Friday, October 24, 2014

Cross Training, Mountain Biking, Followed by More Cross Training!

Day 2 at Bill and Melody's began with another great walk (Cross training session 1) with the pups. This time Bill came along as our bike ride was going to be leaving from the yurt (no driving). We went back up the hill behind the yurt, but continued farther. Here's some photos.

Mariko waiting patiently for a treat.
Mikayla and Mariko
The yurt far off in the distance.
New plants springing up after the fire.
Oh look, it's me (photo courtesy of Melody)!

Bill and Mariko

Once back to the yurt, we suited up to ride. Today we rode from the yurt. Going out the door for the ride makes it less likely I would forget something.

It was still pretty chilly, but there was no rain in the forecast. I wore my rain jacket for warmth, until we started climbing. Then, the jacket was stowed for the remainder of the ride. We did lots of climbing on a mostly dirt road that was pretty smooth.
Heading up, up, and away!
Trees and hillside burned in the fire.

At the top, it was an awesome descent. Mama Cass flew down the road! At the bottom we hopped onto some singletrack that was really great. Here's a couple of shots of Melody and Bill coming down the road.

There were two short bits on the singletrack that I had to walk, but it was just for a few yards. Oh, and we had to step over a burnt tree that had fallen over the trail. Bill told me to get a good run at it. Yeah, right!

We returned to a road. Before long, we were looking at another great descent and beautiful views of the mountains.

I made it up to 31 mph! It was awesome!!! We did some more descending on the pavement right into Winthrop. We rode over to the bike shop (so Bill could look at the possibility of getting some shorts--unfortunately for him, none in his size). I got the Revelate Gas Tank. It goes on the top tube just behind the stem. I was able to put a couple of bars in it, and my camera. It will hold more.

After the bike shop, we went to the Rocking Horse Bakery. Yum yum!
Soy hot chocolate and a carrot cakelette!

Back on the road, we headed up and up (and up some more--Mama Cass just cranking along in super granny) Bear Creek to Campbell Lake. The ride along Campbell Lake was mostly gentle downhill (it seemed like I was going really fast, but that was just because I had been going so slow to get there). Then we got on the Pipestone Canyon doubletrack. It was so much fun (I even got the Strava QOM for Pipestone!)!!! 
Pipestone Canyon
Melody coming out of the canyon.

We continued riding the doubletrack until we came out to the dirt road. Along the way there was a spot where we could see the yurt (and the road we had to go up to get back to it!).
The orange colored spot left of center is where the yurt is. The orange color is from where the fire retardant was dropped to help save their place in the big Carlton Complex Fire last summer that was started by lightening--curiously, we rode through where the fire started. You can also see the road up to Bill and Melody's place. Yes, it's a steep one, but I managed to ride up the whole way (even though I kept telling myself I would walk).

When we got back, it was time for Cross Training session 2. While Melody took Mariko for a long walk, Bill and I headed down the driveway to do some ditch digging. Because of the fire, all the vegetation was burned. We needed to dig in places so the water runoff won't wash out the road. I lasted about an hour before I could no longer swing the pick. It was a good cross training session. I'll probably repeat it tomorrow as there is still a lot to do.

All in all it was a great day of mountain biking. I am really really liking this!!!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mama Cass Goes to Eastern Washington, Or...

...I Saved His Butt, He Saved My Hands

A few weeks ago, my friends Bill and Melody asked if I would like to go with them to their place in Twisp to do some mountain biking. Well, sure I would!

So, here we are! We left yesterday evening and arrived after midnight (it's about 5 1/2 hours). Of course it was pitch black when we arrived, so I had no idea what it looked like until morning. Bill and Melody have a beautiful yurt (we're not talking Oregon State Park type yurt here). It's all light and beautifully bright woodwork with windows all around, and a big skylight at the top of a center post wrapped in white lights. It has all the comforts of home, including an outdoor shower (there's an indoor one too).
The very cool outdoor shower.
The backside of the yurt.

I woke up to light streaming through the window in my room. I couldn't wait to see the view! And what a view it is!
Fog in the valley.

After breakfast, Melody and I took the dogs for a walk. 
Mikayla the Queen, and Mariko the Prince (3 months old-- he'll be as big or bigger than Mikayla when he is full-grown).

We walked up the hillside behind the yurt--up and up.
The yurt in the distance.
Even higher!
Panorama from the top.

Mikayla is a dog of advanced years, yet she made it the whole way (at her pace).
I'm coming!

When we returned from our walk, Bill had the bikes loaded on the car. We changed into our biking gear. Bill forgot his bike shorts. I offered up my Icebreaker shorts to save his butt. He accepted. 

I filled my hydration pack, and made sure I had snacks. Apparently, food is the most important thing to me, because when we got to where we were starting, I discovered I had not put my bike glasses in, nor had I put in my gloves (geez, you'd think I'd never biked before!). Fortunately for me, Bill had an extra pair of long finger gloves. Thanks for saving my hands, Bill! 

We headed out toward Sun Mountain. We did about 7 1/2 miles of pavement, a good chunk of it uphill. Mama Cass and I are not so speedy going uphill on pavement. Bill and Melody got ahead of me, but I knew they would not turn off without me. 

When we got to the start of the trail, I took my rain jacket off. I was cooking in it! What was supposed to be 60% chance of rain ended up being mostly sunny! 

We took Chickadee Trail up to Thompson Rd. We climbed quite awhile up Thompson Rd. There were some great views along the way.

The colors are spectacular!

Once we reached the top, we picked up some double and single-track trails. This was pretty easy, so Mama Cass had no problems. In fact, the downhill portions were so much fun! I am getting braver in letting the bike run.

We came out to a viewpoint called "Room With a View". Yep, it sure was!

We continued riding. It started to rain, but it didn't last long. Soon we were back to sunshine. During our ride on Rodeo Trail, I couldn't help but have a running soundtrack of Aaron Copland's Rodeo running through my head! 

Coming along Beaver Pond, I had to stop and take this photo.
Beaver Pond in Fall

We continued doing ups, and longer sections of downhill. The dappling of the leaves on the trail made for such pleasant riding! 

We came back down Chickadee to where we had started the trail. Instead of continuing on the road, we took another trail that was mostly downhill...screaming-good fun downhill! I managed to glance at my speedometer to see I was going 26.1 mph! This was a part single, part double track trail! 26.1 mph! WOO HOO!!! I had a hard time wiping the grin off my face!
Goin' down, down, down!

All good things must eventually come to an end. We popped back out to the pavement. All that was left of today's ride was to ride back to the car.
Still a nice ride!

We rode a total of 33 miles. It was awesome!

Here's a few parting shots.
Rockin' those shorts, Bill (and also blending in nicely with the Fall foliage)!
Mama Cass shadow picture!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Too Much Pavement--Not Enough Gravel

I really wanted to ride Mama Cass on JBLM today. Of course, none of the areas near me were open. I probably could have ridden area 22 (the area closed because of a butterfly), but if I got caught, I wouldn't be able to say I was just on my way to 20. Sooooo, where to go?

I thought about Capitol Forest--going the way I've gone with the guys, but I think there is still a good possibility I could get lost. I looked at the PDF map I have and saw there was the S-line on the other side of Hwy 8 at Summit Lake. It looked like a fairly straight forward out and back. Okay, S-Line here I come! I headed out at 11:30.

It had started raining just as I left the house. Might have been a good idea to bag it, but no, I headed out anyway. Except for my torso which was encased in my new Showers Pass jacket, I was thoroughly soaked by the time I reached the Westside. Might have been a good idea to turn back, but no, I continued in the hopes that I would reach the blue sky I could see ahead. 

I did reach the blue sky, and was beginning to dry out, when, as I was coming down Mud Bay, it started to pour again. So much for drying out!

Once again, the rain stopped, and the sun came out. I stopped while it wasn't raining to eat a bar, then continued out to Hwy 8. From home, it was a little over 17 miles just to get to the Summit Lake exit. The S-line takes off to the right as Summit Lake Rd goes left. Finally, I was on the gravel! And, as an added bonus, it hadn't started to rain again! 

Before I'd gone far, the road forked. Now, the smart thing to do would have been to get out my phone, and look at the map. I didn't do that. I opted for the left fork. The road started climbing. I caught up to 4 guys in hunting camo and orange vests, with rifles slung over their shoulders. Ah yes, hunting season. Perhaps not a good time to be riding in the woods. At least I had my bright yellow rain jacket on (which I would have liked to take off as I was quite warm from the climbing, but didn't as I did not want to be mistaken for a deer--albeit a very SLOW deer). They asked me if I knew where the road went. I told them what I thought (but I was wrong). They then asked if it just kept climbing. I told them I hoped not!

It didn't keep climbing. In fact, there was a pretty steep downhill that curved. As I was nearing the curve, I thought to myself, trust the bike, or slow down? I opted for slowing down. Such a chicken am I...

After a few more ups and downs, I could see I was coming upon an active logging operation. Time to turn around. I went back the way I'd come, stopping to tell two of the hunters that this particular road went to where they were logging (I don't know where the other two guys went).

I returned to the fork and decided to take the other road. I think this was the real S-line. I rode for a short distance until the road started to climb. I knew I still had more than 17 miles to go to get home. It was about 2:45. I decided to turn around. When I got back to the pavement, I added air to Mama Cass' tires for the ride home (less bouncyness). 

I like the Surly saddle when I'm on the gravel. However, for prolonged riding on pavement, I'm not so sure. My butt was not enjoying the ride home so much. Of course, it could be that I haven't done much riding in the last 5 days (in Eugene visiting my grandson).

Out of a total of 43 miles, 35 were on pavement. That's too much pavement. I don't mind riding to the gravel from home (I don't have much choice), but I'd like the gravel miles to be at least half of the total miles!
Cresting one of the climbs.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Jasmin and Colleen's Most Excellent Sub48

You've heard of Sub24, well this was more than 24 hours, so I'm calling it a Sub48! It could also be called, "The Tour Where We Rode Some Hills, and Talked A Lot!"

Before I left for Europe, my friend Jasmin asked if I would "please please" take her on a bike tour. Of course I would! I returned from Europe, and we planned our adventure. I wanted to do something that would be relatively short in miles, but someplace I hadn't been. Using "Bicycling the Backroads of Southwest Washington", we settled on a two-day route along the Lewis River. I should say, I convinced Jasmin that she could do this two-day ride along the Lewis River! She was skeptical because it was described as hilly (an apt description).

Lists were made, panniers were borrowed (thanks Julie!), food was determined--our plan was set. Jasmin picked up Betsy and I Sunday morning. We drove to Woodland, Washington (about 1 1/2 hours south of Olympia on I-5), parked in a one of Woodland's free Public Parking lots (how great is that?), and prepared the bikes.

Jasmin had just a rear rack. She used my Ortlieb Sportpacker Plus panniers, and bungeed her sleeping bag, pad, and pillow on the top of the rack. I carried four panniers, so I could also carry her tent and all the food (except snacks). 

Day 1--Woodland to Battleground Lake State Park--20 miles

All packed up and ready to roll!

Since we only had 20 miles for the first day, there was no rush. We left Woodland around 12:15. It was sunny, and the last day of Fall was heating up. We followed Pacific Hwy to La Center. Along the way, we went past NW Lishan Rd. Lishan is my maiden name, and this is where my dad's family homesteaded. I have actually been this way before (Sierra Cascades--detour in 2011), coming from Vancouver, but it was fun to stop and take another photo.
Last time I was on Stella. This time Betsy.

In La Center, we found this great park to have our lunch.

It had some interesting Native American animal...carvings?


After lunch we made a quick stop at a grocery as we realized we had forgotten spices for our dinner. We continued on. It was getting pretty warm. The hills were mostly rollers--up, then down. For all Jasmin's fear about climbing the hills, she did great! She stayed right with me on every one. 

At the beginning of a rather steep and longish hill, I went to shift into the small ring, and dropped the chain. It did it's nasty thing of wedging between the folding bolt and the small ring. We pulled into a driveway so I could get the chain out. As I was trying to take the chain apart at the master link, the owner of the house came out to see what was going on. When we asked his name, he said it was "Georgie Porgie"--funny guy. I was finally able to get the chain to dislodge without having to take it apart (I must remember how I did that for next time). We said goodbye to Georgie and made our way up the hill. It was the steepest hill so far. At least it was all shady.

We continued following the route directions. We were on nice, fairly quiet backroads.
All smiles!

It was getting quite warm, and even though I had plenty of water, my mouth was very dry. We were fantasizing about nice cold lemonade. Unfortunately, we didn't go by anyplace where we could make that fantasy a reality. But, before we shriveled up and turned to dust, we arrived at our destination of Battleground Lake State Park.

We paid our $12 and found a nice campsite. First we found the water, drank a gallon each, then sat down and chatted. It was 4:00 when we arrived, and before we knew it, it was 7:15! We decided we should probably set up our tents and stuff. That done, we cooked dinner. We had a delicious meal of pasta, with zucchini, mushrooms, olives, garlic, and avocado. 

We made our way to the restroom/shower building and took turns taking showers. When we got back to the campsite we had our dessert of chocolate and more chatting--until 11:15! After one more foray to the restrooms, we crawled into our respective tents and drifted off to sleep in the peaceful quietness of the virtually empty campground.

Day 2--Continuing the loop--36 miles

Not having brought my watch, I woke up in the morning thinking it was probably about 6:30 or 7:00. I turned on my phone to see it was 8:00! Nice! We would still get an earlier start today, because we didn't have to drive an hour and a half first!
Good morning everybody!

We packed up the insides of our tents, then cooked breakfast. We had a nice leisurely meal with, of course, much talking. We finally decided we should probably pack up and get on the road. By the time we got breakfast cleaned up, and the tents packed up, it was almost noon! So much for the earlier start!

Still, before we left, we went down to the lake itself. Battleground Lake is a spring-fed crater. It's a great lake for swimming as the water is very clear. 

The beginning of today's route was pretty easy. We rode along the East Fork of the Lewis River. We stopped at Lucia Falls and ate lunch (okay, so we'd only been on the road for 6 miles, but it was already past noon, and we were hungry!)
Lucia Falls

A short distance farther down the road, we came to Moulton Falls.
Moulton Falls

After Moulton Falls, we departed from the river. Three miles later we rolled into Yacolt. We stopped at the General Store and got water. Jasmin got a couple of souvenirs for her boys. 

In Amboy, we began a long steep climb. It was definately the longest climb of the day. Jasmin's legs were getting tired, but she was still doing great. We just took frequent breaks. At one point the sun came out, and it started to rain. Yes, rain! Fortunately, it didn't last long. After reaching the top, we were promised, and delivered, a nice long downhill. The narrative for the route didn't mention any more long climbs, but it should have, because there were a couple of doozies! 

Jasmin becoming a climbing machine!

We made our way back toward Woodland, now riding along the Lewis River.
The road was a little busy, but the shoulder was wide.

Jasmin asked me what mileage we were at. I looked, and we were at 35.7 miles! Woo Hoo! Less than a mile to go! Sure enough, we came down a hill and found ourselves back to Woodland!

So, compared to my usual touring mileage, we didn't do a whole lot of miles. But, it was one of the most fun two days I've had touring! We both had a great time, hills and all! Can't wait to do it again!