Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Perfect Shakedown Ride

The purpose of a shakedown ride is to try out or practice things before the big trip. In my case, I wanted to try a few things. I got a new sleeping bag and sleeping pad and not only did I want to use them, I also wanted to figure out how I wanted to pack them. My old sleeping bag was much bulkier and my old sleeping pad was abit smaller than the new one. I used to put my sleeping pad in a pannier. This time I put both bag and pad in the waterproof bag that my old sleeping bag used to go into and strapped them next to the tent on top of the rear rack. That makes for a little more space in the panniers. That seemed to work out fine. The other things I wanted to try was boxed mac 'n cheese using powdered milk and to see if a single batch of pancakes was not too much food to eat in one sitting. The mac 'n cheese was okay, but 1 box is alot for one person to eat (yes, Connor eats a whole box easily, but not me). I think I'll check into Easy Mac and see if that might work. The pancakes were great and not too many.
As for the ride itself, it was the perfect shakedown for reasons one may not expect. It started (well, about 1 1/2 miles from home) with a flat tire. As I was changing the flat, I was hoping no one I know would drive by and see all my stuff laying on the sidewalk. So, that took 1/2 hour (have to take all the panniers off and the tent and sleeping bag/sleeping pad combo too. Then put them all back on after the tire is fixed.). Finally, I was on the road. Got as far as Oly HS and had to stop and put my helmet cover on as it had started to rain. I already had all my other rain gear on. I stopped at Blue Heron Bakery on my way out of town. Picked up some granola and a couple of cookies. I also got a slice of raspberry/apple bread and ate it there. It had already been quite awhile since breakfast. I went up Old Hwy 410 to Hwy 8. There is alot of steady climbing for the first few miles. Climbing in full raingear is always soooo much fun!
Along Hwy 8 after McCleary, but before Elma, I caught up to another gal on a bike. She was riding to Oakville. I told her I've done that ride and good for her for getting out in the rain! Since she was riding slower, I said goodbye and continued on. I was following the Google Maps Bike Route so I got off at Fairgrounds Rd. and cut over to McCleary/Elma Rd. Coming into Elma, the directions had me do a weird little detour off Main St. then back on Main. I've been on Main all the way through town before and didn't find it all that difficult. Oh well, something different. Main turns into Monte/Elma Rd. after Elma. The last time I was on this road, I was heading to Lake Sylvia. Just as it was then, the wind was blowing like mad! Makes for slow going. Finally I got to turn off onto E. Satsop Rd. Whew, out of the wind at last! E. Satsop meanders through valleys of farms. At 7.8 miles (the Google directions were very good here) I turned onto the park road. Schafer State Park. It was only 47 miles and had taken me 4 hours and 45 minutes. I hate flat tires!
The park was very nice as were the park staff. The park aide even escorted me to the hiker/biker site! The campground was fairly full (Memorial Day weekend). I got my tent set up, took a shower, ate a bagel and went for a walk around the park. They have some nice well-weed-whacked trails. The park sits along the Satsop River. According to the park ranger, they get alot of cyclists in the summer riding the Pacific Coast Route. He said I was the first for this season. About 10:00pm two more very weary riders arrived (the ranger told me about it this morning). They had come from Seattle. That's a long day! They were still asleep when I left this morning. According to the ranger, they were also doing a practice ride in preparation for a trip down the coast this summer. Who knows? Maybe I'll meet them later.
After my dinner of mac 'n cheese, I was reading and there was either a mower or a generator running. Everytime it would quit, it would make this loud backfire sound. Each time it would make that sound, a guy in another campsite would yell, "Wooooo!!" really loud. Later on, after the backfiring had stopped, he would periodically yell. Several other people throughout the park would "Woooo" back to him. Kind of funny actually.
I went to bed in my toasty new sleeping bag on my super comfy new sleeping pad. Sometime in the middle of the night it started raining. It was still raining when I woke up. I have set up camp in the rain, but I've never packed up in the rain (or cooked breakfast). First I rolled up my therma-rest pillow and put my sleeping bag in it's stuff sack. Then I let the air out of my sleeping pad and rolled it up and stuck it in it's sack. Put them both in the dry sack. Then I got my bike clothes on and put all my raingear on, including my helmet (it's my rainhat). THEN, I cooked my breakfast of pancakes with granola and banana on them (YUM). After doing the dishes, I continued to pack up saving the tent for last. It takes so much longer to pack in the rain as I am trying to keep what should be kept dry, dry. Finally, I was ready to roll.
I had decided to go back the other route Google Maps had suggested along Cloquallum Rd. to W. Delight Park Rd. then to 101 at the Hwy 3 exit. There was another route as well, but it involved a dirt road (Cloquallum Truck Trail). I also had a Mason Co. map. I left the park and turned onto Satsop/Cloquallum Rd. Out of curiosity, while I'm riding, I'm looking for Cloquallum Truck Trail. All I see are forest service roads with closed gates. I'm wondering, is one of these Cloquallum Truck Trail? So, I ride along and pretty soon I come to the intersection of Satsop/Cloquallum Rd. and Cloquallum Rd. I pull out my Mason Co. map and I'm looking for this intersection so I can know which way to turn. Turns out, this particular chunk of Mason Co. isn't on the map! Well, the sign says right to go to Elma. Left to go to Shelton. I figure I don't want to go to Elma so I should go left. Several miles later, I finally see a crossroad that is on the map. So, now I start looking for Delight Park Rd. As I come up on a crossroad, I look and, what do ya know, it's Cloquallum Truck Trail! I decide, WHY NOT? It is a dirt road, but Stella can handle it! Off I go....for about 1/4 mile before the road (excuse me...TRAIL) ends. CRAP! I turn around and go back to Cloquallum Rd. I continue looking for Delight Park Rd. After another several miles I see Lake Isabella to the right. Wait, I'm not supposed to go on that side of the lake! I stop and look at the map again. I see that W. Delight Park Rd. is actually off of Elson Rd. Well, I passed Elson Rd. about 2 miles back! I turn around and go back to Elson. I go down Elson looking for Delight Park. The road is getting narrower and no Delight Park. For that matter, no side roads at all. I see a guy burning brush and stop to ask him if he knows about this road. Of course, he JUST bought the property and knows nothing about the area. I continue on. Pretty soon I see this very steep hill up ahead (by now, the road is barely one lane wide). I shift down to super granny and muscle up the hill. When I get to the top and look ahead, a sign says "End of County Rd" and beyond is a "Private Property/No Trespassing" sign. DOUBLE CRAP!!!! Now I have to go back to Cloquallum and continue on the part I have already been on TWICE! AND, I now realize I am going to have to go all the way into Shelton and backtrack to get onto 101 as Cloquallum does not have an onramp! TRIPLE CRAP!!! And all this time, it is still RAINING! What with all the climbing, the Jacket-of-Awesomeness can not keep up with all the moisture my body is producing so I am rather damp on the inside too. Anyway, I make it to Shelton and stop at the Arcadia Chevron, get a chocolate milk and also use the restroom. From there I headed toward 101 on Hwy 3. I don't particularly like Hwy 3. There is alot of traffic and not much shoulder. At least from Arcadia it is only a mile or two to the junction. I finally got onto 101 and as I was riding I hear this sound that sounds like something is caught in the rear fender. I stop and get off to look and, about that time, the rear tire blows with a loud BANG. QUADRUPLE CRAP!!!! ANOTHER FLAT!! Off comes all the gear...again. New tube put on...again. All the gear put back on...again! I think when I changed the tube before, it got caught between the rim and the tire (aka a "pinch flat"). How I went that long before it blew, I'll never know. Also, it had stopped raining, but while I was changing the flat, it started again. NICE!! When I got to Steamboat Island Rd. I decided to stop at Subway for a late lunch even though I still had food (another bagel and peanut butter). I thought I had earned it! The rest of the ride (still in the rain) was uneventful. With all the backtracking and non-existant roads, I went about 9 miles further than I should have ending with 56.3 miles for the day.
This was the perfect Shakedown ride because, in spite of all the crap, I still managed to make it!
My nice little campsite in the sun (briefly).
The Satsop River. Schafer Park sits alongside it.
I wondered what these curious little red things were until I realized they were pieces of weed-whacker string.
The weed-whacker has been here.
A non-weed-whacked trail (I'm guessing they just hadn't gotten to it yet).

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Hills Are Alive...with the sound of wheezing!

Since I still felt the need to explore a little more of Little Hanaford Rd. and the Hanaford Valley (turns out that really is it's name!), I found a route in "Bicycling the Backroads of Southwest Washington" that was called "Hanaford Valley". It is only a 38 mile loop, but going from home and picking up the route at Bucoda definately made it longer. From Bucoda I continued down 507 until I decided to take a little detour off the route and head up Flumerfelt Rd. Head UP is right! At times the road was so steep I had to shift into Super Granny Gear! I have not encountered many roads that have required me to gear down so low when not loaded down with panniers and stuff (in fact, I can think of only one other hill from the Seattle Century and, who knows, if I hadn't had the stomach flu, I may not have needed Super Granny there!). When I got to the top I thought, "Great! Now I get to go down!" Which I did...for awhile. Then it was up and down all the way back to 507. Even though it was traffic-free and quite scenic (see Zenkner Valley photo), I'm not sure I would do it again.
I continued on 507 toward Centralia and turned on Reynolds Ave. Reynolds goes under I-5 (no onramp or offramp) where I turned on Johnson Rd. and was taken into the area just west of the Outlets. As it was noon and I was hungry, I found a Subway I haven't eaten at and had lunch. From there it was a block back over to Johnson where I continued to Borst Park to use the restroom (yes, I know Subway has one, but there were a ton of people there and I didn't want to leave Stella unattended). After my potty break, I took a couple of back roads to Galvin Rd. and on to Galvin where I went up Joppish Rd. (when I was trying to get lost a few weeks ago--previous post--I had come down Joppish--I think I remembered it as Jobbish). Joppish was a very long climb (as I recall, it was VERY NICE coming down). That was okay because that meant I got to go DOWN Cooks Hill Rd. That little descent was a 14% grade. I got up to 43.9 mph (yep, exceeding the speed limit of 35)! Woo Hoo! That was fun!
I worked my way back into Centralia but only to continue through onto Salzer Valley Rd. It meanders east along Salzer Creek eventually crossing it. I actually saw two other cyclists going the other direction. Saw this one street called Proffitt Rd. I thought it was a little excessive with the "f"s and "t"s.
Eventually I came around to Little Hanaford Rd. further east than I had been before. From there I turned onto Teitzel Rd. again. This time I watched the mileage on the really rough part. Although it seemed like forever, turned out it was only about 2.5 miles.
I still had to do the two climbs on Tono Rd., but that was it since I took the trail back instead of Hwy. 99. Total miles for today: 78

A little detour from the route. Not one I would do again (at least not in that direction).
The view from Zenkner Valley Rd.
Thankfully, going down this time.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Aha! I Found It!

For today's ride, I decided to go back down Big Hanaford Rd. to Teitzel Rd. and see where it went. It was a rather rough chipseal road that followed along what I'm going to call the Hanaford Valley (I have no idea if that is it's real name, but that's what I'm calling it). After about 3 miles or so, the road made a sharp right, became much smoother and went across the valley. It ended at an intersection with...Little Hanaford Rd.! If you recall from a previous post, I had been looking for Little Hanaford Rd. I found it! I turned right and followed it into Centralia where it becomes Marion Rd. and ends up back at 507 just north of downtown. I headed north back up 507. Stopped at a little mom and pop burger shack called Mr. J's for lunch. Took the trail back at Tenino. Caught up to a couple just before the Sculpture Garden. This was the gal's first ride in 2 years after being hit by a car. The neurologist told her she could never ride again. And let me tell you, she was NOT riding slow! Granted, she was on a Bianchi road bike, but I was huffing and puffing to keep up with her! I got first names, but not last. They would be fun to ride with...Total miles for today: 69
The valley along Teitzel Rd.
Just a few tadpoles!
Deer that was on the trail moments before.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A New Experiance While Riding

Today's ride was up 101 to Wallace Kneeland Blvd. in Shelton where I exited the hwy and rode over to Brockdale Rd. Where Brockdale turned, I continued straight and rode McReavy Rd. to the little town of Union on Hood Canal. That, in itself, was not a new experiance. Actually, I hadn't been to Hood Canal that way, nor had I ridden to HC and back in one day. But, still, that wasn't the new experiance. The new experiance was as I was exiting off Hwy 101 at Wallace Kneeland. A woman slows down as she is also exiting and asks me how to get to I-5 from here. She comes to a complete stop on the exit ramp and says she is trying to get to Tacoma (Wallace Kneeland Blvd. is the last exit for Shelton going north). I told her to move ahead and pull over. Turns out, she had been in Shelton and gotten on 101 at the City Center/Matlock entrance. She was trying to go Tacoma. First I told her she could go back to the City Center exit and take Hwy 3 to Gorst, then cross the Narrows Bridge to Tacoma. For some reason, she didn't want to go across the Narrows. So I told her she could just get back on 101 going south and stay on it until it merged onto I-5. That seemed to be what she wanted to do. Seemed like the long way to me. I've never had someone pull over and ask me directions when I've been riding. Let alone on the hwy.!
Anyway, it was a good ride. I was able to take my arm warmers and leg warmers off (still kept the vest on). Total miles for today: 83
Here's some pictures:

The Hood Canal Marina

Across the canal is Potlatch

Purdy Creek along Purdy Cut-Off Rd.

Purdy Cut-Off Rd. A very pleasant road with nice smooth pavement (no shoulder, but no traffic either).

Saturday, May 8, 2010

On Trying to Get Lost (and failing)

What a beautiful Saturday! Sunshine, warming temperatures, all pointing to the need for a nice long ride! In my, always present, quest for uncharted territory, I rode Big Hanaford Rd. from Tono intending to turn on Little Hanaford Rd. (I'd swear I've seen it along there somewhere). No such road. I ended back on 507. So, I rode to Centralia and had lunch at my favorite place, Berry Fields Cafe. I told the waitress I thought I might head to Adna since my Little Hanaford excursion didn't pan out. She gave me a suggestion of how to go since she lives close to Adna. When I got to the road she was talking about, I decided I didn't want to head further south to just have to come back the same way. I just continued heading west. Afterall, I had never been on Cook's Hill Rd. on my bike (once in a car to visit a friends' dad, but not too far down the road). Wow, they don't call it Cook's HILL Rd. for nothing! That sucker was steep! Took the arm warmers and leg warmers off at the top. But, I was psyched! I was on a new road in uncharted territory! I rode along for awhile then came to Jobbish Rd. Hmmm...never heard of that one! So I turned. Woo Hoo! Two new roads! The excitement was building as I started to think of where I might end up. I came down a long hill and to an unknown (or so I thought) tiny burg. I briefly thought, I wonder where I am. That is until I saw a building that said Gavine, then the intersection of Jobbish and Gavine Rd. Oh, I knew exactly where I was. I had been here twice before. Go left and it's back to Centralia. Go right and it's on to Lincoln Creek Rd. Well, I certainly didn't want to go back to Centralia! So I headed along Lincoln Cr. Rd. What road should I happen to pass? The end of Cook's Hill Rd.! As I was riding, I figured I would just ride to Independance Rd. like I have done before. So much for the new roads. Then I came to Michigan Hill Rd. (what's with all these HILL roads???). Hmmm...haven't been that way. Surprise surprise, another BIG hill (saw 5 guys going down as I was going up--I hollered, "It's more fun going UP!" I think they disagreed). Anyway, got to the top and to the next intersection. It was Prather Rd. CRAP! I know Prather Rd! It comes into Old 99 not far from Great Wolf Lodge (been there, done that). Michigan Hill Rd continued to the left. I turned right thinking, fine fine, I'll head to 99. Lo and behold, I come to another street called Lundeen. Hmmm...wonder where that goes? So I turned. Rode along with some great views of the valley below. Then I came down (nice change from going up!) Lundeen to a stop sign. What road should that be? None other than the end of Michigan Hill Rd! Where Michigan Hill ended turned out to be Independance Rd! How is it I keep coming back to these roads I've been on?? At this point, short of heading further from home, I give up and ride on into Rochester (funny thing, this morning as I was leaving, Tim asked where I was going. I said I was going to find Little Hanaford Rd and ride into Centralia. He said, "Oh, you're going to Rochester?" I said, "No, I'm going to Centralia!" Ahem...). One last concession was to ride back via Gate Rd. instead of Littlerock Rd. (which I've been on a million times--Gate Rd.? only 1/2 a million times). after a short time on Gate Rd, a guy passed me (actually saw lots of cyclists today!) Nothing like another rider to get me moving to keep up! We rode together all the way up Waddell Creek and down to Delphi where I turned off to head to Black Lake (he actually realized he didn't want to go in on Delphi and caught up with me just as I was getting ready to turn onto Blacklake/Belmore Rd where we said so long again). Guy's name was Rick and when I was at 70 miles, he was at 115! He was likely older than me too!
The rest of the ride was uneventful. Total miles for this beautiful day: 90!

Cook's Hill Rd.--what I had come up.

Cook's Hill Rd.--What I still had to go up!

The view from the top.

From Lundeen Rd.

And, where is this? Rochester--where I WASN'T going to go today!!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Too bad I'm not doing STP...

With yesterday and today's rides I would be ready to do STP in 2 days! Too bad I'm not doing STP! Today I headed north and did a fair amount of freeway riding. That freeway would be I-5. I got on at Mounts Rd. Got off at Center Drive. Got on again at Dupont Steilacoom. Got off at Ft. Lewis (just the bypass) and right back on. Got off at Berkeley and right back on. Then off at Thorn Lane. Why did I get on and off so much? It is easier and safer to get off at the off ramps and onramps than trying to cross them. Also, there isn't as much shoulder going under the overpasses. Anyway, I did the Perimeter Rd. to Spanaway like I did before then 507 back to Yelm. It was a total of 59 miles; all done after 1:00. All in all, a good day's ride! And, hey, I may not be doing STP, but I will be doing 30 days of 45 to 79 mile rides on my trip down to the California/ Mexico border. I think I'm ready for that too!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Alpacas Galore!

Today I had a meeting at 2:30 so I decided to bike there by taking the long and scenic route. My meeting was actually only about 3 1/2 miles away. The way I went was 54 miles.
Along Hwy 99 between Tenino and I-5 there is an Alpaca ranch called Alpacas of the Americas. I've been by this ranch many times. The alpacas are usually in the fields off from the hwy. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of them. Lots of different colors; brown ones, white ones, black and multi-colored ones. Today as I was heading west, I rode past a small field (more like a grassy area with an overgrown dirt road through it). In this grassy area there were several of the alpacas. They seemed to be headed somewhere. They were really close to the road. Some stopped to look at me. One had hair growing over his (or her) eyes and had to lift it's head to see out from under the hair. They were rolling in the grass and trotting along. It as such an unusual sight that a car had pulled over and was taking pictures just like I was! Here is one of the photos I took.

I'm glad I took the long way!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Super Biker Woman to the rescue!

Great ride today with Leandra and Julie. That is until Leandra's chain got jammed between two cogs on the rear cogset. How does something like this happen? Well, turns out when the cassette lockring is loose, the cogs will do all sorts of wobbling around and if you try to shift, it's not going to work. Normally, this would have been a disastrous, potentially ride-ending problem. But, never fear, Super Biker Woman to the rescue! Yes, strangely enough, I just happen to have a Lockring Removal Tool in my arsenal of tools I carry on Stella.
To back up abit, several months ago I asked my Touring Guru, Patrick at Old Town, what would I do in the event that I broke a spoke on the drivetrain side of the rear wheel (the most common side to break a spoke) while I was touring? He said they used to make a small Lockring Removal Tool (the regular one is quite large to carry). He looked up the company online to see if they still made it. Alas, they did not. So, I was left to hope that if I did break a spoke on the drivetrain side that the emergency spoke kit I carry would allow me to fix it without removing the cassette. Anyway, a couple of months ago when I got my latest Adventure Cycling Source Catalog I noticed that, low and behold, they had a small Lockring Removal Tool. Of course, I immediately ordered it!
Back to today's ride. We had just come up the nasty hill on 79th to Zangle when Leandra's chain got stuck. First, I used my Leatherman's tool to unstick the chain. Then I noticed how loose the cogs were. So, we took the wheel off and I got out my trusty tool and tightened the lockring. Put the wheel back on and, ta-da, problem fixed! Gotta say, PRETTY AWESOME!!
The rest of the ride went well. As for Julie, today was her longest (by double almost) ride ever! 62 miles! Way to go Julie!