Sunday, April 22, 2018

Hot and humid

That was the weather today as I rolled down into Boquete for lunch.

On the ride back up I got a photo of a Split Leaf Philodendron.  My mom used to have one of these in a pot in the living room many years ago.  Here, they grow outside without any care by humans.



I had been seeing Heart Shaped Philodendron, and presumed the Split Leaf Philodendron would also be here, but hadn't seen any.  Mea Culpa..... I was looking in the wrong places. The grow like English Ivy in the Pacific Northwest, they climb on trees, and everything else in sight.

I got just under three miles in, and just over 400 ft of climbing.




........Road Bike........Rollers.......MTB..........Lifecycle......Total
Today ......0.................0..................3....................0.............3
Jan.........26................ 0................0.....................0..............26
Feb.........7..................0................0.....................0...............7
March.......5.................0................0.....................0...............5
April.......0.................0...............63.....................0...............63
YTD.........38...............0................63.....................0.............101

Saturday, April 21, 2018

A grocery run

At home when I take a quick ride into town, it is usually about a 2 mile trip, and I usually take the fixie.  Here in Boquete it is a bit different.  Yes, it is still two miles, but the 20% grade on the way back and 400 ft of total climbing precludes the fixie, even if I had it here.

Got my groceries, and made it back up the hill.

........Road Bike........Rollers.......MTB..........Lifecycle......Total
Today ......0.................0..................2....................0.............2
Jan.........26................ 0................0.....................0..............26
Feb.........7..................0................0.....................0...............7
March.......5.................0................0.....................0...............5
April.......0.................0...............60.....................0...............60
YTD.........38...............0................60.....................0.............98

Friday, April 20, 2018

Up, up, and away!

I got out early today and started up toward Volcan Baru, the 11,400 ft volcano with a road to the top.
Even though I had an early start, I did not expect to get to the top today. I puttered around Boquete for a bit, where I finally got a photo of a Tropical Kingbird. (learn more about this bird)


I started up the road.  It is a consistent climb with very few breaks, and very few extremely steep parts, though I was in the mountain bike's low gear, or one up from that, the entire way.

I was making my way through coffee plantations.  I saw several of these structures.  Obviously they were used to load trucks, but there were no mechanized means to get the coffee up there.  I presume that bags of coffee where carried up the stairs by workers.  At least at this facility, there was electricity, so why there wasn't a conveyor system baffles me. The chute was appropriately sized for sliding burlap bags down so I assumed bagged product.


I continued UP the road to where I had come in two days ago. To the left was Volcanito, where I had come in.  Today I continued up the hill, and why not?  There was a National Park, a chance to see monkeys, an interpretive trail, and a mountain just up the road!


The key word in the previous sentence however is "up".  The road was getting steeper as I pedaled.  My out of shape legs were getting weaker as I pedaled. When I got to the intersection that gave me a choice to go to Los Naranjos, I stopped to see exactly where that might be.  The road heading that way was rock (not gravel, rock and small boulders).  My maps.me app showed that the road would connect with a road farther out that would go back to Boquete, but it showed that for the first several miles it would transition back and forth between trail and rock road.  I was not that adventurous today.  It had taken 3 1/2 hours to get this far and spending a few hours exploring tropical forest, while having some attractive qualities, didn't seem like the thing to do today.


I pointed the bike back down the way I came, and let it roll, with judicious use of brakes.

I was rolling about 30-35 mph, and caught up with a small pickup truck that was hauling a load of what appeared to be bags of onions.  He was traveling about 25 mph on the twisty road.   Before long, another car came up behind me.  Not wanting to get penalized for caravanning (see ultra race rules!) at the first reasonably straight stretch I released my brakes and pulled into the other lane.  In no time I reached my maximum speed today, 44mph, and went right around the little pickup.

What had taken 3.5 hours to pedal up, took 15 minutes to roll down.  :-)

When I got back into Boquete, I took a little pedal around, then started back up the little (but steep!) hill back to where I am staying.  Along the way up that hill today I spotted Green Ti plants growing in the forest.  I have one growing in a half barrel at home. It is much easier to grow in our climate than the Red Ti.  The green one only requires that it does not freeze, and stay out of direct sunlight. Pretty easy to accomplish in Oregon if you have a little green house for the few winter months. Here of course, they just grow outside.


It was a nice ride, and a great workout.  I don't think I'll ever have enough time to ride to the top of Volcan Baru. I was within 7 3/4 miles of the summit today but had 5650 feet of elevation to gain yet and with grades over 40% it would be a slow haul.



........Road Bike........Rollers.......MTB..........Lifecycle......Total
Today ......0.................0.................13....................0.............13
Jan.........26................ 0................0.....................0..............26
Feb.........7..................0................0.....................0...............7
March.......5.................0................0.....................0...............5
April.......0.................0...............58.....................0...............58
YTD.........38...............0................58.....................0.............96

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Getting Closer

Yesterday was damp and windy.  I didn't get too far away for fear that the rain would ratchet up and douse me.  Today, it looked better.  Wind seems common here so that doesn't figure into the calculations.

I took off down the hill to Boquete to scope out the bus pick up locations for an upcoming expedition. There seemed like a lot of traffic today.  I got on the main road toward David (Da Veed Panama) and just kept pedaling waiting for a break in traffic to get turned around.  Before too long I was nearing the top of the hill.  At that point I turned right to continue up around a loop I had scoped out on a map a few days ago.  The climb was relentless, though not as steep as the other roads I've been on here.  Before too long I could start seeing out over the local landscape.



At six miles in I stopped at an intersection to get my bearings.  A English speaking woman came in from the side street and began a conversation.  It seems that she had seen me lower on the hill, and was surprised that I could make it up this high. I had climbed 1000 ft in the last 3 miles. We chatted a bit about biking, and recovery.

When I got up to Bajo Mono it seemed they had recently had a road improvement project.


Again, I saw quite a few unusual birds, but again, they proved too quick for me to get a camera out of my back pack and get a photo. Flowers and flowering trees were easier targets.




I stopped to talk to a man along the road.  He spoke very little English, I speak very little Spanish.
We managed to get basic communication accomplished.  His name was Pedro (Peter, he tells me!) and owned the large coffee plantation we were standing by. We talked farming in Panama and Oregon. He thought I was a bit crazy for riding from the Rio Caldera all the way up to where we where talking.  I couldn't argue his point. We laughed for a bit, then I bid him a good day and continued on.


I was now just over 1 mile high.  The road began to decline in quality. I was not sure exactly where I was.  I knew that the road to Volcan Baru turned to dirt before continuing to the top of the 11,400 ft peak. This was not that road. 


Before too long the road turned away from Volcan Baru and started going down hill.  I came to a T intersection with a sign.  Volcan Baru was to the right, and Salto was to my right, and down hill. I had climbed enough for today (and didn't have any ride kibble with me) so I took the turn to the right.

It was a fast run.  I hit 40 mph on the mtn bike. while making frequent use of the brakes.

When I got back into Boquete I pulled into Maritrini's place for some food and drink.
The drink arrived first. :-)


After filling the tank, I stopped by a grocery store to pick up a few supplies.  I ended up with over 5 lbs of "stuff" in my flimsy pack to pedal back up the 400 ft/1 mi hill.  I made it.

It was a good bike ride.

........Road Bike........Rollers.......MTB..........Lifecycle......Total
Today ......0.................0.................16....................0.............16
Jan.........26................ 0................0.....................0..............26
Feb.........7..................0................0.....................0...............7
March.......5.................0................0.....................0...............5
April.......0.................0...............45.....................0...............45
YTD.........38...............0................45.....................0.............83

Monday, April 16, 2018

A blue Monday

But the blue was in the sky!

It was a beautiful day for a bike ride, if not windy.  It had been blowing about 25 mph all night, and continued into the day.  I am not sure of the weather patterns in Panama and didn't know what that wind might have in store for me. I consulted several weather websites, and all suggested a dry day, so I mapped a route.  Interesting that RidewithGPS does such a great job at home, but here it lacks a little.  The roads shown in map view did not align with satellite view, and after I got out on the bike, it seems that neither of those were what was on the ground.  No problem, when offered a choice, I chose the paved road.  I climbed nearly 2000 ft in the first 4 miles. :-O

11,400 ft Volcan Baru, Panama's highest mountain.
A gravel road goes to the summit of Volcan Baru.  I may make it up there this trip, but not in shape to do it yet!

As I neared 5000 ft elevation I found coffee plants still blooming.




As I pedaled along (sometimes VERY slowly as I'd climb pitches to 19%!) I'd spot numerous plants that we grow as house plants at home, here growing wild outdoors. 

Pink Polka Dot Plant


Red Heliconia 

After about 7 miles of grueling up and down, mostly up, the road tipped down sharply.  I rolled quickly, tempering my speed with the brakes.  I'm on an unfamiliar bike with knobby tires.  Not the best recipe for attempting record times on descents.  Today's goal was to arrive at the bottom in one piece, with no blood on the outside.

I was surprised to find that I rolled into town just about where I had planned to when I mapped it, but I'm pretty sure between the beginning and the end, I was doing a little free style.


All's well that ends well.

8.7 miles
2224 ft of elevation gain

and carried a few pounds of groceries in my flimsy backpack the last mile UP!

PS  It began raining 2 hours after I got off the bike, WIN!

........Road Bike........Rollers.......MTB..........Lifecycle......Total
Today ......0.................0.................9....................0..............9
Jan.........26................ 0................0.....................0..............26
Feb.........7..................0................0.....................0...............7
March.......5.................0................0.....................0...............5
April.......0.................0...............29.....................0...............29
YTD.........38...............0................29.....................0.............67

Sunday, April 15, 2018

little numbers and big numbers

I had plans to ride up to the Quetzale Trail, but this morning the 19 mile 3400 ft route seemed like a big bite to take, and taking rock roads that direction without a patch kit seemed unwise.  Instead, I went down to Boquete and toured around town a bit trying to make a better mental map. I also got a patch kit to go with the pump I picked up the other day.  I feel more secure now that I have means to change flats should they occur on the many rock (not gravel, ROCK) roads here.

I was ready to ride, sort of, and headed south. (toward the Pacific Ocean, in this quarter turned world)  I climbed a 200 ft hill as I pedaled south, but before I got to the top, I stopped to get a photo of this road side attraction.


I don't know what a "La Barranca" is, but it seems that this was placed here for the benefit of the community on behalf of some Panamanian people in high places.


Once I got to the top I stopped at the Visitor's Center and read all about coffee. Since I don't drink the stuff it is about as close to the area's cash crop as I'm likely to get.



Before I left the visitor's center I perused the map of the area.


I considered riding a loop that began near the visitor's center, but the clouds were rolling in, and I thought that maybe I'd have enough even with this short ride. Little steps

As I rode back through town I decided lunch was a good side trip.



The little number?  6.9 miles
The big number?  960 ft elevation gain.



........Road Bike........Rollers.......MTB..........Lifecycle......Total
Today ......0.................0.................7....................0..............7
Jan.........26................ 0................0.....................0..............26
Feb.........7..................0................0.....................0...............7
March.......5.................0................0.....................0...............5
April.......0.................0...............20.....................0...............20
YTD.........38...............0................20.....................0.............58

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Short

Today I rode into town to get some groceries and a bike lock.  Just like home, there is one stop shopping here in Boquete Panama.  In this case it was in a store called Mandarin.

It is Saturday of course, and there evidently something like a farmer's market going on.  There were a lot a sidewalk stalls set up, and a good crowd of people wandering around. I didn't think to get a photo of all that activity, instead I took a photo of flowers.


The Rio Caldera lies just off the right side of this photo.

   After getting my supplies I rode back UP the hill. 450 ft in 1 mile is pretty tough on this old guy, but I did manage to pedal the whole thing.  However, I noticed that I was only slightly faster than these guys, also going up the hill.


At home I struggle to keep my Red Ti plant growing.  Here they grow wild, like weeds.

All it takes is a minimum temperature of 50F, and copious sunshine to keep the red color.  Easy here, not so easy in NW Oregon.



........Road Bike........Rollers.......MTB..........Lifecycle......Total
Today ......2.................0.................0....................0..............2
Jan.........26................ 0................0.....................0..............26
Feb.........7..................0................0.....................0...............7
March.......5.................0................0.....................0...............5
April.......0.................0...............13.....................0...............13
YTD.........49...............0................2.....................0.............51

Thursday, April 12, 2018

oh my

I needed some supplies to finish a sink repair.  I am in Panama with no vehicle, but a mountain bike available. I swapped out the SPD pedals for flat pedals since I didn't have my bike shoes with me. It should have been about a 5 mile round trip for me, but a few miles in the wrong direction added to the total.  I had a brisk wind, and a LOT of elevation to gain. On a knobby tired mountain bike, it was tough for this old out of shape guy. The glue is now drying on the repairs, so maybe tomorrow I'll get the chance to go for a little ride, this time taking a camera!  Today I saw Red Ti, Bird of Paradise, Philodendron, and many other tropical plants and animals.

........Road Bike........Rollers.......MTB..........Lifecycle......Total
Today .....11.................0.................0....................0.............11
Jan.........26................ 0................0.....................0..............26
Feb.........7..................0................0.....................0...............7
March.......5.................0................0.....................0...............5
April.......0.................0...............11.....................0...............11
YTD.........49...............0................0.....................0.............49

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Texas RAAM Challenge

I'm still not able to ride bike more than a few miles because of pain in my elbow, but I can help others ride bikes.

Beginning today at 5AM CDT,  Rushabh Ingle, Jose Nunez and I are supporting Mark (Chris) Davies at the Texas RAAM Challenge.  There is satellite tracking and time station arrival times linked from the race website.  Chris is listed as Mark Davies, solo 50-59 age group, racer #501.  Also racing in the same division is friend Barry Dickson, racer #507.  I wish them both a good race!


Tuesday, March 6, 2018

If you want something done right, do it yourself

That was a saying that my dad used often, and he lived that mantra, and passed it along to me.  My pickup was having some cooling issues.  I noted that the radiator was cold, even though the engine was warm.  I replaced the thermostat, knowing that was the easiest thing to replace and inexpensive.  Still, on a recent drive back from the Puget Sound area, I had to stop every 50 miles to add coolant.
 I had put in some Bar's Leak when I notice a few weeks ago that I was loosing coolant. The radiator was still cold and the leak leak was becoming worse. I now assumed that the radiator was plugged because of the Bar's Leak.  I was also seeing a puddle of coolant under the vehicle, right below the water pump.  I replaced the radiator and water pump.  The vehicle continued to lose coolant.  After even a 2 mile drive, big clouds of steam were coming off the top of the engine. I utilized Google to find leads to the issue.  It seems that my vehicle is prone to a cracked intake manifold and failure of the gasket, allowing coolant to get on top of the engine.  Unfortunately, I was unable to locate a new intake manifold, and was informed that they were not repairable.  (yes, I considered using silicone seal to patch it!) It was loosing enough coolant that I now needed to add water every 10 miles.  It was time to call in the professionals.  Today I brought it in to a shop. They located a manifold through a dealer and had me leave the vehicle with them.  Finally, the bike part of the story, I rode my bike back home from the shop.  I got a call this afternoon that they were running into some issues with sensors not sealing and I wouldn't be getting the vehicle back until tomorrow.

So, today it was 5 miles. 2 back from the shop, plus 3 round trip for lunch.

It was a nice day, not a cloud in the sky.  Right at freezing this morning on my way back from the shop, eventually reached 57 F.  Too bad I'm not a cyclist, it would have been a great day for a ride. As it was, I got my taxes filed today.


........Road Bike........Rollers.......MTB..........Lifecycle......Total
Today ......5.................0.................0....................0..............5
Jan.........26................ 0................0.....................0..............26
Feb.........7..................0................0.....................0...............7
March.......5.................0................0.....................0...............5
YTD.........38...............0................0.....................0.............38