Thursday, January 31, 2013

Not an Ordinary Night Ride

We had a good crowd tonight. There was a light misting rain, but it was still comparatively warm. Maria, Jean, and I were the female contingent. Although the group had gone South on Tuesday, they wanted to go South again (or the guys who hadn't ridden Tuesday wanted to go South). I didn't really care, I just hoped it wouldn't be as fast as the last time I had gone South.

We headed up the trail at a moderate pace. A new guy tonight was riding without a buddy flap. We all tried to avoid riding behind him. Just before we reached Fones Rd, I noticed someone coming up from behind who was breathing extremely heavy. Turns out it was DJ. I'm still not clear how far he had come, but I'm sure he hauled ass like nobody's business! I told him he could relax now, he had caught up.

Just before crossing 37th, Todd slowed down because he had a flat. At almost the same time, Maria also got a flat. Brad stayed with Todd, and a bunch of us stayed with Maria. A few others went ahead and then circled back.

Flats repaired, we were once again zipping along the trail. This time I actually kept up on Rainier. I just stayed as close to DJ's wheel as I could.

Everything was going along pretty good--even through the gravel section by the river. As we crossed Waldrick and headed through the squirrelly part, Jean yelled, "POST!" Unfortunately, the large boulder to the right of the post had been moved closer to the trail. Jean squeaked through, but Maria wasn't so lucky. She hit the boulder and went down. Amazingly, she got up, wiped the blood off her chin, got back on her bike (after the guys checked to make sure it was okay), and we continued on! I told her I would go back with her, but she said she was good. INCREDIBLE! And she WAS good! She was back to riding just as fast as before! I just don't think I could have done that!

We got to the trail junction. The guys went on to Rainier, but us gals turned back. We figured the guys would catch up to us, but they didn't. I hope nothing else was already a crazy enough night!

Even with all the craziness, my average speed was still 16.8!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Long and Hilly Road...

...Sounds like a song from awhile back. In this case, the long and hilly road led to Shelton.

I wanted at least one more long endurance ride before we start training (more like learning how to race). I roped Debbie into this ride because, well, she is agreeable to just about anything I throw at her (even though she whines about the hills--but, I don't mind because it's entertaining! Even though she is whining, she doesn't give up! That makes it all fine in my book!). I can't ask for anything more in a biking buddy!

The fast boys (and maybe a girl or two) were doing the same route with an added loop that Debbie and I would skip. They were leaving at 9:00. We left at 10:00. We actually started with 8 of us, but three wanted a much shorter ride due to other activities. The 5 of us that were left, headed out Madrona Beach Rd. to Steamboat Island Road. We went just a short way toward Steamboat Island before turning and heading over to Oyster Bay Rd. It is really just an alternative route from getting on Hwy 101 at the Steamboat Island Rd. exit/entrance. It adds a small amount of distance, but it's much more pleasant.

We returned to 101 and rode the highway to Old Olympic Hwy. This is the route I did back in December on the day after Christmas (when I found the snow). This time there was no snow. The weather was quite decent. I even unzipped my rain jacket, which I later took off when we got to Bloomfield Rd. We did the Old Olympic/Bloomfield/Kamilche Point loop back to Old Olympic. We were supposed to go up a road called Simmons Rd. that went parallel to 101 on the right side of the highway. We saw the sign for Simmons, but there didn't really seem to be a road. If there was one, it didn't go far--certainly not all the way to Lynch Rd. like the map said it did. Instead we went up Kamilche (parallels 101 on the left side). Interestingly, I have never gone UP Kamilche. I've only come down. The reason I haven't gone up is because once you get to the top, you have to cross the highway. Usually, I just stay on the highway. Going up Kamilche was okay. It wasn't too difficult to get across the highway.

After crossing 101, we continued on Lynch Rd. to begin our second hilly loop. If you looked at the Old Olympic/Bloomfield/Kamilche part and the Lynch/Arcadia/Old Olympic part and used 101 as the spine, this part would look like a capital letter "B"...sort of. The three guys, who were kind enough to keep us in their sights, didn't want to do the whole route Debbie and I were doing, so they cut off at Cole Rd. We would eventually ride Cole Rd, but first we were doing the rest of Lynch and then Arcadia. We would do Cole from the other direction back to Lynch.

Once we were just the two of us, we slowed down a bit. Afterall, it was, very much, an up and down roller coaster route. At one point it started to rain. I stopped to put my rain jacket back on so I wouldn't get soaked (and then cold). Awhile later the rain stopped and the sun graced us with a little warmth.

We came back to Old Olympic Hwy (also called Hwy 3 at this point) on the edge of Shelton proper. We didn't go on into Shelton, but headed back toward home. Hwy 3 is a road not well suited for the amount of growth that has occurred in Shelton. It is also not the greatest to bike on. There is just a narrow shoulder and it is full of debris and cracks. Fortunately, we weren't on it for much more than a mile.

We took a left onto Craig Rd. which quickly took us to Cole Rd. Of all the roads we went on today, Cole was the only road I have not been on before. It was a nice road. Seemed to trend more down than up heading back to Lynch Rd. I'm glad we did it in this direction.

Of course, when we returned to Lynch, we had to go up all the hills we had come down on the way out. The first one after Cole was a long one. Both Debbie and I employed our granny gears (not the first, nor the last time for the day). I thought to myself, "Yes, this was a nice hill...coming DOWN!"

Back at Taylortown, we stopped for a short break and to refill water bottles at the minimart. I inquired about this so-called Simmons Rd. the clerk had no knowledge of such a road, but she was from Olympia and didn't know the area (what do you know! So were we!). We did a cursory check around the area, but did not see anything that resembled a road. So, once again, we crossed 101 to, this time, go down Kamilche Point Rd. Of this I was very familiar!

Since the whole idea of today's ride was long distance, we didn't just come back on Hwy 101. We threw in the Hurley Waldrip loop as well as the Old Olympic Hwy (on the other side of 101) loop. Once we completed those loops we were back on 101 to the Steamboat Island exit.

We stopped for some real food at Subway. Up until then I had subsisted on Hammer Perpetuem, a Balance Bar, and a shot of Hammer Gel--Mountain Huckleberry, my new favorite flavor! I was doing okay, but the idea of real food and a break was mighty appealing.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. I rode with Debbie back to the park (to her car) before heading on home. When I got home, I had clocked 82.4 miles! I'd say that was a good, long endurance ride! Overall, despite a little rain, it was a great day to be out on the bike. I can't say that, before today, I have ever done an 82 mile ride in...JANUARY!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Back to Riding in the Rain

It was a good rain-free stretch of weather while it lasted, but now we're back to the rain. At least the temps are up somewhat.

After last Tuesday's hammerfest, I was thrilled to hear we were going North tonight. Plus, there were three of us women (and 6 guys--never let it be said that rain keeps the OOA Racing Team from riding!).

We did the usual ride north with Fishtrap Loop included. We rode Fishtrap in the other direction. The guys got ahead, but I kept Jean in my sight. When we got back to Libby we regrouped. We went up 81st to Zangle. I didn't hammer up it this time. Maria and I fell back, but we caught up to Jean before Boston Harbor.

I was having an increasingly difficult time seeing as my glasses kept fogging up. When the whole group took a short break as we headed out of Boston Harbor, I took the rain cover off my helmet. I had noticed if I slipped my helmet back, my glasses became clearer. I think my head was too hot with the helmet cover. It worked for awhile, but then when the guys were gone and it was just us three, we were going a little slower and my glasses fogged up again. Finally, I took them off and stowed them in my pocket. I could no longer read signs, but at least I could see 10 feet or so in front of me!

We rode the trail back. As usual, I left Jean and Maria at the turn-off to Group Health and rode the rest of the way home. Next time, even if it is raining, I will NOT wear the helmet cover! Don't get me wrong, I'm glad the temps are going up and I don't even mind the rain! However, foggy glasses are annoying!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Turtle Was Fast...

But, the rabbits were faster!

Of course, I didn't know that I (the turtle) was fast until I got home. I can't really look at my computer in the dark (actually, I can, if I am not wearing my heavy lobster gloves).

We rode South tonight. It was cold, but not as cold as it has been. We didn't hit fog until almost Rainier. Yes, Rainier. Vaughn wanted to go the extra couple of miles.

I kept up until we came out to Rainier Rd. at 67th. I seem to frequently get dropped on this section. It is slightly downhill, so you'd think I could keep up. The rabbits got progressively farther in front of me. I just kept going as fast as I could, working on driving the pedals forward. At the Waldrick crossing, a couple of the guys had circled back to allow me to catch up. I stayed with them until almost to the trail junction. Then, the rabbits must have hit their turbo-boost because, once again, they were gone.

I continued on toward Rainier, knowing I would not make it before they would be coming back. As they came back the other way, I turned around. A couple of the guys hung back taking care of necessary business. Jean, Ron, and I just soft pedaled until they caught up. I didn't think they could go any faster (What am I saying!? Of course they could go faster!), I hung in with them...for awhile. Vaughn pulled me along a couple of times. After the gravel section, they again hit the turbo-boost and I was pounding the pedals alone. This does not bother me. I know I am doing the best I can. They also have to do the best they can. I don't care that it is dark, and I'm not afraid to be out there alone.

Back at the roundabout at Rainier and 67th, the rabbits had circled back. From there I stayed with them back to the bridge where I peeled off for home. When I got home and checked my average speed, I was pleasantly surprised to see it was 17.1 mph! That is my fastest average for a night ride. I didn't keep up, but I was faster than I have ever been on a night ride!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Fun Ride--No Wheezing

If you don't know by now, I love cycling. I guess the only way you would not know that is if you don't know me at all (as in, we are total strangers) and you have never read this blog. So, saying that I love cycling is probably fairly redundant.

Cycling at its base means two kinds of rides for me--the fun ride with wheezing, and the fun ride without wheezing. Yes, they are all fun rides--some just make me work harder (and therefore usually involve at least some element or moments of wheezing--particularly after a climb).

Today's ride was the no-wheezing kind of fun ride. We planned a slowish ride to accommodate those coming off injuries or those who just haven't had opportunities to get out on the bike. This was to be a no drop-regroup-slow the pace-and have fun ride. And it was exactly that!

A handful of us met at Tumwater Falls Park at 11:30. From there we rode over to the Farmers' Market to meet up with Taryn's group of GGGs at 11:45. They were in the process of fixing a flat and were probably about 10 minutes from being ready to go. Taryn told us to go ahead and go. We did, so people wouldn't get cold. That was the only bummer part of the day. I really like riding with Taryn and Michele and don't get the opportunity often enough, but I felt I needed to stay with the group that I had started with (which ALSO had people I REALLY enjoy riding with as well as people I've been wanting to ride with but haven't had the chance--yay Katie!).

We headed out to Boston Harbor. Just for kicks, we went up Ames Rd. to Gull Harbor, then back to Boston Harbor Rd. Michelle was having fun beating Derik to the stop signs. Although, Derik wasn't really trying (Michelle wasn't having to work too hard either). It was pretty comical which just added to the fun of this ride.

Back on Boston Harbor we rode the hills out to the harbor itself, slowing up when necessary to regroup. At 73rd, after we all came to pretty much a complete stop, we decided to go 73rd over to Zangle. 73rd from Boston Harbor is a steep little pitch. So, we all climbed rather slowly.

We ended up doing the majority of the north night ride only in reverse. We took the trail back into town, dropping people when they would get close to their homes. At the bridge over Yelm Hwy, Manek, Ann, and Maggie headed West and I headed East.

For me, it was 34 miles. The average was a relaxed 14.1 mph. It was a fun afternoon with no wheezing!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

It Was a Dark and Foggy Night...ooooooo! wasn't freezing, so off I went to do another night ride! As I came to the junction of the Chehalis and Woodland Trails, Jean and Maria were just coming on to the Woodland Trail themselves. The three of us rode down to the trailhead fully expecting to be the only ones showing up for the ride. To our surprise, both Carter and Brad arrived. Brad suggested north as it is usually warmer. I was a little concerned about going out on the road in the fog, but I trust Brad (since he has been doing this a whole lot longer than me). Plus, it is true about it being warmer than going south.

We did the usual ride back up the trail, cutting over to the I-5 Trail to pick up the Chehalis Trail at the bridge over I-5. At the end of the trail at Woodard Bay, we took a short break. I noticed it wasn't quite as foggy. We decided, instead of doing Fishtrap, we would turn on to 81st, go up the hill to Zangle, over to 73rd, down into Boston Harbor, up Sawyer, around and over to Commercial, and back over to Boston Harbor Rd.

When we got to the steep pitch up 81st, I decided to try and improve on my time of 1:06 up the hill. At the top, even though I was wheezing like poorly played set of bagpipes, I kept going. When Carter caught up, he complimented me on my climb!

In Boston Harbor the fog was non-existent and it was definitely warmer. So much so, that I even unzipped my jacket. I've discovered I don't do as well when I get too warm.

From Boston Harbor Rd, we took a sharp left onto Woodard Bay Rd. We looped back to Libby where we took a sharp right and rode Libby back to 26th, and 26th to South Bay. From there, Jean, Maria, and I said goodbye to the boys and rode 26th back to the trail. Maria and Jean turned off at Group Health (Maria's car was at Jean's). I rode the rest of the way home in the pea-soup fog.

As for improving my time up 81st, I not only improved it, I got Queen of the Mountain on Strava! I knocked 6 seconds off my previous time.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

South--No, North--South--Okay...North

At first we were going to go south tonight. Debbie and I were happy. Debbie didn't want to do the hills of the north route and I like being able to head home at the bridge. As we were going up the Woodland Trail there was chatter at the front about how we should go north instead (warmer, less chance of ice). The decision was made to go north. Debbie really didn't want to go north. As we made the turn to go over to the I-5 Trail, we all came to a stop. At first we decided just us gals (Jean, Maria, Debbie, and I) would go south. Then, when we told the guys Debbie hadn't been out on the road in the dark and didn't really want to do the hills in the dark, they said we would all stick together--regroup at the top of the hills. Debbie agreed to go north.

The guys were true to their word and we all stuck together. We made it to the end of the trail. We decided to do Fish Trap Loop (this time we all did the loop). As we were coming back, I still thought we were going to go up 81st, but we stayed on Libby and then onto Woodard Bay Rd, and out to Boston Harbor Rd. That cut out a tremendous amount of the hills. The rest of the ride back into town was great. A few of the guys dropped as we got close to their houses. Jean and I left Maria and Debbie at their cars and made our way back up the trail.

North or South? Turns out, it didn't really matter. We all stuck together and it was a great ride!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Even a Flat Couldn't Put a Damper on Today!

It's days like today when I am reminded why I joined a racing team. It's FUN! It's riding with GREAT WOMEN! It''s...well...I just REALLY REALLY LOVE IT!!!

We started with a brunch hosted by Lauren (I discovered an entire Dave's Killer Bread Sin Dawg will fit in my jersey pocket!). The food was great as was the conversation. We talked about the race season and ways we can train as a team to improve us newbies' skills (there are quite a few of us first-timers).

After the brunch, 11 of us headed out for a ride. We chose a route that would keep us in the sun (and out of the shady, potentially icy places) as much as possible. Not too long into the ride, I started feeling like I couldn't keep up. Trisha and I were at the front, but I was rapidly slowing down. I pulled over and, sure enough, my rear tire was low. Since it had been fine when I started out from home this morning, I figured I must have a flat. Maria stayed back with me to help fix it while the rest of the team went ahead. I found a small piece of glass had worked its way into the tire and punctured the tube. We were almost done when the team finished their circle back to us. Once the flat was repaired, we were back on the road and everything was sooooo much easier!

The rest of the ride we chatted, did a pretty decent rotating paceline, and regrouped when a few would fall off the back. In general, a very enjoyable ride.

I am looking forward to racing. I think the strategy of it will be fun. I know, above all else, I will enjoy riding with the OOA Women!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

North to Alaska

At least for awhile that's what tonight's ride felt like! It was cold. It was raining. My thighs felt like blocks of ice. Fingers? What fingers? I don't know if they were there or not--sure couldn't feel them! Fortunately, the rain eventually stopped, and working hard to keep up with the guys brought the warm blood back into my thighs and fingers.

We took the trail north, then out on the road. We headed toward Fishtrap Loop. Maria, Jean, and I along with one of the guys fell back from the rest of the group. As we neared the turn onto Fishtrap, we decided to go straight and meet up with guys as they came around from the loop. We got to where the loop comes out to Libby Rd. The other guys hadn't made it around yet. We turned around and soft pedaled back up the hill waiting for the guys to catch up. We actually made it to the top of 81st at Zangle before the rest of the guys caught up. There was some mystery as to what happened to the guy who had been with us gals. We think he went straight instead of turning on 81st. Usually, people tell someone if they are going to turn off or head back.

From Zangle we went down into Boston Harbor. The guys got ahead of us gals going up the hill (as usual) out of Boston Harbor. We rode the rest of way just the three of us. We still followed what we guessed was the way the guys went--Gull Harbor to 26th. We turned on Friendly Grove Rd. but just looped back to Bethel (we could have turned on Bethel to start with, but we like the "sly dog" route--can't really say "scenic route" since it's dark and, well...not too scenic).

Once we got to State St., it was just a short ride back to the trailhead where Jean and I left Maria at her car (with Chip who was still loading up). We then rode back up the trail for the third time tonight. Jean turned off at Fones, and I continued on home.

This was my longest night ride at 41 miles. The average was okay considering this was a pretty hilly route. The rain pretty much quit and it seemed to get warmer. Maybe that's because I was headed south--away from Alaska.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

She Did Great!

We had a plan for tonight's night ride. Our usual night ride leader, Brad, is off in Disneyland (no doubt riding Space Mountain--in the dark!). Debbie got lights for Christmas, so we thought we would initiate her into the "Night Ride Club" (okay, there's not really a club). We put out an all-call for any gals who wanted to try riding in the dark. Those who responded were busy with other things (like colonoscopy preps), so it was just Jean, Debbie, and I....and a bunch of guys. Yep, this was one of the better turnouts--even though it was raining and quite windy.

Debbie was nervous. We decided we would go with the guys (they were going the same direction anyway). Jean told the guys to take it easy because it was Debbie's first night ride. The pace heading back up the trail was quite reasonable. There was a lot of chatting going on. Debbie and I hung off the back just a bit just to ease into the darkness and get used to it. It went well.

We made the turn onto Chehalis Western. The speed picked up a little (as did the wind), but Debbie hung in there. We continued down the trail, did the Rainier Rd section, and returned to the trail without incident. We also made it through the unpaved section of the trail (wish they would get that section repaved). After crossing Waldrick, I dropped off the back. See, I thought we were doing a relatively easy ride tonight. So, I also did my strength workout as well as 25 minutes of running up and down the stairs today. That was not a good idea. The strength workout might have been okay, but my legs were a little tired from running the stairs. As the tail lights disappeared around the corner, I kept pushing the pedals. As I came around another corner, there was Debbie waiting for me. Her first night ride, and she was waiting for me! We trailed after Jean and the guys. Pretty soon we could see one blinky light ahead. It was Jean slowing up for us.

The three of us rode the rest of the way together. We turned around near the junction when we saw the guys heading our way. Debbie and I hung on to the guys for awhile, but then we dropped back again. I'd have to say, by this time, they were at the usual night ride pace (or maybe even a little faster). We weren't dropping off because the speed was too fast for the dark. We were dropping off because the speed was too fast...period! I'm sure our heart rates were up there! In fact, I hit a new max heart rate of 171!

When we got close to Stedman, Ron and Jean had slowed up for us. The four of us rode the rest of the way. I was going to go back to the trailhead with Debbie, but Ron assured me he would stay with Debbie all the way back to her car. He had to go back there too. I headed home at the bridge.

For Debbie's first ride in the dark--in the wind and the rain--going at a maximum speed of 24.1 mph--an average of 15.8--for 37.9 miles, SHE DID GREAT!!!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Not Keeping Up With the Team...

...And That's Okay!

Another Saturday has rolled around. Time for a ride with the Team. A decent amount of riders showed up at the park today. It's amazing what some above-freezing temps and little chance of rain will do to get cyclists out. I overheard someone say, "They're coming out of the woodwork!".

Debbie and I planned to ride with the team until we couldn't keep up. Then, we would do the route, but do it at our pace.

I've been doing some reading about training plans (I received "Base Building for Cyclists" for Christmas). I also got a heart rate monitor (built in to a Sigma bike computer). What I have read is that going hard all the time will not, in the end, make me faster or more efficient. Yes, I should have started this plan several weeks ago, but, well, I didn't know about it then. What I can do now, is start, not at the beginning because I have been riding, but at the "mid-base" level. That does not mean go all out on Team rides in January. The conundrum is that I enjoy riding with the Team. They are really great people that I enjoy riding with and can learn from. Realistically, though, I can only "socialize" for the first 10 miles or so, then it's just do what I can to keep up.

Debbie and I have been riding regularly. We are not going "slow". We are going at a pace that, for me, keeps my heart rate in a good, train-my-body-to-run-more-efficiently zone. That's not to say that my heart rate doesn't get up there periodically (especially when climbing), but the average is in a good place for training. It also allows me to work on skills such as pedal drills and efficient breathing techniques--things that are hard to do if I'm just trying to keep up.

So, that being said, we stayed with the Team until we were on Case Rd. between 93rd and 113th. As they pulled away, Sergio drifted back to ask if we were going to do our own ride. Basically, we said yes and told him to tell the others not to wait for us. We had a brief moment of trying to catch up, but that didn't last too long.

I got my heart rate back to a reasonable number, and we continued on. On Case Rd past Maytown Rd we came upon Jean and Ron changing a flat on Jean's bike. We stopped and chatted with Jean while Ron worked on the tire. The Team was circling back. We headed on down the road so as not to get too cold. They all caught up to us further down Case. We stayed with them for awhile onto 183rd, but, again, they pulled away. We resisted the urge to try and keep up.

We came into Rochester and worked our way to Independence Rd. We rode Independence to Michigan Hill Rd. As we were grinding our way up Michigan Hill (after I dropped my chain), a handful of riders came screaming back down. The others (I learned from seeing a couple of Strava postings) went down the other side of Michigan and over to Manners, then up and over back to Independence.

Debbie and I came to the bottom of Michigan at Lincoln Creek. We turned left (not toward Manners Hill) and rode back into Centralia through Galvin (a tiny blink-and-miss-it burg). We stayed on Reynolds Ave. over to 507. In Tenino, we stopped for a break at a new little coffee shop/cafe called "Old 99 Coffee". There was a young guy on a bike with rear panniers. He was headed to Portland. I told him good on him for doing a tour to Portland in January. He wished he had warmer gloves.

We had a couple of hot beverages (me hot chocolate--Debbie, coffee) and cinnamon rolls (not so good for the nutrition plan, but certainly tasty!). That little break rejuvenated us so we could finish the last 13 or so miles.

Debbie peeled off at her street and I continued to Rich Rd. and home. My ride was a total of 65.4 miles. My heart rate stayed mostly close to where I wanted it. Although we spent just a short time with the Team, it was okay. We did the ride we needed to do!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Adventures in Ice Avoidance

This New Year's Day ride plan changed more times than a chameleon in a bag of Skittles! All because of the blasted icy weather. It was sunny (sort of), but sunshine in a Pacific Northwest winter generally means cold temps and that was certainly true today. The highest temp we saw today was a brief 37 degrees. Mostly, it was in the low 30s. I know people bike in much colder weather, but here, where it is wet, that means ice--frequently of the black variety.

The original plan was to go the same route the team was planning, (minus Zenkner Valley Rd--too hilly) south through Bucoda and over Tono. But with the cold and ice, I didn't want to gain too much in elevation (it is quite a climb over Tono). So, we planned, instead, to go further south on 507 to the outskirts of Centralia, then cut over on Reynolds Ave to Old Hwy 99 and back up through Grand Mound. It would have been a 58 mile ride. We also pushed our 11:00 departure to 12:00 for more chances of warmer temps and thawing. The team also pushed their departure to noon.

However, as we were heading south on the trail rather cautiously, I suggested to Debbie that maybe we should cut the ride shorter and just do the Johnson Creek/Skookumchuck/Crowder loop. Debbie had never done Johnson Creek. Briefly, I thought of doing it counterclockwise (for some reason, I think that is easier), but since we would go back home on 99, it made more sense to do it clockwise. The road was better than the trail as far as icyness goes. There were the usual I-got-gun-for-Christmas-so-I-must-go-to-the-woods-and-shoot-it people along Johnson Creek Rd. The first gunshot scared both Debbie and I. Then, we got used to them (although, I'm not sure Debbie was convinced they weren't shooting toward the road).

It was increasingly cold and foggy as we progressed south. At the Johnson Creek and Skookumchuck intersection, I changed from my rose-colored lenses to my clear ones (this is where I wish I had the orange lenses of my old bike glasses--made every day a sunny day!).

We rode to Crowder via Northcraft Rd and back into Tenino. There was quite a bit more snow in the Tenino area. As we headed toward 99, Debbie suggested we take the trail back instead (99 would likely have a lot of sand/gravel on the shoulder and the traffic was less than gracious today). That was fine by me, so we headed to the trail. Well, the trail was a mess! It was covered in icy snow! If I'd been on Stella, I probably would have ridden through it okay. Not so on Star. We stopped to reevaluate this plan. Debbie suggested 507 to where the trail crosses. Then, if the trail was better, we could get on it there or continue to Military Rd and go that way. So, we turned around and went back to the trail entrance, got off and rode over to 507. As we were riding along 507 I remembered Old Military Rd (it parallels 507 from Tenino to just before the trail crossing). Only, we had gone too far on 507. Since this was the day of changing plans, we turned around and went back to a road that cut over to Old Military.

We came back to 507 near the trail crossing and could see the trail was now clear. Back on the trail, we rode back the way we had come before turning onto Johnson Creek. As we were riding past the equestrian center, we both heard this whistling sound. We both thought it was just my phone (it makes a bird whistle when I have a new email). But, it kept doing it. We both glanced over our shoulders at the same time, and there, coming up between us, was another cyclist. He startled both of us! He had on the Valley kit, so he is or was a team member. We chatted briefly, then he continued on at his much faster pace.

We knew we would have to do the Stedman detour around the closed part of the trail (we had done it on the way south), but when we got to Stedman, the trail was open (well, the fence was down and out of the way). So, instead of going up the hills on Stedman, we stuck to the trail. It looked like the trail maintenance had involved removing a couple of trees that had fallen over the river and created a dam of debris. Most of the debris was still there, but the trees were gone. There is a section of the trail that needs to be repaved (currently it is gravel). We thought maybe the tree removal damaged the trail.

The further along the trail we rode, the more we thought that, perhaps, someone had moved the fences illegally. That would mean the fence at the other end (103rd) would still be in place. Uh, yeah, that turned out to be the case. But, just as we were nearing the fence, we saw another cyclist come around the side. At least we knew we didn't have to go back! We shimmied around the end of the fence and resumed riding. The rest of the ride was uneventful.

It was a good idea to go the shorter route (10 miles shorter) as it was about 4:00 when we got back. With the slow going in the icy spots, it would have been dark by the time we finished the longer route. Another day for that ride...

Total miles: 48
Total changes of plans: Oh...I don't know...but it was a lot!