on the cue sheet.  Right around Market and Cascade, the road went onto Cascade...  Ack.  I turned left onto Washington, and it eventually dumped me onto National, which is where I was supposed to end up.  Paul is going to revisit the cue sheet.

Then things got bouncy.  And flat.  Rear tire flat.  Pulled over into a handy parking lot, such that Paul would see me when he rode by.  It being cold and rather damp (aggressive mist for the past 4 or so miles, not that I'd know, because my bike computer was sulking), I elected to just swap out the tube AND tire.  All good, until I went to get the spare tire on.  I'd forgotten how very tight those Michelins are on the Aerohead rims.  Fortunately Paul came along, and we managed to wrestle the tire back on.  A woman exiting the parking lot asked if we were ok.   Yes, just finishing up, having great fun here.  She said we should be careful, because we could get very cold standing around.  Yes, I've heard that :-)

Given my lack of navigational cues, I figured I'd stick with Paul through Centralia.  Pulled ahead on Hwy 99, eventually made the turn onto Old Hwy 9 (navigation was easier at this point), and thought I saw Paul's headlight behind me.  It was a bicycle headlight.  Actually several of them - Albert, Allison, Susan and Alan had stopped at the Starbucks again for hot drinks.  Paul came up shortly thereafter, and we continued on the last 10-ish miles.  The stretch on Hwy 12 and Elma Gate Road had beautiful views to the west (sun getting very low) and north (misty hills).

Into Harry's Market again.  The cashier: "you all need the receipts, right?".  She even called out to Paul as he was leaving - "you forgot your receipt!"  From there we all coasted back to Paul's (about a mile), and feasted on cheese and crackers, pasta with sundried tomatoes and walnuts, fruit, various hot beverages, Susan's pumpkin muffins, and the promised Pain au Chocolat.  All very wonderful, followed by an equally wonderful hot shower.  Thank you!

Albert and Allison

Brief pause in Centralia on the way back.  Of course, at the Chevron, and my favorite night cashier was working.  We exchanged greetings.

Turned on the radio to keep us both awake.  The station I listen to usually plays music from my HS/University years, but it was House of Hair hour, so Susan got to sing along; I didn't know any of them!

The route itself was 68 miles, total for the day 70 miles.  Riding average 13.89mph. It did not get above 37 degrees; avg temp was 34.9.

Monday, December 5, 2011

December, Check

Mindful of what happened right after I finished my first R-12 (Dec 2008, three weeks solid of snow and ice!), I planned to get the December ride in as early as possible.  The route was Hillsboro-Dallas-Hillsboro.  Not epic, and not likely to get interestingly icy.  Weather was to be sunny and cold (30-45 degrees F)

I thought awhile about riding Lemond, but Sweetpea has the lighting, the carrying capacity, and the comfort.

Recruited Michal to join me.  He and his wife got up at 3:30am (ow), and drove up from Eugene so he could ride.  We arranged to meet in the Freddie's parking lot.  I got there, and watched them drive in, and wander around a bit before parking :-)  Rode over, and arranged with Cyndi to meet up at my house at the end.

The store opened at 7, so we had to wait until then to go in and get a receipt.  On the road by 7:15.  Still very dim.

The exit from Hillsboro out to SW Fern Hill south of Forest Grove is very familiar to me - I had ridden this route 3 times previously, plus my local club rides all over this part of the county.  Probably didn't even need to print out the cue sheet.

The sun had trouble coming out.  We didn't see it the entire outbound leg.  That said, I still ditched my jacket and heavy gloves in the first 8 miles.  Rode the rest of the way in a long sleeved wool baselayer, long sleeved OrRando jersey, thermal Shebeest vest, summer mesh gloves with ragg gloves over them, shorts, Craft Storm tights, wool cap, wool socks, PI X-Alp Goretex shoes, and some old Louis Garneau booties that are worthless when it rains.  And chemical toe warmers.  Michal had on a few more layers, and I think he shivered every time he looked at me.

The scenery riding south along Spring Hill/North Valley/Ribbon Ridge/Kuehne/Abbey was its usual outstanding self.  My favorite clerk was working at the Dayton Center Market, our first control.  It was slowly (sort of) warming up.

The boring stretch to Amity, then 6+ miles on Hwy 99, then onto Bethel Rd.  We saw some other cyclists headed north.  Clearly we weren't the only idiots out this day. Fields of grazing sheep.  Cute fluffy grazing sheep.  Also a few llamas, cattle, and some horses.  Big fields turning green with winter wheat.  Farm buildings.  The antique fire truck at the corner of Bethel and Perrydale.  Whereupon Michal took the only picture of the day.... "that firetruck is a lot more antique than I thought it would be"

Then, over the rollers to Dallas, and into the Safeway, with the indoor seating, hot deli counter and Starbucks.  More sesame chicken and a Pumpkin Spice Latte for me; Michal had soup and a wrap, and expressed doubt that I was drinking actual coffee.

After a 45 or so minute pause, we headed back out.  There was a bit of sun, but sadly, also a bit of headwind.  The view from the tops of the hills (I refuse to call them rollers) to the north was outstanding.  No stops between Dallas and Dayton.  Michal wanted to flip his cue sheet, but I pointed out that there was absolutely no way we were getting lost.  The headwind finally gave it up around Dayton.  My bike computer display decided it was too cold, and hid.  It was still recording, but not sharing.  Last battery change was in April; might be time to do it again.

Topped up various liquids, ate something (I started working on a muffin; took almost to Ribbon Ridge to finish off).  Michal took off his shoes for a bit.  Called spouses to give them an ETA.

Last push northward.  Long slanting rays of the sun as it dropped below the hills.  Stopped at the corner of Ribbon Ridge and North Valley to turn on all the lights and swap in the clear lenses.  We hadn't taken off the reflective gear all day; nothing to do there.  North on North Valley, north on Spring Hill, climbed the last rise of any significance just past Catherine and Rick's house.  A car honked at us (friendly honk) - thought it was Catherine and Rick, but she says it wasn't them.

Pretty sunset.  Rode past the wetlands at the north end, on to Fern Hill.  Starting to get dim... Sucked down a gel (Cherry Chocolate.  Tasty.) for the final push.  Full dark showed up somewhere on Geiger/LaFollett.  It wasn't really DARK dark - waxing moon and some ambient light from our surroundings as we skirted the southern boundaries of Forest Grove, Cornelius, and Hillsboro.  Finally, north on Minter Bridge, right on River, and the last turn onto Davis.  (Still a black hole past Brookwood).

Into Starbucks for the receipt (free with purchase of coffee).  The barista asked about our ride, then offered that she had ridden to Forest Grove once (15 miles?  tops?).  I asked if she had fun, and yes, she did. We then loaded the bikes into the Element and drove home.  Cyndi had arrived.  I put the last ingredients in the soup and took a very hot shower.  Dinner.  Visiting.  Completing the perm cards (in the mail, Ray :-) ).  Plotting for next month.  Maybe Donuts to Total Domination.  Or Three Prairies.  Michal wants to see that part of the valley in daylight.

All in all, a pleasant ride with great company!

Feeling awfully creaky today.

126 miles, 11:16 elapsed time, 13.74 avg mph.  Slowdown after lunch.  Power-mass improvement indicated.