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.


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?!


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.
[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!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Chilly Hilly - Riding Season Kicks Off!

Well, it's been a long time since I blogged. I think it was late last summer. Nice to see once again the Times New Roman, 11 point letters unfolding onto the blogger screen in front of me tonight. 

Last weekend saw the Great Puget Sound ride, the Chilly Hilly. This ride is the official kick-off to the riding season. Usually, to me, its more a ride snickeringly full of punishment - reminding you Seattle winter is not over yet and hills are always painful. Usually Chilly and always Hilly. But, this year, by God it felt like the Boy was back. El Nino and yours truly. The ride was full of - warmish sun and I was full of pedal grinding, teeth gnashing grit.

First- time for a blog weather break. El Nino has officially returned for 2015. Our winter has been mild and precip is down. Hell, the Summit at Snoqualmie has not even opened this year for skiing. Hell again! Hell seems to be warming things up! But that makes for nice winter riding weather. Oh yah!

Now, the other boy is back too. Last year for me was a decidedly 'down cycle' kind of year for me. I did not really ride like I am used to. I had some minor, pesky health issues I needed to navigate. I tried to zig when the health issues zagged and zag when they zigged. This took a lot of my attention. Spring came and went. Summer took hold and before I could say "Presta", the season was lost. No training for the Big Tour, no Big Tour, no post Big Tour bliss - just other-life needing its fair share of attention.

Come fall, I formally stated the season, and my riding were of -the former me. And I had made peace with this. Some of the health issue continued anyway and it was easy to just put the season in the back of the mind. I had to focus on the newest health concern, a pesky neck injury. Physical therapy came and went, acupuncture needled me, Chiropractic popped and all along progress was slow.

Do you know how heavy your skull is? Extend it forward, pretend to look at an Excel spreadsheet on the computer, cock your right shoulder, extend the right hand and move that thing we call a mouse. Now create a pivot table and enter a Vlookup function in Excel. Gooood. You got it. How about reviewing a 10,000 word contract? Done. Email comes in... write response - hit send. Left click, left click - oh now right click. Nice. Now do this every day Mon through Friday, 40 plus hours a week for 15 years. What do you get? Chronic neck pain. I had it.

I Had it. Had it. I am finally on the recovery. And the Chilly Hilly proves it. 

It was a beautiful, sunny day in Seattle. The winter has been kind to us this year.  The Chilly Hilly is actually on Bainbridge Island and unless you drive, or ride around it involves a ferry ride. Most riders ride right onto the boat.

[click pics for larger view]

It is a really cool way to ride an event. About 4000 riders ride this each year! 

The ferry ride is about a half hour ride. Then, boom, time to ride. 

I felt really strong the whole ride. I had been able to train for about four weeks leading up to the ride - thanks to the mild weather. Of course, I rode the Seven. She's light and loves to go like the wind. 

I was going to ride the Burro (Salsa Fargo, AKA El Supremo Touring Master Bike), but that durn bike is heavy. I did all my ride training on it and I thought my neck would do better on it since it is a more upright riding position - but I decided last minute to whip the Seven out. 

I completed all 32 miles and 2500 feet of climbing in 2.5 hours. Not smoking fast but for the first official ride of the year - its more about the kick off to the season. Here is the longest, sustained hill - Baker Hill. Its pretty difficult - smacks you smartly at about mile 22!

At the finish line, there was the usual vendor booths and the Chilly Hilly Chili Feed - always a tradition for the cold and usually wet riders. I stopped and took in the sites a bit, stretched the neck out and booked it for the ferry.

I had to wait for about 25 minutes for the next boat. Just like 1000 other riders!

So the ugly little secret about the Chilly Hilly is bicycles DO NOT receive priority boarding on the return trip. Yep... you gotta duke it out with the autos. Where I was in line, I did not think I was going to get on the ferry and I would have to wait for the next boat... 55 minutes later. There were some folks who were pretty hide chapped about the situation, but I did get on. Thank goodness - I was pretty cold just from the exertion.

On the boat! 

The Seven is healed over (hah boat talk!) like all the other steeds - tired and ready to take a break. 

Its quite a sight - seeing all those bikes.

I kind of felt what it might be like to be a soldier riding an amphibian craft and storming the beach head! Well, ok not really. I never have served. But, these folks sacrifice dearly for our country.

The ride back to Seattle was very nice and satisfying... I had kicked it!

This was a great day. I do feel like most of the health issues are behind me now and I am able to clip in, grip the bars, huff, puff and pedal and keep this thing I love in my life. I don't say this lightly. This is a true passion for me. I ain't perfect at it and sometimes life does get in the way. But, I do feel blessed I can keep riding. Each year, each Spring, I get a little crazy (Jen knows this - Love you babe!) and its often hard work... but with each spinning spoke, it can be pure bliss. Over the top you say? Meh? Over the hill!