Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Will There Be Enough Room?

One day until departure (to Manning Park anyway)! Connor will finish tomorrow night in Manning. Derik and I, with our driver, Brent, are leaving tomorrow morning at 8:30 sharp from the bike shop (Derik will pick me up a little before 8:00).

I've moved everything (except the bikes) to the living room. 
It's a lot of stuff! However, not all of it will actually go on the ride. Because I don't know exactly what Connor wants, there are some extra things. For example, I can't remember, way back to April, what Connor decided about whether or not he wanted to carry a backpack. So, I am taking three options. My Platypus Origin 9 (the heaviest), my REI Flash (lighter), and a simple string backpack (the lightest). Since he has carried a backpack for the last 4 months, he might feel naked without one! Also, he doesn't have any long pants (he has long underwear), so I am taking him some options. He may decide he doesn't need them. Whatever he doesn't want can just stay in the truck. His buddy dropped off a bunch of extra food this morning (he resupplied him at Steven's Pass). If Connor wants that food, he'll definitely need one of the backpack options; at least to start with (which makes the string backpack an attractive option).

Otherwise, the rest of the stuff is going. The white piece of paper on the pannier is a reminder to myself to not forget the cheese that is in the refrigerator. The only other thing left to add is a charge cord for my phone/iPad (oh, and the phone and iPad). I'm sure glad Derik has a truck!


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Countdown to The Great Divide

Tomorrow we'll be one week from our departure for Canada and the beginning of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. Here's a little info (okay, a lot of info) as I don't think I have mentioned this in a post. There are three of us doing the ride. Originally, it was just going to be my son, Connor, and I. Connor is currently thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. We'll pick him up at Manning Park, then head straight to Banff. Then, my friend, Derik (one of the owners of Joy Ride Bicycles, and the guy who built Tilmann), expressed interest in going. Honestly, at first, I didn't put too much stock in him actually going, even when he asked if I had any ideas of how he would get him and his stuff to Banff (my oldest son, daughter-in-law, and grandson were going to take Connor and I to Banff--there wasn't room for another person). But then, he started telling other people he was going to do The Divide! That sounded like a commitment to me! In the meantime, my oldest son accepted a post doc in Minneapolis. They would be moving the beginning of September. Although they were still committed to taking us to Banff, I wanted to find another way to make it easier for them. 

What we needed was a truck that could haul three bikes, us, and all our gear. I looked into U-Haul. That was going to be prohibitively expensive. Flying was not an option because of having to pick up Connor. Hmmm...I thought, doesn't Derik have a pickup? And doesn't that pickup have an extended cab? Why, yes it does (although, Derik was a bit dubious about the truck making it to Banff and back). We had a vehicle, now we just needed a driver. At the end of a ride one day, I pulled into the parking lot at Joy Ride and saw Derik standing by a shiny black pickup talking to Luke (former co-owner of Joy Ride). Turns out the shiny black Toyota Tacoma was Derik's new pickup! I turned to Luke and asked him what he was doing the end of August. He said he had nothing until he was leaving for Europe on Sept. 5th. He had never been to Banff, and would like to go. 

Meanwhile, on the PCT, Connor was making his way north. His projected finish at the beginning was Aug 29th, but he thought he could finish around the 27th. However, as these things often happen, he was falling behind schedule. Various reasons, but I think the main reason was because he had hooked up with a group that was not doing quite as many miles. He was having a great time with them, but eventually had to start doing more miles to make it to the end in time. I felt bad for him having to leave the group. At one point, he was about 8 days behind (like I said, various reasons, including a fire). If he continued at that pace, we would need a different driver (for awhile, Connor thought he might not finish until Sept 5th). But, he still seemed to think he could make up some time in Oregon, and finish around the 31st of August. Still, I thought I'd better line up a backup driver.

I was talking to the guy painting our house. Brent is also a cyclist, and has done some touring. He was interested in how the plans were progressing for The Divide. He even knew Derik, as he had painted the bike shop a few years back. I was telling him how Connor was possibly not going to finish in time for Luke to drive us. Brent casually says, "I could drive you."  I couldn't believe it! The sense of relief was tremendous! Now I didn't have to worry about Connor finishing in time for Luke to drive.

However, Connor did, indeed, make up time in Oregon. He hiked all of Oregon in just two weeks! That was with several 40+ mile days, and even a 55.45 mile day! I was really amazed that anyone could hike that many miles in one day! Now he was projecting to finish Aug 30th, 31st, or Sept 1st. Plenty of time for Luke to drive us.

I was about to send Brent a text and tell him we wouldn't need him, when I thought I'd better have Derik check with Luke first to make sure he was still on board. Turns out Luke is not available, so Brent is going to drive us afterall. Connor is now saying he will finish the evening of the 31st. Brent, Derik, and I will make our way to Manning Park in British Columbia the morning of the 31st. I want to be at Manning when Connor finishes (it's a 5 1/2 hour drive from Olympia). Then, the next morning, we'll head to Banff (an almost 8 hour drive). 

The bikes are ready to go. We will all be riding Surlys, but all different models. I will be riding Mama Cass, my Surly ECR. Connor will be riding his Surly Ogre (which I have named "Mike", even though Connor says it doesn't have a name). Derik will be riding his Surly Disc Trucker. Derik and I will be using panniers. Connor will be using frame bags from Revelate. I've tried really hard to minimize my gear, but MC is still pretty heavy. I did cut down on some clothing. I wasn't even going to take an extra pair of shoes besides my Crocs, but Derik said, "What if we want to do some hiking or something?" Okay, I'll take the shoes. One luxury item I refuse to leave behind is my chair. Derik is taking one too. Here's a few gear photos. All this will be packed into my Ortlieb XL Pro panniers (rear), and Sportpacker Classics (front).
Clothes--only two t-shirts, two pairs of socks, no swimsuit, two bike shorts, and one bike short "underwear"
Rain gear--did swap out waterproof long finger gloves for warmer, waterproof gloves. Waterproof socks will double as warm socks.
Cook set including Ursack bear proof food bag.
Bike repair including extra chain which Derik says we'll need. Also a spare set of pannier hooks. Of course I also have tubes, patch kit, and a spare tire.

This is not all of the gear, of course. There's the usual stuff, sleeping bag, pad, liner, tent...etc. I loaded everything onto MC (including 5 water bottles) and took her for a spin around the neighborhood. She feels pretty heavy, but no worse, and maybe even a bit better, than last summer with the BOB trailer. I'll get used to it. 

Derik texted me about getting nervous. I thought about it. I'm not really nervous about the ride. I'm, perhaps, a little nervous about being able to cook enough food for the three of us, but Derik is also bringing a stove, so that should be okay. Mostly, I would say I am more nervous...but that's not really the right word...about getting Connor. Once I have that boy in my sight, I will relax...I think.

I think the three of us will be the perfect team. Derik has the bike mechanic experience, Connor has the backcountry experience, and I...well, I have lots of touring experience (including off-road), and if nothing else, Derik and Connor will get to stop and admire the views while they are waiting for me to catch up!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Boston Harbor--A Wee Bit Ironic

It's been 5 months since my last race (hmmm...that kind of sounds like something from a 12-step program). Coming into today's race, I was nowhere near race fit, but it is one of the OOA races, so it was free. I figured, why not? It'll just be a bike ride. Jean felt the same way. Oh, and the course was reversed for this year. Yikes! That meant 5 times up all those hills we previously got to go down! 

Due to the low numbers of women racing, the Cat 4s were combined with the Pro,1,2,3s. Like I said, just another bike ride. Ironically, early in the season, Julian was hoping I would upgrade to Cat 3 (I have enough points) with Jasmine. When I pretty much poo pooed that idea, he suggested asking the WSBA person if I could just try Boston Harbor as a Cat 3. If I did really bad (which I would have), then I could go back to the 4s. Yeah, I didn't do that, but it didn't matter because I ended up having to race with them anyway...ironic, yes?

Anyway, Debbie drove me to the race, but wasn't racing. It was just Jean and I for OOA women. There ended up being 8 of the 1,2,3s, and 7 of us 4s. Probably could have had separate races, but I don't get to make those decisions. Plus, at the close of online registration, there weren't that many 1,2,3s (it's all their fault).

We lined up to race 5 laps around the 6 mile course. Just prior to our race, I asked Chip, the official, when the 1,2,3s left us lowly 4s in the dust, would we no longer have a follow car? He said yes, but later came back and said he gave us a follow car. I'm glad I asked!

We rolled out. At the top of the first hill (Boston Harbor to Woodard Bay), both Jean and I were wheezing like donkeys, but we were still with the whole group. Fortunately, the leaders eased up, and we were able to catch our breath. 

The first time up 81st (steep little sucker!), still wheezing, but still with the group. They got away from us going up the popper on Zangle. It was just Jean and I bringing up the rear. As we made the second turn up onto Woodard Bay, we caught up to Nikki from Group Health. Then we caught Linda from Spokeswoman. I really thought Linda was a Cat 3 who had dropped. I didn't find out until after the race that she was a 4. 

The four of us worked together. Nikki really seemed to think we could catch the group. Ahhh...no. 
Jean and I on lap...whatever (not 5).

We kept up the speed as much as we could. Going up Boston Harbor the third time, I had to chase back on. Jean had the same problem on the fourth lap. We both managed to get back with the other two. 

Finally, we had just one lap to go. At the top of Boston Harbor, Linda got ahead of us. But, remember, I thought she was a 3. Not that I could have caught her, but I might have tried if I'd known. 

After 81st, we lost Nikki. Jean said she was gone, so at least we wouldn't be last! I pushed as hard as I could up the last hill on Zangle, and tried to keep going. I didn't know if Nikki might catch me because she had done that on all the other laps. Well, she didn't, and neither did Jean. So, I came in 5th (same as last year), and Jean got 6th. Woo Hoo! Top 10 finishes (yeah yeah, there was only 7)!
Done at last!

The results. See? That whole idea of trying Cat 3? Not a good idea!

After waiting around for the afternoon races to start, Debbie and I made our way to Corner 1 (with Greg as our spotter) for our volunteer jobs as Corner Marshalls. Debbie took the south bound lane, and I took the north. There was only one race for the first afternoon wave, so we had lots of time between laps. I'm glad I brought a chair. After that race finished, I just stayed at the corner while Debbie took Greg back. Roy would be our spotter for the final two races. While they were gone, I picked a few blackberries. 

I was enjoying picking the berries until I saw a snake. That was the end of my blackberry picking. 

So, today's race was my last road race. Due to my tours next year, I will not be road racing. Maybe some cyclocross, but that is unsanctioned. I'll still join the team as a fan, so when I am around, I can still ride with my posse. It's been a good 4 years of road racing. This was my best year. Now back to that which is my favorite type of riding--touring!