Monday, December 31, 2012

2012--3 Big Tours, 1 Big Change, Many New Friends

As I sit awaiting the final moments of 2012, I am reflecting back on all that I accomplished these last 12 months. Uh oh, I feel a recap coming on...well, alright, here goes...

Big Tour #1 was, of course, New Zealand. I realized my dream of doing a bike tour of New Zealand to celebrate my half century mark. I spent two weeks touring the North Island with Leandra. We had a fantastic time and I think we would both list the highlight being the Black Abyss Waitomo Cave Tour. We spent 5 hours underground, abseiling, zip-lining (called Flying Fox in NZ), and tubing down an underground river while gazing at glow worms. It was an amazing adventure! In Wellington we spent a couple of days touring the Capitol city of New Zealand before going our separate ways--Leandra (unfortunately--that dang job) home, and me on to the South Island.

I spent 3 wonderful weeks touring from Picton to Queenstown along the West Coast of the South Island. I met great people, Dick and Pauline, who I saw three times, and Gerald, my Austrian hero, who gave me a ride out of the pouring rain to Fox Glacier. I'd have to say my South Island highlight would be my Heli-Hike on Fox Glacier. Taking a helicopter up to the glacier and then spending 2 hours hiking around and into the various ice features was worth every NZ dollar! I also had a fantastic adventure jet boating up the Dart River in Aspiring National Park. Between all these adventures was some of the most scenic biking I have ever done.

Upon returning home, I had just three months before my next tour of 13 days around the Olympic Peninsula with my good friends Christian from Germany and Carol from Tacoma. We called our little tour group the "C-Bikekateers". Carol and I rode from my house to Port Townsend where we met up with Christian (he flew to Vancouver, BC) and continued our tour around the Peninsula. We stayed in Sequim with some great friends of Carol's--Sue and Lee, and got to go kayaking in the waters near Dungeness Spit and the Dungeness River (it's really hard to paddle upriver). In Port Angeles, we stayed with Sue's son and girlfriend, Casey and Brigid. Christian and I took a day and rode up to Hurricane Ridge (it was 4 1/2 hours up and 45 minutes down--Woo Hoo!). Of course it rained a number of days, but we survived it (a rainy day at Lake Quinault was spent lounging in the lodge instead of riding around the lake--awwww, too bad...not!).

Three days after I returned from the Peninsula, Lorraine and I did the STP in one day. It was a long long day, but we both got our 1-Day Finisher patches!

Lorraine, Annette, and I squeezed in a week at Lorraine's cabin near the end of July. Although the river was too high and too cold to float, we managed to put in a number of hours by the pool as well as a few nice bike rides.

In mid-August I was off again on Betsy, my Bike Friday folding bike. This time to do the Canada part of the Pacific Coast Bike Route (and then some). This was definitely a multi-model tour with a train ride from Seattle to Vancouver, BC and 19 separate boat rides out of 21 days. I did the Sunshine Coast and visited both sides of Vancouver Island. A highlight was a 5 hour ride on the passenger freighter, MV Frances Barkley, from Port Alberni to Ucluelet through the Broken Island Group. The scenery was spectacular and I even saw a couple of whales!

I returned to Washington via the San Juan Islands. On Orcas Island I rode to the top of Mt. Constitution where I scattered a small amount of my mother's ashes. It was a good feeling to have been able to honor her wishes.

I spent September pretending that I didn't have a car. I had actually been keeping track of the miles I had driven since January 1st. My goal was to drive less than 5000 miles for 2012. By September, I had driven just 1700 miles. So, I sold my van to my dad. It's been great!

In October, I saw a Facebook post about a Women's Meet-the-Team ride. I asked if I could come, and that was the beginning of my latest adventure. There is truth to the statement, "Never say never!" I said I would never race. Well...I joined the OOA Racing Team and, starting in March of 2013, I will be doing just that. I think the racing will be exciting and all that, but what has been the best part is all the new cycling friends I've made through this endeavor. I ridden more miles with more people (and had more fun) in the last 3 months than I ever have (except maybe the STPs). I have also worked harder to keep up than ever before! There are some crazy-fast cyclists, and I'm not just talking about the guys!

I also got to ride with the Go Get It Gals, Taryn, Michele, and Peggy. We had a blast riding in Peggy's home territory around Mossyrock. Sometimes I can't believe how lucky I am to get to have so much fun! Our latest GGG adventure was a snow day at White Pass. I tried my hand (or feet?) at snowshoeing and had a blast!

I finished out 2012 with a challenge to ride my bike 500 km in 8 days. I accomplished it in 6 days of riding (took Day 6 off to go snowshoeing and finished on Day 7).

As for 2013, I'm looking forward to racing, touring (Austin, TX to Memphis, TN--actually Little Rock AR), and hanging out with the Go Get It Gals (Taryn, Michele, Peggy, and whoever else has the GGG Spirit!)! I think it's going to be another amazing year of ADVENTURE!!!

Happy New Year to ALL my friends, old and new!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Day 7--Time For the Dance of Joy!

Woo Hoo! I finished the Rapha Festive 500 Strava Challenge! I did it in 6 days of riding and 7 total rides. Today's ride of 46.1 miles put me over the top with a total of 321 miles or 516.5 km (103%).

I met up with Debbie on McCorkle and we rode in the one direction I hadn't gone yet--southwest. We did McCorkle to Tilley, then down to Goddard. From there we worked our way to 183rd and over to Sargent Rd. We took Sargent to Littlerock and Littlerock back to Maytown. Maytown brought us back to Tilley (on Maytown we passed the decorated scrub that has been spruced up with some new Christmas ornaments and a nice blue tinsel garland). When we turned back onto McCorkle, my computer clocked over the 36 mile mark which was my official finish of the challenge. I stopped and took a photo to commemorate the occasion (see photo below). From there I had about 9 more miles to go with the first thing being, going back up the hill on McCorkle (see other photo below). Uggggg!

So, to recap the last 7 days, I managed to go every direction from my house. All the rides had some element of a loop to them. I think if I could print clear maps of my rides and overlaid them one on top of the other, the overall picture would be some kind of crazy looking flower. It wouldn't be pretty.

I also learned a few things. I now have a pretty good idea, for training purposes, what the maximum number of hours I could devote to riding per week would be (less than what I did this last week, that's for sure!). I also have the winter weather riding gear fully dialed in, complete with variations for minor changes in temperature.

I nailed the nutrition this last week. Dave's Killer Bread Sin Dog (organic whole grain bread rolled with cinnamon, sugar and raisins, then rolled in sesame, sunflower, and pepita seeds--a small 2 oz slice packs a wallop of 200 calories) was easy to wrap up and carry. That, in addition to the Hammer Gel flask (I learned to not try to close the flask with my mouth unless I wanted to risk pinching my lip in the lid--ouch!), kept me fueled for the long miles. And, finally, I learned when riding this many miles in a Pacific Northwest winter, it's gonna rain...a lot. I went through almost a whole bottle of chain lube and I've accumulated at least 10 pounds of dirt and pine needles on the floor of my garage!

Will I do it again next year? Well, it's like childbirth--right now, with the fatigue fresh in my mind, I'd say, NO WAY! However, after a year passes, I'll probably not remember the pain and exhaustion, and I'll think, yeah sure, I can do it! What's 500 kilometers??? Piece of cake!!!

For now, I think I'll go take a NAP!

Total miles for today--46.1 (74km)
Total kilometers remaining of the Festive 500--ZERO, ZIP, NADA!!!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Day 6--Not a Bike Ride or...

The Go Get It Gals Go Play in the Snow!

Who says you can't take a day off from the bike during a 500km challenge? You can if you only have 36 miles to go and two days to do it!

Today was another adventure with the GGGs. We headed up to White Pass for a day of fun in the snow. Taryn, Michele, Peggy, and I all met at Peggy's in Mossyrock (thanks again for the ride, Taryn!), where we piled into Peggy's husband's big Dodge truck, and Peggy drove us up to the pass (thanks, too, Peggy!).

Even though it was a Saturday and the kids are still off from school, we got a primo parking spot in the lot (after being on the verge of dropping me off, when we see a car pull out--"Close the door! Close the door! Go Peggy! There's a spot! GO GO GO!!! Put your signal on!"--racing an SUV who turns out wasn't heading for the spot anyway. See, even parking is an adventure when you're with the GGGs!).

I was going snowshoeing (with my new snowshoes I got at the Girls' Night Out at REI), Taryn was tearing it up with her snowboard, and Michele and Peggy were skiing. After we got all our gear situated, I headed over to the Nordic Center (a yurt) and the others headed for the slopes. We made a plan to meet in the lodge at 4:30.

I got my trail pass ($15) and a map of the trails at the yurt. The gal gave me an idea of how long it would take to do the whole snowshoe trail (a couple of hours). I had plenty of time. I went back outside and put my snowshoes on and started walking. Snowshoeing on the groomed track is pretty easy.

I wasn't exactly sure where I was going, so I just followed another family that seemed like they had done this before. The kid kept traipsing off into the deep snow, so I gradually got ahead of them. I was on the cross-country ski trail (it's okay, snowshoes can go there--just have to stay to the side). I knew there was a snowshoe trail down closer to the lake, but I couldn't see how to get there. After awhile I came to a place where someone had previously walked through to the snowshoe trail. I went that way too.

I worked my way around Leech Lake (hmmmm...named for its occupants?) to the picnic area. From there I pulled out the map to see where I was supposed to go to do the Falls Loop. I couldn't find the snowshoe trail (I did, however, find the PCT, but realized that was not the way to get to the Falls). I followed the Nordic track around until I found the snowshoe trail again at the junction to Dog Lake Loop. From there I was back on the snowshoe trail all the way to the Falls. There were some pretty steep sections and I was grateful to have the climbing bar on my snowshoes (where your heel is raised up so, even though you are going uphill, the snowshoe stays flat on the ground).

I made it to the waterfall where I took some photos and had a little snack before continuing around the loop. This time I stayed on the snowshoe trail back to where I should have picked it up near the picnic area. I figured out why I couldn't find it, but I won't go into that. It was no big deal. It just meant I didn't go the same way twice!

Back at the picnic area, I continued on around the lake. I thought this was going to be easy (the other side of the lake was easy), but it was really the hardest part. It could have had something to do with fatigue on my part, but it was really quite twisty-turny and up and down. I employed my climbing bar a couple more times. It was also through the trees and, at times, the trail was very narrow. I remained conscious of not stepping on the snowshoe with the other foot and therefore face-planting into the snow. There were a couple of close calls.

I returned to the yurt after circumnavigating the lake. Even though I still had plenty of time before meeting up with the gals, I had done 3+ miles and was ready to call it good. I returned to the truck and put my snowshoes and poles in the back. Then I went over to the lodge to check out the offerings (the hot chocolate was pretty good) and wait for my pals.

They came in about 4:15 and we all went back to the truck. We all agreed it was a great day. I, for one, have to admit I was happy to have a day off from the bike. Getting to spend it with the GGGs made it the best! Below are some photos from my walking in a winter wonderland (yes, that song was playing on an endless loop in my head).

Tomorrow I'll be back on the bike to put this Festive 500 Challenge to bed!

Total miles today--0
Total kilometers remaining of the Festive 500--the same as yesterday

Friday, December 28, 2012

Day 5--In Two Parts

I really wanted to take it easy today because I am going snowshoeing, for the first time, tomorrow. I don't imagine there is too steep of a learning curve, but it might be good to not have too sore of legs to start with. Besides, I rode a lot yesterday.

I did what I'm now going to call "The Hat" route. On the map, the route looks just like a hat (picture a pointy hat with a dangly ball on top--almost like a Santa hat). It is the Chehalis Western Trail to the Yelm/Tenino Trail, Y/T to Tenino, Hwy 99 back to Rich Rd, 89th back to the CW trail and back home. It is 31.3 miles roundtrip. Since I really wanted to take the whole ride easy, I wore my new heart rate monitor and tried to keep my heart rate around or below 120. That seemed to equate to 14-15 mph (on the flat). I didn't quite keep within the 120 range when I was going uphill out of Tenino, but I didn't want to take forever to get up the hill either. I can't say as I was all that tired when I got home, but that was the plan, anyway. There were a couple of times where I wanted to go all out just to see how high my heart rate would get, but I forced myself to save that for another day (oh, and I'm sure there will be MANY other days!).

So, I got home just before noon. I took a shower and got dressed in my "commuting" bike clothes for Part 2 of today's ride. I was headed to play Mah Jongg (ancient Chinese tile game played with actual tiles--not on the computer) with my friends, Debra, Elaine, and Mary Beth. First, however, I had some errands to do. The first, and most important stop, was for some lunch (at Subway of course!). After lunch I rode into town (Lacey) to the credit union to cash a Christmas check (thanks Dad!) and then to Super Supplements to get more pro-biotics. From there I rode over to Elaine's. We played an hour and a half or so of Mah Jongg, then I rode home (with a quick stop at Safeway to get some food for tomorrow). Total miles for Part 2 was 15.8.

And for the first day since I started this challenge, there was no rain!!!

Total miles for Day 5--47.1 (75.8km)
Total Kilometers remaining of the Festive 500--58 (36.1 miles)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Day 4--Some Sun, Some Rain, and Some Wind

What else is new?

I thought I might make it through Day 4 of the Festive 500 without getting rained on (it would have been a first). But, more on that later. Today's direction was north-ish, but I started out going west--just to the trail though. I took Chehalis Western to the Woodland Trail and rode it to the end at Woodland Park. I got on Pacific, but turned off at Steilacoom Rd to go down to the Nisqually Valley that way instead of on Pacific. I knew I would come back up Pacific, so I wanted to go a different way down. I, generally, try to avoid out and back as much as possible. Consequently, maps of some of my rides look like dumbbells. When the only way to Tacoma involves a short stretch on the freeway, it is difficult to make it a loop (although, if I wanted more miles, there is a way to do that--it does involve more freeway riding).

So I rode the usual way to Northwest Landing/Dupont and down to Steilacoom on the water. I stopped for a potty break at the little park near the Anderson Island ferry dock, then continued along the water to Chambers Creek canyon. The wind was pushing me along and there were occasional sun breaks (I was foolishly hoping the wind would turn around for the ride back). It was quite pleasant. I came up the canyon and turned left. I rode along Grandview to 27th, and 27th up to Bridgeport/Jackson. As I was riding toward the Narrows Bridge, a car started honking at me from a ways away. Jackson is a four lane road. There is no shoulder, so I take the right lane enough that cars need to change lanes to pass me (none of this try to squeak by me business!). Anyway, I signaled for the car to change lanes and held my position. The old guy in the old car continued to honk at me as he drove around me and proceeded to give me the finger as he continued down the road. I just shook my head and kept going. What an ASS!

I had planned to ride across the Narrows, but it was too windy to be fun, so, instead, I turned onto the path up War Memorial Park. I rode up to the next street and turned left (this is the bike route to 6th St.). Instead of turning right to go to 6th, I went straight across the pedestrian bridge over Hwy 16. I wanted to do the suggested bike route to avoid the overpass, exit, and on-ramp to 16. It goes over the pedestrian bridge, then back down to Jackson on the other side of the overpass. From there, there is a bike lane again (I think it is ridiculous that there is no bike lane on Jackson from 27th to the other side of the overpass--poor planning if you ask me).

I thought of riding all the way to Point Defiance, but that would have been more miles than I wanted. So, I just rode Jackson (turns into 26th N) to 6th and started heading home from there. I rode back to 19th on 6th. As I was getting close to Jackson again, I started looking for a possible side street that would parallel it. I turned on 70th which took me back over to 27th. At Bridgeport and 27th I turned into the bike lane and rode to Cirque Dr. I was thinking of staying on Bridgeport and doing Gravelly Lake, but there was more traffic than I felt like dealing with (I was still pissed at the old geezer who honked at me). I rode Cirque Dr. back over to Grandview, then back the way I had come along the water. I, again, stopped at the park by the ferry for a snack and potty break.

The rest of the ride was just the way I had come, except this time it was raining. Fortunately, the part on the freeway is only 3/4 of a mile. It rained pretty heavy until I came down to the bottom of Old Nisqually in the valley. Then it tapered off to just a little rain. When I got back to Pacific, the sun even came out for a short while! It warmed up my legs that were cold from the rain and wind. Yes, the wind had NOT turned for me, so most of the ride home was in a headwind with occasional crosswinds.

I was thinking of a 50-60 mile ride, but by the time I got home I had gone 68.6 miles. I guess that's just less I have to do to finish this challenge!

Total miles for Day 4--68.6 (110.4km)
Total kilometers remaining of the Festive 500--133 (82.6 miles)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Day 3--Hey! I Found the Snow!

For Day 3 of the Festive 500 Strava Challenge I decided to head West. I looked at the weather and it seemed to be pretty decent in that direction. I planned to take it a little easy today insofar as I wasn't going to go all out pounding the pedals. Counting the 69 mile ride on the 22nd (that, unfortunately, didn't count for the Challenge), I have ridden 172 miles in the last 4 days (really just 3 riding days--I didn't ride on the 23rd).

Once I got past Cooper Point Rd on the Westside, I started seeing bits of leftover snow from yesterday. It was about 45 degrees, so I wasn't really worried about it being icy, but I went down Mud Bay Road a little slower than usual because there was still some snow on the shoulder and, well, I felt like being just a little cautious.

I headed out toward Steamboat Island Rd on Madrona Beach Rd. I even stopped at the Subway at Steamboat Island to use the restroom (apparently, if I'm not pounding the pedals, some of the fluid I excrete actually ends up in my bladder and is not just sweated out--go figure!). From Subway, I got on Hwy 101 heading toward Shelton. I was noticing more and more snow! Still, the temps were in the 40s. Although I didn't try plowing through any big clumps, the little bits I did go through we're pretty slushy.

I had chosen a route that I have not done except once before, a long time ago. I got off 101 at Old Olympic Hwy to the right. At first I thought I might have to stay on 101 because Old Olympic is not a major road. Turns out it had been plowed too, and was fine. There was a good amount of snow on the side of the road, but the road itself was clear. There is no shoulder anyway, so I was mostly riding out in the fairly deserted lane. Below is a photo of Old Olympic not too far off 101. It's funny, because the other time I went this way, I remember going up a really steep hill just past Hurley Waldrip (the part on the water side of 101). Today I went up a rather long hill, but it didn't seem nearly as steep as my memory of it!

As I was going up the hill, I noticed it was getting really foggy. I almost stopped to take another photo as it was quite pretty. As I came around the corner, I could see it wasn't fog in the air but, smoke. There were several emergency response vehicles taking up the other lane. At first I thought it was some major house fire but, I think it was a controlled burn exercise. For one thing, the "house" was just a small mobile home. And, for another thing, they had a table set up across the street with coffee and snacks. Unless this is some new thing where, when you report a fire they don't just come put the fire out, but they also serve coffee...I think it was planned. As I rode by the coffee table, I said to the fire fighter, "And here I thought it was getting foggy!".

I continued on Old Olympic to Bloomfield Rd. There I turned and followed Bloomfield around Totten Inlet. This is quite the up and down road and also rough chipseal. This might be a good time to mention a little risk I was taking today. Last night when I was cleaning and preparing my bike for today's ride, I noticed that the rear tire was delaminating from the sidewall. This is the third Specialized Armadillo tire that has done that. I returned both the others and will do the same with this one. I've only been running this tire since mid-October. I've had good luck with the Armadillos on Stella, but not so on Star. The risk, of course, is that the tire could blow out completely and then, well...I'd be screwed. Not much one can do if that were to happen. So, you are possibly wondering why, when I knew about it, did I ride anyway? Chalk it up to two things--one, I needed to get miles in for the challenge, and two, it was a calculated risk. The last two tires that this has happened to were much further along in the delaminating process, yet those tires didn't blow. I just kept checking the tire for increased delaminating. Yes, it was a little annoying when I was riding on smooth pavement and could feel the whomp, whomp, whomp of the slight bulge in the tire, but it was holding up well.

Bloomfield comes into Kamilche Point Rd. I remembered this, but when I actually got there, it seemed that I should turn right. As I began to turn, I noticed a "No Outlet" sign. Hmmmm...I guess I should go left. So I went left. As I rode along, I could see water to my right. Later, when I looked at a map, I saw that was just another finger of Totten Inlet. I was going the correct way.

I eventually came back to Old Olympic Hwy. This time I did turn right. I went under 101 where Old Olympic then becomes Hwy 108. I took 108 to Hurley Waldrip, and rode Hurley Waldrip back to 101. From 101 was another little bypass on Old Olympic again, then back to 101 to the Steamboat Island exit. This time I stopped at Subway, not only to use the restroom again, but to also eat some lunch (I thought it might look kind of bad to stop twice in one day at the same Subway just to use the restroom).

From there I came back down Madrona Beach to Mud Bay. Instead of going to Tumwater Hill, I came through town. I thought about stopping at the bike shop to exchange the tire, but I was wet (big was raining!) and more interested in getting home.

Total Miles for Day 3--55 (88.5 km)
Total Kilometers remaining of the Festive 500--244 (151.6 miles)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Day 2 and a Merry Christmas to You!

Christmas Day and the rain is coming down. It's about 37 degrees and I've got a plan to log 30 miles before my third son arrives on the train from Eugene.

As I look out from the garage, I notice there is ice on the windshield of the car. I check the driveway and find it is not icy. Good news! I hop on my bike a little before 9:00 (the boy's train arrives at 11:00) and head out for a two hour slog in the rain.

I get on the trail at the bridge over Yelm Hwy. All is quiet on this Christmas morning. As I head north on the trail, I pass a few people out for walks with their dogs. I wish them a Merry Christmas as I pedal by.

I reach the end of the trail at Woodard Bay. I leave the trailhead parking lot and continue north on the road. At Libby I turn right. As I continue north, I toy with doing Fishtrap Loop, but opt to turn at 81st. It is still in the upper 30s and raining steadily. Turning on 81st means I have to go up the steep hill to Zangle, but I figure that will serve to warm me up. Not that I'm that cold, but I can feel the cold water seeping into my shoes. My New Zealand possum/marino socks were still wet from yesterday, so I have other, seemingly less warmth locking, socks on. Just have to pedal faster...

I ride the ups and downs of Boston Harbor Rd back into town past Priest Point Park. Due to the lack of traffic, I easily navigate the intersections of State and 4th and turn up 4th to Eastside. From there I head over to the Woodland Trailhead. From the trailhead I know how many miles it is to home. I calculate I'm going to be just shy of 30 miles. When I get to the bridge over Yelm Hwy, I continue on to the 67th/Horizons trailhead and ride through Horizon Point and back to the house. I think of riding over to the train station to meet the boy's train, but I am now rather cold and, instead, head straight for home and a hot shower. As I walk in the house, it turns out his train was early and he is already home.

Day 2 of the Festive 500 is complete.

Total miles for Day 2--30.8 (49.6km)
Total Kilometers remaining of the Festive 500--206.5 (128.3 miles)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Day 1 of the Festive 500 Challenge...Avoiding Roads That Lead to the Mall

Yes, it is December 24th and the first day of the Festive 500 Strava Challenge! My plan for this first day was to pound out as many miles as possible. You know, knock off a good chunk of those 500 km. I also wanted to avoid the crazy last minute Christmas shoppers heading to the nearest mall. Initially, my plan was simple. Ride the road to Yelm (going the opposite direction as the mall goers), get on the Yelm/Tenino Trail, ride to Tenino, go on Hwy 99 (a potential get-thee-to-the-mall road) to 183rd, 183rd to Sargeant Rd, Sargeant to Littlerock, Littlerock to Maytown, Maytown to Tilley, and so on, to home. I thought that would be around 75 miles. I knew this route because I had done it several years ago. Then I remembered that I had not done that route exactly. Instead of getting on the trail in Yelm, I had ridden to Bald Hills, then Vail Rd, and Vail Cut-Off back to the trail near Rainier. Okay, I thought, I'll extend it to include that section.

I did, indeed, ride out to Yelm on the road and on to Bald Hills Rd. But, at Vail Rd. I continued on out toward Smith Prairie (there is only the prairie and cows out malls...besides, cows don't go shopping on Christmas Eve--they get their shopping done long before or they make all their Christmas gifts--usually milk and cheese). There were some headwinds and crosswinds, but not as bad as the last time Debbie and I went that way. More importantly, there were very few cars (my plan was working!).

I worked my way around Lawrence Lake and returned to Vail Rd. on 153rd. There seemed to be large amounts of traffic on Vail, so instead of going on Vail, I crossed it and stayed on 153rd. I hadn't been on this part of 153rd, but I had a pretty good idea where it would lead to (not a mall). Sure enough, it turned into Mattinson Rd. which came to 148th. I followed 148th back into Rainier. There I got on the Yelm/Tenino Trail as planned.

It was raining again (had been off and on for most of the ride--if it wasn't outright raining, it was misty). As I rode down the trail, I thought to myself, when I get to Tenino, I'm not going to want to continue on Hwy 99 to 183rd. There would likely be wind, rain, and lots of traffic. I don't normally mind traffic. There is a good shoulder on 99 and there would be very little debris as there aren't many trees on that section.'s Christmas Eve and that makes it all different...right? Anyway, as I came to where Johnson Creek Rd heads off from Hwy 507 (across the hwy from the trail), I decided I would do Johnson Creek/Skookumchuck/Crowder roads back to Tenino. Then I could head home from there up 99 to Rich Rd and back on the Chehalis Western Trail.

When I got to Tenino, I, once again, changed my plan. Not only did I decide to just completely avoid 99, but I also realized it wouldn't be quite as many miles as I had hoped for. Instead I got back on the Yelm/Tenino Trail and rode back to the trail junction with Chehalis Western and turned onto Chehalis Western. Then I just rode the last 12 miles home.

If you were to see the Strava map of the ride it kind of looks like a preschooler's attempt at the number 8--a little messy, but definitely a figure 8.

Total miles for Day 1--73.4 (118.13 km)
Total Kilometers remaining of the Festive 500--381.87 (237.28 miles)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A New PBS Special...

"Intrepid Cyclists Fight Wind Across the Not-So-Frozen Tundra"

Okay, not really the Tundra either--definitely a prairie though. A very windy prairie!

Since this was a Saturday Team ride, we started at Tumwater Falls Park. One of the guys called the route (supposed to be a 75 miler), and we took off riding in the direction I had just come from. There were somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 riders. The good thing about riding toward my house is that I know I won't have to do extra miles to get home. I can just peel off when we get close to my house.

We didn't go right by my street, but turned on Rich Rd. We took the back way off of Rich, then back to Rich, and over to Fir Tree Rd. We rode Fir Tree to Rainier Rd. Once we were on Rainier Rd, we were dodging branches and pine boughs galore. There happened to be a very large branch taking up most of the shoulder. I saw it in time to swerve around it as did most of the others. Unfortunately, one of the other gals didn't see it in time. She tried to bunny hop over it (it would have required a full-sized RABBIT JUMP), but wasn't successful. She went down. She said she was okay, but her front wheel was messed up (sound familiar?). Her and her husband turned back.

The rest of us continued on to Spurgeon Creek Rd which brought us back to Yelm Hwy. We continued out Yelm Hwy. At Meridian, a number of riders turned to do a shorter route out Evergreen Valley. There were 10 of us left (3 of us original 6 women). At Hwy 510 we went right and rode single file to a road a short way past Red Wind Casino (and off the Reservation). We turned right, regrouped, then crossed the hwy and headed down a road that goes onto the JBLM (Joint Base Lewis McChord--Army and Air Force Posts). This was a pretty decent road with very little traffic.

We continued on this road (do not know the name of it--maybe at some point it is Range Rd?) down to a bridge over the river. There was a closed gate on the other side of the bridge. We had to shimmy through a narrow opening on the side of the gate. Then it was up the hill (I once read something that said you can look at a map and tell where the hills are based on the blue lines--rivers. You always have to go down to the river, then back up the other side.).

Once we were back up, away from the river, and out on the prairie going past the gun ranges of the Army Post, the wind really picked up. A guy I met today named Tim was great at protecting me from the wind. He would signal me to tuck in tight behind him (which I gratefully did). At several points we had a nasty crosswind. Tim would signal me to move to whichever side took me out of the wind. Due to his frequent protection, I was able to stay with the group--even when we were over 50 miles into the ride. He is one totally awesome dude! He also made sure everyone else was keeping up too. If a couple of people, or even several, fell back, he would drift back and pull them back to the group.

We made to the turnaround at the Scouts Out Gate (this is a much more substantial gate--not sure we could go around this one even if we wanted to--there was a sign about it being an ID Checkpoint). From there it was just back the way we had come. I heard someone say it had been 17 miles since we turned off Hwy 510.

Not too long into the ride back, Jean got a flat. Ron took over and changed it for her (I've heard this is fairly common of the guys--they probably think we women can't change a flat fast enough. Truth is, and I'll admit it, they are probably right. The fastest I have ever changed a flat is 15 minutes and that was in my garage.).

We continued on and a few more miles down the road, Jean got another flat. Ron did the honors again and, at least for the rest of the time I was with Jean, she didn't get another flat.

We shimmied around the gate at the bridge again and climbed the much steeper hill up the other side. Prior to that, I was falling back a little. DJ asked if I was okay. I said I was "good enough". I knew my way home, so I was fine. He said no one was going to be dropped anyway. I hooked on to his wheel and he pulled me back to the group. This is typical of most of the guys on the team. They are very kind and helpful. There are a few who are not so nice, but I don't keep their names in my head.

Back at 510, some of the group (Jean and my new friend, Tim, included) were going to throw in another leg down Reservation Rd to the Nisqually Valley. A few of us opted to just head straight back at Yelm Hwy. I made the turn from 510 to Yelm Hwy. No one was with me for about half of the ride back until Dave and Bob (?) caught up to me. Dave told me to hook on his wheel, so I did. The wind was pretty nasty. Dave made sure I stayed with him. The only problem was that his buddy flap is not so buddy-friendly. I finally fell back a little just so I wouldn't be hit with so much dirt and water. I was close to home anyway, so it was okay.

Other than the wind, the weather was quite nice for most of the ride. We even had some nice stretches of sunshine! It only started to spit some rain with about 15 or so miles to go (for me).

Total miles: 69
Average Speed: 17.2mph

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I Chickened Out

I figured I would be the only woman on the night ride tonight. I knew Jean wasn't going to be there. Jean and I are the only regular night riding women. What I didn't remember is that the Tuesday night ride usually goes north. North has more hills than south--a lot more hills (okay, that's not too hard as going south really has no hills). I can't keep up with the guys when it comes to hills (I can't keep up with Jean either, but at least I can stay closer).

When Brad arrived at the start and said we would go north, I told them I would probably just ride to the end of the trail, then ride back. They said they would wait for me if I wanted to continue with them, but I don't like making them wait--especially when it's cold and rainy. If they are not going at a pretty decent clip, they get cold (I, on the other hand, have NO problem staying warm).

I stayed up with them to the end of the trail (not too hard as there was a bit of a tailwind and it's slightly downhill). From there I told them I would head back (such a chicken am I). I had no problem heading back on the trail by myself, but Chris said he would come back with me. I told him I didn't need him to do that, but he said he was supposed to do a recovery ride (flats) anyway. Turns out he was hoping we would go south too. Chris is a nice guy and I enjoyed his company on the ride back. We rode back as far as the bridge over Yelm Hwy. Chris went right to head back to the trailhead and his car. I actually continued on the trail and got off at Horizons. I rode through Horizon Point to Yelm Hwy. I was still a few miles shy of 30 miles and I wanted at least a 30 mile ride. I turned left onto Yelm Hwy, rode around to Ruddell. I continued on Ruddell to 54th where I turned and rode back through the neighborhoods and came out of the Lakepoint neighborhood back to Yelm Hwy. This time I continued across the Hwy back into Horizon Point and home from there clicking over 30 miles as I pulled into the driveway.

I feel bad for chickening out and not doing the whole thing, but it was still a good ride.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I Accept the Challenge!

The Rapha 500 Strava Challenge, that is.

On today's ride, fellow teammate (and who I found out about Strava in the first place), Jean, told me there was a new Strava challenge. For those who don't know, Strava is a website that allows you to track your rides (or runs), creating a map, and telling you the distance, time, and elevation gained. It also tells you how you measure up to other Strava users on certain segments of many routes. It will also tell you if you better your own time on a segment from a previous ride. It's a handy website. The way I track my rides is via the iPhone app. You can also use a GPS device such as a Garmin, then download the info to the website.

Periodically, someone, or a company will put up a challenge. Make no mistake, these challenges are not easy (if they were easy, I don't suppose they could call them challenges). Jean completed a difficult challenge of riding 60 hours between the middle of October to the 10th of November. There was another that challenged participants to run 50 km over a specific weekend in early December (I couldn't run 50 km over the course of a whole month--let alone a weekend--but, then again, I'm not the running sort. Running just reminds me how much I like biking.).

Anyway, the Rapha 500 Challenge is to ride 500 km in a time period from Christmas Eve to New Year's Eve. That's a fraction over 310 7 the middle of the Pacific Northwest (Too bad Dillon is coming home for Christmas--I could go visit him for that week and do all those miles in the glorious, warm sunshine of Austin, Texas!). Oh, and one of those days is, of course, Christmas. If you have done the math, you will know that means I have to average 44.5 miles per day.

What is the great reward for accomplishing this epic feat? A most awesome...woven patch. Oh, there are some prizes for people who, on the Rapha website, tell the best story about their challenge experience, but most will get...a patch. Well, a patch AND the supreme knowledge that I rose to the challenge and was successful! Yeah, I suppose that is the greater reward (but that patch could be pretty cool...).

So, I have joined this challenge (and so have another 7000+ people so far). Now I hope for temps above freezing along with no snow or ice for those 7 days. It's gonna be epic!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Same Distance, But a Whole Different Set of Miles

Shortly after I arrived at the start for tonight's Night Ride, Brad, our fearless leader, said, "You wanna do something different?" Instead of going north or south, we would go west. We would head through downtown, over to the Westside, go along West Bay Drive and...whoa!...wait a minute! West Bay Drive means that big-ass hill! Aiiyiyi! Brad seemed to think we would be concerned with the fact that we would have to ride through downtown traffic. I have to say, that was the least of my concerns. Oh well, nothing to do but gear down and pedal! Actually, Jean and I agreed, the steep part of the hill is not so bad. It's that the hill continues on and on.

We didn't do French Loop which was just fine with me. As much as I like that road in the daytime-- in the dark?...not so much. Instead we came out on Division, then rode to Cooper Point. From there, the next part is a bit of a mystery to me. We turned off Cooper Point toward Evergreen, but I don't know what road it was. All I know, is we ended up going through to the other side of Evergreen. The part behind Evergreen was the reverse of a route that Jean, Jo, and I had done several weeks ago. I had a pretty good idea where we were by least some of the time.

We came out on Delphi. At Mud Bay, we continued on Delphi down the hill. As usual, I can keep up on the flat or downhill. On the uphill, it's a different story. I really need to work on that! Delphi has a couple of good hills on the way to 62nd. Brad, Ron, and Jean were kind enough to slow down and let me catch up. Once we got to 62nd, I was able to keep up for the rest of the ride (that would be because there weren't anymore big hills--except Henderson). At Henderson and Yelm Hwy, I turned and headed for home while they continued down Henderson and back to the start.

I got back home at the same time I usually do (8:00). The distance was a tiny bit shorter at 34 miles, and the terrain was vastly different, but it was still a great ride.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Birthday Night Ride in the Rain

The night ride was new for me tonight. We went North on the trail and then the road back. The weather report was for just 20% chance of rain so I went with my purple jacket (not waterproof) and my red vest (also not waterproof). I also did not take my helmet cover. Yeah, that was a mistake. It started raining shortly after I left my house, but I thought, "It's okay, it's not raining very hard".

Six of us met at the trailhead. We headed back up to the trail. We cut over to the I-5 trail, then crossed Pacific at the light. We got back to the Chehalis Western Trail and went over I-5 and Martin Way on the bridges. The rain was, well, starting to come down quite a bit heavier and...the wind was blowing. Nice!

At the end of the trail at Woodard Bay, we decided to do the medium length route back--due to the wonderful weather. So we went down Woodard Bay to Libby and on out to 81st. There is a steep hill up 81st to Zangle. It's kind of funny, but the hill didn't seem as steep in the dark as it does in the daylight. Which is not to say I wasn't wheezing like a donkey at the top of the hill. I just wasn't completely dropped by the others.

We got to Boston Harbor Rd. and rode that back to Gull Harbor, then 26th. At South Bay, Jean and I went left and headed back to the trail. The guys went right and headed back to the start.

Jean and I rode to the bridge over Martin Way. There, Jean turned back and headed for her home and I continued on the trail. At this point the rain had tapered off...for awhile. By the time I got home, I'd been riding in the rain again for the last 15 minutes or so. I was well-soaked to the bone, but not cold, so that's good.

The one piece of waterproof clothing I had on was my neon yellow gloves. Waterproof gloves are not so waterproof when the water is just running in through the top. They do, however, keep the water in the gloves quite well! Both my hands and feet were squishy with water, and far more wrinkled than 51 year old hands and feet should be!

Total miles were just 31. With the 11 miles I did earlier today, I didn't quite get to 51 miles, but it was still a good day of riding!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Wind and Doing Our Part for Trail Maintenance

Okay, maybe not trail "maintenance", but definitely trail clean-up. I'll get to that in a moment.

Today's weather forecast? 80% chance of rain, 48 degrees. A pretty good chance of getting wet, but not necessarily cold (if properly dressed). As I left my house to meet up with Debbie at Twisties (her and her husband own the frozen yogurt shop--pretty tasty stuff), it was indeed raining. Got to the shop just before 9:30. As Debbie pulled up, the rain was tapering off. The wind, however, was a bit on the gusty side.

We headed out Yelm Hwy toward Yelm. Oh yeah, the wind was definitely blowing; side gusts mostly. Once we got onto Hwy 510, I expected to get a tailwind. Well, no such luck. It was still with the side gusts and occasionally a blast head-on. But, it was no longer raining (had stopped not long after we started). We stopped at one point so I could remove my rain jacket (love that jacket, but I do get quite warm--could have something to do with all the layers I have on underneath--long sleeve lightweight wool shirt, short sleeve team jersey, AND Endura jersey/jacket--but, hey, it is December!). The temp was actually between 52 and 57 degrees throughout the ride. Due to the wind, it didn't seem quite that warm.

Once we were on Bald Hills Rd the wind really became a factor. There are not that many trees out on the prairie to block the wind. There were places where Debbie and I thought we were going to get blown sideways off the road. Fortunately, if that would have happened we would have just landed in soft, squishy, wet grass. We managed to stay upright.

Once again, I thought when we made the turn onto Lawrence Lk Rd the wind would be pushing us along. True, there were microscopically brief moments when that did happen, but, overall, still not in our favor. After doing the section of 153rd that took us to Vail Rd, we made a stop at the Minimart so I could refill my water bottle. I don't usually go through that much water (I know I should drink more, I just don't...usually), but the wind seemed to suck the moisture out of me.

After the stop, we continued onto Vail Rd., completely changing direction. Still no tailwind...aaarrrrgggg! Vail became Vail Cut-Off which we rode to Hwy 507. Finally, on 507 we would have a tailwind! But...that would involve backtracking into Rainier to pick up the trail which we would then just head...straight back into the wind! Instead, we sacrificed the tailwind in favor of pushing the bikes up the rocky trail across 507 to the paved Yelm/Tenino Trail.

From there it was the trail back to Lacey. Now for the trail clean-up part. As we came up to the train tracks next to Waldrick, we noticed a bunch of big rocks covering the trail (looks like a car had not quite made the turn near the tracks). First we rode through, but then we went back because this is the usual route the night ride takes. Headed south, the riders would not see the rocks until they were right on top of them. Some of these rocks were big enough to cause a cyclist to crash (God knows we don't need that happening!). We cleared as much of the rocks as we could. What was left would require a broom (and, therefore, not as dangerous).

It started raining just as we got back to Yelm Hwy. Once we returned to Twisties and Debbie's car, we decided we deserved some frozen yogurt...and hot chocolate! Even though our average speed was just 15mph, it felt like most of the 52 miles we rode was uphill (it's not really), thanks to the wind. But, we managed to do the majority with no rain. That's something anyway!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Who Turned up the Heat?

I thought for sure tonight's night ride would be in the rain. Not only did it not rain, but someone turned up the heat! It was in the low 50s tonight. I was way over-dressed! I took my red jacket off at the start. I wished I had not worn my "Live Long and Prosper" gloves. I was still plenty warm enough and even unzipped my purple jacket.

Even with the good weather, there were only 5 of us. We headed back up the trail with the boys keeping up a rather brisk pace. By the time we got to the Fones Rd crossing, Jean and I were falling behind. Jean caught up to me at the crossing, then we caught up to the guys once they realized we weren't with them anymore and they slowed down...a bit. Once we caught up, they resumed their peppy pace. Jean and I kept up pretty good for awhile then Jean's fender was getting severly clogged with pine needles. At the second Waldrick crossing, Brad had to turn back. Ron and Jean took the opportunity to get the needles out of their front fenders (they both had to take off their front wheels). The four of us continued to the trail junction turn around. On the way back, the guys were, once again, picking up the pace. Coming back, the trail trends down, plus the wind was a little more at our backs.

I think Jean thought she was just going slower tonight (when her fender was clogged she was), but really, the guys were going faster. My average speed when I got home was 16.9 mph. That is the fastest average of all the night rides I've done--and the warmest!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Great Day for Picking up Racing Tips

I can't pass up a sunny day in November. These days are rare. As luck would have it, a few of the OOA gals had the day off today (or were able to get a sitter for their munchkins). They were meeting at 11:00 at Ralph's Thriftway. Cindy and I had already planned to ride, but when we saw the post for this ride, we opted to join them instead of going by ourselves.

We started out with 8 of us gals! I don't think I have ever been on a ride with 8 women and 0 guys! Except for the special team rides (like the "Meet the Team" or "Turkey Ride"), there is never that many women.

We headed over to the Westside via West Bay Drive. There is a steep nasty hill to go up off West Bay. We made it to the top, but were missing Carrie and Cindy. We waited for a bit and when they didn't show, what did we do? We went back down!!! Now, I have been accused of being "hardcore" when it comes to cycling. But, next to these women I am a lump of jello that hasn't quite set up! They are the true definition of hard core and...I...truthfully...aspire to be them (although, currently, I mostly just perspire). When it appeared Cindy and Carrie had turned around (later found out Carrie's chain was stuck on the big ring and Cindy's knee was giving her fits--she's having surgery on it this Friday--now, that's hardcore!), we went back up the hill...*gasp* *wheeze*! Actually, it was easier the second time...slightly.

We did my favorite French Loop Rd. It gives nice views of the water from a quiet one lane road. Someday I'll have to take my camera and go out there just to take some photos. After French Loop we crossed Cooper Point Rd. and continued on past Evergreen State College to Mud Bay and then down Delphi. Lauren and I were leading which was great because it is a nice downhill and I could go as fast as I wanted (when I am not in the lead I usually have to brake because, as we all know, weight always wins on the downhill).

We rode all of Delphi (which, coincidently, took me past the scene of the crash a few weeks ago--no crash today--YAY!) to 110th. Then into Littlerock and back north on Maytown Rd. We turned on Case Rd up to 93rd, stayed on Case to 113th. We did the mostly-up rollers of 113th to Tilley, then continued straight onto McCorkle. There are two big back-to-back hills on McCorkle. I always get dropped on these hills. This time I started up the hills at the front as I knew I would end up at the back before the top. I think the other gals must have wanted me to feel like I'm getting better, and thus went slower, because I made it to the top still in the front! Shocking!!! Jen caught me just as I got to the top. Coming down, she was pedaling and I coasted past her (that weight thing again).

At Hwy 99 we rode to Rich Rd. Usually I peel off at 89th and head over to the trail and home. Today I stayed with the group to Yelm Hwy, then turned for home. If I didn't have another 10 miles to ride tonight for a meeting, I probably would have stayed with them all the way back to the start. It was THAT good of a day!

As for the racing tips, as we were riding, Lauren was telling me some of what a race is like and the things we will practice once we start training for the race season. One great thing she said (that she heard from Derek), and that I will try to remember, is that, no matter who you are (Cat 1 or Cat 4), everyone is in the same amount of pain...some can just go faster in that amount of pain.

Total miles: 48

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Some Photos From the GGG Ride

Here are some photos Taryn took. As you can see, it was a beautiful day!

Ridin' With the GGGs...

Or...O' Christmas Trees, O' Christmas Trees, You Really Are So Plentiful!

Today was an out-of-the-ordinary, super-fantastic day! I had seen a post on Facebook by Taryn (founder and GGG extraordinaire of Go Get It Gals--check out her website: ) about a GGG ride starting in Mossyrock. Well, as some know, I no longer have a car, so I responded that I would be interested in going, but would need a ride. I'd be happy to pitch in for gas if there was someone with room for me and my bike. Taryn said she had room (in the Go Get It Gal Van of Awesomeness). I met up with her and Michelle (another great GGG) in Tumwater. Taryn fit all three of our bikes in the back of the GGGVofA and we headed south to Mossyrock. Mossyrock is the home of the fourth member of today's GGG Posse, Peggy.

Taryn, Michelle, and Peggy (along with three other gals) had done a GGG cycling tour in France this last summer (Taryn is putting together another Conquer the Cols Tour for this next summer. I encourage you all to check it out at It was great fun to hear about their tour and even more fun to ride with them. Peggy put together an excellent DVD that we watched after our ride.

We left from Peggy's house just as the last bit of fog was burning off to reveal a lovely blue-sky November day. Temps were in the upper 40s, but we were dressed warmly (a little too warmly as the day went on). We first rode into Mossyrock itself. We wound up, down, this way, and that until I couldn't even tell which direction we were heading. I absolutely love these kinds of rides where I have no idea where I am! I only knew we were near Riffe Lake and Lake Mayfield. We ended up going around Lake Mayfield and past Ike Kinswa State Park where we camped when Kyle was little. We were on rural roads going past farm after farm. I don't know how many Christmas Tree farms we went past, but it was a lot! At one they were harvesting trees. The fragrance of fresh cut fir was definitely in the air (kind of like having one of those pine tree things hanging from your rear view mirror, except better).

We rode about 32 miles in a loop, then came back to Peggy's where she treated us to a delicious lunch (she called it a snack) of macaroni salad, pineapple, and banana bread.

After watching the DVD, we piled the bikes back into the GGGVofA and headed back to Olympia. Taryn dropped me at home just as the late afternoon sun was starting to set. What a great day with great women! They are some awesome Go Get It Gals!

I didn't take my camera (I meant to, but forgot). Taryn took photos though. Perhaps she will put them on the Go Get It Gals website...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Turkey Ride...

Or...All Roads Lead to Pie!

And, the longer the road, the more pie it leads to!

Yes, some people are happy to sit at home watching a parade, some football, and maybe even a dog show. Me? I'd rather do a preemptive strike against the calories I will be consuming later on in the day. And, if this strike can also benefit those less fortunate among us who just want to have some calories to eat...all the better.

Today's ride was put together by Dave from the OOA Team to benefit the Thurston County Food Bank. It's a win win. We ride so we can eat more and we also ride so others can eat more too.

We met at 10:00 at Tumwater Falls Park. Dave took donations to give to the food bank in the name of the OOA/CBC Racing Team. There were over 20 people--mostly team folks, but a few extras too (including family in town for Thanksgiving). We also picked up a few CBC club riders. OOA women were well represented (not all of us are stuck in the kitchen cooking all day!).

We headed South to Tenino then on Crowder Rd. to Skookumchuck and Johnson Creek. About half of the group headed back at Tenino (that's one of the great things about these rides--there is almost always a shorter route for those with limited time). Once we got back to 507 we rode along 507 for a short bit to Military Rd. From Military it was on to Waldrick. This was actually the first time I have ridden this section of Waldrick. Usually I'm on the trail, but the trail is not good right now for a large group of riders. We rode Waldrick to Stedman and Stedman to Rainier Rd. The group turned at Firtree, but I just continued on Rainier and headed home.

Apparently there is a pie eating contest. The person who eats the most pies by midnight tonight, wins (I don't know what--a bloated stomach???). I heard DJ say he was going for 4 pies! Damn these guys who can eat like that and still drop me with no effort whatsoever! I figure with a 3 hour, 53 mile ride at an average speed of 17.4 mph, I earned a "reasonable" dinner including a PIECE of pumpkin pie!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone (I am especially thankful to those of you who faithfully read my blog)!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Ahhhh yes, the vocalizations of the group night ride. Especially after a wind and rain storm from the day before.

Even though I had ridden on the trail in broad daylight earlier today, it did nothing to prepare me for riding through the debris in the dark. A little bit freaky. I met up with Jean where the Chehalis Western meets the Woodland Trail. We rode the rest of the way to the start where we met up with the guys (except Brad who met up with us as we headed back up the trail).

Through certain sections there was a constant chorus of, "Stick, branch, stick, whoa...tree!". I hung back to give myself maneuvering room. Since we were 7, I had the freedom to move back and forth when I was off the back. I still managed to keep up until we got to the roundabout on Rainier (the one section of road we go on to get back to the trail). Then there was a car coming through the roundabout so I waited. No problem--I caught back up back on the trail. It was also raining at that time...then it stopped.

We made it to our usual turnaround at the trail junction. Jean had so much stuff in her front wheel, she had to take it off to clean it out. I really like my new fenders. Stuff doesn't seem to accumulate like it did with the old fenders. Yay!

On the way back, I was following Ron when I saw him jump his bike over a couple of large-ish branches (almost tree size if you ask me). I just, automatically, did the same. Perfect!

I even took a turn at the front with Chip. It was actually less stressful as I could see the branches better. All in all, it was a pretty decent ride. If nothing else, I learned I can roll over a whole bunch of *#%# and still come out upright! I'm sure it won't be the last ride of this kind!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Getting Back on the night no less! If I'm going to be honest, it was a little nerve wracking at first, but then it was okay. It helped that the weather was perfect for a November night ride--no rain, and temps in the mid 40s.

There were 7 of us. For a change, the gals outnumbered the guys! I found I was most comfortable hanging off the back. I kept a healthy distance from the rider in front of me. I was also comfortable if I was in the front (Michelle and I lead for awhile up to the turnaround point). The best part was that my knee felt good. My butt felt good for most of the ride (double padding, tights over shorts did the trick). I was starting to feel it toward the end, so 38 miles is maybe it for a couple more days. Tomorrow's ride is 62 miles, but there are ways to shorten it, so I think it will be fine.

It's great to be back in the saddle again!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

50 Shades of...

...Black and Blue!

Below is a photo of my legs 2 days post crash--a whole lotta bruisin' goin' on. *WARNING* It ain't pretty.

I took my wheel in to the shop yesterday. The diagnosis was grim. The rim was dead. The boys at the shop rose to the challenge, but she just couldn't be saved. Fortunately, they had two options in stock for replacement. One had even been hand built at the shop. I went with that wheel. It's a Mavic Sport double-walled aluminum. It's durable and should perform well should I happen to find myself in another crash situation (which, although I would really prefer not to, is possible).

The front fender was also broken. Since no one sells just one road fender, I had to get a new set. I got SKS Raceblade Long. I have SKS fenders on Stella and I've been very happy with them. The old fenders were always rubbing anyway. The Raceblades go on in such a way as to minimize the chance of rubbing.

So, the bike is all fixed and ready to go. As for me? I've done a bit on Stella. As long as I don't pedal too fast, and I wear a good pair of PADDED bike shorts, it's not too bad (not to worry, there will be no photos of THAT bruise).

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Number 3 in about 35,000

Third crash in about 35,000 miles of riding. Those odds aren't too bad if you ask me.

Today's group ride started out good. It was raining, but not too hard and it was warmer than the past couple of mornings. We headed over toward Delphi on Sapp Rd. One guy got a flat, but we were close to his house so he just rode home and got a new wheel. That gave me time to get to the top of the Sapp hill without getting behind. Then I got behind on the hill up 62nd to Delphi, but Sergio got a flat so I was able to catch up.

We took off again. As we were approaching Alpine Dr, a lady looked like she was going to pull out in front of us. The lead guy (Tim) braked quickly. Manek tried to stop, but hit Tim, and I braked and tried to swerve to the right of Manek, but Manek was also swerving right, and I hit Manek. Both him and I went down. I got up pretty quickly, but Manek did not. 911 was called (and came really quickly!). By the time the EMTs got there, Manek was sitting up. They put him on the stretcher to take him over to the rig to check I'm out. He, fortunately, seemed to be okay, except, maybe his elbow.

I picked up my bike to get it out of the road. Unfortunately, the front wheel wouldn't roll. Diagnosis was a broken spoke and a severely out of true wheel. Even with the front brake open, the wheel wouldn't roll freely. I made a couple of phone calls, but no one was available. The friendly firefighters said they would arrange to take me and my bike home. Manek's wife picked him up.

Once Manek was taken care of, and I filled out an accident report for the sheriff, the EMTs loaded my bike in the back of the rig and they drove me home. Turns out the young EMT (or fire fighter) who rode in the back with me went to school with my son Dillon.

As for my body, my left knee and lower leg are scraped a bit and I have a whopper bruise. My right leg also has a lovely bruise as well has my left shoulder--nothing a little ice and ibuprofen won't cure. As soon as I get my wheel fixed, I'll be back on the road.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Bit on the Chilly Side

Tonight was a great evening for another night ride. This time there were 8 or 9 of us. We did the same route as last time, but this time the leaves had been swept off the trail--YAY! We were able to go faster overall. It's amazing what you can do when you can see the trail!

It was also a little colder than last time. Actually, it was quite a bit colder. I exchanged last time's short sleeve wool base for a long sleeve wool base yet, I was not the slightest bit sweaty when I got home. However, my feet stayed toasty and, although my hands were numb, they felt warm when I took my gloves off.

Did I mention how much I like riding in the dark? It's even more fun with a group. I love the pace--fast enough to keep me working--slow enough to chat and get to know the people in the group. The 2 1/2 hours seem to fly by!

It was another 38 miles, but this time the average was 16.7!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Following the Blinking Light

Tonight I did my first night ride with a few members of the team. I'm no stranger to night riding, but I have generally been alone and just riding to get somewhere (commuting).

The night rides meet at the Eastside Trailhead of the Woodland Trail. I left my house and rode the trail to the trailhead. There were five of us tonight--3 guys, 2 gals. I knew Ron and Jean and met Chris and Brad (add two more to my roster of names I'm learning).

We headed back the way I had come up the Woodland Trail to the Chehalis Western Trail. When I was making my way to the start, there were some places where I really slowed down because I couldn't see the trail amongst all the leaves (it's really dicey when the trail curves slightly--then I really wasn't sure if I was in the middle of the trail or coming close to the edge). Going back up was not as hard because all I had to do was follow the blinking light in front of me! Plus the lead guys are great at calling out obstacles and stuff.

We rode as far south as the trail junction with the Yelm/Tenino Trail. There we turned around and headed back. I headed home from the bridge over Yelm Hwy.

By the time I got home, I had ridden 38.8 miles with an average of 16.1 mph. Due to the slower nature of riding in the dark, I was able to keep up easily. It was fun and I'll definitely do it again!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Lesson Learned the Hard Way

Today I rode with yet another group of Olympia riders (well, in truth, there was quite a bit of overlap). Today was the "Friday Group". This group rides every Friday from Ralph's Thriftway. I think there is some variance in the time--today the meeting time was 11:00.

Since I knew the ride was going to be at least 3 hours, I thought I should have a snack before I went. So, I had an apple with peanut butter...lots of peanut butter...too much peanut butter.

The ride over to Ralph's was fine. I had plenty of time, so I wasn't pushing too much--just warming up. I met up with the group and saw many familiar faces (especially amongst the women). By the time we headed out there were about 12 of us, and half of us were women.

The loop we were doing was Johnson Creek (actually Johnson Creek Rd itself is just a 3 or 4 mile part on the route). I felt pretty good as we cruised south and picked up the trail near Fir Tree. I was having a great conversation with Larry who just got back from Africa.

As we made the sharp right from the Chehalis Western to the Yelm/Tenino Trail, I realized I had picked up a few pounds of fir needles between my fender and wheel. We stopped at the turn to go across 507 and onto Johnson Creek Rd. I was able to get most of the needles out of the fenders. During the stop, I noticed I was getting a side-ache and a tiny bit lightheaded. I ate a Shot Block and then we headed up Johnson Creek. The lightheaded feeling went away as soon as I started riding again, but the side-ache got worse. I slowed down considerably going up the hill as I was having a bit of trouble getting a deep breath. The group pulled ahead, but they slowed down and let me catch up. Adam let me hook on to his wheel and I drafted behind him back to the group. When I didn't have to work as hard, the cramping would dissipate a little.

I think what caused the cramping was eating too much protein before the ride (in the form of peanut butter). I have had this happen before (case in point, the "Side-ache Sandwich" from Berry Fields Cafe--Crab and Provolone on toasted sour dough--and, usually...okay...all the time, followed by dessert--enough to give anyone a side-ache!), but not after eating an apple and peanut butter. I guess the difference is that after that much protein, I usually don't hammer the pedals quite so hard.

Anyway, I was able to keep up okay on the flats and I would get dropped on the hills. Someone would always drift back let me hook on to their wheel and pull me back to the group. Once I was in the middle of the pack, I could maintain the speed even with the side-ache.

I peeled off for home at Capital and North Street. I made it home just before the rain started. I clocked 62 miles with an average of 17.2 mph.

So now I know. Don't eat too much protein BEFORE a ride. From now on, I'll stick to a snack of carbs! Lesson learned!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Beauty of the Buddy Flap...

Or...When Fenders Alone are not Enough

The Team has a rule about riding in the rain. You must have, not just full fenders, but also buddy flaps attached to the end of the fenders. Today was a perfect example of why.

The rain was coming down steadily as I left my house this morning to meet those other hardy souls for a Saturday ride. About 9 of us showed up ready to ride. Most everyone was fully decked out in rain jackets, shoe covers, and warm gloves. I had my helmet rain cover on as well (keeps some of the water off my glasses). Everyone also had fenders and buddy flaps (Jean's is my favorite with the red bike and hand painted British flag), except two people. The two had fenders, but...NO BUDDY FLAPS!

As we took out from the park, it was immediately evident that riding behind someone without a buddy flap is not a good place to be. The rooster tail of water flying off the back of a buddy flap-less bike is akin to a hydroplane boat on Lake Washington during the Chevrolet Cup! Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but you get the picture. It's a lot wetter and dirtier (let's face it, the street is not exactly clean).

The two riders without buddy flaps were also pretty strong riders, which means they are less inclined to be hanging off the back of the group. So, the double paceline was sometimes not so double. There would be a couple of pairs of riders riding side by side. Then there would be another pair, one of which was buddy flap-less. After that pair, the rest of the group would line up behind the one with the buddy flap. In a single file paceline, it was a little trickier. There was some definate jockeying to not get stuck in the rooster tail. At one point one of the women was behind the rooster tail. The water was not only hitting her, but also flying over the top of her to me. I backed off a bit.

One of the guys had a flat well into the ride. The rest of us stopped and took the opportunity to eat a bar or, in the case of me, some Shot Blocks. Apparently, the usual scenario is that either everyone continues to ride and the person with the flat takes a shorter route and rejoins at some point, or everyone goes aways down the road, then circles back. The circling continues until the rider with the flat is ready to ride again. That method makes sure everyone stays warm. However, today the consensus was to stop and wait (and eat). Fine by me!

Just before the guy with the flat was done, us three remaining gals (the buddy flap-less gal and guy headed home) started riding (I knew where we were going). The guys caught up to us not too far down the road.

Turns out we were not the only hardy souls out riding today. We passed two guys (one of the guys hollered, "Don't ya know it's raining?"), then just a little later passed another group of three or four on the side of the road fixing a flat of their own.

We went up the really steep hill on Carpenter Rd. I had to drop down to my small ring and was still out of the saddle. Fortunately, at the top we turned right and went downhill so I could catch my breath.

We worked our way back into town and then back to the park. For some reason, my computer was only working sporadically. Based on Jean's computer, I figure by the time I got home, I had ridden about 56 miles or so. I was drenched from head to toe, but not cold. As I've said before, as sweet as I am, I don't melt.

I'm planning on riding again tomorrow, so my shoes are stuffed with paper towels to hopefully dry them. I'm not sure why I'm bothering as I'm sure it will be just as rainy tomorrow.

Today was a great ride, I'm just hoping the two without buddy flaps will get them soon (like before tomorrow if they are also riding).

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Weather Karma Strikes Again!

Too bad Speed Karma opted to stay home!

Woke up to rain this morning. Looked like it was going to be a good day to check out my new rain jacket. Yes, yes, I know, I already have an awesome rain jacket so why did I get a new one? Well, as awesome as my Showers Pass Elite is, it is kind of bulky for this fast road riding. It is really much better as a touring rain jacket. My new jacket has a closer more athletic fit, is lighter weight, and will easily stuff into a jersey pocket. Plus, it is in the team colors (red and black) so I don't look completely like the newbie that I am. Anyway, by the time it was nearing time for me to head to the park, there were big patches of blue sky! Could it be possible? Could the rain magically hold off?

When I got to the park there was no one else there. But, I was early. Just when I was starting to think I would be riding alone, a guy pulled in (Dan--add that one to the list of names I am slowly learning). Then Monik rolled in. Not long after, about 7 more people showed up including Lauren (woo hoo, I was not the only female!). Mark from last week, Tim, Adam (Lauren's hubby), a 15 year old named Alec or Alex, and a couple others that I didn't catch their names. The guys decided on a route and off we went. I heard mention of Waddell Creek. That road counter-clockwise is definitely on the hilly side. But, first we had to go over Sapp Rd hill and then up 62nd to Delphi. They dropped me on Sapp, but I caught up at Black Lake (only because they waited for me and Adam, who came back to make sure I was coming). I lost them again going up 62nd, but they waited for me at Delphi. I told them they would be waiting for me all day at this rate and that they didn't have to. They were real nice about it, but I still don't like slowing people down. We made a plan that, at Waddell Creek, those who wanted to do the hilly part could and those who didn't would continue on Delphi and meet up with the hill riders at Littlerock. At Waddell, Lauren, Mark, Monik, and I stayed on Delphi. The rest headed up the hill. Delphi is not as hilly as Waddell, but there are still some hills to go up. But, there are some to go down too--more rolling. Lauren, who is quite fast, was doing a nice job drafting behind Mark. Mark goes pretty fast and neither Monik or I were able to keep up but, Monik kept up better than me. I felt like I was giving everything I had, yet still not going as fast as they were.

We made it to Littlerock just as the fast boys were coming down the hill off of Waddell. We regrouped and headed back up Maytown Rd. Pretty soon it was just Lauren, Monik, and I. Lauren was going slower so I could stay with her. We even took brief turns at the front of our group of three.

At the freeway interchange, Adam came back to us. The others had slowed down and we were back with the whole group. That was short lived though as they decided to go up Reeder Rd. Once again I was slogging up the hill on my own. Adam, Monik, and Lauren waited at the top. We stayed together to Tilley where we caught up to the others. Monik had to turn for home. I told the rest of the group that, although I was good for the distance, I didn't like them having to wait for me. Lauren said she would stay with me, which was very nice!

We turned off Tilley onto 143rd which was the way we went last Saturday. More hills! We came into Tenino and headed over to 99 to head back home. Lauren, Alec(x), and I went up and over 99 to Offut Lake Rd. Adam was there to make sure we made the turn. We were all back together as we turned onto Waldrick and then Stedman. We took Stedman to Rainier Rd, then turned again on Firtree. At the trail crossing, Lauren and I took the trail. The rest of the guys continued to Rich Rd. a number of us live along the way back to the park. I peeled off at Horizon Point. Lauren got back on the trail, then Yelm Hwy to Boulevard where her and Adam live. I think, Dan was the only one who drove to the park. Everyone else rode from their homes.

Today's not being able to keep up felt different than the Tuesday night getting dropped rides. I suppose there were more hills, but I didn't feel like I was doing my usual on the flat either. It seemed like the only pace that I could stay with was 19 to 20 mph. Usually I can manage at least 21 to 22 without feeling like my lungs are going to burst.
Maybe my Speed Karma took a day off??? Weather Karma was definitely on the ride as we had blue sky and sunshine for the whole time. Now it is back to gloomy and rain.

Total miles: 48
Average speed: 15.6 (should have been more than that!)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I'll Call it...Progress

Yep, still got dropped, BUT...we made it two miles further than last time!

There were only 5 guys and Debbie and I. We were just doing a short loop of 20 miles due to decreasing daylight (of course, for me that means a total of 33 miles).

At first I thought it would be easier to stay with the guys because we were going on Littlerock Rd. which is pretty flat. Well, I suppose it was better than the hills, but flat just means they go faster! At one point I looked at my bike computer and noticed we were going 25 miles per hour on the flat!

As we got close to 110th where we would turn, the boys started pulling ahead. Debbie said, "Looks like we're getting dropped." I stood up out of the saddle and passed Debbie telling her, "Come on! Let's catch them!" Yeah, that didn't work. Well, we made it two miles further than last time before getting dropped.

The thing about trying to keep up with the fast guys (the gals too) is that you use everything you have which is, of course, how you get stronger. But, by the time you get dropped, you have used up everything you had. Oh, we still cruised along pretty good, just not anywhere near 25 miles an hour!

There was a possibility the guys were going to do an extra 4 miles out and back. Since we never saw them again, we don't know if they did the extra 4 miles. When we got back to the park, none of the guys were there. We decided to tell ourselves that we beat them back (probably not).

Anyway, it was a good ride, as fast as we could go. Each time we get faster. In all likelihood, we will never be able to stay with the guys the whole way. But, we'll keep trying and I call tonight's ride progress in that direction!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Part of the 20%

Awhile back I read someplace that going carfree 80% of the time is not too difficult. It's that last 20% that is harder. It takes more thought and definitely more...gumption. This afternoon would, perhaps, qualify as part of that 20%.

As I walked in the house from another great ride with the women from the racing team (where I might add we managed to dodge the rain...mostly),I got a text from Lorraine asking if I wanted to meet her at Lacey Cinemas for a movie. Well, of course I did! As I was sitting there in all my sweatiness, hungry, and just a tad on the tired side after two back-to-back days of 40+ mile rides, I texted Lorraine back, "Sure! Just need to shower and eat. What time?" The movie was "Argo", and there was a showing at 2:40 and one at 3:40. I told Lorraine I probably couldn't make the 2:40, so we settled on 3:40.

I took my shower and dressed in another set of biking clothes (no, not lycra). It was only 1:20 at that point, so I called Lorraine and said I could make the 2:40 show. I ate and headed out to the garage. As I was getting ready to go, I noticed it had started raining. I thought to myself as I longingly looked at my van sitting in the driveway, driving would be sooooo much easier--not to mention DRIER! But, I pulled on my rain pants and rain jacket. I put my helmet on with the rain cover. It was still wet from the earlier sweatifying ride. Off I went to ride the 6 miles to the movie theater.

At the theater there are no bike racks. The best place I could find to lock up Stella was a light post. I covered her seat with a plastic bag and left the poor girl in the rain (sorry Stella).

In the lobby I stripped out of the wet rain gear and we went in to see the movie. By the way, it was a good movie. I give it a thumbs up!

After the movie I rode home in the rain. As I took off my wet gear and pulled the insoles out of my wet shoes, I thought, yes, this was part of that 20% that is just a bit more difficult. But, I did it, survived, and probably burned a few more calories too!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

And Now the Rain

It was good while it lasted--this ultra-long dry spell, but now it is truly Fall. And, Fall means rain in the Pacific Northwest. However, it doesn't necessarily mean no riding.

I decided to see if they were right. Supposedly, year round, there are Saturday and Sunday rides from Tumwater Falls Park--even in inclement weather. I knew there was a mountain bike race today, but I thought I'd see if any road riders would come to the park. Well, there were three of us--one team guy and two of us wannabe team people.

Mark, the team guy, suggested Johnson Creek. That would give us some options should the weather get really nasty. We headed South out of Tumwater on what I have determined is the team's usual route. At 93rd we cut over to Tilley. At some point I told Mark he didn't have to lead the whole way, especially since the wind was coming from the South. On Tilley, he drifted back and I took the lead. Unfortunately, with me in the lead, we weren't going quite as fast. I let Monik (the other team wannabe) take the lead at the top of a small rise and I drifted to the back where I could catch my breath, and still keep up.

In an effort to get out of the headwind for a bit, we turned off Tilley onto 143rd. It's a little bit shorter to Tenino. It's also a bit hillier. Mark was back in the lead, but I couldn't keep up with him on the hills. Just as I would catch up on the downhill and flat, there would be another hill and I would fall back again. Monik took over the lead from me to give me a break (actually, I think he is a better climber, and was just being nice).

As we caught up to Mark in Tenino, he asked how we were doing and if we wanted to keep going (we could have shortened the ride by heading back from there). We were both good for continuing down Crowder Rd. to do Johnson Creek. It was just a couple more miles into the wind before we would turn and have a crosswind instead. It was raining, but I wasn't at all cold.

When we turned off of Crowder at 184th, Mark gave Monik and I some instruction in riding in an echelon (okay, so it was an echelon of three) to battle the crosswind. Unfortunately, I was not able to keep up with Mark. Monik wasn't either, so we were an echelon of two (would that be a duechelon?).

Mark slowed up some and we were able to rejoin him. He apologized for getting ahead. I told him it was no problem. I've had those times where you just get in the groove and go. You look back at some point and realize those who were with you are...not.

Turning onto Johnson Creek, we finally had the wind at our back. It was still raining, but who cares when you've got a tailwind! Once again, Monik and I didn't really keep up with Mark, but we kept him in our sight.

At the end of Johnson Creek Rd., we opted for the trail back. That was totally fine with me as it meant I could peel off when we got close to my house and not have to ride back home from the park. Mark would do the same as he neared his neighborhood (on my way to the park, Mark had pulled out from one of the neighborhoods--I recognized the team kit and knew there would be at least one other rider). Monik lives close to the park. Because we all started from home, we would have the same miles for the ride (so far I have always had about 12 1/2 more miles on each of the rides).

On Rainier Rd at Horizon Point, I said goodbye and turned off for home. I was thoroughly wet, but still not really cold. When I got home I was able to ring water out of my gloves.

A hot shower has been taken and hot soup for lunch has been eaten. Now I must go wash the 20 lbs. of pine needles of my bike and dry her off.

Total miles: 49
Average speed: 16.5 mph

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dropped after 6...

...but I knew that would happen.

I met the team at 5:30pm for one of their regular Tuesday/Thursday rides. The route was announced. I knew all the roads (and I also knew what hills we would be going up *gulp*). There were about 14 or 15 of us--4 of us, women. Among us women, 2 of us were non-team members (yet).

As we headed out, I stayed near the front (at least give myself more time before being dropped). I chatted with Jeff, who remembered me from the first ride I did with the team.

As we approached the first hill (a short but steep sucker on Sapp Rd.), I geared down, but I didn't want to drop down to my small ring. Because of that, I was out of the saddle on the steeper part but, I stayed with the group (albeit at the back now). Fortunately, there was a downhill on the other side and I was able to stay with the group even though I was wheezing like a donkey!

I stayed up with the group until the second big hill. Then, it was all over (the fat lady wasn't singing though, in fact, she could barely catch her breath, let alone belt out a tune!). The other non-team gal and I had made it a mere 6 miles before getting dropped. Although our lungs were burning and our legs were shot, we were pretty happy with how long we managed to stay with these Cat 1&2 racer guys.

We continued on the route not even seeing the group in the distance. We knew the way to go, and we had a designated regroup spot with the other two gals (and any guys who wanted to hang with the ladies).

We caught up, took a tiny break, and continued on. The pace was a little more within my realm and I even recovered some lung capacity. We kept up just fine which is good because it would have really sucked to be dropped from the dropped group (yes, they had also been dropped, just not as quickly as Deb and I).

We worked our way along Evergreen Parkway to Cooper Point. From there we did a beautiful little road called French Loop. We got some nice views of the water with a pink tinge of the sunset. If we weren't flying along so fast, I might have stopped and taken a photo!

We came down to West Bay Drive, which took us to downtown. At Capital Lake, Deb and I turned to head back to the start by riding the paved then packed gravel path to Marathon Park and back to Tumwater Falls Park. I had already turned my rear flasher on and at Marathon Park I also turned on my headlight. It was definitely getting dark. At Deb's car, back at the park, I switched back to my long finger gloves for the remaining 6 miles home.

I got home at about 7:30 totally spent, but I had a blast...even though I only lasted 6 miles with the group!

Total miles for me was 32. Average was 16 mph (not bad for the number of hills).

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Mother-lode of Olympia Cyclists

First, a little background info. I saw a Facebook post earlier this week from a gal I don't know, to a friend of mine. The post was inviting my friend to a women-only "Meet the Team" ride. There were actually three rides. One was that night, another was today, and another next Sunday. I commented on the post asking if I could go too. That set off a bit of a firestorm of comments resulting in a resounding YES! Well, I couldn't make the Thursday evening ride, but I could do both today's ride and next Sunday. The ride was to begin at Tumwater Falls Park at 10:00. Perfect! Tumwater Falls is about 7 easy miles from my house.

I planned to get there a little early. However, when I went out to the garage to take my road bike off the trainer, I discovered the rear tire was flat! CRAP! So much for getting there early, and why would I get a flat on the trainer??? Earlier in the week I had done some work on Star. One of the things I did was rotate the tires. I did have some problems getting the bead on the rear tire to seat into the rim at the valve stem. When I got home from the ride and repaired the tube, as I suspected, the hole was near the valve stem. Curiously, when I looked at the other spare tube (already patched once), I noticed the patch on that tube was in the same place as this one. Hmmmm...coincidence? Also, both tubes were size 18-28. The tire is a 28mm. The new tube I put on is a 28-32. Anyway, I changed the tube quickly and was on my way.

I managed to pull into the parking lot at Tumwater Falls with plenty of time to spare. The first thing I noticed when I rolled in was that there were guys there. In fact, there were more guys than gals. The next thing I noticed was most of the people were decked out in their Olympia Orthopedic Associates Team kit (nice red and black). I rode over to some women and asked if one of them was Michelle (the person who had done the Facebook post). Turns out Michelle wasn't able to make it. I recognized a couple of the other women (and at least one of the guys) from when Lorraine and I did Corner Marshalling for one of the races. Fortunately, there was a handful of non-OOA kitted-out riders such as myself. By the time we were ready to take off, there were close to 50 riders! WOW! 50 Olympia cyclists all assembled in one place! The team president welcomed all the new faces and told us the route (a 32 mile loop south through Tumwater, down Tilley to Goddard, to 183rd, to Case Rd., and back to Tumwater Falls Park). He also introduced the sub-group leaders (Cat 1-4, Masters, and Women). Okay! Was this going to be more than I bargained for? It was supposed to be a "Social Ride". No one would be dropped (hmmm, I've heard that before).

All the introductions and announcements being completed, we took off. Due to traffic lights through Tumwater, we were almost immediately split into three groups. I was in the second group. Once we were off Capital Blvd and onto Linderson, we were able to ratchet up the speed. When we got out of town, there was still a group ahead and a group behind, but the middle group was now only three of us (due to another traffic light that a few of us had just squeezed through). Our little threesome was another gal (not a team rider) and a team guy and me. As we were riding just out of reach of the lead group, the guy drifted back and said I should try to ride within a foot and a half of the wheel in front of me. Yes, I know this, but I don't know this gal in front of me. Then, he said we were in a tough situation because we weren't catching up with the group. I said, "Why don't we catch up with them then?". The gal in front of me said she was good with that too. The guy said, "Well, okay!". We easily caught up to the front group. I think the guy was a little surprised.

As we were riding along, a gal I know, who runs Go Get It Gals, rode beside me for awhile. We talked about her France trip and my New Zealand trip. It sounded like they had a great time.

Later another gal rode beside me named Chris. She is part of the OOA team. She asked me if I ever raced. I told her no, that what I really liked was touring. She asked if I mountain biked (no, I don't like crashing). She then asked if I ever did cyclocross (also no as I don't have a cyclocross bike). She thought I would like cyclocross (maybe--but I still don't have a CX bike).

One little annoyance on the ride was whenever we were riding on the chip seal roads, my rear fender would work its way loose from the chainstay cross piece and start to rattle. I would reach down and shove it back down (no easy task when you are a foot and a half from the wheel in front of you). Finally, we had a short stop at Maytown and Case Rd intersection and I was able to at least get it closer to the right place. Still it came loose again. When I got home I got it completely into the right place.

As we were getting close to the park and the end, a team guy, Jeff, rode up beside me and asked if I rode with the team often. I told him I had never ridden with the team before. He said, "This is your FIRST ride???" I told him yes and he immediately launched into how I could join the team, the rides they do, how I could get good deals on equipment and the team kit. At the end, I told Chris (one of the team gals) what Jeff had said. She said that's because I'm a strong rider. She said I should race cyclocross. Jean (another team gal) said no, I should road race. Hmmmm...maybe I'll investigate this further.

So, in the end, I did okay. I stayed with the front 8 or so Team riders. They said I was a strong rider and invited me to all the rides (although when I asked Jeff what the pace of the Wednesday rides was he said, "Oh, it's pretty slow, 18-20mph." Maybe I'm not understanding what they mean by pace. 18-20 sounds pretty fast to me, but maybe "pace" is not the same as "average".)

Miles ridden: 48 (my house to my house)
Average speed: 17.5mph

Oh, and Chris and I exchanged info as she wants someone to do longer rides with in the winter. That's totally awesome!