Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I'll be at the 2007 High Pass Challenge

I just registered for the 2007 High Pass Challenge!! I thought the STP double-century was gonna be this season's peak ride, but this looks like it'll be the big one.

The HPC is a 114-mile ride with 7,500 feet of elevation gain, and features Independence Pass, just North of Mount St. Helens. The views are gonna be amazing, and my legs are gonna be killing me! I'll hopefully be on my new Ciocc frame by then, so I'll be luvin it either way.

The only thing that sucks about this ride is the logistics - the friggin ride starts in Packwood, WA, just south of Mt. Rainier. I wish they'd make it a tour that started closer to Seattle... but oh well. It's about a three-hour drive I hear, but I don't even have a driver's license, nor a car - but I've got friends with cars, and that comes in handy!

What I might do is get a ride out of Seattle the day before, and ride this route to get to Packwood, and then camp out. But I'd be so tired/dirty on the HPC day it might ruin it... we'll see what happens. I'll probably just get a ride down/back this year - but maybe I'll cycle down there and back for the 2008 edition.

Here's the HPC route on a Google Map, and here's an elevation profile of the route:

(ignore the huge trough about a quarter through the graph, that's just a glitch in the elevation data)

This is gonna be a great ride! From the Cascade page:

The ride begins along Highway 12, with the first 17 miles to Randle on a gradually downhill, smoothly paved road with a very wide shoulder. Expect light traffic, but be aware of the occasional logging truck. Randle is the low altitude point of the trip at 880 feet.

Heading south on the smooth blacktop of NF 25, there’s a “warm-up” climb at 19 miles into the ride. It’s only 1.2 miles long with 400 feet of climbing, but the first half mile or so has an average grade of 8.3%, so that should you in the mood for what follows.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cycling Cue-Sheets For the Masses!

Today I'm releasing a feature on veloroutes that will take the route you create and generate turn-by-turn directions automatically! Here's an example of the output for a route I clicked:

Cue sheet for downtown to the ave

key: -:straight, R:right, L:left, Rev:reverse

Total distance: 4.97 miles


yeah, you could take eastlake for a less-hilly route, but fuck that! let’s do some hills!

0 mi- (East)1st Ave & Cherry StSeattle, King County, WA38.2 ft
0.29 miL (North)Cherry St & 6th AveSeattle, King County, WA195.0 ft
0.59 miR (East)Seneca St & 6th AveSeattle, King County, WA200.3 ft
1.08 miRev (West)Boylston Ave & Seneca StSeattle, King County, WA335.4 ft
1.14 miRev (East)University St & Boylston AveSeattle, King County, WA320.4 ft
1.28 miL (North)Broadway & E Union StSeattle, King County, WA295.2 ft
2.12 miR (East)Broadway E & E Roy StSeattle, King County, WA341.3 ft
2.15 miL (North)E Roy St & 10th Ave ESeattle, King County, WA345.9 ft
3.39 miL (West)10th Ave E & E Roanoke StSeattle, King County, WA166.6 ft
3.47 miR (North)E Roanoke St & Harvard Ave ESeattle, King County, WA158.3 ft
4.41 miR (East)Roosevelt Way NE & NE Campus PkySeattle, King County, WA98.7 ft
4.61 miL (North)NE Campus Pky & University Way NESeattle, King County, WA110.0 ft

You can read more about this feature on the veloroutes forum post about it. If you want to go ahead and create your route go to the map.

(If you haven't heard of veloroutes, check it out! It's actually run by a cyclist (me), unlike some another bike-mapping site run by a corporation. And now it generates cue-sheets like that other mapping site that used to be really popular, but seems to be constantly broken. Sure, those other sites may have pretty designs, but my site's got heart!)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bikes of London and Paris

A while back I got a chance to travel to London and Paris for a week, and I'm finally posting the photos! I'd been to Germany before, and previously Paris, but I hadn't been to Europe yet with the 'cyclists goggles' on, so to speak. So I took my little camera and snapped a few shots of the cycling-scenery in London and Paris, mostly in Paris.

The obligatory shot of the Eiffel tower:

Here's a pic from our hotel room, on Rue St. Dennis, in an area I guess you could call kind of a red-light district:

A typical bike in Paris:

I saw lots of single-speeds in London, but not many true fixed gears. Mostly commuter-type bikes with racks and fenders, etc. The first thing I noticed was the lack of 'squids' - those equipped with full lycra team-kits, race bikes, etc - the types of riders you see around Seattle all the time. I didn't see one person in lycra the whole time! The pro's must've been outside of the city, training in the Alps or something.

Granted, it was February so it the chilly weather might have kept a lot of riders inside; perhaps it's a different picture in the summer.

In Paris there were tons of commuters, even a lady riding with a huge baguette poking out of her basket! I suppose that's a common site in Paris, maybe one day I'll be able to do that too! Saw one or two fixies in Paris but they seemed pretty sparse.

Both cities were really really flat compared to Seattle! Cycling must be a little boring out there, I mean no Tolt Hill to climb, maybe a few rolling hills, and outside of the city, near Montmatre, there were some kinda steep hills I guess. London seemed as flat as a pancake.

The full 'Bikes of Europe' photo-set is here.

Au revoir!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Wow, that was hard!

The other day I did what I call the 'how to turn two hills into four' ride, which is doing Queen Anne three times, and then coming up denny/olive to finally crest Capitol Hill.

Somehow I averaged 33.5 km/h to the base of Queen Anne (from Capitol Hill to the north end of Queen Anne Ave, where I started the climbing. Obviously the avg went waaay down after that!

Coming up the north side isn't quite as steep as the south side, and it gets gradually less and less steep as you go up. After going down the south side (hitting probably 40 mph!), and slamming on your brakes, go down Queen Anne Ave for a while then turn around and do it again, going up the south side. That shit's hard!!

The south side gets steeper and steeper as you go up, but I finally made it without having to stop at all, a first for me. The end climb is doing the steep parts of Denny going up Capitol Hill! Fun stuff.

This was on my Bianchi road bike, not the fixie - I've done half of the south side on a fixie, that was a real knee-killer!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Backwards Circle On A Fixie

I don't ride my fixie as much as I used to, now that I'm getting into longer distance rides and climbs like Cougar Mountain - but sometimes I break out my old miyata (converted) fixed gear bike and go for a spin. I'll never get tired of the tricks that you can do on fixies (with some practice, of course): track stands, backwards circles, and more.

Here's an old vid (from a year or so ago) of me doing a backwards circle on my miyata fixie, soon after I learned the trick:

I recently perfected trackstands on a freewheeled bike, I'll have to get that vid up here soon... haven't seen that one on youtube yet.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

What gives you 1,360 meters of elevation gain and is 115 km long?

The two lakes loop route I did yesterday, that's what! The 115 km/71 mi route goes through Seattle, Renton, Issaquah, Redmond, Bothell, Shoreline, then back to Seattle! I call it the 'two lakes loop' since you go all the way around Lake Washington & Lake Sammamish - quite the distance covered.

I had a strong ride, easily holding 35-40 km/h on the flat sections like Rainier Ave, although there were some fairly strong head/crosswinds. Coming out of the woods on Highway 900 towards Issaquah, there's a nice downhill that lasts a mile or two, and I was holding 60 km/h (37 mph) no problem, drafting behind a minivan - damn that was fun!

That spike in the middle of the profile is Cougar Mountain, the 1,100-ft climb that probably averages 8-10% grade:

I was averaging a cool 30 km/h by the time I got to the Zoo climb at Cgr Mountain - but the avg speed dropped after that! Going up the Cougar Mtn climb I'm lucky if I can keep 10 km/h on the steeper sections..

I noticed a shell of a old wrecked car down in one of the ravines - it probably went over the railing decades ago. If only I could climb down there and take some pictures! I bet there's quite the story behind that wreck...

Anyway I ended up with a 27 km/h (16.7 mph) average, not bad considering the climbs involved. 4 hours and 15 minutes in total, 30 minutes off the bike. (I brought three water bottles and plenty of snacks, so I didn't even have to stop for refills this time - I need to keep that up, saves time and dough.)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

My Hills, Or Some Of Seattle's Finest Climbs

One of the best parts of riding in Seattle is the hills that dot the city. The highest point in the city is 520-something feet, so none of the hills are monsters, but plenty of them are steep. (Of course there are some montser-monster climbs in the area like the Zoo climb up Cougar Mountain, and of course the Mountain Passes)

This is Thomas St on Capitol Hill heading East:

It's not too steep, maybe 5-7%, and only lasts a few blocks - this is a great way to start a ride! It's interesting to see all the different cyclists that go up this street each day; some fast, most slow. Some riders like to zig-zag while going up hill, which I suppose makes it easier on the legs, but you end up going a longer distance! I like to go straight up the damn hill, no matter if it's just Capitol Hill or Cougar Mountain out in Issaquah. I've never seen anyone fall on this hill, but plenty get off their bikes and walk it up, maybe they'll make it next time.

Other Notable Seattle Hills

Here's Queen Anne Ave just off of Florentia, up the hill. The South face of the Queen Anne is harder, but this side has less traffic:

Here's the Col d'Lincoln, up Linocoln Ave in West Seattle - turn left on Othello and follow it up to the water tower for a 1.2 mile climb:

And here's Roy Ave at 26th Ave E., on the East side of Capitol Hill - the steepest street in Seattle!! It's only over 20% for one block, but it's damn steep. I have to drop down to 43x26 (the lowest gear without going into the smallest chain-ring)

Enjoy the climbing!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Volunteer Park Criterium - Racing on the top of Capitol Hill

Today is the Volunteer Park crit, which is an annual criterium race located only 10 blocks or so from my apartment! It's a tear-drop shaped course, with a 50-foot climb (and descent) each lap, followed by a slight false-flat to the finish. I did a few laps the other day (going the opposite direction, it's one-way), and don't really feel ready to race this course, but I'd love to do this crit one day.

I've been to this race a few times, and it's always a good show. Kenny Williams usually kills the Men's Cat pro/1/2, and I think I've seen him win it twice at least! That guy is a cycling monster!

We're gonna go catch the Women's Cat 1/2/3 at 1:40, followed by two more races: the Men's Cat 3 and the Men's pro/1/2 race. Should be some good action - I meant to catch the cat 4/5 race this morning, but 9 AM seemed too early when the time came around..

If you ever get a chance to check out this race, it's well worth the trip!

[8/6/7 - here are some photos from the race]

The Men's Cat 3 race (after a crash that stopped the race for almost an hour):

Close-up of the (I think cat 3) peloton:

A little breakaway:

The Cat pro/1/2 race - some of these guys get paid to do this?! sweet:

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Cycling Fun, Or The Dead Baby Bike Race/Party

Last night was the big Dead Baby Bike race/party down in Georgetown, and was it awesome? YES! huge? fuck yeah!! We got there at 9 or so and the shit had been going on for a while already, but it wasn't even close to over. There had to be at least 500 people there, and I'm sure the crowd swelled well beyond that at some points!

We bought our DBB $10 water bottles, which gets you all you can drink beer! You couldn't really even call it a line to the beer, it was more like a cluster of 50 people slowly moving towards the same table. Not a bad deal at all though!

I forgot to bring my camera, but thanks to flickr do I really need to bring it anyway these days? Here's a photo from last night: (click it for more)

Events and sights of the night:

  • a downhill race from West Seattle to Georgetown (I'll have to give this a shot next year)
  • a pedal-powered ferris wheel
  • tall-bike, mini-bike jousting
  • foot-down competition
  • water balloons thrown into the crowd
  • the sprockettes
Foot-down is when 10 or so peeps ride in tighter and tighter circles (the crowd closes in slowly), and when your foot (or body!) hits the ground you're out. The last one riding wins! I think a dude on a tall-bike won it somehow! It looks like it takes some nice bike-control to win that game, especially on a tall-bike.

There were some heated jousting battles, complete with people almost tackling their opponents as they rode by. And sometimes a rider, or both riders, would get hit right in the chest and pop right off their bike! Lots of times they jousters didn't connect, and the huge crowd would express their satisfaction with loud boos! I love events with feedback loops like that (see also Showtime at the Apollo). If you haven't seen bike jousting yet, check it out.

The DBB event is definitely worth it, if not for the beer and jousting, then check it out for the crazy bikes that people throw together! (including a tall-bike made of three kids bikes stacked)!! There were hundreds of bikes of all kinds, hanging from fences, stacked and locked to street signs, bikes everywhere! The DBB party is the best bike-event in town! Big thanks to the crazy peeps that put it on!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

F The Blue Angels

Warning, political rant below!

When it's Seafair time in Seattle, that means a few things:

  • Hydroplane racing on Lake Washington
  • People will get drunk on their boats and injure and/or kill somebody, it seems to happen every year
  • The Blue Angels roar over town (just saw one go by apt at probably 500 mph and 500 feet away - I always forget how friggin loud those things are!)
But I've got a little problem with the Blue Angels - can you say propaganda? Everyone seems to forget that we're paying the fuel bills for those military jets as they entertain us. Not to mention there are pilots doing real bombing runs over Iraq, maybe even at the same time as the Angels fly over Seattle, upside-down to the roar of thousands of spectators..

America is one of the few places where citizens hear fighter-jet engines roaring and run outside to cheer - in most other places civilians have to run and hide from American-made bombers..

What's this got to do with cycling? Not much, except the I-90 bridge is closed (including the bike path) during their runs! They made me late to work last year... dammit. Hopefully they can't stop me from doing the Lake Wa Loop today.

So when you see the Blue Angels, think twice about cheering. I'm just as impressed with jets as anyone else, but this is more than politically charged entertainment - it's military-approved entertainment, and that just seems wrong to me.