Friday, May 27, 2016

Chapter 4 of the Tilmann Saga--Planet Earth

Derik and I had plans once Tilmann returned from the painter's. Unfortunately, they had to change a little. But, it will be okay. Jeff at Forever Powder Coating finished Tilmann's paint job today right when I was sitting at the train station waiting to go back to Eugene for a couple of weeks. We were hoping to get him back yesterday, so I could take him to Eugene. Instead, Betsy gets to make one last trip on the train.

I decided to go ahead and have Derik put all of Tilmann's parts together while I am gone. He has promised to take photos while he is building him up. So, I'll be able to share them in Chapter 5.

Derik picked up Tilmann, and took these photos. 

Top tube
Seat tube
Can you tell where the split is, in the seat stay, to get the belt on? 

Needless to say, based on these photos, I am very happy with how he turned out. Considering he's a bike, he is a good representation of the earth from space!

When I return home, Derik and I will go over Tilmann's tricks, and how to take him apart to pack him in his case. I fly with him to Spokane on June 14. That doesn't leave a lot of practice time...

Monday, May 23, 2016

Mama Cass and Stella Go Touring Together

But, you say, how is that possible? You can't ride two bikes at the same time. Don't worry, I didn't.

My friend, Annette, came over from Spokane to do a shakedown ride in preparation for our tour next month on the Selkirk Loop. This was Annette's first time riding a fully loaded touring bike. She would ride Stella, and if they got along together, then Stella would go to Spokane with Annette. I will be flying to Spokane with Tilmann. Lucky for Mama Cass, Tilmann is not finished quite yet, so she got to go on the shakedown.
Annette with the two loaded girls.

Originally, we were just going to go to Millersylvania. But, turns out, Annette has been doing a fair amount of riding. Instead, we opted to ride to Schafer State Park which was nearly 50 miles from home (versus Millersylvania's 34--if we took the long way). Now, you might be thinking, if you've read my previous blog post, why would I want to ride to Schafer when I just raced out there last weekend? I won't say it is a completely different world touring versus racing, but it is a whole lot slower! Slowness allows for viewing the scenery--seeing something besides the wheel in front of you. Besides, we went the opposite direction, and everyone knows that's totally different! 

We planned a 9:00am departure from my house. Amazingly, we left at 8:50! That rarely happens, especially when you have someone who has not toured before. We even did some last minute saddle adjustment (Annette is a bit taller than me). 

Full rain gear.

Unfortunately, it was raining. We put on our rain gear. I decided to try my new Showers Pass waterproof socks. I opted for my full length rain pants instead of my waterproof shorts. The only bad thing was that Mama Cass does not have fenders. I put front and rear racks on (going with panniers instead of the trailer), and there is not enough clearance for fenders. Annette had to stay back a bit to escape the rooster tail of water that MC was spitting out. Later, she decided it didn't really matter as she was already getting wet from the rainfall.

We headed west out of Olympia. There is quite a bit of climbing. Going up Old Hwy 410, I noticed Stella's rear tire looked a little low. I realized I had not added air before we left. We stopped, and I pumped up both tires to account for the added weight. 

We made it to McCleary at about noon. We stopped at Subway for lunch. It had rained the entire ride there. We both formed good size puddles under our chairs. 
"We made it!", said Annette (to lunch, anyway).

Annette had to take care of some business with her son over the phone, so we had a good long break, and dried out some. I hopped across the street to the Ma and Pa's Kettlecorn roadside stand and bought a bag of caramel corn for later.

Back on the road, we stayed off Hwy 8, instead, taking the backroad. After awhile, we noticed the rain has eased up a little, but it was a bit more windy--a headwind, of course. We made it to E. Satsop Road where we had to go up the steep hill that I came down in the race. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Also, the rain had stopped, which was awesome! Setting tents up in the rain is no fun!

We arrived at the park, and the ranger said we could choose whichever non-power site we wanted as the park was mostly empty. He still only charged us the primitive site cost of $12.

Woo Hoo! 

We decided on #8. We wanted to be near the river so we could listen to the sound of the water, and 8 had two nice flat spots for our tents. Annette is using my REI Quarter Dome T2 tent. I helped her, after I reminded myself how to set it up. I'm using my MSR Hubba Hubba NX. We got everything set up. This was my first time sleeping on my new Windcatcher sleeping pad (first saw it on Shark Tank--the technology has now been licensed to Thermarest). The pad inflates by blowing into a large opening from about 4 inches away. As I blow into it, it sucks the surrounding air in as well, therefore not requiring as many breaths. Once it is mostly inflated, the opening rolls up and latches closed. Then the small valve is used to fine tune the firmness. Overall, it seems to inflate faster than pumping my Exped. Even if it doesn't, this pad is much lighter and takes up less space. So far, it seems pretty comfortable.

Our campsite by the river.

For dinner, I made my favorite pasta with sautéed veggies. I used my new Sea to Summit XPot and bowl (I also have the cup). The pot is collapsible silicon with a metal base. It has a lid with strainer holes. It worked great! I really like how I can leave the lid partially off without it continually sliding back on so it doesn't boil over. I was a little concerned that the small handles on the side of the pot would make it hard to hold onto to drain the pasta water. It was actually very easy. When stored, the cup and bowl both fit in the collapsed pot. It makes for a tidy cookset. I give it a thumbs up!
Cooking dinner

After dinner, Annette really wanted a fire, so she bought a bundle of wood. While she was attempting to start the fire, I went to the restroom building and washed the dishes. I returned to find Annette still trying to start the fire. There were a couple of problems. First, the pieces of wood were too big. There was a little kindling, but nothing in between that and the big pieces. Also, we were trying to use a glossy brochure about the Selkirk Loop as fire starter material. Glossy paper does not burn well! Annette was still determined to have a fire. I suggested going to some nearby campers, who had a nice fire going, and asking if they had a hatchet we could borrow. They did, and we're happy to let Annette go about turning our firewood into smaller, more burn worthy pieces. While Annette hacked at the wood, I started to rebuild the pyre. Realizing the glossy paper just wasn't going to work, I finally pulled out the ultimate fire starter...toilet paper. After all, it can start a forest fire (true story--last summer, a guy in Idaho went to burn his tp after doing his business and ended up starting a forest fire)! Sure enough, that got it going.
Fire, at last! I'm sure Bear Grylls would be appalled at our lame fire starting skills!

We sat (well, I sat because I brought my chair), eating carmel corn, and admiring our pyro handiwork. Annette returned the hatchet. I asked her if she had asked if we could "borrow" some marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars (and some sticks too, for the marshmallows). she did not.

The fire burned down (one $5 bundle doesn't last long--especially when you hack it up into tiny pieces), but that was okay because it was nearly 8:30 and time to retire to our tents. I was planning to read my Kindle, but accidently broke it when I pushed down on it while it was hidden under part of my sleeping bag. Oops, now only part of the screen works. It's hard to get the gist of the story when you can only read the bottom 5 lines. It's not the end of the world, I have another one at home. I just don't get to read myself to sleep tonight. Instead, I'm writing this post. 

So that was about it for today, I'll add to this tomorrow for Day 2 of the shakedown ride.

Tomorrow (which is really today, because we are home now)

Well, after sleeping on my new sleeping pad, I can give it a thumbs up too! It's a little narrower, but I didn't fall off or anything. 

It didn't rain during the night, nor when we got up this morning either. Yay! We packed up our stuff, ate breakfast, and hit the road about 9:45. It was a little later than yesterday, but we also slept until 7:30. 
Heating water for our oatmeal.

We decided to continue around the race course loop, even though it was about 3 miles longer. It was a nice ride, and even some blue sky appeared! However, as we were heading back toward McCleary, it started to rain. I stopped to put my saddle cover on my Brooks, and took the opportunity to take a photo of the Satsop Towers. It didn't rain for long though.

Annette had told her son she would talk to him at lunch again. We stopped again at Subway in McCleary. The same two gals were working today as yesterday. I asked them if they had missed us. Unbelievably, when we said we would have the same as yesterday, they didn't remember! 

While Annette was on the phone with her son, it started to rain again. But, by the time she was done, and we were ready to go, it had stopped. Perfect! We got back on Hwy 8 at the end of Mox-Chehalis Rd. It was raining off and on, but I had looked at the forecast while at Subway, and it was supposed to quit. It did...for awhile. 

We were riding along side by side. Annette decided to get behind me. Just as she was moving in behind me, a big truck went by and pushed a gust of wind (we already had a tail wind). The wind pushed Annette and Stella, causing them to bump Mama Cass' rear pannier, and effectively pushing MC and I off the road. We just rolled with it (didn't try to get back on the road). Unfortunately, Annette and Stella crashed. Neither were hurt (Annette landed in the grass, Stella's panniers cushioned her fall). Annette got back on Stella, and we continued. 

We got back to Mud Bay and had to go up Mud Bay hill. Annette was getting pretty tired, so I told her we would stop at the new Blue Heron Bakery for a break after we climbed the hill.
You can do it, Annette!

As Annette crested the hill, she was about to ask me if her rear tire looked low. I said, "It's flat." We rolled up onto the sidewalk at the intersection. We got the wheel off, and I found a small sharp triangle of plastic (or something) imbedded in the tire. Since the tires are Marathon Plus, it's hard telling how long that had been in there before it finally punctured the tube (and it still wasn't completely flat). We realized that was why Annette was feeling so tired!

After fixing the flat, we made our way to Blue Heron. Annette said the riding was much better! We had snacks at Blue Heron (some cocoa and a apricot chocolate chip macaroon for me, blueberry croissant for Annette).

From the bakery, we had about 10 miles to go. For something different than we'd done yesterday, we came through town, and up the Woodland Trail. Annette had never been on it. At the roundabout, we stopped for a photo.
Only 4.5 miles to go!

Over the two days, we rode 99 miles. Our average speed was 11.4 and 11.5, yesterday and today. Annette and Stella seemed to get along well, so Stella is headed to Spokane with Annette tomorrow morning. I'll miss Stella, as she is my workhorse around town. Hopefully, Tilmann will be joining the stable soon. I think we are going to have a blast on the Selkirk Loop. I can't wait until next month!
Bye bye, Stella!

Saturday, May 14, 2016


Olympic View Road Race, also known as the WSBA Masters Championship. All season long I've been saying this is the race I want to have a good result. You might be thinking, well duh, it's a Masters race. Finally, I get to race against my age group (sort is 40+, so I could still be 14 years older than some of the racers)! You would be right, but the real reason is because I wanted redemption from last year's miserable failure. The race where I foolishly decided to do my own breakaway, forgot about the big hill, and ended up coming in 7th...out of 8. Yeah, that race. 

This year there was only the Cat 4 40+, and the Cat 1, 2, 3 40+ options for women. Last year, there was a 35-39 Cat 4 that we raced with, but weren't scored with them. It was good because I knew exactly who I was racing against. Another positive about this year was that we had 6 OOA gals racing! Yes, that right, 6! Okay, so partly what that says is that our women's team of road racers is made up mostly of old women (mind you, not old in the real world, but old in the bike racing world)! Today, OOA was represented by Jean, Debbie, Julie, Karen, Cindy, and myself. We made up almost half of the field! Talk about the pressure being on for one of us to get on the podium! If we couldn't do it with having half the field, when could we? From a race plan standpoint, because I wanted to do well, I told the gals, if there was a breakaway, I planned to be in it (I just wouldn't initiate it--yes, I learned my lesson well). I also said that it would be great if some of my other teammates were also in the break! 

Debbie, Julie, Jean, Cindy, Me, and Karen--don't you think it curious that the ones not on bikes have helmets on, yet the ones on bikes do not??? Jean was the only one brave enough to go bare legged!

As we lined up for the start, the weather was overcast, and it was spitting rain occasionally. Because it had rained, and the roads were wet (after a significant dry period, so potentially oily), the finish was changed to before the Cemetary. That meant we would only be racing down the steep hairpin turn once. That also made our race about 4 miles shorter--fine by me! 

We got the go ahead to roll out. Laura (her name might be Laurie--the results say Laura, but we were calling her Laurie), the Spokeswoman gal, had made it known she was going to push the pace. She wanted to race, not just poodle along. I figured, at some point, she would get a break going. I would try to stay near her. 

The first part was pretty flat. Julie was the worker bee, staying on the front for a long time. When we came to the first hill, Debbie motored up the hill like it was nothing! I got on her wheel. As we started down the other side, gals started to go around us. I told Debbie to get into her drops. She didn't, but I went around anyway because I had my eye on Laura. Indeed, Laura was pushing the pace, but she would sit up, and wait for us to catch back on. Then, for awhile, it got a little crazy fast but, there were only 5 of us doing the work. Once we realized we were just pulling everyone along behind us, we eased up (thank God!!!). All of us OOA gals were in the mix. I was coaching them now and then to get in--we certainly had enough of us that no one should be stuck out in the wind too long! I was really proud of how my teammate's were racing!

We had made the turn from Middle Satsop to Schafer Park Rd, then to E Satsop. Pretty soon, I saw the 1 km sign. I thought to myself, would we be finishing at the top of the big hill??? I so hoped not! Then we came to the 200m sign, and I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized we would not. In fact, even better, I realized we would only have to race up the big hill once! Well, this just keeps getting better and better! First the race is shorter, and now we don't even have to go up the big hill twice!

When we finally came to the big hill, I was still so elated to know I would only have to go hard up it once, that I got out of the saddle for most of the climb, and stayed with the front group! This was where the break got going. Laura kept yelling for us to keep going. At first it was Laura, Lisa (Bikesale), Vicki (also Bikesale), and me. But, then Debbie and Jean chased and got in too! They were wiped out from chasing on, so didn't get into the rotating pace line, but that was fine. We went by the Cemetary, and I shouted that this was the beginning of the steep downhill with the hairpin turn. Fortunately, the road was fairly dry, so we were able to drill it through the turn. Unfortunately, Jean and Debbie slowed up a bit too much (you would too if you didn't like steep curvy downhills so much--I happen to love them), and they were unable to catch back on. 

Going into the second (but really only 8/10ths) lap, it was just the four of us. We had no idea how close everyone else was, so we were going as fast as we could. The problem was, Lisa and Laura were stronger than Vicki and I. We were rotating, but it would take everything Vicki and I had to get up to the front, then Laura and Lisa would blow right by us. Then it was right back to having to pull to the front. We were getting zero recovery (not how a rotating paceline is supposed to work). Finally, I said the pace was a little too fast. Lisa immediately apologized, and we slowed it down ever so slightly. That was much better. At this point, the follow car was behind us, so we knew we had a decent break. Still, you never want to let up, and we definitely didn't! While it seemed effortless for Lisa and Laura, Vicki and I were wheezing like donkeys. There were times where Vicki and I had to sit out a rotation, but we would get right back into it on the next go around. Just needed a tiny bit of recovery!

Remember how I said I wanted to do well in this race? By well, I meant on the podium. It was looking like I would be, quite possibly, 4th. That's not on the podium! I was sure I couldn't beat Lisa or Laura. They were just both so strong. 

We finally came to the 1 km sign again. We continued to rotate right up until the 200 m. Then, as predicted, the two Ls sprinted off, and it was left for Vicki and I to battle for 3rd. I had a slight advantage as I was on Vicki's wheel coming into the 200 m. We were both sprinting our guts out, but I managed to get by her and take 3rd. Woo Hoo!!! Redemption is mine!!! 

Vicki remarked on our 4 mile ride back to the parking lot how hard the race was...for a Masters race. We were both fairly surprised that Lisa did so well as she has not raced at all (or very little) this season. She was the dark horse. 

It was a good race. Jean, Karen, and Debbie came in together for 6th, 7th, and 8th respectively. Julie and Cindy were 10th and 11th. 
Well done ladies!

The official results.

Today was my 11th race of this season. Now I'm turning my attention, somewhat, to some touring and other things. I'll still be riding because I do have two more races in early August--Boston Harbor Circuit Race, and the Masters Championship TT in Tenino. For now, however, a bit of a breather!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

A Story About Stella

This is an email I sent to my friend, Annette, who is going to be doing a week long tour on the Selkirk Loop with me in June. She doesn't have a suitable bike for loaded touring, so she is going to ride Stella.

                                                         A Story About Stella

I have a story to tell you about Stella. Don't worry, it has a happy ending. In fact, it could almost be a Disney movie (because all Disney movies have happy endings)!

Once upon a a galaxy far far away...okay...not really. So, last week before I went to Eugene (I was taking Stella so I could take panniers), I put the handlebar bag on Stella, and rode into town to do some errands. I noticed the bag was really pushing on the shifter cables. It wasn't interfering with the shifting, but it was making it so the shift/brake levers would not come all the way back after pulling the brakes. Strangely, this hasn't been an issue before, even though I've ridden thousands of miles with that set-up. As I was riding right by the bike shop, I decided to stop in and see if my bike shop homies and I could come up with a solution.

I explained the problem to Will. First we thought maybe longer cables would do the trick. But, that wouldn't really give more clearance for the bag. The cables would still be pushed up against the sides of the bag making it so the levers couldn't return to their "resting" position. Then I thought about what Betsy has on her shifter cables. She has these rigid metal "noodles" (actually, she has flexible ones now, but for a different reason). If I could put the noodles on the shifter cables, then the cables would be curved at 90 degrees, thus creating the clearance needed for the handlebar bag--problem solved!

I bought the noodles, and also bought new cable housing. Since I had fairly recently changed the cables, I didn't buy new cables. However, I had noticed, on an earlier trip to the bike shop, that they carried shifter cable barrel adjusters. I had never replaced the barrel adjusters (used for fine tuning cable length to improve shifting or braking), so thought I might as well get them, since I was messing with the cables anyway. 

Since I was leaving for Eugene that afternoon, I didn't bother to do the switch to the noodles. I would just need to remember to manually push the levers back out after braking. Now, you might be wondering why didn't I just plan to tell you, when you were riding Stella, to do the same--just push the levers back out after you brake. Well, since this is your maiden voyage in loaded bike touring, I didn't want you to have to deal with any strange quirks with Stella (which is not to say that she has no quirks at all--any bike that has been around the block a few thousand times has quirks, but I wanted to eliminate what I could).

Tuesday, after getting back from Eugene, I went to work on adding the noodles, and replacing the barrel adjusters. The first snafu (or if this was a Disney movie, the first tragedy), was when I cut off the end cap for the front derailleur cable, the end of the cable frayed. I tried, in vane, to get the cable through the noodle. It only made the cable fray more. So, now I need to get new cables too, but I didn't have time to go back to the bike shop. Yesterday, I returned to the bike shop and bought new cables. I returned home, and was able to get the front derailleur cable replaced with the noodle and barrel adjuster added. It was even shifting better than it had been!

On to the rear derailleur cable. I loosened the pinch bolt (noticing that the end of the cable also frayed like the front cable--good thing I bought two cables), and pulled all the housing off. Then the next Disney tragedy struck. First, a little info on removing shifter cables. In order to get the cable out of the shifter lever, you have to first shift the lever to the hardest gear. Then, you pull the lever in as if you were braking. When the lever is pulled all the way in, you swing (like shifting, only with the brakes pulled) the lever in, thus exposing the inside of the shifter where the cable end is. The cable has a little ball-like stop on it (obviously, to keep the cable from just pulling out). When the shifter is pulled all the way over, it exposes a larger opening that allows the ball end of the cable to be able to be pulled out (and new cable to go in). I'd had to do the same with the front cable, and had no problems. However, the rear was not cooperating. When I would swing the shift/brake lever in, it wouldn't go far enough to expose the larger opening to allow me to get the ball end of the cable out from the cable track. I tried everything. I've had issues like this before where I just keep trying, and somehow some kind of magic happens, and it works. Well, no magic was happening in this case. 

The end of the cable wasn't frayed as much as the front one, so I decided to try and use the same cable. I got everything on, but at the very end I could not get the cable back through the derailleur, and it turns out, with the addition of the noodle, the cable was too short anyway. Well, DARN IT!!! (really, I said FUCK!!! But, this being a Disney movie and all...) Again, I did not have time to go back to the bike shop.

That brings us to this morning. I tried to see if some magic had occurred overnight (you know, like in the story about the tailor who can't finish making the clothes, and the mice who do all the sewing while he sleeps), but no (I guess this is less like a Disney movie than I thought). I still couldn't get the cable out. I coiled up the long cable and zip-tied it so I could ride to the shop, and have one of my homies get it out. I took all the replacement stuff with me, intending to have them just do it for me (which pissed me off because I KNOW how to do it!). Since I was riding with no rear derailleur cable, that meant I, effectively, had one gear. Really, there were three, but the easiest gear would be cross-chaining the chain (little ring front, little cog rear), and the other gear would be the hardest gear Stella has. So I was stuck with the middle ring on the front, and the smallest cog on the rear. This was not too bad, except the derailleur would cause the chain to skip if I put too much force on the pedals (no tension on the derailleur because no cable). Fortunately, the route over to Joy Ride only has one hill. I figured I'd be leaving Stella at the shop and taking the bus home, so I wouldn't have to go up the three hills to come back. 

I made it up the hill with only a little bit of skipping. I arrived at Joy Ride (3.4 miles from home) and told Cam my problem. Initially, when he tried to get the cable out, he had the same problem as me. But, then he worked a little magic voodoo, and managed to get the lever to swing fully to expose the larger opening. He said the lever had been jammed, and he got it unjammed by pushing and shifting it at the same time (I swear I tried that!). So, the old cable was finally out! In my joy at finally having the old cable out, I forgot that I was going to let them put the new stuff on. Instead, I happily said thanks, and headed home. The derailleur was still wanting to skip the chain, so I rode carefully up the three hills coming home. Once I got home, it took me all of maybe 30 minutes to get the new cable on with the noodle, and barrel adjuster, and get Stella back to shifting properly (see? I told you I knew how to do it!). 

The final part of this Disneyesque story was putting the handlebar bag on to see if the noodles made it so the levers worked like they're supposed to. And, YES, it worked! The noodles allow enough clearance for the bag!
90 degree bend noodles
It doesn't look like much clearance, but it's enough.

...And they lived happily ever after...THE END (roll the credits)

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Who Wouldn't Want to Ride a Road Called Poodle Creek?

I'm back in Eugene spending time with My Sweet Baboo (and my son and daughter-in-law too, of course). Last time I was down, I did a ride north. When I got back to the house, I looked at the route. I saw that if I had turned left onto Hwy 36 (aka the Mapleton-Junction City Hwy), I would have come to Poodle Creek Rd. I had seen the other end of Poodle Creek off Hwy 126 (aka the Florence-Eugene Hwy). With a name like Poodle Creek, who wouldn't want to ride that road??? I mapped out a 61 mile route to include all of Poodle Creek Rd (I'd be sure to see some poodles if I rode the whole thing, right?).

I left the house at about 8:45. The forecast was for sunny skies and 81 degrees. It was already 63 when I left, so no need for leg warmers. I had my sun sleeves on, though. This was going to a rather long ride as I was riding Stella, my Cannondale t2 touring bike. Of course, I've ridden her many more miles than 61, but not for a really long time. 

I headed west the usual way via the Fern Ridge Trail to Greenhill Rd. Along the trail, I saw this heron waiting for something delicious to come swimming over the waterfall.
Must not have found much because 40+ miles later when I was coming back, it was still there.

When I turned off Greenhill onto Bodenhamer, I saw a bunch of cyclists coming the other direction. Maybe sometime when I'm down here I should see if there is a bike club (I'm sure there is) and what kind of group rides they have. Could be fun...

I also saw a bunch of turkeys out in a field. A couple of big toms too.
Not the best picture, but I didn't have my turkey caller to get them to come closer. 

It was a great day for seeing all kinds of birds. Besides the turkeys and the heron, I saw quail go scuttling into the bushes, several red-wing blackbirds, and lots of hawks circling over the fields. Speaking of fields, does anyone know what is growing here?

As I was riding on Clear Lake Rd near the Fern Ridge Reservoir, I saw a log in the water with a bunch of turtles sunning themselves. I stopped to take a picture, but all but one brave soul plopped into the water.
See the brave one?

As I was riding past the park, a guy came riding up alongside me. He asked where I was riding today. I told him about Poodle Creek Rd. He said that is a popular route, but they usually go up Poodle Creek from the other end. Up? That sounds like I'll be going down! Okay by me! His buddy caught up, and they took off, riding faster than I was on Stella.

At Territorial Hwy, Clear Lake Rd becomes Lawrence Rd after crossing the hwy. Now I was on a new road for me. I could still see the guys for awhile, then the road started gradually climbing. It was a fairly long climb. As is usually the case in this area, there was an equally nice downhill on the other side. Before long, I came to Hwy 36. I turned left to continue heading to Poodle Creek Rd. The hwy was kind of busy, and there wasn't much shoulder. I hoped I wouldn't be on it too long, but when I looked to my left, all I could see were hills, mountainy-like hills. As much as I wanted to be off the hwy, I was hoping I wouldn't have to climb over any of those hills! 

It seemed like there was a break in the hills. Sure enough, I came to the turn onto Poodle Creek. Notice on the sign above, it also says Noti 8. Noti was on the other side of Hwy 126, so Poodle Creek Rd must not be very long. It ended up being about 7 miles. I didn't see any poodles, but maybe this was the actual Poodle Creek.

Although it was a nice road, there weren't any particularly long or epic downhills.
In fact, this was uphill.

I came out to Hwy 126, and did a little jog left then right onto Noti Loop Rd. Right after I got onto Noti Loop, I saw this fella in the middle of the road.
Knowing he was bound to get squished, I helped him off the road to a safer location. Yes, I know, turtles being turtles, and liking to sun themselves on warm roads, I probably only prolonged his life a little bit more...

When I came into Noti, there was a market, so I stopped and had an ice cream bar. The primary industry in Noti appears to be timber.
The market, and a big pile of logs being kept wet by sprinklers.

The road next to the market was also where I wanted to turn. I knew where Vaughn Rd came out (in Crow), but I'd never been on it. It was a nice rolling road with very little traffic.

Nice green fields.

I came out to Territorial Hwy (it really winds around) at Crow. I didn't want to ride Territorial Hwy as I have been on it many times. Vaughn Rd became Central Rd...and went up a big hill. Oh well, I was on Stella, and she has pretty low gears. The climb wasn't terribly long, and, as usual, the downhill was nice on the other side. When I was planning the route, I think I was going to somehow connect to Greenhill Rd without going on 126 (except to cross it). None of the roads off Central rang a bell. I ended up on 126. It was the most unpleasant portion of today's ride; lots of traffic, and not the biggest shoulder. I was on it for about 4 miles or so before I came to Greenhill Rd, and could turn off it. 

Once on Greenhill, I just rode to the end of the Fern Ridge Trail, and rode the trail back into Eugene the way I had gone out. It was a beautiful day for a ride, and I actually enjoyed being on Stella. She's not the fastest girl (average speed 13.7), but she is comfortable to ride.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

"Please Sir, May I Have Another?"

Happy May Day! And a glorious day it was! A perfect day to go ride a Gran Fondo! An even more perfect day to ride a Dirty Gran Fondo! The Green Team was the sponsor of today's ride. There were several course and distance options to choose from. Karen, Michelle, and I chose the Dirty Medio course. This was advertised to be 66 miles with 30 miles of gravel. In the end, it wasn't exactly that, but I'll get to that in a moment.

The start was at Rochester Primary School in...wait for it...Rochester (surprise!). Because it's a Gran Fondo, which is not a race, it was a mass start regardless of which route everyone was doing. 
Riders getting ready.

There wasn't a ton of riders, something like 62 or so, for the whole thing, but it was a good group start. There were lots of teammates, and other people I know. We tried to convince Andy and Katie to do the Dirty Medio with us, but they had their group plan for the Medio Road. 

The weather at 9:00 was already plenty warm enough to go without arm and leg warmers. Karen even ditched her vest at the last minute. I had sun sleeves on, but that's just because I hate putting sunscreen on my arms. 

Our initial plan was to stay with the tandem (pretty good drafting there!). However, early on, they got a flat, so no more tandem drafting. We passed a bunch of people, and found ourselves in the front. We could see the other large group ahead of us, so we decided to try to catch them. We were working hard, rotating amongst the three of us. We were gaining on them, but then the rollers started. Michelle made the call to stop the chase and let them go. Thank God! At that pace, we were going to be dead before we even hit the gravel! We caught up to, and passed a couple of people who had dropped off, but the rest of the group was gone. Of course, we didn't feel too bad, as the bulk of that group were on road bikes, and we were on our gravel bikes (Hal Jordan, my cross/gravel bike has 40mm tires).

We made the turn onto Garrard Creek. Before long, we were climbing up. That climb was, pretty much, the longest climb on the pavement (of course, we had to do it from the other side, coming back).
After the climb--good shadow picture, and you can't really tell, but Karen has Wonder Woman socks on with little mini capes.

More miles on the pavement, then we came to the turn to go to Brooklyn (left to Brooklyn, right to Oakville). At the turn was a rest stop. They had such treats as bananas, oranges, string cheese, and croissants. We didn't feel the need to spend too much time there, so I grabbed a croissant, and ate it while we continued riding (well, half, then stuck the other half in my jersey pocket--yep, just stuffed it in there). 
Gathering goodies.

The sign at the turn said, "Brooklyn 11 miles". What? Shouldn't it be 15 to make 30 miles of gravel roundtrip? Curious! Even when we made the turn, the road remained paved for a few more miles. Finally, we saw this sign.
Woo Hoo--gravel time!

Immediately, the road started going up, rather steeply up, in fact. We stopped where it leveled out just a bit to let some air out of our tires. Then we continued to climb. Every time we went around a corner, or came to another hill, Karen and Michelle said, "Please Sir, may I have another?" I said, "No thanks, I'll pass." That was not allowed, so I said, "I'll gladly pass mine on to another!" Finally, I caved, and towed the partly line by saying, "Please Sir, may I have another?" too. 
Karen and Michelle asking for, and getting, more hills.
And the climb continues...strangely, there was a guy parked here who warned us to be careful on the descent. Thing was, we had lots more climbing before we actually started the descent. Some might worry that we may have forgotten the warning (then again...we're not stupid).

The descent was fun. Michelle was, of course, flying down. Karen and I were a bit more cautious. I managed to hit a few potholes that were in the dappled shade, and thus difficult to see until I was right on them. As Katie would say...Hang on Bitches! At times, John, from the Green Team, was in front of me. He had 28mm tires. I stayed back a bit in case he wiped out (he didn't). 

Before we knew it, the gravel was over (for the way out, anyway). Hey, that wasn't very many miles! By our calculations, we figured it was about 8 miles or so. Then we were on the pavement for about 3 more miles into Brooklyn, and the turnaround point at the Brooklyn Tavern. 

We made it! 

One of those fancy weather stations.

We parked our bikes and went inside to see about some refreshments. The Brooklyn Tavern is billed as the most remote tavern in Western Washington. It's in the heart of logging country, so one can guess the usual patronage does not arrive in Lycra on a bicycle! But, that was the case today! The pickings, as far as food goes, were pretty slim. Apparently, there were hotdogs. Karen, and Michelle had beers and chips. I, not being fond of beer, but being super fond of sugar, had a Coke and a Snickers. It was delicious! Karen and Michelle had used the restroom, and said it was a must see. Let's say, this was the only slightly suitable photo I could take and put on this here blog!
Yes, that's part of a tree that looks like...well, I think you can tell.

We enjoyed our break at the Tavern, but still had to ride back the way we came. The climbs going back  didn't seem quite as steep (except for one part) as the ones coming out. Or, maybe it was the Coke and Snickers (and I had finished off my croissant). 
Selfie with Karen and Michelle coming along.

We caught up to John and Dave, both Green Team guys. The descent down was great, but I still managed to hit a few potholes (maybe even the same ones I hit going out?). We returned to the pavement with the five of us riding together.
Dave, John, Karen, and Michelle

We pulled into the same rest stop. I had another Coke and a string cheese. Karen and I added air to our tires with the floor pump they had. Then John and Sheila (?) arrived on the tandem. As we left the rest stop, Michelle said to get on the tandem's wheel...which we did. I asked them to not go terribly fast as I had just guzzled a Coke and string cheese, and didn't want to hurl while riding. They were kind, and didn't hammer the pace...mostly.

We just had one more big climb to get back to the top of Garrard Creek. As I was coming down, John and Sheila, with Michelle on their wheel, came flying past me. They went by so fast, there was no way I could get on Michelle's wheel. Karen was ahead of me, and the same thing happened to her. Down on the flat, Michelle let the tandem go, and waited for us to catch up. 

When we got back to the intersection of Garrard Creek and Manners, we had a command decision to make. The official route went right, up Manners to Lincoln Creek, then up Michigan Hill back to Independance Valley. We could do that, OR...we could simply turn left on Independance Valley, and save us a few miles, and a couple of big hills. We decided we were good with going back on Independance Valley. We all knew we could make it going over Manners, but we were just as satisfied by not doing it. 

We arrived back at the school at about 2:15.
The finish line!
Back to the car--thanks, Katie for taking the photo!

The three of us decided we had a really good time! Sure, there wasn't as much gravel as we thought, but it was fine. We couldn't have asked for a better day, weather wise! Please Sir, may I have another!