Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Probable Tour Cancellation - Washington Fires

Well, was all slated to head out for my postponed tour (original tour in June was moved to end of August due to an epic NW heat wave) on this Saturday but it looks like current wildland fire situation in Washington is going to be very difficult to have a safe tour. As you may recall I was heading east over the mountains and then dropping through the Yakima valley and over the Simcoe mountains to the Columbia River and then to Hood River and then a three day circumnavigate of Mt Hood and then back to Hood River (~400 miles total). Basically the center of the state is rimmed with fires in our state and Oregon and Idaho.


And where there is fire there is smoke.


So at this point, while not a definite NO GO yet, I will need to make the GO, NO-GO decision by Thursday to cancel my lodging reservations.

If I don't go, I will certainly be disappointed. This would be two attempts this summer derailed by environmental issues. First it was the June record setting high temps and now the record setting fires. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tour Postponed - Record Breaking Heat Wave Derails Trip

Ack! Ugh! WTF! Are you kidding me?

It is with considerable disappointment that I have postponed my bicycle tour. I was to embark this Thursday and be on the road for eight days. But, if you have been paying attention to the regional weather - IT HAS BEEN FREAKIN' HOT. June records for high temps have been broken all through the northwest. Yakima, which would have been my second day, is normally averaging about 84F this time of year. Not so this year.


And the heat wave is very sustained. It started really kicked up about June 23rd and will not break until July 14th or so!



It took me about a week to reach the decision to postpone the tour. Back and forth, back and forth, go, don't go, go, don't go. I really struggled with the decision. Its just really difficult, after all you have planned for and trained for (six months!) - to deal with the disappointment. All the miles trained (1000 miles year to date), all the planning, all the expenses, all the support given from family - seem now for naught. I have to keep reminding myself that the decision not to go was based on extreme weather conditions and was mostly tied to being safe on the ride (um... heat stroke not fun). Also- how fun would a tour be if the weather is at the extremes? Sure- we do like challenges in our rides, but the ride would have become all about the heat and managing the issue.

Ack! Ugh! WTF!

Now in a way, it back to the drawing board. I need to re-plan the tour, re-plan my training (yah how to maintain my current level of fitness for another two months, w/o getting burned out?) and refocus the mind to that future date, to be determined, that is the "go day". Back to the start in a sense and then to just keep moving forward - all the while not loosing my motivation and not just deciding to bag it all in since one is tired - of the now months long commitment.

Ack! Ugh!

You can tell I'm not in the best state right now.

Ack!

I guess I do feel some comfort in knowing that given the heat wave locked over the northwest right now, me sidekick and certainly Luna will not have to fret and worry about me slogging all through that awful heat. This was a big factor in my decision to postpone - I did not want the family to worry. They are super supportive - but sometimes we can ask too much of the clan.

Ok. Fine. This to shall pass.

As of this morning, I do have a new plan and new dates. The tour will be 90% the same and the dates are in the early September time frame. It will be cooler then for sure. And it gives me some time between now and then to further improve my fitness and also fine tune my gear list. There were a few items I could not secure for the tour since I simply ran out of time. Now, anybody know where I can order a spoke oiler?!

Cheers!


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Day Three Preview - Dread Not! - Five Double Aught Tour

Day three preview. Day three of eight. Three eighths into the ride. Destination is the lovely town of Goldendale Washington. Here is an aerial of the town for your viewing pleasure.


I've been in this town more than a few times - usually just passing through on my motorcycle. Some great roads in the area. Motorcyclista and bicyclerati share a common interest... two wheeling on beautiful roads of beautiful scenery. I have do have a passion for both activities.

The days start is in Yakima. 67 miles and 3200 feet of climbing later - I arrive in Goldendale. The route is two main sections, the Yakima River valley and the highway 97 portion over the Simcoe Mountains. That is it. Not much to be excited about on this day. But, that is how it goes on some tours. Everyday can't be a hoot! The one caveat to this day - is it is 4th of July. I am going to get up at the crack of dawn, ride my lil' heart out and be done before the first pop bottle rocket goes off! That day can get a bit crazy- I be happy to hole up in my hotel. If I had my druthers, I'd be with my sweetheart on this day. We'd have a bunch o' fun I know. But this years tour fell over the fourth for various reasons. Actually, now that I think about it - G-dale may have some sort of fireworks... I may need to venture out!

Anyway... without further ado...












Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Day Two Preview - Dread Not! - Five Double Aught Tour

Day two. Day two of eight. What does this day have in store? The destination this day is "beautiful" downtown Yakima. Its long day at 76 miles. But, its all down hill baby. This day I am looking forward to in the tour. The entire day is paralleling the Yakima River - down stream. The first half is from Lake Easton State Park to Ellensburg. I will pass through Cle Elum and will make a stop for breakfast here. Once I get to E-burg, I follow the river and head south down Hwy 821 and into the Yakima River canyon. This is a meandering ride, down a beautiful high desert, austere canyon. Geotechnically (is this a word?) the river cuts through Umtanum Ridge Water Gap. Here is what Wikipedia says:

Umtanum Ridge Water Gap is a geologic feature in central Washington state in the United States. It was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1980.[1]
The Umtanum Ridge Water is a water gap cut by the Yakima River through Manastash and Umtanum Ridge anticlines, which are part of the Yakima Fold Belt near the western edge of the Columbia River Plateau located in central Washington. This National Natural Landmark is characterized by a series of steep-sided ridges in the Columbia River basalt which are cut through axially by the Yakima River. It is also referred to as the Yakima River Canyon, and is located between the cities of Ellensburg and YakimaWashington State Route 821, originally the main route between Ellensburg and Yakima, parallels the river through the canyon.
Wow. I had no idea until I Googled it. But, I have been through the canyon last fall in a car, with the side kick and the wonder pup Luna and, well, to me, it is quite pretty. Of course, I'm a big fan of all things central Washington. I love the open landscape of the Columbia basin and the 'scrublands'. 
So the canyon peters out at the south end and dumps me into Selah. From there, its a short five mile ride to the hotel. Yes, this night I am popping for a hotel. Once in... I'll spruce up and head to the local brew pub, to which I have already mapped the walk from the hotel! 
Cheers! Enjoy the pics.
[click pic for larger pic]



















Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Day One Preview - Dread Not! - Five Double Aught Tour

So day one of my tour will be like no other this year. It is truly a unique day in the saddle. Comparing the prior two tours as well... this day has no rivals. I am riding from Rattle Snake Lake to Lake Easton over Snoqualmie Pass on the old railroad bed of the Milwaukee Chicago-Milwaukee-St. Paul-Pacific Railroad! The railroad was converted to a 'Rails to Trail' trail. It is the John Wayne Trail of Iron Horse State Park.

Here is what the brochure says:

With more than 100 miles of trail extending from Cedar Falls in the Cascade Mountains to the Columbia River in central Washington, the John Wayne Pioneer Trail is perfect for long or short trips. The trail leads travelers past high trestles with spectacular views of the valley below, mountainous terrain, sagebrush desert, arid scrublands and charming countryside farmlands of the Columbia Basin. 

My ride on day one will take me about 45 miles total starting at Rattlesnake Lake. From Rattlesnake Lake, I'll climb steadily (only about 2000 feet for the day) through dense forests as I make my way from King County into Kittitas County to reach Hyak, about 20 miles east of the trail terminus. A highlight of this section is passage through the abandoned 2.3-mile Snoqualmie Pass Tunnel (tunnel #50), one of the longest rail-trail tunnels in the country. It passes 1500 feet under the pass! There are no lights in the tunnel - you bring your own. Kind of freaks me out!

At Hyak, the trail heads south with a slight elevation drop along the western shores of Keechelus Lake, the Yakima River, and Lake Easton. Between the two lakes is Whittier Tunnel (#49). Another tunnel (#48) is accessible near the small community of Easton. Once I get to Lake Easton, I'm done for the day. I'll pitch my tent and cook some dinner. 
So, as you can see, this indeed will be a fantastic day of riding. Now here are some pics to enjoy.
Cheers!
[click pics for larger size]









Monday, May 4, 2015

Dread Not - Five Double Aught Overview

In about just less than two months I am heading out on the third solo supported tour of my lifetime. Oh wait, I did do an S24HO in 2012, but I am not going to call an overnight ride a tour. So, yes in 2012 I did my 2012 Cascade Traverse By-Pedal Expedition to Save Human Folly.  This was the ride that started the slogging-days of cycle touring for yours truly. In 2013 my solo tour was the Vines to Bitterroots. I took last year (2014) off and it's time to hit the bike once again!

Of course as all things some times go with us humans (pedalnistas included), yah gotta up the ante. We tend to challenge ourselves to go bigger, farther, faster. I'm no different. Some people call us Type A, or obsessive/compulsive or a glutton for punishment, or always searching for something, always trying to fill a hole in... Ahhhh, burro-shit I say.  It's about challenge and growth. It's about striving. It's about fun. Woh, where did that come from? Yes, this is fun to me. Yes, it can be tough, but the proudest things I have done in the last few years are my tours. 

So, how indeed did the ante go up this year? Five hundred miles that's how. This tour is 500 miles. The past tours were in the 350-400 miles range. This year... Manifest Destiny in the drops, staring steely eyed into the head winds, gnashing teeth, grinding it out for 500 miles

Ok, that's the distance. But Where? 

Here, then there and down. Over, up and down again. Due east, due south, due west. Mountains to high desert to beach. 

Start: Seattle
End: Lincoln Beach, Oregon.

As the crow flies, its a straight 211 miles. But as the burro clops along, and trying to see some interesting scenery, its a nice 500 miles.

Day 1: Over the Cascades, Snoqualmie Pass - by the Milwaukee Road
Day 2: Yakima River shadowing to Yakima
Day 3: Yakima Valley to Simcoe Mountains
Day 4: Descend to Columbia River by Dalles Road, head west to Hood River
Day 5: Hood River to Mt Hood (this by definition must be up!)
Day 6: Down from Mt Hood to Clackamas River
Day 7: Clackamas River to the Willamette River
Day 8: Willamette River over the coast mountains and down to Bella Beach, OR.

So what makes this tour so interesting to me is I spend a whole day on the old Milwaukee Road (Chicago-Milwaukee-St. Paul-Pacific Railroad) which is a hard gravel abandoned railroad and also rides through a few railroad tunnels (actually under Snoqualmie pass!). And later in the tour I return to the gravel when I ride Dalles Mountain Road down from Goldendale, WA (high above the north side of the Columbia River gorge) to the Columbia River! Then I skirt around the east and south side of Mt Hood and camp in Government Camp close to the top. What a cool name for a town... Government Camp.

So that is it in a nutshell. In the next few posts, I'll crack open the nut and provide more details on each day with included pictures. Giddy Up!


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What's In a Tour Name?

A lot. For one very important reason... whimsy. We all need a little whimsy on your tour and in our lives. Right? Second, would you ever think of having a child without a name? No! Conjuring up, planning and completing a tour is like having a baby. Lastly it gives you... wait, let me back up, the baby thing is a little weird really. But most of us have done a solo tour know it becomes your 'lil' baby. A tour name is one of the most important parts of your tour. Have I convinced yah?

So, it took me some time this year to arrive at this year's tour name. The first tour of mine in 2012 was called the 2012 Cascade Traverse By-Pedal Expedition to Save Human Folly. The second tour in 2013 was called Vines to Bitterroots. See pretty cool huh? Both of these mean something - certainly to me. Something one can hang their helmet on! Something one can sink their sprocket teeth into! A name defines the tour. 

A name being a noun also allows you to add an adjective in front of it that further describes the tour. Slam an adjective in front your tour name and my god people will know you mean business.

The beautiful tour "A". The wonderful tour "B". The difficult tour "C". See what I mean? Nope? How about this? The most assuredly brutal, fucked up, demoralizing, make feel two inches tall, MFer tour! Now we are talking!

Ok, I'm no grammar expert. But you get my point. You gotta tour coming up? Yah better name that durn thing.


So what is this year's name?

Dread Naught! - Five Double Aught


What the hell does that mean you might ask? Um, which part is causing you issues? Let's start with the last part of the name. Think digits. Aughts mean zero. Remember the decade of the 2000s? Or perhaps you fancy yourself a sharp shooter that loves your .30-06 Springfield rifle? Five double aught is five zero zero. Or 500.  I'll just clue you in - the 500 is miles. The tour this year is 500 miles! 500 hundred freakin' miles!

Now- the first part of the name, Dread Naught!... pretty self explanatory? It's two words and they stand on their own. But combine them and you get dreadnaught. Dreadnought is very large powerful battleship of the early 20th century. Since I called my blog CycleSlogger and a slog is a very hard effort over time it reminds me of a powerful battleship, or powerful force or a powerful rider on a long tour. Huh? Pretty creative huh?

Put it together- it means do not dread a 500 mile tour since you are all powerful. Pretty simple.

Now name that tour and go gettum!