Tuesday, December 30, 2008

RUSA 0536 Hood Canal Loop 2.0

2 Degrees above Celsius

That's what the temperature was when we reached the first control at Chimacum. It was cold (obviously), we were wet, and had been riding into the wind. The word "miserable" came to mind. It could be worse ... there could be ice. After stuffing our faces, we headed down the road towards Quilcene. Before we got there ... what did we run into? Not ice, but a bit of slushy snow was falling. Oops!

Fortunately it stopped by the time we hit Quilcene. On the way out of town Joe wanted to stop at the Forest Service office, but the parking lot was covered with ... yes, ice. He decided to wait.

From there we headed up Walker Pass ... would it be snowing? and sitcking? Part way up what do we see but a DOT snowplow coming down. Is that a good sign? Probably not. It is now raining again ... and soon it turns to snow. And now the snowplow comes back, headed up the hill. Definately not a good sign. As we near the top, the snow starts sticking, but fortunately it is pretty slushy and we ride through it. It is cold though! Especially as we ride down the south side.

We soon make it to Brinnon, almost the half-way point. What do we see as we pull into the Tesoro but Vincent! A welcome sight for sure. December 31st, snow along the roads, and we run into a fellow SIR randonneur! We spend a few minutes catching up and then head south together. We ride to Hoodsport, where we refuel, then to Potlatch, where we head our seperate ways ... Vincent to Olympia (end of Olympia-Brinnon ride), Joe & I to Bremerton (end of Hood Canal Loop 2.0).

We are making pretty good time ... close to being able to make the 4:35 ferry. Past Belfair, on the Old Belfair Highway, Joe got a flat. Changing the tire in the cold was tough ... took quite a while. Joe pumps it up and ... it leaks out the valve. Darn. He pumps it up again and ... it holds. We were now at risk of missing the 5:30 ferry. But we hit the road and make the ferry (barely)! We've done it!

Monday, December 29, 2008

RUSA 0531 MI-Redmond-Orting-MI

Guilty as Charged.

I sinned. I rode without a mud flap in winter. Fortunately I did not have to pay for my sins. Chris, Don, and Pam did instead, as they received what the mud flap should have stopped. Chris saved me from further damnation at the first control by giving me his front mud flap to put on my rear fender for the duration of the ride. I have since replaced my missing mud flap, so I am safe from further transgressions (and my fellow riders are safe from me).

Although I had ridden a short Permanent on Saturday, this was my first full Permanent since the snows hit and mostly melted. Having just ridden part of the route, I had a pretty good sense of where the problem areas would be and had arranged detours (where available) for the problem areas that we'd hit in the morning and hoped that the rest of the problem areas would melt by the time we got to them in the afternoon. So after walking part of the East Channel bridge through several inches of slush, we took a several mile detour into Bellevue and the Lake Hills Connector to get over to Factoria ... then another detour just past Eastgate. I knew where I was going on the detour (it wasn't on the route sheet), but forgot to tell Chris until I was about to turn and he was zipping past the turnoff. Oops!

Since this was a pre-ride of sorts, Chris, Don, and Pam were my Guinea Pigs for several of the information control questions. They survived, but not all of the questions did. What had made sense to me didn't always work on the bike.

Don had some great suggestions for route improvements also, so after a brief verification with the route owner, we tested those out and have incorporated those into the current route.

Running low on fuel, we made an unscheduled stop at the Safeway in Kent. Since we had stopped, I stuffed my face with an Orange Chicken Rice Bowl. Why not?

Shortly afterwards, we were almost blinded by a strange bright orb in the sky ... the type rarely seen in Seattle this time of year. It even dried off the pavement, at least in spots. It may have been the distraction of that bright thing, but just before the Orting control we hit a patch of broken glass (Heineken beer bottle). Don hit a big piece ... with a big crunch as he rode over it ... but no damage. Luck was with us.

After a bit more sustenance at the Safeway in Orting, we headed north, with the wind at our tail. We managed to miss the glass this time, but all the grit must have taken its toll, as squeaks were soon heard from several of the bikes. A bit of lubrication and the chorus was quieted.
We hit the Interurban trail and it was clear of snow, at least initially. Patches of snow, slush really, soon appeared, but not bad as long as you were attentive. Then one patch of a deep puddle ...pond? of 4-6 inches deep. Wow. At the end of the Interurban, at the intersection with the River trail, we stopped and put on lights, as it was now dark. Our reward was a gusty rain shower. Then when we got to Fort Dent, the trail was covered with slush. As it was only an inch or so deep, it was rideable ... and fortunately didn't last for long. The next few miles were hit and miss ... clear, then patchy slush ... and then relatively deep slushy snow when we got to E Marginal Way South. It was time to walk the bike and/or take our last detour.

A little more slush to go through before the I-90 bike tunnel and then smooth sailing. A quick ride around the Island and we're done. Pam and Chris get their R-12 ride in! I'm done too. My phone had rung a couple miles from the end. When I return the call from the QFC I get an offer for a ride home. It's only about three miles, but I snap up the offer!

One more ride to go. Three days to get it in. Hood Canal 2.0 on the 31st is it!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

RUSA 0541 MI-MV-Redmond-MI


Back on the road again!

It has warmed up enough and enough snow has melted that I started and finished a Permanent today. Granted it was a shorter Permanent ... 102K, but after a couple weeks of being unable to get much riding in because of the snow, it was great.

I'd tried starting this twice over the past few weeks, most recently yesterday, but it just wasn't doable. Aside from a few short detours (cleared with the route owner, who happened to be easily accessible) and sections that required walking, it was pretty decent riding, generally not slippery. The bike paths were a problem (above), requiring the detours or walking, and then Maxwell Road in Maple Valley was difficult(below). The rest was wonderful.

It wasn't even cold ... there was a sign in Redmond that read 47 degrees.

Did I mention I got to ride my bike today? :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

SNOW rhymes with SLOW and NO

Cabin fever? Not really, but as I want to get three more Permeanents in before the end of the year I'm concerned about running out of time. I'd like to hit 10,000 K of rides in for the year and I'm 450K away. I was going to get 100K in on Saturday, but on my ride to the start I realized that with all the snow /ice I wasn't able to ride fast enough to complete the ride in the alloted time ... so I DNS'd. On the bright side I got most of my Christmas shopping done instead.

Today I thought I'd give it a more complete test and see if I would be fast enough ... and I was not even close. The required minimum average speed is 15Kph, just under 10 mph ... and I averaged 6-7 mph on a 5 mile ride with my studded tires. The roads were either snow packed or plowed with almost complete snow/ice coverage. There were a few places where it was soft slush, but not all that many.

So, too slow ... Permanent soon? No!

Given the conditions & forecast, I don't foresee being able to ride a Permeanent until this weekend and that is still quesitonable. A nice warm rain would be helpful!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

RUSA 0357 Camano Island-Bellingham-Camano Island


Mike Richeson, Mark Thomas, Andy Speier, Will Goss, and I beat the cold & snow to Bellingham today. A great day to ride ... mid 40's and partly cloudy in December! We found a window of opportunity and grabbed it. And when we got to Bellingham, we had a great bonus ... lunch with Dan Turner at the Italian Mambo Cafe. Wow! Couldn't ask for more (couldn't eat any more either, yum!). Only downside was the urge for a nap after lunch. The Scotch Ale seemed to give Mark Thomas a big boost of energy after lunch, but the lasagna really slowed me down.

All that coffee had to go somewhere!

Chuckanut drive had been closed for a month due to a series of four rock slides ... with big rocks the size of trucks. The road opened only two days earlier, but work wasn't quite complete ...
Santa was sighted ... apparently his sleigh was out of commission, so he was testing alternate modes of transportation.

Near La Conner, we ran across a rider with a flat. Apparently he had had several and was running out of patches, and didn't carry any tubes. Have no fear, SIR is here. His tire was changed and he was back in business!

The karma from helping the rider didn't last long ... Andy got a flat in Stanwood. And then Will got a flat 200 yards from the end ... and so he carried his bike over the "finish line".

Saturday, December 6, 2008

RUSA 0400 Deming-Marblemount-Deming


This ride starts/ends at the Nooksack Casino, and at the end of the ride I hit the jackpot ... a small one anyways. More on that later.

This ride is much like the Three Rivers Cruise - relatively flat (total climbing of 2,700 feet), a ride along SR-9, along the Skagit River, and with a turnaround point at Marblemount. In fact, I ran into three SIR riders at Marblemount who were doing the Three Rivers Cruise - Jack Brace, Ryan Schmid, and Tom Norwood.

The weather turned out much nicer than the forecast, which was for mixed rain/snow and a high of 38 F with a 70 % chance of showers. The roads were wet most of the way and it did shower the last 5 miles or so, but all in all the weather was quite deccent ... it even hit 50F in Sedro Woolley.

The first and last part of the ride between Deming and Sedro Woolley along SR-9 was pretty, especially in the morning with the sun rising. With no shoulders it isn't the most pleasant in the dark when the occasional truck comes by, but the traffic wasn't bad and the views definately made up for it. Aside from the very "fresh" air along a few dairy barns, the crisp cool air was a joy to wake up to.

Riding on SR-20, with wide shoulders most of the way and with the river and mountain views to enjoy was great. I didn't see any eagles along the Skagit, but did see folks out looking for them with their cameras.

Chili at Clark' Cabins just outside Marblemount was good. Really hit the spoot.

Since I parked in te casino parking lot, I felt perhaps I should go in and dro a few quarters in the slot machine as a way to "pay" for the parking. After getting my receipt at the min-mart at the end, I noticed the price at the gas station ... $1.59 ... which was 0.30 lower than anything I'ved seen recently and 0.40 lower than what I filled up at just a couple of days earlier. Jackpot! So I filled up ... after waiting in line. At that price they were very busy.

I guess I still owe them the quarters for parking, as I was distracted and forgot my plan. I suppose it was a small jackpot ... only worth a few bucks, but it felt good and helped justify the lang drive.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

RUSA 0202 Olympia-Brinnon-Olympia

What a gorgeous day!

Okay, a bit chilly perhaps (30F to start out), but come on now. A sunny day in the Pacific Northwest in December? And I'm going to stay inside? I think not.

I've come to realize I am just 1,000K ... 5 rides ... away from 10,000 K for the year. This wasn't a goal. And I don't want to make it a goal per se ... but it would be kinda neat. The catch is there aren't any more Brevets nearby and the Permanents have to be ones I haven't ridden before to count. That limits me to a handful of possibilities ... #202 Olympia - Brinnon - Olympia seems like the choice.

I leave Top Foods at 7 AM, a bit concerned about the possibility of ice, but it turns out to not be an issue. It is a pretty ride along Delphi Rd.

After the first seven or eight miles the ride is along US-101 and the Hood Canal to Brinnon, a small group of houses & businesses. From there it turns around and goes back on 101 to the end at Top Foods. The first/last 15 miles or so of 101 is riding on the shoulder of a divided highway, similar to interstate riding. The ride between Potlatch and Shelton/Olympia is pretty disappointing ... not just the road, but the trash. Not the highlight of the ride, to be sure. I guess it is a necessary evil to be endoured in order to enjoy the ride along the Hood Canal, which is beautiful today ... crisp blue sky and sparkling waters.

I'm getting slightly ahead of myself however, as before I get there I run into a "ROAD CLOSED" sign, with a detour sign right below. This is a few miles north of Potlatch and it is a relatively short detour ... only a couple of miles. As part of it is along a nice wooded road that I hadn't ridden on before, I'm enjoying the detour ... putting aside the lack of shoulders and being forced off the road by a couple of trucks that pass me by.

It is a pretty ride ... the portion along the canal anyway. All things considered, I don't think this is a Permanent that I'd go out of my way to ride again.