The Ciocc is great, but the lack of real fenders are going to be tough this winter. (The Miyata has just-about full fenders, but only fits 25's with them, and just feels clunky when riding it.. I might make it a fixed gear again).
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
For some reason I assumed this brevet would be easier than the Three-Pass 400k we did back in May; a reasonable assumption, I thought. Well I was wrong!
The I-90 bike trail was of course empty, as was I-90 itself. A shot of I-90 Bike Trail at 4 AM:
When I got to "downtown" Redmond, I found the start of 202 West, and took it. But about a mile into, I starting doubting that I was on the right street. For some reason there were no signs of any help, and the one I did see just said "Redwood Rd" (which I now understand decodes to "Redmond-Woodinville Road"), so I turned around. It was 15 minutes before the start, and I was basically lost! But I knew I was close.
Now doubting my own doubts, I turned around again, luckily heading back in the correct direction towards Mark's house. As I finally approached it at about exactly 6 AM, I saw the confirmation of many bike headlights turning out of his driveway. I was late, but only by minutes.
I quickly got my brevet card and got on my way, trying to catch up to the riders ahead of me. Not that I wanted to get ahead of anyone in particular, just that I didn't want to spend the whole next 20-some-odd hours alone!
Part Two - Sunrise to Sunset
Sunrise Over Redmond:
Sunrise Over the Brevet:
An incline in the beginning of the ride:
Snohomish - 7 AM - we made quick time getting here, and by now I'm with the front group.
The Centennial BIke Trail - takes you from Snohomish to Arlington
The road to Darrington:
Darrington, I think:
At the store in Darrington we heard news that the road we were about to take to Marblemount, Highway 530, was closed. A biker told me nobody was allowed to go up there because of it. Oh no, could this be the end to our ride?
Geoff said he thought maybe cyclists would be allowed to pass, and we hadn't seen Kevin or any of the riders at the front turned around yet, so it was worth the ~25 km trip up the road to find out if we could get around the scene or not.
They let us pass, but I wish I could block out the scene from my memory - a maroon sheet covering what must a been the bike + rider, and bits of who-knows-what scattered on the ground. Not something you see every day, or want to. But it was a good reminder of the frailty of life, and just how quick a sunny day could turn into your last. [news story]
Prelude to the scene:
Marblemount - after a great ride down Cascade River Road, we finally made it to Marblemount, a quintessential WA town.
Highway 20 on the way to Concrete:
Just after this point I missed the turn back on to E Street (the cue had two directions on one line!), and took a 4 km detour.
In concrete is where we met up with Burbee Hill, a real challenge. But if it gets you to views like this, then it's all worth it!
Getting closer to the resort:
Heading towards the resort was interesting, because the road was never flat. And you could see the faster riders coming the other way, and just how far they were ahead of you. My hopes of catching up to Andy and the crew were dashed, as I saw them pass when I was still 4-5 miles out from the turn around point. My detour was a costly adventure in terms of time!
After a snack at the Baker Lake control, I was off again, glad to be just about half way through with the ride. Oh yeah, at this point we were about 20 miles away from the Canadian border!!
After what seemed like forever, I made it to Arlington. Street lights and other humans were a welcome sign of civilization, after two or three hours alone in the dark! I saw Peg at the Arlington control, also glad to see another rider.
It was about 8 PM at this point, and there was still much ground to cover. Granite Falls was the next stop, less than 20 miles away. But it took quite some time to get there!
About a mile after leaving Arlington, I heard a wssk-wssk-wssk as I rolled. There was a piece of what look like fishing wire extending from my tire, so I yanked it out. Noise gone.
But whatever it was put some holes in my tube, because not five minutes later I was fixing a flat. Luckily I found a street light to fix it under, my helmet's light isn't all that great. You can see how dark it was in the background here - and there was some rustling in the bushes next to me, never found out what that was.
Granite Falls - 12 AM
I arrived at the "24 hour" control to find it closed. So I just signed my own card and continued on.
And after quite a few turns, and a lot of uncertainty ("Am I going the right way?"), I made it back to Mark's house in Redmond. It was 4:30 AM, way later than I'd expected to finish.
As all SiR brevets have been, this one was wonderful too, and highly recommended! Official Ride Results: here
Ride StatsDistance: 450 km (402 brevet + 24 commute + 4 lost) (my 2nd longest ride to date)
Brevet time: 6 AM to 4:30 AM (22.5 hours)
A bunch more photos on flickr.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Tomorrow at 4 AM, I'll be rolling out towards Redmond. What's out there so early you ask?
Posted by matt m at 9:21 PM
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Yesterday I set out to do Seattle Rando's 200k brevet, part of a series of brevets going on around the nation, in celebration of Randonneur USA's 10th Anniversary. About 50 Riders showed up for the ride to Bremerton via the ferry, a good showing for this soon-to-be-hot day.
As per my usual, I left home later than I wanted to, and barely made the ferry! When I got there at first, there was a double-line of autos!! And here I was at the back, patiently waiting:
Lucky for me the cashier waved me ahead of a bunch of cars, and I was the last person/car/anything to board the ferry! It wasn't the first time I'd been almost-late to catch a ferry.. hopefully the last though.
Rando bikes on the ferry:
Riders preparing to leave the ferry in Bremerton:
After some starting notes from organizer Eric, we were off! The beginning reminded me just a tad of Critical Mass - but instead of lots of fixed gears, these were mosty rando bikes, and there was no traffic to get in our way:
We got off to a good start, and held a nice pace. Robert on his fixed gear was looking strong. My buddy Dennis and his friend John came along, always nice to have more randos!
John and other riders on the way to the first control:
Dennis has always been a strong rider, and has a way of doing big rides with little-to-no-training - so neither of us thought it was a big deal that he hadn't ridden a lot before this 200k. We'd just planned to take it easy. And normally things might have just been a bit slower than usual; but with the 90F heat surrounding us, things went south pretty quick. But first...
Free Mozarella Sticks!
In Belfair, we stopped at a gas station for fuel/water. I like - scratch that, I love - fried foods, so I rarely shy away from the mysterious fried items on display at country gas stations. I ordered up some mozarella sticks, and when I went to pay for them she said, "You can have these for free, since they don't keep for very long."
What?! Well not to look the gift-horse in the mouth, I accepted my "gift" of who-knows-how-old cheese sticks without any question. They were fine. Surely not fresh, but they didn't taste bad anyway.
Free food never tasted so good:
The Ride Goes South
Technically we were headed north, but the ride was about to go south, in a bad way. The bad started when we took a wrong turn... a Big Wrong Turn that gave us ~20 bonus kilometers! The cue said the turn was easy to miss, and that the road was unmarked. Cryptic instructions went like: "Turn left after the Subway, but before the 76, towards QFC." All of which made sense when we took the turn... and the road was unmarked, so we just pushed along and hoped for the best. All of the roads out here look the same to me anyway, so I had no idea we were going the wrong way!
Our next turn was to be to the left, but on our left was nothing but water.. And soon the street name we were on became "North Shore Drive." Hmm. So we asked for directions, and sure enough they said, "About six miles back that way." Ouch!
Dennis was already suffering a bit, and while none of us were happy to have taken a detour, he certainly wasn't excited to turn around. Speeds slowed, and John & Robert were nice enough to wait for us back at the US 3/Old Belfair Highway junction.
After getting back to the junction, we saw the correct road, and finally took it. We knew what was coming next, thanks to our cues: Bear Creek-Dewatto Road, 8% grade for 1/2 mile! Finally the turn came, and the 8% grade was presented before us.
Dennis spotted a creek so we stopped and got our hats wet. My trusty bandanna, which can serve so many purposes, was dunked and felt great wrapped around my neck. We were running low on water, but the next control was only 10 or so miles away. No problem.
We had plenty of time to make it (at least an hour), or so I thought. But after we started going uphill, Dennis was really having a tough time at it. I waited for a few minutes at the top, and eventually he came around the bend. We rested in the shade for a bit, then set off again.
From Bad To Worse
After climbing this hill, which was longer than 1/2 mile (but not 8% the whole way), Dennis said at this point he started swerving, and just didn't feel "right." So we took another break, and he laid down on some rocks/bushes/whatever - not the most comfortable, but he really needed to rest! After 10 minutes he felt better, so we set off again.
But the hill just kept on going up, and it was really hot by this point (it was about 2 PM and 90F degrees). Dennis was feeling ill again, so we stopped and he needed more rest & shade. I could tell he was really not feeling well, and didn't want to push him to leave, but at this point we were really cutting it close to missing the cut-off time at the next control.
Dennis recovering in the shade:
The next control, only about five miles away at this point, closed at 2:55 PM. At about 2:30 he was still recovering/resting on the ground, and I figured we needed to get him to the control before too long. Riding there wasn't really an option for him, so I flagged down the first pickup I saw. I don't think I've ever stuck my thumb out for a ride before this!
The guy in the pickup couldn't have been nicer; he practically slammed on his brakes, skidded into the gravel shoulder, backed up, and offered his assistance. Who'd have thought an angel could be scruffy, shirtless, and bearded? Turns out the guy worked at the gas station we were headed for, so he knew where to go.
With Dennis in the truck and on the way to food/water/shade/recovery, I set off with about 10 minutes to go spare to make it. The guy in the truck made it sound like it was "just at the bottom of the hill," which it was I suppose - but the headwinds came out of nowhere, and the time kept ticking while the road kept going.
Eventually I hit the T-intersection, and took my left for the control. But it was 3 PM! Control-time missed by ~10 minutes, brevet over. I got my card signed anyway, with brief thoughts of finishing with a DNQ (Did Not Qualify), which seems only marginally better than a DNF.
The Control Back To Bremerton
Dennis was resting in the shade, looking a bit beat up, but still alive! On the way there I had images of bad movies flashing through my head, thinking, "Do I even know what the truck looked like?!" "What if they guy just steals Dennis?" Luckily the guy was totally legit, my worries were for not. He was indeed a scruffy angel.
I called Eric (the organizer) to let him know what had happened, and that we were abandoning the ride. His directions to the ferry were the exact opposite of an older gent we'd asked earlier (they older guy said take a bunch of lefts, Eric said take a bunch of rights). So we triple-checked and asked the clerk inside, and indeed Eric was correct.
After an hour or so of enjoying the shade, food, and water, we set off for Bremerton. The roads were pretty tame, and we made it just in time for the 5:30 ferry. Dennis had recovered and was fine at this point - funny how the body can do that, recover from the brink of disaster! It takes a strong human, both physicall and metally, to be able to recover like that.
In the end, it was a great ride, and I got to see some familiar faces: Narayan, Joe P, Mark T. Mark got a kick out of my tiny Carrdice saddlebag. Even met a blog reader, Jack I think was his name.
I ended up with about 170km for the day, just over 100 miles. Which was plenty for me on this hot, hellish day. While the ride had its ups and downs, overall it was fun! Big thanks to the organizers and volunteers; the controls were great! Although I don't think I'll be writing any poetry any time soon..
Anyway a few more photos from the ride can be found on flickr. Thanks for reading!
Sunday, August 10, 2008
After watching some Olympic road cycling today, I went for a spin with a goal of hitting up the Cougar Mountain Climb, one of my local favorites. Sunny skies, a littering of clouds, what more can I ask for?
Anyway I made it out to the base of Cougar, and had passed a smaller chap on a big mountain bike, who somehow had held on enough not to be completely dropped by the time I started Cougar. After a few minutes of climbing, I look back only to see this little guy (well he was kind of short I think), chugging up the Mountain after me.
We must have been going about the same speed the whole time (10-11 km/h), as when I got to the "top" and was taking the left for the "bonus" climb, I could see him chugging up that last little kick. It's nice to have someone chasing you! Makes for good motivation. For all know the guy was heading home, but in my head he was out to catch me..
After the leg-breaking bonus climb, I ventured into a new area of Cougar: the unpaved part. When you keep going straight at the top, the road becomes gravel/rocks, and I just kept going.
My 25's aren't much for dirt/gravel, but they held out pretty well. I rode on this unpaved road for about .5 km, then ended up at a trail head, and turned around. The small descent from the trailhead (on dirt) was interesting - I haven't ridden with the uneasy feeling of going forwards, yet sliding sideways at the same time, in quite a while! What a feeling! You're out of control, but not enough to make you crash - you just have to plan waaaay ahead when it comes to steering.
After making my way back to Seattle via the I-90 trail, I took Lake Wa Blvd over to Madison St, then after a left on that, took a right on 29th to begin some more brutal climbing. Usually Dennis & I take Aloha Ave to get back up to Volunteer Park, but this time I decided to take Seattle's steepest incline, weighing in at a whoppiong 22% grade!
Sure, it's only one (small) block long, but with about 60k of work on my legs so far, it looked pretty daunting. Actually it looks more like a wall than anything else! And you get to do a 10% or so block of climbing just to get to the steepest section...
I geared down to 39x27 and let it rip - I ground up the incline, barely eeking out 4-5 km/h, if that. You've got to balance just right on a hill like this: too far forward, and your back wheel will skid. Too far back, and your front wheel will leave the ground! In fact there were a few times that my front wheel poppped up a bit, quite scary.
But in the end I made it to the top, without stopping or walking. The cobbles after this section were a relief, at an easy 5% grade or so.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Went for a spin last night, heading down my hill (Capitol) towards another one (Queen Anne).
Open Pro wheel shot (blurry was a recurring theme in this photo session):
Goal reached! Kerry Park's great view of downtown & West Seattle. The only part of the picture that really matters is in focus:
Cyclists in Seattle either get used to the hills, or they quit cycling altogether. Or they find ways to avoid them, but that's pretty hard to do around here. I see cyclists of all types climbing the hill close to my house, from fixies to cruisers to roadies.
But one place I never see other cyclists is on Queen Anne Avenue! I know that other people do it, but I can see why most avoid it. Yet I keep coming back for more.. here's a view looking down it, from Highland Drive (I think):
Handlebar shot, with Schmidt E6 shining bright:
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
The Ciocc on a dirt road - just a pit stop.
Schmidt E6 lamp, Shimano dynohub, in motion.
10 PM, rolling into seattle. 230 miles done! It was raining hard at this point.
Friday, August 1, 2008
I did it! Rode to Enumclaw, then did the RAMROD. That would be the "Ride Around Mt. Rainier In One Day" annual event. Then pedaled back to Seattle. All in one day.
You can find many more photos from the ride on flickr.
Mt. Rainier in the distance - about 20 miles away from Enumclaw, you can clearly see the mountain! It was great to be able to see the object of our obsession all through the day, I can't imagine doing this on a rainy day, when you'd get no perspective on where you are/going.
Lenticular cloud atop the mountain - I seriously shouted when I saw this, and just had to stop for a photo:
Now in Rainier Natl Park - lots of woods. But the air smelled seriously fresh. Like in those commercials for fake smells, but for real.
Unpaved section of Cayuse, looking down the incline - there were lots of these, but going uphill they weren't too bad, just a little bumpy.
The whip atop Cayuse Pass - its mostly downhill from here!
The plan all along was to turn down all generous offers of car pooling, and to pedal my way to Enumclaw, the start of the ride. Google maps said it was "only" about 38 miles to get there, via Renton & Highway 169.
So I rolled out from the apt at 3:15 AM, giving me enough time to make it there by 5:30 or 6, probably closer to six. In pitch dark, I rolled down Rainier Ave, with little traffic, and surprisingly there were people waiting for buses - as their night was most likely ending, a new day was beginning for me.
Once in Renton I followed a few turns that brought me to Highway 169/Renton-Mapple Valley Road, not sure what to expect. I'd heard that the first section was less than enjoyable, with no shoulder, but traffic was light. At rush hour this would be kind of crazy, but doable. At this point I'll ride on pretty much any road that isn't closed to cyclists!
Eventually I rode into thick fog, my dynohub'd Scmidt E6 lamp doing well to keep me going forward. A blinky light would have been useless. As the elevation seemed to rise, the temperature dropped. I stopped and put on my jacket & long-fingered gloves ("seal skinz"). Those gloves are wonderful; they block wind/cold, and supposedly water too. If I've learned anything from randonneurring its to be prepared for anything, because it might be a long day. THe forecasts were for the 70's, but 3 AM in the foothills of the Cascades can be a different story.
At about 6 I rolled into the 'claw, glad to be there without any mechanical issues to hold me back. The starting area, Enumclaw High, was empty except for a few other late starters. I found the free breakfast of waffles, and though they were out of utensils I made a waffle/butter/syrup sandwich that really hit the spot.
Distance: 38 + 154 + 38 = 230 mi (370 km)
Start Time: 3:15 AM
End Time: 9:55 PM