Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What a Nice Flagger Guy!

This morning I hooked up Mr. Ives to Stella for a shopping trip to Costco. As I was riding down Yelm Hwy, there was a tiny bit of construction blocking one of the two westbound lanes. As I got closer, the flagger turned the sign to stop, but waved me through. I couldn't see any reason why he was stopping traffic. Then it occurred to me, he was stopping the cars behind me so I could ride through without any traffic breathing down my neck. What a nice flagger guy!

Below is a photo of my Costco purchases. Among the not-so-heavy stuff there is a 10 lb. bag of chicken, a large bottle of laundry detergent, and 2 gallons of milk. It was a rather slow slog home.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Another Almost Century or...

Good Thing We Didn't Take the Ferry Today!

In our continuing quest to prepare ourselves for the STP in one day, I planned a route that would give Lorraine her first century ride, and me about 78 miles (having just done 97.5 on Saturday, I didn't really need to do another century so soon). Due to weather, Lorraine ended up driving to my house. From there we headed to Gig Harbor. Yes, I just was up that way on Saturday, but I have ridden north far fewer times than any other direction, so I'm okay going again. Besides, Saturday was to Vashon, today was Gig Harbor (totally different...rrriiiiggghhhttt!).

We did the Steilacoom, then up Chambers Creek Canyon route. The ride across the Narrows Bridge was windy, but beautiful as always. We rode past the Gig Harbor Subway as it was a little early for lunch. We rode to the end of the Cushman trail (yes, up and down all the 8 and even 10% hills!). At the end, instead of coming back on the trail like I had done before, we came down to the road and rode into Historic Gig Harbor along the water. The plan was to come back up Pioneer Way and go to Subway for lunch. I mistakenly thought I had ridden up Pioneer before (back in December 2011). Not only was I mistaken, but it was a mistake to go up Pioneer. That was one extremely steep hill! I was out of the saddle for about 1/3 of it! It was just plain nasty!!! But, I made it without walking (barely).

We got to Subway (checked another one off the list!) and had lunch. As we were doing pretty good on time, I suggested we add the ride to Point Defiance (and the 5 mile loop) to increase Lorraine's mileage for the day (did I not realize it would increase mine too???).

We came back across the bridge and rode down to Point Defiance. This time there was alot more people driving the 5 Mile Drive (semi-sunny Memorial Day so not surprising). As we were nearing the last couple of miles of the loop, we rode past a raccoon having a snack of crackers someone had dropped on the ground by the side of the road. He (or maybe she) didn't even budge from the crackers as we rode by. So, of course, I had to turn around and get a couple of photos. As I got closer, he acted like he was going to take off. I would just stop moving and he would go back to his snacking. Then I would move closer until he noticed me again. Then, I'd stop again. I finally got as close as I wanted and snapped a couple of photos. About that time a gal was walking up with two big dogs. The raccoon wisely gave up on the crackers and waddled into the bushes.

Later on down the road, another raccoon went strolling across the street in no great hurry. Did I mention there we're alot of cars on the 5 Mile Drive? The masked bandit managed to make it to the other side safely.

Lorraine and I finished the 5 Mile Loop and headed back up Pearl. We returned the same way we had come through Chambers Creek Canyon and Steilacoom. We found a little rain in Steilacoom; enough for me to put the sleeves back on my jacket and put my leg warmers back on.

As we returned to Lacey, I, again, offered a longer option to get home so she could get closer to 100 miles. By the time we finally pulled into my driveway, we had gone 92.5 miles--so much for my 78 mile day!

When I got home there was an interesting text from my friend Carol (who I rode with to Vashon on Saturday). She rode to Vashon again today. While Lorraine and I were enjoying the 5 Mile Loop around Point Defiance, Carol was stuck over on Vashon waiting for a ferry that never came. Apparently, the ferry she and I had taken Saturday was having problems. She waited at the ferry dock on Vashon for 5 hours before they finally said there would be no ferry tonight. She was on her Bike Friday and had panniers, but all she had in them was weights to simulate a load. She didn't even have any food (she had planned to buy some lunch in town, but had instead decided to catch the 1:00 ferry home). When the ferry dock worker told everyone there would be no ferry, a kind gentleman offered to give her and her bike a ride to a motel where Carol managed to get a discounted room for $100. She dropped off her weighted panniers and the gentleman then gave her a ride to the grocery store so she could get some food and at least a toothbrush and toothpaste. She rode her bike back to the motel and will spend the night, hoping there will be a ferry tomorrow. I told her to keep her receipts and send a copy to the Washington State Ferry System for reimbursement. During the loading of her bike into the guy's car, somehow the front derailleur got messed up (wouldn't shift into the smallest ring--quite necessary on hilly Vashon). I was able to talk her through finding the problem (the cable was hung up) and fixing it over the phone. She was very grateful.

I guess I'm glad the ferry debacle didn't happen Saturday. However, it would have been an adventure!

Here's a couple photos of the raccoon and another one of the crazy hilly Cushman trail signs.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Nice Island Ride With Carol, But...

First I had to get there!

I've ridden Vashon Island twice. Both times I've driven to the ferry dock with the bike on the bike rack. The first time was a supported ride called the Ride for US (Ultrasound) a number of years ago. The second was the fateful December ride when I crashed on the way back (not while on Vashon). Both of those rides were not the best weather. The Ride for US was a very foggy morning in September. The December ride was, well...December. Today's weather was perfect!

But, as I said, first I had to get there. I mapped the shortest route which was basically the hop-on-hop-off the freeway route to Gravelly Lake, then to Bridgeport Way. I rode Bridgeport/ Jackson to 6th, then over to Pearl St. where I met Carol (she rode from her house. It was 31 miles from my house to 6th and Pearl. It only took me 2 hours--even with all the traffic lights.

Carol and I made it to the ferry dock at Pt. Defiance with plenty of time before the 10:55 ferry. Nice friend that Carol is, she brought me a banana which I happily scarfed down while waiting for the ferry.

They have a new ferry on this route. It's called the Chetzemoka. There are the usual ties for bikes on the vehicle deck, but on the second level, there is indoor space for about 30 more bikes! There is even a ramp along the stairs to wheel the bikes up! The ferry personnel seem to think it is a waste of space. I think it beats stacking the bikes umpteen deep on the vehicle deck!

On Vashon, we rode some of the many hills, past beautiful views of the sound, past sweet farms, and to the heart of "Downtown Vashon". The downtown area was bustling with people enjoying the nice weather and holiday weekend. There were bikes parked everywhere and cyclists sampling the goods of the various shops. Carol and I pulled in for tea (for Carol) and lavender lemonade (for me) and huge delicious brownies (so much for my "no sugar" plan) at Luna Café. After that, we literally went around the corner to Thriftway and had panini sandwiches (I have no problem with eating dessert first!).

After lunch, Carol went into the Ace Hardware store next to Thriftway to buy electrician's tape. She got a roll of black and a roll of yellow. I only mention this because we were both on our road bikes, thus, not alot of space to carry things (like rolls of tape!). She managed to tuck them in somewhere.

As we were working our way back to the ferry, we pulled into the seemingly one and only camping place on Vashon. It is part of YHA (Youth Hostel Assoc.). They have cute little cabins, tepees, and plenty of tent space. There is a remodeled barn with a full kitchen, restroom/shower facilities, TV lounge, and pool table. We decided we should do a bike overnight there. For me it was 50 miles from home--totally doable for a touring day.

Back at the ferry dock we watched some good size crabs scuttling along in the water near the beach. There were also a couple of huge purple sea stars attached to the pilings of the ferry dock. We boarded the ferry and had a very nice, but short sailing back to Point Defiance. At that point, Carol and I parted--she for the 20 minute or so ride to her home and me for the 35 mile or so ride back to my house.

Since I didn't feel like going the freeway route again, I went down Chambers Canyon (soooo much more fun to go down than up) and along the water to Steilacoom. Of course, I had to climb the hill up from Steilacoom, but I just put it in granny gear and listened to music from the Rock It.

I made it back home by 6:30. It was 97.5 miles and a whole lot of beautiful scenery! Here's some photos. Saw three bald eagles today! Not that you can really see, but in the photo of the flag pole, there are two bald eagles sitting on top!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Riding to the Rock It!

I have a route I call "The Big Loop". I also have a route I call "The Big Big Loop". Today I did "The Big Big Loop". I take the road from Lacey out to Yelm. From Yelm I get on the Yelm/Tenino Trail and ride to Tenino. For "The Big Loop", I would head back toward home on Hwy. 99 north. For "The Big Big Loop", I continue on Hwy 99 toward I-5 to Grand Mound then on to US 12 to Rochester. At Rochester, I head north on Littlerock Rd. through Littlerock, and up to Tumwater. From there it's about 8 miles to home.

When I had my bike on the trainer earlier this week due to crappy weather, I rigged my Rock It speaker so I could listen to music without headphones. The Rock It 2.0 is a product from Origaudio (featured on the Shark Tank) that turns anything into a speaker. Well, truthfully, it turns anything hollow into a speaker. I took an empty spare tube box and taped it to the top tube near the headset (really high tech here). Then I attached the speaker to the box and ran the cord to the small handlebar bag I have under the aero bars. The cord attaches to the Rock It unit and the unit connects to my iPhone (see the photos below). Today I listened to iPod music, but I can also listen to Pandora. The Rock It unit is powered by two AAA batteries. They crapped out just before Rainier, so I stopped and bought two more. One of the things that is great is the Rock It doesn't seem to drain the phone battery very quickly. This is good because I want to use it when touring this summer. So, I listened to music for the entire 3 hour and 50 minute ride. I think it helped bump up my average speed (that and the fact that the route was not very hilly). Over 63.8 miles, my average was 16.6mph! I'll take it!!!

By the way, if you are thinking, "Hey, I want to get one of those Rock It 2.0 things!" Don't get it from the Origaudio website. Get it from Amazon. They are half the price ($18) on Amazon. It really is a pretty nifty device.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Strangely The Same, But Different

Day 2 of the Millersylvania Shakedown.

Wowza! It was cold last night! Fortunately, I was snug and warm in my little tent in the forest (I bet those little baby ducks were snuggled up to the mama!). I slept with my polar buff and my Possum/Merino gloves. I was cocooned in the thermal liner inside my down sleeping bag. Yep, nice and warm...until I had know...pee. Then it was out into the cold...arrrggg!

The day dawned sunny. It was just a matter of waiting for the sun to chase away the cold temps. Carol and I fixed our breakfasts of oatmeal, muesli, and fruit. My experiment of just adding boiling water to the muesli and letting it sit for a bit worked just fine (usually, at home, I cook it).

In no great hurry, we packed up our stuff. We got on the road at 10:00. We had originally planned to go back the way we came. Instead we decided to make a loop of it. We headed back south to Maytown Rd., then west to Case Rd. At Case Rd. we headed north to 113th. Then it was over to Littlerock Rd. and back into Tumwater. We stopped at Subway for lunch (but, of course--Carol is as enamored with Subway as I am). From there I realized we only had 8 miles to go if we went the shortest way making for just a 20 mile day. Carol had asked about the Farmers' Market, so we decided to ride down there. We came down along Capitol Lake (Carol said she felt like she was really touring) and over to the Market.

We locked up the bikes and strolled around the Farmers' Market. I bought some Pink Lady apples and some granola. From the Market, we rode over to the Woodland Trail and home from there. When we got home we had gone, within a couple of tenths, the same distance as yesterday only a completely different way.

The shakedown was successful all the way around. Carol now knows she can ride her Bike Friday fully loaded with ease (I knew she could--she just wasn't convinced). Dinner and breakfast were both successes. Surviving the cold was even a success (although, hopefully, we won't experience such cold temps in June and July).

Here's just a couple of photos. One is Carol swapping from her Showers Pass jacket into her light shell (it warmed up nicely). The other is Betsy at the Market.

Millersylvania Shakedown Deux

Yes, this is my second time to do a shakedown ride to Millersylvania. The first was in '09 with Julie before our Oregon Coast trip. This time I'm with Carol who will be doing the Olympic Penninsula ride with Christian and I (Christian is not here because, of course, he lives in Germany!).

We took the longish route here of 27 miles (via the trail to Tenino). We saw all the alpacas along Old Hwy 99. It was somewhat sunny, but not terribly warm.

After lunch at Subway in Tenino, we arrived at the park at 2:45 (left home at 10:40). Since its Friday, there are a number of other campers at the park (mostly motor homes though). We have the entire Hiker/Biker area to ourselves. One nice thing about Washington State Parks is the fee charged is per site not per person. So, Carol and I each only paid $6.

We set up our tents, then walked down to the lake. At the fishing dock, there was a mama duck and 10 little ducklings. They were so cute, but I had forgotten to bring my camera with me on the walk (what's with that? I always have my camera with me!). I even went back with my camera, but the baby duck show was over.

We cooked an awesome dinner of pasta with reconstituted marinara sauce. We put shiitake mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, and spinach in with the pasta. We also had some broccoli and I had an avocado. It was all quite delicious!

It's great to be back in my tent again. I've spent so many nights in here that it really is my second home! It is supposed to get pretty cold tonight (in the 30s). Fortunately, I brought my sleeping bag liner and my warm woollies.

Tomorrow we'll have a leisurely ride back. Probably eating lunch at Subway again.

Here's a few usual, they are out of order (wish I could figure out why this app does that).

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Alpha Centauri or...

The Longest One Day Ride South (not counting STP)

Today was another sunny May day. Not as warm as Tuesday's ride, but actually a little more pleasant.

Lorraine and I headed south from The Valley Athletic Club a little before 11:00 this morning. I had mapped a ride that would take us further south than I had been before on a one day ride. For me the distance would be about 88 miles roundtrip.

It was pretty much a straight shot on 99 to Tenino and then another straight shot to Centralia on 507. At Centralia we rode over to the Subway off Mellen St. near I-5 for lunch.

At Schaffer Park, 4 miles from Centralia, we stopped to use the potty shack. I didn't see the Sani-Can, but did see the open door of the restroom. Both Lorraine and I went in to use the facilities. As we were coming out a somewhat fired-up gentleman comes to the door of the restroom and tells us the restroom is closed. I said, "But, the door is open." What he was worried about was the fact that the water was not potable. No duh, there were big signs above the sinks saying, "Water NOT Potable At This Time"! He pointed out the Sani-Can. I told him I hadn't seen it because it had been moved. Since the door to the restroom was wide open, I figured the Sani-Can had been removed because the restroom building was now open. Oh well! Personally, I'll take my chances in a restroom (that had just been cleaned) without potable water than a Sani-Can any day!

So, after lunch, we got back on the STP route to go around the backside of the Chehalis Airport. Then we rode through downtown Chehalis on Market Street to Jackson Hwy. When we passed Rush Rd. on Jackson Hwy. I was now in new territory!

We followed Jackson Hwy to Logan Hill Rd. When I was mapping the route, I thought to myself, "Logan Hill Rd. I'm guessing there is a hill involved...". The road did not disappoint. It climbed steadily for about a mile or so. Then it leveled off with just some slight rollers.

We followed Logan Hill to Centralia Alpha Rd. in my head I kept thinking of it as Alpha Centauri Rd. At one point, there was a great view of the valley with the Centralia Steam Plant way off in the distance (see photo below). Finally we had a decent long downhill into the valley and over to Saltzer Valley Rd.

From there it was a short distance back to Centralia where we rode back to Olympia the same way we had come.

The wind had been pretty nasty out on "Alpha Centauri" Rd. and Saltzer Valley. Heading back up 507 it was more of a tailwind/crosswind. Made for a much faster ride.

Overall, a great ride today. It was fun to be on "new" roads (even a road that is a "star"!).

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Betsy Goes Back to Her Birthplace

A couple of weeks ago Bike Friday posted on Facebook about this ride in Eugene called People for People. It didn't have a fundraising minimum. I thought it would be a good opportunity to take Betsy in the suitcase on the train back to her birthplace. I could visit Kyle (oldest son) and stay with him.

I practiced packing Betsy in the case to where I could do it in 30 minutes. On the morning of the train ride, I rode over to the train station pulling the case as a trailer (the trailer attachment borrowed from my friend Carol). At the station I packed up Betsy and even managed to get the lid closed on the first try!

As I went to board the Coast Starlight train, the conductor said, "Now, that case is too big and I could tell you you can't take it on the train. But, I'll let you on. Next time put it in two smaller bags." I told him it was a bike. He said I would have to get off in Centralia or Tacoma (of course, Centralia doesn't work either as it is not a luggage stop for the Coast Starlight). Anyway, he was gracious enough to let me on. Well, there was plenty of space in the luggage area of the car I was in. Even when I got off in Eugene from a very full train, there was still room.

I put Betsy back together and rode to Kyle's apartment. He had met me at the station and walked back. We went to a Subway I haven't eaten at for dinner.

Check-in for the ride started at 7:00am Saturday morning at Armitage Park about 6 miles from Kyle's apartment. I left just shortly after 6:30. I made my way to the park. It was sunny, but a little chilly (kind of ALOT chilly). I got my rider number (42), put it on my jersey (under my jacket), stowed the "goodie bag" on my trunk bag, and hit the road. I was doing the 100km route.

In the sun, it was pretty comfortable. In the shade?...not so much. I had my Keen Arroyo sandals on. My feet were a little numb. I just kept reminding myself it was supposed to get to 85 degrees. I was glad I had my jacket and knee warmers.

The ride went out into the countryside on quiet, low traffic roads (except for the packs of motorcycles). We went through a few towns that started with "M"--Marcola, Mabel, Mohawk Valley. I even went across a covered bridge. I made pretty good time.

Over the 100km route there were four rest stops. They had the usual trail mix, bananas, oranges, etc. They also had a variety of gourmet peanutbutters. Since I LOVE peanutbutter, I sampled all the flavors as I came to each rest stop. My favorite was cinnamon raisin peanutbutter. I thought my favorite would have been the chocolate coconut peanutbutter (it didn't really taste chocolaty or coconutty).

As I was riding along, I passed a gentleman. I asked him if he was having fun. He said he really wasn't. He was tired. The last big hill (it was a doozy) had taken it out of him. I asked him if he was drinking enough (it was getting warm by then--I was down to shorts and jersey). He thought he should probably drink more. I offered him a gel which he gratefully accepted. I told him it was too nice of a day to not be having fun.

I also met another Bike Friday rider, a guy named Allen. He was pretty fast. Below is a photo of his BF.

With about 7 miles to go, the route turned back south and I had a nice tailwind the whole way back to the park. I arrived at the finish at 12:30.

At the finish was a lunch of chili, cornbread and salad. The best part was the chocolate milk! After eating I rode back to Kyle's.

Later, Kyle and I rode on one of the riverside trails to the mall where we had dinner at Red Robin (Kyle treated me to dinner for Mothers' Day). In the end, I rode 82 miles today!

As for tomorrow's train ride back, if they say I can't take the case on the train, I'm just going to play dumb and tell them they let me bring it on to come to Eugene. My fingers are crossed.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

100 Miles and a Whole Lotta Gratuitus Hills!

For planning on a century ride, I sure didn't get a very early start! I pulled out of my driveway at 9:45. But, hey, the weather was nice and the days are getting longer--plenty of time!

I wasn't really sure where I wanted to go, but with such sunny (if not a little chilly) weather, I thought a ride along the water might be nice. So I headed north. I rode down to Steilacoom and along the water to Chambers Canyon. Up Chambers Canyon and a right turn at the stop sign. As I was riding along, through a multitude of roundabouts, I noticed what looked like a bike path to my left. At the next roundabout I headed over to it. I had no idea where it went or what it was called, but I thought, why not? I got to a trail head parking lot. The map wasn't that easy to understand, but it looked like it headed in the direction I wanted to go--or so I thought. I continued on. Pretty soon, I was doing a series of steep downhill switchbacks. At the bottom, the trail went back the direction I had come. I thought, uh oh, I bet I'm going to have to go back up. Sure enough, I was just doing a big loop (called the Soundview Trail) and I had to go back up to get back to the road. At least that explained why I didn't see any other cyclists (lots of walkers though). No one who knows this trail would be stupid enough to ride a bike on it!

After I returned to where I had started this folly, I got back on the road. I rode Grandview to 27th. But, instead of turning onto 27th (didn't want to go up the hill) I continued on Grandview. When I got to 19th, the end of Grandview, my choice was to go up an even steeper hill! Well CRAP! I went up as far as the next street, then cut back over to 27th which was not as steep. By this time I was getting pretty hungry. I figured there had to be a Subway somewhere close by. Sure enough, as I came to the intersection of 27th and Bridgeport Way, there was a Subway! While I was eating my lunch, I contemplated where I wanted to go next. I mapped riding across the Narrows Bridge to Gig Harbor. It was only 7.3 miles. Perhaps I would ride to the Gig Harbor Old Town Bicycle store. Jason, the previous manager at the Olympia store, is at the Gig Harbor store so I thought I would stop in and say hi.

After going across the bridge, I got on the Cushman Trail. I've ridden it before on the Rapsody Ride. However, now they have finished Phase 2. So I rode that too. Phase 2 could possibly be the hilliest trail I have ever been on! Multiple 8% grades and a couple of 10% suckers as well! Then, the trail ended. I looked at Google Maps. Turns out I had ridden right past Old Town. I was so busy watching for Cushman Trail signs, I completely missed it. That meant I had to go back up and down the hilly Phase 2 part of the Cushman Trail.

I made it back to Old Town and surprised Jason. He was impressed I had ridden there from home. I told him I really wanted a 100 miles and when I turned around at the end of the Cushman Trail I was only at 43 miles. Jason suggested going to Point Defiance and doing the 5 mile loop. That would give me 100 miles. So, back across the bridge I went and then to Point Defiance. The 5 mile loop is definitely an up and down affair! There are lots of great viewpoints along the way though, so I didn't mind. At the end of the loop I had to (of course) go back up the hill on Pearl.

I turned on 6th to head back to Bridgeport Way. I wasn't going to go back down to the water, but instead, stay on Bridgeport to Gravelly Lake. Then, I did the hop-on-hop-off-the-freeway route back to Mounts Rd. It was great riding on the freeway going FASTER than the traffic! Poetic actually! was still not going to be 100 miles! When I got back into Lacey, I took the Woodland Trail to Chehalis Western instead of going the back way through the neighborhoods. As I turned into my driveway, my odometer clicked over to 100.1 miles. WOO HOO!!! I did it! I got home at 7:30. Would have been earlier if I had actually started earlier!

It seemed like every hill I went down today, I had to go back up. Average speed was pretty low at 13.8, but not too bad considering the hills...I guess.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Pack Mule-Cheetah-Pack mule

Ahhh...a nice sunny day! Great day for a ride...but...first I needed to go pick up my jacket I left at Panorama yesterday. And, I really needed to go to the grocery store. No problem! I'd pull Mr. Ives to Panorama, pick up the jacket, then ride back to the grocery store. Then, after that was done I would go for a ride. So, that's what I did. Except, on the way back from picking up the jacket, I passed two friends going the other direction on their road bikes. I went back to say hi. They said I should come along. Pulling the trailer? I don't think so! Instead I said we could ride back to my house where I could change into actual biking clothes and swap Stella and Mr. Ives for my road bike. They agreed, so back we went to my house where I, presto-chango, got into road biking clothes and grabbed a water bottle.

We did a nice 32 miler out to Woodard Bay and took the road back into town where we stopped at Bayview Thriftway for some lunch. A nice ride around the lake, and we were back to Amy's by 12:45.

However, I still hadn't gone grocery shopping. So, when I got home, I just stayed in my bike clothes and went to the store on Stella.

I went from the pack mule (Stella--but don't tell her I called her a pack mule) to the cheetah (Star--my Trek) and back to the pack mule! A great day (although Betsy, the Little Red Bike Friday was feeling left out) for multiple bikes riding!