Thursday, September 25, 2008

Catching up on this summer's rides

So, the last post was the STP. I've done a few rides since then--okay, six to be exact. Let's start with the Seattle Century on July 27th. A notable ride in that I did the whole 100 miles with the flu. I'm not talking about the respiratory infection type. It was the stomachache version...and it wasn't pleasant. With the help of ranitadine (Zantac) every 4 hours, I was able to get through it without tossing my cookies (or in this case, my bananas and pretzels as that was the only thing I could eat) until I was on the way home in the car (another sordid part of the story that I won't go into). I was doing okay until the last 13 miles along Lake Washington Blvd. The road was very bumpy which just isn't good with a stomachache. Only good thing was that I lost 10 lbs. I guess if you ride 100 miles burning about 5000 calories and you only eat about 500 or 600 calories and there is that whole vomiting and runs part, you're bound to drop some pounds.

Of course, it didn't all stay off, but some did...for awhile anyway...okay, about a week because next up was the Courage Classic. It is 3 mountain passes in 3 days and some of the best food you could ever want on a ride! This year I raised over $1200 so I get the jersey!! It was a great ride even though the first day, from Snoqualmie to Cle Elum, was rather chilly. Actually, it was so dang cold that the only thing that kept me on my bike was that my feet were attached to the pedals! It was a bone-chilling 42 degrees at Snoqualmie Summit. Now, that may not seem all that cold, but when all you have on is spandex, bike sandals and a light, not so waterproof, jacket, then it is pretty darn cold! It did warm up on the way down the pass and the rest of the ride was plenty warm enough. The cookies at Mineral Springs were the best as usual! Riding Stella was fabulous. Managed to make it up all the passes without ever using my smallest chain ring on the front--even up Steven's!

Another week later, found Leandra, Amy and I heading to Crater Lake to ride the Crater Lake Century. Hands down, the MOST BEAUTIFUL RIDE EVER!!!! It was a rather long drive down there, but worth it. We stayed in Klamath Falls the night before then drove out to the start at Fort Klamath Museum. The first section was not thrilling as the miles were pretty much gratuitis miles (added merely to make the ride a 100 miles). The only event of note in that section was when Stella got knocked over by the rider that came careening off the road at the first rest stop. Of course I made a show of making sure the rider was okay, but I was more worried about Stella. Her chain got knocked off as did her pump and water bottle. She sustained a little damage to her handlebar tape as well. Frankly, I was just glad I wasn't on her when it happened (I was waiting in the ever-present potty shack line). Had that been the case, it would most certainly been the end of my ride for the day! As it was, Stella was okay and we continued on. The ride up to the rim was good even with the long climbs. I left Amy and Leandra behind at the second stop. I met a gal named Becky and we pretty much rode the rest of the way together. The weather was hot--95 degrees at the rim (unusually warm) and the butterflies were everywhere. Several sacrficed their lives in the spokes of my wheels. One learned quickly to keep the mouth shut when descending or add a little butterfly protein to the day's food intake!

After the ride there was a nice BBQ and then we headed home. Again, a very long drive. I was just thankful I didn't have to do the driving (thanks Matt!).

The weekend after Crater Lake I did the Rapsody (Ride Around Puget Sound in one day). Most of us did the ride in 2 days with the overnight at Shelton H.S. The first day was really beautiful with a nice long section along the water. I could even see the skyline of Seattle in the hazy distance. I got to Shelton pretty early. I guess that means I could have either done the whole thing in one day (170 miles) or I could have slept longer in the morning! I'm thinking sleeping longer would have been the better option. The second day was on roads I had been on before so it was a bit boring. I even stopped at home since the route came 1/4 mile from my house! I used my own potty shack then returned to the ride with 30 miles to go. I caught up with a guy named William who I had seen various times and passed him. He stuck close behind me, drafting for awhile, then pulled in front so I could draft off him. He then got behind another gal and we drafted off her all the way to the freeway. William went ahead of her, but she didn't stay behind him so I pulled around her and caught back up to him. We got off the freeway and got behind a kid and his dad. The kid was riding pretty fast, but we were able to keep up. When we turned off of Dupont-Steilacoom Rd., William got behind the kid, I got behind William and the dad got behind me. We cruised along N. Gate Rd. going 25-26 mph. At the stop sign, the kid looked back and realized we had lost his dad. William and I continued to the next light where we were stopped.I told William that was CRAZY FAST riding! He said he was never so glad to get to a stop sign! We continued on into Tacoma with one last really big climb (which William stood up to pedal the whole way up!!!). William and I talked about touring and I told him about touring with my oldest son. He asked how old my son is and when I told him he was 20, he said, "Were you 13 when you had him?" Really, I think he just didn't want to admit that someone my age could keep up with him! But, I accepted the compliment anyway. We managed to finish the ride moments before it started to rain (I told William it wasn't going to rain on us!). Strangely, the kid and his dad were already there when we got to the finish. Me thinks they took a short-cut.

On Labor Day weekend, I decided to take the opportunity to get in one last "mini-tour". I loaded up the panniers and headed out alone to Lake Sylvia State Park in Montesano for the first night. My goal was to stay off of Hwy 8 as much as possible. I rode up Old Hwy 410 (after the obligatory stop at Blue Heron Bakery to stock up on some goodies--see, that's why I don't lose weight on these rides). Then rode for abit on Hwy. 8 to the Summit Lake exit. Got off and rode by Summit Lake and the Boy Scout camp then returned to 8. After a number of miles along the Hwy, I was able to get off at Mox-Chehalis Rd. and ride into McCleary. From McCleary, I was able to stay off the Hwy all the way to Montesano. The campground was full, of course, for the holiday weekend but, the Hiker/Biker sites were empty. I went to my site, set up my tent and went to take a shower. When I returned, there was another guy on the other site. His name was Kelvin and he was riding from Vancouver, BC to Ashland, OR. We chatted for abit, then he went back down to Montesano to buy some dinner fixins. After he returned and had showered, another couple came in on bikes. Kelvin asked if I had room on my site (it was rather large--Kelvin's was small) for this French couple. I said sure, and they set up their tent on the other side of the site. They were Sebastian and Sarah and they were riding from Anchorage to Argentina! They had started in Anchorage on June 9th. There plan was to take 20 months to do the ride. I asked how 2 people their age could get away for almost 2 years. Sarah had just finished university and Sebastian's employer said they would hold his job for him. France seems like a great place! Later on, as we were sitting at the picnic table (Kelvin too) and talking about various route options a young Korean kid comes up and asks if we have room. We asked how big his tent was. Turned out we had plenty of room. Sammy was a student at UW and he was biking from Seattle to San Francisco before he started school. He was riding a mountain bike he had got off Craig's List for $75. Kelvin remarked how the chain needed alittle lube. So, here I was in this small state park with a Canadian, 2 French kids and a Korean kid. They were all getting to go much farther than me. I was envious!

The next morning I packed up my stuff, said goodbye to my new biking friends and headed toward Rainbow Falls State Park via Raymond and Hwy 6. I would have waited for Kelvin as he was headed to Raymond also, but I had more miles to go that day then he did, and he was awhile from being ready. The ride to Raymond was mostly through clear-cut forest areas. I got rained on briefly, but not enough to put my rain gear on. When I got to Hwy 6 in Raymond, I notice there was a bike trail along the Hwy. I got on it thinking, "Wow, this is great!". About 2 miles down the trail it turned to gravel. At the next opportunity, I got off and got on Hwy. 6. I stopped at a little gas station/mini-mart because I needed to pee. On the door was a sign that said, "No Public Restroom". As I was abit desperate, I said to the gal, "I know you don't have a public restroom, but can you tell me how far to the next one?" She said about 25 miles. I winced and said, "Oh, that's not good!" She graciously let me use her bathroom! I bought an ice cream bar. I got back on the road and continued riding toward Rainbow Falls. As I was getting closer, I saw a sign that said "Rainbow Falls State Park" with an arrow pointing left. I didn't think that was the way I was supposed to go, but the sign said so, so I turned. I kept following the signs and following the signs and following the signs with still no sign of the park. I did, however, see a donkey by the side of the road. He wasn't behind a fence or tethered or anything. In my best Mike Meyers as Shrek voice, I said, "Donkey! Where's the park?" He didn't respond (not even in an Eddie Murphy voice). He just ran down the driveway. Well, about a mile later I finally got to the park. It had been a 65 mile day and I was tired. I got my site and set everything up. As I got out of the shower, I heard a noise. It was pouring down rain! I ran back to my campsite because, although my panniers are waterproof, that only works when they are closed...which they weren't. I closed them up, threw the one that had my rain gear in the tent, got in the tent myself and zipped the rainfly closed. It rained for awhile. I put my rain gear on and went out to retrieve the other panniers and put them under the rain fly vestibules. I thought about trying to cook my dinner under the rain fly, but abandoned that idea when I realized there really wasn't enough clearance to not burn down my tent! Anyway, it stopped raining. I went to light my stove for my dinner and the matches were damp so they wouldn't light (lesson learned--don't bring matchbooks). The camp host gave me a small box of wooden matches so I was able to heat up my dinner. After dinner I cleaned up and retired to my tent to read and listen to music. There wasn't anyone else in the Hiker/Biker sites, so no one to talk to.

In the morning I packed up my wet tent and headed for home. Riding by the South Chehalis river, I noticed all the houses were new. They had all been destroyed in the floods last winter as was the park. That was the reason for the long detour to the back entrance of the park. The bridge to the front entrance had been washed away and not rebuilt yet. I saw a house under construction that had a sign out front that said, "Coming Home Soon". I also saw many "For Sale" signs...

I stopped at a market in Centralia and picked up some lunch (where is a Subway when you want one???). I took it around the corner to Schaffer County Park. After I was done eating and was packing stuff up, a young couple came up and asked if I was travelling far. I told them I was on my way home and where I had gone. After awhile, they introduced themselves as Greg and Susie. Then Greg said they were from Calvery Christian Church and would I like to come over and talk to them about God? I politely declined saying I needed to get home and get my wet tent dried out before nightfall. I found it interesting that they were out trolling for converts at a county park on a holiday! I guess you never know!

I made it home without any other incidents. My next ride was this last weekend. It was the Tour des Lacs from Spokane to Couer d' Alene, ID. Julie, Theresa and I drove to Spokane on Friday and stayed with Annette. We started the ride in the morning from the Red Lion Inn. I did the longer route. It was supposed to be 110 miles. Then the route guide said 108 miles. It turned out to be 102 miles. It was a very nice ride. I headed south out of Spokane (up the South Hill) toward Pullman. For a long time I was closer to Pullman than the end of the ride! I came into Idaho at Plummer where I had lunch at the reststop. Then it was onto the Trail of the Couer d' Alenes and the best part of the ride! It started out with a 2 mile 3% downgrade! Then I got to go over Lake Couer d' Alene on a bridge that was the part of the trail. I spent about 15 miles on the trail before the route departed from it. As I got to I-90 (and went on I-90 for a short bit) I picked up the Centennial Trail. This was the trail that Julie, Theresa and Annette had ridden on (not the same section, but the Centennial Trail goes all the way to Spokane). I finished with 7 and a half hours of ride time at 2:51PM. I rode to the hotel where we were staying and met up with the rest of the gals.

The next morning we woke to rain. Fortunately, I had packed my rainpants and my helmet cover! It rained the entire 40 miles back to Spokane on the Centennial Trail. I spent time riding with each of the gals. Toward the end I got ahead with the idea of taking their pictures as they finished. Because of the rain, I hadn't been able to take any pictures that day. Anyway, I followed the signs to the finish and waited for them to come in. I waited and waited. Finally, I started seeing people I hadn't seen at all that day. I gave up and went around to the front of the hotel. There was Julie's bike parked at the front door. I noticed her suitcase was gone so I went inside to look for her. Couldn't find her anywhere so I finally went into the restroom and started changing out of my wet clothes. Julie came into the restroom as I was changing. She had been in room 104; a room they had opened up for people to change in. Annette and Theresa had just come in and were there changing too. So, I didn't get my finish line pictures of them. They had come in the way they had left the day before which was different than what the signs said! I did get pics of everyone with their baked potatoes!

So, that's it for the rest of the summer. I did lots of great rides and enjoyed all of them! I'm looking forward to doing more touring next summer. Julie and I are hoping to do a two-week ride down the Pacific Coast to celebrate her turning 50. I would also like to do the 3 National Parks route loop that I got from Adventure Cycling. So many little time! Oh yeah, and I want to go to France too!!!

Here's some pictures:

Courage Classic
Crater Lake--The most beautiful ride!