Sunday, April 24, 2022

A Wild and Epic Weekend Proving to Ourselves We Can Do It!

Saturday and the Cascadia Super G 50 Miler

Back up to Friday evening where Makaela picked up me, and a weekend’s worth of bikes and bike clothing. We also spent a quick moment adding sealant to her road bike tires. We had time to go back to her house and drop of Grayson the road bike before heading down to 3 Magnets Brewing to pick up our rider packets for the Super G on Saturday. Spent some time hanging out with other friends who were picking up their packets too…Steph, Katie, Erin, Scott, Stewart, Brad…When I picked up my number and timing thingy, Cam told me I’d better not cut the course. I told him I wasn’t making any promises!

Back at Makaela’s, we got as much stuff ready for the next morning as possible. Staying at her house allowed us to sleep a bit longer, and gave us a better chance at getting to the start line at 8:00am. 

Next morning we managed to pull out of the driveway at 6:59! We arrived at the Sportmans’ Club with plenty of time to get ready, and chat with friends. I’d planned for Patrick to meet us at the start line at 8:00, but I couldn’t find him. Makaela, Erin, Brad, Stewart, Scott, and I (and a whole bunch of other people) launched off the start line at 8:00. 

Cam had changed the beginning to the paved road due to some logging. That was fine by me! I didn’t want to start off with some sketchy singletrack (there would be plenty of opportunities for that later). 

We did the paved climb to the E-Line, and that was the last I saw of Makaela. She is such a strong climber, and I was glad she was going on. I stayed somewhat close to Erin for awhile, but she too was soon off and riding strong. I caught up to Polly and Andy (they were doing the 30), and got to say hi a couple of times. 

At the turn on to the chunky rock, and the way to the nasty hike-a-bike from last week’s ride, I let air out of my tires, and made the turn (even though I swore I would NOT do that part again)! Cam had done some work on it, but I still knew it was going to be another pushing session! Why did I subject myself to that torture again? Peer pressure? No. Stubbornness…maybe. 

So, yes, it was a bit more cleared, but still not rideable, and just getting muddier with each rider going through. He had fashioned a bridge out of scrap wood across the creek, but it was still a muddy slope back up the other side. But…I did it. 

The creek crossing (with scrap wood bridge).

Still had to go up this mud slider. 

Once I got past the other chunky rock, I was actually able to ride all the way to the top this time! At the top, Cam had changed the route to go right, and over to the E-Line that way. It was a nice road. 

I also went on the trail through the woods again. It was still a hike-a-bike, but with all the traffic through it, it was easier. 

I made it to the first rest stop/aid station in reasonable time. That’s when Patrick showed up. He had been just a couple minutes behind me the whole time! 

After filling a bottle, and eating some food, we took off together. We would ride the rest of the route together, which was really nice. 

Removing a layer on the D1000 climb. 

The next concern was whether the snow had melted on D1000 and the C-Line. We were rewarded with clear roads all the way to the top. Even C4000 was 99% clear with a decent double track. 

We made it to the 2nd Aid Station. I informed Jason and Kyle that I had NOT cut the course. We filled up on some more food, and filled up a bottle with electrolytes. 

I did not partake in the free tequila. Maybe I should have!

There was even a fire!

By this time, I had pretty much committed to doing the course as Cam had routed it. I knew I wasn’t going to like it. I knew it would even be sketchy to walk, but I would do it. This was the Twin Peaks Trail. It’s a moto trail. It’s big rocks, and steep 18% switchbacks! It’s not fun. I am not a mountain biker!

This doesn’t even do the sketchiness justice!

The last part of Twin Peaks. It wouldn’t have even  been fun to hike down WITHOUT a bike!

From there we were on the Waddell Basin Trail. It started out as more of a road. There was this nice view at the top. 

You can kind of see the road down below. That’s where we were headed. Then it became a trail again. A trail full of big puddles. After awhile, I just started riding through them. Some were quite deep…my feet got wet. They did, however, clean some of the remaining mud off my tires! At one point, I said to Patrick, who was ahead of me, “I don’t like this, Patrick!” Not that either one of us could do anything about it. 

The best part was when I could see on my Garmin that the next turn was the C-Line. The singletrack was almost done!

Once we made it to the C-Line, the entire rest of the ride was on familiar road. Even though there were still miles to go, they were known, gravel road miles. 

We crossed the finish line at about 4:00. Everyone was there to cheer us on as we finished. As I grabbed a couple of slices of pizza, Jana got ahold of the microphone, and said she wanted to tell everyone about someone “special”. Jeez! It was me! She said I had recently had a birthday (okay, 5 months ago), and went on to tell everyone how I do rides to get people on bikes (the “midwife” of cycling), and if you want to ride I’m the one to talk to. That was very nice. Everyone applauded (and several wished me a Happy Birthday). I have some very amazing friends! Erin even brought me a chair which was very welcome! It really was a great day, hike-a-bike and all!

Makaela and I headed home to then turn around and go up to Seattle for Day 2 of this crazy weekend. 

Sunday and a Little Ride for Major Taylor

I had booked us the seediest hotel I could find near where we would be starting the next morning. Okay, I didn’t purposely book the seediest hotel…don’t trust the photos! Fortunately, we were only there to sleep, and also it was fortunate that the window opened, because there was a funky smell! It was advertised that they had a continental breakfast…nope. Good thing I still had a bag of nuts from the day before! At least there was an underground parking garage, and we were able to back the car into a spot against the wall, so we could leave the bikes in the car. 

We were, once again, up early and headed to the start. Today was the Ride for Major Taylor benefit ride. You can look it up. It’s a worthwhile cause. We had chosen to do the 100km route (because, if I’m going to pay a chunk to do a benefit ride, I’m going to do the longest distance…even if I did just do a 50 mile gravel race the day before).

We were on the course at 7:45. As 100km riders, we would make our way to Point Defiance to take the ferry to Vashon, ride from one end of Vashon to the other, and take the ferry to Fauntleroy. From there we would head back to White Center, and the finish. 

The route was pretty hilly. There were 7 climbs that initiated the climb profile on my Garmin, but there were numerous other rollers. We weren’t sure how our legs would feel after yesterday, but we both found them to be pretty okay. In fact, we were moving along quite nicely. Of course, the minute we came to a hill, Makaela went flying up as if she had been launched out of a slingshot, while I chugged along, sometimes wishing I had a couple more gears! 

Before we knew it, we were at the first rest stop. Since I hadn’t had much of a breakfast, I had a banana, some fig bars, and a packaged hazelnut-filled crepe. 

Refreshed, we returned to the route. More ups, and more downs brought us along the water, then back up away from the water, only to come back down. We came into the industrial Port of Tacoma where we got an extended break because there was a train blocking the route. 

More and more cyclists arrived as we waited for the train to move. 

We took a selfie while we were waiting. 

Finally the train started to move. We all got ready. Then it stopped. Finally it began to move again, in the other direction! At last we could see the end! 

Now a large group, we all took off together. Makaela and I got in with a speedy bunch of guys. Makaela managed to stay with them, while I eventually dropped off the back. 

I caught up to them again as we came over the bridge into downtown Tacoma. We moved as a critical mass through red lights (apparently no one wanted to stop on the uphills). Once again, I dropped off on the extended climb. 

We eventually dropped down to the waterfront, and rode the rest of the way to Point Defiance. Makaela had stayed with the fast guys the whole way! Like I said, she is strong!

The ferry wasn’t there yet, so I had time to grab another snack. I also took some food for the ferry. Because of the train delay, we were a big group getting on the ferry. They put all of us on one side. 

Getting ready to board the ferry. 

There were tons of pleasure boats, many decorated, out on the water. Turns out it was opening day of boating season for the yacht clubs in the area. 

Oh, and of course, the mountain!

Some cyclists opted to stay down below. 

Before long, it was time to return to the bikes. 

Getting ready to disembark. 

Once off the ferry, we had the climb up Vashon Hwy. I said, “See ya later!” to Makaela as she shot up the hill. I did pass a number of riders going up the hill, but still mostly just chugging along. 

My favorite part of Vashon Hwy is the part along the water. Of course, it’s always nice when the weather is good. 

About 3 miles from the Fauntleroy ferry, Makaela texted that she was at the cafe/store by the ferry terminal. Before long, I came screaming down the hill, and met her sitting in the sun, enjoying a San Pellegrino. I bought one AND a most delicious pastry. 

It was quite tasty!

We wrapped up our snack break, and headed to the ferry. This time they just put us right up the middle of the boat. 

Waiting for the Fauntleroy ferry. 


The Olympics in all there snowy glory!

The bikes stacked. 

Another ferry coming in (probably going to Southworth)

A Fauntleroy ferry selfie. 

We had a nice ride to Fauntleroy. 

Almost time to disembark!

We had one last longish climb, and a final few miles back to where we started. We picked up our souvenir backpacks, and had yet more food. Chatted for a bit with new friends, then headed back to the car. 

This day is done!

A nice loop!

We were both really pleased with how we did on this ride considering we had done the Super G yesterday. Our legs felt pretty good! It was another great weekend of riding with my adventure buddy, Makaela!

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Pre-riding the Cascadia Super G 50 Miler

Part 1-The Easy Part
Makaela, Jana (with Radar), and I met at the Mima Falls Trailhead Parking this morning with the intent to do a pre-ride of next weekend’s Super G 50 mile route. Jana didn’t plan to do the whole route with us as she was hauling the trailer that Radar was in and out of (he prefers out). She would go out for whatever worked, then go back. 

Radar ready to go!

Radar likes to sing when he’s in the trailer, when there is an audience (other riders). While his singing doesn’t bother me, he doesn’t seem to sing Jana’s kind of music (I think she would prefer he sing “Sounds of Silence”). They turned around part way up the E-Line. Jana reported he didn’t sing the whole way back (of course, he didn’t have an audience).

The route continued up the E-Line, then down and onto E5000. I’ve done this portion many times. What was going to be new, was some routing off E5000 (which actually does change names, but it is the main bypass around where they took the bridge out on the E-Line. 

Start is in the upper right. 

We got to an intersection, and we weren’t sure which way to go. The reason for this was that Cam, the race organizer, had made a reroute after a report from Makaela and Stephanie’s pre-ride of the 30 mile course a week ago. I wasn’t sure if I had loaded to new route or the old route onto my Garmin. In order to figure that out, I had to stop the current recording, and upload it. Turns out I did have the correct route loaded. So, the above route became Part 1. Turns out it was the easiest of the day…

Part 2-Hiking is Hard…Hike-a-Biking is Harder!

Part 2 started in the lower right. 

The beginning of Part 2 was some very chunky rock. I let some air out of my tires. The trick with chunky rock is to keep up a little bit of speed. Otherwise, the rocks just push the bike around. Once we got out of the chunky stuff, the road was nice. 

This really was a pretty part. The camera doesn’t really do it justice. 

Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. The road ended where it looks like they decommissioned it by putting in big ditches for water run-off. 

You can just see ahead, one of the ditches where Makaela is. 

It’s not possible to ride, so we walk. 

Then the road ends at a creek. It’s a tricky crossing that takes both of us to get our bikes across (well, to get my bike across…Makaela is far more nimble than I am).

Makaela beginning to work her way down to the creek. 

Successfully across the creek, we hike the bikes up to a road just like what we had come down…more ditches. Then there are downed trees too. Yay, this is fun…not. 

Back up. It wasn’t too bad here…it got worse. 

We finally popped out to another road made up of chunky rock. I started to ride, but going uphill makes it hard to maintain enough speed to ride over the rocks. Back to pushing. 

Uphill chunky rock. 

Eventually, the rock became more manageable, but the hill remained steep. I still had to walk, even with my awesome low gearing. Makaela did a great job riding up the whole thing. At least we had this view at the top. 

Rainer to the left, Adams in the center, and St. Helens through the trees on the right. Even though we had a lot of hike-a-bike, it was a beautiful day. 

We were on a good road. Then I recognized where we were. We were back on the E-Line! I told Makaela that we could have avoided that entire hike-a-bike if we had just stayed on the road we were on in the first part. 

Sadly, we didn’t stay on it for too long. Oh no, we had to go down a different road. This was a nice road until we had to get on a crudely cut trail through the woods. Great, more hike-a-bike! Did I mention that the “G” in Super G stands for gravel? This was not gravel. 

Near the end of the jaunt through the woods, there was a large fir tree down. This looked to be recent. We scouted a way around it, and then hauled the bikes out to the road. That was the last of the intentional hike-a-bikes. 

Once again, we popped back out onto the E-Line! This time we stayed on it to the D-Line. At the D-Line, we went across the road to take a break and have some food. Makaela found some nice seats for us. 

The next big climb was D1000. I had received some intel that there was snow at about 1600 feet. We would be climbing up to about 2000 feet. So, the 7.3 mile climb up D1000 was basically a climb to the snow. Sure enough, at about 1700 feet, we hit snow. 

This was just a short bit. 

This was a long bit. 

It was back to pushing when it was uphill (which was most of it), and riding with one outrigger foot when there was any kind of down. 

For some stretches, there was a clear double track, and we were able to ride, but then it would be back to scootering or walking. 

Once we made it to the C-Line, there was more double track, and riding was possible for most of the way except at the intersection of C-Line and C4000. A guy in a truck (that I recognized, but can’t remember his name) said C4000 was pretty rough, so when I caught up to Makaela at the intersection, I suggested we continue down the C-Line instead of C4000. We would pick up the route again at D4000. Due to a strange thing in the route where Cam had the start and finish at the D1000/C-Line intersection, my Garmin thought I was done, and was no longer showing the route. Once again, I had to stop, upload, then restart the route. 

Part 3-The Route is Merely a Suggestion, Right?

We enjoyed the ride down the C-Line. Just before the turn onto D4000, we passed the road where the route comes out. Then we were back on the route. The rest of the ride was familiar territory. We were both down to our final water bottles, hungry, and just wanting to finish. We followed the route until it turned onto the singletrack McKenney Trail. Instead, we headed back to E9000 where we rode the Mima Falls Trail back to the parking lot. 

Part 3 started in the upper left, and finished back where we started the day. 

It took us over 6 hours of ride time to do just shy of 48 miles. Today was a beautiful sunny day. The forecast for the actual race next Saturday is, so far, not looking as good. 

We will take what we’ve learned from today’s ride, and modify our route for the race. We’re not really racing it anyway, so as far as I’m concerned, the route is merely a suggestion. 

Saturday, April 9, 2022

An Adventure in Wind Management!

Day 1-Letting the Wind Push Us to the Beverly Bridge
Last September, if you read this blog, you might remember I was doing a tour to the grand opening of the Beverly Bridge across the Columbia River…that didn’t happen (the grand opening).

Fast forward to April, and the bridge is finally ready to open.  The powers that be decided Friday, April 8th would be the day for the Grand Opening Ceremony. Katie asked if anyone would like to do a bikepacking overnight to the BB for the grand opening. Since it was on a Friday, that eliminated some, but Erin and I agreed to go. 

Erin and Katie came to my house Thursday afternoon, and we loaded up gear and bikes in Katie’s truck. We drove to Ellensburg, and stayed the night in a hotel. 

The next morning, we drove to a colleague of Katie’s, to park the truck while we made our way to the Beverly Bridge. Turns out, Greg lives right next to the Palouse to Cascades Trail! 

Getting gear on bikes!

The grand opening festivities started at 1:00pm. We had about 34ish miles to ride. We left Greg’s right on schedule at 9:00. The wind was already whipping, and it was a tailwind! We jumped right on the trail. 

Erin in the lead, and Katie right behind. 

We made one stop to remove a layer (it was pretty warm) in Kittatas, then continued on to the Renslow Trestle. Last time I went over the trestle it was very windy. This time was no different. 

Approaching the Renslow Trestle 

Katie and me (photo complements of Erin)

As we were riding along, I had fallen back a little. As I was catching up, I could see Erin’s bike was on the ground, and she was still extricating herself from underneath it. Ruh roh, that’s not good! One of the bottle cages on her fork had somehow gotten caught in the spokes, and brought her to a very sudden stop! Fortunately, it was pretty sandy, and Erin was unhurt. It took some time to get the cage out of the spokes (also fortunate that no spokes were harmed). The cage mount was actually bent. Erin was able to stash the cage and water bottle elsewhere, and we got back to pedaling. Not much later, the Anything Cage, with a dry bag attached, pulled off one bolt, and toppled over. This time, thankfully, no crash. It was reattached with the straps going around the fork to make sure it wouldn’t do that again. 

Fixing the Anything Cage. 

With the mechanical hiccups all sorted, we arrived a bit later to the Boylston Tunnel Bypass. Some guys had passed us earlier, and we could see tire tracks leading toward the tunnel. However, I had attempted the tunnel last September, and found it to be rather swampy on the other end. We rode the Bypass. 

The only real hill of the day is on the Bypass going over the closed Boylston Tunnel. (Photo by Katie)

Erin at the high point. 

Looking over the edge. 

East end tunnel entrance

Katie carefully getting a photo

Erin and I coming off the Bypass (photo complements of Katie). 

From the top of the Boylston Tunnel, it was downhill to the Columbia River, and the Beverly Bridge. It’s not a steep downhill, but with the tailwind, we were going 20 mph without pedaling! This is the section of the trail where there are several cuts through the rock that the railway went through. There is a fair amount of rock fall in these cuts. I just about bit it in one where there was a lot of chunky rocks. Lucky for me, Billy did a good job, and I was able to stop and get a foot down instead of crashing. 

A much “cleaner” cut (photo by Erin? Katie?)

Katie and I!

Erin coming through a cut. 

Since we were flying along at a break neck pace, we were soon seeing glimpses of the Columbia. We took a short detour for a photo op. 

Don’t go off the edge!!!

Thanks to Katie for this awesome photo of Billy!

Wanapum Dam out there. 

The closer we got, the more people we encountered on the trail. The staging area was on the west side of the bridge. There were tons of vehicles parked, and all manner of people walking, and walking bikes. A number of people brought bikes that were definitely not suited for the trail, or even the approach to the bridge. For some reason, they had put down a thick layer of gravel from the Huntsinger Rd crossing to the bridge. Even with Billy, I found it to be a little squirrelly at times, but at least I could ride. 

Big parking area created for the event. 

Thick gravel section to the bridge. 

We parked our bikes at the staging area (literally…there was a stage). I was walking back to Billy after taking a photo. There was a guy saying, “Whose bike is this?”, and pointing to Billy. It was then I noticed he also had a Priority 600X. He said he had just gotten his. That rang a bell with me, and I asked his name. When he said Jeffrey Fritts, I realized it was the guy from the Priority 600X Facebook page, and I had been reading his posts as he was anxiously awaiting the arrival of his bike! I had even commented on a couple of his posts. I told him who I was, and he recognized me too. We chatted about our bikes (of course) and our various bike travels. 

Jeffrey and I, with “Billy” and “Rubberband”.

The festivities started with a bunch of speeches from various community members including members of the Wanapum Tribe. Governor Inslee and Ralph Munro also spoke. 



Finally (after 1 1/2 hours of speechifying), it was time to ride across the bridge. I guess I should clarify by saying we rode and scootered across the bridge. The wind was quite forceful, and those on the unsuitable bikes also had to walk them across the bridge (even though it’s a concrete surface). 

A bit of a traffic jam. 

Erin and I dodged people and bikes as we made our way across. The wind was so strong, it was pushing my helmet around on my head! We lost Katie as she saw a friend (who, turns out, designed the bridge!), but met up with her on the other side. 

See how caliwhompus my helmet is?

There’s Katie!

Katie had a lead on camping at the Beverly Dunes which was not quite 2 miles further on the P2C. 

We rode around, and settled on a campsite we thought  hoped would be somewhat protected from the wind. Have I mentioned it was windy??? Of the available campsites, it seemed to be the best, but it wasn’t exactly protected from the wind. I took me forever to get my tent set up. Partly, from the wind, and also because I couldn’t get the stakes in enough to not be promptly pulled out by the wind. Finally managed to get enough stakes in to hold it down. 

See the pile of rocks on the vestibule floor? I later used them to anchor a stake that I could not get into the ground. 

Erin’s, mine, and Katie’s tent (she borrowed my Duplex). (Photo by Erin)

Chilling a bit. 

Erin and Katie opted to ride back into Beverly to the store for beers. I don’t like beer, and there was no way I was riding back into the wind. I held down the fort at camp. 

When they got back, we took a walk out to the dunes. 

Desert Dune aliens! Did I mention the wind???

Katie was walking backwards into the wind. 

Desert dune treasures (a quarter and legos).

I didn’t bring a stove for this trip, and it was a just as well. The wind would have made it pretty difficult to cook. Erin managed to get water boiling by huddling behind the campfire pit. 

I had two wraps with yellow fin tuna, avocado, olives, cheese, and dill pickles. They were quite delicious! I also had some Organic Himalayan Sea Salt Plantain Chips (I brought them with me, but turns out they had them at the Beverly grocery store…we had a good laugh over that one…the ONLY organic thing in the whole store). 

After dinner, we messed around a bit more, but then, being tired of the wind (did I mention how windy it was???), we retired to our tents for the night. The next day was likely going to be brutal…

Goodnight from Beverly Dunes

Day 2-Did I Mention the Wind???
Throughout the night, the wind came and went, then came again, but when I woke up at nearly 6:00, it was calm! I immediately started packing up, ate my breakfast (cold soaked muesli with hemp seeds, flax, chia, MCT oil powder, coconut, dried blueberries, coconut milk powder, and some granola…very filling!). Katie arrived at the picnic table, followed soon by Erin. 

We were all packed up and heading out by 8:00. As soon as we returned to the P2C, the wind met us head on. Oh…this was NOT going to be pleasant! We knew that it was going to be nasty, but…wow! At the bridge (deserted today, of course) we took a photo before heading across. 

Erin in the distance. 

We bobbed and weaved across the bridge into the wind. It was almost as difficult as negotiating the people the day before, only this time we were just trying to ride in a straight line!

The heavy gravel on the other side was not helpful in trying to ride with the now very strong cross wind. A couple of times it started to blow me toward the edge, and I had to put my foot down. 

When I caught up to Erin and Katie at the street crossing, and beginning of the Yakima Training Area, we discussed our options. Having only been able to manage about 3.5 to 4 mph, we questioned the sanity of continuing on the P2C. The alternative was to ride Huntzinger Rd to Vantage, then take the Vantage Hwy back to Ellensburg (in the reverse of what I had done in Sept). We decided to take the road. Even though the wind would still be nasty, at least it was easier to pedal on the pavement. 

The crosswind was, at times, very strong, and at others not so bad, when there would be a rock wall offering a little protection. 

Not so bad here…brutal around the corner. 

Just before Vantage, I was almost to Katie and Erin when a gust of wind blew me onto the side of the road. Billy’s rear tire literally slid sideways into the gravel shoulder! Gah!!! I managed to get back on the road, and make it to Katie and Erin. 

We rode over I-90 and into Vantage. The grocery store was open, and we took refuge from the wind. 

Boots, the friendly grocery store kitty. 

After some discussion, we decided to have Greg pick us up at a trailhead parking for the Stone Tree Trail. It was two more miles up the Vantage Hwy. That was the longest, hardest 2 miles, ever! Did I mention the wind? It was so fierce that I had to ride out in the lane, and be very careful not to turn, even the slightest, toward the edge of the road. More than once, I had to stop, as I was being blown to the side. 

Up ahead, I saw Greg turn into the parking followed by Katie and Erin. Great timing!!! I arrived, and we unloaded the bikes, put them in the bed, and drove back to Greg’s. 

Giving it our best shot, but knowing when enough is enough!

At Greg’s, we transferred our gear back into the bins, changed out of our bike clothes, thanked Greg profusely, and headed into town for some lunch before hitting the road home. Erin checked the traffic cams for Snoqualmie Pass and Tiger Mountain. So far, it was looking okay, but snow was on the way. 

We managed to make it over the Pass (it had started to snow, but the freeway was still bare and wet) just in time. When we got home, things had deteriorated over Snoqualmie. 

Pretty, and not bad…yet. 

It was a good thing we bailed when we did. We might not have made it over the Pass if we hadn’t. 

We all agreed this bikepacking overnight had been a success, even with the nasty, no good, horrible wind of today (of course, that same wind was our friend yesterday!!!). We know we can do hard things, but we also know when to call it!

Another link in the Palouse to Cascades Trail is complete! Eventually, I will do the whole thing! Thanks go to Katie for organizing this one, and thanks to Erin for making it a threesome!