Saturday, June 27, 2009

SW Washington - NO RAIN and north of 50!

Maybe monkeys CAN fly and chickens DO have lips... okay, I'm almost ready for anything now. Saturday we (TT, Alex and me and Jenn on the Stealth) road the SW Washington loop in cloudless sunny skies and, most unbelievably, above 50 degrees!! TT, it IS possible!

The first time I rode this loop we did the 100+ mile version in February, high 40s and cold rain, on my rainbike - it was total crap!! What we do for friends. The best part of the ride was getting off the bike. TT has only talked us (the Kids) into it once since - in February.

Thing is, this is a really wonderful loop - either the 75+ or 100+ mile version. Late spring to early fall you couldn't ask for a nicer, rolling, quiet country road, low-traffic, perfect water/food-stop, 4,000 ft vertical loop. Or for that matter a perfect tandem loop - Jenn loves it.

The Ride
Exit I-5 in Washington at #49 or Castle Rock (same spot as the Tour de Blast). The folks at the Texaco station are cool about parking behind their building (do tell them). Roll out over back over the freeway and the short descent through Castle Rock, right in the middle of town on A st. over the Cowlitz R. and right on Hwy 411 - this is the only "busy" stretch. Settle in for 9+miles of rollers under a canopy of tall maples. The left down the hill into Vader - through "town", don't blink, and out Hwy 506 (store on the left - loo around back) and enjoy the next 16ish miles - a mile long climb at 5-8% out of Ryderwood keeps it interesting (KOM points - but who's counting). TT would never let me forget it if I didn't point out the Burma Shave signs (read sprint point here) as you approach the little village of Ryderwood - which proudly proclaims itself a "55+ Community", it may be 60+ by now. Oh, and look for the camel - YES, a camel.

Now its decision time - 75+ or bit off the century plus? At the T-section of 506 (Wildwood Rd) and Pe Ell McDonald Rd there is a little store (water plus). Today we stayed in the valley and north 5 miles and right up Curtis Hill Rd. and the last real climb, 2 miles @4-6%. At the top turn right on Pleasant Hill Rd. - then follow it 2miles left, right, left until it Ts with Penning Rd., turn right and up a short steeeep hill to an awesome sweep of the Cascade Mountains including Mt Rainier (l), Mt Adams, Mt St. Helens (r). Now behold a lovely straight up, 50mph plus, downhill scorcher - yahoo! Right on Frogner Rd, then left on Brown for 3 miles of serious forest enclosed rollers (photo above) descending (NOTE - the '19% trucks-on-cheese sign' is insane, the road crew was smok'n something, its maybe mid-teens for a few hundred meters at best) to Pleasant Valley Rd, take a right. Five miles to a right on Tennessee Rd. for 3 miles of wide-open farm field rollers eventually descending down into the town of Winlock (left on NW Byham - right on NW Dexter - left on King Rd and over the bridge through town to Walnut St.). You're @50ish miles into the ride. Head east out of Winlock on Walnut (Hwy 505) and split left up Nevil Rd (its short relax!), its way too busy on 505, and a couple miles to N. Military Rd. then right back to Hwy 505. Left on 505, a descent shoulder, back over I-5 and 5 miles down into Toledo, through town, across the Cowlitz R. again and a 1/2 mile later curve right onto Jackson Hwy S. wind up the hill and 2 miles look for the barn on the left - its worth a stop and a read, they just don't write sales promotionals like that anymore - weak women beware! A mile later right on Herriford Rd (careful you'll blow by it) and down and around to a right on Mandy for 3 very quiet miles along the Cowlitz R. Right on Imboden (Mandy) 2 miles to Barnes Dr., and another right. Its the home stretch, wide shoulder, one more cross over I-5, less than 8 miles of moderate rollers to go. Enjoy!

And the post-ride brew - we checked out Salmon Creek brew pub in Vancouver, WA on the way back to Portland. The IPA is suppose to be good, tonight's sucked, too flowery, we opted for the ESB, great onion rings, and garden burgers.

As one of our favorite pros would say - "Damn it was a 'ripper' out there today". Thanks Jenn, TT and Alex. All you Pedalpaloozers - hope you had fun day as well!

Friday, June 26, 2009

“It’s the bike-gasm!”

Get out there - A local weekend insane with "all things bike"... ENJOY!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thursday Lawyer Lunch Ride

Yikes, 12:22, damn I'm late - out the door, fly down Greely and over the Broadway bridge up Lovejoy - short-cut, I've totally missed the noon start at Pioneer Square!!

Racing through the Pearl/Northwest there's no sign of them - I'm WAY behind. Jump on the draft of a passing Porche Cayenne Turbo and downshift for all the "turbo" these legs have left after six straight days on the bike. Up Lovejoy and around the first tunnel (the Porche dropped me two-blocks ago - funny how they hate cyclists on their wheel :"), then came the second tunnel and there it was - the first droppee - just as I passed him there was the second appeared and then past the Audubon Center approaching the right turn up NW 53rd (not today) I could see them - whew - the chase was paying off - hellava way to warm up legs that thought they were going to get a day off.

I opted for Thompson since I was behind and soon latched onto the group - out came the camera (see the accompanying slide show or portfolio) - click - there was Richard - click and then ride leader Ray - and more - "where did all these people come from?" "you make 60" said either Richard or Ray. Sixty!! Ya, apparently the Oregonian artcile two weeks ago by David Stabler change our little (15-25 normally) lunch ride into a cycling celebrity.

Although today was a bit crowded it was fun - if you're interested in coming out check out the article link from the Oregonian above for details (and 2-things - stay on our side of the yellow line and WEAR a helmet!) - and better to get to Pioneer Square by noon - there isn't always a porche's wheel in NW to follow :")

Photo Gallery

The legs felt great today afterall - although they are definitely getting Friday off before a tandem ride on Saturday. A little tandem time with Jenn before the NW Tandem Rally in Victoria weekend of the 4th.

"The Best Day Ever" she burst!

Yes Joni, that was one fine day! C'mon, I mean sunshine in the Gorge, great food, a fine pint, quiet country roads, great climb, cameras and two wonderful people to share it with - Joni Kabana and Barry Rumsey.

My Daily Ride yesterday was 69 miles east of Portland up the Columbia Gorge. The ride was a flashback to the fourth and final grueling stage of my first stage race this year - the Cherry Blossom. Unlike that day yesterday was at a much more friendly pace, starting that way before the ride began.

Joni and I drove to Mosier to photograph and interview Barry Rumsey Chef and c0-owner (with wife Deborah Mazzoleni) their restaurant the Good River and sibling pub the Thirsty Woman for a couple articles on Cycling Chefs we are doing. Barry had a pot of vegetarian curry waiting for the cameras (and our tastebuds - wow! whata taste - not too spicey but just ask and they can kick it up a notch or two) one of the many dishes this cycling chef creates to combine NW and Pacific Asian influences.

The Ride
After a few hundred photos it was time to turn the pedals on the Chef's favorite daily ride, the Seven Mile Rd. Loop. Start in Mosier (plenty of places to park at the totem across from the ice cream shop on Hwy 30) and head east on Mosier the Dalles Hwy (30) towards Rowena Pt. through 8 miles of rolling upward climbing road. None of the gradient is more than 4-5% at most and traffic is low, so take your time (if you want). The road to Rowena serpentines through slopes of cherry trees, and scattered oak forest and grasslands, with endless sweeps of the Columbia Gorge on your left. Take in the view from Rowena and then descend the snaking twisty curves (careful not to over-cook the corners and watch for fallen rocks) to the continuation of Hwy 30 to the Dalles (8 miles).

As you come into the outskirts of the Dalles (past the first I-84 offramp on your left) you'll take the right onto Chenoweth Loop West, head south for a mile, right on W 10th (Chenoweth Rd) for @ 1 mile, then right on Seven Mile Rd and then the climbing fun begins. If your lucky like me and the Chef you'll get a nasty little 30 mph head wind up the climb which will make it feel like you climbed twice the 4.5 miles to the top. This is a wide open steady climb @ 5-6% with a few nasty pitches at 10-11%, so if climbing isn't your first love, stop and enjoy the spectacular views of the Gorge along the way - or if in May the open hillsides of yellow balsamroot and deep purple lupine in bloom. You'll crest the top at just a smidge over 1800 feet, a climb of 1600, then its downhill all the way back into Mosier - as fast as you dare to take it. The Chef and I flew back at 35-40+ mph - we had fresh (awesome thincrust European-style) pizza and a great pint of NW local brew, Invasive Species IPA from
Captured by Porches Brewing Company
waiting :")

Yes Joni - that was one of the best days ever! If you are riding in the area (or just ripping down 84 off exit 69) - check Barry and Deborah's places out, great food and drink.

PS - the pizza above is the "Mosier" a local fave - red sauce, blue cheese, pears slices and bacon (photo: (c)
Joni Kabana

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Elkhorn finals - and thanks to all of you!

Finals are in - I climbed to 20th at 7:03 back on GC - so the lung-sucking, leg-hammering climb up Dooley Mountain, finishing 10th, helped me grab my dangling cycling carrot - top 20 at Elkhorn. Many thanks are owed - to Jenn, my dedicated "crew" endless thanks for putting up with my craziness! And to friend and teammate Scott Powell - congrats on your 13th and all your wisdom and ecouragement - next year we get them!! And to "the Kids" back in Portland who were "supportive" in all your individual ways :")) And to so many old and new friends that made this weekend FUN, and the passion of racing my bike all I imagined.

Full race results

Photo Gallery

PS - you thought this was over? NOT - just registered for Cascade Cycling Classic :"))

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Epic "reduced" to mountain sprint for GC

Last night at Barley Brown's today's Stage 4 was all the talk - nearly 102 miles with the final 8 miles to the summit of Dooley Mt. - "epic" for all us wannabes. Last year riders dropped in 95 degree heat and dehydration... I was so pumped for this!

The pouring rain that greeted us at dawn (see previous post) finally delayed the start and forced OBRA officials to wisely shorten the stage to a neutral start out of Baker City, a 30+ mph "warm up" to the base of Dooley Mt. up the backside (12 miles or so) and then the attacks launched up the climb and cold married wet to make the race for the summit and "epic" uphill TT!

With the GC up for grabs Z-Team and Hutch were hammering on the front and Scott Powell and I were make the best of a shattering peleton. Pedal turn by pedal turn guys were dropping off and back. Then the surge - and the wheel in front of me gaps off - damn it! Out of the saddle I sprint around him and grab the fleeting six (two others, Zimbelman one of them) were just up the road distancing themselves from the chase. I felt like I was breathing just to save my life - just not enough warm up for these 'ol legs! Finally I buried myself into a rythym and then another surge. I spun faster to just catch on with a kilometer and a half to go and then Scott hit the gas one more time trying to make his break - I lost the wheels and chased the front group to the line with one other guy. We shared wheels for a K and then we gapped.

Damn that was incredibly hard!! Results have not been posted but I think I was top ten on the stage - and that should have moved me up on GC into the top 20 - season goal accomplished!! (okay - goal number one). Thanks for your help Scott! Update later tonight.

"This Sucks!"

My comment as I stuck my head out the door at 6 AM - simultaneously the kids two doors down, sticking his head out, "that doesn't begin to describe it." Pouring rain and 42 degrees... but hey, only 5 mph NW wind!! Yahoo! Aren't we lucky. Chris - this is why the pros start at noon. Oh well, time to go - if I don't drown en route I'll let you know how many of us make it to the top of Dooley Mountain.

PS - Alex, this would be the day we head straight to the pub.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

TT - 11.3 miles of personal hurt - damn I love racing my bike!

After waiting most of the night for Stage 1 results - as much to see how long I could sleep in before prepping for the TT - today the results were blowing in as fast as the headwind on the return route back to the finish. Unfortunately the wind didn't deliver my best results.

Only my second TT, ever, but not my best effort. 25.41 for the 11.3 miles - just under 22.5 mph - not horrible, but enough to drop me another 2 spots down on GC. I'm learning very quickly that as silly as it might seem it's time to add and aero helmet and rear disc wheel to the growing assembly of cyclo pieces and parts - better clear more space in the garage when I get home.

Just over two hours before the crit - oh yeah! My favorite. At least it looks like we will have dry streets, that are wide and road-furniture free. For me its all about clinging to the rear of a wild tiger's tail and staying upright. Upright gives me another day and a shot at sneaking into the top 20 on GC with a good climb up the terminal 8 miles to the summit of Dooley Mt.

For those of you following this - I'm in 24th place at 6:36 on GC - definitely a chance to climb up tomorrow - if I can climb :")

Friday, June 19, 2009

Saran wrap.... Please!

A year ago - 90+ degree temps, riders falling over with dehydration.
Dawn today - 50ish and rain, and rain, puddles of rain.

The last thing I expected was to be running around Baker City trying to find a saran wrap - something to defend against what was shaping up to be rainy, wet, chilly and... soakingly wet.

We gave the 1-2s a half hour, the 3s 10mins and then a full field of 75 Masters rolled out for our turn at the wet roads. The first miles were pretty civil, in fact until the first feed station at mile 23 one might even say pedestrian. Then BLAMO! The rain unloaded on the downslope from the feed station and so did the speed - game on! The next 25 miles were scenic - I think - staring at the rear wheel in front of me I can only swear it was wet, really stink'n wet! But I can also swear that I was smiling a lot, I was racing and for the first time this season I was actually racing in the front and in a position to do something. It was like all those Saturdays climbing to Skyline so hard my lungs wear screaming - yes, it was finally paying off. And those other races, the ones I got dropped and worked my arse off to get back on a wheel, just to know the pain it takes - it was finally paying off!! Results haven't yet been posted - but somewhere in the front third - progress.

Tommorow? It rained through dinner tonight - Main Street is the location for tomorrow's crit - hmmmm?
I hate crits even in the best of weather.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Night-Before Nervous Jitters

Baker City hasn't seen this many shaved male legs since... oh, last year about this time - that is unless a lot of pickup driving cowboys are hiding something under those Wranglers (hell, Brokeback Mountain had to start somewhere). The place is crawling with minivans, bike racks and aerobars - and one can only wonder at what locals think, even in this 8th year. There are a few well established hangouts and Jenn and I found one of the prime spots - Barley Brown's Brew Pub. With a choice from nachos to burgers to eggplant Parmesan, with loads of linguini on the side, its definitely a cyclists eatery - oh, and they have their own half dozen brews as well. They have one IPA at 9.8% - I'll save it for Sunday night after Stage 4 to wash away the climbing pain.

I'm really psyched about this race - partially because of the course - its incredibly gorgeous here. It's just not that often you are going to pack up the ride and head 5 hours east from all we have in Portland to wander these back roads, but the race is a great excuse. Driving in late afternoon really made me want to jump on the bike and ride - seems I'm not alone. Race check-in was 6-9 tonight and seems half the riders road to the Baker City High School - jitters, you could feel the legs wanting to spin. In front of Barley Brown's riders cruising up and down mainstreet on every two-wheeled race configuration imaginable. And for those who had spun enough to put the jitters to bed - they were lining up for a table at Barley Brown's. Those jitters will all work themselves out on the road for 72.9 miles and 6,515 vert tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

One last TT test before Elkhorn

The light tonight on Sauvie Island was amazing - great for a last TT test and brilliant for a photographer's eyes and soul!

"Stay out of the wind and then climb for your life."

Okay, sage advice. Now do I have the legs?

Off for the Elkhorn Classic Stage (four of them) race tomorrow morning. Excited, because this is what I targeted many months ago, but also because it would be great to put to work all I have been learning in this first year of racing - like how to definitely keep my nose outta-the-wind and still make the break when the right selection hits the gas. That was the year's goal - learn, learn, more learning - then see what I can do with it next year. The learning has definitely been a curve upwards - life IN the peloton is a little different than sitting there WATCHING the peloton and second guessing Paul and Phil. Thanks to Scott Powell and Hilary Billington (Team Lip Smackers) and all you have shared with me this season! To the "Kids" I'll try and do US proud (if not, you can find me up the road in the Terminal Gravity Brew Pub at Enterprise :").

I'll drop a note here each night on how the day went and how the legs and head feel. Oh, and a few photos as well - especially from the Kiddies Crit on Saturday. Look for more photos and other bit of cycling flotsam on my site - Bicycling Northwest.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bar-ly Edible

Pro cyclists and energy bars - like chips and salsa - and the image of success must work because there we are at bike shop and grocery store buying those little packets of anti-bonk like alien abducted zombies. But do they (the Pros) really like em? One of my favorite quotes from George Hincapie back in the Discovery days was referencing the food in the musette bag - "oh, I love it when there's a snickers in there" - wait! Snickers? Not Cliff or Hammer or Powerbar? Yip, you got it, just the plain ol' five-n-dime candy. Because it taste like FOOD!!

So this is mostly for the newbies who might stress about this on your first big club ride or long awaited inaugural century - get the one you can stomach and puts a smile on your face :"). Think about it - if you eat it and you like it, it will probably stay down - verses the one that turns your stomach a mile after the feed station you so generously paid for.

PS - I bounce every few months to a different bar - mostly taste and swallowability. My two current favorites are pictured above - Hammer (almond raisin @ 220cals w/10g protein) and Balance (carmel nut blast @ 210cals w/a whopping 15g protein). The Hammer is definitely one of easiest bars going down, and taste is okay. Balance nut blast is mostly a "chocolate & carmel" blast - like eating that Hincapie snicker.

About that Menchov crash in the Giro

Okay, it came up again yesterday in conversation with Heidi - about the tenth time with various folks over the past couple weeks. The Menchov crash in the final stage TT on the damp cobbles in Rome was the capper to a Giro d'Italia that put the Tour on notice: shift gears and get more creative ASO. So for everone wanting to relive it one more time - great recap from the front seat in VeloNews - enjoy!

The man who saved the day ... and the Giro

'I wasn’t going to let the team lose the Giro in the final kilometer.'

Naked Cycling... hmmm, maybe not such a great idea

Last Saturday here in Portland was great - cool upper 60's and warming - perfect morning for a hard training ride - 65miles and 6k+ vertical with a few of the usual group of 'the Kids'. Got out on Skyline to the west and raced up and down enough of the regular climbs to deserve the post-ride-pint(s). So the plan was to head over to Amnesia Brewing on Mississippi Street; it could also double as a staging area for photographing happenings at the annual Cirque du Cycling bike street fair and crit.

We were just settling into the second pint when
Chris bursts out "Ger, get out there!" I swiveled from my pint of Desolation IPA to a street full of naked people - ON BIKES! Awesome (I thought). I bolted into the street with camera in hand. Cirque du Cycling just lived up to the city's credo "Keep Portland Weird", or at least in this case barely weird. I love this city for it's version of 'normalcy' and it's embrace of most things, especially the bike. And nakedness, I'm cool with that too, until one of the participants rose, with exuberance from the saddle and... ya, not such a pretty sight.

That's when I decided naked and cycling are two things that just don't work together. Listen I know there are those, NCs and non, who might disagree, in fact my good friend Joni just yesterday thought it was worth giving a go (she's a newbie rider) at which Heidi (she's not a newbie - check out her site The Everyday Athlete) and I adamantly disagreed. We also thought naked bike riding was maybe not a great subject for Heidi's Oregonian column - why encourage this - maybe not a great idea!

PS - the rest of the CdC was very cool - check out the slide show for a few images