Saturday, May 31, 2014

McKenzie Pass

I've been busy working on Race Across the West and Race Across America navigation aids, and couldn't justify taking time to ride. It showed today as I rode McKenzie Pass.

I've done this route many times over the last several years. Today Ken and Dave joined me. In Wilsonville we loaded our bikes into Ken's minivan for the trip south.


As we took an early morning drive down I-5 toward McKenzie Bridge I looked at my riding partners and knew I was in for a world of hurt. In years past I could certainly keep up with these guys, and sometimes even drop them off the back. That was then, and this was now. With my lack of serious riding the last few months I knew I'd be lucky if I could keep up.

We arrived at the McKenzie Ranger Station and unloaded our bikes.


They have installed a new sign and it showed the temperature to be remarkably warm. It also showed that we were pretty close to our planned 9AM start.


As my partners were making final adjustments I took the opportunity to visit with some other cyclists there.
As it ended up, these ladies were early in a trip to West Virginia. What an adventure that would be! They weren't planning to set any speed records, but rather take time to take in the sights and smell the roses.


We wished them a good ride and took off on our own. I led my partners out as we rolled the 2 miles of relatively flat Hwy 126 toward the Hwy 242 intersection.


We turned up Hwy 242, McKenzie Pass and started climbing. Typical of an out of shape rider, I slowed markedly. The guys went around me and dropped my sorry behind.


Before long it was just me, the hill, and the sights.


The route climbs just over 4000 ft in 23 miles from the McKenzie Ranger Station to the summit of McKenzie Pass. Deadhorse Grade climbs 1200 of those feet in 4 miles.
As I switched back my way up Deadhorse Grade I could hear the voices of a group of folks below. I pulled to the side and waited with my camera out to get this shot.


I continued my way up the hill. The ground began to be covered by snow around the 4000 ft elevation mark. There is a short break to the climbing as the road goes by the Obsidian Trailhead, and Scott Lake.


The area around Scott Lake is very familiar to me. A lightning caused fire burned in the area last year and a new sign was posted at the Hand Lake Trailhead.


After the short lull in climbing, I again began pedaling uphill. I passed Camper's Lake and the 5000 ft elevation sign, coming to the marker for pioneer mailman, John Templeton Craig.


As I rounded Craig Lake and continued the climb, North and Middle Sisters came into view across the lava.


When I got to Dee Wright Observatory at the summit, the silence of the day was broken by a cacophony of bicyclist's chatter.


Dave and Ken were waiting for me there. After taking in the sights for a bit, we began the descent down to Sisters for lunch. There wasn't as much snow here as in past years. The Department of Transportation could easily open the road to cars, but I am glad that they are reserving it for bikes and pedestrians for two more weeks yet.


The descent is punctuated by a short climb to Windy Point. We stopped for a brief photo op.
Mt Washington
Mt Jefferson
We hopped back on the bikes and continued down the hill. We'd drop about 2200 ft to Sisters. With about 5 miles left to Sisters the road nearly levels out. We were still riding along at about 27 mph. There was a bit of headwind that helped temper our speed.


We arrived in Sisters and made our way to the Snow Cap, our favorite little mom and pop ice cream shop in town. I had a large chocolate milkshake.


After eating, we started back up the pass from the east side. It is a notably easier climb from this side and we were soon at the snow gate, where we ran into friends from my former social bike club. There was some banter and joking on whether they were former friends, or if it was my former social bike club. They said if their faces were pixalated they'd know. Well, I couldn't figure out pixals, but here's the photo.


But they really are all good friends.


The three of us continued back up toward the summit, the others were on their way back down to Sisters.
As the road nears the summit it travels through a lava flow. Of course, today my riding partners were far in front of me and well on there way back down the west side. I stopped for a photo.


I continued down the west side. Descending is normally one of my strong suites. I can pick a fast line with the best of them. Today I took my time. There was a bit of debris on the road, pine cones, tree needles, etc. With the mottled shade and sunshine in my eyes it was a bit difficult to see. I descended about 30-35 mph.

When I got back to Ken's van both he and Dave were already changed out of bike clothes. The temperature display now read 77 degrees.

Somebody has to be last, today there was no doubt that the person was me.

Ken had duties at home to attend to so we came straight home.

When we arrived back in Wilsonville Dave and I went to a local watering hole for post ride beverage and nutrition. It was enough extra riding with the commute to the meeting point this morning, and the ride to food and drink tonight, that it stretched the 78 mile ride to 83 miles.

A great day on the bike, a bit more suffering than there should have been, but I finished.

..........road bike..........rollers........mtb.........lifecycle....total
Today..........83...............0..............0...............0............83 Jan............710................0..............0...............0...........710
Feb........... 578...............0..............0...............0............578
March ...........701.............0..............0...............0............701
April..........749.................0..............0...............0..........749
May...........613.................0..............0...............0...........613 Total..........3354...............0..............0...............0..........3354

Friday, May 30, 2014

A hardware store ride

I've been busy this week with duties related to the upcoming Race Across the West. I needed to make a trip to the local hardware store, and did it via bike. It was time for lunch as well, so there was a detour for junk food.

..........road bike..........rollers........mtb.........lifecycle....total
Today..........6................0..............0...............0............6 Jan............710................0..............0...............0...........710
Feb........... 578...............0..............0...............0............578
March ...........701.............0..............0...............0............701
April..........749.................0..............0...............0..........749
May...........530.................0..............0...............0...........530 Total..........3271...............0..............0...............0..........3271

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Lake Loop

After nearly a week off the bike I finally got the chance to pedal today. Mike, Julie, and I met at Gasworks Park and set off to ride around Lake Washington. The decision was made to ride counter-clockwise. We started off north on the Burke-Gilman Trail to the University of Washington to gain access to the official Lake Washington Loop course. The sky was cloudy but dry.



We made our way through the mess of construction at U of W, then turned south and crossed the Montlake Bridge. Before long we were on the STP course, and would remain so until Renton.



We were riding at a "social pace".



We continued along the STP course as it made it's way along the western shore of Lake Washington. Today we were riding along with less urgency than when starting off on a 200 mile day.



One thing about social riders, not only is the pace slower, and stop, no matter how short, is an excuse to have a social exchange. The phrase of the day turned out to be "just ride your bike".



It was a nice day and there were a lot of other bicyclists out........



...and all of them were passing us.



As we neared Renton the trail became congested with walkers. An very few of them knew what to do with a "on your left" or a ring of the bell.



As we rounded the south end of the lake we left the most scenic areas, but did pick up a slight tailwind. My battery went dead on the GoPro but we did finish the loop. With a 9 mph average it was slower than I'd like, but it was still fun.



..........road bike..........rollers........mtb.........lifecycle....total
Today.........61................0..............0...............0...........61 Jan............710................0..............0...............0...........710
Feb........... 578...............0..............0...............0............578
March ...........701.............0..............0...............0............701
April..........749.................0..............0...............0..........749
May...........524.................0..............0...............0...........524 Total..........3265...............0..............0...............0..........3265

Sunday, May 18, 2014

6 and 6

The day started off with 6 miles of kayaking in the Salish Sea off the coast of Seattle.

It ended with 6 miles of riding around Alki Point on a beach cruiser.

 It was raining lightly as we shoved off so I didn't bring my camera.  After all, it was going to be a short ride, what was I going to see that I hadn't already seen?  Well, I saw a guy riding a big cruiser style bike. We chatted a  bit.  He liked the bright yellow "Mike's Hard Lemonade" bike I was on.  I like the big 36" x 2 3/8" tires he had!


..........road bike..........rollers........mtb.........lifecycle....total
Today..........6................0..............0...............0............6 Jan............710................0..............0...............0...........710
Feb........... 578...............0..............0...............0............578
March ...........701.............0..............0...............0............701
April..........749.................0..............0...............0..........749
 May...........463.................0..............0...............0...........463  Total..........3201...............0..............0...............0..........3201

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Hauling Ash

Red Hook Brewery sponsors a bike ride called "Haul Ash" to commemorate the eruption of Mt St Helens in 1980.  The ride started at 10AM.   I always figure when a ride starts at 10AM or later that it is a perfect opportunity to ride to the ride.

Julie and I started from Queen Ann and rode 25 miles to Red Hook Brewery in Woodinville.
 We started off with a few blocks warm up.



Then took off down 3rd Ave West.



After the roll down 3rd Ave West we regrouped, crossed the Fremont Bridge, then rode along the Burke-Gilman Trail toward the University of Washington.



The U of W is undertaking a major remodel of the Burke-Gilman as it passes through campus. While work is being done they have developed a detour that keeps bikes off the open roads. (oh the horror of sharing lanes with cars!)

I missed a turn about 1 minute into the video clip, Julie missed one about 5 minutes into it. There were a lot of bollards, green paint, and stop signs.



Uploading video now, a slow process. One 6 minute video takes over 13 hours to upload on the current "high speed" connection. I'll upload them later when I can get higher speed access. It will be worth the wait, I've got a video of the current Burke-Gilman Trail detour near UW, and the route open to vehicular cyclists as we took the lane and rode our bikes.
5/28 update: DRAT! I'm now on a faster internet connection but just realized I left the GoPro's memory card in Seattle, staged for Race Across America next week. It looks like it will be another month before I get the opportunity to upload those files.

We finished up with a 2 mile ride on cruiser bikes for frozen yogurt.  It was the perfect end to a day of biking.





..........road bike..........rollers........mtb.........lifecycle....total
Today..........90................0..............0...............0............90 Jan............710................0..............0...............0...........710
Feb........... 578...............0..............0...............0............578
March ...........701.............0..............0...............0............701
April..........749.................0..............0...............0..........749
 May...........457.................0..............0...............0...........457  Total..........3195...............0..............0...............0..........3195



Friday, May 16, 2014

Bike to Work Day

Today was ride to work day. There were a lot of "ride to work stations" scattered around where they offered kibble, hydration, and swag.  I decided to do some morning gardening at the community gardens so I could partake in the ride to work fun.

My phone was having issues so the one photo I took of a popular ride to work station near the Fremont Bridge failed to save but I did score a half dozen bars, a bottle of vitamin water, a key fob, and a maple bar.

I also weeded the garden and planted another row of beans.  ;-)
 

..........road bike..........rollers........mtb.........lifecycle....total
Today..........19................0..............0...............0............19 Jan............710................0..............0...............0...........710
Feb........... 578...............0..............0...............0............578
March ...........701.............0..............0...............0............701
April..........749.................0..............0...............0..........749
 May...........367.................0..............0...............0...........367  Total..........3105...............0..............0...............0..........3105

Monday, May 12, 2014

Gutter Repair

The sun is shining but one day soon it may rain again.  The gutters on an outbuilding are in need of some attention. I hopped on the fixed gear bike and rode to Home Depot for some supplies.

One thing I like about riding bike is the enhanced awareness one has of the surroundings.  Whether it is the sight of antelope, deer, or the call of birds, cyclists are better at experiencing the world around them.  This morning as I pedaled along suddenly the aroma of donuts wafted by!  I was not aware of any nearby bakeries, so I turned around to investigate.  Sure enough, there it was.  A brand new bakery!


In a moment of weakness I wandered in and got an Apple Fritter.


After finishing my treat, I continued on my way to Home Depot. I locked my bike up with the flimsy little "latte lock" that I carry on the fixie, knowing full well that the typical clientele of Home Depot would likely have the tools and know-how to defeat it quickly.

I marched in, picked up a package of gutter spikes/ferrules, and was back out and on my way.

I even had a bit of tailwind for the return trip!

..........road bike..........rollers........mtb.........lifecycle....total
Today..........17................0..............0...............0............17 Jan............710................0..............0...............0...........710
Feb........... 578...............0..............0...............0............578
March ...........701.............0..............0...............0............701
April..........749.................0..............0...............0..........749
 May...........348.................0..............0...............0...........348  Total..........3086...............0..............0...............0..........3086

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The advantages of riding solo

 Today was day two of a weekend of riding in north central Oregon.  A few folks had expressed interest in joining me, but they all ended up not coming.  It would have been nice to have company, but one advantage to riding solo is that plan changes are pretty easy to make.

I had originally planned to ride a Tygh Valley Century route but I rode most of that last weekend.  Today I was wanting something new.  I had spent the night in The Dalles and as I was driving up Hwy 197 toward Tygh Valley two snow capped peaks were calling my name.
Mt Adams to the north

Mt Hood to the west
I decided right then and there that riding toward a volcano would be the order of the day.  Mt Hood was easier to get to, so that made the choice easy.

I drove to Tygh Valley, unloaded my bike, grabbed some chocolate milk and some mini donuts from the market, and pedaled off.  My plan was to follow the Race Across Oregon route.  Well, sort of.  I started by riding out past the fairgrounds.  While Race Across Oregon doesn't take that road, many of the RAO events do. My kids used to show lambs there each spring so there is some sentimental interest for me.


All that's missing is the hustle and bustle of kids and lambs

 The fairgrounds loop gave me a chance to stretch my legs before starting the climb to Tygh Ridge.


Competitors in Race Across Oregon hit this hill, often in the heat of a July afternoon, after already racing over 400 miles. In 2010 my race partner Lauren and I were struggling up this hill in temperatures well over 100.  Today was much easier.  I wasn't going hard, and it was in the mid 60's.
I even stopped to take in some sights and sounds today.


Looking a little ragged as they shed their winter coats

video
 (the birds singing were Western Meadowlarks)

After the wildlife stop there was still hill to climb so off I went.


Here is where Team Teal passed Lauren and I on that fateful day in 2010
I reached the top then rolled down the other side reaching 42 mph.  I took the turn toward Dufur and Camp Baldwin.  I continued descending until reaching Dufur. On RAO we are warned not to go into Dufur, doing so would mean missing a turn.  Today I decided to ride into town and see what it was all about. I wandered around the antique farm machinery museum, and read a few of the signs describing them. The museum itself was closed, but the machinery was all parked outside.  After puttering around there a bit I rejoined the RAO route and began climbing.  Just like the climb up Tygh Ridge, memories of this climb abound.  Today it was fun to just take my time.
Dufur

Mt Hood hiding behind some clouds over the Cascade Mtns
 The first few miles climbed gently.  There were a lot of irrigated fields.  Once I passed the South Dufur intersection the road began to tip upward a bit more. The scenery would change as I climbed, going from open grassland, to deciduous trees and a splattering of pines.

The deciduous trees gave way to pines as I gained elevation.  It didn't seem like I was climbing that high, but a look back gave a better indication of where I was compared to where I was earlier.


Before long there was some roadside snow.

There was actually quite a bit of snow, but I stopped for the photo here because I could include Mt Hood.
With about 7-8 miles before I reached Hwy 35 I summited this climb. I would drop 1300 ft to get to Hwy 35.  It was pretty easy to get there.



I turned around and climbed back up the hill I just rolled down.  On the descent back toward Dufur I was on the aerobars rolling just over 35 mph when I hit ..something.  The front end bounced hard and came down with a flat tire. There was a bit of excitement as I carefully took hands off the aerobars and got them on the drops.  The front tire was completely flat and wobbling around on the rim making steering difficult.  Once my hands got on the drops I could apply brakes and bring the bike to a stop. By the time I got the bike stopped it had rolled quite some distance and the tire sidewall showed some serious damage.  I might have been able to continue with it, but I carry a spare tire.  It was time to use it.

I changed tire and tube and continued on my way down to Dufur.  This time I did not tour the town, but began immediately climbing back up Tygh Ridge.

Once I got to the top of that there was a fun ride down to Tygh Valley.  I was back on the aerobars and reached 45 mph.

I got to Tygh Valley with just under 100 miles.  I really wanted at least 100 today, so I turned up the road to Wamic.  There wasn't much in Wamic to keep me there, so I turned around and rolled back down the hill to Tygh Valley.

It was a perfect day, and a great way to close out a two day weekend of riding.  The temperature was 68 degrees when I finished up.  Wind today was not an issue.  There were a few clouds over the top of the Cascade Mtns, but blue everywhere else.

I got my hundred miles, and climbed just under 10,000 ft in the process.




..........road bike..........rollers........mtb.........lifecycle....total
Today.........107................0..............0...............0...........107 Jan............710................0..............0...............0...........710
Feb........... 578...............0..............0...............0............578
March ...........701.............0..............0...............0............701
April..........749.................0..............0...............0..........749
 May...........331.................0..............0...............0...........331  Total..........3069...............0..............0...............0..........3069

Saturday, May 10, 2014

From wet to dry, a Cherry of a Ride!

Months ago I put a weekend of riding in north central Oregon on the calendar, playing the odds that it would likely be raining in Portland, and likely be dry in The Dalles/Tygh Valley. (Portland gets an average 2.55" of rain in May, The Dalles gets 0.71") I had 4 people say they would be interested in joining the fun.  So far so good!

Even though it was predicted to be wet at home, all my "maybes" decided not to ride.  No problem, I've bike solo much of the time, I could do it again.

On tap today was the Cherry of a Ride route, but I would start the route from Hood River.

It was raining as I left home this morning and rained on and off until just past Cascade Locks.  Hood River was partly cloudy but not raining as I arrived. The roads were damp from overnight rains, but the sky looked promising, so I carried a raincoat but did not wear it.

The famous Gorge winds were blowing a bit from the west.  As I pedaled out toward the Mosier Twin Tunnels I had a tailwind. There were signs advising that a running/walking event was going on. Sure enough, there were a lot of folks on the  Historic Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway, and it seemed that most of them were wearing tutus. (even this little dog!)


The ride along the old highway is always scenic, a testament to the visionaries who built the road.





I arrived at the Mosier Twin Tunnels. I always look with amazement at these tunnels, and the road in general.  My dad was born the year the road was built. He drove over it many, many times.  He told stories of sharing the road with semi trucks. It was the only road through the Gorge for over 35 years.  If you were driving from Portland to Pendleton or points east, you were on this road. In later years they installed signals at the tunnels to regulate one way traffic. Even with the tunnels regulated, that road is darn narrow to imagine meeting an 18 wheeler coming the other way.  Today, it is just bikes and pedestrians who share the roadway.


During the winter of 1921 a couple of folks took shelter in these tunnels from a big winter storm.  They ended up getting snowed in the tunnel and spent 12 days in there before being rescued.


Today I just pedaled through. :-)

Once through the tunnels it was just a short pedal to Mosier.  Beginning just outside Mosier I was still on the Historic Highway but I was now sharing it with motor vehicles.  In Mosier I turned up State Street, and began climbing Seven Mile Hill.  There were a few things to keep my mind off the long climb.


I reached the top and looked across the more arid area to the east.



I  rolled down the east side of Seven Mile Hill, being buffeted around by the wind as I followed the twists and turns.

Just before entering The Dalles the route turns up Chenowith Rd and comes back into The Dalles via Cherry Heights.  I rolled through The Dalles and started up State Road, 15 Mile Road, and 8 Mile Road. I was in rolling wheat country now and as I turned onto Emerson Loop I took a few photos.



Of course, I had to take another photo of this old house, probably the most photographed house on this route.


I got to Hwy 197 and crossed it for an out and back. The wind was picking up and the ride out had a brisk headwind.  I turned around and enjoyed a tailwind back.  I turned down 8 Mile Road and enjoyed the ride back down to The Dalles.

I rode along the Riverfront Trail to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center then jumped on Hwy 30.  I rode up the Rowena Loops.


The wind really made the descent back into Mosier interesting.
The views were still enjoyable.









 I got back into Mosier and retraced my way back to Hood River.  The day had improved as I pedaled.  There were less clouds this afternoon than there were this morning.  No rain today, not even close.  That was a better track record than the Willamette Valley had today.

Tomorrow is predicted to be even better.  Tygh Valley here I come!


..........road bike..........rollers........mtb.........lifecycle....total
Today.........102................0..............0...............0...........102 Jan............710................0..............0...............0...........710
Feb........... 578...............0..............0...............0............578
March ...........701.............0..............0...............0............701
April..........749.................0..............0...............0..........749
 May...........224.................0..............0...............0...........224  Total..........2962...............0..............0...............0.........2962