Sunday, February 23, 2014

2014 OOA Team Camp

Day 1--A Great Ride, and a Lucky Ticket to Boot!

Yesterday was the first day of our OOA Racing Team 2-Day Camp. No, we don't go to someplace like Arizona. In fact this is better (and a lot cheaper). Camp was, once again, going to be held in Centralia. We would stay at the old Olympic Hotel, and have our dinner at the Gibson House. Bags were being schlepped to the hotel from the ride start at Tumwater Falls Park by a teammate's wife (Jen Hile--yay Jen!). I had taken my bag over to Debbie's husband at Twisties (their frozen yogurt shop) on Friday. Hours after I had dropped off my bag, I was suddenly struck by the idea that I had not packed another pair of tights for Sunday. Hmmm...since I knew I would have an opportunity to add to my bag at the park (I just had to get what I needed to it), I decided to take my long wool Ibex leg warmers in my jersey pockets. It would mean that I would just be wearing a pair of bib shorts and the leg warmers on Sunday. That may not seem bad, but I am quite used to having two layers on over my hips and upper thighs (it was okay--those Ibex leg warmers are awesome).

Our fearless president put out a memo saying that the first 30 people who, at the start of the ride, could tell him something about one of our sponsors, would get a prize. I told him about Human Body Works. My friend Amy Murry owns the business and specializes in massage therapy. For imparting my knowledge, I got a repaired bike tube complete with a tire boot. For those who don't know what a tire boot is, it is, in this case, a piece of old tire that can be placed in a tire where there might be a larger cut or a thin spot that may cause more flats. It is intended to get you home. Other tire boots can be a dollar bill, or duct tape. It's referred to as "booting the tire". 

We started out together with 45 of us. We would stay together until Centralia. We were taking a pretty straight shot to Centralia that would be about 25 miles to the city limits, and an additional 4 miles to the point where, those of us doing the shorter route, would let the long route guys go on (even though we would continue on the same route for several more miles). The long route was planned to be 102 miles (turned out it was 111). The shorter route was 73.4 (turned out it was 72.8--pretty close if you ask me). Both routes would continue south, then return north to Centralia. 25 people did the long route. 19 of us did the shorter route--good groups for both. The beauty of taking the quickest way to Centralia was that I got to go on some roads I had not ridden before. Overall, the shorter route was very nice. We had a tremendous tailwind on Hwy 508 coming to Jackson Hwy. The only not-so-great part was the road between Chehalis and Centralia. It goes through a fairly industrial area with no shoulder. The road surface is cracked and there is usually debris on the sides of the road (Jean got the only Team Camp flat on that road). As we came back into Centralia, there is an overpass that goes over the railroad tracks. There's a sign that says no bicycles on this overpass. It's not real clear, but there is an alternate to avoid going over the overpass. I rode up to the front to tell the lead guys where to go. We made the turn, but I knew we had dropped a few people. I returned to the corner so I could make sure everyone made the turn. I waited...and waited...and waited. I could see quite a ways down the one-way road. Finally, I thought either they turned somewhere else (a mystery to me), or I had mistakenly thought they weren't with us. I rode on into Centralia and back to the hotel. I asked Maria if Debbie was there. She said no. Hmmm...curious. Where were they? As Maria and I headed toward the coffee shop, we saw the missing riders already there. It was Jean's flat tire that had caused their delay. But, all was fine. We had coffee (or hot cocoa, in my case) while we waited to be able to check into our hotel rooms.

Once into our rooms, we showered and changed into our street clothes. We had about 2 1/2 hours before the dinner. We all met in the restaurant downstairs for appetizers. Bit by bit the 111 miler riders joined us. Soon it was time to head over to the Gibson House for dinner (it's amazing how much food can be consumed--some had appetizers that would be considered a meal, then an hour or so later ate a full dinner).

As we walked in, we were given a raffle ticket. When I went to get some pre-dinner veggies, then returned to the table, Todd, Maria's husband, said he had switched tickets with me. I told him he couldn't do that because I was sure my ticket was a lucky one (for one thing, it started with my favorite number--27. Then again, they all started with 27...). He was just joking and had not traded tickets with me. For the evening program, most all of the sponsors gave presentations. After each sponsor's presentation, a raffle ticket was drawn for a door prize that each sponsor had brought. Dr. Peterson presented for Olympia Orthopaedic Associates, our main sponsor. He gave a brief history of OOA and also told us why they have partnered with the racing team. His raffle prize was one of those plastic cups that looks like a disposable cup but is not, with the OOA logo on it, and...a $50 Amazon Gift Card. He drew the winning ticket, and it was mine! Woo Hoo (see? I told Todd it was a lucky ticket!)!

We had a good dinner, and enjoyed listening to the other sponsors' presentations. Several more raffle prizes were handed out, and Chip gave a review of the past season (surprisingly, my name was mentioned a couple of times). Then, the grand finale of the evening...Jeff Evans' Magic Show! Jeff is a fellow teammate whose full-time livelihood is doing magic. He puts on a great show. Toward the end, he asked for a volunteer with a ring he could clean and polish in his special ring cleaning and polishing machine. I offered my ring. Somehow, he managed to get my ring into a locked box (I thought he put it into his "machine"). It was very entertaining!

Back at the hotel, most of us headed to bed (some headed for more beers). Of course, it's always difficult to fall asleep in a strange bed--even when you've done a long ride. I finally dropped off to sleep, only to be awakened around 2:00am by other hotel guests making a huge racket out in the hallway. I finally put my pillow over my head and went back to sleep.

Day 2--A Dog's Bite is Worse Than His Bark

The alarm went off at 6:30 (definately could have slept longer, but had a perverse desire to get up and make a bunch of noise...for some reason). We threw our clothes on and headed a couple of blocks to Berry Fields Cafe for breakfast. They didn't open until 7:00, but when they did, they were ready for about 16 of us. Service was quick and efficient. I had a bowl of oatmeal and some toast. Then it was back to the hotel to change, pack up, and get ready to ride. The long route guys were doing 96 miles. They were going to be eventually coming to the Willapa Hills Trail out of Chehalis. I really wanted to do the last (or first, depending on your start location) part that Christian, Carol, and I had not done on our Peninsula trip. None of the short route options included the trail, so I made my own route. About half of the group decided to join me (Jean, Geraldine, Jeff, Kyle, Scotty, Bryan, and Andy). 

After all the bags were reloaded into Jen's van, we took off as a group. We were all together until Chehalis. Then we parted ways with the long route guys. The remaining 8 of us worked our way to the other side of the freeway, and the Willapa Hills Trailhead. I got a little confused when the road narrowed to a single lane, and started looking for the trail a little too soon. We saw a car coming and asked the driver if the trail was down the narrow road. It was, and we soon found it. There had been some question as to whether it was paved or not. I knew it was from being on it from Adna, as well as all the research I had done before the Peninsula trip. It was paved, with the exception of one spot that crossed over another rail line and on both sides of the Hwy 6 crossing (this, I think, is to keep riders from flying out onto the highway). We all negotiated the gravel without incident (Andy even going so far as to say it was his favorite part of the ride so far).

All too soon, our adventure on the Willapa Hills Trail came to an end as we came to Bunker Creek Rd. Up next was one of the longest flat sections I've ridden with the team. Bryan pulled for a long time keeping a peppy 20-21mph pace (we might have had a bit of a tailwind too). Since the area we were traveling in is made up, primarily, of valleys and ridges, our flat riding eventually had to come to an end. We climbed up and over the ridge on Ingalls Rd, rode a couple of miles on Lincoln Creek to Manners Hill, up and over Manners to Gerrard Creek, then along Gerrard Creek to Oakville Rd, and South Bank Rd.

As we were still riding on South Bank Rd, almost to our next turn onto Cemetery Rd, Kyle and I noticed a couple of dogs as they ran out to chase us. We both yelled at them, and managed to escape. But, that was only because we were at the front. The dogs continued to give chase. I think Bryan and Geraldine were at the rear. Before Bryan could get ahold of his water bottle to squirt at the dogs, one managed to chomp into the back of Geraldine's leg in the hamstring. We got away from the dogs and pulled over. Geraldine pulled up the leg of her tights to reveal that the dog had broken the skin and it was bleeding. Jeff, immediately got on the phone with the police (Chehalis Tribal), and requested an officer to come out and assist with finding the owner of the dogs, and if the dog was current on its rabies vaccine. In the meantime, Geraldine was able to get ahold of her husband, and arrange for him to pick her up in Oakville. The officer was able to get photos of the dogs as well as the owner's name (but the owner wasn't home) from a neighbor. After the necessary info was exchanged, we rode slowly on into Oakville. Shortly after arriving, Geraldine's husband also arrived to pick her up. It was important to get her to the clinic to have the wound properly cleaned and any necessary protective procedures taken care of (a tetanus shot and some antibiotics). We were also concerned that the long route guys would also be coming through the same way. Bryan opted to ride back to join them and give warning. The remaining 6 of us continued on. The planned route was to take us up Mima to Waddell and on up to Capitol Forest. Instead, we opted to turn and go down into Littlerock and take Maytown and Case Rds. back to town. It started raining just as we were coming into Tumwater. Debbie, who had ridden straight back from Centralia with Cindy, was going to bring my bag to my house, so I just continued on home.

Today's ride was just a mile shorter than planned. I would have preferred adventure of a different kind than a dog attack, but overall, the ride was good. Next week, racing season starts for me with the Icebreaker Time Trial.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

And, Yet, Another Different Dirt Riding Experience

Or...Always Bring the GPS

One might think that having done 5 of these dirt rides, I would be getting the hang of it. Or, at least knowing what to expect. Two of the 5 have even been in Capitol Forest--the location for today's ride! 

We met at McLane Elementary. I just rode from my house. It is 11 miles. The rain was already coming down when I left home. I made it to McLane as the other 5 riders were there and getting ready. Geraldine was ready, having also ridden from her house (lucky for her, not too far away). This was her first go with the gravel group, but she has had lots of experience riding on non-paved surfaces in her cyclocross racing.

Derik showed us the route. We would get to the dirt by riding down Delphi to Cedar Flats (which is more not flat than flat), to Maple Valley Rd. At the Y, we continued straight onto gravel and through a couple of narrow trails into the Forest. 

When we got to the dirt road, Derik said we would be climbing for awhile. Some removed jackets. I unzipped my rain jacket and partly unzipped my jersey. We started climbing...and climbing...and climbing. It got very steep. I was trying to position my butt so the rear wheel wouldn't spin out, but then I started popping little wheelies. As I subscribe to the idea that, as far as gravel riding goes, there is no shame in walking, I got off and walked up the steepest part. Geraldine finally had to walk too. Of course, none of the guys walked. Derik said, as he rode by me, that this was the steepest part. Yeah, I thought...we'll see.

I got back on at a less steep spot and rode the rest of the way to the top, still wheezing like a donkey. At least I wasn't cold. In fact if I had removed my jacket, I'm sure I would have created my own fog layer! We pedaled on. When we came to the first downhill, I was, as usual, a little tentative. It takes me awhile to get my confidence going. Plus, even though the very first ride was also in the rain (and I didn't even have the new tires), there was more soft mud on this road (and more rocks too).

We did some more climbing and descending. On one of the descents, a pickup was coming the other way. I'm glad I was on the right side! Also, my glasses were fogging to the point of being able to see better without them. So, now, not only is it muddier, but I can't see as well either. Of course, I just go even slower than I already do. But, the group is great at waiting for me. Derik usually opts to ride back toward me. He takes these opportunities to fly down the hill I'm climbing like a mad man (really, he is a highly accomplished rider) grinning ear to ear. 

The guys wanted to go up to the peak of Rock Candy Mountain. Since Geraldine and I would be slower (okay, really just me--Geraldine keeps up with them just fine), we would meet them as they came back down from Rock Candy. After another climb, Geraldine and I stopped to eat, and Geraldine put on a dry hat and dry gloves. I let some air out of my tires as I seemed to be feeling the rocks more than necessary. Hopefully, it would also give me more control going down.

Derik told us to stay on B-5000 to C-4000. So, whenever we would come to another road, we would look at the number. We didn't really notice when we got onto C-4000, but we did...somehow. Usually, I have my Garmin Edge Touring...not today. It would have told us when we got onto C-4000. But, that wasn't really the problem. The problem was that we missed the next turn which was C-8000. Funny thing is, we stopped at the intersection. I think, because we didn't know we were already on C-4000, we were looking for that sign--not C-8000. Anyway, we continued on C-4000. Shortly after the intersection with C-8000, the road went up very steeply. We couldn't see any bike tire tracks, so we weren't sure we were going the right way, but we continued. I finally reached a point where I could no longer ride, and got off to push. Shortly after, we heard Derik coming up behind us to tell us we had missed the turn. Thankfully, we didn't have to go up anymore, (turns out, we were headed up to Capitol Peak--no wonder it was so steep!). However, we had to go back down. I'm, of course, pulling on the brakes. I was still picking up speed, when I looked ahead and saw a car coming. I pulled the brakes as hard as I could, telling Stella, "Slow down Stella! Slow down! Come on, you can do it!" I managed to get Stella under control as the car went by. 

Back at the intersection, we turned down C-8000. Derik said there would be some pretty steep downhill. He wasn't kidding! It was about 7 miles down with a good portion of it being quite steep. To keep my speed to a reasonable 12 mph, much of the time I was pulling the brakes nearly as hard as I could. Just before my hands were about ready to give up, the road flattened out some. Then, I'd get a little rest before the road would get steep again. 

We came out to Noschka Rd. The original plan was to get back to the dirt on C-9000 and ride it to C-9200 where we would come out at Alpine Dr. But, everyone had had enough, so we just stayed on the pavement to Sherman Valley and the top of Waddell Creek. When we got to Delphi and Waddell Creek, Derik asked if I wanted a ride home in his car. I told him I thought I could make it. I'd go 62nd to Black Lake, over Sapp, and back home. Besides, that way I didn't have to go up Delphi to get back to McLane. 

I made it home, soaked from head to toe, and cold. I'd have to say, today's ride in the mud and rain was not my favorite. Even though that route had a ton of climbing, I'd like to do it again when the road surface is dry and not so soft.

I didn't take the camera today. There wouldn't have been anything to see anyway.

Just Stay in the Grooves!

As I write this post, I am sitting in the Spokane Amtrak station waiting for my train to Seattle that is now delayed by 9 hours. The purpose for this delay is the same as the delay I had getting to Spokane--excessive freight train activity on the shared tracks, primarily originating in Williston, North Dakota. I have a sneaking suspicion I will arrive too late into Seattle to catch the last train of the day to Olympia...hmmmm...maybe they'll put me on a bus? At least I got to sleep in a bed last night instead of on the train. Also, I'll get to go over Stevens Pass in the daylight.

Anyway, after our adventures in snowshoeing, which was totally fun, we decided to continue our adventure by trying cross-country skiing. Mt. Spokane State Park has all the winter snow sport options, snowshoeing, snowmobile trails, downhill, and a nice network of XC ski trails. First we had to find a place to rent the necessary equipment. Mountain Gear fit the bill. Wednesday night we stopped in to get our skis, poles, and shoes. It cost us $15 each for a day's rental. This is pretty cheap considering we didn't have to pay at the park (except for the Sno-Park pass).

Yesterday morning we got up, had our breakfast and headed back to Mt. Spokane. First we parked in what we thought was the parking for the XC section. We got our stuff on, walked over to, what appeared to be a groomed trail with a XC sign. It was uphill. We decided it would be best to walk up to a more level spot to put our skis on (this was after Annette dropped her skis, and one went sliding across the parking lot).

We got up to the level-ish spot, and put on our skis. We promptly determined it was not level enough. Off came the skis, and we walked up more. We walked a ways, and came out to where the lodge well as the real parking lot for the XC trails. Annette gave me her skis and poles, and she walked back to the truck to move it to the lodge parking lot. I walked on over to the lodge and waited for her.

From the lodge, there was a short uphill to the beginning of several trails. Annette walked up. I was determined to get up with the skis on. Amazingly, I made it (Annette was much faster walking). At the top, there was another couple. They were more familiar with the trails, and told us to take the Mtn View trail. They said it went down, but then we would get on the Linder Ridge trail, and that was mostly flat. They said to just stay in the grooves down the hill. Okay, we can do that! Apparently, they also said to get out of the grooves before the bottom. I didn't catch that part. 

So, I get in the grooves. I start picking up speed as I'm going down the hill. I keep telling myself, just stay in the grooves! As I make my way at a pretty good clip down the hill, I notice up ahead that the grooves end. Uh oh! The snow is groomed and has an icy crust on the top. I shoot out of the grooves. Immediately, one ski (and my leg with it) goes one way, and the other ski goes the other way. I'm trying like crazy to bring my legs back together so I can get into some sort of effective snowplow. Nope, not happening! My legs reached a point of no return. I fell backwards. Except for kind of jamming my thumb into the semi-solid snow, my biggest concern was that Annette was going to come shooting out of the grooves right behind me, and my body was creating quite the obstacle to get around. I yelled back to her to warn her. She ended up being able to accomplish that snowplow action, and slow down enough to not run into me. My next concern was, how do I get back up? I finally managed to get my knees under me, get the skis pointed in the right direction, and get to my feet. Okay, clearly, there is more of a learning curve to this XC skiing than I thought!

The Mtn View trail ended. We looked at the trail map and found the Linder Ridge trail. We slowly made our way to the trail. Ah, there's the grooves again! Now, it was just a matter of getting this walk and glide thing down. The grooves certainly made that easier.
That's Annette in the grooves.

We took the Linder Ridge trail to its end. Here's some photos along the way.

 There was a considerable amount of downhill on the Linder Ridge trail. As long as we stayed in the tracks, going down was fun. We did have a brief moment where we thought about how we were going to get back up. I told Annette we would figure it out. When we got to the end of the trail, the grooves ended again. This time the ground was more flat, and I managed to stay on my feet/skis. We looked at another map. There was one "green" trail--Mica Rd. We started to go on it, but it wasn't groomed, and had no tracks. We were mostly just having to walk. Even that was not easy. We turned around and went back to Linder Ridge. Here's a video of some downhill.

It turns out, the going back up was pretty easy. Either that, or we were finally getting the hang of it. We made it back to where we had begun the Linder Ridge trail. Annette wanted to try a "blue" trail. I was skeptical of our ability to manage that. Also, I was hungry. I suggested we take Valley View trail (another "green" one) back to the lodge to eat lunch, then look at doing another trail. The Valley View trail had the grooves, but it looked like a snowmobile had chewed up the snow. It was tricky until we switched to the tracks on the other side. 

This took us back to the Selkirk Lodge. We came out at the top of the hill that we had gone up to start.  I was not the slightest bit confident that I could go down the hill and remain standing. Annette gave it a try and promptly fell. She ended up sitting on the back of her skis and sliding the rest of the way down. I decided, instead of falling first, I would purposely sit down on my skis and slide down the hill. It wasn't as easy as it sounds, but it worked. Here's a video. 

We went into the nice warm lodge and ate our lunch. While we were eating lunch, we looked at a trail map, and saw that Linder Ridge actually came all the way to the lodge. We decided, instead of trying a blue trail, we would take Linder from the lodge to where we had gone before (as far as the park boundary), and turn around. We both wanted to do the downhill part (in the tracks, of course) again.

We went down a whole lot faster this time. The plan was to go to the park boundary and turn around. As I whizzed past the boundary sign, I realized I would be turning around when the trail flattened out. There was zero chance of me stopping until then! 

I got to a flat area and coasted to a stop. Once stopped, I looked behind me to see where Annette was. She was coming, and still at a pretty good clip. Sensing immediate collision, I quickly hopped out of the track just as Annette whizzed by! Whew, that was a close one!

We turned around and headed back. We stayed on the Linder trail back to the lodge and parking lot. It occurred to me that it would have been a whole lot easier to do Linder Ridge from the very beginning, instead of Mtn View. Lesson learned! 

I still have a lot to learn about this XC skiing, but it was fun, and I'd do it again! We did try getting out of the tracks and "skating", like the people who know how to XC were doing. Annette tried more than I did (and fell more too). I found myself returning to the tracks rather quickly.

A Perfect Day for a Little Snowshoeing!

After very little sleep last night due to my train getting into Spokane about 2 1/2 hours late, so getting to bed about 3:30, Annette and I headed up to Mt. Spokane State Park for some snowshoeing.

Annette had researched the park and printed off maps of the trails. We made lunches, and got out the door at about noon. Mt. Spokane is only about a 40 minute drive from Annette's. We stopped at the park office to get a Sno-Park pass. The Park Ranger showed us a good loop to take--the Kit Carson-Swift Gap Loop. It's 3 miles, starting out fairly easy, and progressing to more difficult. 

Annette heading down the trail (actually the Kit Carson Road--the trail came later).

We managed to get our snowshoes on and started walking. This being just the second time I've done this, I think I got my snowshoes on pretty quickly. Last time I went snowshoeing (at White Pass), the snow was light and powdery. This time, the snow was like cement. There was plenty of it, but the temps were in the 40s, and it was kind of melting. The trees were dripping to where it seemed like it was raining at times. 

The Kit Carson Rd climbed gradually for maybe a mile or so. At one point, both Annette and I had to pee. Lo and behold, there materialized a potty shack. Excellent, except...snow was blocking the door. We both partook of an "adventure pee".

At the top of the Kit Carson Rd, we came to a hut they are building. The outer structure is done, but there is nothing inside. Still, we went in and ate our sandwiches. Climbing up onto the porch was a little tricky. 
You can't really tell from the photo, but the snow did not quite reach the edge of the porch. 

Getting off the porch was also interesting. Annette opted to jump off. She was successful. I, on the other hand, could see myself executing a perfect face plant, so I sat down on the edge and scooted off.

From the hut, we took trail 100. This was definately a trail. We climbed up quite a bit more (me utilizing the climbing bars on my snowshoes). I had to be careful to not step on one snowshoe with the other. As we walked along this trail, Annette spied a huge fungus, with a hat of snow, attached to a tree. We decided a closer look (and photo) was warranted. It was a little tricky climbing up as the snow was quite soft and mashable, so even the snowshoes kept sinking a lot. But, we managed to get close enough to take a photo.

The getting down was just as interesting as the going up. We were just trying not to end up head first in the snow. Annette's mantra was, "Keep the tips up!"

Along the trail, Annette got a hankering to make a snow angel. Here is a video of that.

We made our way down the trail to where another trail came into the one we were on. There was a map there, and it looked like we could take that trail back to Kit Carson. It was actually a mountain bike trail. I think I'll stick to gravel and dirt roads on my bike. This single track stuff looks a little scary.

Once we got back to Kit Carson, it wasn't too much further back to the truck. It ended up being a beautiful day with blue skies and sunshine. A perfect day for a little snowshoeing!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Staying Toasty Warm in Sub-Freezing Temps

It's been a little cold. Okay, it's been a LOT cold! Temps have been in the teens and 20s. I still did the Night Ride last Thursday. Due to my most excellent clothing choices, I stayed nice and warm. So, for today's gravel ride I thought I would go with the same kit. It was a little warmer, but I figured it would be colder up in Capitol Forest. 
Here's what I wore from head to toe:
Wool buff under helmet
Wool buff around neck
Short sleeve wool base
Long sleeve wool base
Long sleeve Team jersey
Neoprene jersey/jacket
Short finger gloves
Possum/Merino gloves
Lobster gloves
Bike shorts
Lightweight wool long underwear
Craft heavyweight tights
Wool knee-high socks
Possum/Merino socks
Neoprene booties over shoes

Hard to believe one person could wear that many clothes at once! Did I mention it was cold out? Truth is, yes, it was cold, but not that cold. Especially for a ride with 4100 feet of elevation gain! Before we even hit the dirt, I had already unzipped my outer jacket. Maria and Michelle both took their jackets off. 

Brian picked me up, even though he was actually doing a mountain bike ride (I thought that was mighty nice of him). We started at Mima Falls Trailhead and rode the same as we did on my first gravel ride--Bordeaux to E-Line. E-Line to D-Line. This time, I was a little slower going up (could be due to the 20 extra pounds of clothing!), but a lot faster going down. Michelle and I had this little leapfrog action happening. She was on her single-speed cross bike (brave choice for this much climbing). When the hill would get pretty steep, she would have to walk. I would, ever so slowly, pedal past her. Then we'd get to the top and she would pass me. We did this several times. Most of the time she would muscle up the hills and I would drop into Super Granny Gear and get up the best I could--lagging behind the others. 

At the D-Line we took a couple of minutes break (more than that for them as they were waiting for me). I gulped down a Clif Bar (I had it in my jersey pocket under the neoprene jacket. It was as if it had been microwaved--nice and warm!). Then we headed down D-Line to D-1000 where we returned to the gravel...and climbing, climbing, climbing. The road was great, and, for awhile, the grade was easily doable. Later, there were a couple of steep spots (I could see Michelle walking, but I was too far behind to catch up before she made it to the top). I just kept turning the pedals and slowly gaining elevation. Periodically, the guys would come flying back down, go by me, and turn around to climb up again. Of course, they would pass me again. Do they ever get tired? I

I finally made it to the top. From there we turned onto either C-something, or another D-something. It was mostly downhill--steep downhill--screamin' good fun (and slightly scary) downhill! Here's a video of some of the ride down to the D-Line.

Once we were back on the D-Line, we still had to climb to the top of that. Everyone was waiting for me at the top. Chip said we were taking a left, back on the gravel, going up. I knew we weren't, but I said okay, and started riding up. HA! I may be slow, but I'll still go!

But, no. We were heading down to Bordeaux, and back to the cars. Brian was already gone when we got back. I knew that would be the case, so I had arranged to get a ride home with Derik and Michelle.

Overall, the ride was 32.3 miles in 3 1/2 hours with 4109 ft. elevation gain. It was another awesome gravel ride. However, next time--maybe not so many clothes!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

"Hey, It's a Girl!" Or...

...The Barney Ride.

There wasn't supposed to be a dirt ride this weekend. Afterall, today is the Super Bowl, and the Seahawks are playing. Super Bowl parties are everywhere. Who wants to be out riding in the dirt? Apparently, there was some chatter about some people wanting a dirt ride, so Derik put out a late email yesterday calling a ride starting at Horizons again. I had planned to do the Sunday Team ride (only because there wasn't a dirt ride planned), but I couldn't pass up an opportunity in my backyard! Besides, the Team ride was Johnson Creek. It's not a bad route, it's just that I've done it so many times.

I rode over to Horizons for the 10:00 start. Although it was cloudy, the forecast called for sunshine. I went with less clothing this time, as last week I was too hot (and it was colder). My fender was rubbing, making an annoying sound. It is not straight. I've tried bending the stays, but haven't been able to straighten it out enough to stop it rubbing. When Brian arrived, he reefed on it a bit. Whatever he did, it worked! No more rubbing! 

A new guy named David showed up. He had ridden from the Westside. Derik drove. We waited around until 10 minutes after 10:00, waiting for all those people who wanted a dirt ride. No one else showed up. Unfortunately, Michelle had to work today. It was just me and the guys. 

This time we headed down Rainier Rd. We popped up onto the trail. As we passed a couple out walking their dogs, I heard the gal say, "Hey, it's a girl!" Little did she know, I was no girl. I was probably no more than 10 years younger than them! Bwahahaha!!! 

We cut back over to Rainier at Fir Tree, and rode to Steadman. Just a short distance on Steadman, then we turned onto the road that follows the pipe line. There were a couple of steep, walk-a-bike parts. David had a flat, so we stopped while he changed the tube. I thanked him for the break. We continued on and came to one downhill that was so steep, I had to put my foot down (the guys rode down it) to negotiate the big rocks before I could get back on the saddle and ride it out. 

I looked ahead to see a monster of a wall. Fortunately, we turned and went around it. I still had to walk up part of the "detour", but it wasn't as steep as the other way. We came out at the top on the prairie, west of Rainier Rd. We rode by some cows, and eventually came out to the road. We crossed to the other side and rode a long stretch of actual gravel. The guys were much faster than me and were soon a ways ahead. They passed a couple with two dogs. As I went by, the guy took my picture with his fancy camera.'d think the people we saw today had never seen a female on a bike! Then again, maybe they haven't seen someone with my...maturity...out riding the gravel roads. I suppose that's possible...

We came to the paved road I was on yesterday with the gals. We weren't on it for long before we returned to the dirt. We did a loop that ran along a fence line that I've ridden along, on the other side where there is a road, many times. Now I can say I've been on the both sides of the fence! We came to an intersection and turned left which, almost immediately, took us down another very steep and rocky hill. Once again, I felt compelled to put my foot down. At the bottom, the guys asked me how I liked that one. I gave them the thumbs up and said there was nothing like having my life flash before my eyes!

We returned to the paved road just a short distance from where we left it. Again, we didn't stay long on the pavement. Back on the dirt, we came to a big tree down across the road. Derik and David lifted their bikes over, but I noticed Brian rode to the left around it. I followed him. That was much easier than hefting Stella over, ala cyclocross style. 

Again we returned to the pavement. This time we rode a little longer before exiting back to the dirt. We came to the top of a moderately steep downhill. At first I put on the brakes, but then I just got into the drops and hung on for the ride down. It was so much fun!!! When I caught up to the guys I couldn't stop giggling! I think they might have wondered if I liked it, but I loved it! I would have ridden back up, just to ride down again!

While I was getting over my giddyness, I looked up and saw a bald eagle circling above us! Could this day get any better? And, it was sunny too! As we continued riding, little did I know we were actually riding part of last week's ride, only in reverse. Seemed totally different to me! We ended up coming out to 510 in the same place as last week, even though, to get there, we were partially riding the reverse. I was looking forward to seeing the Strava map of our route! 

We rode toward the Casino as we had last week. Except this time we hung a left out onto 510 instead of doing the steep climb up behind the Casino. We rode the road past the Casino, and seemed to take the next available right turn back to the dirt. This parallel-to-510 dirt required some whacking through Scotch Broom. I managed to not take any whacks to the face.

This brought us back to where we were last week. From there we just went the same way as before to get back to Rainier. I must confess, I was getting tired--not having any less fun, mind you. But, the legs and wrists were feeling it. At one point, I kind of lost focus for a moment, and ended up going smack into the middle of a pothole puddle. I didn't crash, but it was a bit of a jolt. Coming down a hill, I picked up some speed and managed to smack into another pothole puddle. Oooommmph! 

We went through the same big mud puddles as last week (actually, I think there were more this time). I made it through all of them (the trick is to not stop pedaling). We also negotiated the same mud bogs (same thing there--don't stop pedaling). It was all just as fun as last time, and I think I rode it better.

Out to Rainier, and all we had left was the road back. Derik and David took off, but Brian stayed with me. I told him he didn't have to, but he said he was in no hurry. That was good, because I was certainly not going fast!

We all agreed it was a most awesome ride! 42.6 miles in 3:40 ride time (for me, anyway). Here's a map of the route.

If you squint, it kind of looks like Barney the Dinosaur! Here's the actual link if you want to see the roads better (zoom in and all).
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Another successful dirt/gravel ride!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Ups, Downs, and Flats

What a day! It had it's ups, downs, and flats, but not in the way you might be thinking.

I needed to go earlier, and shorter, today due to my son's cello performance for Solo & Ensemble, a regional contest for Highschool age students. 

Four of us gals planned to meet at my house so we could do the paved road from Hwy 510 to Rainier Rd. (the one I finally found a few weeks ago). We left the house shortly after 9:00, and headed out toward Yelm on Yelm Hwy. Just before reaching Hwy 510, I noticed that bouncy sensation of a flat on the front. I called out that I had a flat. Everyone stopped while I changed it. I looked the tire over carefully, feeling inside for anything sharp, but came up empty handed. I decided it really was time for a new tire. 

I put the new tube in, inflated it, and we were on our way again. Just after making the turn off 510 onto the parallel road, I noticed the tire was flat again. Dang! Changed it again, this time looking very carefully for some offending sharpness. Still couldn't find anything. Put another new tube in and inflated it. Before I could even get the wheel back on, the tire was going flat again. Arrrgggg! 

I carry two tubes, not three. I was also out of CO2. Karen gave me a tube, and Debbie let me use her pump. I pulled the, now flat, tube out and threw it on the ground. Short of using a magnifying glass, I scrutinized every millimeter of the tire. Finally, I found the offender that caused all the flatness. It was a small piece of glass. I removed it, making sure I got all of it. I picked up the tube lying next to the one I had just removed and installed and inflated it. About the time I was finished, Karen came over and held up the tube that was draped over my rear fender. She says, "How come you didn't use the new tube?" Awwww...CRAP!!! I had just put the other punctured tube back on! Sheesh! Off came the tire...AGAIN (I was getting quite quick at this by now)! We were finally ready to go again. I checked the clock and figured we could still complete the route in time for me to make it to my son's performance. 

We had fun dodging the potholes, making sure to call them out and which way to go around them. "POTHOLE! Stay to the right (...or left...or center)!" There were a few steepish hills. We were all doing fine except for Cindy, who had so much pine needle stuff stuck in her fender that we finally had to stop and take the front wheel off to get it out. Then, she was much better.

We made it to Rainier Rd. without any further incidents. I told the gals that I needed to hustle to make it back in time. Debbie was the only one who had driven to my house, so she was the only one who needed to come back. The other two could continue on to their houses. I put the hammer down and rode all-out the rest of the way home.

I made it home with enough time to quickly change, and wash the dirt off my hands from changing the tire four times (the shower would have to wait). I managed to inhale a piece of cheese and a bar on my way back out the door. My plan had been to ride the two miles to the school, but I didn't have time for that. My husband had left his car here (I had taken my son over to the school in the morning), so I (shock of shocks!) drove!

I made it in time to see his solo performance. He did well, playing the Schumann Cello Concerto 1st movement. After his performance, I excused myself to come home and shower before returning to see his score for his solo and watch his cello duet with his friend. That, too, went well.

Since I was already halfway to the bike shop, I drove (choke choke) on over to get a new tire, some replacement tubes, and CO2. I decided, no more fooling around with inferior tires that will let in any old piece of glass. I got a Schwalbe Durano Plus. 

My son got home as I was finishing the installation of the new tire. He got 1st place, qualifying for the State contest! The excited happy dance was short-lived when Nolan looked to see when the State contest was. Turns out it's the same weekend we will be in Austin, Texas for my other son's Senior Solo Violin Recital at University of Texas (his Junior recital was the impetus for the Classical to Rock 'n Roll Tour from Austin to Memphis last Spring). He is disappointed that he won't play his piece at State, but...4 days in Austin will be pretty fun too.

So, the day was up, the day was down, and way too many flats to go around!