Saturday, May 16, 2015

Woman Blows Record Clean Out of the Water, And Lives to Tell the Tale!

Okay, so I'll be the one telling the tale's my blog.

I asked Kim last week if she wanted to ride to Gig Harbor on Saturday, or down to Centralia. Kim chose Gig Harbor (even though the hills terrified her). I, mistakenly, was thinking they would be about the same distance (don't ask me why, as I have done both rides enough times that I should know they are nowhere near the same distance) of around 50 miles. Centralia is around 50 miles roundtrip. Gig Harbor? More like 70+. So when I actually mapped it beforehand, I thought maybe we wouldn't go all the way into Gig Harbor. Maybe we would just go across the Narrows Bridge and turn around. Little did I know, Kim had mapped it out too. She knew it would be about 70 miles, and she still wanted to go all the way to Gig Harbor! Amazing!

Let me back up a bit. Who is Kim you ask? I've not mentioned anyone named Kim before. Who is this person? Well, a few weeks back Kim (I did already know her from a couple of rides with Michelle's Beginning Cyclist group through Capitol Bike Club, and she had done Cycle the Wave) posted on Facebook that she was looking for a mentor to help her get faster on her bike. She's been riding for a little over a year, and wants to be able to, "Hang with the big girls." Since what I knew of her (she's a nice person and all), and I'm always willing to help gals achieve their bike riding goals, I said I'd help her out. So, we've been riding together about 3 days a week, slowly increasing our distance and speed. She's been doing great, really making progress! Up until today, her longest ride ever was 42 miles, or maybe it was 47. Anyway, there was only one stipulation regarding today's ride. I was not allowed to let her die.

We met at 10:00 at Joy Ride Bikes. At this point, I don't know that Kim knows how many miles we're riding. So I'm thinking of as many ways to shorten it as possible. Instead of riding the Woodland trail to the end, we got on Pacific (there's a bike lane). Instead of going down Pacific, we went down Steilacoom, and cut back over to Pacific. 

Back on Pacific, we came to the first hill. It's not so bad at first, but then as you round the corner and see the bridge, you see that it gets a bit steeper. Kim noticed that right away! Normally, on longer hills, she stops and takes a break for a minute (or less); just to catch her breath. She made it the whole way to the top without stopping!
Made it up Hill #1!

Next up was Hoffman Hill Rd. As you can probably ascertain from the name, it's a hill. It's a doozy of a steep hill. She made it more than 3/4 of the way before having to stop. Then, because it can be difficult to get going again when you are in the middle of a hill, she had to walk until it leveled out a bit.
Trying to get started.
Not quite making it. 

When she caught up to me, there was still some hill to go. At this point I got all mentorie and all, and showed her how to start by going across the hill. That worked, and she was rolling once again.

We did the Bob's Hollow turn to get on the little bike path shortcut over to Center Dr. We took Center Dr. to Steilacoom Rd. Going up the hill after North Gate Rd., Kim makes it all the way to the top without stopping. Woo Hoo! When we get to the bottom of the hill in Steilacoom, I tell Kim we will take a little break at a small park (also a potty shack opportunity).

It is here at this park that I find my new bike. I take it for a short ride, but decide I'm not going to get too far with it.
Helmet on for safety!

Back on the real bikes, we head along the water. Kim remarks how she's always wanted to know what it would be like to ride her bike along here. She finds it to be quite delightful. The fact that it has recently been re-paved helps a lot, I'm sure. In fact, I find it to be quite delightful too! Nothing like fresh pavement (smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy)! Of course there is the one small matter of the hill at the end...

There are now two options for coming up Chambers Creek Canyon. One is a bike path. Although you don't have to contend with any cars, it is very very steep (what were they thinking???)...switchbacky-pop-a-wheelie steep. Or, there is the road. I laid it out, and gave Kim the choice. She chose the road (wise choice, Grasshopper). Up the road we went. Once again, Kim makes it all the way to the top without stopping. This girl is on FIRE!

And blows right by me!

We do the roller coaster that is Grandview Ave. (Kim doesn't really like the part with the hills). When we turn onto 27th, I opt to go across Jackson/Bridgeport and turn on 70th to stay off of the busy Jackson. Of course, we still have to ride some on Jackson, but we just take the lane, and it's mostly downhill anyway.

That brings us to...THE BRIDGE!!!
There's the bike path to the left.

Notice that the bridge is really another hill. Kim was so excited to be going over the Narrows Bridge, I don't think she hardly noticed we were going up a hill! At the top, we stopped for the obligatory photo-op.
There was another group of cyclists there doing photos. I took one for them, they took one for us.

The hill going up after the bridge is rather steep. It required a rest stop for Kim. While we were stopped, a couple of guys (one was named Jeff--the other I shall call "The Bearded One" as he had a rather impressive beard...and I didn't catch his name) stopped and asked us where we had ridden from. They were duly impressed that we had come from Lacey. The Bearded One proceeded to tell Kim she could do the STP (even though she's "a little bigger" than him). Kim has no plans to do the STP, but it sure is good to know that a bearded stranger thinks she can do it! 

We rode the Cushman Trail on into Gig Harbor. Before we knew it, we had arrived at our lunch destination of Subway (of course!). We had a nice leisurely lunch. Once we were back on the bikes, Kim discovered that the legs don't always want to function at full capacity after eating a meal. I told her it was no problem, we would just take more breaks. Here's a couple more shots going back over the bridge.

It really is a long way down. That's a full-size cruise ship! Okay, not really...
Kim is laughing because just before this photo, I almost made her crash as I snuck up beside her. Good thing she didn't crash, and good thing she was laughing about it (remember, I wasn't supposed to let her die).

When we got back to Jackson, we decided to ride up the sidewalk. It's a hill, and it would probably not be a good idea for Kim to stop on the shoulderless 4-lane road to take a break. At the top, we got back on the road. At 27th, the road becomes Bridgeport Way. I decided we would stay on Bridgeport so as to avoid the roller coaster hills of Grandview. It's still a climb, but not as bad as we didn't lose any elevation.

We turned onto Cirque Dr. to head over to Grandview (after the hilly part). As we were getting ready to come down the hill to Grandview, Kim realized why she was having trouble stopping her bike. The brake cables were in need of tightening. I turned the barrel adjusters, and, voila, functioning brakes!

We returned to the water and rode back into Steilacoom. Next was the big hill out of Steilacoom. Prior to starting the ride today, Kim thought this hill wouldn't be so bad. I do not know where she got that idea! Still, she made it to the top with just a couple of rest breaks. She didn't walk any of it! 
You've got this!

We work our way back into Dupont, and then we have to go back up the previous down part of Hoffman Hill. Kim does not remember this being such a good downhill (going the other direction), therefore she is not thrilled with the steepness of the uphill. But, she makes it the whole way up without stopping. Then, we have a little bit of downhill before one more bit of up. Kim is thinking we were already at the top. She just muscles up the hill in her big ring because...she is mad. I tell her she should get mad more often when going uphill!

We do the awesome downhill, get back on Mounts, make it up that short hill, get back on Pacific, and ride that to the bottom. As we are beginning the climb up Pacific, we stop for a get-off-the-saddle-to-rest-the-lady-parts break. I decide now is a good time to fire up the Buckshot music speaker. So, we pedal our way up Pacific listening to tunes. Oddly, a group of young people (did I really just say "young people" like I'm my grandmother?) ride by us as we are taking another break (I say odd because we're kind of in the middle of nowhere). One of the dudes has the longest dreadlocks I have ever seen. No helmet, of course, but he probably couldn't fit a helmet over those dreads anyway! Later we pass them at the roundabout of Pacific and Marvin. Maybe they were lost. Since we had the opportunity to cruise through the roundabout, we didn't stop to ask. 

So, we made it! Kim blew her old record of 42 (or 47) miles clean out of the water AND...she didn't die! Mission accomplished! 

Total miles (for me): 74.6
Average speed: 12.3 (respectable considering all the hills)
Elevation gain: 3024ft (see? I told you there were a lot of hills!)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

LCHR--Should Be Called the 100 Mile 1 Ride

Jean, me, Maria, Cindy, and Karen at the beginning

This is my second year to do the Lewis County Historical Ride, and it was a blast!

Jean picked me up this morning a bit before 7:00. We met up with Karen, Cindy, and Maria at the start in Chehalis. We took off around 8:15 in glorious sunshine. Temps were forecasted to reach 80 degrees. But, it was still a little chilly in the morning. 

The first rest stop was at about mile 12. They had usual rest stop fare, but the best thing was the Jelly Bellys in the trail mix. I took off my leg and arm warmers, and switched to my sun sleeves. One guy warned us about taking off stuff because there was "a big downhill in the shade". Yeah well, we're tough women! 

We did the downhill, but I don't recall feeling cold. The route follows the great rural roads of Lewis County. We had beautiful views of both Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens. Even at the same time! Here's a view of my companions from my riding position at the time.
Karen is just in front of Cindy. You can see her bike shadow.

We're moving along at a pretty good clip...up some hills, down some hills, up and down some rollers. The next rest stop was at St. Francis Mission. It was supposed to be around Mile 42. Mile 42 came and went. Where is that rest stop? Finally, as we came to a hill that turned at the top, I remembered the stop was just around the corner at the top. Yep, there it was. We were at around 45 miles. I enjoyed some more trail mix with Jelly Bellys, and some banana with peanut butter. 

Fueled up, we got back on the road. The guy at the rest stop said the next one was 20 miles further. None of us consulted our cue sheets to see if he was right. He wasn't. We didn't pull into Evaline School (a still-functioning two-room schoolhouse) until around mile 78. This was my favorite rest stop. The members of the Centralia-Chehalis Optimist Club (the Happy People Club, and sponsors of the ride) had made a bunch of homemade cookies. They were delicious, and I consumed plenty. They also had watermelon and cantalope, but the cookies were the best. 

Now we had just 16 miles to the final rest stop. Yay (because, on a supported ride, it's all about the food at the rest stops)! More ups and downs led us to Claquato Church, the last rest stop.
A historic landmark of the Claquato Tribe

The Optimists at this stop fed us the usual, but also cake and brownies! Nothing like some pure sugar to fuel the last few miles! They also had a fan and a mister going. According to my bike computer, the temp was 86 (probably a tad exaggerated, but it was definately toasty). One of the ladies took our picture for their blog. She also took one with my phone.
Dude to the right of me is a guy named Ron. He kinda-sorta rode about half the ride with us. 

When we came to the new Mellen St. exit in Centralia, the route changed from last year. Now there is a most awesome bike path running along the west side of I-5 (there's a road in between) to Airport Rd. It continues for a short distance more, but we turned onto Airport Rd. and rode around the back side of the airport. We came out, and crossed over the freeway into Chehalis proper. The route wound around the residential streets, and popped out to the road that would take us back over the freeway, and back to the start. 

With the new bike path, the route was not quite 100 miles. Strava had me at 98.1. Our average was 16.1mph. We did it in 6 hours of ride time, and about 6:45 total time.

As for the reason the route should be called "The 100 Milepost 1 Ride" is because we passed Milepost 1 over and over! We joked that everytime we seemed to be making progress, we'd see Milepost 1 again! We threatened to stop and take a photo at one of the mileposts, but we didn't.

This was one of the most fun almost-100 mile rides I've done. I love riding with my OOA gal pals!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Bringing Home a Hitchhiker

I had an okay night's sleep in my tent. My right side felt bruised, so wasn't very comfortable sleeping on that side. I figured it was from pushing MC up the steep hill. I got up this morning and commenced with fixing breakfast. My usual routine in the morning when touring is to pack everything up, then fix breakfast. I can see that I will have to slightly alter that routine. My cookset goes in the trailer bag, so I can't pack that up until I've finished with it. At least I can still pack up my sleeping bag, pad, tent, and all that sort of stuff. Last night, I unhooked the trailer. I think, when possible, I will leave JP attached to MC, and just take the bag out. That would save a step in the morning. I also need to come up with a better organization of the bag for more efficient packing. But, overall, it's okay.

I got on the road at about 8:40, after stopping at the restrooms. I didn't see Jack or Nancy to tell them goodbye, but I had thanked them again before I went to bed last night. The sun was shining, but it was still a little nippy. 

I followed Bald Hill Rd to Longmire. I knew Longmire would take me to Neat Rd. which would then take me to Lawrence Lake Rd. Along the way I saw quite a few sheep. This mama and two babies looked quite cute.

I also had a pretty good opportunity for a shadow picture!
I think I'd have to use the panorama feature to get the whole rig in the photo!

I followed Lawrence Lake to 153rd, then worked my way into Rainier. I was hoping to have a snack break at Main Street Cookie Co., but they were sold out and closed. It was only 10:00, but that might have been from yesterday because I'm not sure they're open on Sundays anyway. So, no cookies. I just had some fruit and nut trail mix--not nearly as good as a frosted Snickerdoodle, but better than nothing.

I hopped on the trail in Rainier. Due to the lovely weather and it being Sunday, there were lots of people out on the trail. One couple passed me and the guy said, "You don't get to cheat at all on that!" No, no I do not.

I saw Debbie and her STP training group going the other way. They didn't stop. Later, I saw Jean also going the other way. We stopped and chatted for a moment.

I got home, and almost immediately jumped in the shower. When I got out, I tried to see if the pain in my side was really a bruise. There was, what looked like a scab and a red circle. I couldn't remember getting poked by anything. I got dressed and went to my son and asked him if he could see if it was a scab. He said, "No, that's a bug, and it's moving!" Oh, great...a tick. I told my son he would have to remove it as I couldn't reach it. He freaked out a little, but did his best to get ahold of the little hitchhiker and pull him out. Unfortunately, it didn't want to leave the delicious blood smorgasbord I was providing. My son said, "Uh oh, it broke." He couldn't grasp anymore of it with the tweezers, and there was clearly more left. 

When I called the Consulting Nurse at Group Health, she was a little flustered. I said, "What? You don't get tick problems on a regulat basis?" She told me to go into Urgent Care. So I did, and the remains of the little hitchhiker were cut out. One dose of Doxycycline to prevent Lyme Disease, and I was good to go. I have one little suture that can be removed in 7-10 days. 

In oh so many ways this was a rather eventful shakedown. I'm hoping I've experienced all the dead ends and ticks I'm going to. Although, I kind of doubt it...

The Shakedown--Didn't Go As Planned, Or...

Gates, Gates, and More Gates!

Since I wasn't racing in Wenatchee this weekend, I thought I'd take this opportunity to do an overnight with Mama Cass and Johnny P. It would be good practice to see how it would really be to pull the trailer with a mostly full load. 

Where to go...I decided to go to Alder Lake. When I googled the route, it took me on Weyerhauser Truck Road. Sweet! I'd get an added bonus of getting to do some gravel to further the reality of this shakedown. 

I took off this morning about 8:30. That's a fairly standard leaving time when I'm touring. I rode out Yelm Hwy to 510, and on into Yelm.
Look, Mama Cass and Johnny P are standing all by themselves! Getting out of this position is kind of tricky.

In Yelm, I turned onto Bald Hill Rd. The directions said to follow Bald Hill to Piessner. I did that and came to my first dead end of the day. Well, it wasn't really a dead end, but the only 2 options had signs that said "Private". One going so far as to say, "Keep out!" The other option appeared to be what Google had in the directions. The sign for that one was like this one.
This was at the other end.

There was also a gate and a surveillance camera. Since I didn't want to go back the way I came, I opted to go under the gate (easier said than done as I had to unhook JP, scootch MC under, because it was too high to lift over, get JP under, and hook him back up). I just hoped no one was monitoring the camera on a Saturday. 

Back on the bike, I continued on the road. It was fairly grown over, but got better as I went. Then I came to the other gate. I pondered whether I could go around it, but decided it probably wouldn't work. So, I again unhooked JP, and re-hooked on the other side.
This was getting tiring.

Not much later, I came to another gate. This was a Weyerhauser gate. Here there was a sign that said, if the gate was closed, non-motorized recreation was allowed. Excellent! Of course, I had to do the same unhook, go under, hook back up routine. At this point I was warming up, so I took my sleeves off, and put my sunsleeves on. It was nice and sunny.

Soon, I came out onto the real Weyerhauser Truck Rd. It's a wide gravel road.
I thought it would be smooth sailing from here, direction-wise. Oh, I was sooooo wrong!

I rode the gravel for a few miles. Then, it became a little narrower. I consulted the Garmin, and went the way that would take me out to the Mountain Hwy. I had to go up a steep hill...I mean a REALLY STEEP HILL! I got off and started pushing. It's not so easy pushing the bike with the trailer attached! And, did I mention it was REALLY STEEP? I would take about 25 steps, then rest, holding firmly on the brakes. Then another 25 (yes, I was counting), and another. I finally got to the top. 
The top was still around the corner.

I was rewarded with a nice downhill. At the bottom, I came to an intersection. According to the Garmin, both roads went to the same place, one was just a bit longer. I took the shorter one. I could see it went up, and logically (or not), I figured I'd rather do the up I could see, rather than the one I couldn't. I ended up pushing again, but not too far, or as hard (I could tell it wasn't as hard because, among other things, my speedometer was actually registering whereas before, it wasn't). I got to the top only to find out it was a dead end.
End of the road.

I could see down below that there was another dead end road. I told myself, that must not be the other road. Back down I went to the intersection, and turned on the other road. Well, it was that road, so another dead end. DRAT! I went back up that one, and tried one other, but it quickly dead ended. Now what to do? I could see the highway. I could hear the cars. I just couldn't get there.

I had no choice but to go back. At least I got to go down the really steep hill (okay, not so much fun going down either, but definately not as tiring). I thought I would go back to where I had passed another intersection, and try that one. When I looked at the Garmin, it said it would take me out to the highway. Annnnd, it was another gate. Yippee! You'd think I'd be pretty good at these by now. Nope, still just as hard (In the owner's manual for JP, it says not to hook it up to the bike fully loaded--yeah, I know why). I got back on MC. It was really more of a double-track with the occasional Attack Scotchbroom lying in wait. Oh, and the sneaky nettles too. 

I followed the "road" down (of course it was down). There were sections of old pavement. I thought this was quite promising. I could hear I was getting closer to the river (Nisqually, I think). As I came around a corner, I saw a jersey barrier, and even said out loud, "Yes! We made it to the road!" Except, we didn't. On the other side of the jersey barriers was the river...and the remains of what used to be a bridge.
We'll not be crossing here!

At this point, I was down to about a bottle and some of water (I attached two bottle cages to JP, and put another bottle in a Revelate Mountain Feed Bag on the handlebar--instead of wearing the hydration pack). I thought, if I could get access to the river, I could get water, and I could just call it a day, and camp here. I walked a path of sorts to a spot where I thought I could get water, but when I got back to the bike, I decided it was too early (just 2:00). I consulted the Garmin once again. I could see Bald Hill Lake. I thought maybe that would be good. So, back to the gate I went...and under again (at least, this was the only gate I went through twice). 

I was back on the gravel road. I saw another lake, but couldn't see any access, so I continued on. I passed where I had come out (glad I wasn't going back THAT way), and kept riding on the wide gravel road. 

Amazingly, I came to a point where I could see a neighborhood of houses. Then, I came upon a couple of gals, a guy, and a toddler. I stopped to ask them if this road came out to a paved road. They said it came out to Bald Hill Rd just a short distance further. Turned out, they had seen me earlier when I was on Bald Hill. I decided I would just ride home. I figured with my now 1 bottle of water, I could at least make it to Yelm, if not all the way home. 

Of course, I had to go through ONE MORE GATE! Then, I was out and onto Bald Hill Rd...for the second time today. I was at around 46 miles. Okay, this was going to be a lot longer day than it should have been, and not even camping! But, I didn't really need to do a shakedown for the camping part. I'm quite good at that. So, I guess I would have accomplished what I needed to. 

As I was pondering my aborted mission, I came to a grocery store at Clear Lake. I stopped to get a bottle of Gatorade. Off hand, I asked the clerk if this place was just a neighborhood, or if there was camping too. To my surprise, she said there is camping (it's also a neighborhood). I asked her where, but she didn't really know because she wouldn't camp here because of the bugs. I said I guessed I could just ride around and see. I stopped at a house where the people were outside and asked them about where this so-called camping was. Turns out, there really isn't camping per se. Some of the people who own lots haven't built on them. Instead they bring their RVs and camp. I asked the gal where the beach was (because the clerk had said there were restrooms and water at the beaches). I asked if she thought it would be okay if I camped there. She said she was fine with it, and to just act like I knew what I was doing. I found one beach, but it really didn't have a suitable place. Then I found another beach, but there were lots of people there. On my way to the beaches I had passed a lot where there was an RV, and the people had a campfire going. I decided, instead of trying to stealth camp in the middle of this rather densely populated neighborhood, I would go back to that RV and ask them if I could pitch my tent on their lot. 

That's how I met Jack and Nancy from Federal Way. They've owned the lot for about 6 years. This is their first weekend back for the season. They have two dogs, Coco, a Chocolate Lab, and Freckles, a Cocker Spaniel. Coco is quite friendly, but Freckles is very shy (and barky). They said I could pitch my tent, no problem. There's even a picnic table to cook my dinner. I sat around the fire with them for awhile (Freckles was slowly warming up to me). Now I'm in my tent finishing this post. Tomorrow, I won't have much more than 25 or so miles to get home.

Ending up at Clear Lake instead of Alder Lake is not what I planned, but I still accomplished what I wanted, and now I know NOT to go this way in June when my first day will be going by Alder Lake!
Clear Lake
Jack and Nancy's place
Here's a parting shot of Mount Rainier from Weyerhauser Truck Rd looking back on my way to Bald Hill.

Total miles: 49.6 (was supposed to be 37)