Monday, March 31, 2008

My Fastest Lake Wa Loop To Date

Yesterday I set out to do a classic route for Seattle roadies - the 80k/50mi Lake Washington Loop. This was the first "big" route I started doing years ago, and once you start doing it enough you (at least I) begin to record just how fast or slow you did it, of course!

When I set out, I wanted to see just how high I could keep my average speed, which usually when doing the "hilly" version of the route (skipping the BG trail in favor of the climb through Lake Forest Park) is in the 22-25 km/h range (13.6mph -15.5mph).

Starting on Capitol Hill, I took off up the hill towards 15th Ave, climbing at 20-25 km/h, pushing it from the get-go. By the time I got to Renton (16km/10mi away) my average was 30.5 km/h. And this was with a 7-10 mph headwind out of the south! I was pretty happy with this, although a 32 km/h (20 mph) avg would've been extra-nice.

The rolling hills through Newcastle, Bellevue, and Kirkland didn't really affect the average (even the Market Street climb) as I kept up the pace on hills to at least 20 km/h (12.4 mph), if not more.

Then there was Juanita Road, with its associated two-mile climb! A light drizzle was already falling, and towards the top it turned into light snow/hail! I got over the hump with a ride-low average of 29.0 km/h, so it was still pretty decent considering the climbing.

Once on the Burke-Gilman Trail, I kept up a pace of 32-36 km/h, passing up even a few racer-types. The rain was coming down hard at this point, and without fenders on my bike (I'm an optimist) my ass was getting soaked. This was all the more motivation to get home quick! After a few miles on the Burke-Gilman Trail, I turned off towards Sand Point Way & The NOAA complex.

Then I rode through some nasty traffic in the U-Village area, past Husky Stadium, and back up Capitol Hill via 23rd Ave & Crescent Way. Starting the climb my average was at 29.3 km/h, but when I got to the top (300 feet higher) it was down to 28.2 km/h.

Start Time: 11:05 A.M.
End Time: 2:05 P.M.
Total Distance: 81 km (50 mi)
Rolling Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
Average Speed: 28.2 km/h (17.5 mph)
Bicycle: Ciocc

Friday, March 28, 2008

March 2008 Critical Mass - Might Makes Right For A Night

I went to Mass tonight, something I haven't done in way too long. Turnout was less than I was expecting, but was still 60+ people, not bad for friggin' cold outside!

It's been a while since I've ridden slowly though the city with a few hundred other cyclists.. and I figured why not go down and take some pictures and enjoy some good old American civil disobedience?!

Here was the scene in Westlake Center - sorry this is so short, but you get the idea:

The riders getting read to terrorize unsuspecting drivers! Look out Seattle, here we come... and yes that's a tricycle there on the right!

Rolling up Pine Street towards the Sound at a nice 10 km/h - sorry for the shaking, it's a bumpy road!

Rolling up the hill on 4th Ave (I think) - check out that stylin' motorcycle helmet! Guess he's ready for an aggressive driver:

The peloton going up 12th Ave E. towards Capitol Hill: When we turned off of 12th Ave onto Pine Street (in front of the Seattle PD's East Precinct no less), we were doing the usual corking & blowing a red light, and two cruisers were waiting to turn. One turned, but the other lit up his lights and gave us a good "whoop whoop," with his siren and then split up the pack. And as soon as he started this display of lights & sounds, he stopped it and continued down 12th! Guess he decided it wasn't worth the trouble; chances are there's a real crime happening within a mile anyway!

Soon after this a rider said "that guy just spit on me!" - referring to a grizzly dude sitting in a big white van sitting in traffic. She said that it wasn't a good job of spitting luckily. What's weird is that I don't think we were even blocking him, so he must've been jealous we were having so much fun. Screw you, guy in the van.

On Broadway turning left onto Denny - I broke off from the pack and went home here:
I met Dave who does the 327 words blog, I recognized him from the wool helmet cover. He invited me to his Taco Truck Time Trial tomorrow, seems like it could be cool, although it is supposed to be raining tomorrow. And if I do ride, I'd rather do distance over short-but-intense rides.. But I've been meaning to check out some Taco Trucks around here, and what better way than to race to a few and wolf down a few burritos?!

Interestingly this "Time Trial" is similar to a brevet in that you get a little card stamped/signed at checkpoints. And it's not a mass-start race, which I like for some reason. Actually it's kind of ironic since our 300k brevet tomorrow got cancelled due to snow/ice!

My commute/brevet/critical mass machine:

Total Distance: 12km

Total Time: 1 hour

Fun had: lots!

If you ride a bicycle, I highly suggest going to Critical Mass some time to see what it's like. Some say that it's "not helping anyone" or "breaks laws," but you've got to at least try it before you dis it! You'll see that it's both a parade and a protest, and that the response from onlookers is mostly positive!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Few More Pics From Saturday's Ride

At the end of the 85-miler we did on Saturday, I decided to go up Aloha Ave instead of Madison to get back to 12th Ave. Madison has some pretty steep sections, but nothing compared to Aloha!

This shot is looking down the two-block section of Aloha that starts on 26th Ave or so (on the East side of Capitol Hill). It's got to be at least 18%, if not more! I definitely have to stand the whole way for this section.

You might've noticed some cobbles at the bottom of the previous picture; yes, the crazy climb ends on cobblestones! Pretty bumpy ones at that. Really bumpy ones:

Aloha continues up to 23rd Ave, in cobbled fashion. It's a bumpy ride, definitely a different feeling than climbing on smooth (or even smoothish) asphalt.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Saturday Toodle To The Kitty Mountains

Yesterday Dennis & I set out to do a big century that goes something like this: [map]

The elevation profile tells the story of the ups n' downs you'd encounter on this route (Cougar Mountain is the largest peak on the graph):

We met up at Lake Wa Blvd & Madison St in Seattle and headed south towards Renton via Lake Wa Blvd. As Steve Pool & other forecasters were predicting, Saturday was a great Spring day by all accounts! Even though it started out at about 34 degrees, it warmed up to 52 or so by 1 P.M. Oh, and it was completely dry!

On the right you can see what it looked like from my front door as I left - clear & crisp!

Finally, the day I've been dreaming of since about last August: rolling out with just a short-sleeved jersey, vest, arm-warmers, and my knicker-style lycra shorts. So the first 20 feet of the ride are a little chilly, but as soon as I start climbing Thomas St. up to 15th Ave I start to warm up. And by the time (only four blocks away) I'm up on 15th Ave, ~75 feet above where I started I'm all warm and toasty!

We met up at 8 A.M. at Madison & Lake Wa Blvd, then headed south towards Renton, passing Seward Park. Some other cyclists out, but not a whole lot. This early in the day I only see teams of serioius-looking people wearing dark sunglasses & team kits.

Here I am in Leschi, with Bellevue & the Cascade Mountains in the background:

At Renton we went went up the hill, taking Highway 900/Sunset Drive up through the string-mall hell towards the boondocks. There's no such thing as a bike lane out here in these parts, but drivers didn't seem to mind us in their lane, even on some of the slow uphills.

This climb up Highway 900 isn't all that steep, but there's tons of shit on the shoulder to dodge: (and once you get to the top of the hill, the shoulder is gone and you're swimming in suburban traffic) After riding through strip-mall hell, we made it to the country-side, replete with farm animals and the humans that tend to them.

Then we took a right on May Valley Road, taking us through even more picturesque scenes of Northwest farms.

Farmland out on Issaquah-Hobar Rd. heading north:

When May Valley Road ends, you're on Issaquah-Hobart road and we took a right towards our first big climb of the day, Tiger Mountain. At only 700-something feet of maximum elevation, this one is about half as hard as Cougar Mtn. But it's still enough to get you sweating, but as soon as you get in a climbing groove it's time to descend! Of course your 10 minute climb turns into a two-minute descent, but the road isn't too winding so you can open up and put your high gear (53x11 on the Ciocc) to the test! Only hit about 65 km/h (~39 mph) going down it, but I love getting the speed up there.

Then we went back up north towards Issaquah, and followed Newport Way over to Cougar Mountain. Now this is the big climb of our ride, reaching a high-point of about 1,400 feet.

At the false-peak of Cougar on 60th St:

To your left is the "bonus" climb for another 300 feet or so:

And your prize for getting this high? A beatiful view of Lake Sammmish & the Cascades of course:

A little further up the road is a hiking trail, we walked our bikes into the woods and took a little break:

If you look closely the sign says "Nike Missile Site 0.9 M" - surely it's not what it sounds like, but we didn't walk out there to find out. Wtf is this "missile" site?
The synthetics of my bicycle meet the natural world, a mossy shrub:

After Cougar, we got all adventurous and decided to descend down it a new way (following 60th St west basically). There was a great downhill, but at the bottom we were forced to go either left (downhill) or right (uphill), so we went down. This was not the right choice (to get us back on to Newport Way), but we ended up taking a really scenic route to Renton again.

At one point in Newcastle, we were approaching a four-way stop when a small golden cocker-spaniel came running towards us making its best "here I come to kill you" face. But topping out at 18" those things really don't post a threat, I just laughed at it, although a tangle in the wheels would've been really bad. But what was funny was two seconds later a second, identical, dog comes running out! So we're taking a right and they're still hunting us down, although their small legs make it tough to keep up. And then a third one shows up! I guess they own the block or something.

Who knows where these beasts are coming from, but somebody needs to round those things up! They were running in front of a bunch of cars, oblivious to all the things out here that could kill or injure them - guess they just had their eye on the prize!

I was laughing too hard to pull out the camera, so you'll just have to take my word on this one..

We eventually found Lake Wa Blvd in North Renton again and followed it back up north to I-90 to go back to Seattle. At Mercer Island, we took a left and did the ~10-mile loop. At this point, it seemed that everyone in the greater Seattle area that owns a bicycle was out! Some probably for the first time since last summer, but good for them! Always great to see more bikes out on the roads.

Start Time: 8 A.M.

End Time: 3:50 P.M.

Total Distance: 136 km (85 miles)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Bicycle Quarterly & Other Visual Goods

Yesterday I received my first copy of The Bicycle Quarterly in the mail! I've just recently stumbled across this publication and it seems geared towards where I'm heading: the randonneurring world.

Local rando legends like Jan Heine write about bicycles they've tested out, with tons of techincal data as well. For instance an article with nice graphs & bar charts of a survey of PBP riders: DNF rates for those that had fenders vs. those that didn't (guess who DNF'd more?), what people would change about their bikes (mostly bag/rack related), reasons for DNFing. Very good reading!

One of my favorite parts of the current issue was Jan's review of the Pereira Randonneuse - a newly made rando bike, and the coolest part about it is the front derailer: a simple wire cage! (picture on the right) It apparently weighs somewhat less than a Shimano Ultegra front derailleur, and apparently works silky-smooth. I want one!

To the untrained eye, you might take one glance at the bikes in the Quarterly and think, "but these are all super-slow touring bikes!" Don't be confused by the look of some of these bicycles; they are built for serious cycling, including fast-paced rides. Sure, you might not see them at your local crit, but most certainly on local brevets or ultra races. (I've yet to move into the "boutique bike" world and am happy with my 1980's Miyata for now, but one day in the future I plan on straddling a custom rando bike of my own!)

I also purchased a copy of "The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles," which arrived along with my Quarterly issue:

It has lots of pictures of older (and some not so old) Rene Herse bikes, Alex Singer, all of those bike brand-names you start hearing about when you enter the rando world. The bikes of old had such beautiful detail! Brazed-on rear light fixtures, spoke holders, custom racks, etc. Sure, you can find some of that today, but it's too bad that cycling has moved away from "utility" towards "speed & lightness." Most road bikes people buy today can't fit decent fenders on, much less carry any real weight.

Anyway, if you're looking for some good reading in between Brevets, check out both of these publications!

Monday, March 17, 2008

SiR 200k Brevet (Sorted) Results

I know, I know, randonneurring is not a competitive sport! So take this time-sorted list of brevet finishers with a grain of salt. =] (official alphabetical list here)


Fastest Time: 7 hours 27 minutes (wow!)
Slowest Time: 13 hours 29 minutes (they made it by one minute. nice!)
Average Time: 10 hours 28 minutes

Koenig, Urs 7:27
Luttrell, Ian 7:27
Ragsdale, Chris 7:27
Ohlemeier, Brian 8:04
Hamilton, Ryan 8:10
Hennings, Tim 8:12
Kantner, Kole 8:12
Vande Kamp, Mark 8:12
Martin, Thomas 8:28
Morris, John 8:39
Carter, Ken 9:01
Methner, Wayne 9:01
Newlin, Matthew 9:01
Roberts, David 9:01
Kato, Ken 9:11
Ryan, Jim 9:11
Swarts, Geoff 9:11
Black, Todd 9:15
Pieper, Robin J. 9:15
Andersen, Erik 9:17
Beebe, Ward 9:21
Nguyen, Thai 9:23
Muoneke, Vincent 9:27
Thompson, Corey 9:27
Harper, David 9:28
Jensen, Daniel 9:28
Johnson, David 9:29
Kramer, John 9:29
Lagasca, Robert 9:29
White, Charles 9:29
Boxer, Daniel 9:31
Smith, Donald 9:31
Read, Dave 9:34
Huber, Michael 9:36
Brace, Jack 9:41
Brudvik, Bob 9:44
Cox, Greg 9:44
Dussler, William 9:44
Haight, Rick 9:44
McKay, Peter 9:44
Nussbaum, Carol 9:44
Nussbaum, Ralph 9:44
Thomas, Mark 9:44
Pasciuti, David 9:55
Roberts, Mark 9:55
Morse, Josh 9:58
Rowe, David 10:00
Blacker, Rick 10:01
Stanley, Eamon 10:05
LePage, Bob 10:15
Ringkvist, Victor 10:15
Arscott, Dierdre 10:19
Himschoot, Ron 10:19
Chow, Galvin 10:21
Knowles, Martin 10:21
Perera, Shan 10:21
Beeson, Peter 10:25
Blachon, Domenique 10:25
Burke, Jamie 10:25
Holmstrom, Cindi 10:25
McHale, Mike 10:25
Tilden, Brad 10:25
Ortega, Salvador 10:28
Howes, Noel 10:30
Krishnamoorthy, Narayan 10:30
Sprague, James 10:35
Azzam, Saliha 10:40
Heilinger, Joanne 10:40
Humphreys, Kevin 10:40
Maurice, John Henry 10:40
Gunderson, Adria 10:43
Platzner, Joe 10:46
Leahy, Pat 10:49
Halstead, Tim 10:50
Dalton, Matthew 10:59
Groth, Rick 11:03
Scherlie, Paul 11:04
Teeter, Dan 11:06
Vincent, John 11:15
Garl, Theresa 11:18
Isreal, Tom 11:18
Loomis, Jeff 11:18
Miller, Tom 11:18
Whitney, Paul 11:18
Winczewski, Peg 11:18
Dorr, Joby 11:24
Gay, Christopher 11:24
Higdon, Robert 11:24
Davis, Steve 11:38
Smith, Gene 11:38
Berna, Brian 11:51
Vigoren, Eric 11:51
Williams, Maggie 11:51
Reniche-Smith, Cecil 11:59
Fitzsimmon, Lynne 12:02
Hoffman, Charles 12:18
Beagley, Nat 12:42
Kindred, Dennis 12:45Hors Delai
Mikul, Matt 12:45Hors Delai
Alsup, Bill 12:58
Chang, Jennifer 13:23
Reed, Leslie 13:29
Wright, Duane 13:29
Carson, Jim DNF
Graham, Doug DNF
Jameson, Don DNF
Jensen, James DNF
McElhiney, Scott DNF
Rankin, Peter DNF
Turner, Daniel DNF

Saturday, March 15, 2008

SiR 200k Brevet: Success & Failure Combined

Executive Summary: I finished my first brevet! (Although it may not count officially since we missed one of the control's time-cutoff by 30 minutes or so.) We weren't the last to finish, but pretty damn close! I think about two more riders came in after Dennis & I - but hey, at least now we can (almost) call ourselves randonneurs and buy those stylin' Seattle Rando wool jerseys.

Congrats to all that finished! And even those who didn't finish, at least you tried.

My First Brevet - Seattle International Randonneur's 200k

This morning was the Seattle Intl Randonneur's first brevet of the season, a 200km ride in which you get 13 hours and 30 minutes to finish. This is plenty of time to finish such a ride (assuming you start on time & you don't get too lost, tired, or broken) for most long-distance riders, but the ride was surprisingly tough. Not so much the rolling hills or climbing, navigation is the hardest part of a brevet for me. (But Robert would be happy to know that I actually had my own cue this time around!)

The weather was also tough for the most part: 45-50F degrees with steady rain (not a misty/light rain that's nice to ride in), with lows at least 32F. When we were about 1,700 feet in the air in Greenwater, there was a lot of snow on the side of the road!

The ride to the ride was adventure in itself. I pedaled down to the starting point, which meant covering the 24 miles (in the rain) to get from Capitol Hill to the start of the ride in Kent. I didn't get out the door until about 5:30, so I knew time was gonna be tight!

When I finally got to Kent (via Rainier Ave & E. Valley Hwy) and took a left onto James St to get to the start of the brevet, I was met with a giant wall of concrete! A relatively gigantic hill awaited. At that point it was about 6:55, only 5 minutes until the start! On the Google Map this 1.5 mile stretch of road looked like no problem, but the 2D representation on Google Maps can only tell you so much.

As I was chugging up the hill I saw the peloton of 100+ riders enjoying the descent down the hill, parts of which were apparently 15% in grade! I figured I could catch up to at least some of them, and wondered if anyone I knew was in the pack or not.

When I got up to the start I saw my buddy Dennis setting up his bike! Hooray for some of my friends being late like me. We acquired our control cards and split, heading back down the same monster of a hill I'd just come up. (This was at 7:30, so we were already 30 minutes late)

There were a few other stragglers with us at first, but for the most part we rode the route alone. The route took us from Kent over to Federal Way, then to Auburn, Black Diamond, Ravensdale, Enumclaw, Greenwater. Lots of rolling hills, and then a 17-mile stretch of Highway 410 that took us up to an elevation of ~1700 ft.

A brief summary of the things we saw & experienced along the way - good and bad:

  • An amazing array of farm animals, especially along Green Valley Highway between Auburn & Black Diamond: goats, a pig, yaks, llamas, cows, horses, a cat sitting in a field. Lots of country dogs but none free enough to give chase.
  • We also saw a lot of other animals that had met unfortunate endings, and each one of the roadkill scenes we saw seemed to get worse and worse: a raccoon with its innards splayed; then an armadillo with its head squished; then (what i think was) a cat with its face peeled off and what seemed to be only a jaw with jagged teeth. Gruesome scenes indeed. You're lucky I didn't bring a camera!
  • A redneck in a jacked-up pickup truck called us "assholes" when we used a cross-walk while it was showing the walk sign! Not sure if he just didn't like the fact we were "not from around here" or what, but as we passed in front of his truck he rolled down his window to say "you assholes" as if we'd just spit on his windshield. We threw up our hands in both amusement & confusion, as in, "Wtf are you talking about?!" But my temptation to challenge drivers like that is inversely proportional to the probability of them carrying a gun - so in this case, I didn't want to push it.
  • A big brown van that swerved into the bike lane on Highway 410 at the bottom of the climb! He buzzed us with maybe a foot to spare, and kept swerving (most likely a drunk) as he went on. Hopefully he got to where he was going without killing anyone!
  • I bought some new wool socks at the general store in Greenwater - best purchase I've ever made. After having wet socks on since about 8 that morning, it was a welcome relief (it was about 4 PM at that point)
We ended up going off course by about 5 miles in Black Diamond, and this technically disqualified us (see Article 9) since we were out of the time limit for the control. The Bakery control closed at 12:12 or so, and we didn't get there until 12:40! There were a ton of things that led up to us not making it in time, but according to the official rules it seems like this was under our control and was basically our fault. The offcial word:

"If a rider arrives at a checkpoint after it has closed and the ride organizer is satisfied that the rider's lateness is due to the occurrence of something unforeseen and beyond the control of the rider (such as a road closure or stopping to help at a traffic accident), then the ride organizer may waive the fact that the rider arrived at the control late and allow the rider to continue. Poor bicycle or equipment maintenance, fatigue, lack of fitness, hunger, etc. are not unforeseen and beyond the control of the rider and therefore will not serve as a valid reason for being late. Subject to the foregoing, failure to make all checkpoints, even if the brevet is done within the overall time limit, will result in disqualification."

So I'm OK with taking the hit on this one, it's not like this 200k counts towards the PBP qualification anyway. And I'll still bang out the 300k, 400k, & 600k routes, and probably do the 200k again later on this summer.

Back to the ride: I made the Greenwater control by 4 minutes! When we started the climb I thought there was no way we'd make it in time, but after a little uphill sprinting I made it there at 4:04, and the cutoff was at 4:08. We made the Circle K control with 10 minutes to spare, and then made it back to Greg Cox's house in Kent by about 7:40, so there was maybe 40 minutes to spare on that one.

It's tough to swallow after having done such a long ride, but hey there's another 200k later on this year, and nothing is stopping me from still doing the 300k-600k series!

Start time: 5:30 A.M.
End time: 7:40 P.M.
Total distance: 126 miles of brevet + 10 miles of being lost + 25 miles to get there = 161 miles! (259 km)

[route map]

P.S. Robert wrote up a nice entry on this ride as well [link]

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Time To Do Hurricane Ridge!

(The road leading up to) Hurricane Ridge is temporarily closing to cyclists due to construction. I've never done this climb, but it sounds the views at the top are well worth the suffering to get there.

The climb starts in starts in Port Townsend, then you head south into the Olympic Mountains, uphill for 17 miles. Cresting out at about 5,200 feet! I've got to do this before they start construction.. [map]

But since the December 3rd storm damaged the road, parts of it are apparently in this kind of state - if the traffic is already down to one lane, is it even ridable currently?

[image source]

Not sure when the construction starts, but all I know is that I've gotta do this climb soon!

In theory
you could take a ferry from Seattle out to Bainbridge Island, then pedal all the way out there in one day! From clicking out a rough route on veloroutes, it seems to be about 72 miles to get out there. Then just 17 miles up to the ridge. Double that for the ride back, and you've got 178 miles total.

Add 15% for the inaccuracy of the route I clicked, and let's say 195 miles. OK, let's just called it a double-century. 200 miles is 320 kilometers, so if you added 25 miles or 40 km, you'd have a great fl├Ęche route!

I'd love to do this ride in a big group, but convincing anyone to do it (in one day) might be a tall task. If only Cascade would create a new ride (S2H?), print out some maps, make some jerseys, get people to train for it, and charge $80 and we've got ourselves a classic Northwest event!

Vashon Island Loop - 105 Kilometers of Northwest Riding

Yesterday I met up with Chris, Robert, and Joby at the Fauntleroy ferry terminal out in West Seattle, our mission was to cover the 75 kilometers of rolling hills and two-lane roads that is Vashon Island.

I actually made it on time, not just barely like I did last time, when I made about 30 seconds before we loaded the ferry. The route out to the ferry docs went a little quicker this time, and the Miyata rides like a dream. Kind of a heavy & maybe a little sluggish dream from the 1980's, but I love it nonetheless!

This wasn't a Seattle Intl Randonneurs ride, just us four and a few roadies who were also taking the 9:30 ferry over. With a light mist coming down, I was glad to have on my two layers of wool, it was all I needed. And even when the rain stopped later and the sun started peeking out now and then, my two layers of wool felt just fine.

Since I'd done this ride a few weeks ago, I figured I could get through it by memory (and of course hoping that the others had brought cues just in case). This worked for about four of the turns, but I didn't recognize as much of the ride as I expected.

Lucky for me Robert brought an extra cue, so I did have one although without a holder for it, they are kind of useless sitting in your jersey pocket or stuffed up your sleeve. Thanks guys for showing me where the hell to go! Next time maybe I'll know the route 100%.

I had delusions of grandeur and floated the idea of doing Mercer Island after the Vashon Loop, which was my initial plan, since my friend Jessie was planning on doing it at about 3 PM or so. So I was going to do both Islands, and was imaging being able to brag of banging out another century, but, alas, it was not to be so.

Sure I could've done it, but by the time we were done and back in Seattle my legs said, "hey there's a 200k Brevet next weekend (that you might pedal to, no less), are you sure you wanna do this?" Good point, me. So I just did the 16 km back home for a total of about 105 km for the day, no extra island loop after all.

On the way back to Capitol Hill I passed the Seattle Bike Expo, which looked more like a fuckin' car expo from the outside. If you didn't know what it was it might be hard to tell, I was hoping to see bikes locked up all over the place, but this is a side of the cycling scene you just can't ignore: the cars. Why are cars such a part of the cycling scene? I saw a huge line of cars parked next to the train tracks, and a parking enforcer getting ready to write tickets for all of them. It was probably a long day for that cop.

It was a great ride (great rides seem to happen a lot out here in the Pacific Northwest)! Thanks to the gang for riding with me and showing me where the hell to go! It's always fun to ride in a group, sharing slipstreams and stories.

Today I'll be resting & watching the 2008 Paris-Nice race on tv in about an hour! Always good motivation to go ride.

Vashon Island Map: [link]
Total Distance: 105km
Start time: 8:30 A.M.
End time: 2:30 P.M.
Total Distance this year: 2,119 km (1,316 mi)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Another RAMROD Hopeful

I just signed up to Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day! You know, the (in)famous RAMROD? I believe the stats are something like 10,000 feet of gain over 150 miles. Yeah. For comparison, the HPC was 7,500 feet of 115 miles. The HPC was tough, but doable. Interestingly these two rides are about a week apart! the 200-mile STP & the 275 mile S2S (Seattle to Spokane via Highway 2) happen about two weeks prior to the RAMROD! That'll be a high-mileage week month if all goes as planned.

There's a "lottery" to get in on the RAMROD, so I'll go on a wait-list if I don't win a spot. If it doesn't work out perhaps I could turn it into a multi-day unsupported gigantic loop from Seattle.. we'll see how it goes.

They say the RAMROD is good training for the S2S ride, another local long-distance classic that I'd like to finish. And that the double century Seattle-to-Portalnd ride doesn't count as training for S2S! How's that for a "You sure you're ready for this, kid?"

8/1/08 update: I did it, and then some.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Swallowing Cougar Mountain For Lunch

Today I made it out to the Wednesday lunchtime ride at work in Redmond, and it was a perfect day for it too - Sunny and 50F. Yesterday on the bike alias at work I suggested Cougar Mountain for today's ride, and they said yes! Sweet.

(These lunchtime rides aren't Microsoft-only, they are put on by the & Albert Meerscheidt, also a local PBP ancien and SiR rider.)

These Wednesday rides are "High Performance Cycling" (HPC) rides, meaning a faster pace. I've always wondered how fast the HPC rides actually are, since they say the pace is "strenuous" (18-21 mph as defined by Cascade). Could I hang? Well there's only one way to find out.

So I let my team know I'd be gone for a bit, and met up with about 10 other riders at the Overlake Transit Center in Redmond, about 1/2 mile from my building. After a few introductions, an explanation that Albert (our ride leader) had unfortunately dropped a drill on his foot and couldn't make it, we were off.

To get down to Cougar we took NE 40th St down the hill to W. Lake Sammmish, and headed south. The pace was pretty snappy indeed, and we were in the 22-25 mph range on the flats, with a good paceline going. I like pacelines, although it can be a little nerve-racking when it's a semi-serious one, and you've got to worry about touching a wheel, getting a flat, or something else that can ruin the delicate balance that is a paceline.

When we finally got to Cougar, our group of 10 had been whittled down to four of us. Oops, I guess we sped away from the other six, sorry 'bout that! We started the ascension, and one rider, Patrick, immediately spun away from us, but not in a "I'm racing you" kind of way, more in a "this is easy for me" way. The funny thing was that he'd said it was his first time doing it!

I ended up moving away from the other two riders, although I never caught up to Patrick until I found him waiting at the top - well rested and probably bored after waiting a few minutes! We waited around for another 15 minutes or so for the rest of the group (including the dropped six) to trickle up to the top.

On the way back we used a bike trail I hadn't seen yet, the I-90 trail through Eastgate (just off of Newport Way). That spit us out on about 164th St. and we followed that north back to the Microsoft "campus." On the way back the rolling hills split up the pack again, and Patrick & I ended up alone at the front, both hammering away. Not racing, just going fast. It was fun for sure, although I could've used some more calories towards the end.

Elevation profile for the ride:

(The way back from Cougar wasn't that much longer, I think I zoomed in closer when clicking the route on the way back)

Ride Stats:
Total Distance: 41.1 km (~25 miles)
Rolling Time: 1 hour 41 minutes
Avg Speed; 24.5 km/h (15 mph)
[map link]

Sorted SiR 100K Results: The Competitive Side Of The Rando World

The results are posted for last weekend's 100K!

They say that randonneurring is not a competitive sport (hence the official results are sorted by name), but with the finishing times being published, they're just asking for someone to sort that shit and see who's on top!

So here it is, the 100k finishers list, sorted by finishing time:

Kantner, Kole 4:05
Koenig, Urs 4:05
Luttrell, Ian 4:05
Ragsdale, Chris 4:05
Martin, Thomas 4:17
Beeson, Peter 4:20
Hamilton, Ryan 4:20
Ohlemeier, Brian 4:20
Brudvik, Bob 4:25
Howard, Seth 4:30
Mage, Tom 4:37
McHale, Mike 4:37
McKee, James 4:37
Paley, Greg 4:37
Rankin, Peter 4:37
Roberts, David 4:37
Vande Kamp, Mark 4:44
Shopland, Ian 4:45
Graham, Doug 4:49
Perera, Shan 4:49
Lewey, Art 4:50
Harper, David 4:53
Pasciuti, David 4:54
Acuff, Jan 4:57
Brace, Jack 4:57
Buktenica, Julie 4:57
Haight, Rick 4:57
Hefta-Gaub, Brad 4:57
Methner, Wayne 4:57
Smith, Donald 4:57
Stuart, Charles 5:02
Lee, Chen-Tai 5:03
Speier, Andy 5:03
Watkins, Dan 5:03
Roberts, Mark 5:04
James, Jeff 5:05
Miller, Tom 5:05
Prince, Gary 5:05
Frazier, Steve 5:07
Jones, Phil 5:07
Ryan, Jim 5:07
Isreal, Tom 5:08
Thompson, Corey 5:08
Huber, Michael 5:09
Hemmen, Bill 5:10
Mikkelsen, Ole 5:10
Stanley, Eamon 5:11
Lee, Stuart 5:12
McKay, Peter 5:13
Morse, Josh 5:13
Halstead, Tim 5:14
Cann, Michael 5:15
Chow, Galvin 5:15
Favro, Roseanne 5:15
Holmstrom, Cindi 5:15
Jensen, Daniel 5:15
McFall, Ray 5:15
Nussbaum, Carol 5:15
Nussbaum, Ralph 5:15
Thomas, Mark 5:15
Dunphy, Allan 5:16
Fry, David 5:16
Nguyen, Thai 5:16
Cox, Greg 5:17
Loomis, Jeff 5:17
Richeson, Mike 5:17
Slaback, Dennis 5:17
Schneider, Pat 5:29
Jensen, James 5:30
Platzner, Joe 5:32
Richards, Owen 5:32
Hoffman, Charles 5:33
Nowlis, Suzanne 5:33
Briant, Bailey 5:34
Howes, Noel 5:34
Jorstad, Lars 5:34
Rommen, David 5:34
Blachon, Domenique 5:38
Blacker, Rick 5:41
Sprague, James 5:41
Krishnamoorthy, Narayan 5:42
Brett, Tom 5:45
Comeaux, Rene 5:47
Salinger, Kristie 5:47
Muoneke, Vincent 5:49
Gay, Christopher 5:50
Higdon, Robert 5:50
Leahy, Pat 5:50
Mikul, Matt 5:50
Tilden, Jeff 5:50
Funcke, Craig 5:55
Heg, Christopher 6:00
Azzam, Saliha 6:10
Ratsch, Eric 6:10
Vigoren, Eric 6:13
Williams, Maggie 6:13
Vincent, John 6:15
Menge, Christopher 6:20
Chan, Denise 6:27
Hastings, Steve 6:27
Lowe, Richard 6:27
Teeter, Dan 6:27
Wright, Duane 6:27
Bailey, Allison 6:30
Davis, Steve 6:30
Gail, Teresa 6:30
Mallone, Rosemary 6:30
Meerscheidt, Albert 6:30
Siebenaler, Joshua 6:30
Winczewski, Peg 6:30
Jackson, Mark Hors Delai

The top of the list reads like a who's who of NW speedy randonneuring! I know I've seen Urs Koenig's (4:05) name on the Cascade 1200K, and I remember seeing that he finished it in some ridiculously fast time (close to 50 hours, maybe less).

And I was just reading somewhere about how Chris Ragsdale (4:05) did 502 miles in 24 hours! Maybe I'll have the honor of being dropped by one of them some day.

Even though I do like taking a look at the performance-side of this ride, I don't plan on racing through any of the Brevets this season. As long as I finish the Brevets within time, I guess it doesn't matter what my time actually is. I'd be happy to finish the PBP in exactly 90 hours, no doubt!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

SiR's "Big Time" 100K Populaire - Urban Hill Riding!

Today's ride was with SiR again, and finally it was in Seattle!

I've previously ridden 30 miles to get to one of their rides and made it on time. But I was late to today's ride, and it started four miles from my house! Guess I was thinking I could get there at the last minute..

Since the Miyata was having issues on yesterday's 50-miler, I broke out the (racy & fenderless) Ciocc instead. And since it was dry, there was no worry of spraying other riders. If only that thing could take full fenders, I wouldn't really need another bike. (Although its geometry is tilted towards racing, so it gets uncomfortable after about 100 miles)

Anyway, I started out the ride with a road-side speedometer saying I was going 39 mph down 23rd Ave coming off of Capitol Hill - sweet! If only a cop had been around to give me a ticket that I've been dying to get: a speeding ticket on a bike. It'll happen, dammit!

So after missing the start of the ride, I rode north towards Ravenna, since I'd at least looked at the cue last night, and remembered a few key turns.

Riding a route like this without a cue is pretty much impossible by yourself. Thus I had to leech off of assorted riders for directions.

The first big hill was somewhere up north, not sure what the name of the street was, but it was pretty damn tough! I saw about 30 riders walking their bikes up it, and felt a little "show offy" by standing and grinding up it - but that's what you've got to do with a 39x23 with a hill like that!

On a different climb, two women on a tandem said, "Whoa, look at that stud!" as I passed them going uphill. All I could say was, "Yeah but I'm dying!" (Meaning, it may look fast, but it sure as hell ain't easy!)

Eventually I found Chris at the Ballard Locks - lucky for me, he had a flat, and had also dropped his chain. We met up with Joby & Robert at the Lincoln Park control, so the "group" was whole again. We rode, we rode some more, and we did lots of hills. That pretty much sums it up! Again, it was a great ride.

Here's the elevation graph from the Big Time 100K (courtesy of Robert's blog):

As a side-note, if anyone's interested in a similar route, check out the "five summits of Seattle" - similar to this SiR route, except half the distance (with almost the same amount of climbing).

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Week Of Commuting, And a Weekend of Riding. What Else Can I Ask For?

Usually I end up either riding the bus to Redmond to get to work, carpooling a few days with a friend, and cycling to work maybe two days out of the week. My carpool buddy is in Europe, so I decided to pedal in every day last week. I realize how lucky I am to have my health, a flexible work schedule, decently strong legs, and a place of work that's only 16 miles away. And I also have a working bicycle (the Miyata) - yup, I've got everything I need to be an independent traveler; all I need is pavement, bridges, and my gear.

On Monday I had to get in super-early (for me, that means 8 AM) to watch Bill Gates speak to my division ("Entertainment & Devices") at Microsoft. Even though I didn't see him in person (they broadcast his speech to other parts of campus), it was interesting to see my boss's boss's boss's ... he's the boss right now, although he's stepping down soon to run the Gates Foundation. I wish I could sit down with him for a day to give me coding tips, but I don't even know if I'd be able to understand his guru-speak.

Anyway, since I had to be in early, I just pedaled a mile down to the bus stop, and put my bike on the bus to get out to work. Even though it's just a mile, the bike saves probably 20-30 minutes of walking overall.

Tuesday was a full-commute, via I-90, Mercer Island, and Bellevue. Let me tell you something about downtown Bellevue: it was apparently designed by people who assumed that all drivers are in large, comfortable new cars, and that these drivers number in the thousands. Oh yeah, and the drivers don't mind waiting forever at stoplights (seems like up to 4-5 minutes sometimes) - well if you're in an air-conditioned box with music, who cares how long the light takes? (It turns out that their assumptions were correct, and that most cars you see in Bellevue are large SUVs, mixed in with Audi's, BMW's, etc, etc) (Disclaimer: Like Kent says, I'm not anti-car, just pro-bike)

What I'm getting at is that my commute is totally slowed down by Bellevue, mostly by the damn stoplights. I come up 108th Ave (the hilly way), and I somehow never, ever, get a green at the light on Bellevue Way, so I always get to stop at the bottom of a 150-foot hill. Then after that if I keep going straight up to Main St, take a right, cross over I-405 (a sea of traffic, always slowly moving it seems), then take a left on 116th Ave. Here's where the traffic gets heavy, and the lights become many, with long waits. (Remember, we're all riding in comfortable boxes w/ music, so nobody minds)

Wednesday was more of the same, but I was starting to get tired of the platform pedals with straps that I was running on the Miyata this whole time. While it sure is comfortable to wear sneakers on the bike, it sure isn't efficient! Pulling up on the straps can lend you a little more power, but not being able to pull the pedal for the full rotation is a weird sensation. That night, I went out and bought some Sidi shoes!

So the commute on Thursday was much better, since my new SPD pedals with Sidi shoes are excellent! I especially like the way that the SPD cleats aren't huge (like Speedplay), so the shoes are actually walkable - helps on the flights of stairs I navigate daily. High winds today, it was pushing me from side to side on the I-90 trail across Lake Washington.

Yesterday, Friday, when I woke up there was light rain outside! No biggie, I've got the gear & dedication it takes to pedal 16 miles to work in the rain. On the way back in the afternoon, I was hoping to make it to Critical Mass, but didn't get back to Seatown until 6:15, too late unless I wanted to hunt down the group. Dammit, I bet they had fun too - the rain had stopped, and it wasn't too cold. Next month I'll go.

Today, Saturday, I'll be riding out to Redmond via the Burke-Gilaman Trail & Sammamish River Trail. It'll be a flat ride, since Dennis is still recovering from his foot injury, but I'm always down for some form of pedaling or another. About 50 miles in total, should be a nice little jaunt.

Then tomorrow, Sunday, I'll be doing the "Big Time 100K Populaire" - Oh my fucking god, guess who's coming to Seattle to ride?! The "Seattle" Intl Randonneurs! Sweet, can't wait to show them around my town, their nominal headquarters, although so far their rides have mostly started far way from Seattle. Their route goes all around Seattle, in a similar fashion to Dennis' "Five summits of Seattle" route. I'll probably post some details about this route later on today, as I'm sure the elevation profile looks like a roller coaster.

Miles this year so far (prior to this weekend's rides): 1079 miles (yes, I broke the 1K mile-marker this week!)
See my cycling log for details.

In off-topic news, I beat Super Mario Galaxy (for the Wii)! Yes, I'm almost 30 and I'm playing games for ages 10 and up, but that game gets hard towards the end! Don't be fooled by the cartoonish graphics, it's a challenging game. My generation: those that were partially raised by the 8-bit Nintendo. (For those of you confused at this point, to "beat" a game means to finish it to the point that it shows you the credits).

And while I'm at it (bragging, that is), I also beat The Legend Of Zelda: The Twilight Princess on the Wii a few months ago! Now that one is really really tough, and I actually had to cheat to find the answers to a few of the puzzles in it. But heavily recommended if you're into that kind of game.