Sunday, April 13, 2014

I'm a Cyclist, Not a Hikerist!

No biking today, just hiking. Son #3 needed to get his food for his PCT hike. $633 later, he had most all the food he will need on his 3 1/2 month thru-hike. He has it all planned out.
After the shopping excursion, we dropped it all off at his apartment and headed to Spencer Butte just south of where Kyle lives.

We took the medium length, and not-so-steep trail to the summit. Here's the boys heading up the easy part of the trail.

The trail was pretty easy until we came out of the trees. Then it was pretty rocky. However, the views were spectacular.
Looking South
Panorama looking West
The Three Sisters and Broken Top (left to right--North Sister, Middle Sister, South Sister, and Broken Top)
Eugene (Autzen Stadium near the center)

At the top, a gentleman asked if we would like him to take a photo of the three of us. Of course!

After soaking in the views at the summit, we began the trek down. Connor hikes like a mountain goat. Both going up and going down, he would easily get ahead of Kyle and I. I suppose that's a good thing since he will be doing a whole lotta hiking starting May 3rd.

At the trailhead, I told Connor I would keep taking photos until he smiled.
Finally--a smile from Connor!

It was a great hike, but I think I'll stick to biking!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Beautiful Spring Day Along the Willamette River

I'm still in Eugene enjoying the nice Spring weather. I planned to ride only to REI and back to see about a new tent. I had my sights set on the new MSR Hubba Hubba NX. What with a 20% coupon, my REI Dividend, and no sales tax, it was a trifecta of savings I couldn't pass up. My other tent, an REI Quarterdome 2 is not keeping the water out like I think it should (even though I sprayed it with waterproofing stuff). It's been on 6 long tours, so I suppose it's served it's purpose. It's still a good tent...if it's not raining.

I arrived at REI only to find that they didn't carry the MSR Hubba Hubba NX in the Eugene store. At least, that's what it looked like. I had decided to get another Quarterdome. As I was looking for one in the bins, I saw a tent in a red stuff sack that was in the bin with the tag facing in. I pulled it out to see what it was, and, lo and behold, it was the MSR! They had the correct footprint too! 

I was so happy to have found the tent, that after I strapped it to the rack on Betsy, I decided to go for a ride along the river. I accessed the South Bank Trail at the Ferry St. Bridge by going east on 3rd. Then I headed west along the trail. I came across these huge geese lounging in the little daisy flower-filled grassy area.

This tree was in full bloom.

There were a lot of people out cycling and walking, but there were moments of clearness.

I rode the South Bank Trail almost to its end, then crossed over the River on one of the path bridges to the North Bank Trail. The North Bank Trail has sections that are narrower than the South Bank.

I rode the North Bank all the way to its end. Coming back I went under a new looking bridge.

Just beyond this bridge there was another path bridge back over to the South Bank Trail. I crossed over, and rode partway back, then went through part of the UofO campus to get to the Amazon Parkway Trail that took me back to Kyle and Mallory's house. 

It was only about 14 miles, but it was a very pleasant ride.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Finishing the Padden Parkway

Last year when I brought Tessa on the train to Vancouver, I did some riding out towards East Clark County and discovered the Padden Parkway Trail. At the time I didn't ride further east because I had already done quite a few miles. I just rode the short part from Andresen to the western end.

I'm currently back in Vancouver visiting my dad. This time I brought Betsy on the train. The weather is very nice here, so I decided I'd investigate the rest of the Padden Parkway Trail. I had no idea how far it went east. When I grew up here in Vancouver, the Padden Parkway didn't even exist--let alone a bike path. I think it was built as a major east/west thoroughfare because 78th St was not able to handle the amount of traffic in the growing East County area. None of the housing and services that are out there now, were there when I was a kid. It was all farmland. 

I got on the Trail at Andresen. It parallels the Parkway the entire distance.

As I rode along, I could catch glimpses of Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Hood. Here's a photo of Mt. Hood.

The trail (and the Parkway passed over I-205). Here's the trail bridge.

Coming down the other side was interesting as they have made it one of those sort of graduated descents. So, coming down it is kind of rollercoastery. The only other trail bridge I've been on that is like that is on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes in Idaho. Although it makes for an interesting ride down, it is easier to go up.

The trail came to an unceremonious end. There was no sign or parking lot to signify I was at the end, but since I couldn't see anymore trail, I figured I had finished it. A bike lane continued on the road, so I decided to go a little further. I was only at about 8 1/2 miles. Less than a mile later, the bike lane ended. The road became Ward Rd. I thought I might have a vague recollection of a Ward Rd, but I wasn't sure. No problem--I just continued on. 

Finally it looked like the road was angling off to the left. Also, there was no shoulder, and the traffic was pretty heavy. I came to another road (Davis Rd) that looked quieter. Since I had no real plan beyond the trail, I decided to get off the busy road. I rode along this road until I came to 112th. By then I'd gone about 12 miles. Since I'd started around 4:00, I decided I would begin heading back. Having no real idea as to where I was, and not wanting to just turn around and go back the way I'd come, I pulled out my Garmin Edge Touring. I plugged in my dad's address, and followed the cues. Basically, I ended up back on Ward, then back to the Parkway Trail. That was okay. It did bring me home a slightly different way than I'd gone (after getting off the trail), but it was a route with bike lanes. 

Total miles was just under 24. It was a beautiful day, and now I can say I've done the entire Padden Parkway Trail.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Beautiful Day to do Tons of Hills!

Granted, we are only a week into April, but I think it's rained everyday (yesterday's hilly 61 miler started out good, but ended up raining). I'd just get my shoes dried out, only to get them soaking wet again. But, not today! Today was a spectacularly beautiful day! One would think summer was here, except the leaves on the trees are not fully out (some trees do not have any leaves yet).

I wore capris today, thinking, no way would it be warm enough for shorts (I should have worn shorts and leg warmers, so I could have taken the leg warmers off). I did go with a short sleeve jersey, arm warmers, and a vest. I took the arm warmers off and unzipped the vest. I had long finger gloves on, but threw a pair of fingerless in my jersey pocket. I switched to those too.

Dennis planned this route. I think he made a list of all the hills in the Bucoda/Centralia area, and figured out a route that would take us up every one of them--some, more than once. By the way, there are a lot of hills in this area! I joined him, Steve, and Melody (all older than me, yet so much faster).

The first hill (really just a molehill compared to some of the others) was Hwy 99 heading to Tenino. I apologized for my turtle-like progress up the hill, but they said that was fine. Melody said she was on her umpteenth day in a row of 100 mile rides (still, she seemingly flys up the hills).

The next, more substantial hill was Tono, outside of Bucoda. Tono is more like two hills. You go up and up, then a decent descent, only to go back up a steeper, but shorter, hill before finally coming down the other side to Big Hanaford Valley. 

We had a lovely cruise in the glorious sunshine along Big Hanaford Rd to Halliday Rd. Then we started up Halliday. I'm not sure if Halliday is longer than Tono, but it seems steeper. I chug-chugged my way to the top, hoping the dogs that like to give chase would opt not to (I'm too out of breath to yell at them). One thought he would, but his owner called him back. The ride down the other side was awesome--steep with just the right amount of curves to keep it interesting. It was at the bottom of Halliday where I shed arm warmers and long finger gloves. The warm air on my arms felt fabulous! 

Now on Little Hanaford Rd, we came to Loop Rd. I've seen this road before, but have never taken it. Now I know why. It's another steep little sucker that goes sharply up, then comes back down to Little Hanaford. But, it wasn't too long.

Back on LH, we skipped the first part of Seminary Hill in favor of an equally challenging ride up Grimes from Salzer Valley Rd. Grimes came into Seminary where we continued left on up to the top. The descent down Seminary was another fun one. Even though I always fall behind going up the hills, I can usually catch up on the downhill.

At the bottom of the hill, we were in Centralia. We rode around the base of the hill to Ham Hill Rd. which, of course, we rode up. Once again, I did not see any pigs while I was wheezing my way up that little porker of a hill (maybe it was named after someone named Ham, and not after a pork product).

Ham returned us to Seminary where continued back up to the top. Coming from the other direction, we had seen two deer crossing the road. On the way back, the rest of the family had joined them to make 5. This time, we stayed on Seminary all the way back down to LH. We did the Loop Rd from the other direction (still a hill, but much easier). 

I thought we would continue into the northern part of Centralia, get on 507, then do Zenkner Valley (another doozy of a climb). No, we did not. We went back over Halliday. It's just as bad as from the other direction. Running out of steam, I was way behind. Even the downhill didn't catch me up (although, I have to say, coming down that side of Halliday is a little more sketchy, with sharper turns and rougher road). No problem though--they waited for me. 

Back at Big Hanaford, Dennis asked if we wanted to do Zenkner Valley, or do Tono again. I asked if those were the only options. Steve was in need of getting back for work. There was, indeed, a third option--Hwy 507 straight back to Tenino. Steve said he was going to do that. I said I would go with him, but then we decided we would all go that way. Whew, no more major hills!

As we came through Tenino, we heard a loud pop and hiss of air from Melody's rear tire. Not only was it flat, but there was a sizeable hole in the tire. She put a patch in the tire, but even with that, when Dennis inflated the tire, the tube started to bulge out of the hole. She would have to ride with a little less pressure, and hope the patch inside held. Fortunately, it did.

We did the last few hills over to Tilley, and came back into town. We left Steve and Melody. Dennis, who lives beyond me, and I rode the rest of the way home together. I'm sure I had the shortest ride today since we met at the bridge over Yelm Hwy. My ride was 81.9 miles. Melody will have done another century today. Before we parted, I told her to take a break tomorrow--maybe only do 50 miles!

Even with all the climbs, my average was still 16.1 (all the downhills helped). My arms have a touch of redness, but it was worth it to have such a beautiful day for doing tons of hills! Oh, and the temperature had to have reached, at least, the mid-70s!

I apologize for no photos--we didn't stop long enough. Had we stopped at the top of Seminary Hill, I could have taken a photo of Mt. Rainier, St. Helens, and Mt. Adams in one shot! 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Race in New Territory, and a Whole Lotta Standing in the Rain

Today was my last race for this season. Of course, it is, by no means, the last race. It's just the last race that I will be doing. 

For my final 2014 race, I got to be on roads I have not ridden before. Yes, even though it was less than an hour's drive from home, I had never been on these roads. How is that possible, you ask? I don't really have an answer for that.

The race was Vance Creek. This is one of the Team's sponsored races. That means we provide the volunteers to run the race (in return for our service, we get free entry into our race). My race was in the morning, so I volunteered in the afternoon. The afternoon racers covered the morning races. Some volunteer, but don't race, like Jean (more on that later).

Part 1--The Race

There were 29 Cat 4 Women starting today. Debbie and I represented OOA. As seems to be usual, Bike Sale had the most women, at six. Starbucks and Group Health each had around four. It was good to see that Emma, from Group Health, was back racing (she was another one who had to go to the hospital after the crash at Mason Lake). 

The start was between the two Satsop Cooling Towers. Here's a photo of Tessa and one of the towers.
I did take the plastic bag off Tessa's saddle before the race.

Once we were out on the main road, we were racing. The first section, almost to Corner 1, is mostly downhill. It was raining a little bit, so we were all pretty cautious going down the hill the first time. At Corner 1 we turned onto "the farm road". It is a one-lane road. Funny thing, the "Center Line Rule" was in effect, even though there was no center line. Actually, since it was really a one-lane road, we were just instructed to leave a path on the left side. We did have a couple of oncoming cars, but they, wisely, pulled over. Apparently, we could have encountered farm equipment! Fortunately, no one had to holler, "Tractor up!"

The farm road, and a good chunk of the next road were pancake-flat. However, the rough chipseal, and tons of gravelly rocks made for a vibrating, noisy ride (rocks shooting right and left off people's wheels). 

After Corner 3, the road was mostly uphill back to the beginning (I suppose, what goes down, must go back up). As usual, I am quite the turtle going uphill. Still, I managed to stay close...for awhile. Then, the dreaded follow-car went around me. I only hoped I could get back in the race on the downhill. 

Into lap 2 after gaining some ground on the the intial section of downhill, I managed to pedal my way back in front of the follow-car. I caught up to a group that had also dropped on the hill, just not as badly as me. We weren't really that far off the lead group, but this is where strategy comes into play. In our little group of 7, we had 3 Bike Sale gals. Remember, there were 6 of them in the race. The other three were all up in the lead group. Therefore, the three with us had no reason to work hard to catch the lead group. The follow-car had passed us again. Two of the Bike Sale gals were on the front of our group. Emma and I were sitting behind them. They were going pretty slow. Emma asked me if I wanted to go with her out front. I was fine with that (I certainly didn't have a teammate in the lead group, and neither did Emma). So, off we went. I heard the other gals say, "Let them do the work if they want to." The other two gals in our group were Hagens-Berman. They also had a teammate in the lead group, so no need for them to work either. 

Emma and I took turns pulling. The others were staying just far enough back to let me or Emma back in. Finally, maybe they felt guilty or something, because they came up to us. With some fits and starts, we managed to get a rotating paceline going. That was fine until we came back to the hills. The gals who I had caught up to, once again, went up faster than me. I was the last one of our group of 7, but near the top, I managed to pass one of the Bike Sale gals. I pushed hard to the finish, and then it was all done. I came in 16th again (but, at least this was a bigger field). It was mostly the same group finishing top 10. Malia and Gina from Este Racing took 1st and 2nd. Both are strong racers and do more than their share of the work. They definitely deserve their wins! 
Cat 4 Women's podium

Part 2--Corner Marshalling

After getting out of my soaking wet kit, and into dry clothes (5 layers on the top), I moved all my stuff to Jean's car. Jean and I would be in charge of Corner 1--The Red Barn Corner. We had until 12:45 before the Corner Marshall's meeting. I grabbed vests, my stop sign paddle, and a walkie-talkie. Ron had rigged a stop sign paddle on a broomstick for Jean since she still has a splint (immobilizing her thumb, and covering up two very serious-looking metal pins holding it together) on one hand, and can't reach above her head with the other arm (the broken collarbone). We had signed up to Corner Marshall before the Mason Lake crash, so props go to Jean for still Corner Marshalling with me!
The Red Barn

After the meeting, we drove to our corner. Corner 1 was the turn onto the infamous "farm road". Jean would stop traffic on the main road, while I would stop any farm road traffic.
Jean in the distance at the corner (notice no center line on the farm road).

We could see the racers coming from a long way away. I would walk over to Jean, then walk back when we could see a lead car coming. There were 5 groups racing. They all raced 4 laps, with the Pro/1/2 Men doing 5 laps (laps were 13 miles each). The Pro/1/2/3 Women were one of the groups. Maria was racing as a Cat 3. Jen (now on Starbucks) was racing Cat 1. 

The guys' groups all went by. The women started last. On their first lap by us, Maria was doing great. There was a one-woman break, but that wouldn't last. After all the women went by, two more stragglers made the corner. It was Jen, and one of her teammates. Jen had had a flat (ironically, Tim, Jen's husband also flatted--actually, there were tons of flats today--rough roads and lots of rocks).

Between the groups, we stood in the ever-increasing rain showers. I was thankful for my 5 layers, but my lower legs were still soaked. 

Lap 2 had breaks in most all the groups. As the women came around, there was still a one-woman break. Maria was still hanging in there, and Jen had caught up to the main group. Amongst the men, it was getting a little confusing as to which car was lead for who, and what follow-car was for what group. There was a huge group (can't remember which it was) that had no lead or follow-car as they had been dropped (even though that group was larger than the "main" peleton). Finally, they brought in another car, which may or may not have added to the confusion. The radio chatter was pretty interesting. This is a whole side of racing that I don't hear or see when I'm in the race.

The laps continued. I actually got to stop a few cars as the racers came around the corner. The scariest part was when the stragglers would hit the corner. If they were out of the the rolling enclosure (lead and follow-cars), they were, technically, no longer racing, and must abide by the rules of the road. We do not close the corners for them. Since Corner 1 was going from a regular road to a narrow road, the riders (many still trying to catch up) would still take the corner pretty fast, and end up swinging wide. If a car was coming from the other direction on the farm road, there wasn't a lot of room at the corner. Fortunately, one car saw the rider and pulled way over to the side and stopped. If possible, I would try to stop the cars anyway. Thankfully, it didn't happen often.

On the last lap for everyone, except the Pro/1/2 Men, most of the breaks were holding. One exception was the women. On their last lap, who should be substantially off the front in a one-woman breakaway? Well, Jen, of course! Yes, she flatted on the first lap, caught back on, and went on to win by...a lot! Amazing! As for Maria, she did great. As she flew by me on the last lap, she threw me her sunglasses. The rain was making it impossible to see with them.

The Pro/1/2 Men went by us for the last time. Whew! We could finally get out of the rain and go home. Of course, first, we had to return our Corner Marshall equipment (and I had to get Maria's glasses back to her). That task complete, we headed home. 

So, in my 8 races this season, I managed one win, two top 10s, and 5 in the "teens" (well, the TT was 11th--a "tween"). Oh, and one crash. Okay, I guess, for a short race season. Now, I will shift gears (no pun intended) to touring. I'm taking Betsy on the train next week to Vancouver and Eugene. If I do any interesting rides, I may blog about them. We'll see...