Thursday, October 30, 2014

Will Ride for Swag

It was supposed to be a wet and blustery day.  The weather prognosticators were right on the money.  It was a perfect excuse to go for a short ride to an event that would have stuff for staying visible in dark and wet weather.


Did I mention that they advertised free swag?  ;-) 

I put on full rain gear and headed down Queen Ann.  I felt lucky to have slipped down the hill in between showers.  As I wandered around (under portable canopies) looking at displays and picking up freebies, it just poured.  It was one of the heaviest rain showers I've seen in some time.

I scored a few Clif Bars, and an assortment of various colored reflective dots.  I also grabbed some various cycling maps of the area. The best thing I saw there was a bright yellow, waterproof and fully reflective pannier bag by Ortlieb.
I had seen everything, visited a bit with folks, and grabbed all the free stuff I felt comfortable grabbing. The rain shower had passed and it was time to pedal back up the hill.

I didn't work too hard at going up, just pedaled along.  I did make it back to the top before the next rain shower hit.

I can't complain too much about that.



..........road bike..........rollers........mtb.........lifecycle....total Today.............5...............0..............0...............0..............5 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
June............309...............0..............0...............0............309
July............615...............0..............0...............0............615
August..........359...............0..............0...............0............359
Sept............292...............0..............0...............0............292
Oct.............708...............0..............0...............0............708 Total..........5536...............0..............0...............0...........5536

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Another Sunny Day

You've got to take them when you can.  It is supposed to rain all day tomorrow, so I went for a ride this afternoon in partly cloudy but dry weather.  I rode out the Burke-Gilman Trail to Kenmore, grabbed some fries and a soda as a post lunch snack, then came back toward Golden Gardens.

Before I got there I had a small issue with a motor vehicle operator.  I was rolling up to a red light that already had a car waiting.  I was about 75 feet from the stopped car and moving about 10-12 mph. A driver came up behind me quickly and accelerated to get in front of me.  He failed.  He did give me enough room as he passed, but did not have enough room to get back into the lane before he had to stop behind the other car. 
Orange=car 1, blue=car 2, red=my bike
He nosed right up tight to the stopped car. I was just stubborn enough to not want to let him get away with that.  I made my way around him and got between him and the car in front of him.  There was not enough room to do anything but stop at an angle.

I was truly expecting a scene to develop.

It never did.

The light turned green, the first car moved, I followed, the guy that tried to pass me, now followed me.
We went through a couple of blocks with stop signs.  I was able to arrive at each stop sign before the guy following me did.  Finally I turned right and he continued on straight. 

No words, no horn honk, no gestures.

I  continued on to Golden Gardens.

Again, though the view was nice, there were signs around saying to not eat the shellfish because of pollution. A heavy price to pay for "progress".

At Golden Gardens there is a reclaimed wetland that they are quite proud of.  It was a very serene scene.


There was a beaver lodge and a few gnawed trees around, but also quite a few trees wrapped in steel fencing to fend off the large rodents. Not quite a natural setting, but at least the critters are there.

I also stopped to read some historical signs and take in the sights at Salmon Bay.


It was a nice ride.


..........road bike..........rollers........mtb.........lifecycle....total Today............45...............0..............0...............0.............45 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
June............309...............0..............0...............0............309
July............615...............0..............0...............0............615
August..........359...............0..............0...............0............359
Sept............292...............0..............0...............0............292
Oct.............703...............0..............0...............0............703 Total..........5528...............0..............0...............0...........5528

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A challenge for you!

Last April I participated in the #30daysofbiking national challenge.  It was easy to do when it was sunny and warm. Let's ride every day in November!  It is historically Portland's second wettest month, and there is the complication of the Thanksgiving holiday. (what better way to earn that big dinner?)  I've posted this all over Facebook.  We can all support each other in this effort.

So, you say you don't have a lot of time, or maybe you don't even ride bike much?  It doesn't have to be far.  If all you can do is ride around the block on any given day, or even every day, then do that.
Add the hashtag #ridingeverydayinNovember to your social media posts. Like the page on Facebook! Let's do this!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Dealing with Ignorance

I had thought about joining a 50ish mile ride that started from Monroe today. but the late night out last night dealing with an Epic Corn Maze Adventure precluded that. Fall back plans revolved around taking a kayak tour of the doomed WA 520 freeway access ramps in Lake Washington, and a musical presentation in Tacoma.  As time ticked by, it became obvious that if I were going to get out, I'd have to make my own plans.

I hopped on the bike and headed toward Marymoor Park. After last night's big blow there were a lot of sticks and debris on the trail. but nothing big enough to bring the adventure to an end.  I made it to Marymoor then retraced my route back to Fremont.

I continued to the Hiram Chittenden Locks. I've been there a few times, but had never toured the museum.  I locked my bike and walked in.  I was in there for less than 30 seconds when the man behind the welcome desk asked about my shoes.  I was wearing bike shoes with rain booties covering them. I thought he was questioning those.  No, he wanted to point out that I was wearing bike shoes.  He was concerned that my cleats would damage the carpet.  I highly doubt it, and  told him that I didn't think it would be an issue, but it's "his house" and I took off my booties and shoes.

No more than did I get those off, then the woman behind the desk questioned my socks.
I was wearing my bright yellow Panache  socks.


She remarked that they were very bright and  did I have any other socks I could put on.
I thought she was kidding.
One look at her told me she wasn't.
I told her I didn't have another pair of socks with me.

I left my shoes, helmet,  gloves,and booties in a corner and walked around the displays in my "obnoxiously bright" socks.


 The short film that normally plays in their auditorium was off line today, and a good portion of the 2nd floor display space was closed for updating. After about a half hour I grabbed my helmet, shoes, gloves, and booties and exited the museum. Per posted rules, I walked my bike back to the property boundary, then rode to Golden Gardens. It was an unexpectedly nice day.


After watching a guy try to trailer his boat for over 30 minutes, and the sun getting low on the horizon,  I turned back.  As I was riding through Ballard I crossed paths with the Cycle Saloon.


It appeared that the patrons where enjoying themselves.  In Oregon bicycles are considered vehicles and are subject to the same rules and regulations (except those that by their nature can't apply) I'm pretty sure that open container prohibitions would apply in Oregon, but here in Washington, home of legalized recreational marijuana, there doesn't seem to be a concern.

I finished up just after 6PM.  It was a  nice pedal.


..........road bike..........rollers........mtb.........lifecycle....total Today............66...............0..............0...............0.............66 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
June............309...............0..............0...............0............309
July............615...............0..............0...............0............615
August..........359...............0..............0...............0............359
Sept............292...............0..............0...............0............292
Oct.............658...............0..............0...............0............658 Total..........5483...............0..............0...............0...........5483

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Tale of Two Cities

I started off the day with a pre-sunrise ride in Portland to make a bus connection. Yesterday it literally rained all day. This morning was a continuation of that, at least this time I had my rain bike. I expected rain and had full rain gear on.

The weather was pretty wild as I rode the bus up I-5. Hard rain from time to time, and even a tornado just north of Portland in Longview, WA.

When I got to Seattle I unloaded my bike and headed toward Bellvue. I was pleased that it wasn't raining. I pedaled over Capital Hill as the sky continued to clear. As I crossed the I-90 floating bridge I couldn't believe my luck. It was a bit windy, but dry.


As scenic as the Puget Sound area is, it doesn't take much to see that it isn't all as pristine as it might appear.

I arrived at Meydenbauer Bay without much more problem that some cross wind and being overheated due to wearing rain gear.


When I left home this morning I expected wind and rain on both ends of today's ride. I was very surprised to have the nice weather up this way, but it didn't last.  Before dinner was prepared there was wind, torrential rain, and lightning, but I had a good ride!


..........road bike..........rollers........mtb.........lifecycle....total Today............13...............0..............0...............0.............13 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
June............309...............0..............0...............0............309
July............615...............0..............0...............0............615
August..........359...............0..............0...............0............359
Sept............292...............0..............0...............0............292
Oct.............592...............0..............0...............0............592 Total..........5417...............0..............0...............0...........5417

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What a difference a day makes

 I had a Legislative breakfast meeting today.  It was only 2.5 miles away.  It was raining.  I figured I could take the fixie to that meeting since it has flat pedals, and avoid having to wear bike shoes.  It currently has a clip on rear fender.  I put on my silicone coated windbreaker.  I figured with only 2 1/2  miles, how wet could I get?

Well, wet.

It was dark as I pedaled out.  My headlight caught the water flying off the front tire and blowing back on me, from above the handlebars and from off each side of the downtube.  I couldn't believe how much water was flying back on me.  I was rethinking my decision to not ride the rain bike and just carry street shoes along.

I arrived, took off my wet jacket, took my seat in the audience and listened.

Following the meeting I put my meager weather protection back on and pedaled out.  The rain had slowed down a bit, but it was still wet.

It would rain all day, but at least I didn't have to bike in it anymore.




..........road bike..........rollers........mtb.........lifecycle....total Today.............5...............0..............0...............0..............5 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
June............309...............0..............0...............0............309
July............615...............0..............0...............0............615
August..........359...............0..............0...............0............359
Sept............292...............0..............0...............0............292
Oct.............579...............0..............0...............0............579 Total..........5404...............0..............0...............0...........5403

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hunting without a license

It was supposed to be a wet day. Instead it was dry. I prepared to ride to Gales Creek for a community meeting. I packed rain gear because the forecast said I should and it did feel like it was going to rain as I rolled out.

Within 8 miles it looked pretty darn good.

Nearing Cook Park from the south
I followed the Fanno Creek trail most of the way to Beaverton then turned west on a series of residential streets just north of busy Hwy 8.  I did have to get on Hwy 8 for about a quarter mile and was surprised to see deer!








One of them was a pretty nice buck. I always chuckle when someone asks about hunting status.  I always hunt for deer.  I can't legally shoot one, I don't have a license or tag this year, but that doesn't mean I can't hunt for them!

After the deer excitement, I continued on.  About this point there was just a little mist falling for a couple of miles.  The road never got wet.

As I rolled through Hillsboro I detoured out to my mother's to move a big potted plant into the garage for the winter.

I continued my way westward. I made it to Gales Creek about a half hour early.  Just about right.

As the event went on, the sun went down.  My preride plan included a multimodal return trip utilizing  a TriMet bus and MAX train.  I had expected it to be dark, raining, and windy.  I figured that the 10 miles on the west end to access the bus, and the 8 miles from the bus back home would be plenty if I was wet and cold.

As it ended up, it was dark, but it was dry and not terribly windy.  After riding back to Forest Grove I just continued to ride east.  I figured I'd ride until it started raining then hop on a bus or light rail.

It never rained, and I never got on transit.

It ended up being a nice night for a ride.  I did get a few random drops of rain with about 2 miles to go, but not enough to worry about, or stop and put rain gear on for.


..........road bike..........rollers........mtb.........lifecycle....total Today............88...............0..............0...............0.............88 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
June............309...............0..............0...............0............309
July............615...............0..............0...............0............615
August..........359...............0..............0...............0............359
Sept............292...............0..............0...............0............292
Oct.............574...............0..............0...............0............574 Total..........5399...............0..............0...............0...........5399

Monday, October 20, 2014

Food

It was supposed to rain today. It did some, but not much. I managed to get out the bike a couple of times today and never got rained on either time. The first was in the morning to satisfy a need for a fresh maple bar and chocolate milk. Later in the day I pedaled to the lunch special at Love Teriyaki. A pretty good day!


..........road bike..........rollers........mtb.........lifecycle....total Today............11...............0..............0...............0.............11 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
June............309...............0..............0...............0............309
July............615...............0..............0...............0............615
August..........359...............0..............0...............0............359
Sept............292...............0..............0...............0............292
Oct............486...............0..............0...............0............486 Total..........5311...............0..............0...............0...........5311

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A day worth 100 miles

My friend Art posted an invitation to join him on a ride up the Clackamas River to a facebook group I belong to. He started late enough in the day that a ride to the ride worked out perfectly.


The commute by bike was just under 19 miles.  There was a bit of fog for the first 10 miles so I turned on the front light. (the back blinky is always on). By the time I passed Oregon City and began my way up the Clackamas River the sky had cleared and it was going to be a gorgeous day.


I arrived at Carver Park, our meeting point, to find that we were going to be a group of 5.  We started counter-clockwise on the 42 mile route that Art had planned.


We exited Hwy 224 and took E. Faraday Rd.  We took one detour to take a look at Faraday Forebay, which added less than a mile to our route. It was "just water" and evidently none of us found it interesting enough to snap a photo. :-O

E Faraday Rd is closed to unauthorized motor vehicles but open to bikes and pedestrians.  It offers some great views of the river.
 
 
 


We arrived at the North Fork Reservoir and dam.


The group rode up the road away where there was boat access, and room for us to grab some snacks that we had been carrying.


 I had a good day on the bike, when it was my turn to take a pull I held it between 20-24 mph.  Not bad for a old out of shape guy.

We had some rude drivers.  Nothing terribly dangerous, but just rude.  One oncoming pickup driver layed on the horn and flew a middle fingered salute. The only thing we could figure out was that he was mad that he was stuck in a vehicle instead of enjoying the day as we were.  We had some close passes as we made our way back down through Estacada.  It's been my experience that if we are going to have issues, it's in timber towns.  Estacada and Mollala rarely disappoint.

We still had good views of the river though.


We arrived back at Carver Park and Kent continued on down the road.  He lives not too far away from there.  Max, Art, and Peter loaded their bikes in cars and headed back home.  I exited the park and continued back downstream.  I retraced my inbound commute back. 

I took a detour as neared Tualatin and took a brief soak in the hot tub. ;-)

I got near home and noted that I had 98 miles.  Just like the old days, I found a road that needed riding and offered 2 miles to complete a century.  It evidently was my first century since April 7th, 2014.   I used to ride 2 each weekend.  I guess I've got to start somewhere.

UPDATE:  Silly me, I rode more than 100 miles on STP in July.


 ..........road bike..........rollers........mtb.........lifecycle....total Today..........100...............0..............0...............0............100 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
June............309...............0..............0...............0...........309
July...............615...............0..............0...............0............615
August.........359................0..............0...............0.............359
Sept............292................0...............0...............0.............292
 Oct............475....................0..............0...............0............475  Total..........5300...............0..............0...............0............5300

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A test ride

It was not raining today, but I still took the rain bike out for a spin. The first thing I noticed was how much smoother it rode with the 28mm tires instead of the 23's it had previously.  25psi lower pressure accounts for part of that, but the added width helps too.  The vibration and chatter experienced with the 23mm tires has all but disappeared.  I stopped at Performance Bicycles on the way by and picked up a spare tube, then pedaled out to CREST Farm where my nephew is officially the "Urban Farmer In Charge".  The program helps teach students the value of sustainable agriculture.  Today was Harvest Festival and hundreds of folks came by to take a tour, help make apple cider, buy some produce and .............listen to some music.



The gentleman on the left played violin most of the time, but also had a "Banjolin" a hybrid of a mandolin and a banjo.  The woman seated in the middle was playing what she called a "small pipe" and also played a penny whistle. The woman seated on the right was playing a hammer dulcimer. 

It was a nice day.

 ..........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...........613.................0..............0...............0...........613
June............309...............0..............0...............0...........309
July...............615...............0..............0...............0............615
August.........359................0..............0...............0.............359
Sept............292................0...............0...............0.............292
 Oct............375....................0..............0...............0............375  Total..........5200...............0..............0...............0............5200

Friday, October 17, 2014

Thriftway, Fry's, Costco, and the library

 I took the fixed gear bike out on a shopping trip.  Notice I said "shopping" and not "buying".  I did get a maple bar and chocolate milk at Thriftway, but other than that it was purely research for upcoming purchases.  I took the fixed gear bike because it has flat pedals and I don't need bike shoes.  Every place I had to go today I could get to by riding on sidewalks or deserted residential streets.


 Before leaving home I put the clip on rear fender on the bike, not being sure it would stay dry. But I did  manage to miss the scattered showers today.

 ..........road bike..........rollers........mtb.........lifecycle....total Today...........11...............0..............0...............0.............11 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
June............309...............0..............0...............0...........309
July...............615...............0..............0...............0............615
August.........359................0..............0...............0.............359
Sept............292................0...............0...............0.............292
 Oct............358....................0..............0...............0............358  Total..........5193...............0..............0...............0..........5193

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What a difference a day makes.

Yesterday was windy and wet, not the most enjoyable day on the bike.  Today was blue skies and calm.
I spent the morning organizing bike stuff, and installed the new tires/wheels/brake pads on the rain bike. I also installed new reflective material to the new wheels.  The brakes will help me stop, the wider tires will give me a smoother ride, the reflectivity will help keep me visible.


One would think that after doing all that upgrading that I'd be anxious to give the bike a test drive.

Instead, it was a perfect day for a fixed gear ride.  I puttered around town, had lunch, puttered around some more.  It was a perfect fall day.


 ..........road bike..........rollers........mtb.........lifecycle....total Today...........26...............0..............0...............0.............26 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
June............309...............0..............0...............0...........309
July...............615...............0..............0...............0............615
August.........359................0..............0...............0.............359
Sept............292................0...............0...............0.............292
 Oct............347....................0..............0...............0............347  Total..........5182...............0..............0...............0..........5182


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A wet ride to a wet activity

There was a high wind warning for south winds in the Willamette Valley this morning.  It wasn't too many years ago when identical weather was predicted (strong south wind and rain) I hopped on the bike and rode 35 miles straight into the wind then turned around a let it blow me home.  I thought it would be perfect training for Furnace Creek 508, I was right.  I'm no longer training, so today I rode with the wind, and only 9 miles, to the hot tub at 24 hr Fitness! It rained quite hard, but it was at my back.  After a long soak I expected to ride back into the wind, but was pleasantly surprised to find the wind had weakened, and the rain had tapered off.  Most of my ride back was dry.  I stopped at Performance Bicycles to get two new 28mm tires and new brake pads for my rain bike.  Maybe the bike will stick to the road better, and stop when needed now.

..........road bike..........rollers........mtb.........lifecycle....total Today...........22...............0..............0...............0.............22 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
June............309...............0..............0...............0...........309
July...............615...............0..............0...............0............615
August.........359................0..............0...............0.............359
Sept............292................0...............0...............0.............292
 Oct............321....................0..............0...............0............321  Total..........5156...............0..............0...............0..........5156

Monday, October 13, 2014

A tale of two rides

It was a nice fall day, wisps of morning fog gave way to blue skies and warm weather.  I had a dinner meeting to attend in Gaston and thought it would be a perfect day to ride to the meeting.  I was right, it was great!

The first 15 miles were mostly on paths.  The look of fall was everywhere.

 Once I got to Beaverton I turned west and despite my mapping program wanting to send me out Tualatin Valley Hwy, I took parallel residential streets just a few blocks north to reduce the amount of traffic, and to minimize chances of right hooks.  It was a perfect day for a pedal.

I ran out of convenient alternate streets on the west end of Hillsboro, but by then traffic has dissipated  and right hook opportunities diminish.  I followed the Tualatin Valley Hwy to Forest Grove where I turned south on Hwy 47...... into a moderate headwind.  It was a two lane road with a 55 mph speed limit and wide shoulders.


I couldn't help but draw comparisons. I was recently crewing the Silver State 508.  On Highway 50, billed as the "Loneliest Highway in America" there were two lanes of traffic also, but they had a 70 mph speed limit and rumble strips.


It's not hard to guess where I'd rather be riding.

I got to my meeting about 90 minutes early.  Plenty of time to get cleaned up and change out of my superman outfit and into my Clark Kent duds.

The first ride of the day ended in sunshine and warm temperatures.

After the meeting I put the lights on the bike, 3 headlights and three tail lights, and donned my reflective vest. I pedaled toward Forest Grove with a brisk tail wind.  The ride went well, retracing my outbound route.


By the time I got to Tigard it started raining lightly.  I had rain gear along but the light rain did not warrant putting it on. By the time I got to Tualatin it was raining a bit heavier, but it still wasn't really worth stopping and putting on rain gear.  The rain tapered off a bit as I neared Wilsonville.  Even the small road side trees were sheltering the road enough that it was dry beneath them.

The second ride of the day was dark and a little damp toward the end.

I was still a nice ride.


..........road bike..........rollers........mtb.........lifecycle....total Today...........79...............0..............0...............0.............79 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
June............309...............0..............0...............0...........309
July...............615...............0..............0...............0............615
August.........359................0..............0...............0.............359
Sept............292................0...............0...............0.............292
 Oct............299....................0..............0...............0............299  Total..........5134...............0..............0...............0..........5134

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Getting in hot water

It was a perfect fall day, just a dash of morning fog turning into a warm and sunny day.  What better way to celebrate than go for an easy bike ride to a hot tub?  ;-)   I have a 24 Hour Fitness membership so rode the bike there and soaked in the spa for a bit, then pedaled back.

..........road bike..........rollers........mtb.........lifecycle....total Today...........16...............0..............0...............0.............16 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
June............309...............0..............0...............0...........309
July...............615...............0..............0...............0............615
August.........359................0..............0...............0.............359
Sept............292................0...............0...............0.............292
 Oct............220....................0..............0...............0............220  Total..........5055...............0..............0...............0..........5055

Saturday, October 11, 2014

6 Bridges

I joined some old friends, and some new ones, for a ride over covered bridges today. There was some overnight rain with a prediction for passing showers during the day with rain again by evening.  I brought the rain bike.

The roads were wet as Dave and I drove 40 miles to the start of the ride. By the time we got there the pavement was dry and would stay that way all day.

13 of us pedaled off from Stayton for a reasonably flat route to take in 6 covered bridges.  There was a bit of wind, but being a circular route sometimes it was good, sometimes not so much.  We did get the bridges though.


No, not a tornado, just bridge repair




 It was a ride sponsored by my former social bike club. They were nice enough to let me tag along.  It was advertised at a 15 mph on road pace.  I almost considered taking my fixed gear bike. Glad I didn't!

The pace was close to 20 on flat ground.  I managed to hang with the gang for the first 30 miles, then my lack of bike fitness became apparent. I had the route on my Garmin, so I was not concerned.  I did manage to maintain the advertised pace of 15 mph, but nothing more.

I was dressed for rain, that did not happen.

I finished hot, thirsty, tired, and hungry.

I guess you'd have to call that perfect training  At least the scenery was nice.


With my 5 miles of pre-ride bonus miles I got 66 miles today.

..........road bike..........rollers........mtb.........lifecycle....total Today...........66...............0..............0...............0.............66 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
June............309...............0..............0...............0...........309
July...............615...............0..............0...............0............615
August.........359................0..............0...............0.............359
Sept............292................0...............0...............0.............292
 Oct............204....................0..............0...............0............204  Total..........5039...............0..............0...............0..........5039

Friday, October 10, 2014

Empty promises

Today I had more errands to run, including a trip to a place that advertised that they refurbished Lithium Ion batteries.  My Light and Motion 6 cell LI battery for my bike headlight evidently shorted out during STP this year.  As it ends up, all they could tell me was that there was zero voltage across the terminals. Well duh, I could have told them that.

At least it was a nice day for a bike ride.



..........road bike..........rollers........mtb.........lifecycle....total Today...........21...............0..............0...............0.............21 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
June............309...............0..............0...............0...........309
July...............615...............0..............0...............0............615
August.........359................0..............0...............0.............359
Sept............292................0...............0...............0.............292
 Oct............138....................0..............0...............0............138
 Total..........4973...............0..............0...............0..........4973

Thursday, October 9, 2014

First day post Silver State

I  got home late last night from crewing Steven "Kookaburra" Burns at the Silver State 508.  I unpacked most of the stuff today and took the fixed gear bike out for a few errands.  I am now the proud owner of a long life electronic flasher.  :-)


..........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...........613.................0..............0...............0...........613
June............309...............0..............0...............0...........309
July...............615...............0..............0...............0............615
August.........359................0..............0...............0.............359
Sept............292................0...............0...............0.............292
 Oct............117....................0..............0...............0............117
 Total..........4952...............0..............0...............0..........4952

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Silver State 508 race report

The Furnace Creek 508 was a bike race that traveled through Death Valley for 23 years before political maneuvering prohibited a return to the National Park. I've raced it twice, and crewed it several times.  This year I returned to the new edition of this storied event, now called the Silver State 508, as crew chief for Steven "Kookaburra" Burns. I've done crew chief duty for Steven previously at last year's Trona 356, and this year's Hoodoo 500.  Steven had a clean sweep of two official finishes in two attempts and was going for a third.  It was up to me and fellow crew members Dave Schalk and John Henry Maurice to make his goal a reality.

Our pre-race concerns revolved around wind.  The course was out and back and with the wide open desert being notorious for winds we just wondered whether we'd have the headwind on the outbound leg, or the inbound.

The average weather for the route suggested lows near or below freezing and highs in the low 80's. We told our rider to come prepared for those conditions. As we neared race day the weather predictions showed light winds and temperatures near normal expectations.

Pre-race predictions for a winning time hovered near 25-26 hours.  There were some dedicated and experienced riders who promised to push the pace on this relatively flat course (only half the climbing of the Race Across Oregon, and 30% less climbing than the Hoodoo 500 and about 25 miles shorter than both of them)

We started from Reno on Sunday morning.


Crews had to take an alternate route out about 35 miles to where 6 Mile Canyon Rd met Highway 50. In this stretch the racers made their way over Geiger Grade, Steven makes no pretensions about being in the lead, he rides to finish.  After his Hoodoo showing, I expected him to be near last position at the meeting point. I, and the other crew members were pleasantly surprised to find him nowhere near the lanterne rouge position at the meeting point. As we waited here Marko "Tweety Bird" Baloh was the first cyclist to pass by, about 40 minutes before our rider. Adam "Rock Rabbit" Bicket was hot on his tail.


 The racers turned eastward on Highway 50, billed as the "Loneliest Highway in America", it was busy enough though that crews were advised to not stop until Time Station One, in Silver Springs, Nevada. We were asked to give our riders a 20 minute head start before following.  We used the 20 minutes to turn the opposite direction on Hwy 50 for a couple of miles to top off fuel in the van.  We had run out of time to fill before starting the race, and knowing we'd have opportunities during the day of mandatory leap frog support we opted to top off along the route.  Our smart phone equipped crew found the gas station just out of our sight while we had time to spare.


Our rider would be out on a two lane road with rumble strips from the fog line outward, 70+ mph traffic, and not have the safety of a follow car. I was crewing the Race Across the West last year when Maria Parker had her issue with an inattentive driver, and seeing Steven out on that road alone concerned me.


Steven safely made it to Time Station One, (Silver Springs) at mile 48 in 3 hours and 15 minutes. We took longer at the time station than I thought was necessary but I keep having to remind myself that my racer has different goals than I'm accustomed to.

We continued eastward along Highway 50.  Traffic was moderate in volume, but heavy in rudeness. We had a number of close passes and honking drivers. We heard of one rider who had a beer bottle tossed at her. It was merely a warm-up for what would happen later in the race. With leap frog support and pedestrian hand offs required for all of the first 254 miles we'd get plenty of exercise keeping our rider fed and hydrated.


Steven was enjoying a tailwind. We knew he was putting time in the bank and hoped he would have a big enough balance to be able to cover the necessary withdrawals on the way back, likely into that same wind.  With the tailwind pushing him at one point we calculated his average speed thus far at just over 17mph.  We knew it couldn't last, but were glad to have the bonus speed for now at least.


As we neared Fallon, the largest city on the route, we were thankful for Oregon zoning laws.  The urban sprawl stretched for miles along Highway 50.  It seemed like we were on the edge of town for miles and miles. We finally made it through town.

We arrived at Time Station 2 (Harmon Jct) at mile 79 in 5 hrs and 19 min.  That was a very good time for Kookaburra, but we reminded ourselves that he had been enjoying a 10-12 mph tailwind.

This leg would be over 100 miles and would mark the end of the flat section and the beginning of climbing.  We also lost our tailwind early in this stage.  Steven queried on why he was going so slowly, we reminded him that he had gained about 5 mph with the wind and now was riding without that assist.


The van showed temperatures climb into the low 80's (his bike showed much higher) and Steven was asking for, and receiving a wetting from a sprayer we had from time to time, especially as he climbed Sand Mountain.




We had an instant read in ear thermometer along because heat is Steven's biggest enemy.  We wanted to monitor his internal temperature.  Dr Alan Lim suggests that internal temperatures at 102 or above are to be subjects of concern.  We managed to keep Steven's internal temperature no higher than 97.  By comparison, a crew member took his own temperature to test the device and found his internal temperature to be 98.

It was a 14 mile long 2000 ft climb to Carroll Summit.  Steven took it in stride and looked good climbing.



In this stage we crossed the alkali flat remains of ancient Lake Lahonton.



You can see the water level of this ancient lake by the shoreline still visible along the hills.


Our plan was to have Steven change kit every 12 hours, to minimize "saddle interface issues".  We folded that chore into other time station duties.  We arrived at Time Station 3, 185 miles, Austin, at 13 hours 44 minutes. With the kit change and other issues, the stop stretched well over 30 minutes.  As crew chief I took the opportunity to remind our rider that these were Time Stations, not rest stops.

Leaving Austin, we continued to climb up Austin Summit toward Eureka in the dark.


Once topping Austin Summit there was a quick descent followed by a 400 ft climb to Bob Scott Summit.  From there Steven enjoyed a 1400 ft descent to the Big Smoky Valley.

When we were 45 miles from Eureka we met our first rider coming back on the out and back course. Marko Baloh was now 90 miles ahead of us! He also had a substantial lead on the #2 rider whom we did not recognize in the darkness.

We climbed 800 ft out of the valley on our way up to Hickson Summit, and from there a generally descending 40 miles to where we started a 400 foot climb to Eureka.


Steven was wearing a bright yellow jacket with reflective piping, but the crew was not impressed with his visibility.  We remembered that we had a spare reflective vest along and suggested to Steven that he put it on over his other clothing.  He did so, and it vastly improved his visibility.


When we were about 10 miles from Eureka I thought I recognized my friend Mick Walsh pass us. It was dark, but I spent many hours following him in a support vehicle at this year's Race Across the West, I knew his riding style. I expected him to be very near the leaders and was surprised to think that he might be back in the pack with us. Before long his crew vehicle passed us. As it ended up he had spent 4 hours off the bike because of stomach  issues and was now picking his way back up through "the peloton" trying to catch the leaders. We were sorry to hear that he had such bad luck, but soon found his position to be fortuitous.

We had overhead flashing lights wired to the vehicles electrical system.  I prefer them over battery operated setups because they are brighter, sturdier, and never need batteries. Unfortunately, the flasher overheated and failed. Not unheard of, but a first for me.  I carry a spare flasher on my races for such emergencies, but we didn't have one with us this time. :-(  I tried to file the fried points, but with just a pocket knife file it wasn't going to happen.

We knew that Mick's crew had a backup set of battery operated lights.  We were in leap frog support even at night at this point.  We made a "big leap" and caught up to Mick's crew.  John Henry called in an owed favor and we were the beneficiaries of a set of lights.  Mick and his crew are good folks, and I'm sure they would have helped us out, even if it weren't payback for an earlier favor afforded to them.

We were nearing Eureka and we made preparations for direct follow.  We topped off fuel and attached the SMV sign as well as took care of other needs in preparation of being held captive for the next 4 hours of darkness.  Steven pulled into Time Station 4, Eureka at mile 255 at 20 hours 20 minutes (2:50 AM) and took a relatively short stop though still not fast.  There weren't as many distractions here as most of the racers were will on their way back.

This being the turn around point for the out and back course, Steven hopped back on the bike and pedaled back toward Austin with us right behind him now.  We'd be in mandatory direct follow during dark hours until the end of the race except for the climb west bound on Geiger Grade.

 The stage started with about a 400 ft descent, then had a generally upward slope for the next 40 miles. Along this stretch we amazingly started picking up a bit of tailwind.  Steven must live right to have tailwinds both directions!


Depending on whether the van or the bike had the most accurate thermometer, it was either a couple of degrees above freezing, or a couple of degrees below freezing.  Being year round riders in Oregon, the crew has experience and clothing to make this reasonably comfortable. Steven, being a Southern California guy doesn't have as much experience or as much suitable clothing.  He was cold, but kept slogging along.  I was impressed with his resolve.  Another self professed "cycling legend" dropped out blaming it on the cold.  Amazing to me since the weather was nothing extraordinary, and certainly predicted. If it really was too cold, then one has to question pre-race preparations.  

Steven is a relatively green rider, as in inexperienced.  He began riding 3 years ago.  I've been crewing for him on all of his ultra events and have seen his skills improve with each event.  I was particularly impressed with his descending abilities this time. While still not crazy fast, he has improved a great deal.  He also takes smoother and better lines through corners now.  It's been great to watch his progress.

We topped Hickson Summit then descended down into Big Smoky Valley


 We then began the 1400 ft climb up to Bob Scott Summit. From there was a short descent then a 600 ft climb to Austin Summit.  Steve continued to ride well on these climbs. We descended the 7% grade down from Austin Summit, but after 1000 ft of drop we had to scrub speed to keep from violating Austin's 25 mph (enforced) speed limit.
We arrived at Time Station 5, Austin, 326 miles, at 27 hours 12 minutes. It was another long stop owing in part to another drawn out kit change.

The next stage climbed up Carroll Summit. Steven struggled a bit up this one.  We had to remind him that this was the last big climb before Geiger Grade.  He just had to get up it. He dug deep and kept the pedals spinning.

He descended about 25 miles before having to go over the little bump of Drumm Summit, and the slightly larger bump of Sand Springs Pass then leveling out for the remainder of the stage.

We saw some wildlife along the route, including wild horses, antelope, and deer.

Pre-race Steven had expressed that he thought a 42 hour finish was possible for him. With about 100 miles remaining we discussed this among the crew and thought that the goal was attainable without much more effort on his part.  We thought if he pedaled with purpose, and the crew brought stops down to a bare minimum that it was within his reach.  We got on the Cardo communication system and asked for his priorities.  After some discussion he said that 42 hours was not important to him, but finishing, and finishing with enough reserves to be able to ride the Bass Lake Powerhouse Double Century next weekend (4 days away) was what his priority was.  Amazingly, he has biked every California Double Century this season, and doesn't want to break the string this close to the end.  He is motivated by his commitment to a charity that provides bicycles and hope to third world people. The crew settled back into supporting our racer's goal of being an official finisher.  We knew that barring some unforeseen happening, that our rider would finish.

A possible unforeseen happening was weighing heavily on us.  The road was horrendous. We were back in leap frog support.  Our rider was unprotected on a road with rumble strips from the fog line to the edge of asphalt, the cars and trucks were not at all willing to share the road.  What was described as the loneliest road looked like this:
The bikes had no place to go but on the edge of the travel lane, the support vehicles were prohibited from providing protection, and the 70-80 mph traffic was sure to let us know that we were not welcome here. The triple trailered semi truck hauling hay in the above photo had just laid on the horn and buzzed us so closely that we were surprised we didn't lose a side mirror. We watched in fear as he close passed those bikes ahead of him.  We had another big rig pass us with on coming traffic, forcing the traffic onto the shoulder, and of course the semi truck pulled back into our lane of traffic too quickly.  We had a pickup play chicken with us, crossing the center line and coming right toward us, with horn blaring.  He pulled back before colliding, but what the hell?  It is not safe to hold a race here, not safe to ride here. If the event is held here again next year the organizer better have a heavy police presence on the section of road, and signs informing motorists that bikes are present, and have a right to be there.

 We began direct follow about 20 minutes early.  The race director said in the pre race meeting that to above all be safe. We were terrified that our racer was going to be a casualty. If we got a penalty for early follow I was going to do my best to explain the circumstances.

We arrived at Time Station 6, Fallon, mile 438, in 36 hours 24 minutes.  Again, a longer stop than I'd like to see, but given our position on the course, and remaining time to finish there was some time available.  The crew was anxious to get our man across that finish line and the leisurely time station stops drove us a bit crazy, especially since we were not required to stop at time stations at all.  We only had to identify ourselves as we passed. We skipped the planned kit change to save time.

We began stage 7, a short 25 miles in length with 500 ft of elevation gain.

We evidently weren't finished with wildlife yet, though we saw none on the road.


Dave had driven the first 16 hours, then had 4 hours off, but was now back behind the driver's wheel. I asked if he wanted me to drive for a bit, but he declined, saying he'd prefer not to do the navigation.  I had spent many hours getting navigation set up on both a TomTom Via and a Garmin Nuvi.  The TomTom did 99% of what I had hoped it would do, and what it lacked, the Garmin filled in.  We not only had bullet proof navigation (we heard of several other racers who got lost, in one case riding 12 miles off course!) but we also had notifications of climb data and distance to summits, warnings of RxR tracks and sharp turns, and we could even see approaching side roads giving us advance notice of places to pull off long before we could see them. Steven was experiencing some Achilles tendon pain.  Dave is a pharmacist and put him on Ibuprofin.We hoped it would give enough relief that he could keep going.


We arrived at Time Station 7, Silver Springs, 464 miles, in 38 hrs 44 min.

We were advised there by race staff that there was a route change in Virginia City.  though in darkness we'd be in mandatory leap frog support in that entire climb, we planned to leap ahead and point out the turns for our racer.  The climb was 11 miles long  and gained 2300 ft, but had some surprisingly steep pitches, in some places reaching 15%.   It was tough on legs that had nearly 500 miles on them.  Our racer impressed us yet again.  We had been playing cat and mouse with about 6 riders for most of the last 200 miles.  There were about 3 of that group ahead of Steven as we started the stage.  He passed all of them on this climb. 

We leap frogged to near the summit, then staged ahead of our rider to put our SMV sign back on.  As he crested the hill we pulled in behind him and he started down the hill without stopping.  We were going home!

                            

Before long the lights of Reno appeared.


The Cardo BK duo that we had been using the entire race was about ready to really show it's worth. We were in a designated quiet zone and the turns as we entered the edges of Reno were coming in rapid fire succession.  We kept the communication channel open and just talked him through them. Loud speakers were prohibited, as were horn honk codes.  We couldn't pull up next to him and verbally communicate.  Maybe a walkie talkie could have worked, but not nearly as well as the Cardo.

Before long we were making the last turns and the TomTom was informing us that we had 600 ft before the finish.  We directed Steven through the green bollards to the finish, while we drove a bit farther to the driveway, following the directions for support vehicles.  We were parking when Steven finished so no pictures of him actually crossing the finish line, but he did cross, and crossed in 43 hrs 21 minutes. Not bad at all.  He's now three for three in ultra events. 3 starts, 3 finishes!

 
Steven finished when "cycling legends" quit. He rode cold, he rode with a red, swollen, and sore Achilles tendon. He finished.

Marko Baloh finished 1st overall with a time of 26 hours 20 minutes.  Very near the pre-race prediction buzz.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Mick Walsh, despite taking 4 hours off the bike to nurse stomach issues, came back like a lion.  He picked off the other members of his division, none of them slouches, one by one.  He passed the lead rider on the Geiger Grade climb and finished first in his division, and 9th overall.  Absolutely amazing.  Determination: That is what separates real cycling legends from the has beens.

You can fix cold with a jacket and gloves.  It takes determination to come back from a 4 hour layover in a 500 mile race.  It takes determination to keep going when you have a sore Achilles tendon and are cold.
First place, or well back in the pack,  these guys rate high in my book.