Friday, June 30, 2006
My pal Brad Hawkins has this great habit of going on cool rides and then sending wonderfully descriptive stories from his journeys. Yesterday he sent me one of these reports and gave me permission to share it with all you folks out in the blogosphere.A bunch of pictures from his trip are here:
Ride Report: Monroe to Farmer and Back 6/25-6/27
The legs are still a little sore but I feel good enough to write you all about. The Seattle Randonneurs held their Cascade 1200K ride around Washington and I was drafted into providing some support at Farmer Washington. For those of you who don't know about Farmer, well, it's a very nice wide spot in the road about 15 miles east of Waterville up on the plateau east of Orondo. I'll just let that sink in for a while. It has a grange hall and some grain elevators, no running water, no toilets, no trees, no nothing unless you happen to have a key to the grange hall and can get out of the blinding sun and heat.
I had a wedding to play on Sunday afternoon so I was a little pressed for time as I got ready Sunday night with my bike and such. When I got to Kirkland, I realized that I had forgotten my helmet and a change of clothes so I drove back to Seattle. Claire was very understanding and didn't even mention what a hairbrained idea this was but she kissed me again and I was off driving out to Monroe, Washington.
I parked at the Holiday Inn where many fine, abandoned cycling cars were lining the sidewalks and parking lot of said hotel. Good enough. I pulled the bike off the van and took off. It was 8 PM.
The tailwind was delightful and the temperature perfect as I raced through Sultan, Startup, Gold Bar, Baring, finally alighting in Skykomish where I picked up some trail mix, milk, and filling my water bottles. The Chevron at Skykomish is used to seeing cyclists and the guy behind the counter was only concerned as to why I was leaving so late. No biggy though, he'd seen it before. It was 10:15PM.
The hills up to the pass were a bit of a surprise to me as I've never done this ride all the way from the flats up to the top of the pass from this direction before. Lessons to the newbie but I was still having a good time.
I stopped at the pass and took a picture but as you will see in Claire's site, photo flashes are somewhat uncontrolable so it's impossible to show how high I got up until the way back. It was midnight.
I put on all of my clothes available and gloves as well for the descent and cruised down the mountain. This is one of the best descents I've ever done as it seems to go down hill all the way to Wenatchee. All the way in your big ring. Now that's cool.
After a while though I felt the need to fill the bottles and stopped at the highway rest area west of Leavenworth. Among the sleeping truckers and RV'ers was a motorcyclist sitting at a park bench. I waved and he came over. It turns out that "Eric" was on his way to the Tri Cities and didn't want any heat so he was riding at night. The twist in this plan was that he seemed amped up on some kind of meth. Cool guy, very friendly, he was probably awake for the next two days.
I arrived in Leavenworth around 1:30 AM. This city sleeps very soundly and I didn't even hit the brakes. Cashmere was reached an hour later and I treated myself to two corn dogs and a quart of chocolate milk. This is my recovery food of choice and incorporates all that is good in american dining. You can eat it off a stick and drink directly from the carton. The best part is that it works quite well if you are burning the calories. $3 works out to something like 2200 calories. Mmmmmmmm! Don't forget the mustard.
Wenatchee has done the most ridiculous job on their bridge across the Columbia river you could ever imagine. They scraped off the asphalt which looked to be relatively new judging from what they left on the shoulder and deposited it somewhere else in town. No equipment is in sight. It's just a big, scary mess of sliced asphalt and road rocks everywhere else.
The sun started coming up around Orondo and I started taking pictures again. The grade out of Orondo is a singular experience and I stopped 4 times. Once at the top, the craggly rocks and water cut canyon turns into endless wheat fields and broomstick roadways reminiscent of North Dakota or west Kansas. It was a nice change of pace.
Waterville is a cute little town that I came upon at 7AM. The only water to be found was at the only open business in town, the espresso stand. This stand is famous among the long distance cyclists as apparently is the Orondo grade so I had to stop. After Waterville, it was a short hop out to Farmer where Fred Mulder some nice guy I can't remember, and Mark Thomas greeted me with smiles and understanding questions. These two are veterans of overnight and long distance rides and instead of puffing up the experience to them, we could just sit in deep understanding of this crazy cool sport. I arrived at 8AM; just in time to support the fast riders coming up from Quincy on the 1200K.
I made sandwiches and helped out until 1 PM with about an hour of sleep in the middle just to catch up. There were all kinds of DNF's the day before because of the heat and the volunteer list was swelling as the growing cadre of DNF's formed a sort of Dead Head caravan. Some guys would find a ride, others would drop out and then ride along just for fun. All had suffered, some were having a whale of a time.
After cleaning up and helping Dan Turner and Fred pack up the last truck, I bid them farewell at 2:30 PM and rode back to Waterville. This time I took some pictures and then really enjoyed riding back down the hill that had caused me so much heartache and pain that morning.
At the bottom, I found the best cherries I've ever had, rolled into the traffic menagerie that is Wenatchee, didn't stop and then cut up past Cashmere and then, just east of Leavenworth at about 7 PM, I found a nice spot in the Wenatchee river to strip off and bathe. It was just a perfect ending to a hot, hot day where the temperature reached 109. As I rubbed off the road grime, I noticed two young ladies across the way just enjoying the show. I waved, they waved, and that was the end of it. I'm just glad that I can be the subject of someone else's story and that I don't have to just come up with my own.
Dinner was pretty good, German fare for a change. After leaving the "Durndel" zone, I trotted up the canyon and found a nice camping spot that is marked "no camping". As a cyclist, I hate to flout the laws but I never know where to put the forest pass on my bike so I just don't. I hope some of you will understand.
Nine luxurious hours later, I awoke to a rushing river and perfect blue skies. The ride up the pass westbound was cool and nice. I happened upon a road crew broken down along the grade who had been broken down for two days and perhaps were waiting two more as a starter motor was being built in Yakima. The wind was a kicker once I got to the top but didn't get in the way too much.
At this point I was ahead of schedule, having passed Stevens at 12PM this time and gotten much better pictures, I rode down to the Old Cascade Highway and followed Kent Peterson's route. Kent, if you are reading this, the Iron Goat Trail is even better but requires about 60 ft of portage over a new bridge and some gravel. Highly recommended.
Being early, I started looking for any reason to stop. Dead snakes, other bikers, historical markers, interesting side roads, etc. I had 5 hours to coast into Monroe so I took it. I saw the fish hatchery, the reptile zoo, a gravel pit with a precariously place boulder replete with smiley face, and a long time friend, Weldon Grant, who showed me around the Monroe Hospital business office. It was a joy.
At 5PM or so I rambled back to the Holiday Inn where I helped the riders coming in after 1221 challenging kilometers. It was a party atmosphere with all you can eat pizza and pop. The riders had to get in by midnight and everyone expecting to make it made it, the last four by seconds! It was cool!
General statistics for the ride are as follows:
Ride Start: 6/25 8PM
Ride End: 6/27 5PM
Miles logged: about 340
Hours slept: 10.5
Average speed: perhaps around 13mph with stops
Dead Snakes by the side of the road: >15
Amused ogling ladies: 2
Important numbers for the trip: 8 and 12 (I seemed to start at 8, end at 8, and Stevens pass was reached at 12AM and 12PM respectively)
Have a great day and thanks for letting me waste some of your workday,
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Three years after the preliminary results first were presented at a scientific meeting and drew wide attention, University of Utah psychologists have published a study showing that motorists who talk on handheld or hands-free cellular phones are as impaired as drunken drivers.
The bumper sticker shown above comes from the Car Talk Guys and you can get one of your own for the price of postage and an envelope. Details here:
Monday, June 26, 2006
On Jun 26, 2006, at 11:17 AM, Kent Peterson wrote:
Wow. Pat would you mind our sharing this cautionary
tale with the great blogosphere? We can edit out
your email address.
Now I'm nervous, I just switched from my tried
and true (and despised by many) Specialized Armadillos
for (slightly) lighter, wider and cushier Contis (Top
Touring in the back, Contact up front) But I will have
a week or so of testing before I take them up to VanIsle.
And I do carry a spare folding tire.
Were all the flats explainable or did you get mystery
Great tip on the Camelbak.
You are all welcome to publish my account. 10 of the flats were on the back wheel with just one on the front coming from a thorn. I found 4 flats with small wires that pierced directly through the centerline of the tire. Two flats total were from thorns. The balance I have no idea with no obvious source of a flat. Actually I take that back because two of the flats were my having to repair my previous patches with glueless patches. I am not sure if I did not clean the area sufficiently or if it was the heat that would not allow the patch to adhere properly. I assume some of the flats were pinch flats from me installing the tire improperly althought the tires did go onto the rim with ease (the only good thing I can say about the Panaracers). Prior to the Cascade 1200 I only had about 35 miles on the tires and those miles came from the relatively clean roads of Whibey Island.
Another note on the Camelbak - I had to add about 8" on to the off the shelf tube that comes with the StoAway Camelbak to get it in the ideal position for drinking. Throughout the ride I drank ice water using the system. The bag is somewhat insulated and the water stayed cold until the last drop. You just need to make sure you cinch the bag to the frame in at least two places to secure it so that it does not get in the way of the knees. I also cut out the center of the water bottle holder and mounted it to the down tube to 'center' the bag.
Every time I go to fill up the bag it reminds me of filling the car at the gas station!
All the best,
Sunday, June 25, 2006
This info is hot from the trail. Details should be hitting the Great Divide pages here:
If you are in western Montana and have any lead on the bike, I know Dave would love to have it back. And if there is anything anybody reading this can do to help Dave out, I'll be posting contact info as soon as I get it. I'd give him my bike so he could keep racing, but the Monocog is too small for him and it's a couple of states too far away.
From one of Michael Rasmussen's roving field reports from the Cascade 1200:
After Packwood came the climb to White Pass. Riders from Florida don’t have hills at all. Riders with New York riding exposure have hills of steep grades but short duration. White Pass is neither of those. It is a Mountain Pass, twelve miles of climbing. It doesn’t get really steep, maybe 7% says Terry Zmrhal, but it doesn’t quit either. Today’s adventure held a mix of challenges for riders. Start with having covered 160 miles already, add in the warmth of the day, then top off with a mild tailwind. The tailwind wasn’t enough to push you up the hill, it was just enough to not be a cooling breeze as you pedaled.
More than one rider ran low on water climbing up to White Pass. Michelle Dulieu ran completely out and was eying a road side stream. She’d never encountered a hill this long before. Dave Johnson and Charlie White took time off to wade in the pool at the base of a roadside waterfall - and soak their heads in the cool waters.
At the top most riders had white swirls embellishing their clothing - the salts of their sweat built up on sleeves and legs, jerseys and shorts.More great stories and pictures can be found at the Cascade 1200 blog at:
Among other things you'll find many postings the legendary and somewhat gruff Jobst Brandt, the author of The Bicycle Wheel. You may not agree with everything the man has to say, but he is a fellow who has ridden many thousands of miles and has spent a lot of time thinking and studying various aspects of cycling. In the archive you'll find out why he doesn't like Polarized glasses or Sturmey-Archer hubs but there is a host of other stuff in there as well.
For the record, I agree with Jobst on the glasses issue but I think Sturmey-Archer hubs are super nifty. I guess that I'm one of those guys Jobst was describing when he said "Most folks only use top gear with a tailwind or when idling along."
"I pledge allegiance
To the ride
Of the Seattle International Randonneurs
And to Randonneurs USA, of which it’s part,
One pedal stroke, after another,
With exhaustion and achievement for all."
Great reports from the ride are being logged at:
Saturday, June 24, 2006
A very glowing review of the Apex can be found here:
On Amazon and other places I've found a lot of favorable reviews along with some negative reviews by people who were dissapointed and misled by some overly optimistic marketing. There is no free lunch and you can't get super-bright light for 72 hours off four AA cells but given the current limits of technology, the Apex looks pretty good. I've been very pleased with my Princeton Tec EOS as a helmet light but it uses 3 AAA cells. The Apex has a more rational 4 AA cell battery pack and from what I've read it runs very nicely with rechargeable NiMH cells. The riders I talked to seem very happy with the battery life and light output of the Apex on the lower power settings.
I don't have an Apex yet, but it makes a very looking, compact light and I think I'm going to be getting one soon. If and when I do, look for pictures and a more detailed report here.
The Seattle International Randonneurs Cascade 1200K Brevet started at 6:00 AM Saturday June 24, 2006. You can follow along via the blog at:
I'm not riding this one but I got to work the bike check-in last night and this morning up in Monroe. A lot of work goes into making an event like this happen and it's really neat to see it all come together.
Best of luck to all the riders.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Last year's winner Matthew Lee is racing this once again and again he's riding the Canadian section as a prolog. Tough guys Matt Chester, Rudi Nadler and Dave Nice are all taking a shot at the course on fixed gears this year which makes my last year's run of the route on a singlespeed seem pretty tame. To everyone racing this amazing route, I wish you the very best kind of adventure. Keep those pedals turning,
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Jim Foreman is one of my online pals. He's a man who knows how to tell a good story and he's been around for quite a while and seen a lot of things. He recently wrote a nice little tale about his shortest bike tour and you can read it here:
You can also read a whole bunch more of his stories and books for free online at:
And I'll repeat what Jim once said about my stuff, but turn it toward Jim. If you enjoy his writing, feel free to send him a few bucks. Jim was one of the many people who contributed toward financing my Mountain Turtle Adventure but I know he also talked more than a few people into helping me out. Jim's the kind of guy you want watching your back and the fellow who has a story for every occasion.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Keep 'em rolling,
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Living and cycling in the Pacific Northwest I perhaps get too many chances to test foul weather gear. The Ultra Marathon Cycling Association (UMCA) decided to tap my expertise and had me write about some of my favorite bits of nasty weather gear. I chose to write about the Rainshield O2 jacket, Rainlegs and the Marmot DriClime Windshirt. You can read the full reviews:
As always, I advise supporting your local merchants.In the case of Rainlegs, however, everyone I know in the US who has these wound up ordering them from Rainlegs UK site at:
If you'd like either a Rainshield O2 jacket or a Marmot DriClime Windshirt and can't find those locally, you can order them via Amazon.com. As always anything you order via one of my Amazon links does kick some money back to me, but I only recommend products that I have found to be worthwhile. By the way, when I say anything, I mean anything. If you enter Amazon via one of my links and then buy something completely unrelated to cycling like a CD or a book or whatever, I still get a small referal fee.
Keep 'em rolling,
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Tinker Juarez is one of the many amazing people who is competing in the Race Across America (RAAM) right now. Tinker's a total rider, most well known for his many mountain bike victories, but he's currently hammering his way across the country. There are some interesting reports here:
This is a small excerpt:
During his massage his crew swarmed about; mother Rose feeding him, Trevor calculating estimated times for the miles to come, Ed and Jim attending to his bike. When Ed commented that when he cleaned the drivetrain, he found absolutely no sign of grime on the small chainring, Tinker’s nonchalant answer was, “Well, I haven’t been out of the big chain ring yet. Not at all. But that little ring, it’s coming. It’ll have its day.” Incredible! Tinker has amassed 816 miles since Sunday, has climbed thousands of feet, and from the 8000’+ town of Durango he declares that he’s done it all in his 53!
Which isn’t to say that these first days of the Race Across America have been easy. Far from it. “This is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” he admits. “It’s so much harder than I ever could have imagines. But I could go home and cry about how hard this is, or I can keep on going and cry on my bike. Crying on my bike sounds better.”
Full coverage of RAAM is here:
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Massimiliano "Max" Poletto is such a no-ego guy it took me quite a bit of poking around on his pages to even find his name. But it really wasn't any hardship to read his various ride reports, they've got all kinds of wonderful details. You can see for yourself by exploring here:
To get a feel for Max's writing, here are a couple of exerpts from his 2005 LEL ride report at:
I leaned my bike against a wall at the control and stared in disbelief: right in front of me, next to my Rambouillet, was Sean's bright red Trek! I checked in at the control and discovered that Glen had left less than half an hour earlier. Maybe I wasn't doing so terribly after all. Sean and Finn sat at a table in the dining hall, and Sean told me an incredible story. After a lot of creaking, one of Finn's pedals had finally snapped. At first, Finn had tried to reattach the pedal to the broken remains of the spindle. But when that approach failed, he simply took off his shoe, stuffed it into his jersey pocket, and wrapped his toes around the jagged spindle remains that still emerged from the crank. In this way, I believe, he pedaled some tens of hilly kilometers, Sean at his side, before a motorcycle marshal caught up to them with a pair of spare pedals. Blood stained his sock, but he didn't stop.
and later in the same report:
I have many memories of those last 65Km: the expansive scenery, the magnificent light, the feeling of achievement at having completed LEL despite the last day's troubles. Yet my best and most unbelievable memory is of Finn, in his granny gear for the first time in 1350Km, pushing Sean up the hills. Sean, his tendons swollen and ibuprofen no longer effective, was forced to soft-pedal even on gentle climbs. He told us to ride on without him, but that wasn't an option for us. I'd have been perfectly willing to ride with him at whatever pace he could muster, but Finn had a different idea. He would ride down the hills just behind Sean, then downshift, put his right hand firmly on Sean's lower back or his saddle, and push him all the way up the hill. At the top he'd accelerate his pedal stroke and finally push forward with his arm---a powerful, sweeping motion that launched Sean over the top of the hill and down the other side. And then he would repeat the procedure again. He did this time after time, on scores of hills, many of them steep and quite long. Together they climbed surprisingly fast: I could probably have outsprinted them had I needed to, but even keeping up with them was no easy task. I was in complete awe of Finn and his technique---I had never seen anything like it.
Max is one of those guys whose passion for the ride shines through in his words. He tells the stories that really capture the feeling of the ride.
Monday, June 12, 2006
"I always seem to have some period of adjustment in the early season when my body (including GI tract) seems to need to get used to the physical stress of events. (I've got a ton of cold sores right now.)"
At the end of the Great Divide Race last year my friend Trish complained of mouth sores as well. I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on the internet but back in 1999, before I rode Paris-Brest-Paris, I read almost everything I could find about distance riding and the strains it puts on the body. And one article I read (it was on paper and no, I don't have a reference handy) was written by doctor who'd ridden PBP and developed the serious cold sores that kept him from eating. He theorized that the sustained effort and sweat would lead to a leaching of the B and C vitamins from the body. B and C vitamins are water-soluble and you really can't store a bunch of them in your system. But you can take daily B and C supplements.
I'm not a big fan of drugs (coffee excepted, I'm a huge fan of coffee!) and I pretty much don't even take things like ibuprophen. But I do take a daily "Stress-B" vitamin, which is a B & C vitamin mix. One brand-name is "StressTabs" but you can read labels and find generic equivalents. Since I've been taking these, I haven't had any problems with mouth sores on the longer events. One side-effect you should be aware of is that excess B-vitamins will be flushed out in your urine, making it a bright yellow. Don't worry about this, the bright yellow doesn't mean you are dehydrated, just that you've got more than enough B in your system.
Keep 'em rolling,
Friday, June 09, 2006
Last weekend I rode the SIR 600K brevet on the Olympic Peninsula. The story and pictures are here:
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Thursday, June 01, 2006
has some interesting information on the subject.