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 in Washington state through August 2014.

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

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2014 Cascade 1240km – Day Four – Mazama to Monroe

Mile 605

Mile 605

It was tough leaving the comfy bed at the Mazama Inn for the last day. I was on the road by 6:10am with few other randos behind me. Knowing that the day was starting with the climb up Washington Pass, I was excited to climb early in the day compared to the end of the day climbing on Loup Loup.

I caught up and passed a half dozen other riders on my way up. Strava seems to show that I was going awfully slow compared to a normal climb, but maybe that’s just life on a 1200k. I felt like I was flying uphill anyway, and the grade seemed easier than the past climbs for my sub-par 34×28 gearing. As I got higher up in the pass, the view only got better. There was snow ahead of me, a big switchback in sight with riders ahead, and I was in Cat-6 mode trying to catch the blinkies.

[Mile 612] Flying up the pass, feeling great, and absolutely amazing views in the snowy peaks with a huge valley behind me. — in Washington.

Mile 612

[Mile 612] Snow! — in Washington.

Mile 612

[Mile 613] The top is just around the corner — in Washington.

Mile 613

I didn’t know where the top of the pass was, but looking back on my route was a great view through the valley. Turns out everyone took  pictures from here!

[Mile 613] One last view through the valley. Gorgeous! — in Washington.

Mile 613

True to my cycling roots in NY, I still hadn’t gotten fenders on the bike. It was wet for a few hours in the morning, but never hard rain, and I stayed relatively dry. I also stayed in shorts all the way up and down the first pass. It was on the top of Rainy Pass that I put on tights, my spare jersey, and full gloves.

[Mile 614] Washington Pass! Stayed in shorts though. — in Washington.

Mile 614

Apparently those that started early in the morning had a rainy and frigid descent after Rainy Pass. Fortunately it was dry and decently warm enough when I was there. There was a non-controle station a few miles down the pass, where I stopped briefly to check my sugar and top up water. There wouldn’t be another stop for a while, though it was downhill for many miles at this point.

[Mile 618] Quick downhill for a few miles before another climb up Rainy Pass. Not too rainy at this time, though the early crowd got frozen in the rain. — in Washington.

Mile 618

[Mile 649] Gorge Lake, after Diablo Lake. Crazy side gusts through the valley. — in Washington.

Mile 649

Mile 651

Mile 651

I leapfrogged with a few riders when I stopped to remove layers again after the descent. The California couple caught up a few times, and eventually while I was resting they passed and I caught up and rode with them again. We reached the tunnels, and while the first short one was no issue, we had a long line of cars pass just before and after the longer tunnel. I was afraid that the drivers wouldn’t see cyclists in the dark, but we got out before the cars had caught up.

Mile 669

Mile 669

The Californians were flying as usual, and I decided to take a little bit longer of a break when we reached the next town. There were a bunch of BC randos there, about ready to go while I was still getting my things together. I finally packed up and was about to roll when Graham rolled in. He decided that if we took pulls together, we could catch up with more people. We were flying along and caught up in just a few miles to get a group of half a dozen. From somewhere deep, I felt like I was recovering from the past days of riding and wanted to put some more effort in, and started pulling the pack faster. I found out at the next controle that they had trouble with that pace, but on the flip side, I was having difficulties with shorter breaks. I had to work to catch up again, only to have the sun come out and stop to put on more sunscreen. With only a little under 100 miles to go, I gave it everything and caught up again, but only stayed on the back for half a minute before passing them in the hopes of catching the Cali couple yet again since they were riding faster and a more steady pace. They were still flying along at ~18mph even though they were tired and suffering an ankle issue. They were some of the strongest riders I’ve met!

When we caught a pack of Seattle randos, I decided I needed to slow down. 80 miles to go now, and the road was rough chipseal. I had over-filled my tires on Rainy Pass after feeling like they were too soft, and I was paying for it now. I knew that stopping to fix that would probably be the start of a solo metric century on my own to the finish, so I kept on rolling. The Seattle guys were flying as well. They seemed to like starting early and taking a few longer breaks in the day, which isn’t a bad plan, but I just haven’t been good at waking up early enough for that.

[Mile 729] Rode with some Seattle Randos to the finish! — with Andy Speier in Washington.

Mile 729

The familiar Centennial Trail was the final stretch. I knew once I reached that point that finishing would be no problem so long as the bike stayed together. Andy (Seattle) was leading the pack most of the time, at a pretty steady clip that was tough but still possible to hold onto. Thankfully the pack slowed a little as we got closer, because I was just about to ease off and take a break. Like the end of most rides, I think I tend to get sloppy at the end. When I know the finish is near, I don’t have a good cadence, and I tend to pedal and coast instead of keeping a steady pace. I’ll also blame the paths for having a lot of little bumps that make it hard to ride a steady cadence when I’m tired. Once we were off the trail, I was doing better with this, but I think that was because the pace slowed too.

770 miles down, 4 very long days of riding behind me, and we rolled into the hotel at 9:11pm. There isn’t much fanfare, but the hotel storage room that I had checked in at 5 days prior was filled with pizza and randos, all congratulating each other on completing the ride. I heard that 88 people started, and around 63 finished. I don’t know how that compares to other years, but it seemed reasonable.

I remember at the time feeling like I could be done with long bike rides for a while, though of course while writing this now I have to admit that I looked up future big rides this year. That probably won’t happen, though I am interested in a few crewing opportunities and maybe volunteering for upcoming brevets.

Until then…

 

Posted in 150-200 miles, 2014Cascade1200, Olympia | 2 Comments

2014 Cascade 1240km – Day Three – Ephrata to Mazama

[Mile 472] Day 3 begins. Bluffs and Buttes.

Mile 472

Day 3 started around 6:10am. I had about 4 hours of sleep and didn’t eat much for breakfast because I forgot to grab a bagel in the morning. A few people had just left that I missed when I realized I left my Platypus water bottle in the room and went back for. Along the first climb, I reached Bob and Gary (BC) and rode with them for a while. They descended slower, and I kept on moving along Sagebrush Flats / Moses Coulee Rds.

 [Mile 477] Washington rocks! Some interesting formations in these hills. — in Washington.

Mile 477

 [Mile 478] Sugar dropped from looking at this hill. SF and BC guys caught up for the climb. — in Washington.

Mile 478

When I got to the end of the road by the switchback leading up Route 2, I noticed my sugar had dropped. Oddly, my recent rides had all seen higher than normal sugar levels compared to normal. I was well prepared for lows though, and had more than enough sugar. Unfortunately this put me high for much of the day. It’s too scary to take a lot of insulin to treat that for fear of going low, but I also knew I need to keep eating to keep up my energy. It was a tough balance on this ride. While I was waiting there, the San Fran randos caught up again, and the BC guys weren’t far behind.

 [Mile 485] Climb complete! Rolling along with BC guys into the control. — in Washington.

Mile 485

Farmer controle

We started up the climb and split apart somewhere along the way to the “town” of Farmer. I saw nothing but maybe a farm or two. Our controle was in an old community building, complete with stage and disco ball spinning. I made a PB&J, filled my water, put on sunscreen and was off again. I caught up to Gary (BC) and we rode together for a while. At some point the San Fran guys caught up, and were awesome to let us draft again. They would trade pulls, and I would try my best to hold on, unable to go that pace without the draft and mental support of having something to chase. This stretch of road was as straight as could be for about 13 miles too. Towards the end, I did slow down again coming down the grade into Bridgeport, as my knees were becoming more sore and I didn’t feel as comfortable in the aero tuck position. Quite a few randos were already at the store as more came in. I ate a mini pizza which was so bad yet sooo good.

Bridgeport store

Bridgeport store

Gary and I left Bridgeport together, and navigated through the road detour. I realized that the sunscreen from earlier seemed to be wearing off, so I tried to put more on while rolling, but wasn’t very successful, and also ran out. I stopped at the next store in Brewster just a few miles up the road to buy more and put more ice in my bottles.

Mile 536

Mile 536

Malott controle

While there, the remaining pack of BC riders caught up. We climbed up Old Rt 97, which drops back down to the Okanogan River. The next “town” of Malott didn’t offer much, but there was a small store with a few things and this was the controle before climbing up the pass. I bought a full bag of ice for only $1.60 to fill my bottles with, and poured ice for everyone else there. The peak of the hot day seemed to be over, although there was the huge climb of Loup Loup Pass ahead. I filled my water to the max – two 20oz tall bottles, plus my 32oz Platypus in my jersey pocket.

IMG_20140623_164643

First peak of Loup Loup

The route up makes a few large steps, starting with a very steep climb. We still had a large pack of people as we rounded the net-enclosed farms, but the next climb was longer and steep and people were stringing out – I was somewhere in the middle of this. I took a break in the shade partway up to dump half of my Platypus into my waterbottles and drop in more electrolyte tablets. At the first peak before a short descent, I was still feeling good. But the climb ahead proved to be tougher. I’m now at 100 miles for the day, but with little sleep and plenty soreness from hundreds of miles ridden this week so far. I had 34×28 as the smallest gear, which worked okay, but clearly isn’t the 1:1 or better than many people had for getting up the passes. I traversed in a few places, took a few more breaks, but eventually made it to the top, just as the road enters the Okanogan National Forest.

[Mile 570] Loup Loup Pass! What a tough climb with two pitches. I had to stop and take a few short breaks on the way up. — at Loup Loup Ski Bowl.

Mile 570

The next 8 miles of descent made it all worth it. It’s difficult not to look at the mileage while climbing, and it changes so slowly, but while descending I hardly get a chance to notice the mile numbers flying by. I got into Twisp where there was a grocery store, and bought another smoothie drink and water. The remaining ~20 miles into town would be mostly easy, with a slight uphill but no major climbs. Other people at the store didn’t seem to be in a rush to keep going, but I didn’t want to linger longer than I already had, so I left alone. I got on the drops and made good time on the remaining miles along the Methow River.

Mile 586

Mile 586

The town of Winthrop was really interesting, with a western vibe. Even the chain stores were in buildings with a classy wood log finish. There seemed to be a lot going on, with restaurants and shops and tourists everywhere. I zipped through town and back onto the open road, when I was met with a stiff headwind. What was a 16-18mph pace turned down to 9mph. I had 10 miles to go, but my time estimate only kept growing. At one point I looked back and saw two people in the distance. I didn’t know if I should let up and tag along with them, or just keep trying to push through, but I did the later. Eventually Bob and James (Seattle) caught up with little more than 5 miles remaining. Bob said we could do 1/3 mile pulls, and we rotated through until we had about a mile to go. This brought the pace back into the 15mph range, which was great. We cooled down on the last mile, and got in at 8:50pm, just before sunset.

Everyone already at the Mazama Inn seemed to have showered and put normal clothes on, so while I’m feeling totally dead, they all looked fresh! I got a plate of spaghetti and salad, chatted for a little while, and got a room in the Inn with Tyler. Thankfully this “short” day meant plenty of time to sleep before one last long day to head back to Monroe.

Strava data for day three: 06/23/2014 Cascade 1200 – day three – Ephrata to Mazama 144.7 miles with 9,036ft climbing

Posted in 100-150 miles, 2014Cascade1200, Olympia | Leave a comment

2014 Cascade 1240km – Day Two – Carson to Ephrata

[Mile 231] Started at 5:30am. About 6am here. Hammering away while it was flat along the Columbia River

Mile 231

It was tough to get out of bed and ready in little time. I could see everyone else packing up quick and getting rolling in the morning, but I had a big breakfast, put my things together, and got rolling at 5:30am after waking up at 4:30am.

The route starts flat (after a very brief drop from the hotel) and meanders along the Columbia River. I was trying to go reasonably fast, and caught a few others. There was a convenience store an hour in, and I pulled it before realizing that I don’t always have to stop, so kept on going a minute later.

[Mile 270] Headed up the Klickitat with Asta, Jon (MA), and Eric & Tim from CA.

Mile 270

I caught up with Asta (OR) and Jon (MA) when they stopped at a rest area before the turn on Klickitat. We rode together for a bit, but my knees were telling me not to punch it up the climbs, so I backed off and took it slow as we ascended away from the Klickitat river.

I made it into Goldendale alone, and saw randos at various stops in town. I knew there was another Subway slightly past the turn, and headed for that. To my surprise, many other randos knew about it also. I loaded up on yet another ham sandwich and refilled my water. Someone mentioned to me that there would be a water stop along the route, but gave me the wrong mileage number, about 12 miles too short. I had two 20oz bottles and a 32oz Platypus, but left a bit shy of totally full (the Platypus gets stuffed in my jersey when used, and weighs quite a lot back there). I also didn’t have a printout of the elevation for the day, and had no idea how much hot desert climbing there would be into Bickleton. I later heard that this was the very reason why several people had DNFed on the second day – lack of water in the heat through extended climbs with no nearby services. I rationed my remaining water and took my time to not overwork myself and made it into Bickleton.

 [Mile 301] The long path up from the distance. — in Klickitat, WA.

Mile 301

[Mile 301] SF Tim — in Washington.

Mile 301 – Tim from CA

Much of this day I was riding with or near Eric and Tim from the San Fransisco Randonneurs. We didn’t always go the same pace, but I’d catch them at the next stop and ride out with them again. I caught up with the SFRs in Mabton after seeing a few others stop at the first c-store at the edge of town. I knew of yet another Subway, and only briefly stopped at a fast food joint before deciding to get Subway instead. Leigh from Australia came in as well, but we were otherwise alone there.

 [Mile 316] Plenty of range land for sale. No thanks — in Washington.

Mile 316 Plenty of range land for sale.

The road quality in Mabton was awful, with debris strewn shoulders and rough pavement. This continued for a few miles out of town. There would be another long slog of a climb, and I rode solo up that as well. I found that I was getting GPS-stare, and decided remove all the numbers from the screen so I wouldn’t stare at the mileage changing so slowly. About 15 miles later, I reached the top of this climb and enjoyed a partial decent. I reached a few BC riders changing a frustrating tire at the turn, and continued on the for rest of the climb chasing after one other further ahead. We rode together briefly, but he stopped to wait for his buddies while I upped the pace and tried to cover more miles at speed. I was passed by a volunteer car offering water (not a bad idea after the “Bickleton Massacre” that made several people DNF after a hot climb with no water sources around), but turned it down because I was only 6 miles from the Vernita rest stop (seen below as the patch of trees across the river).

 [Mile 387] Vernita rest stop in the trees to refill water. Then this monster of a climb! — at Vernita Rest Area.

Mile 387

The reason this photo of Vernita looks like it came from up in the air is because of the ridiculous climb I was nearing the top of. The road was maybe the steepest section on the entire route, and was covered in locusts. Half of them were dead and being eaten by the other half. I tried to swerve around to stay away from them, because they would hop and chirp and were annoyingly in the way and trying to get squished. I successfully avoiding hitting any.

I reached the final controle of the evening in Mattawa right at sunset (~9pm). I considered shutting my eyes for 20 minutes, knowing that this would be a long night ahead of me still. I ate a bunch of food, filled up my water one last time and set out without sleeping though. I tried to go fast again, but continually ran into difficulties with that. Along the Columbia River were swarms of bugs, so breathing could only really be done by nose to avoid eating the bugs. Then there was the climb. Again, having no printed elevation chart, I had no idea what I was really in for. It was only 700ft, but it felt like a mountain. Remember that I have ridden 200 miles so far this day, and 225 the previous day! I could see blinking bike lights ahead, but they were 10 minutes away and not seeming to get any closer. I reached the top, which then plummets a few hundred feet down on a descent that could have topped 50mph. But tired around 11pm and with a few cars around, I didn’t dare go much more than 30mph.

Kathy in Ephrata

Kathy in Ephrata

Eventually I caught the blinking lights of the CA couple. We rode together for a few more miles before catching the SFR guys. Then as five people, the SFRs unloaded everything and were hammering away to the finish. When this train caught a few Seattle and BC guys, I broke off with them, but people split and it was just Tyler (Seattle) and I for a bit. He had to stop to fix something, and I kept going the remaining few miles with Bob and Gary (BC) to get in around 1am. It was great to see Kathy there helping randos check in, eat food, and find a bed! I milled about for an hour before setting my alarm for 4 hours later.

 

Strava data for day two: 06/22/2014 Cascade 1200 day two – Carson to Ephrata 231.1 miles ridden, 11,110ft climbed.

 

Posted in 200-300 miles, 2014Cascade1200, Olympia | 1 Comment

2014 SIR Cascade 1240km – Day One

Starting a few days before the ride, I laid out what I was planning on bringing. A few jerseys, jacket, pants, gloves, with baselayers & socks for each day, and a good supply of food would follow me. Much of that would go in a “drop bag” that gets transported by box truck to each overnight stop. My front bag on the bike would carry the day’s food and extra jersey and jacket for changes in the weather, and the rear seat bag would carry tools and cold weather clothes for descents.

Soma Stanyan. One day of food packed, three more days going in the drop bag. All the stuff I expect to use minus diabetes supplies.

Soma Stanyan

The starting line up would shrink over the week, but a whopping 88 randonneurs started the 1240km route on Saturday June 21st in Monroe, at 6am. Excitement was ramping up here just a minute before the start!

[Mile 0] 88 randos ready to roll out on the 1200k!

Mile 0

[Mile 47] Found the Boston-area guys (friends of Max) early on and the first 80 miles were covered in good time.

Mile 47

We moved along smoothly in relatively larger groups for much of the first day. Here’s a few of the Massachusetts crew (we had a mutual friend I knew from Ithaca and crewing long races), and Theo in blue who had been on all of the same rides I had in my series leading up to now.

[Mile 57] First view of a snowy peak - Rainier

Mile 57

At some point I left the pack and was on my own. I missed one turn briefly, and backtracked a quarter mile to find them again (although somehow they went from ahead of me to behind, so they must have stopped or missed a turn too). This was the beginning of the snowy peak views, with my familiar Rainier view from Enumclaw where I had ridden several times before when I was living in Puyallup in the spring.

 [Mile 139] We'd stop in Randle for my first Subway break of the ride.

Mile 139

Approaching Randle, I knew there was a Subway. People scattered between Subway, a Mexican restaurant, a bakery, and convenience stores. Not every controle point would have this many options as we ventured deeper into the state in less dense areas. Since we had been rolling swiftly, I took a good break at Subway to eat a real meal and rolled out with the Massachusetts guys (Jon and Matt).

 [Mile 150] Many miles down, solo, and climbing well. I loved the climb in the forest and there was little traffic.

Mile 150

We didn’t stay together long though, and I would spend quite a while alone along Route 25 climbing up Elk Pass. It was relaxing in the forest, climbing for a long time. I put music on to keep a steady candence, and there were few cars around in the forest to worry about. I set the GPS to show elevation instead of speed to be a little less depressing. I like reaching milestones – 2000ft, 3000ft, and 4080ft at the top.

I chuckled at the endless Garmin emails before the ride. I made it through the route with one battery swap!

Mile 165 – Garmin eTrex 20 with free topo maps

[Mile 165] View from after Elk Pass

Mile 165 – View from after Elk Pass

I had no idea what to expect with temperatures and layers needed, but it was still daytime, still warm, and no need for winter preparations on this descent. There was no summit sign, but on the backside there was a clearing, and this great view of Mt. St. Helens. There were half a dozen randos already there, and I only made a brief stop before continuing the descent slightly before them, knowing I’d be coasting most of it and seeing them catch up soon.

[Mile 169] Viewpoint of Mt. St. Helens.

Mile 169

[Mile 185] Eagle Cliffs controle — in Northwoods, WA.

Mile 185

After passing the Swift Reservoir would be the Northwoods Eagle Cliffs store. This was literally the only thing along the road for a while, and a welcome stop after many miles of forest roads with no services. The store employee seemed to love that so many people were stopping to buy food in this otherwise sparse area!

The climbing wasn’t over yet though – there would still be the shorter pass up Curly Creek Rd. to Oldman Pass. I rode with a couple from the San Fransisco area briefly, before climbing a little faster up the pass. I turned off the road for this nearing-sunset view of Mt. St. Helens:

Mile 190

With the last bit of sun left, the pictures would end for the day. Being near the solstice, the days were incredibly long which was a great benefit since I was also riding incredibly long. It cooled down a bit with the sun gone, and with a slight downhill I decided to roll faster for the remaining twenty miles to the overnight controle in Carson at mile 223.

I was happy to see many randos milling about, and parked my bike alongside the building. I didn’t stop for dinner, but I had been snacking all day, and just needed to sleep at this point. It was around 10:25pm when I got in, and took a shower before going to bed with my alarm set for 4:30am.

Strava data for day one: 06/21/2014 Cascade 1200 day one – Monroe to Carson 225.1 miles ridden, 13,877ft climbed.

Posted in 200-300 miles, 2014Cascade1200, Olympia | Leave a comment

Preparing for the 2014 Cascade 1200km

It’s hard to think about anything else this week except my upcoming big ride: The Cascade 1200km run by the Seattle International Randonneurs. I’ve done the club rides leading up to it, I’ve chatted up many conversions with ~20 or so others that plan on riding, and I’ve read through the website several times over. I’m prepared as I could be, but that still leaves a lot open that I can only fully understand after long days in the saddle.

The Route

The “final” ~770 mile route has been posted online; one section for each day. I’ve scanned through the route once online to at least familiarize myself with the region, and will load this version onto my Garmin eTrex 20 GPS. It’s not the typical cycling GPS, but it shows maps incredibly well and has suited my needs for the past few years of long rides. I’m familiar with the beginning of the first day, and the end of the last day, as those sections have been used on previous rides this season. The remaining 600+ miles is all new to me, including all of the mountain passes.

c1200

Overnight Stops

Each of the three nights will be at a hotel (in Carson, Ephrata, and Mazama). Queen beds are shared as needed, and organized depending on when people arrive or plan to leave in the morning. My goal is to roll in each night, secure the bike, eat dinner, take a quick shower, change into fresh clothes, prep the bike for rolling out in the morning with fresh waterbottles and snacks in the bag, and then get as much sleep as possible. The first night might be lacking in sleep because of the consecutive 220+ mile days. The second night might afford a little sleeping in, being only 143 miles the next day, though I assume that people will still want to roll out as soon as the sun is up around 5am. Kathy is volunteering at the second overnight controle as well, and it will be nice to see her at that point with more than half of the miles behind me.

On The Road

My biggest concern is about finding the right pace. Too fast and I risk getting burnt out for later in the day, or for upcoming days. Too slow, and I won’t have banked enough time to sleep before having to roll out on the next day. I’ve calculated some estimated times between controle points, and hope that somewhere around 12-13mph overall average (including breaks) will be reasonable. Thankfully, this is a bit slower than my past rides which were mostly around 14mph overall. My second day of the 600k, which was maybe my toughest day on the bike and riding alone most of the time was still 11.7mph – not much under my lower goal of 12. Knowing 20+ riders out there, I also have an idea of where I should be compared to them. Some are fast, and I should be content with them being ahead of me without trying to catch them.

I need to remember to drink lots of water all the time, and refill to capacity at each opportunity. I carry Platypus brand collapsible bottles too, for the long stretches of desert riding midday where services are few. I’ve heard to look out for volunteer tables cropping up unannounced if it gets particularly hot too, but not to plan on that either.

I need to manage my cadence well. That may have been my initial downfall on the start of the 600km ride. I was trying too hard to keep up with fast riders, and wasn’t spinning effectively. This meant more mashing on the pedals, which puts more force on my feet with each stroke. Keeping consistent and reasonable should alleviate the foot soreness I dealt with on that day.

While I do need breaks occasionally, I tend to do best with either 10 minutes or 45. A short break lets me catch my breath, stretch my shoulder/back muscles that get tense from riding, and find a bathroom. The longer breaks are good if I have been riding in the heat, or need to stop to refuel and let some food really work. Anything between those times and I tend to skip the quick routine things, but don’t feel like I’m effectively resting either. 20 minutes of milling about is far worse for me than a structured 10 minute get-it-all-done break.

cascade

Diabetes

Something I don’t write about often is my type 1 diabetes. It’s generally just a minor factor in my riding, and I don’t dwell on the short term issues because they generally are resolved quickly on the bike. I’ll reduce my hourly insulin rate through the insulin pump by about half, and start the ride with a fresh Dexcom sensor that shows my sugar level every 5 minutes. This monitor doesn’t always function great on tough rides, though that seems to have more to do with hard efforts than long days. I carry 40 glucose tabs, which is 200 grams of fast carbohydrates. I typically only ever use a few, and only once I run out of gatorade / juice in my bottles, but I carry this amount in case I were to get stuck away from services for a longer time than expected. It’s quite possible I’ll be digging for those in the mountain passes. I also tend to carry 6-8 Clif bars for more easily edible carbohydrates on the bike.

 

That’s all for now. Check my facebook page for pictures as I go, assuming I have a chance to put them there mid-ride. Otherwise, I plan to resurface on Wednesday or Thursday.

Posted in 2014Cascade1200, 500+ miles, Olympia | 1 Comment

2014 – Oregon Randonneurs – Hot Springs and Dunes 600km

Having completed the 200k, 300k, 360k fleche, and 400k, I thought I was ready for the upcoming Cascade 1200k in mid-June. The official eligibility rules state that I’d either have to ride a 600km brevet, or get permission to proceed without it. Although I had asked around and had a good feeling like I could get by without the 600km ride, a few others said that preparation-wise, it was a bad idea to skip it. The difference with 400k and below is that those are all one-day rides. When the distances get to 600-1200, you need to plan for multiple days, and manage your pace well enough to not be cooked for subsequent days.

Kathy had just found out she would have the weekend off work, so the car was available and I made a last minute decision to get in on the Oregon Randonneurs 600km just south or Portland. We drove out Friday night to stay in a hotel before my 6am start.

IMG_1484Within the first few minutes, it was clear that the pack of 25 were splitting into two groups. It was either jump on the train launching full speed ahead, or ride with the reasonable pack. Like past rides, I jumped on the train.IMG_1486

Somehow in my invincible state, I was covering miles fast, and people were dropping off the back one at a time. We ended up riding the first 100 miles in under six hours, which I had only done once before. Except this time, that included one break and a good amount of climbing. When we first reached the Lyons controle, it would only be a few minutes before others caught up and we regrouped with a more reasonable pace.IMG_1493

Shortly after this photo by Detroit Lake was around the point when I started to get leg cramps for the first time while riding, and backed off the pace more. I got to the top of the climb past Detroit Lake while the others were still there though, and we shortly turned to go back toward Lyons.

IMG_1494

In an effort to stay hydrated, I was drinking a lot all day, but resources were far away and I was solidly between any place selling water. I passed a few camp site areas, but none with running water. I rationed my remaining amount until I eventually found a fountain at a park where I stopped for 15 minutes to rehydrate and give my legs a rest. By this point, I think there were six fast guys now well ahead of me, but I knew some others weren’t far behind. After waiting for one to pass, I caught up when they stopped at a coffee stand. I had a chance in Lyons again to buy some more water and gatorade before the next hill that I’d climb with two other Oregon Randos. I was still lagging behind though, with my legs cramping more if I pedaled too hard. I’d reach the top shortly after them, for a short break. Coming back down, I was more into coasting downhill than putting any real effort into it if I didn’t need to, so they started to pull off ahead of me.IMG_1495

I rode along with the two other Portland-area guys for a while, but just couldn’t keep a very steady pace and was generally needing to go a little slower than them. When I caught up at an ice cream shop they stopped at, they took a longer break while I made it a quick bathroom stop and then kept on rolling (I had just stopped roadside not 10 minutes before, not knowing there was a good place to rest). They’d pass me once more with about 40 miles to go as I started a series of short minute breaks every 10 miles when my feet were aching and the headwinds were picking up. Those last 40 miles were some of the toughest, but I finished the 220 miles that day around 10pm, and got at least 6 hours of sleep. This was probably the most out of the whole group, as I think the fastest few rode through the night, and most everyone else started before 5am. I was rolling at 6am.

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I was unsure about how a second day of this would go, since this was becoming an unusually taxing ride for me. My plan was to start day two no matter what, and ride the 30 miles to the top of the big climb for the second day and decide there. That’s where the photo above is from. I passed four others on the way to the climb, but they were rolling slower than I wanted, and I was afraid they may not make it in time. My feet and calves were feeling much better after sleeping, so I made the choice to continue on, now with 135 miles to go. The road ahead was long, with no services for about 45 miles. Luckily I had packed an extra bottle of water for this stretch, but I was still running low.IMG_1497

Upon reaching the info controle in Sandlake, people on the porch told me that some other cyclists came through 3 hours ago. Uh oh, I thought I was doomed to ride alone if everyone else started that early. But a woman corrected him and said it was more like 30 minutes. Not trusting either story, I continued on, knowing that I had limited time to make the first timed controle point of the day in Pacific City.

When I reached the town, I saw David, who I had ridden with much of the previous day. He was fixing a torn sidewall, had a broken brake, and wobbly wheels. It looked like his bike was having a rough time, but we soon left and he powered on much faster than I could hold onto. 85 miles into the day, and I got only 7 with company before it was gone again. I figured that it would only be a matter of time before I caught people that started ahead of me but were riding slower, though my progress in catching anyone was slowing down over time too.

Finally, with 47 miles to go, I reached a store with a whole pile of randonneurs. A few left shortly after I got there, and I definitely needed a break at this point. I bought more water and gatorade, and then found one of my bottle cages was starting to separate. With only two people left, I loaded up my gear and headed out with these people I wasn’t yet familiar with. They turned out to be some of the best randos I could have asked to ride with! They were from the Desert River Randonneurs in eastern Washington, and were riding a very steady and reasonable pace. Finally, I had people to ride with that I could keep up with! IMG_1498We would see a larger crowd a few more times upon reaching controles at stores, but they were always 10 minutes ahead of us and about ready to roll out when we arrived. I stopped a few times to bungee my now broken waterbottle cage to the frame to keep the bottle from falling out, expecting to get left behind to finish on my own, but Norm and Paul spotted me in the mirror both times and would stop to let me catch up. I was thankful, because the last 10 miles were treacherous high-traffic, small debris-filled shoulder riding back into town, and it was good to not be alone along that road. We rolled up to the last controle, a burger joint, just before 7:30pm, about 37.5 hours after starting on Saturday.

This ride was 373 miles over two days. It was a tough journey, though most of the difficulty was an unexpectedly bad luck with muscle cramps and sore feet. Both of these problems haven’t been an issue for me before. I’m hoping that by riding a smoother cadence at a speed more suited for me on long days, and staying well hydrated, I can avoid this in the future. My next ride will be twice as long!

Strava ride for 220 miles on day one

Strava ride for 156 miles on day two

Posted in 300-500 miles, Olympia | 2 Comments

May 17 – SIR 400k Race to the Border

IMG_1424One of the unfortunate aspects of long cycling rides is the early starts. I drove Kathy to work at 11pm, got home and finished packing my things. I had only 3.5 hours to sleep before driving up to Seattle for a 5am start in the dark. If I’m going to be out all day, would a good night sleep be so difficult? Anyway, here’s the start photo – amazed yet again by how many dedicated SIR riders there are in the wee hours!

IMG_1429I was feeling great early in the ride, and was fortunate to stay with the lead pack for such a long time. I think the racing crowd had mostly done the pre-ride the week before, and this remaining group worked well together to keep the pace civil while covering miles fast. Right as we hit 6 hours into the ride, we crossed the 100 mile mark. This would be my first ever 6 hour century!

IMG_1430Seen here is Adam, Theo, & Are Tee who I’ve now been on at least a few rides with. They are a great bunch of randos that make the camaraderie aspect of cycling so good. With every ride there are new people to meet as well, and many miles to cover with plenty of time to chat with a lot of them. It’s great to share tips, talk about upcoming rides, and know that I’ll recognize and ride with several of these guys again on the Cascade 1200.

IMG_1436My pictures ended here, but Theo captured many more here. We had reached the border of Canada in great time, and turned back to retrace our route a small amount. It was apparent at that point that we must have been lucky with a tailwind, as it was now a headwind. The route leads us to a volunteer’s house where they had food and drinks waiting for us. Our pack had split in a few places, but the controle was packed with starving randos. I made a quick baselayer change and tried to stretch my aching knee that was starting to twinge at 150 miles in.

Our group mostly stayed together, until some guys with more endurance powered ahead. Shortly after, I had a flat tire and more people continued on except the three others I had stuck with all day. I was very thankful for their company, since I would have seen many solo miles ahead otherwise! We caught a few more people again at the grocery store controle, and added Theo and another to our group again for the remainder of the day.

We finished in organizers’ hotel room, with the beds covered in pizzas and soda. I wolfed down a lot of pizza and soon saw my sugar skyrocket due to activity ending, and food kicking in. With about 17 hours of the day spent cycling, it was a tough but rewarding ride and is now my longest single day ride at 250 miles!

Strava data for the 400k Race to the Border

Posted in 200-300 miles, Puyallup | 2 Comments