Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Price of old data

Last night the weather was very mild for late July (65 degrees) and begged an after work ride. I also needed some miles to break 700 ridden in a month. Using a book from the library Best Bike Rides Around Portland, I picked a route that looked interesting

The route was modified to originate and end at my front door plus on route I decided to reverse the ride so that the nicest part would be saved for last.

The first half of my ride would go down the Springwater Corridor and then skirt Clackamas to the west down to High Rocks area of Gladstone. The book referred to a pedestrian bridge over the Clackamas River that looked excellent. The ride to get to the bridge was not as near as I anticipated. Mostly the shoulders were wide and the pavement good.

The problem arose when I got to the bridge and it was barricaded off for 'repairs'. So much for the nice half of the ride. I asked a woman walking past and she said the bridge had been closed for years.

That is what I get for not checking the info from a book written 17 years ago.

As I rode the Springwater Corridor trail on an aluminum frame bike I once again steamed about the terrible paving. Was this thing terrible from the beginning or did it decay to this terrible state over time? If it was bad from the start, how did it get approved? If it went to garbage over time, why was the contractor not sued to fix it? In my opinion there is some corruption or incompotence in the Portland City Hall regarding roads and paving.

Overall the ride was good and it put me 40 miles closer to my mileage goal.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Setting goals

Goals seem to be a great motivator for me. I am so goal driven that I create goals when there is no need to. Here are 3 related to cycling that I am working on.

1. Ride every rural through road in Western Lewis County. I have informally added all of Lewis County and Cowlitz and Thurston to that list since I am getting close to meeting my goal.
Below is a Google custom map that tracks this goal.

View Larger Map

2. Ride over 5,000 miles this year. has a goals section where you can set a goal and track the progress.
Here is mine so far.
2008 5K Edit Remove
5000.00 mi between Tue, Jan 1, 2008 and Wed, Dec 31, 2008
Progress: 64%
3204.73 mi at 12.80 mi/h
  • A distance of 1795.27 mi remains.
  • At current average speed, 140.3 hours of ride time required.
  • An average daily distance of 11.22 mi required.
  • You should have completed a distance of 2827.87 mi by today.
3. Monthly mileage goals.
I set a goal every month for distance.
The distance goals often get me on the bike for no other reason than to rack up some more miles towards my goal. Heaven forbid, that I should every get behind on one.

The goals also spice up riding, they add an extra feeling of accomplishment. Now, if I could convince myself to set a weight loss goal....

Monday, July 14, 2008

Chehalis to Gresham (CTG)

I decided to go ahead with the ride. My desire to ride it was greater than my distaste for the STP.
Group rides are not my thing and such a large group ride is even less interesting to me. I prefer just tooling along and getting lost in the surroundings and stopping when I feel like stopping. Having a constant stream of cyclists deters my enjoyment since I have to pay close attention to the road and the other cyclists. Stopping becomes more complicated, is the stop mobbed with people, are there lines for the bathroom. Starting is complicated too, you have to time your start. Even riding is harder, there were many times where someone would pass me and slow down or pull out in front of my and break my rhythm.
The weather forecast was for 90 plus temperatures. I decided to make an early start of the ride to beat the heat and if possible get ahead of the pack of riders (at least for a while). I started out at 5:07 AM, with 46 degree temperatures. I began the ride just wearing, sandals, shorts and a sleeveless and got pretty cold. Temperatures were going to climb soon so it was not a big deal. The route took my usual south plan to cross I-5 on park. On Meier Road I came upon a fresh deer carcass with a large vulture standing over it. I tried to get a pic of it with my iPhone camera but the vulture would not let me get THAT close.
Exploring Military road was part of the route. I was not expecting it to be very nice but was well pleased with the southern half. Lots of nice wooded sections and ridge views. I will have to work in more routes that include S Military Rd.
At the intersection with SR 506, my route combined with the STP route. One of the first bikes I encountered was a tandem with a radio attached to it. Fortunately, after passing them, I did not see them again and nobody else had a radio. Riding SR 411 with all those other riders was not my idea of fun at all, the previous time riding it was way nicer.
Surprisingly, then I got to Riverside park in Kelso, I was expecting to wait in line for the restroom and deal with the mobs but they were all herded into the south part of the park and I had the north side to myself.
Continuing on, the bridge crossing was tough because it was single file and I did not want to hold the people behind me up so I pushed harder than I wanted to. On the other side the tailwinds were blowing pretty good so it was easy to rest and ride. The pace really picked up and I sailed along at about 17 mph average for the next 30 miles with a stop at Prescott Beach park to eat lunch and fill water bottles. I had the park to myself.
After Scapoose, the tailwind died, the heat was in full swing and the terrain got a little bit more hilly. Combined with it being near the end, riders started to really slow down and many were on the wayside. I slowed my pace and stopped to make sure I was still sweating (not dehydrated).
Once on the edge of Portland, there is a tap by City of Portland, I filled up on water, wet down my head and set out. Most of the final approach is downhill or flat and I blazed into town.
Finishing time for 100 miles was 6:54 riding time and 8:01 clock time.
The final 11 miles to my apt I took real slow and stopped to hang out in a shady park and get dinner.
I arrived at 3:36.

Up to Oly for a BBQ

On Saturday, I rode up to Oly for a Barbeque at Alx's sisters house. This ride was unremarkable except for 2 things.
The Thurston County portion of SR 507 was just chip and sealed. It is amazing how much extra soreness gets transferred to your rear end, riding on this kind of surface.
The main the to remark upon is this was STP (Seattle to Portland) weekend and there were 10,000 riders heading south while I was heading north. I grew quite tired of hearing "Your going the wrong way". I was annoyed seeing them ride 4 abreast and block traffic which turns motorists into anti-cyclists. I was vexed to see lots of 'energy' product packets discarded on the roads and paths.
Worst of all though, was riding north on the  Tenino-Yelm bike path upstream of them.
They took over the whole thing, as if being in the STP entitled them to take everyone else's use of the facilities. I vowed to avoid the STP route on the ride weekend next year. Kinda ironic that it is bikes that would keep me off the road and not cars.
Once I turned off onto the Chehalis Western bike path, I was so relieved and the ride enjoyment shot up and my stress started to dissipate. Being around the STP riders was bad enough that I contemplated cancelling my planned ride to Gresham the next day since it was traversing the route of STP most of the way.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

King Road ride

Monday's ride explored a road that I have been wanting to ride for several months and finally got to it. King Road connects the Boistfort valley with Winlock. In order to get there you have to make it up and over the 1000' Buckhorn Hill. The climb is unpaved, which is good but also bad.
I say it is good because I do not like to see the planet paved. The bad rating is because this section of road is remote enough to make the ride free of human noise where it not for my tire on gravel.

The ride started out at 7AM and was a rather cool morning of 46 degrees with light fog. I wore some pedal pushers and socks. A long sleeve and vest over the sleeveless top rounded out the cold compensation. But upon setting out, I was thinking maybe I should have broke out some of my winter gear. Brrrr

The route plan was to head out on SR 6 to pick up SR 506 at Boistfort Rd. Near the turn, my hamstrings were getting tight and so I pulled off to take a stretch.

Many strange things can be found discarded on the sides of roads but my find here was one of the stranger ones: a pasta machine.

After turning onto SR 506, the road soon crosses over the South Fork Chehalis River. On the bridge, I spotted a beaver or nutria swimming in the water. It noticed me and submurged when I stopped to look.

The turn off to King Rd is shortly after Curtis, but I go lost in the scenery and passed it. On a whim, I decided to see what was down Beaver Creek Rd. The beginning portion passes fields and then a logged over section. A bit beyond, there are some nice homesteads and one new one. The new house was home to 3 loose and rather large dogs who gave me a bit of trouble but I managed to keep them off.

I then backtracked to King Rd and started down. I was not at all dissapointed. It immediately made it in my top 5 beautiful roads to ride. A few miles in the pavement stops. I came upon a deer in the road, when I tried to ride past it, it fled up the road in front. I got tired to scaring it, so I stopped and waited for it to walk off into the woods. Once the climb up Buckhorn Mtn began, the grade was gentle enough to make the climb not ardous. Additionally, the route was mostly heavily forested and shelterd from the sun.
The pavement returns not too far into the descent and the upper part is spectacular. As the elevation drops human blight increases. So far, I felt sluggish and made slow progress. I also started late, so I decided to take Sears Road to shorten the ride. This road begins in a deforested section and goes under power lines but ends back in the forest where it connects to Hale Rd.
I stopped and picked up a deer skull on the side of the road for the kids to see. While doing so, I saw another skull a couple feet away, this one was a gopher, I believe.

Hale descends to Tennessee Rd at Evaline, I decided to continue to SR 603 then take Jordan to Mill through Napavine and down Rush to Neuwaukum Valley Rd. I am trying to ride all of the rural though roads in western Lewis County and this route would finish off Hale and 603 and pick up Mill Road. On 603, I saved a snake from getting killed on the road. It was a very healthy youngster and it quickly fled to the bushes.
Mill Road was interesting, the outer portion is isolated feeling even close into Napavine, but then you come around a corner and are at a lumber mill (hence the name of the road). The rest of the ride was unevent and into strong headwind.
Total miles :40

July 4th ride toTacoma

We made our annual trip to Alx brothers house for the 4th. I rode it.
This time the route that I created was way better and safer. The weather was near perfect too.
Temperatures hung around 61 until getting into Tacoma and I had a light drizzle/rain for about an hour and half while riding through Tenino up past Yelm.
Some notable events on the ride:
I was passed on Reservation Rd by a large group of Harley bikers and they all gave me a salute while passing me.
On Old Pacific Highway a bird and butterfly flew right in front of me in a swirling, twisting struggle.
While I watched the butterfly managed to avoid getting eaten.
I also got to see a dragonfly grab a ladybug out of the air in Tacoma.

Here is the cue sheet
Cumulative Distance Where Notes Direction Elevation
0mi 0mi
Head towards Centralia on Market E 77° 216.5ft
5.43mi 5.43mi
Continue on SR 507 to Tenino NNW 360° 183.7ft
16.77mi 11.33mi
R on Old 99 E 82° 269ft
16.9mi 0.13mi
R on Park Ave NE 38° 269ft
17.22mi 0.32mi
At the Park get on Bike Path ESE 90° 278.9ft
31.35mi 14.14mi
At end of bike path cross parking lot and L on Yelm Hwy NW 309° 354.3ft
37.95mi 6.59mi
R on Reservation Rd NE 34° 292ft
40.86mi 2.91mi
R on Old Pacific Hwy NE 28° 52.5ft
44.38mi 3.52mi
Get on I-5 N and go past weigh station to Exit 118 NE 41° 229.7ft
45.99mi 1.62mi
Center Drive NNW 340° 252.6ft
49.16mi 3.16mi
L on Dupont Steilacoom Hwy NNE 236.2ft
53.78mi 4.62mi
R on Rainier E 85° 72.2ft
54.2mi 0.42mi
L on Balch NNW 326° 108.3ft
54.26mi 0.06mi
R on Lafayette continue as Chambers Creek ENE 54° 62.3ft
57.03mi 2.77mi
L on 64th W 270° 252.6ft
57.41mi 0.39mi
R on GrandView N 226.4ft
60.25mi 2.84mi
R on 27th S 161° 193.6ft
60.51mi 0.26mi
L on Sunset NNW 359° 255.9ft
61.7mi 1.18mi
R on 6th ESE 108° 137.8ft
62.31mi 0.62mi
Cross Park & Ride lot and right on Trail NNE 334.6ft
62.49mi 0.18mi
R on Scott Pierson Trail ESE 95° 298.6ft
62.63mi 0.14mi
L on Skyline cross Ped bridge and continue N 328.1ft
63.14mi 0.52mi
R on 17th ESE 105° 364.2ft
64.08mi 0.93mi
L on Shirley NNW 359° 397ft
64.54mi 0.46mi
R on 30th E 82° 426.5ft
66.17mi 1.63mi
L on Cedar enter Alley on right NNW 332° 275.6ft

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Chehalis to Portland

On Sunday I did the ride I have been contemplating for months. The day was forecast to be quite hot (90's) so I set out at 5:50 AM.
It was 62 degrees and the roads were empty. I felt strong and prepared. I stated my ride in shorts and a sleeveless top and was well coated in sunscreen. The plan was to cover as much ground without overdoing it.
I chose a route that would cover some roads that I have wanted to ride for quite some time. Plus I would pick up some more roads in SW Lewis County. To start, I would head south on Jackson Hwy and then pick up Coulson Rd off of SR 508. Coulson is a nice road and soon I was crossing over SR 12. The neighborhood degrades in this area and I passed a lot of unkempt homes. At Park Rd there is an overpass on I-5, it was so infrequently used that there were weeds growing in the seams of the road here. The route continued on Mienkler and Nevil roads into Winlock.
At Winlock I made a bathroom stop and filled my water bottles. The ride headed south on Winlock-Vader Rd and the sun was starting to feel a little warm. Halfway down the road, 2 dogs came after me, one from the front and one behind. My Halt spray took care of the trailing dog and a firm command solved the other one.
The road ends at a store, I borrowed some of their shade and ate an egg salad sandwich that I had got at Winlock Egg Days on Saturday. SR 506 climbs out of Vader and connects with SR 411 (Westside Hwy) here. This was one road that I was excited to ride. It did not disappoint. Lots of good scenery and nice riding. Most of the road was in shade so I comfortably cruised along thinking that I was going to have a fairly easy day.
Halfway down this road I needed to make a pit stop and there was a pull off area with some paths to the river that looked like a place to stop. I pulled off and rode to the back side of some trees. As I was stopping a branch laying on the ground, popped up and wedged through my spokes. If I had been going any speed, it would have done some damage. Whew!
Toward then end of the road, I cam upon a rooster scratching on the side of the road. He was beautiful and would have probably won a prize at the fair. He will probably end up a road pancake or in a coyote's stomach.
I reached my first planned rest at Riverside County Park at 9:30. This stop is at 47 miles which put me close to half-way. My mood was great, energy was great and the weather was still mild. I ate a banana, a hash brown and drank a bunch. Then refilled my water bottles with Gatorade mix in one. Now was also good time to reapply sunblock.
Riding into Kelso was not as bad as I had figured it would be. Yes there were not really much bike infrastructure, but on a Sunday morning, traffic was light. I decided to continue up the main road to cross I-5. Once on S Kelso Drive, the shoulder was covered in debris but the pavement was smooth and the shoulder wide. This route continues as Old WA-99 and the shoulder goes away but so does most of the traffic as well. The heat was quickly mounting now and any shade was a real relief. The sad part is just as the shade was most needed it was becoming less and less. This ride would be much better as a South to North in high temperatures.
After passing through Carrols, the road follows along the cliff that overlooks the Columbia and required a couple of stops for pictures. There was a lot of Cicada noise from the trees here, which was my first time hearing them and knowing what it was. I can see why the Mid-Westerners comment on the sound, it gets in your head. It is somewhat like the sound from a bike rear wheel when coasting but in a higher register.
After the descent into Kalama, I stopped at the little park at the south end of town and ate 2 bean and cheese burritos and filled my water bottles again. I also packed my helmet (too hot now) and tied a wet handkerchief on my head.
The roads south of Kalama seemed to confuse me and I spent a lot of time stopping to recheck my route. At one stop, I had pulled over into a gravel area. Out of laziness, I tried to ride to the pavement and my front wheel washed out and I re sprained my wrist a little.
The heat was starting to get punishing now and the big climb up Lane Rd was waiting for me.
When I finally got there, it was much more than I anticipated in difficulty. The steepness and length of the climb was pretty decent but coupled with the heat and the lack of trees to provide shade made this a grueling push of my bike up the hill in 100 ft sections.
It took me probably an hour to make it to the summit. I was very grateful for the downhill section into Woodland.
The temperature in Woodland was 91 and I was feeling it fully. I stopped at a gas station to fill water bottles and get some rest and a chocolate milk. There were worries at this point about completing the ride. I still had 30 miles to go, I was so tired that the easiest thing was to keep going since I did not have to make any decisions that way.
After dragging along and getting to La Center the clouds had started forming and the sun went behind a cloud. This was such a huge spirit lifting! The clouds felt like a sign that I was going to make it. On Timman Rd, I laid down on the shoulder and rested and ate a PowerGel packet and some candy.
The ride through north Clark County was once again the worst part of my ride. The roads have no shoulder and several vehicles passed very close and fast. My emotional state was very poor at this point and the rush of fear from the dangerous passes got me very angry. To top it off, a truck passed and the passenger of the truck sprayed me with what I hoped was just water but sent me over the edge. I stopped and raged on the shoulder and vowed never to ride in Clark County again before continuing the ride.
Once on 72nd, I had my climbing and scary road situation behind me and started to make good time again. But then a different pickup passed me and I felt water on my face and my first thought was that I got sprayed again. But then I realized that it started raining, I laughed and reveled in the wash of cool rain. This was a great pick me up.
I limped through Vancouver and over the I-205 bridge. Once on Marine Drive the lightning started and the rain grew more intense. I was so tired that I longed to be done. The last few miles felt like forever but after 11:50 I had arrived! What a feeling of accomplishment.
Total distance: 114.75 miles.
After ride thoughts:
After doing a lot of 50-75 mile rides and a couple over 100 miles, it seems that the crossover point where the rides go from complete fun to a drudge is about 65-70 miles. For a couple days after this ride, my thoughts were to keep my distances down to below 70 miles but by Wednesday, I was planning another century ride. The extra distance may not be fun but the challenge is an attraction of it's own.