Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Martini Ride--Shaken AND Stirred!

Tonight was my first go at cyclocross practice. A handful of the OOA Cyclocross racers met at Pioneer Park, home of the Deschutes CX race (on November 7). Bryan, our fearless leader, suggested a few warmup laps. I actually know the course...sorta. Mostly, I just followed Bryan. It's evident I don't completely know the course, because on the second lap I was behind enough to not see that they made a right...I went straight. Since it was a shortcut, I caught up to them.

As it is August, the course is dry as a bone which also means the ground is rock hard...and bumpy. After a few laps, it felt like my insides had been shaken so much that my organs were not in their original locations! I managed to stay upright, even when I tried to take one corner without braking and ended up going wide into the long, tall green grass (I just kept pedaling). I even managed to ride through the sand (should probably practice running through the sand too). 

After the laps, we practiced starts. How hard can that be, right? Turns out, it can be very hard! It's not at all like road racing starts. I'd compare it more to the start of a horse race! Crazy, out of the saddle sprinting to the first corner! A couple of times, I wasn't even clipped in before everyone else was halfway down to the first corner. Out of the several starts, I managed one decent time getting into the pedal quickly, and staying with the group. I have some work to do!

CX is really tiring, but super fun. I'm looking forward to the Women of Cross Festival this coming Saturday. I'll be doing a beginner clinic as well as a beginner race. It'll probably be another martini ride!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

WSBA Masters Time Trial Championships--First...In My Own Little Podium World

Does that mean I won? Oh, heck no! What it means is that I didn't get beat by any Masters 40+ Cat 4 Women who were not on TT bikes. Well, you say, that's pretty specific! But, it is reasonable, because those fortunate enough to be riding those real TT bikes, have a decided advantage. I'm not just whining here, or making excuses. It's true. Those in the know (okay, Ron), say it gives a two minute time difference. That is significant. According to the finishing times, if I had been two minutes faster, I would have finished 2nd. Instead, I finished 4th. When I told my son this, he said, "Why don't you get a TT bike?" Around here, the cost versus usage doesn't pan out. There were only 3 time trials where a TT bike could be used this year. A low end TT bike with a disc wheel would cost around $5000. Not gonna happen (I could go spend 5 weeks in New Zealand for that price!).

Anyway, as far as today's TT went, it was good. Even though she wasn't racing, Debbie picked me up and took me to Tenino. I thought that was quite nice of her! We were able to park next to Jean, and I set up my bike on the trainer right behind her. 

My start time was 9:21:00, and Jean was right behind me at 9:21:30. I arrived at the start with 2 minutes to spare which was perfect, as my legs stayed warmed up. Just before I started, I yelled back at Jean to "come and get me!"

I had a good start, and was on my aerobars quickly. I made it as far as 184th before Beth passed me. I knew she would, so wasn't surprised to hear the whoop whoop of the disc wheel come up from behind. 

I just did my best to keep my speed over 20 mph. There are some hills on Johnson Creek Rd. My speed dropped below 20 on those, but that was expected. 

I reached the turn-around, and headed back. So far, besides Beth, no one else had passed me, nor had I passed anyone. I always, for morale sake, like to pass at least one person (even though it's not required to end up with a faster time). Finally, when I was back on Skookumchuck, I saw my target. I hunkered down, and set about catching her. It took a couple of minutes, but I managed to leave her behind. 

Next, I came up on a guy just out for a day ride. As I went to pass him, a white SUV came by me very closely. I was out in the outer part of the lane, and the vehicle didn't even fully change lanes. However, from my touring experience, this did not freak me out. In fact, I figured I got a little push from the wind. 

I turned onto the last section on Northcraft Rd. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Ron, and then Debbie, but mostly I was focused on finishing as quickly as possible. At the 200m sign I put my head down and didn't look up until after I saw the white line pass under my wheels. I didn't even see the clock with my time. I finished in1:07:49.61. That's over a 40km course (a little over 25 miles). The winning time was 1:05:25.41. Second place was Beth from Starbucks with 1:05:52.65. Third was 1:06:47.57. All three of those women were on TT bikes. So, in my own little podium world, I was 1st!

As Debbie had to leave for a wedding, I just poodled my way home on the trail after having a satisfying lunch at Subway. It was a good weekend of racing, and I'm glad I was able to do both. Now, it's time to turn my focus to Cyclocross! Okay, here is a photo of the new boy, "Hal Jordan".
Note his superhero gold pedals! I think he needs a Green Lantern head badge! Anyone know where I could find one of those???

Back to Racing, Or...The Power to Stop Traffic!

Ahhh...today was the Boston Harbor Circuit Race--my final road race of the season (still have the TT tomorrow). For the first time in, well, I think...forever, there were more OOA gals than the other teams. Starbucks had three, Bike Sale had three, and we had four! We are counting Jasmine. Even though she is a junior (just 15 years old), and wears the RAD Racing kit, she is one of us OOA gals! 

Boston Harbor is 5 laps around a 6 mile course. It's on home turf, so we are very familiar with it. It is also one of our team sponsored races, which means we provide the "staff". More on that in a moment.

So, the race. My goal was to conserve energy (ie, don't spend time on the front,) so I could stay with the peloton (can you consider 10 people a peloton?), and not get dropped on the hills. For the most part, I did that fairly well. I usually like to stay near the front, but with only 10, I ended up being more toward the back half (but, remember, there were only 10 of us, so even being near the rear was not so far back).

On the first lap, after coming up the bit on 81st (after the big downhill), where it kind of flattened out a little, my back decided to spasm. For some reason, I'd totally forgot about that little problem I have when I haven't been doing my planks, and stretches (which I have not been doing for the last two months). It doesn't last long and I just have to keep pedaling. I was somewhat concerned because there was a much larger hill coming. If it spasmed on the not so bad hill, what was it going to do on the big hill? But, I discovered something. On the first go up the big hill to Zangle, I got out of the saddle for the last quarter or so. When I sat back down, and the road flattened out a little, there was no back spasm! Hallelujah! So I did that every time.

Round and round we went. One lap, two laps, three laps. At the end of the third, and beginning of the fourth, I ended up on the front. When I passed the finish line, Jeff asked me what I was doing on the front. I yelled to him that I wouldn't stay for long. I just wanted to go down the first hill once without having to hit the brakes so as to not run into someone in front of me. As soon as we headed up to the turn onto 81st, I got off the front. Some might say they just passed me because it was an uphill--okay, they might be right. But, mission accomplished, I was no longer in the wind. When we finished lap 4, Jeff gave me the thumbs up. 

Into the final lap, the pace picked up...for awhile anyway (perhaps it was just for show--make it look like we were really racing). On the backside, away from all the spectators, we returned to our not so speedy pace. Of course, everyone was really trying to conserve energy for that last go up the hill to Zangle. We came up the hill not a whole lot faster than we'd been doing, except I noticed little Jasmine was pretty speedy on this last one. At the 1km, the pace picked up, but still not sprinting. At the 200m, Jasmine did pretty much what we had hoped she would do; she sprinted and won! Jean, me, and Debbie gave it all we had, and came in 4th, 5th, and 6th. I tried to get out of the saddle to sprint, but my butt refused to rise. Still, I t was a good race.
Yay, Jasmine!
The official results.

The Power to Stop Traffic

I had two jobs for the afternoon races. For the first shift, I was the Finish Line Marshall. I signed up for this, having no idea what it involved. It was really quite minimal. All I had to do was close the road at Zangle and 73rd during the finish of the Cat 3 Men and the Masters Men races. This is necessary because they get the whole road at the 200 m.

My second job was being a Corner Marshall on Corner 3 for the second afternoon wave. Corner 3 is the busiest corner of the race. It is the intersection of Woodard Bay Rd. and Zangle. It takes four Corner Marshalls because of the way the intersection creates a triangle. I was on the downhill side of Zangle. It was the Men Pro 1,2, and the Women Pro 1,2,3 races. The men did 8 laps, and the women did 6. The other times I've been a Corner Marshall (at various races), I've seldom had to stop any cars. Oh, I close the road at my spot, but there has hardly ever been any cars anyway. Not today! Every time we closed Corner 3, I had a line of cars! It was awesome! I had the power of...the STOP sign! I've been at the mercy of flaggers many times on my tours. This time I was the flagger! Okay...I'm getting carried away. But, it was fun to actually get to do something!

So, that was the day. A great race, and a satisfying job! Tomorrow is the WSBA Masters Championship Time Trial. Then maybe, I'll be able to get out on my new cyclocross bike! Yep, Hal Jordan is finally here! Sorry, I haven't even had time to photograph his handsomeness. As soon as I do, I'll post the photo.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Day 49--Just Git 'Er Done!

I set a new distance record for one day of touring on my last day. It wasn't supposed to be my last day, but I just decided to git 'er done! 

I got on the road at 6:45. I guess I shouldn't say I got on the "road". It was really the Snoqualmie Valley Trail.
It started at the trailhead where I camped (stealthily, but with permission). The sign at the trailhead said it was 7.2 miles one way to North Bend, but it never went into North Bend. 

I was riding along, saying hello to the cows on the trail...yes, on the trail.
Whoa Bessie...that's a good cow. Get off the trail little doggie.

I came to a bridge, and it appeared the trail ended. 
It was the end, and the only way down was these stairs.
This did not make me happy! I had to unhook Johnny P, carry Mama Cass down the stairs, then back JP down, and reconnect everything. I was now on the road, but only for a short section. I was following Garmin's directions. I came to a road that was under construction...and closed. I rode through it anyway as I noticed I would be turning off of it shortly. Except, the part I was turning onto was also closed. None of the workers had stopped me yet, so I kept going. Then one of them says, "You know this road is closed right?" I said I did, but I was just going a short way to get back on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail (according to Garmin). He said there was a detour that everyone had to use now because they were tearing up the road. I looked ahead and could see the road was not torn up yet. Finally I told him I was on my way to Vashon Island. Then he understood, and said, "Oh, this is a one-time deal. Go ahead."

Garmin said to turn left onto Snoqualmie Valley Trail. The left was down a steep loose gravel trail down to the trail below.
See the skid marks of MC's tires from sliding down? I was glad that I didn't have to try and go up it!

I was back on the trail for a few more miles, then I went on the road to head to Fall City. Except, I didn't know that's where I was going. When I came to the roundabout, I realized where I was. Two years ago when I was riding back from the cabin, I had stayed at the City Park across the street. So, I was going the same way as before...for awhile. Garmin took me a different way than Google Maps did the last time. I ultimately ended up in the same place though. In Sammamish I got on the Pickering Trail. Never heard of that one? Me neither. It was short, and took me to the I-90 Trail.

I went over the bridge to Seattle.
I think I took this same photo last time!

This time when I got to the other side, I got to go through the I-90 bike tunnel.
Okay, it's not as big of a deal as THE TUNNEL!!!, but it was pretty cool (the art was nice).

After the tunnel, I was on more of the I-90 bike path. For those familiar with Seattle, you know where I-5 goes by Safeco Field and Century Link? There's all those overpasses (some of which I still think go nowhere)? Well, amidst all that, there's a bike path!
Amazing! I never knew this path existed!

I eventually popped out in South Seattle. Since I was going to the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal, I had to go over the West Seattle Bridge. Of course, there was a bike path for that too! 

When I got to the other side, Garmin was telling me to go left, but I really thought I could take the Alki Trail. I asked another cyclist, and he said I could, and it would be much flatter (but longer). I've always wanted to ride around Alki, so I went that way. 
Seattle from Alki.
Almost looks like Southern California!

It was getting close to 1:00, and I spotted a Subway. So, I stopped for lunch before continuing around the Point to the ferry.

I rode through Lincoln Park and arrived at the ferry terminal a little after 2:00. The next ferry was at 2:45, so I got a little break.
MC doesn't look so big from above!

The ferry ride was only 15 minutes, which was good because I still had a lot of miles to go. I was already at 57 miles when I got off the ferry on Vashon.

I decided to just go the most direct route I knew from one end of Vashon to the other. That was Vashon Hwy. There was a long climb from the ferry, several smaller hills, then the other long climb before going down to the Tahlequa Ferry at the other end. It was 15 miles and it took me 1:40. 

I arrived at the ferry terminal with about 20 minutes left before the next ferry. The ferry was at 5:00. Another 15 minute crossing, and all I had left to do was ride the rest of the way home. Okay, so that was quite a few more miles...and a few more climbs.

The sun was going down by the time I hit the outskirts of Lacey.
Not much further now!

I arrived home at 9:05 after more than 14 hours on the road/trails. My bike computer said...
Really, it was probably more like 105, because it's ever so slightly off. Still it was the longest mileage I've ever done in one day on a fully loaded touring bike!
Made it!!!

I think there were several factors that contributed to being able to do such a long day and feel pretty good at the end. First, it was not so hot. That is a biggie! Secondly, the variety of the ride made it interesting, and it seemed like it was broken up into sections. Each section didn't seem so long. One thing I guess I can say for sure now...my Brooks saddle is definitely broken in!!! My butt was pretty comfortable the whole day.

So, it's done! MC and JP are just parked in the garage. I'll deal with them, and my gear tomorrow...

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Day 48--THE TUNNEL!!!

Woo Hoo!!! I finally got to go through the Snoqualmie Tunnel! But first, I had to ride a few miles.

I didn't get a real early start this morning because I was talking to Palu (note correct spelling) and Jeff. That was okay because a bunch of my ride today would be downhill. I got back on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, and continued my quest for THE TUNNEL!!! Now, I was riding in the forest. It didn't really seem like I was climbing, but I was (I noticed it when I was coming down the other side). I went through a tunnel.
But not, THE TUNNEL!!!

I went along Lake Kacheelus.
Pretty low on the water.

I passed a number of hikers, mostly women. I talked, briefly, to a couple. Not long after, I arrived at Hyak, and...THE TUNNEL!!! But first, I decided to sit and have some lunch. A couple of the hikers, Sandy and Jean, joined me. Then a few more came, then some more. They all wanted to know about my trip. Sandy gave me cookies. They were delicious! About a half hour later they had to get back on the bus. I headed to...yep...THE TUNNEL!!!

As I came around the bend, I could feel the cold air. I put the sleeves on my jacket. I turned on my headlight and headed into...THE TUNNEL!!! It was dark (no kidding!), but my headlight is good. Way off  in the darkness, I could see a tiny bit of light.
That was the light at the end of...THE TUNNEL!!! 

THE TUNNEL!!! is 2.3 miles long. The surface is mostly smooth dirt. There were spots where water was dripping, but not too much (perhaps more if it's raining). It was quite cool, but I got used to it.

I came out the other side to a beautiful view.
It took three tries to get most of me in the picture!

Now, it was downhill all the way to the end of the trail. It's a gentle (2%) downgrade, but enough that I could maintain 14 or so miles per hour. Of course, I stopped along the way to take photos.
The avalanche thingy.
One of several trestles.
It's a long way down!
I-90 is still way down there.

Soon the trail spit me out onto Cedar River Rd. It was a rather unceremonious ending.
However, there was a more "official" trailhead back a ways.
I came to this from the road. I was looking around for camping. Well, there isn't any. Not here or at Rattlesnake Lake (a county park). As I was looking at my Garmin, some guys from the Cedar River Watershed Security drove up (the watershed is just up the road). One guy asked if my GPS was telling me I could go through the Watershed (you can't). Although that is indeed what Google maps had said, that's not what I was looking for. I asked him about camping. He said there wasn't really any place, but if I hid myself away, he wouldn't care if I camped at the trailhead day use area. He was closing the place in the evening. So, yay, camping!

I was walking down to the lake to filter some water, when I stopped to talk to a guy who was on a bike picking blackberries. I picked a few too, and we ended up talking for a couple of hours. He finally had to head for home. I set up my tent and cooked my dinner (I never did get water, but I had three bottles still full).

Now, tomorrow will be more than Google maps said it is to get to the Fauntleroy ferry to Vashon Island, but it shouldn't be too much more. Garmin will be in charge of route finding for tomorrow. 

Total miles today: 42.3
Ave speed: 9.6

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Day 47--A Day With John Wayne

Today and tomorrow are what Chapter 5 is all about...riding the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. But first, I had to get there.

When I crawled out of my tent this morning (after not the best night's sleep due to the highway being rather close by), I noticed a number of cyclists across the highway. Thinking for a moment, I realized it was the Courage Classic. I've done Courage four times, and the Mineral Springs rest stop was always my favorite (homemade cookies and hot chocolate). As I was leaving the campground, I was tempted to go across the highway and see if I could bum some cookies...but I didn't. Instead I just took a photo.

I was continuing my ride down Blewett as they were going up.
I always thought Blewett was the easiest of the three passes. I said hi to all the riders.

I left the Courage Classic route at the junction of 97 and 970. I turned to remain on 97. That was the end of my ride down Blewett. I would have more downhill, but not until I climbed for a couple of miles.
My favorite barn.
You can see the top. Also, for once, I was going in the same direction as the wind turbines!

I came down the other side continuing to Ellensburg. Well, I knew I didn't have to go all the way to Ellensburg, but I wasn't quite sure how far I did have to go to get to the John Wayne Trail.

When I came to a "T", I decided to turn on the Garmin to see if it would show the trail. Sure enough...and it was behind me. Yep, I had ridden right past it! Fortunately, it wasn't too far back. I turned around and went to the trail.
In all fairness, there wasn't much of a sign.

Yay, I was finally on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail! 
Back to gravel!

This part of the trail, as you can probably imagine since it is eastern Washington, is pretty dry, and mostly grassland. I didn't see another soul, but it was pretty warm out, and who in their right mind would be out riding the trail in this heat...oh, yeah...me.

I stopped at Thorp and bought a Gatorade. One thing about my experience on JWPT today--there is no piped water along the trail, and access to the river is minimal. There were, however, a number of vault toilets, and picnic places.

Beyond Thorp, there are two tunnels. Before the first one, there was a sign stating that in order to enter the tunnel, one had to sign a liability waiver.
However, in the box below, there were no waivers. I guess they're not too worried about it. Besides, the tunnels were fine.
Here's a not so great photo from inside the second tunnel.

Awhile after the tunnels, I was getting hungry. The picnic tables I had passed so far were all in the sun. So when I got to some shade, I just pulled out my chair and had my lunch by the side of the trail. Wouldn't you know, after getting back on the bike, there was a picnic table in the shade just around the bend. Oh well...my chair is lovely!

Although the trail at this point is pretty flat, I had an awful headwind. Remember that tailwind earlier in the day? Now I was going the opposite direction. It made for slow progress.
Here's where the trail went under I-90.

I had thought to stay in Cle Elum, but it was still early when I got there. But I still wanted a break, and needed more water. Where South Cle Elum Rd. crosses the trail, I got off and rode into town. Lucky me, I spotted a Subway! I guess second lunch would be okay. I drank lots of lemonade, and refilled my bottles with ice and water. I was about ready to leave,when a couple asked me if I was the bike rider. 45 minutes later, I left Subway. It was a good break, and I really enjoyed talking to the couple.

I returned to the S Cle Elum Trailhead as I wanted to look at the map to see how far it was to Lake Easton. It was 11.5 miles to Easton, then about 4 or so more to the park. I could do that. The wind was still blowing, so it wasn't the fastest ride.

About 6 miles later, I finally saw another cyclist. His name was Steve. He was just riding from the park on an electric assist mountain bike (not sure I've ever seen a mountain bike with a motor). He was going the other direction. Then I saw a touring cyclist. He was on a pretty long tour, now heading back to Montana. Then, two more guys went by me. They didn't stop. Steve had turned around and caught up to me. I asked him about a trail from JWPT into Lake Easton State Park. He said there was one. I had planned to just get on the road at Easton to ride to the park (I knew the way from Courage Classic), but a trail would be nice. Steve let me draft behind him for awhile, but he kept getting ahead (Mama Cass is no match for an e-bike). Finally, he disappeared, which was fine with me because I was working way too hard trying to keep up with him. 

As I was riding along, I realized that I would be backtracking by riding to the trail into the park. But, it was too late, I had already passed Easton. At least now I know where to go tomorrow.

When I arrived at the kiosk for the park, the gal told me she had just sold the two hiker/biker sites. I said I would go and see if I could share with them. She said that was fine (Idaho could take a lesson here). I rode to the sites, but no one was there. So, I waited. Pretty soon, two guys rode in. We decided I would take the smaller site, and they would share the bigger one. I gave them $12. Paulo and Jeff are just on a short couple of nights ride. They started at Olallie, and are heading back tomorrow. They had passed me going the other direction (the ones who didn't stop). Funny thing, they have both lived in Olympia. Paulo even knows the guys at Joy Ride Bikes, and also knows my friend Andy! Small world!

Since this is a state park, I got to have a shower! That was great because now everything is dusty again from being on the gravel.
MC and JP are a dust covered mess!

Total miles today: 61.5
Ave. speed: 9.82

Day 46--On the Road Again or...Faulty Memories

I did pretty good this morning getting on the road when I had hoped. I wanted to get going no later than 9:00, and it was 8:58 when I was pulling out.
All the rigs getting packed. Mine is done!
Goodbye Cabin! See ya next year (hopefully)!

All week I had been able to avoid going up the steep part of the Chumstick. Not today. It's not that bad, just a bit over a mile. Then it's downhill all the way to Leavenworth (more than makes up for the climb)!

In Leavenworth, I stopped at Safeway to restock food. I didn't have to get much because I'd been able to take some of the leftover food from the cabin (we always bring enough for a small army). 

Back on Hwy 2, I noticed there was much more shoulder on the eastbound side. I guess this is the first time I've ridden this section in this direction. It was much nicer...until they added a rumble strip. It wasn't the worst (not like Hwy 95 out of Moscow, Idaho).

I took the exit to Hwy 97, to head over Blewett Pass. Hwy 97 was quite warm, and hardly any shade. The incline, however, was not bad. I knew I had to go by Blu-Shastin RV Park before getting to Scotty Creek Rd/Old Blewett. I had stayed there when I last rode to the cabin (via the Coast and Eugene aka, "The Long Way to the Cabin Tour"). It seemed to be further than I remembered, but I finally rode by it (slightly envious of the people swimming in the pool--did I mention it was hot?). I was keeping my eyes peeled for Scotty Creek Rd. Riding, riding, riding... Finally, I had to stop in a patch of shade to eat something (nothing like standing on the side of the highway eating an apple with peanutbutter).

I continued riding, but I was beginning to think I had somehow missed the turn onto Scotty Creek....or was I supposed to turn on Ingalls Creek? No, I was absolutely positive it was Scotty Creek. The climbing wasn't too bad, but I was just one gear down from super granny. I'd already gone through 3 bottles of water (because it was pretty darn hot)! What was great, though, was that since I had placed all but one bottle in the freezer last night (the other in the fridge), I still had ice! 

I was pretty convinced I had missed the turn. I don't know how, but I did not remember it being so far up Hwy 97 to get to Scotty Creek. I was to the point of deciding my blog post would begin with a photo at the Blewett Pass Summit sign along 97, with a caption saying, "What's wrong with this picture?" By the way, the purpose for going over Old Blewett is that it is shorter, less elevation, virtually no cars, and much more shade. A winner all the way around. Oh well, I'd still have the descent...

Then...I saw it, the sign for Scotty Creek Rd/Old Blewett! What the heck? How did I not remember it was this far up 97? I guess, since the last time I was going the other direction, my mind did not register how many miles I went downhill before getting to Blu-Shastin and, since Kyle and I had last done it this direction in 2009...serious bad remembering!
Finally off 97 and on Old Blewett (at almost 31 miles from the cabin).

What I did remember was, from this side, the climb was 6 miles. Like I said, at least there was more shade. By the time I reached the summit, I was down to my last bottle of water (no more ice, but still cold). I wasn't too worried as I knew, from the summit, it was all downhill to Mineral Springs.
200 meters to go until the summit. In racing, we call this the "Zoom"...yeah, there was no zooming.
The summit!
Now you can see it.

On the way down, I had to stop to take this photo.
Purdy, huh?

The descent was fine, just had to watch for potholes. Back out on 97, I only had 4 1/2 miles to Mineral Springs Campground, still going downhill. Across from the campground, there used to be a pretty good restaurant. Sadly, it has been closed for a couple of years now. It's for sale. At least I wasn't counting on it for dinner.

Total miles today: 45.5
Average speed: 8.64