Friday, December 13, 2019

Mondial - Nevertheless, She Persisted

I discovered Randonneuring back in 2006, and officially joined up in 2007.  It has been the best 12 bicycling years of my life.  Many great rides, and many great friends.  I still ride with folks I met on my first 200km!

This past September, my cumulative RUSA kilometers rolled over 40000, which qualifies me for the RUSA Mondial Award, the circumference of the earth being roughly 40000 km.

It wasn't easy.  There were a couple of major health setbacks, one which put me off the bike for 6 months and another knocked my annual distance totals way down (still recovering from that one).

But here I am, and here it is:

By the numbers:
40028 km, ridden in a total time of 2393:54:00

30 ACP brevets
3 ACP fleches
4 RUSA brevets
3 RUSA dart populaires
21 RUSA populaires 
182 RUSA permanents

Ride distance
135 100ks (populaires and permanent populaires, 9 longer than 110km)
97 200ks (loosely speaking.  15 rides were in the 210-218 km distance)
10 300ks
3 360ks
3 400ks
2 600ks

Awards accumulated along the way:

Some rides on my Lemond Zurich.  Not many, and not longer than a 200k.
2007- August 2010 - the Rivendell Bleriot
August 2010 onward - the custom Sweetpea.  I've worn out and replaced all the components at least once.

(a few names from the cast of thousands)
Cecil, Michal, Ray, Susan O, Kevin L, Kevin B, Jeff A, Lesli, Jason, Peg, Narayan, Keith M, and RB

Saturday, October 26, 2019

SIR Fall 2019 Dart Pop - Team Shaodach

Friend Susan noted at some point this summer that I’d better cross over my Mondial distance while the weather was still nice, if I wanted people to ride with me. She did have a point.  Looking at the calendar, I couldn’t find a good weekend to invite folks to join in, but the SIR Fall Dart Populaire was at about the right time/distance point, and there would surely be a lot of folks I had ridden with over the last 12 years at the finish.

I mentioned this to Ray.  He secured approval (and transportation) for the venture, so I set about recruiting some others to fill out our team.  Michal, of course, because we did a lot of riding together before he decided to be fast and longer distance and I got slower.  And RB, because we’ve been riding together with Ray.  Mind you, I met Ray on my Very First 200k back in 2007 (The Birkie, original route).  We rode along together for awhile, and have been riding together off and on since then.  Michal became a riding partner in early 2011, when he rode up to Cecil and me and asked to follow along, because we looked like we knew where we were going.  He encouraged me to go for the Super Randonneur, something I thought I’d not be able to accomplish.

So.  Foraged around for something to create a route from, shortest viable distance of course.  I borrowed Michal’s fleche route, trimmed off the ends, moved the finish to the event finish point, and started casting around for a start.  Found the Carnival Market, a convenience store in the Westside Hwy, sitting all by itself, and, on Susan O’s advice, moved the route to Military Rd, rather than going through Vader.  Something about Pleasant Hill Rd, Berry Rd, and loose dogs.  There was a steep climb at the start of Military Rd, but it wasn’t long.

Haunting Epic Ride Weather, the forecast finally settled on a very small chance of very light rain and a tailwind or quartering tailwind the whole way.  Doesn’t get much better than that.

Michal and Cyndi drove up the night before, RB showed up bright and early on the day, and we were loaded and on the road by 7am, arriving at the Carnival Market before 8am.  Ray and Barb pulled in right after us.  As we could not start riding until 8:30, there was a lot of standing around, kicking the tires, some spirited discussion on tubeless tires, clipless pedals vs flat pedals (me, aside to Barb: “gonna be a long 8 hr ride”), clothing rearrangements (warmer? Need the rain gear?) and such. (For the record, three riders with flat pedals, one with clipless pedals and hotfoot issues, one rider with tubeless tires and a slow leak).  Michal, who holds that there is never a wrong time for ice cream, bought and consumed an ice cream sandwich.

By Cyndi Wenks

Finally, time to go.  Starting photo taken and off we went, into the light fog and mist.  First stop was 1.5 miles along, for a bathroom break, as the Carnival Market does not allow use of their bathroom.  The Westside Hwy rolls along, and the traffic can’t said to be light.  However, just about everyone was respecting everyone’s right to a relatively unstressful use of the public right of way.  We followed the Cowlitz River for most of the way, skirting around the west side of Castle Rock, and, just after 18 miles in, started the steep climb onto Military Rd. I did walk, but it wasn’t long.  Military Rd was wonderfully wide open, the mist had cleared away, and the views were fabulous.  On my first STP I’d ridden the northern stretch from Napavine to Winlock HS in 2003, but I was really tired at that point and not properly appreciating the view.

Ray: “Do we get a trinket for this ride?”  Me: “I get a trinket!”

Eventually we ended up in Napavine, where we briefly paused at the convenience store for snacks and beverages.  Continued on north, arriving at our first info/photo control at the corner of Rush Rd and Newaukum Valley Rd.  We took a selfie, not without a lot of snarking from Ray and RB.

Newaukum Valley Rd and Rogers Rd was another super peaceful bucolic section of the route.

We then merged onto Shorey Rd, which led us onto Riverside Dr/Louisiana Rd, just south of Chehalis, which was not nearly as pleasant, to put it mildly. We were to go around the back of the airport.  I was last in line at this point, and everyone else went straight, rather than turning left.  I couldn’t even see them ahead, and certainly couldn’t chase them down.  Called Michal’s cell (and HE was riding with a GPS, go figure), left a message.  Called Ray’s cell, and surprisingly, he picked up.  He reported that Michal and RB were headed back, and he’d be right along.

After regrouping, we proceeded along the supremely peaceful and untrafficked Airport Rd, to our second info/photo control at the golf course.  By now, Michal’s tire was making him a very bad ambassador for tubeless tires; it had a slow leak and he had to keep pumping it up. Ray and I offered him tubes, but he thought he’d keep on the same path unless it got rather worse.  (see earlier note about flat vs clipless pedals and tubes vs tubeless.  Post ride note: a week later, it did seal up.)

We then had to turn left onto Airport Rd, which was very high traffic and no signal.  Michal noted a bike path on our side of Airport Rd, and “let’s take THAT.”  We did, and it was much nicer.  However, we were entering Centralia, graveyard of empires (as in, I'm not sure I've ever ridden through it without getting a bit confused), and the bike path took us up to Mellen, which was past where we wanted to turn to be on the other side of I-5.  They’ve rearranged the roads into one-way streets, so, technically, we couldn’t turn right into Centralia and get onto Ellsbury.  However, there were several handy crosswalks and a sidewalk, so we did work our way over to Ellsbury with less trouble than we might have had.  I’ll remember this for the future.  Maybe the Airport Rd routing is good in the middle of the night, but not midday on a weekend.

Misplaced RB; he eventually showed up.  By now we were headed through Centralia, and Factory Outlet Row, home of many fast food establishments.  I wouldn’t have minded pausing at the Burgerville, but it was now only 12 miles to our 6 hour control, and we all had enough food with us to get there.

Riding past the Factory Outlets was rather not fun, too many entrances and exits and junk on the road, but once past that, it wasn’t too bad.  I have a fairly high tolerance for heavier traffic, but don’t like debris on the road.

Again, falling off the back, found RB at the Great Wolf Lodge with a flat.  Michal and Ray were stopped a long block ahead; we waved them back, and had a bit of a break while RB fixed the flat.

We ended up on Case Rd, which is just not a favorite stretch of pavement for me.  Riding it in a downpour, wearing all my wool gloves and hats, in the middle of the night, staving off hypothermia, solo.... yeah.  This was the first time ever I’d ridden it with company.

However, right around mile 57.1, I did roll over 40000 cumulative RUSA km; all of us but for Ray, who was ahead, stopped for a commemorative picture.

A few miles later we were at our 6 hr control, with 15 minutes before we could depart.  Michal had tweaked the cue sheet to show time checks at each cue, and according to that, we could leave at 6:20 elapsed and, riding at minimum pace, still finish in time.  Which was good, because the Farm Boy service seemed a bit overwhelmed. Michal and I split a burger and fries.  I also had a Pepsi (the blue ambulance), and inhaled my half of the cheeseburger in about 2 minutes.  Six minutes after the control opened, we were back on the road.

There was a brief discussion on “we have to stay together now”, “together” being defined as we can see each other.  So we did stick together more than we had earlier, although we really hadn’t spread out all that much before.  There was also actual navigation required, so we definitely had to stick together because not everyone had a cue sheet visible.

The tailwind decided to make itself noticeable and useful, and we zipped along at a consistently higher pace (for me, anyway).  Once we got into Tumwater/Olympia proper, and I realized we had less than 10 miles to go, and a lot of time left, I relaxed.  We rode into downtown along the Deschutes Parkway, which was a better and more scenic entry than on Capitol Blvd/Capitol Way, and then proceeded to hit just about every red light through downtown.

One last hill (Puget St), and a bit more go to (by now, out of downtown), and there we were, at 4pm.

By Cyndi Wenks

Several teams were already there.  I promptly scored a beer and chips, and eventually started in on the food.  And visiting.  Found many people to catch up with, and met several new riders.


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Brief Cycling Gear Review - iSSi Thump Pedals

Some of you might know that I finally had to ditch the clipless pedals - I was getting breathtaking hotfoot, even with the Cyclesoles custom orthotics.

I tried the MKS Lambdas (Riv GripKings) - too long, and my shoes wouldn’t stay stuck on them, especially when wet.

Then moved on to the VO Sabots (oh SO pretty).  My shoes stuck much better, but my feet still hurt.  I had been riding with Five Ten shoes, and decided they were too flexy, so I reattached the cleat mount cover to my PI X Alp shoes, which I’d bought a few years back, and promptly shelved because hotfoot.  That helped.  Some.

Then I watched a review of the iSSi Thump pedals from the Path Less Pedaled folk.  The “concave” design caught my attention - less pressure on the part my feet which suffer from hotfoot.  Bought a pair, size small.

Went for a 100km ride.  It was a very hot day.  My shoes did not slide.  My feet did not hurt.

Winner.  They’ll be promoted to the usual long ride bike for further review.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Perm Pop in Tucson

Being as we were going to be in Tucson for a week, I started looking around for a RUSA perm to ride.  Michal’s excellent map provided a list of perm pops (typically just over 100k, about all I’m up to at this time), and John Lee’s #3752 Rillito - Pantano - Saguaro Sashay showed only 1600 vertical feet and a lot of separated bike path.  And a National Park (gotta exercise that Senior National Park Pass sometime).

Excellent.  An exchange of email, including a scan of the required signed release and a general range of days I might choose to ride during (LOVE the new “slippery perm start time” rules, I DO.  Especially during vacation, when one isn’t all that super detailed about daily plans.)

We drove down to Tucson from Portland, so I did’t have to disassemble and pack a bike; brought the Lemond Zurich, with the Specialized Power Mimic saddle I am trying out.

So, after a careful study of the weather (there’s altitude and heat here, which I am not really accustomed to), picked the least hot day.  The plan was that I’d start around 9am; Fitz would drop me off at the start and play a nearby round of golf, as these activities consume about the same amount of time.

Got to the Jack in the Box, unloaded the bike, said goodbye and had my traditional pre-ride orange juice, breakfast being consumed previously.

Started out, and quickly realized that I didn’t need to navigate the first 2 miles, because all the cyclists were headed to the Loop, just like me.  The outgoing leg of the first out and back (after a bit of off-course, caused by turning immediately left onto the first bridge I saw, rather than the one just a bit up on the right) flew right along.  It is spring, and Tucson is blooming.  Passed a couple of parks with restrooms to remember for the return.

Got to the turnaround, snapped a picture of the info control and headed back.  Wait.  There’s a headwind.  Not supposed to have a headwind.  It wasn’t that bad, but it was more fun zipping along at 18-19mph.

I was using RWGPS to direct me along.  It seemed a bit confused after the turn until a good mile past where I had gotten on the Loop at the Mountain Ave Bridge.  I was “off course”, which it claimed was 8.6 ft to the right.  Or, in the Rillito River Wash.  Go figure.  Anyway, as I was to be on the Loop for awhile, it didn’t much matter.

The Tanque Verde crossing was interesting, in that I had to cloverleaf up to the road, cross the wash, and continue on the other side, to transition to the Pantano River Path.  A bit drier out this way, and some super trippy trail decorations - painted rocks around plants, glittery stuff, and so on.

The Loop is essentially a 2 lane road, but for non-motorized transport.  Nice 2 lane road.  It was fabulous to ride on.

Leaving the Loop at mile 27.7 to get onto Golf Links Rd, heading out to Saguaro National Park.  If you are looking for services of the food variety (you’ll find restrooms and water along the Loop at several points; not marked, but you’ll see them off to the side), Golf Links Rd is where you’ll find it.  There’s a shiny new Circle K on the right, and various fast food options on either side; you’ll be returning this way, and there’s another Circle K at Harrison and Golf Links.  That’s about all there is to recommend about Golf Links, but it does get you where you are needing to go.  After a brief stretch on Houghton, you turn onto Old Spanish Trail, which has considerably less traffic and pristine pavement.

And then, not quite 3 miles along, you’ll come to the Saguaro National Park entrance.  There are restrooms, a bottle filling station, and a nice covered area with more water, if you want to pause to reapply sunscreen, refill your bottles, and eat your banana.

If you’ve not got a National Park pass, there is a fee to enter.  The ranger said “you know the drill” (MANY MANY CYCLISTS HERE), and I said “nope”, and she immediately warned me about the first descent, which is super steep and has a hard right at the bottom.  It comes right up, too.  I really  appreciated that warning.

So, the Cactus Forest Loop (the road in the park) is ranked one of the top 15 National Forest roads for a bike ride.  As it was still early enough in the spring, everything was green and flowering.  The number of saguaro cacti was staggering.  Apparently they grow here in greater numbers than anywhere else.  Wish I’d had a proper camera.  I took pictures, but they don’t really capture it.

The route is one-way until the Tanque Verde trailhead access (also signed “Picnic Area”), so you can enjoy the first 3.4 miles of delightful roller coaster riding without worrying about oncoming vehicles.  The speed limit is 15mph, so the chances of unpleasant vehicle interaction are greatly reduced.  I was there on a weekday; it might be more crowded on a weekend.  Lots of pull outs if you want to take pictures.

After the first info control at Loma Verde, the road does start a reasonably steady climb with not as many bits of downhill.  Not depressingly steep, though.  Be sure to keep pushing the water and electrolytes.

After the Tanque Verde info control, it is downhill for miles.  Old Spanish Trail rolls a bit, but then Golf Links Rd rewards you with a downhill all the way to the Loop.  The turn to get back on the Loop is a left at Pantano Parkway.  I kind of spaced there, so did a Copenhagen Left at the crosswalk after the turn.

Then it is just 13 miles back on the path/Mountain Ave/Ft Lowell Rd.  You can cut into the parking lot at the Sketchers and get back to the Jack in the Box (if that is where you are choosing to finish) without having to go all the way to Campbell Ave.

It is a delightful ride, and I’d recommend it if you are planning to be in Tucson.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

The Problem With SW Walker Rd between Hwy 217 and SW 106th Ave

(This is here so I never have to type it in again.)

small pic.  Click to embiggen.
Our previous commissioner wasn’t helpful, as “SW Walker is the only continuous street that can be useful when the Sunset Hwy is backed up or closed”.  Right.  SW Walker Rd east of Hwy 217 is signed No Thru Trucks.  Until you get to SW 106th, walking on either side of the road is chancy; the most recent repave put soft gravel on the sides, making walking even more chancy, especially with a stroller.  The STATUTORY speed limit is 35 mph, the 20 mph is only a caution/recommendation.  Sight lines are nonexistent.  If SW Walker gets filled up because the Sunset is unavailable, the traffic will slow way down anyway.  Maybe we need a 25 mph speed limit and sharrows.  I’d want the ditches filled in, and proper paved shoulders, but that’s an “in my dreams” situation, plus it would only encourage drivers to drive even faster.  SW Walker has at least 6 streets intersecting with it, plus driveways from the houses on SW Walker.  Folks that live on the north side of SW Walker and choose to walk or bicycle out of the neighborhood have to cross it, and safe crossing between SW 107th and Hwy 217 is non-existent.  You can be STANDING at an intersection, which is an unmarked crosswalk, CLEARLY wanting to cross, and even the WashCo Sheriffs cars won’t stop for you to cross. There’s no Vision Zero at all here.  This stretch of SW Walker is on the boundary of CPO 1 and CPO 3.

fyi: SW Sunnyhill is right of way, not county or city property.  I often ride through there to avoid the 3 way intersection at SW 108th/SW Polsky.

A close analogy in terms of traffic, intersections, and driveways is SW 92nd (?) / SW Garden Home.  The posted speed limit is lower.  There is a cheesy attempt at a sidewalk on the north side, not that I’d ride my bike on it.  SW Garden Home DOES have “Bicycles on Roadway” signs - I was at least one person asking for them when the Fanno Creek Trail was closed and we were detoured onto SW Garden Home.

From Washington County's map, they don't intend this stretch of SW Walker to get any wider than 2-3 lanes.  You can see in the picture below that SW Walker between Hwy 217 and SW Canyon is light blue, which the legend clarifies as 2-3 lanes.  This picture is from WashCo's future plan for all the couny's roads.