Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I Think 800 Miles is Enough Training

The weather was decent today. Cloudy, but no rain. I took Betsy out for a road ride specifically avoiding the trail as I'm sure the trail hasn't been cleared yet (the shoulders of the roads aren't even cleared). As I headed south, I continued to notice how entire hillsides of deciduous trees were dotted with bright spots of fresh scars from all the broken branches. There was a section along the Deschutes River where the top of every tree was broken off. Sorry there are no photos. The effect just didn't show up well on the camera. Since there was still lots of branches on the shoulder, I preferred riding on roads that had no shoulder. Drivers seem to expect you to be on the shoulder regardless of what else is there. If there is no shoulder, then drivers expect you to be on the road. Most drivers will give me more clearance if I'm in the road where there is no shoulder than if I'm in the road where there is a shoulder (even though the shoulder is clearly impassable). Of course, we all know this is true of bike lanes as well. As I was nearing home, I checked my odometer. I now have a little over 800 miles on Betsy. Not too bad as that is just since Mid-November. I feel sufficiently one with Betsy now. I know how she handles in most conditions including loaded. I think I can safely give Betsy her final thorough cleaning and pack her up for New Zealand. I'll just switch back to riding Stella for these last 16 days until departure. 16 DAYS!!! That's just a couple days over two weeks (shiver of excitement coursing through me right now)!!! Miles today:32

Friday, January 27, 2012

Trail Redux

Except this time I went north.

Really, I'm not a glutton for punishment! Yet, once again I headed out to the Chehalis Western Trail. I figured going north would be better. I was right. The section of the trail from Yelm Hwy into Lacey is much more heavily travelled. There are still just as many trees, but it does go through more of a residential area.

For the most part, there was just debris in the form of small twigs with the occasional larger fir branch. Easy to roll over or dodge around. Going toward town, there was only one spot where there were about three birch tree trunks still obstructing the trail. I easily lifted Betsy over them and continued on.

What was a little more treacherous were the patches of ice. One spot in particular worried me enough to make me put my foot down and kind of "scooter" my way through it.

As I approached the side path to Panorama City (a Senior Community), I saw a gal sweeping the trail. Turns out I know her. I stopped and chatted for a bit. I told her she should grab a chainsaw and head further south! Yesterday she had swept the trail all the way to 21st Ave (quite a ways if you're pushing a broom). She is a fellow cyclist, so I told her she was just doing some cross-training! Very nice of her to do it on the trail!

Coming back I decided to take the slightly longer way by continuing past Yelm Hwy on the trail to 67th. Along that way there was a downed tree covering most of the trail and there was a large section of snow and ice. Getting around the tree would have been pretty easy if the snow and ice hadn't been there. I started riding in a narrow wheel track, but felt imminently close to kissing the ground against my will. So, I got off and walked the rest of the way till the pavement was clear.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. Going toward town, I only went as far as the I-5 bridge. I'm sure the trail would be fine for a bit further but, it would likely be bad again further north where it becomes more rural again.

Here are some photos from today. Thanks again to Kris for making the trail nicer.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Could Have Used a Chainsaw!

The sun was shining for the first time in days! After a trip to the grocery store with Stella pulling Mr. Ives, I decided to take Betsy out to the Chehalis Western Bike Path and see how the trail survived the snow and ice. I knew there would be downed branches. I figured I would just carry Betsy over them. my plan was to ride to Tenino to Subway for lunch.

No sooner did I get up onto the trail from Rainier Rd. I had to stop and negotiate some branches. I got through those pretty easily enough and continued on. As I was working my way through another set of branches, a guy came from the other direction on a mountain bike. He said it was passable for about another 400 feet but then there were some big trees covering the trail. Of course I decided to check it out for myself.

Sure enough, I came to a spot where there were at least two whole trees down and numerous branches. I parked Betsy and walked around off the trail and over the tree trunks. I thought if I could just clear a few of the tangle of branches I could create a sort of tunnel enough to get through with Betsy. I broke a number of branches and threw them off to the side. After I had a sufficient hole cleared I went back. I picked up Betsy, carried her over the trunks and wheeled her through the hole I'd created. It wasn't the easiest thing to do, but I'd made it!

I continued down the trail, dodging branches and rolling over the small ones. At this point, I had given up on the idea of even coming close to Tenino and Subway! I just wanted to make it to the next street crossing (ironically a street called Fir Tree Rd.) so I could get off the trail.

Next up was a downed fir tree. I almost gave up, but I didn't want to have to go back the way I had come. Again I walked through, going under a section of the tree. On the other side were several broken branches of another tree. If I could clear out those branches, I might be able to get Betsy under the big tree and through to the other side. On the other side was a grassy path that ran perpendicular to the trail. It is the right-of-way of a pipeline. It was pretty clear (and at least a lot wider than the trail--more room to negotiate). I decided to try to get through, then go on that path (I only had a vague idea of where it led to, but it had to be better than the trail). I cleared away enough branches and went back to get Betsy. I had to carry her on her side (with the seat lowered and the mirror flattened out of the way) under the tree trunk and through the rest of the branches I hadn't been able to clear. Again, we made it!

I pushed Betsy up the grassy path to the top. I was able to get on and ride for short sections (thanks to the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires) along the path. When it would get too bumpy, or I would have to go over a big branch, I would get off and walk.

Finally, I could see a house through the trees and a clearing to the right that led to the house. Hallelujah! A way to get back to the road! I casually rode down the owner's driveway and out into the end of a cul-de-sac. I realized I was in Castle Rock Estates neighborhood. I rode through that neighborhood and the next one out to Fir Tree Rd. From there I just rode Fir Tree to Rich Rd. to Yelm Hwy and home. All told it was only about 11 miles but, it took me over 2 hours! If only I'd had a chainsaw!

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Bad Day to Ride

One of my mottos is, "Never a bad day to ride". After this week, I have tossed that one out the window. With the snow and ice, riding this week would have primarily been an exercise in walking the bike. Yes, I've seen the DIY "chains" for bikes (zip ties around the rim and tire--a great idea if you have disc brakes--which I do, but only on the front wheel of Stella). I'm just glad I haven't had to go anywhere.

Here are some photos to illustrate my point.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

T-minus 1 month and 1 day!

From tomorrow it will be one month until I leave for New Zealand! There is currently snow here which makes it difficult to ride. I'm looking forward to chasing the summer!

Planning a bike tour is like planning a wedding. There is a lot to do at first, but then you just wait until its almost time to go, then there is another flurry of activity. At the beginning of February, I'll give Betsy her final and very thorough cleaning. At that point, any riding around home I do will be on Stella (it is nice to have more than one bike).

I've been looking up possible CouchSurf hosts and Warmshowers hosts. There are several possibilities. Everything else is ready.

The waiting is the hardest part!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Checking off the to-do list

I was having problems with my iPad. It didn't want to connect to the wifi. I took it up to The Mac Store at the mall. It worked just fine there (of course). But, while I was there, I asked if they could update my iPad to iOS 5 (my laptop is apparently too old and decrepit to manage the task). They updated it so now when I'm in New Zealand, I will have more space due to iCloud. Of course, I've learned some things from last year regarding space on my iPad. Mainly, don't download the videos. They take up alot of space.

Because it was such a beautiful day, I opted to ride through town to come home (somewhat longer than going down Tumwater Hill). I stopped and took these photos from the top of 4th Ave. and down by the lake. Even had my sunglasses on!

Miles: ~20
Days until New Zealand: 36

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New way to post a blog

...and this is a test.

I've discovered this app! It will allow me to do blog posts without having to email them to my blog. I'm hoping to be able to post more pictures in one post. So, bear with me while I do a little experimenting.

The first photo should be a shadow picture on Waddell Creek Rd. taken Jan. 1st.
The second should be Shawn in the back.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

1st Ride in the Year of the Apocalypse

...only 358 more days until the world ends. Better get some bike riding done!

As can be seen by the photo, today's pre-apocalyptic ride took us up Waddell Creek Rd to Capitol Forest. The weather turned out to be quite nice. I told Shawn he was the bearer of good weather since every ride I've done with him has been nice (or at least no rain).

The mystery of the day was a certain someone's mood. Ride started out well, but then as we rode South, this person's mood also went south. The other person and I kept asking how they were doing with the answer always being "fine". Yet this person kept riding slower and slower. Then with about 6 miles to go, took off like a barn-sour horse. Go figure?

Total miles for Day 1 in the Year of the Apocalypse: 37
Days until Leandra and I leave for New Zealand: 47