Welcome!

Welcome to my blog! This is where I post about my rides – for other adventures, check out The Woodsy Ones.

My wife and I are currently traveling the west while she takes travel nursing assignments. We’re near Seattle from March through May 2014.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave comments too.

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Early April Rides

I haven’t been planning rides until last minute, so the latest batch were all solo rides. It’s nice to have time alone, and go whatever pace I choose that day, but I do enjoy the occasional group ride. It’s also still April, so the amount of advertised group rides is still rather low as expected. Anyway, here’s the three latest rides from the first half of April:

April 6 – Dash Point, Federal Way, Lake Tapps

I took parts of Permanent 0986 to make this route from home. Dash Point was a nice little descent to a park on the water with restrooms. The meandering path through Federal Way was mostly pleasant when traffic was light. Heading to Lake Tapps was busy as usual, and not my favorite section. The terrain was hilly, but didn’t feel as bad as the numbers suggest. 58.6 miles at 15.9mph with 4099ft climbing.

dashApril 9 – Auburn, Black Diamond, Ravensdale

I’m finding that getting up to Auburn on side roads and bike trails works well, and reaches up to some of the rides that dip south from Seattle. This one included a loop section from Permanent 0401. I had ridden the southern half before, and it’s pleasant country road. Although there was line painting in one area, so the road was down to one lane. The climb by Flaming Gorge park was a good one for me. The north half of the route was new to me, but still pleasant even if there was a bit more traffic.

Somewhere around mile 30 I wondered how far I could go before needing a break. By mile 40, I was beginning to think it may actually be possible to do the ride non-stop. I seemed to only go faster as the day went on, and finished 67.2 miles at a super fast for me pace of 17.2mph. Other than traffic signals which accounted for about 8 minutes of the ride, I didn’t put a foot down! Not sure I’ll need to try that again, but it made for a great distance of riding after a day of work and still home before sunset.

blackdiamondApril 11 – Edgewood climbs

edgewoodThis was a route I put together with the plan of staying close to home, but covering many roads including many climbs. In under 30 miles I climbed 1876ft on four main climbs. The descents were particularly fun, especially the last one at the end on Jovita Boulevard. I’ve since re-routed this one to included even more climbing and longer descents to try another day.

 

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Seattle International Randonneurs – Spring 300km

IMG_20140329_111039After a successful 200km, I was feeling good about the idea of riding 300km. While I’ve done this distance before, the forecast was for pouring rain all day, and it’s also March. I was still commuting in NY for Jan/Feb, but since then I only get out for a few rides a week, and mostly just when the clouds have parted long enough for a nice ride.

This 300km started at 6am, which meant getting up around 4am to prepare and drive to Seattle. I found that I need to plan 30 minutes to get ready if I haven’t already loaded the car. Driving to Seattle is about 45 minutes, but I also had to loop around to find parking for this ride. I got my clothes on, bike out, and rolled to the start with only about 5 minutes to spare. It was still dark at 6am, but I knew twilight would come shortly and lights weren’t necessary for long.

Lunch stop

Lunch stop

Apparently about 60 people were at the ride. I started with the front, which had 20-25 people for a while. At one traffic light when I thought I had a moment to adjust my insulin pump, I got tangled and had to sit through an extra light cycle to get that worked out before sprinting to catch the group again. Shortly after, someone had fallen and the group stopped. I think it was right after this that there was a small climb and the group split in two.

I stayed with the front dozen or so riders. The pace stayed high, but was what I was used to from speedy group rides last summer. The rain had started shortly after the ride did, and it was only getting harder. By the first control, I realized just how soggy my gloves had gotten when I wrung them out. I was also being passed by everyone, since as the only person without fenders, no one wanted to ride behind me – and I don’t blame them. I’ve since ordered fenders to fit this bike.

IMG_20140329_131031We rolled on to Camano Island, and other than one small city we went through, traffic was low for most of the day. The island riding was nice, and the group would split up a bit on the climbs allowing me to ride my normal pace which is generally a bit faster than others on climbs (I’m slower on the flats comparatively). One memorable spot without a photo was the driftwood beach, which was chocked full of logs without much sand showing.

Off the island, I think we were down to about 8 people. I heard there were three climbs remaining, but the heights all sounded easy compared to Ithaca’s big climbs. It was almost a struggle for me to ride fewer hills then I’m used to, since I do struggle to keep up with the fast packs on level ground. We rode on more trails, and the sun actually came out briefly some time around 5pm.

With about 40 miles to go, my mind was struggling. It was raining again, there wasn’t as much in terms of views, and the paths cross intersections very frequently, so I can’t just pedal on without knowing what’s ahead. All the fast flat pack riding meant I was starting to struggle more than the leaders. We did lose a few people out of the pack that couldn’t keep up either, but I continued pushing in hopes of not finishing the ride alone.

The ends of the Seattle rides for me seem to be the most difficult part. There’s more traffic on both the trail and the roads. The trails are paved, but covered in bumps and cracks that make holding on the handlebars painful after a long day of riding. The constant trail intersections require full attention at all times. And the strongest riders make it look easy, while I’m panting on the back. I remember with 4 miles to go thinking I really should just stop to check my sugar, eat a bite, and take my time to finish. I drank the last of my juice, popped a few dex4 tabs for pure sugar, and felt my glucose come back up to help me finish the ride.

Just a few minutes after 7pm, with moderate rain again, and the last bit of sun now in dark clouds, I made it to the finish with the 5 others remaining from our pack. I saw a few of the others I had ridden with roll in as I was leaving to get back to the car, so they couldn’t have been far behind.

For a 300km ride with quite a bit of rain, it was actually very enjoyable. New roads and new people to meet makes these rides go by in good time. I was thrilled to finish with the strongest riders, even if I was struggling to stay with them during the last two hours.

Posted in 150-200 miles, Puyallup | 7 Comments

SIR Escape from Seattle 200km

The “Escape from Seattle” 200km brevet from the Seattle International Randonneurs was on March 15. Normally riding that distance so early in the year would be daunting, but having 3 weeks of spring weather has been perfect for getting out on rides up to 65 miles and I felt well prepared. The start was at 7am, and a 45 minute drive, so I left home around 5:30am.

200kThere were about 100 people registered for the ride. It was amazing to see so many people ready for a ride this long in March! I rolled out right at 7am, but with so many traffic traffic lights early in the ride, the group split a few times and I was unsure how many were ahead of behind me. I wanted to stay somewhat near the front, and stick with a pack going my usual speed. This worked out well, because I was usually with a dozen or so people to the first “controle” stop around 45 miles in. A few people continued on with a minimal stop, but I stayed around for 15 minutes when I saw a few people I knew were on the ride show up.

200krouteThe route from here was on wonderful roads now well beyond Seattle. We had a small group of six that rode together for a little while, until eventually Jim and I climbed a bit faster and picked up the pace. I took some long pulls, and also enjoyed drafting at a good speed too. We caught a few other riders too. The second stop around 85 miles was another 15 minutes off the bike, and we started again with very light rain. Fortunately after a few drops, the rain was done for the day.

The last 30 miles were a big more rough. The route coming back into Seattle was on rough roads, and due to not-perfect adjustments on the bike I was getting sore at this point. The route twists a lot more, but fortunately Jim was familiar with most of the route back to Seattle.

Overall it was a great day. I met some new people, had a great ride, and enjoyed the day outside. One thing I love about randonneuring is that for only $10, I got a well-organized ride with a post-ride bowl of chili included. Looking at the results afterwards, I was surprised how fast we went. It felt like a good pace, and I finished 15th (though it’s not a race).

Next up will be the Spring 300km ride from Seattle on March 29th.

Posted in 100-150 miles, Puyallup | Leave a comment

Road Holland – Serious and Stylish Cycling Apparel

I’m a wool convert. Once I had a few wool baselayers, I knew I needed a wool jersey. The only ones I had previously seen were 100% wool and stretched over time, or from epic brands that wanted $200+ for a jersey. Those were options I didn’t care for. After hearing about the company Road Holland – Serious and Stylish Cycling Apparel from one of my favorite cycling blogs – The Path Less Pedaled, I figured I should try them out. While dishing out $120-150 for a cycling jersey is a lot more than what you’ll find from bargain cycling companies for basic jerseys, I took into account that this is high quality apparel, made in the USA, by a few guys that are really awesome with customers.

climb-mar19It started with the Arnhem jersey. I bought it in the fall, and it was perfect for cool weather rides. I wore it every day during my winter challenge to ride about 50 miles per day for a week, and it was perfect. I continued to wear it for nearly any ride outside of the summer months (nb: I rode all year in New York state). It’s the bees knees. You can read my full review about it here on a previous post.

Two years later, and it still looks great and is what I grab for nearly every ride in the shoulder seasons. From my latest big ride – the Seattle International Randonneurs 200km brevet – it was the perfect layer for ~8 hours of riding in high 40s to mid 50s. A few very minor problems persist – the pockets are not deep enough to hold used bar wrappers, as they come out too easily to be stashed there, and the pockets are not perfectly size for my gadgets (I carry a few diabetes management gadgets in addition to a cell phone). It appears that their newer jerseys now use 2 instead of 3 rear pockets, and include a zippered pocket large enough for typical cell phones, so hopefully that has solved these issues.

img_1088My second piece was the Amsterdam. It’s somewhere in the continuum of jersey and jacket. For winter cycling (typically around 0-30F), I would wear a baselayer, the Arnhem, and the Amsterdam. What I really love about it was the ability to wear it out and about while off the bike. While it’s great for cycling, it also looks pretty good off the bike too. It’s pretty darn classy, I think. With two deep pockets and one zippered cell-phone size pocket, I can carry plenty of stuff. I was hesitant to buy black since I was commuting at night, but there is a reflective strip on the back, and I use a good taillight. One feature I wish for is an inside front pocket to hold a few papers while walking to meetings, but I’ve survived without it.

Picture taken after completing my winter challenge of 6 days in a row over 50 miles

Picture taken after completing my winter challenge of 6 days in a row over 50 miles

I just ordered the new Edam jersey which appears to be their remake of the Arnhem. I look forward to wearing these great jerseys on many more rides!

Posted in Reviews | 3 Comments

Puyallup Cyclopaths

I found a local cycling club – The Puyallup Cyclopaths

They put out a schedule of weekend rides, though this starts in May and is mostly for routes in the currently snowy passes around Mt. Rainier that will be open later in the season. I caught news of the club on Strava, commented on a ride, and pretty quickly had multiple emails welcoming me to the area!

The route up Mowich Lake Road proved to be a great ride with a good view, and Leon led the way and was good company.

mowich-view

Mt. Rainier’s snowy peak

My second ride with someone from the club was with Mike to his infamous “Climb” route which is a 5-mile climb. Apparently they often meet there to do hill repeats, going up and down the same path a few times to get some extra climbing in. I’ve never done hill repeats, nor would I normally seek them out, but to have company on a ride and enjoy the views made it worthwhile.

climb-mar19

Photo taken by Mike

Posted in 50-99 miles, Puyallup | 2 Comments

Puyallup

It’s been 3 weeks in Puyallup and I’m still not sure how to pronounce it correctly. We moved in, and a few days later the bikes arrived through my BikeFlights shipment (through FedEx). Short review: The cost was reasonable, and it took 5 days to ship across the country with no major issues. I’d do it again if I needed to get bikes far away.

bikeflightsI build up my Soma Stanyan and Kathy’s Jamis Quest. The Soma Double Cross came last, and I still haven’t mounted the lights because I haven’t needed to ride at night yet. I’m also finding that my bike needs have changed now that I’m not commuting, so this bike won’t be seeing as much use at the moment.

puy-wallI searched around Google and Strava to try to find some local routes, and set out on a few rides in the first week. I made the mistake of riding through the majorly developed areas quite a bit, which was slow, annoying, and very full of traffic. Riding in the afternoon also puts me in the high traffic of school getting out and commuters going home. After two rides of that, I’ve sworn to stay out of the burbs and ride farther out of town instead. Fortunately there is a bike path nearly from our front door that goes for a good 15 or so miles out of town to the east which has been a great launching point for rides.

wall2My ride lengths quickly grew. I started with some 20 mile afternoon rides, and quickly got into 50 and 65 miles, knowing that my first 200km brevet of the year was coming up fast. I also tried to go rather fast to get some power and endurance back from the past few months of nothing other than short commutes.

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Slaterville dirt ride

It’s been a long year, without much riding for me other than commuting. Apparently in your late twenties everyone gets married. Anyway, when I heard that someone was going to head out for the Slaterville route, I couldn’t say no. I had built up my Soma Double Cross a few years ago specifically for rides like this and D2R2. It’s still a great bike for it, and a pleasure to ride on dirt.As usual, I started from home. It was a pleasant 10 miles to Brooktondale, and for once I left the house with time to spare and didn’t have to sprint up the east hill. I’ve done the Slaterville route twice before, and many of the parts I’ve ridden on various other rides. So none of this was new to me, but a good recap of dirt roads that make riding this area so great. Nine people showed at the start.

In the first 15 miles, we had two flats. Alex on a single speed had to wrench off the rear wheel after descending in Shindagin, and I threw a new tube on and we were off again. Mark got the second flat, and his magical tubeless tire didn’t seal and he got the lucky job of putting a tube in the goopy tire. Yeah, I’ll give tubeless some more years of development before trying it I think… We made our first pit stop in Speedsville, and were surprised we hadn’t gone farther in this time, but oh well, it’s still fun.

Level Green (not level), Robinson Hollow, Lacey, and Seamons climbs were next. On the Jim Schug trail, there was a bridge out, and I didn’t notice any signs until at the bridge itself. But we picked up the bikes and walked or crawled on the beams over raging rapids. Or was it a tricking brook, I can’t remember, but we all survived. The infamous Beam Hill was ahead, and I was ready with my new super-compact double: 30/46t in front, 11-28t in back. I got up faster than last time, but still a measly 2 seconds from the Strava record. Non-Strava-ing Paul beat me by a long shot anyway.

Paul had stashed a cooler at the top of the hill, and we drank Dr. Peppers and ate gummy candies and other glorious treats. Huge thanks to Paul for planning ahead and setting that up! Then it was back to fully layering up for the descent. All day it was on and off jacket weather. I mostly kept it off because I had a thick wool jersey on.

Up Speed Hill and down Gulf Creek we went. We passed a woman laying on her back with her feet up on a tree, almost stopping to see if she needed medical assistance but she was all smiles. Weird, but this is Ithaca I guess! One of my favorite roads is Leonard, which was just about the end of the route. 8 people finished the entire thing, and I headed home for the remaining 10 miles, bringing my total for the day around 75. No rain, no snow, and great fall temperatures made this edition of the ride my favorite.

Here’s the Strava data from the ride: http://www.strava.com/activities/91748402

For anyone looking for more dirt rides, I have a lot of previously written reports from past rides posted here: http://geekguyandy.wordpress.com/category/dirt-roads/. Lots of exploring to do on “roads” most people don’t even know exist.
Posted in 50-99 miles, dirt roads, FLCC | Leave a comment