Sunday, July 29, 2012

Permanent #1603: Frankfort to the Grand Traverse Lighthouse (and back again)

(It's official!)

Route map/gps track
Cue sheet
Reg form

Grand Traverse Lighthouse

I always take a bike along when we go to the family cottage just north of Frankfort, MI.  My favorite ride is the loop around Crystal Lake (25+ miles), but for several years, I've been wanting to get in a longer ride.  And, every year, something distracted me from that (sister-in-law: "want to pick berries and make pie?" well, YEAH).

Not this year.  After looking at the maps, it seemed to me that a ride with a real destination would be best.  I'm a sucker for lighthouses.  The Grand Traverse Lighthouse was just about the right distance away.

I started from the cottage.  For the perm, you'd start in Frankfort proper, a few miles to the south.

The road here. Also part of US Bike Route 35, but not signed as such

Much of the route is on US Bicycle Route 35, although the route is not signed.

The cue sheet makes it sound a bit more complicated than it really is.  Except for the Sutter cut-off early on, the route follows M-22 all the way until it dead-ends at M-201 in Northport.  Then north from there, mostly, but not always following the LIGHTHOUSE THIS WAY signage.

Given many of the road and place names, it would appear that much of the population is descended from Scandinavian immigrants.

Get to Leelanau State Park and the lighthouse, sightsee, and then return the way you came.

The route is pretty flat - Sutter is the steepest bit, and there are noticeable climbs south of Empire and south of Northport.

There are many, many cyclists out along this route.  So many that I was never asked where I started from or how far I was riding.  Drivers are very considerate.

What you'll see:

Sutter Road climb

Glen Lake

Old Schoolhouse


Woolsey Airport

all the pics here

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tygh Valley Traveller 400k Tantalizing Teasers

Some notes and pics from the pre-drive.

Pause at the Ripplebrook Store for snacks.  They have free wi-fi, flush toilets, and a good stock of snacks and drinks.


Forest view

First order of business was to explore the Anvil Creek Portage.  This is the adventure part of the brevet.  At about 84 miles, the road will stop.  But you won't!

Go to the end of NF-4810.  Go past the orange bollards.

Anvil Creek Traverse

Pretty soon, you'll run out of pavement.

Follow on through the clear area

Keep going.  You can probably ride most of it, but it is a short hike.

along the cleared area

Brief lupine distraction

Then there's Anvil Creek - we crossed it without getting our feet wet, and I bet it will be easier having the bicycle to balance with.

Susan crossing Anvil Creek

Then you have to go up the bank.

Anvil Creek - not but 4 inches deep

And turn right - there's the road again!

Road!  Right here!

Except you'll come to a big pile of dirt.  Go around it on the path to the left, because the dirt pile is steep and slippy and has glass bits in it.  The path through the trees is much nicer.

Then along Timothy Lake - we are planning a staffed control at the Pine Point Campground, just across the Timothy Lake Dam on NF-57.  Loads of new water spigots and new, clean pit toilets.

You'll now be working your way toward Maupin - long descent and you are on the dry side of the Cascades.  Drop down into Maupin (yes, this implies a climb out), and tank up on food.

Almost to Maupin

400k route scouts, hard at work

Deschutes River

Then up, and over to Tygh Valley.  Wonderful descent, but the left turn is before the bottom of the hill.  There is a store in Tygh Valley; it closes at 6:00pm.  We'll have an info control question for those arriving after 6pm.  This is why you needed to stock up in Maupin.

Mt Hood, on the way to Tygh Valley

Historic Tygh Valley store

Turn around and almost immediately turn right onto Wamic Market Rd.  About 5 miles out of Tygh Valley, there is the Sportsman's Pub and Grub on the right.  The kitchen stays open until 10pm.  

Somewhere along here there are real cattle guards (just ride straight over them, bzzzzt!) and horizontal expansion cracks, for about 5 miles.

Then a long stretch (approx 34 mi) climbing gradually up to US-35.  You will join up with US-26, and stop in Government Camp.  Public toilets at the north end of town (where you hop off US-26), a Shell Station, which will likely be closed, and further along, the Huckleberry Inn which is open 24 hours, and is reputed to serve great breakfast meals.  Pancakes at midnight!

(brief nostalgic aside - I ate breakfast at the Huckleberry Inn just about every Saturday during ski season in the late 70's and early 80's.  The waitress was... memorable.  I asked at the Govy Store if she was still working.  No, she's retired.  You are safe.  The cashier at the store and I shared a good laugh over that.)

You can also get something to eat at Charlie's, across the street from the Govy Store.  The Govy Store closes at 9pm.

Pull on your extra layers, wind shell and warm gloves.  The descent on Hwy 26 will cool you down right quick.

But yet, you are not done with the climbing.  Eventually you will be on SE Marmot Rd, which starts out fairly harmlessly.  But then it gets, as Theo puts it - lumpy.  Quotes from an anonymous co-organizer along this stretch: "Marmot Rd is kind of evil.  Holy S----.  I need a bigger cassette!" followed by "good company might be critical at this juncture"

SE Shipley - ditch naps inadvisable on this stretch.

SE Gordon Creek Rd - innocuous until the steep descent (truck on a triangle) sign.  Impressive hairpins along here.  Ride carefully!

So, from 6 or so miles into SE Marmot Rd, until you arrive at the Historic Columbia River Hwy, it is a challenging 20 miles.

Then, all downhill/flat from here to the finish.  SE Bell Rd is a wonderful descent in the daylight, but in the dark, if you don't know it, exercise caution.

More later after the pre-ride!

Your organizers hard at work

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Olney Gothic Logger 300k

The Portland Crew designed a new 300k route, and we got to ride it this past Saturday. Among others, Lesli was going to be riding. This was great, I haven't gotten a chance to ride with her since November.

New OrRando Jerseys!

One bike update - put on the Grand Bois Cypres tires. The Hutchinsons were still hanging in there just fine, but with over 4000 miles on them, I was getting a bit uneasy about taking them on long rides.

The start was in Cathedral Park, under the St Johns Bridge. I found Ed and David waiting to check us in. Ed was looking at my bike... "Lights, good. Where is your reflective gear?" Wait, what, I am getting a bike inspection? Pointed at the pocket with the reflective gear, and got a brevet card with the Bike Inspection box initialed. My very first bike inspection, ever.

David and Stasia

There had been a message that it might be challenging to get to the first control at Birkenfeld in time, if one was a slow to medium pace rider, and we should just make the next time cut and it would be ok. Being at the slower end, I took that as a personal challenge. There were two climbs on the way, NW Newberry, which is about 2 miles long and spectacularly steep (it feels great halfway up when the the grade drops below 10%), and the Scappoose Vernonia Highway, which isn't steep, but it goes on for about 10 miles. Newberry was getting steeper in my mind; I had climbed it once, several years ago on the go-fast bike, back when we had weekly evening hillclimb rides. I told Michal he'd love Newberry.

Riders on the St Johns Bridge

Lesli, crossing the St Johns Bridge

And off we went. First, up, around, and over the St Johns Bridge (oh FUN!), then out on Hwy 30 through Linnton, and up Newberry. Michal had gone on ahead; Lesli and I worked our way steadily up. She didn't want to know the incline :-) and we got to the top; no pauses. I was very pleased with myself. West on Skyline. After crossing Cornelius Pass, we saw a couple of cyclists ahead. Eventually we passed one, who was fiddling with his bike. It was Michal, and he said he'd catch up. Lesli says he has two speeds, normal and bionic, especially where hills are present. I'd noticed.

Got to the top of Rocky Point, our first interesting descent. I've ridden up it, but never down. 3 miles, 6% constant grade. Technical. Lesli, Michal, and I made it down without incident, and I might have taken it a bit faster than I would before.

Into Scappoose, where we stopped for some coffee at a gas station before tackling the next climb. Norm and Paul came up as we were getting ready to push off. Enjoyed the climb up. Conversations about some "next bicycles" and custom builders, and what would be wanted on those bikes.  Interesting to listen, but I'm actually NOT considering another bike at this point.  Met Shun from the Tri-Cities, chatted with Bill for a bit, kept going up. Nice smooth new pavement. Then the 10 mile descent with a few rollers.  I had fun punching it on some of the downhills, then zipping past the others on the uphill.  To Michal: "this is how I drop people on hills who aren't you".

Lesli and Michal, heading up the Scappoose Vernonia climb

Bill, heading up the Scappoose-Vernonia climb

Heading to Birkenfeld

Then at the bottom, and off to Birkenfeld. Munched on a lot of Cyndi's yummy cookies along the way.  Got there with over an hour to spare. Bought water, topped up bottles, applied sunscreen, took pictures. Kevin offered up some flavored chips, but my stomach just wasn't interested. My second VO water bottle cage broke. I can't recommend the Moderniste cage; two for two. Kevin had some electrical tape, which made for good on the road repair.

Kevin, Michal, and Bill at Birkenfeld

Westward toward Olney. Brief pause at the elk refuge (no elk visible), and eventually started up. There must have been some moped convention going on; periodically we'd be passed by flotillas of buzzing mopeds. Amusing. Started falling behind.

Working our way up the Coast Range to Olney

Foxglove growing in a clearcut

Shortly before the summit I got a drink, and had some water bottle reinstalling issues, resulting in a topple over situation. Of course, by that point,they'd summitted, and were gone. I found them 10 or so miles later at the Olney store (91 mi). Saw a few riders headed back when I was about 4 or so miles out.  Happening place. Many riders still there.

Suspender collection

Olney Store and Bar/Restaurant

Ate a yogurt parfait, and sucked down a Cranberry Grapefruit Sobe, my control at a convenience store now drink of choice.  Maybe I'll go back to the Doubleshots, but they might be tweaking my stomach a bit.  The Sobe has the same number of calories, but no caffeine, and a lot more liquid.

Then back.  We did have a tailwind for the ascent (nice).  I commented to Lesli that I had no awesome, my riding style is diesel (keep on going).  Eventually they pulled ahead, but I kept plugging along, and after some time, found them again.  Thanked them for waiting.  They assured me they hadn't stopped, but would have waited at the summit.  Must have slowed then :-)  Thank you!

Heading back to Birkenfeld

The tailwind started cutting out on the run back to Birkenfeld.  Another short stop at the Elk Refuge, then on to the Birkenfeld store.  The proprietor was sitting out on the porch, and told us we were amazing.  Jeff came up and wanted to know where we'd be stopping in Vernonia.  That was an advanced question; we hadn't given it any thought.  My stomach was a bit crabby (maybe 320 calories of yogurt parfait and 250 calories of Sobe in one go was a bit much?), so I crunched on some antacids.  Topped up water, and left again.  It was warm, but not the stifling heat of last weekend's 200k.  I was going through a stretch of (as MG puts it) liking more the idea of randonneuring, than the actual required riding :-)

Haying, on 202 west of Birkenfeld

As we rode along the Nehalem River, my stomach calmed down (yay!), and I started feeling better.  It is weird, riding in the summer, all of a sudden it is 6:30 in the evening.  How did that happen?  Time goes away.  We stopped at the gas station - I got a Sobe, some hard boiled eggs to split with Michal, and a bagel.  Well, the Sobe and egg were good; the bagel wasn't working.  Did eat some fruitcake.  There was an offer of chips with sour cream flavoring.  Nope.  I have better luck with plain potato or corn chips.

We headed off to the Banks Vernonia trail.  On the way, some person was upset that we were riding on the ROAD - "hey, there's a trail over there".  Yeah, there is, all the way from Vernonia Lake, but then we would not have been in Vernonia enriching the local economy.

The Banks Vernonia trail is one of my very favorite places to ride, and it was very restoring on this day.  Sunlight slanting though the trees, and, as it was in the evening, very few other trail users.

And, 20 miles later, we found ourselves at the Banks Trailhead (164 mi), with Ed staffing a Secret Control with a very great variety of junk food.  And bananas.  Another round of topping up bottles.  Jeff A joined in with us here.

Inspecting the snack offerings

Ever since Vernonia, I had been totally on autopilot.  Banks, through North Plains, east on West Union.  Alerted the others that West Union east of Cornelius Pass is not entirely bicycle-welcoming - busy area, and the road still thinks it is a 2 lane, no shoulders farm road in many spots.  We got onto NW Springville (the very last climb) from NW 185th.  I have not done it that way; I take the park and rec paths through the greenway a bit south of there, and manage to miss all the preliminary rollers :-) and traffic.  This is one of the hills I take myself onto for climbing work.

sunset on Mountaindale Rd

Michal: "where's the climb?"  Well, not for a bit, and it wasn't a long climb.  He just wanted it to be done with.  Turned the corner and started to go noticeably up.  Red lights eventually vanished up ahead, but I finally saw the streetlights that marked the intersection with Skyline and found everyone at the top, but for Kevin - he went on.  Pulled on my jacket and clipped on the Ixon for the descent.  NW Germantown is not a long descent - maybe 2 miles, but it is steepish, and technically curvy toward the bottom.  Lots of fun in the daylight, less so at night.

I was happy to have the secondary light - the white edge paint was gone in many spots.  We stayed together on the descent, and picked up some trailing automobiles, who were crabby at the bottom.  We were still taking the curves faster than they were.  Oh well.

card back

Across the bridge, to find a bunch of blinkie lights at the first turn.  David had moved a block up from the park, because "it was getting really dark down there".  We confused some finishing Seattle to Portland riders. Down to the cars, said goodbyes to Michal and Lesli, and then had a really, really hard time driving home.  A short nap in the car prior would NOT have been a bad idea.

Finished at 11:16pm, so 17:16 total elapsed time.  13.6 moving average, 10265 vertical feet.

Other than the broken water bottle cage, no flats or mechanicals.  Those Grand Bois Cypres tires roll very nicely.

I think I have now arrived at the mental place where riding a 300 doesn't evoke much, if any, stress.

Sweetpea rolled over 8000 miles on this one.  My YTD miles are now at 3700.

All the pictures here

ridewithgps route here

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Go-Fast Permanent

Several months ago, Michal put forward that we should see how quickly we could do a 200k on our go-fast bikes.  You know, the ones with the skinny tires, no luggage, no lights, and no fenders.  Looking at the summer plans and rando schedule, this past weekend had to be it.  The weather was going to be, well, not to put to fine a point on it - hot.  With a headwind of sorts on the return.

We picked the Hillsboro-Dallas-Hillsboro perm, because it is a straight out and back, minimal controls, and not a lot of climbing, but for the middle bit from Perrydale Rd to Dallas and back.

 Michal had yet to ride a sub-10 hr 200k, so we were surely aiming for that.  I had a goal of beating my best-ever time on this route (9:23).

New equipment testing - PI Arm Coolers, a Nike Hypercool base layer under the summerweight wool jersey, and replacement Keen cycling sandals.  After 5 years, my current pair has gone way soft.

Knowing that the Fred Meyer at the start would not open until 7, we set the start time at 7:15.  Easily found Michal and Cyndi in the parking lot, faffed, got the receipt, twitched, and, at 7:15 (official time by Verizon), we were off.  Michal had forgotten to grab his cue sheet, so he'd be relying on me for the route.

Because I ride out there SO much, of course I spaced on a turn, and we had three bonus miles.  Bad me.  But we had a tailwind, and it wasn't quite so hot yet.

Michal, heading west

Heading west

Blue building, North Valley Rd

Uneventful run to Dayton.  Finished off that half of a Payday bar from my last ride.  A quick stop - I made up another bottle of Calories in the Bottle (300 calories), drank an entire Cranberry-Grapefruit Sobe (250 calories), ate something - chocolate? and we were off again.

Wheatfields, Hwy 99 south of Amity

Mustard, Bethel Rd

The rollers on Perrydale always seem to be soul-sucking.  At least I know how many there are now, so I know when the end is near.  It certainly was a pretty day.  Munching on nutella-filled amaretti for this stretch.

The Perrydale Traction Engine

Cross the highway, up a couple more hills, and into Dallas.  We wasted a bit of time looking for cottage cheese, then Michal called a halt to that and we got some Greek yogurt.  I also ate a banana.  Some folks in the store asked the usual.  Rode from Hillsboro.  In 4 and a half hours.  Riding back.  Might take a bit longer.  Big jug of water, filled our bottles, and then dumped it on our heads and jerseys.  Time for those neck cooler things I had bought years ago.

And there was our headwind.  It didn't seem all that bad; it was NNW and so usually not head-on.  The rollers on Perrydale are more fun in this direction, and after awhile, I pointed to the grain elevator in the distance - "see that?  We are going there."

Through Amity again (my favorite cafe, when I'm not pressed for time, seems to have closed :-( ) then onto the boring stretch.  I was pulling, and generally riding between 17 and 18mph.  There had been a comment earlier that I was pretty aerodynamic, and possibly not so satisfying to draft.  Michal pulled ahead - what, was I not riding fast enough? :-)  So he fell back and waited until I dropped off.  I was feeling pretty good right there.  We traded pulls all the way back to Dayton; Michal made me dump water on my head at least once.  Another Sobe, plus bottle refills.  We sat on the cool floor during consumption.

Hot.  My hands started blistering here; must retire those gloves.  I went with the thicker ones to compensate for not hardly any padding on the handlebars and the hard tires.  Mistake.  Drinking.  Eating (sort of).  More squirting water through the vents in my helmet. The salt content of the runoff was amazingly concentrated.

Onto North Valley.  Onto Spring Hill.  Just before the Laurelwood intersection (hill 2 of 3), my right inner quad started cramping.  This is a new one for me; I've not yet cramped up on the bike.  We walked the last bit up to the top, that seemed to make it go away.  More water on the head.  Our water bottles were hot; not very enticing.

We paused in someone's shady driveway for me to remove the base layer; maybe I'd be cooler without it.  And I was, some.  Wool really does keep you cool in the heat; I should have remembered that from the Wildflower Century (94 degrees, wool jersey there, too)

Michal near Fisher Farms on Springhill Rd

Turned onto Fern Hill, then Geiger.  Somewhere along there, Michal remembered he had Tums for cramps, did a lot of fishing around in his rear pockets (which is why rando bikes have luggage!), and eventually produced them.  A few miles later, Michal wanted more Tums.  Brief pause.  I offered up the cue sheet so he could set his PR.  I wasn't going to get lost here :-) No, we'll finish a sub-10 together.  I'd forgotten about that 15 minute offset.  Yes, we would.

Past the golf course. Michal: "first thing I am going to do when we finish is throw up".  Now, I wasn't feeling all that great, but it wasn't a subject that I would necessarily introduce.  So that was conversation for the next 3 or 4 miles.  Actually the first thing to do would be to get that finish receipt.

River Rd, Davis Rd, 234th, cross TV Hwy and DONE.  We went directly to the Starbucks to get something cold to drink, and wandered around the store looking for a place to sit down.

9:31 elapsed time.  Michal's fastest ever, and only 8 minutes longer than my fastest, in challenging conditions.  Although it turned out we both had the secret goal of a sub-9.  That will have to wait for another (slightly cooler) day.

I had a bicycle computer malfunction, but Michal's reveals total mileage of 129mi, with a 15.24 average.  Just about an hour off the bike.  We were somewhat more efficient at stops than usual.

There was no actual throwing up, but a lot of thinking it might be a possibility.  That's good.  Weighed 6 lbs less the next morning.  It will return, of that I am very sure.

On the R-12 front, I am at R-22 :-), Michal is now one month short of his first R-12.

A Bit of Fleece Spinning Characterization

As the fleeces have been drying - and they are ALL getting another wash*, in laundry detergent and Borax -  I've been pulling off pieces, carding them with the hand cards, and doing a little spinning with the drop spindle.

the gray fleece is nice to spin

a bit of spinning characterization with some clean black fleece

*they still smelled way too agricultural.  Much, much better now.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Drowning Wookies

Brian: "Mom, why does it look like you are drowning a wookie in the downstairs bathtub?"

After I picked myself up off the floor... Well, let's start at the beginning.

At my now-former job, I had a co-worker who had chickens.  So I got eggs.  And we got to talking, and it came about that he had sheep.  Four sheep, pets.  Oh, when you shear them, could I buy a fleece?  Or two?  And this conversation went on for several months.  There were two black sheep, one reddish sheep, and a gray sheep.

One day he brought in a small bag of fleece that the sheep had shed around the barn.  I got around to washing it, carding it (oooh! bought some hand cards!), spinning it, and taking the resultant 3gr of yarn back into work.  He thought that was pretty cool.

#PicFrame adventures in raw fiber

And then after many months, the sheep were sheared, and I ended up with all four fleeces (!)  Right off the sheep, so I've now moved as far down the fiber food chain as is possible without raising the sheep myself.

Four fleeces, right from the sheep. First step is skirting them.

First, the fleeces had to be skirted and washed.  Skirting is where you cut off all the undesirable stuff around the edges (don't ask), and pick out all the short bits of fleece.  I will say the gray sheep was the pigpen of the bunch.

The gray fleece done. At least this step.

Washing.  Hmm.  Consulting the internets, it seemed that I should have kept my top-loader washer.  Oh well, there's always the bathtub.  Bought some big mesh laundry bags, and put half a fleece in each.  Soaked the fleece without soap for awhile.  That is a lot of dirt.  Then two soaks/rinses with liquid dish soap.  The dirt from the gray fleece seemed endless.  Hence the drowning wookie comment.

Gray fleece getting initial soaking w/o soap

Now, how to dry it?  Turns out, we have a big screen from the just-replaced screen door - lay that over a couple of chairs outside, and it makes an expedient drying rack.

Drying fleece - repurposing a screen door

Three fleeces down, one more to wash and dry.  Then lots of flicking, picking out grass, and on to carding.  I will likely cut off the bleached/stained fleece first.  Stay tuned.

black fleece, skirted