Satellite Track of my Trip

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!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Tiger Mountain - Up, Out, Down and Back.

Yesterday, I headed out to Tiger Mountain. Had big-ish plans for the ride, but got a late start and well... was only able to ride up to East Tiger, do about 15 minutes single track and head back down the logging road. But, I was happy to do what I did. Hell, I climbed a bloody 1700 feet in four miles. I did some grunting - but was just about perfect in terms of workout.

>>>>> Click pics = bigger view!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Mountain Bike Ride - 'bout all that's happening these days.

Have been busy the last few weeks, months, since the beginning of the year really. It's no secret I have not done a tour this year. Not sure if I can whip one up at this point. As mentioned in earlier posts - the ankle biters this year turned out to be more like knee cap busters. Tough to put together a training program when you've been handi-knee-capped!

So, I've turned to devoting time on the mountain bike. And it has been great. I am not the rider I used to be on the knobbies - but still have fun.

While on vacation in Montana in July, where my two wheel activity actually saw me crank out 2500 miles on a motorcycle touring the state - I was blessed that I could talk Jen into taking my mountain bike on the Subaru, luggage, dog caravan to Swan Lake. When I was done on the motorcycle - I hung up the leathers and donned the spandex, reefed the bike off the Soob and headed out on the Santa Cruz Tallboy. Destination Whitefish!

Whitefish does it right. They have an extensive network of trails including trails at the ski area - Whitefish Mountain Resort. I chose to stay near town and ride the 'free' trails. I stopped at Glacier Cyclery, asked the dude behind the counter, where to ride and out pops this map. The guy says - "head out of town about a mile and you're in it" and takes his thumb and stabs it on the spot to be riding.

I hit the trailhead about 10 am - riding the Whitefish Trail. I Decided, based on the map, to ride to Beaver Lake past Skyles Lake overlook. Off I cranked. Nice intermediate single track with a gradual middle chain ring elevation gain.

In a few miles, I was at the Skyles Lake overlook.

Nice place for a break, nice view. I ran into 4 or 5 other riders along the way. I couple of them made me look like a babe in the woods. Truly woods, but a fiddy one years old dude I was.

I left the overlook and pretty quickly you get into some steep territory. The trail follows the hillside contours past a crumbly rock face. Yes, the trail was steep, but the yellow caution was more meant for the downhill side of the trail. Here... to the downhill side, it was steep and a 100 foot tumbling, likely painful fall.

But on I went. I kept riding and every so often, the trails in the area are nicely marked, and I new I was on track for Beaver Lake. But, as I rode along, I realized I was on limited time, it was getting hot and I needed to get back. Pedal, pedal, almost there to Beaver, oh, oh, time is ticking. Hank on the brakes, time to turn around. Now, the ride back, I knew what I was going to be riding and managed to pick up the pace. The trail flowed nice in spots and never was too technical. Well done Whitefish Trail!

There was one steep UP hill section of about 75 yards and the grunt factor was pretty good. After that it was all down hill to the trailhead.

Overall I did eight miles with 1100 feet of gain. 

Once I was back in town, I went to the Great Northern Bar and Grill (say icon of Whitefish!) and had a beer and a sandwich. Awesome day!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Restless, Shiftless, Feckless...

One might assume from my lack of posting ANY planned tour this year, I am all of these.  I sure feel that way. It's June 20th, and I got nothing official going in terms of pedaling to a far off destination.  This time last year, the Vines to Bitterroots Tour was very close and TWO years ago - this very day, was day one of the 2012 Cascade Traverse By-Pedal Expedition to Save Human Folly. Oh, yes, I recall... what a tough day that was.

So, what is going on here... no tour yet this year yet. Yet, yet, yet...

Well... I do have some excuses. This spring has been very busy for the McKibbin clan. Our house needed some maintenance (flooded basement), our jobs have been very busy (flooded in-box) and I have been dealing with some health issues (flooded by medical bills). None of these issues, singularily is up to kiboshing  a tour - but in total, they have conspired to make me delay any real tour.

Did you say "delay"?! Yes! I did not say cancelled, I did not say abandon, I did not say rescind, I did not say scrub. I said delay! Delay it is...

Yes, there is still some possible - later this summer tour I am conjuring up.  It's only the summer solstice soon. That is the start of summer! I got all summer left to plop in some grand adventure.

Honeeeeeeeeeeey! Guess what?!


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Where? Paradise Valley. When? TODAY!

Alright... feeling sorry for myself and the lack of a planned tour for this year yet - I decided to head out on the Santa Cruz Tallboy. I have been slowly re-invigorating my mountain bike riding since I purchased the Tallboy last year. So to some degree, I am going to use the mountain bike as my summer focus until I do end up with a bonified bicycle tour on the Salsa. Well that is the plan at this moment in time.

Paradise Valley or more correctly... Paradise Valley Conservation Area is about 20 minutes from my house. Its in Snohomish county - sort of behind Woodinville. For those of you who do not know the area too well - this is about an hour north east of Seattle - but still in the 'burbs if you will. Got it? Good. There about 11 miles of multi-use trails. Not any real climbs - pretty flat. Its well maintained - The Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance has done a lot of the work to develop this area. Most of the trails are pretty mellow- but a few can be technical. And there are a few trails with human made ladders, platforms and drops.

>>>> Click pics for larger size:

So this is the site of my first endo in many years. It has probably been 25 years ago in Southern Oregon when I was living down there and riding my Klein all over the Ashland watershed since I have gone over the bars! While being pitched over the bars, I thought this is going to hurt. I landed on my right should / side with a deep thud right on the trail. Once I immediately realized I was not hurt - I started to laugh out loud. Got up and dusted myself off.

In this pic you can see the divot (in front of the fern) where my wheel stopped cold and over I went.

Some of the laddered sections on Cedar Run.

At the end of a long ladder that progressed to a high drop, I noticed this tacked to a tree. It was only when I was at home and did some internet surfing that I learned this guy passed away on the trail from a head injury. This was just last month. He was doing what he loved I'm sure.

This was some stump that has become a bit of a shrine of sorts. This is down the trail a ways, not associated with the accident above. It just looks like trinkets and such. Oh there is a beer bottle too.

This is the sign leading into Cedar Run. One way only. This is pretty technical and a lot of fun.

Here is a plot of my ride. Not very far - but hey it was a good ride anyway!