Monday, 30 June 2008

World Harmony Run

Thursday I was riding across Stevens Pass with a group of friends (I'll blog about that later when I can filch some pictures from the other participants) when I noticed a guy standing in the shade with a torch. Hmmm. Further down the road I saw a runner carrying a torch so I crossed over to find out what it was all about. He was running very smoothly with a huge grin on his face. He told me about the World Harmony Run (more info here: He even let me carry the torch. How fun to encounter other folks out enjoying the beauty of the outdoors - only these guys had a much bigger agenda then just having fun.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Permanently RAMRODed

Among the ever expanding list of riding opportunities offered by SIR is a Permanent (a brevet that can be ridden at any time) that cover the RAMROD route. Mark Thomas felt a need to ride that route and put a call out to any interested parties earlier in the week. Friday afternoon I was finally feeling confident enough in the weather forecasts to call and say Robin and I would join him. With a 4-day mountain pass tour coming up and a lack of climbing in my legs I needed a big ride day. Robin and I had ridden the newly opened Stevens Canyon road up to Paradise 2 weeks before along with 2 of his co-workers and the girlfriend of one. We got drenched. Of course that was one of the few nice Saturdays we'd had in these parts this year but Mt. Rainier is a law unto itself when in comes to weather and it made sure we knew it that day.

I guess we paid our dues on the Stevens Canyon day because, although thick dark clouds loomed as we drove to Enumclaw we were not long on the road before large patches of blue took over and even more quickly gave way to all out blue sky and warm sun. 6 of us rode together out of Enumclaw: me and Robin, Mark T, Mark Roberts, Steve Davis, and Rick Blacker. Wait a minute - looks like Amy and her boyz ride again! As we approached Ashford magnificent Mt. Rainier towered over us with her glacier and snow covered flanks contrasting sharply with the tree covered lowlands and bright blue skies. Wow!

Mark driving towards dark clouds.

Relaxing in Ashford. Rick is feeling groovy.

After entering Mt. Rainier National Park we all settled into our own climbing pace enjoying the beautiful scenery and low traffic. Snow was in evidence even a the lowest elevations due to the huge snowpack this winter and the 2-3 feet added just the weekend before.

Rick enjoying the views. Tatoosh Range from Paradise

Avalanche path in Stevens Canyon

Steve waiting for the group before the climb up Cayuse.

Grove of the Patriachs

A quick descent of Stevens Canyon soon immersed us once again in the joys of climbing. I, however, wasn't quite so joyful as on the earlier climbs of the day. My legs were tired and by back getting tight but luckily the mountain continued to treat us to her show of natural wonders. At my much slower pace I enjoyed the numerous water falls, forest smells, chipmunk antics, and several glacier lillies. Mark T and I were the last to summit Cayuse Pass and I was pleasantly surprised to see the rest of the posse waiting with patience (and a chill) for our arrival. Back on with the extra clothes and a charge down to Greenwater for our penultimate control of the day. Despite the dropping temperatures a little celebratory ice cream hit the spot before we made a six bike paceline charge back to Enumclaw.

Mark T and Amy at the Grove of the Patriachs - last climb still to come.

What a terrific day and what a tip top way to experience my first Permanent. Thanks to my fun, patient, and most importantly STRONG riding companions.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Driving Lessons - Do It RIGHT!

Pet peeve: 2, 3, 4, and even 5 lanes of traffic all moving at the same speed. I'm not talking about during rush hour traffic jam. I'm talking about the typical American driver who enters a multi-lane roadway and immediately moves over to whatever lane he or she thinks she needs to be in - with absolutely no relation to what speed current traffic is traveling. I have observed that most of us have an almost visceral fear of being "trapped" by anyone else - God forbid we are held up one nanosecond by someone else. So, despite these words taken directly from the Washington State Driver's Guide: "On a road with two or more lanes traveling in the same direction, stay in the right lane except to pass. On a road with three or more lanes traveling in the same direction, if there is a lot of entering or exiting traffic, use the center travel lane." (my emphasis) I rarely see any drivers move to the right when there is room for them to do so after passing or worse, they are cruising along obliviously going the same speed as the vehicle in the lane to their right, or even 2 or 3 lanes to their right. Taking this fear of the right to the extreme I have observed the bizarre behavior of drivers dropping passengers at Sea-Tac Airport from the 2nd or 3rd lane out from the curb - even if there is space at the curb! I guess they think someone will pull up on their left and they will be trapped, perhaps forever, listening to the recorded airport drive announcements again and again and again.

People, PLEASE - there is a better way! If you want to stay out of the furthest right lane to allow free access for those entering and exiting well bully for you but don't drive in the furthest left lane or lanes unless you are actively passing someone. After you have passed, move right. If you see another car come up behind you traveling faster than you, move right. If you are being passed on the right, move right. If a driver behind you flashes their lights at you, move right. Once we are all on the same page with this there will always be the opportunity to move left to pass a driver in front of you. Really, it works, I've seen it in action. Oh, and please use your turn indicators - it is safe and polite - 2 things we could all use more of on our highways and biways.

Now exiting the soap box. Comments in support of my position only accepted. Happy driving!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Amy and Her GIRLZ

Over the weekend I was one of 4 coaches at a women's bicycle camp in Plain, just outside of Leavenworth. Lisa and Bridgett did a great job of putting together an agenda to help these mostly beginner cyclists face their fears and move to a new level of confidence. It was fun to be there and watch them all blossom. We all stayed together in one house so in addition to the presentations, drills, and riding together we also got to have time to relax and socialize. Lisa's mom, Virginia, served as "den mother" and kept us all fed. The last bit on Sunday included a presentation on climbing skills and then we all rolled out to conquer Chumstick Pass. Unfortunately for Sarah she broke her chain at the start of the climb and I was recruited to fix it. I had just demonstrated on Saturday how to use a chain tool so here was a great opportunity to use my "skills" in real life. I was so excited that I actually got the kinked link out and got the chain back together without a stiff link until I realized I had misrouted the chain through the rear derallieur. As Sarah's chain didn't have a master link (and I didn't know to simply remove the pulley to reroute the chain) I detached another link but this time I pushed the pin all the way out and then it was "game over". I was about the transfer my chain to her bike but she said we were out of time and everyone would be heading back to the lodge soon. We took the "walk of shame" through downtown Plain before Lisa caught up to us and sprinted onward to retrieve the truck and get Sarah and her bike back to the lodge. Sarah was totally sweet and not upset about not doing the climb but I felt like a turd. My lesson learned is that I'm going to carry a spare master link with me from now on in my seat bag.

We had pretty good weather and it was stellar compared to the west side of the mountains. I got to do a small loop on Friday with Peggy before the other gals showed up and on Sunday Robin and Mark Thomas picked me up with the plan that we would conquer a partly unpaved route from Entiat to Lake Chelan. Mark had stayed up all the night before supporting SIR's 600k ride so he was very tired and decided to forgo a ride. Robin and I switched plans then and just did a climb over Old Blewitt Rd. It was lovely and warm and followed by a burger and pie a la mode at the Liberty Cafe.

I'll post some pictures if I get some from the other women at the camp.