Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Picture Post for Hurricane Ridge Weekend Adventure -- by Dwaine

Day one of the Cyclopath Hurricane Ridge adventure weekend was the easy ride. We followed the Olympic Discovery Trail from our campground to downtown Sequim and back. The pace was moderate. There was little climbing. We had great conversations. Near the end of the day we crossed this bridge. The top deck is for motorized traffic and the bottom deck, from which this frame was captured, is reserved for pedestrians and cyclists. The Elwha river (now unimpeded) flows below.

Sunday was reserved for the 'big climb'. We retraced our steps to the Port Angeles waterfront and then pointed our bikes upward. Getting through town took just a few minutes and about the time the sun came up we were climbing in earnest. When this shot was snapped the sun was just peaking over the horizon and partly shrouded in mist. The roads were damp. Our spirits were high as we climbed at a nice conversational pace. The road was nearly devoid of other travelers. Lovely.

The road to Hurricane Ridge included a few tunnels for dramatic effect. At this point in the ride the pace was manageable and the photographer fell back, snapped a few shots, and was able to close the gap. Some number of minutes later, well before the summit, the pace quickened and the camera remained pocketed.

Early in the day, before most Hurricane Ridge visitors had eaten breakfast, under the watchful eye of Eagle Point, three accomplished climbers stood near a weathered wooden picnic table and waited for the Canon self timer to earn it's keep. Click. Done.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

RAMROD 2018: Mike Hassur's Account

Author:  Mike Hassur

I had done a lot of thinking about RAMROD 2018 before the event.  The weather forecast predicted temperatures in the 90's which suggested that this had the potential to be a grueling (or gruesome?) experience.  Given that forecast, there was no way this RAMROD was going to be about speed for me.  It was going to be about making sure that I ate and drank at a frequent and consistent rate.  For example, the first water/snack stop was Eatonville which was 36 miles from the start.  My plan was to drink both bottles by the time I had reached Eatonville and to drink at least one to two bottles between subsequent water stops (depending on the time between those stops).  Also, I planned to eat food/snacks at any stops that had food (in addition to the 16 "goo packs" that I was carrying).

Leon and I drove together to Enumclaw with the intention of meeting Les, John, and Adam at the starting line around 5:10 AM and beginning our ride around 5:15 AM.  We arrived in Enumclaw, parked at McDonald Park, unpacked our bikes and rode to Thunder Mountain Middle School to find Les, John, and Mike Smith waiting for us - but no Adam.  When 5:15 AM arrived, still no Adam.  We started the ride knowing that Adam would catch up with us.

It wasn't long before we found ourselves in a paceline consisting of the five of us plus a rider, Brian, who had travelled from Indiana to do RAMROD.  Brian had a very distinctive helmet with numerous small white lights on the front and red ones on the back.  There was no missing him. 

Our group proceeded at a brisk and comfortable pace through Buckley and South Prairie.  I believe that it was between South Prairie and Orville Road that a group moving significantly faster passed us.  Since I was in "energy conservation mode", I wasn't keen on following this faster group; but one of our group said "let's catch on" and away we went.  We were moving pretty fast and passing other groups (sometimes passing those other groups with vehicles coming behind us).  This went on until the left turn onto Oreville Road near Orting.  Leon lost control and crashed while making the left turn (his crash was due to a front tire that deflated rather suddenly).  Our   group stopped to help Leon and to wait while his tire got changed.  It was during this stop that Adam caught us.  He stopped and waited with us until Leon was ready.

After Leon's tire was repaired, our group took off again.  We stayed together past Lake Kapowsin, Lake Ohop, and into Eatonville.  In Eatonville, Leon and Mike Smith kept going while the rest of us stopped to refill water bottles and hit the bathrooms.  Les, John, Adam, and I rode together (sometimes with other groups and sometimes just our group) until we reached the food stop just east of Ashford.  After a quick stop at the food area, we were back on the road.

When we entered the national park, John and Adam went on ahead while Les and I made our way up together.  It didn't seem like we were going very fast, but we seemed to be passing a lot of people on the climb to Inspiration Point.  During that climb to Inspiration Point, I was going a little faster than I should have been.  Les and I had passed quite a few people when I realized that Les was no longer with me.  I, also, realized that I was wasting energy that I would need later in the ride.  I turned around, rode back to Les (who was only a short distance behind me), and made sure that I followed his pace the rest of the way up the climb.  In retrospect, the decision to follow Les' pace may have been the difference between me finishing the ride and me not making it.  Thanks, Les.

At Inspiration Point, we found Leon and Mike Smith.  All four of us left together and headed to Reflection Lake and down through Stevens Canyon.  The descent from Reflection Lake was uneventful though I didn't enjoy the scenery in Stevens Canyon as much as I usually do as I was intent on resting my legs and drinking fluids.

Les and I arrived at the Box Canyon food stop just ahead of Leon and Mike S.  We hit the bathrooms, gobbled down some food and refilled water bottles.  Leon and Mike S. left a little bit ahead of us, and we caught up with them just before beginning the ascent up the west side of Backbone Ridge.  At this point of the ride, Leon was having significant problems with cramping in both legs and was talking about possibly abandoning the ride.  I was certain that he was finished.  Les, Mike S. and I rode together up Backbone Ridge and down the other side.  Soon, we found ourselves beginning the climb up Cayuse Pass.  Once again, even though we didn't seem to be going very fast, we seemed to be passing a fair number of riders and not being passed.  Les and Mike S. seemed to be riding well, and I seemed to be doing okay considering the climb and the heat.  We hit the water stop located about half-way up Cayuse which was none too soon for me as I needed the bathroom.  I rushed into to "johnny on the job" and did my business only to discover - IT WAS OUT OF TOILET PAPER!!  Shit (no pun intended)!!!  I called out to Les to check the other toilet.  It had toilet paper - whew!!  We refilled our water bottles and headed up.  At the top, it was a quick fill of a water bottle and we headed toward "the deli".

I believe that this descent of the north side of Cayuse Pass is the most dangerous thing that I do in RAMROD.  We are tired and not processing information as quickly as usual after 110 miles and a ton of climbing, and we are heading off of a pass at close to 40 mph!!  I thought about this as I descended and tried to be as alert and careful as possible.  Thankfully, our descent was uneventful, and we were soon arriving at The RAMROD DELI.  This stop was not quick.  We ate sandwiches and cookies and drank V8 juice and soda.  It was much needed.  The whole time that we were at the deli, I had my eye on a group of riders in rainbow jerseys.  I'm not sure if we arrived first or if they did, but I knew they were pretty fast and would be an ideal group to follow back to Enumclaw.  As some of them moved toward their bikes, we got to our bikes and headed out.  We got on the road ahead of them and soft-pedaled for a few miles before they caught us.  We jumped in behind them, and things proceeded just as we had hoped.  They were content to rotate through their group to lead the paceline leaving us to follow along at a fast (but manageable) speed.  This arrangement could have and should have lasted all the way to the finish line, but it didn't.  A couple of miles before Greenwater, we passed two riders who forced their way into the middle of the paceline.  They, eventually, disrupted the paceline enough that the "rainbow jersey group" stopped to regroup with only their members leaving our group and the two riders who caused the problem to ride together.  While following one of those riders, Mike S. and I hit a piece of debris in the road that the leading rider failed to point out.  It caused Mike S. to blow a tire and caused us to lose probably 30 minutes.  The silver lining to this fiasco was that Leon (who had not abandoned) caught up with us. 

After Mike S. had repaired his tire, it was just the four of us all the way to the finish line.  Even though I was tired and hot, it was enjoyable doing this last portion of the ride with the other guys.  Before we knew it, we were on the Mud Mountain descent, and I knew we were almost done.  What a nice feeling.

We crossed the finish line together.  Instead of celebrating, all I wanted to do was get the van and head home.

Later, when I had a chance to think more about this ride, I realized how grueling this ride had been.  Basically, everything had gone well (except for the flat tires in our group).  I had done of good job of eating and drinking on a frequent basis, and I had no problem with cramps or bonking.  Yet, in spite of things going nearly perfectly, I was really spent at the end of this ride and had very little left to give.  In the end, I was just glad to be done.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

RAMROD 2018: David Crawford's Account

Author:  David Crawford

I had never done ramrod before this year, but I have done enough hard rides with the Cyclopaths to know what to expect. I knew it would be a difficult ride and I was planning on trying to be in the top 5 to 10 finishers. I knew the biggest hurdle would be the climb over Cayuse. I would need to conserve as much energy as possible up to that point and then be prepared to suffer until the finish.

At that the start it was still dark and dawn was approaching. I met a few other Cyclopaths at the start line. Scott W was planning on starting at 5, as I was. I also saw John and Les, but they were going to be starting a little later. So I started off with Scott and a few other riders. The group got larger as we continued and we were making good time down through South Prairie into Orting. Then along Orville road through Kapowsin and finally into Eatonville. We were in a fairly large group by the time we reached Meridian and I went hard up the first short climb into Eatonville and was riding solo after that. I passed the first water stop and continued out of Eatonville up the climb on Alder Lake Cutoff Rd. A small group of riders caught me on the climb so I upped my pace to match them. They soon slowed and I had dropped them and I was riding alone again. Once I reached highway 7 I slowed my pace to allow the group behind me to catch up, so that we could get a good pace line going. We started with about 5 guys and we were going well, caught a few riders and soon the group was up to about 10. With the slight incline and nice pace we dropped some of the guys and by the time we reached the food stop we were back to 5.

I spent more time at that stop than I wanted but I was going to try and stick with the same guys. It always makes a ride a little easier when you are in a group. They were leaving when I saw Scott W pull in. I was able to chat with him and he wasn't stopping long so we left the food stop together. Once we reached the park entrance I could see the guys I had previously been riding with in front of me. I was able to tempo back up to them, being in a paceline even on a climb does help. By the time we passed Longmire one of the guys upped the pace, I matched him and when he came off the front I saw we had dropped the other three riders and he was dropping back as well. I felt comfortable with my pace, so I just kept going. I would be pretty much be riding solo from here to the finish. I kept the same pace up to Inspiration Point, passing a few more riders along the way, where I briefly stopped to refill my bottles. And on I continued. The descent and spectacular views through Stevens Canyon is my favorite part of the ride.

David finishing 2nd overall
After a short climb up Backbone Ridge, I descended to the Stevens Canyon entrance and headed towards Cayuse. I was feeling good up to this point in the ride, but I knew once I started up Cayuse it was going to hurt. I was not disappointed. As I was climbing Cayuse I could see a blinking red light ahead of me. Another rider. I was slowly gaining ground on him until I eventually passed him. I was completely ignoring my HR by this point because it was higher than I wanted and with the increasing temperatures there was nothing I could do about that. I reached the top of Cayuse, which felt like forever, and after topping off my water began my descent. Once I had completed the descent I started the long grind back to Enumclaw. I had no idea how many people were in front of me or how close anyone was behind me. With the nonstop heat blasting headwind, I was half expecting a group to catch me. This is really the part of the ride where having multiple riders together can make a big impact. I would've welcomed being caught, but as it was, I had to grind the miles out, watching my Garmin slowly tick always the tenths of miles, counting down until I would reach the finish. 

Finally, the Mud Mountain Road turnoff. My water bottles were long empty, but I knew I would get a little break on the Mud Mountain downhill. The road is somewhat rough, and I went down as fast as my nerves would let me. Once at the bottom it was the home stretch and I felt a renewed strength as I completed the ride and finally passed under the finish line. They told me I was the second rider to come in. I rested a bit, had some liquids and an ice cream bar. I was going to wait around to meet up with some of the other Cyclopaths but to be honest, with the heat, I was ready to just head home.

Monday, July 30, 2018

RAMROD 2018: Leon Matz's Account

Author:  Leon Matz

My 2018 Ramrod was very different than any Ramrod I have done over the last 25 years. I hope to not repeat an adventure like I did this year in the future.

After biking 1,400 miles to Colorado Springs in 12 days I sustained to leg issues that troubled me for nearly two weeks before I could get in a few training rides. I then went on a trip with Fran to Savannah, Georgia. We had a wonderful time, so wonderful that I gained 6 lbs in 5 days. I then returned home 3 days before Ramrod, fat and out of shape!

Even though I was nervous about doing Ramrod, I went with the idea of riding with my Cyclopath buddies. I carried my own food and limiting the length of all my stops with the hope of keeping up with my friends.

As we approached Orting and the turn onto Orville Rd, I thought I noticed a slow leak in my front tire. 1/2 way through the turn; my tire totally lost pressure, and I went down sliding along the pavement edge! I was stunned but no broken bones. Dr. Les checked me over and made sure road rash was the only issue. All my Cyclopath buddies patiently waited for me to be checked out and get my tube changed! Lots of riders went streaming by except for Adam who caught up with us at that point. Soon we were back on the road. My hip and neck hurt and a headache soon joined me!

Going up Kapowsin hill I lost contact with the group, but they patiently waited for me at the top.  As we approached Eatonville Mike Hassur and the group decided to do a quick stop. Mike Smith and I kept riding! We did most of the riding from here to the park entry by ourselves. We made a quick stop at Longmire for some water and back we went to climbing! 

I was trying pretty hard but could tell my climbing speed was not like it usually is. About 1/2 way to Inspiration Point, John and Adam passed us with seemingly little effort.
Mike S. left me and went up the road.  At Inspiration Point Mike Hassur and Les caught up with us, and we started to descend Stevens Canyon! Almost immediately, I started getting cramps in both legs in the inside of both Quads. I increased my drinking and tried to stretch and massage to get them to retreat. Why was I cramping on a descent??  Normally I never stop at the Box Canyon food stop, but we all did! I downed 5 Tums tablets, several bananas, some salt and Gatorade. Off we went and the cramps quickly returned. There were times when both legs would cramp at the same time, and it was very painful! At that time I talked to Mike H. about the sweeper vehicles. At that point I thought my day was going to be over. Mike H, Mike S, and Les left me at that point as I was riding very slowly!  I tried to spin in an easy gear to remove the pressure on the leg muscles! I made it to the Backbone Ridge stop hoping for pickle juice or something to help with the cramps! A very nice lady gave me a small bottle of coconut water from her personal supplies! I asked about sweeper vehicles and found out there were 2 but both would not be through here for another 5-6 hours! So off I went praying for the best but fearing the worst!

It wasn’t long, and I was at the water stop at the beginning of Cayuse Pass. Again nothing for cramps other than water! The early part of the climb went fairly well as it was in the shade and not very steep.  I had a stream of riders going by with #’s mostly 600 and 700 (young guys). Memories of most years here, I am the one passing others not being passed! Humbling, but I was grateful to still be riding! The coconut water seemed to rid me temporarily of the cramps! My climbing speed was not great, but I kept focusing on getting to the next water stop. When I made it there, they had no pickle juice but did have plenty of ice! I filled my bottles and my neck tube sock with ice and took off!  Soon I found myself in a good rhythm and passing people who had passed me previously! My effort level was higher even though we were now out of the shade and into the blazing sun!

The next 4 miles were hard, but I felt more like my old self!  At the top, I - once again - pleaded for pickle juice but with no luck!  As I started to descend the cramps returned!  No!!! Please go away!

Shortly I was pulling into the deli; and - YES - they had pickle juice! I downed three cups of it and had a sandwich that included pickles! I was surprised and pleased to see that both Mikes and Les were at the deli! I quickly gobbled my food down and filled my bottles. The thought of being able to ride with them to Enumclaw through the expected headwind was very appealing! As they mounted and started to head out, I grabbed my bike and tried to head out with them but my chain came off and by the time I reached 410 they were about 1/3 mile ahead! I tried to increase my effort to catch them but being too full of food and drink I could make no progress in catching them.  Discouraged I tried to hold out hope that a group would go by that I could catch to perhaps catch up with them!

Oh, here comes a group! The rainbow jersey team! I psyched myself up to jump on the 4 person train but they were too fast for me!  I, then, road probably 15 miles seeing no one!
Finally, a big group of 10 came by but again too fast for me!

Riding alone into the wind when you are this hot and tired is no fun! I tried to not get too discouraged ! I was grateful to not having any cramps since I left the deli!

With about 12 miles to Enumclaw I came around a corner and saw 3 people at the side of the road with 2 jerseys looking like our colors! Yes it was Mike H., Mike S., and Les!  I waited for Smith to fix his blowout and then we headed down the road! I was so grateful to have found them!  Even though I was very tired, I was overjoyed to be riding with them! When we arrived at the finish line, I was told we were in the top 125 to finish and the first double not triple digit numbers to come in!

I made it!

I was convinced 1/2 way through the ride that I was going to have to abandon the ride!
After two chocolate ice cream bars, 3 cookies and two juice cans, I staggered to
Mike’s van!

It had now been over 52 hours since the end of the ride, and I am still very tired and sore! I hope tonight I can sleep on my left side!  My hip is still bothering me - pretty tender from the bruise and road rash!

I hope I don’t have another Ramrod like this one!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

2018_07_07 Triple By-Pass Ride

Author:  Mike Hassur

The start time for this ride was 7:00 AM at The Grove of the Patriarchs which is about a one hour and forty minute drive from our house.  I wanted to get there early, so the plan was to leave our house by 5:00 AM.  I had packed up all of my gear in the van the night before; so things went smoothly, and I was on the road on time.

Driving through Enumclaw at 5:25 AM...

The scenery just getting there can be pretty spectacular if you are paying attention at 5:35 AM (which I, usually, am not)...

Things went better than expected, and I arrived at the Grove of the Patriarchs Parking Lot at 6:20 AM (40 minutes early - perfect!!).  To my surprise, there were already five other vehicles there - AND FOUR OF THEM BELONGED TO PUYALLUP CYCLOPATHS.  Scott, David, Adam, and John greeted me with big grins on their faces.  Les rolled in not long after that.  We gave him a hard time about being "late" even though he was still 20 minutes early...

The parking lot was dominated by Cyclopath vehicles at this hour...

John getting ready...
Scott - ready to go...

"Late" Les - smiling as usual...

Soon, we were heading out and crossing the Ohanapecosh River Bridge which is right next to the parking lot...

Ohanapecosh River:  up river view...
Ohanapecosh River:  down river view...

We passed the Ranger Station on the east side of the national park, turned left on hwy 123, and headed up the south side of Cayuse Pass.  Soon, different groups had formed according to their climbing speed.  David had disappeared up the road.  Les and John were visiting their way up the climb together; and Les, Rex, Scott and Mike were visiting and making their way up together.

Before we knew it, we had reached the top of Cayuse Pass (the visiting helped, and we were climbing pretty fast).  From there, we turned out attention to climbing into the clouds (literally) up Chinook Pass.  At the top of Chinook; we stopped, ate and drank, and took some photos...

View of the road heading down the east side from Chinook Pass...
Les on Chinook Pass...

Scott, John, Adam, Rex, David, and Mike in the clouds on Chinook Pass...

It was pretty cool at this hour on Chinook Pass (high thirties or low forties), so we put on an outer layer of vests or jackets and took off down the east side.  The road had been resurfaced which made the high speeds (up to 40 mph) on the upper part of the descent smooth and fun.

Soon, we had descended far enough that we were out of the clouds and into the sun which made for more comfortable temperatures.  We regrouped at this point and rode in a paceline for approximately 20 miles to Whistlin' Jack's (a combination of gas station, convenience store, and lodge) where we ate, drank, refilled water bottles, and hit the bathroom.

Image result for whistlin' jack lodge

After a relatively brief stop at Whistlin' Jack's, we continued east toward the junction of Hwy 410 and Hwy 12 (near Naches).  This 20 mile section is a gentle downhill (following the Naches River).  It is perfect for having too much fun in fast pacelines and using up energy that will be needed on the long (~30 miles), gradual climb up the east side of White Pass (I knew this, but I did the fast paceline anyway - and paid for it later on White Pass).  This section is, also, interesting because of the relatively sudden change in the scenery.  You are riding along through mountain forests; and, then, before you know it you are suddenly in these arid surroundings...

Just after turning onto Hwy 12 and heading toward White Pass...

After turning onto Hwy 12, it is about 14 miles to our second food, water, and bathroom stop on the trip - The Trout Lodge and Restaurant (sorry, no photos).  After refilling our supplies, we continued the climb toward the summit of White Pass.  We (Les, Scott, Rex and I) started feeling the effects of our earlier exertions before we got to Rimrock Lake which meant that we still had 16-17 miles of climbing before reaching the top - ugh.  After Rimrock Lake; Les, Scott, and I (Rex had fallen back a bit) decided to form a "relaxed" paceline to help us conserve energy by keeping us out of the headwind as much as possible.  We proceeded up the remainder of the climb in this fashion and were pretty spent by the time we reached the convenience store at the top of the pass.

After regrouping at White Pass (and replacing our diminished supplies of food and Gatorade), we sped down the west side of the pass.  At the bottom, we turned onto Hwy 123 which climbed for about six miles before returning us to our starting point at Grove of the Patriarchs.

The parking lot at Grove of the Patriarchs was packed upon our return...

I really enjoyed this ride (most of it - at least) and this group of riders.  It was exhausting, but worth it.

To see all of the photos from this trip, click on the following link:

The next ride on our schedule is RAMROD on July 26th.  Can't wait!!!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Sunrise Picture Post -- by Dwaine

On a certain secret Saturday the last ten miles of the road to Sunrise is closed to motorists and open to cyclists. This is the equivalent to crack cocaine if you are a hill loving Puyallup Cyclopath. We were slipping under the gate to start our first lap at 6:30. It would be another hour and a half before we encountered another non Cyclopath cyclist.

Between laps we refilled our water bottles and posed for pictures.

As the climbing neared it's zenith we searched for a proper stopping point. The group decided that 9k feet of climbing was the goal and we stopped just up the road from Sunrise Point. The photographer asked for visual representations of our accomplishments. Mike flashed nine fingers to represent nine thousand feet of climbing. David showed five fingers for five ascents. We never figured out what Les is signaling...

A job well done. Mike's post ride ritual always seems to include a few minutes sitting under the hatch of his van. My camera caught the joy of removing his hard working cycling shoes.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

2018 Leon Matz: Puyallup to Colorado Trip

4:30 PM on Saturday, June 16, 2018

Last real ride before ride to Colorado Springs!

One of my favorite rides is the Skate Creek loop ride which was scheduled for today! 11 Cyclopaths showed up! The ride goes from just outside Ashford to Paradise then down Stevens Canyon over Backbone ridge and loop around to Packwood then up and over Skate CreekRoad back to the cars! It is a very scenic but challenging ride!I was tempted to do the full ride but with my wife and I leaving Thursday I thought riding only to Paradise and back to the cars would be best! I will leave it up to the group to post info on the ride! I want to focus on my upcoming ride! Thursday about 5 am I will start riding from Puyallup to see my daughter Heather and her husband Frankie in Colorado Springs! Because of some other commitments I have only 12 days to cover the 1,430 miles. A pretty ambitious plan. This adventure is clearly the most difficult thing I have ever tried! Needless to say I am excited to get started but very nervous about it is going to go. My biggest concern is about my neck. I have been in Physical Therapy for 4 weeks and am even trying Accupuncture! The pain usually starts at about 49 miles and gets progressively worse the longer I ride! I have ridden 3 days back to back 100 miles plus but have suffered for several days afterwards. Trying to do 12 days in a row of 120 miles daily probably is unrealistic!Fran and our dog Baxter will be meeting for lunch and overnight so I have that security! If I can only ride 50 each day then that is what I will do!When the weather forecast for next week came out and 90 degree temperatures expected here I was not too excited! That probably means 100 degree temperatures through Eastern Washington Idaho and Montana. Heat like that will make the days longer and harder!My route follows I 90 all the way to Butte Montana then south through Yellowstone and the Tetons. Then angling Southeast to Rawlins, Wyoming then south into Colorado through Breckinridge and over Hoosier Pass 11,500 ft and then east to Colorado Springs .I hope to do a daily post! Your positive thoughts and prayers are greatly welcomed!

4:01 PM on Thursday, June 21, 2018

I Hope today was an Omen for the rest of the trip!

The ride went better than I could have ever expected! Started at 4:50 and road smoothly up 167 to 18. Traffic was heavy but no real issues until I was heavily hocked by a transit bus for absolutely no reason!I am on the shoulder bothering no one and the bus driver just felt it necessary to vent his dislike for cyclists ! I wish it wasn’t that way! It didn’t seem to take long and I was to Tiger Mt. It started to mist and the roads quickly turned wet. The 3 mi climb went smoothly and it wasn’t long and I was on I 90. Lots of trucks went racing by and soon the mist stopped!I spent time reflecting back on the ride Tom Peterson and I did a few years back when we did the Old Courage Classic route! I even remember talking at length about Tacoma Tennis Club and what it was like managing it! It would have been great to have his company!To my amazement my average speed for the trip was over 15 mph when I reached the top of the Pass.Fran and I hand planned on meeting at the Cle Elum exit for a quick lunch and bottle exchange! I had only 30 miles to go and I had over 2 hours to get there and a gentle down hill. I will be early!About 1/2 way around the lake I was waved down by a lady construction worker who explained that I could not ride through the next 4-5 miles because of construction and very limited space!Luckily she offered to give me a ride through that area! A good friend of hers is a cyclist!After I started riding again I started reflecting back 44 years ago when in my little KARMAN Giants I drove this route regularly when I was a student at Central. Doesn’t seem like it was that long ago!As a tennis player in college I hated how the wind would blow every day and always from the NW ! Today it was a huge blessing! The wind was blowing me to Ellensburg!!At the exit before Cle Elum I saw a car pulled over and two people looking my way! I assumed they must be looking at something behind me!I checked my mirror and saw nothing. After I was passed them (going 27)I realized it was a teacher at my school and his son cheering me on!I felt bad I wasn’t able to stop! I stopped at the Cle Elum exit and called Fran! She had been detained and hadn’t left yet!Luckily I had enough food and drink and just kept riding! With the wind and slight decent it was like being in a paceline with the Cyclopaths! It was exciting and fun! I tried not to put in too much effort knowing I have 11 more days of writing!I bet the drivers going by could see my grin!My average speed kept going up and up! Finished in Eburg at 17.5 !From the top of the pass I averaged over 22 mph! Unreal!!!The next was stiff and painful but not horrible so I have survived one day! Won’t be so lucky again!Thanks for all your positive thoughts and prayers! The adventure is off and running!

One of my favorite views on the route at Elk Heights!
Waterfall going up Snoqualmie Pass!
Who is this old guy ready to get on his bike and try and ride 1400 miles in 12 days?

4:15 PM on Friday, June 22, 2018

Day 2 Ellensburg feedlots to the Ritzville wheat fields 114 mile and 3,566 ft of gain and 18.6mph

After yesterday’s fast ride I didn’t expect today’s ride to top the 17.6 mph average but it happened and I am grateful it did. Started a little later today to be more sensitive to Fran and left at 5:35. The sun was already up and warming the air. Just 6 miles down the road we passed the small town of Kittitas. It is where Fran grew jump and her mom lived there for many years and memories of trips to see her. She was a very special lady who survived the concentration camps in Poland ! On the decent I tried out a new technique .I sit on the top tube but instead of crouching down like you see some of the pro riders do I just sat upright! My neck enjoyed the position as it gives it a rest from stretching out. Controlling to bike especially as it hit above 45 mph is a little more challenging. I did hit the brakes a few times to control the speed some!The long gentle climb to the top of ridge rewarded me with views of the massive wind turbines! The visitors center didn’t open until 9 so a tour was not an option!After crossing the Columbia river I was treated with a long gentle climb but a nice view of the iron horses on the ridge! Fran went up to get a closer look later but the route is pretty sketchy.Once up on the ridge the road flattens out! Wonderfully smooth pavement and the suction of trucks and cars flying by kept my speed higher than normal. My average speed kept climbing and climbing and topped out at 18.9 before the hills outside Ritzville slowed me down . I was lucky to go that fast because by 10;30 it was already 80+ degrees. Fran stopped and gave me a new water bottle but I failed to put on my ice neck tube sock! I regretted not putting it on as the temperatures continued to climb and the heat started to really tire me out! I put in a greater effort at the end than I had wanted to!Tomorrow I finish crossing Washington state and entering Idaho! I hope for a cooler day!I hope all the Cyclopaths have a great ride tomorrow up to Sunrise! It is one of my very favorites! Enjoy the no car day and do let your ice chest get stolen!Leon

The wind farm.
My new invention to block the sun from my face and yet not trap the heat!
Iron horses looking over the Columbia River.

6:20 PM on Saturday, June 23, 2018

Day 3 Ritzville to Kellogg Idaho 122 mi 3,593 ft of climbing and 18.0 mph

The weather forecast was for 54 degrees to start the morning! I was shocked to see it 46! Headed out no real wind and not much traffic!In 2 hours the temperature was only up to 54 but for me that was fine and much preferred over the 80 degree temperatures of the previous day!Was making good progress hitting Spokane in 3.5 hours. Then my luck changed! A state trooper pulled over yelled at me and demanded I get off the freeway even though it is legal!In the meantime Fran drove by where I was! Luckily she came back and found me and gave me a 3 mile ride to the outskirts of town!Back on the bike cold and stiff! Soon I was warmed up and rolling along! Took a few pictures of Post Falls! Tomorrow they are having an Ironman race there. I wonder if Lanny is here!Beautiful area! Soon I had a 2 mile climb followed by a 4 mile climb! The temperatures stayed in the low 70’s so it was pretty comfortable !Found out today a total now of 3 Orting Hs staff have now seen me on the ride!My neck really bothered me today I hope tomorrow is better!Take care All!

Lakes on the way to Spokane!
Post Falls
Site of tomorrow’s Ironman!

5:51 PM on Sunday, June 24, 2018

Kellogg to Missoula 128 mi 4,900 ft of climbing 15.5 mph

Wow can things happen from one day to the next! I was used to smooth shoulders and lots of traffic to help drag me along and favorable winds or no wind! All of that changed today! After leaving Kellogg I faced a headwind, bumpy shoulder and an uphill grade! By the time I got to the top of Lookout Pass at 4,700 ft I had been riding two hours and covered only 24 miles!Yesterday I had covered 37 miles at the two hour mark!From there my average speed did increase but far below the other days! Less traffic, no favorable wind, bumpy road and perhaps a tired Leon!In addition my neck was a big issue today!at 45 miles my neck was really hurting and nothing seemed to help! I was real discouraged and not sure if I was going to be able to complete the ride. Fran luckily came buy and I took some Advil and put on my neck ice sock to cool me and possibly help the neck! Within 30 minutes the pain was much less and I was able to concentrate on riding!The bumpy roads and unfavorable wind continued but was able to finish the ride!Tomorrow will be a real tough day with 145 miles and a Major climb in haystack pass near the end!

Gold creek before Lookout Pass
Big Sky Country!


6:06 PM on Monday, June 25, 2018

Missoula to Whitehall 146 mi 4685 ft. Of climbing 15.0 mph Very long and hard day!

I was on the bike by 5:25 and welcomed with 55 degrees! After an hour later the temperature dropped to 46 and I had to dig out my heat packs! The sun was fairly high in the sky but the big hills around Missoula kept the sun from hitting me and warming me up! Once it started warming up it made it into the mid 80’s . Way to warm for me especially on a long hard ride!I was working pretty hard trying to make good time so not to get stuck out in the sun any longer than I needed to but that strategy was foiled when I hit a strong headwind about 45 miles from Missoula and unfortunately the road was basically straight into the headwind for 45 miles! My mph dropped dramatically! I remember going 10 mph and yet had 135 Watts being generated on flat ground! I then noticed my rear tire didn’t seem right! Yep a slow leak flat! I called Fran but she was aways away and I road for 4 miles to meet her! Frustrated and discouraged I changed the flat and was bitten 4 times by mosquitoes !Back on the road I was relieved that the wind had slowed!With my ice neck sock on I tried to make good progress!I have been disappointed that Ihadn’t seen much wildlife , alive that is!Today I saw a Red tail fox, skunk, owl, deer, ground squirrels and assorted birds but all as road kill.As a car driver you probably wouldn’t notice but the road from Missoula to Butte is a long gradual climb going from about 3,400 feet to over 5,300 feet! I had no idea Butte was a mile high!I finally made it to Butte but had 25 more miles to go and one major obstacle! Homestead Pass which is about a 4 mile climb that goes up to 6,700 feet! Sweating profusely I checked my Garmin and it said 92 degrees! I am sure it was probably only 85 but I was very hot!It has a long beautiful descent that I greatly enjoyed!According to my Garmin and Mapquest I expected to only have 2 more miles to our nights stay!To my shock and anger I had 7 miles to go! Normally that would be no big deal but I was so tired and so anxious to get off the bike that I screamed out loud, NO!Well my longest mileage day is behind me! I hope this was my hardest day!

Pink clouds over Missoula as I leave town.
Recent heavy rains and melting snow has this river overflowing!
Distant peaks still have a little snow!


6:36 PM on Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Whitehall Mt. to West Yellowstone Be careful what you pray for!

After arriving at Whitehall we were hit with a ferocious thunderstorm! Lucky I wasn’t caught in it! In the morning there were still lots of puddles!The first 2 hours went pretty well but then I hit a stiff headwind that went on 59 miles! It caused me to go 10-12 mph for a long time! It still had aways to go and loosing confidence and even entertaining having Fran pick me up!I actually started to pray that the wind goes away! In about 5 miles the wind slowed and then stopped but then I looked yo and here was a significant climb in the brutal sun! Sweat rolled off me even with an ice neck sock!Actually I would rather deal with a climb but it sure was ironic! The climb was caused by a 1959 earthquake ! The wind returned at the end of the climb and stayed with me to the hotel!Very hard.
6:05 PM on Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Day 7 West Yellowstone to Moran 2 National Parks in one day! 107 mi 4,737 ft of gain 14.6 mph

Left at 5:30 46 degrees and within 7 miles to temp went down to 29! Was able to witness an incredible sunrise!Even though well dressed and heat packs in my best mittens I was still very cold! Lucked out and found a heated restroom to warm up in! From there I saw an elk and within 5 ft of s Bison on my way to Old Faithful! I was able to time my arrival to see it explode but it was a weak one!From there it was a long climb to over 8,000 ft and then had to deal with 5 rollers to over 8,000 ! It wore me out!The rest of the ride was uneventful except for the beauty!I wish I had s day off tomorrow! The body is real tired and sore. 5 more days to go if I can make it!Instead of writing more hear I will let the many pictures I took tell the ride!No internet yesterday so I will try and write yesterday’s ride now!

Elk grassing in the morning sun.
Old Faithful sputtering an eruption
6:53 PM on Thursday, June 28, 2018
The day started with a .5 mile warmup to a 18 mile climb to 9,600 feet! It took me just short of 2 hours and a 8.8 mph average! Things went pretty smoothly for another hour and then my electronic shifter stopped working!Luckily it was in a usable gear that I could keep riding! No cell service to call Fran so I just kept rolling along! At 61 miles Fran caught up and we recharged the unit! The light went off after 15 minutes! I was amazed it did it so fast!By now it is in the mid 80’s and still a long way to go!A few scenic spots but mostly high prairie grass lands with cattle! In 1.5 hours my neck sock is dry with no cooling so having Fran class was terrific!Progress was slow but sure! The ride to this point was unique in that virtually no wind helping or hurting me! I thought how weird is it that in a state known for its strong winds I was experiencing very little!At dinner last night the waitress told us 90% of the time the wind should blow in the direction I was headed!Shortly after my thought about the wind the wind started blowing against me!I screamed and scared some cattle!Then my shifting into the big gear stopped ! I started shifting less frequently hoping to be able to finish before it totally quit!With just 5 miles to go my shifting totally stopped and then I had a blowout! With it 92 on the car temperature gage I called Fran and called it a day! Real hot and exhausted!After 8 days of riding and 4 to go I have ridden 963 miles and climbed over36,000 feet!My nobody feels it!Fewer pics today but Fran did see a grizzly at the top of the Togahee Pass!

Grassy area at top of the pass!
Top of the pass
One of the more scenic areas!

6:32 PM on Friday, June 29, 2018

From a very cute Lander to old and rundown Rawlins Wyoming 127 miles ( all with wind)

I am no longer going to talk to locals about wind in area roads! For the second time I was very mislead! Bike shop told me yesterday that there would be no wind in the morning and that the wind when it starts would be with me the whole way!The first two hours was directly into the wind and the wind got stronger and stronger as the day went on but Never a tail wind! Mostly cross winds sometimes it helped but mostly seemed to hurt!I was continually looking up the road hoping and praying the road would turn so that I could get a tailwind but the prayers were not answered but I was given the perseverance to hang in there!The route was not very scenic so not many pictures ! Into Colorado tomorrow if all goes well!I almost aborted my ride early today when there was a long section of highway where the shoulder was under construction and closed! In addition there was a strong side wind! Unfortunately Fran was ahead of me and with no cell service I had no way of contacting her! We now have a plan if it happens again! Thankfully the drivers were patient and kept me safe!Disappointingly I have seen very few cyclists even though I am on one of the most popular cycling route! I saw a group in Yellowstone and today I saw 3! Stopped and talked to a gal going east to west cross county ! Pretty fit young gal camping on her way!impressive!The lone person going my way through all 9 days was someone I passed in the construction area and it just wasn’t wise to try and converse!Cycling like I am doing is a long day with a set routine! I thought some of you might be interested in reading about it!Up at 4:40 get dressed and start oatmeal breakfast at 5 and on the road by 5:30 or so! Fran would try and sleep in and then get up have breakfast, take care of Baxter, and pack up stuff! Normally she would catch up to me around 8:30-10:00 resupply me with fluids,grab some more food, and make my ice sock before I hit the road again . Typically she then would meet me a couple hours later for more of the above twice more! She then goes to the hotel and checks in! Typically I arrive between 2-4pm! I immediately drink some chocolate milk and make myself some lunch! I then shower, elevate my legs and then try and take a 1 hour nap. When I get up I get my 5 bottles ready for the next door and put my food for the ride in my hip pack. I then wash up my clothes in the sink and hangout in the sun to dry! Fran and I then head out for dinner. On return Pump up my tires and charge up my tail light, I pod and tail light!While laying down I then try and brute this blog, check the weather, and try and catch up on emails and Facebook comments. I then spend minutes stretching my neck and then to bed by 9. This schedule is repeated day after day!9 days now completed and 3 to go. Hopefully I can finish it up. My son in law Frankie is going considering joining for part of one or two days!I hope that happens!

Sunrise leaving Lander!
Sun creating a few pink clouds.
One of the most scenic spots on today’s ride!
7:41 PM on Saturday, June 30, 2018

Today “wind at my back” Saved Me!

It was a lucky day for me! After a short stint on the freeway I headed south towards the Colorado border!Weather was cloudy and cool, which I was grateful for considering the last 4 days has been in the 80’s and 90’s! The traffic was light and the road was smooth! My left quad has been bothering me to I tried to not press to hard!Looked for wildlife but with not much luck!Green pastures with plenty of cattle at this 8000 ft plateau . Soon I noticed a gentle breeze behind me and I welcomed it!Ahead of me I could see some threatening clouds but avoided any rain. I kept checking my mirror and even though I was making good progress I could not shake them! They also looked more threatening! At 3 hours Fran caught up with me and also expressed concern for the weather! I dug out my rain jacket and hurried on! Even though I was gradually climbing I was making good progress ! Along this section I saw 16 cyclists all going the other way and all loaded up for camping! I stopped and talked to a couple from North Carolina going cross country doing 50-60 miles a day when I told them I was doing 120 a day he wanted my picture to add to their blog! I would have loved to talk to them all but the weather kept me from doing that! I felt sorry for all the cyclists as they are heading into the wind and the likely storm! 2 hours after our first meet up Fran shared she saw a bunch of ground squirrels, 3 deer, 2 bald eagles and a Wolf! Wish I had!When I was about 25 miles from our hotel the wind speed increased! It was clear to me that either the road was going to continue in the winds path and I would probably outrun the storm or the road would turn and the wind would greatly slow me down and let the storm catch me!As my good fortune would have it it mainly followed the wind!Watching the grass blow in the wind made me think of the “amber waves of grain”! It was beautiful to watch possibly only because I was going with the wind. At one point the road did make a 90 degree turn and the wind was so fierce that with some gusts it would blow me a foot to the left! It was starting to get dangerous! I was getting ready to call Fran for a ride when the road turned 90 degrees back and I was sailing again! Didn’t take long and I was in the hotel room when thunder and lightning hit! For all my complaining about the wind the last few days, I was very lucky today! I reflected on what happened to the other cyclists! After lunch and a short nap Fran and I headed out to look for moose as this is the area of great concentration of moose!Unfortunately we had no luck so just had dinner at the Moose Cafe! Good meal but no consolation for seeing a moose!Just two more days! I hope my quad will hold out!Tomorrow my son in law is getting up real early to drive to Breckinridge and then ride towards me! What an incredibly nice thing for him to do!Excited to see him and have someone to ride with!Bed time is here!

Sunrise in Rawlins
My two friends from NC
2 bald eagles
Their rank!

7:27 PM on Sunday, July 1, 2018
The weather forecast in Walden was for 36 degrees at 5:30 so I decided to delay my start to 6:30. When I woke up it was 31 and there was frost on my windshield! Knowing the Frankie was meet me I dressed warmly and headed out! Within 40 minutes it was 40 then went down to 36! All went well as I started to climb to Rabbits Ear Pass! Some headwind but not for two long! The sky was clear and not much traffic! The descent into Kremmling was very different! The view was wonderful but the traffic was very heavy and no shoulder! I now understand why the Adventure Cycling route doesn’t follow this road but a 15 mile detour! Luckily I was heading down and things went smoothly!In Kremmling I met up with Fran and had s quick stop knowing Frankie was not far away! Last fall Frankie married my youngest daughter Heather! I knew he was a good guy but today he proved to be real special!He woke up at 5:30 and drove two hours to Breckenridge to then get on his bike and ride towards me! He road 45 miles until we met up! The 45 miles back to Breckinridge, our hotel and Frankie’s car went by much easier than expected! The miles seemed to fly by even though they were not easy miles! Most of the way we either had a nice shoulder or it was a bike path! We had a great chance to talk about many topics! We were both good and tired when we arrived in Breckenridge! What makes Frankie’s effort even more special was the fact his longest road ride was 34 miles on mostly flat and today to greet me to Colorado he road 90 miles and did over 3,000 feet of elevation ! What a guy!!! I am so grateful to him for this gesture and so glad my daughter found such a special guy!After some chocolate milk and a quick shower we headed to the local brewery for a wonderful dinner with Baxter and Fran!What special day! Didn’t take as many pictures as I should of but here are a few!Next and last stop is Colorado Springs !

Green, at least for now, pastures!
Lake on way to Kremmling
Frankie my wonderful son in law!
Blue sky, green hills and a puffy white cloud!
Dam and lake near Breckinridge

8:06 PM on Monday, July 2, 2018

Day 12 of 12 Breckinridge to Colorado Springs !

Finally day 12! My body has been pleading for this day! New aches and pains seem to be showing up daily! Mentally I was tired too! Riding alone day after day and to keep going physically and emotionally when the body is tired and wants to get off the bike is hard! Emotionally you are also drained from the battles with the wind, terrain and traffic !As a true Cyclopath I couldn’t resist the temptation of time trialing up a climb!Breckenridge is at 9,600feet and at the base of Hoosier Pass at over 11,500 feet! The Trans American cross country bike route goes over this pass as it’s highest pass too!The temperature was 42 degrees when I left at 6:15 but seemed to get pretty cold even though I was working real hard! The base of the 10 mile climb is not very steep so I felt like I was making good progress! I checked the temperature and it had dropped to 30 degrees. (Well Leon just keep working hard and you will warmup, I thought)I then checked the elevation gain and found that progress was much slower than the distance! Well, that must mean it is going to get a whole lot steeper! That would turn out to be very true! Tired, sore, and breathing heavily I kept up the battle!Soon the temperature was up to 40, which I was glad of ! I alternated between standing and sitting to try to give relief to the tired muscles! My power output was low but after 11 days of riding and being at 10,000 it is probably understandable! I tried to concentrate on full breathing but it was a struggle!Eventually I could see the top which was in bright sunshine ! I wanted to speed up knowing the pain would end soon but there didn’t seem to be anymore energy to surge forward! Finally the top arrived and I collapsed over my handlebars are the pass marking ! It took me awhile to catch my breath and to take my pictures.

Top of Hoosier Pass! 1:07 Strava climb ! Top 10 in my age group. The pass as you can see was in brilliant sunshine and 48 degrees! I left shortly later and headed down the other side!The next 30 miles went smoothly . Soon I could see the smoke from an area forest fire! The smoke didn’t seem to bother my breathing but it seemed to be everywhere! The smoke continued for the next 30 miles. The temperature started to hit the 70’s
Forest fire smoke!
Not healthy breathing ! My progress seemed to be pretty good but a had a new nagging pain in the back of the left knee! I stopped twice to lower the saddle the reduce the pain but with now luck!Finally at my second stop with Fran I put some ice in my knee warmer and that seemed to help! Fran and made a decision to have her meet me at the city limits sign to avoid some of the holiday traffic and potential danger! At the entrance to Pikes Peak drive I saw Fran waving frantically!i stoa day she explained the shoulder was very dangerous up the road as traffic was changed fro 4 lanes to 2 and that the shoulder was full of rocks, sand and gravel After some discussion that I should load up the bike and drive the 4 remaining miles instead of risking it! As we drove down I was very happy Fran had come back and stopped me at that point! After 1406 miles and 56,134 feet of climbing with an average speed of 15.7 It was wise to stop at that point! I MADE IT!!!!!
Pikes Peak!
Me at Heathers pleased to be done with this arduous but valuable adventure

7:31 PM on Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Wow did it feel good to not climb back on the bike!

Here are some reflections on my trip!When I originally planned the trip I planned on doing it in 14 days to complete the 1,400 journey! Some family issues came up and if I was going to get to do the trip in 12 days!I must admit an extra 20 miles a day scared me!This spring I developed a neck issue and was in significant pain after 50 miles! Prior to leaving I was using physical therapy and acupuncture but with limited success ! I was fearful it was going to be my undoing ! On leaving I did get a neck traction machine to bring with me! The machine has prove to be a lifesaver as the neck pain has been limited ! My left leg adductor became inflamed three days ago hurt some on the ride but mostly afterwards. Then the back of my left knee started hurting and both are still bothering me today! The other real sensitive area is my groin which after 89 hours in the saddle sores are evident. Frankie is a PT and he dry kneeled me today! It seems to be be helping with all three areas!( not groin)My sister lives only 30 miles away on a cattle ranch and we had a wonderful visit today! We went for a short walk and that was enough for me! Not sure when I will get back on the bike but not for a few more days!Some stats:1406 miles in 12 days56,134 ft of elevation gain15.8 mph ( I was pleasantly surprised with this stat)3 flats36,050 calories burned while riding Biggest disappointment: I was yelled at by a Washington state patrol man yelled at me and forced me off the freeway even though it is totally legal.Biggest thrill: Being able to ride 49 miles with my son in law Frankie to beautiful Breckinridge! Biggest surprise: How much the wind and how smooth the road surface not only effected my traveling speed but also my mental outlook!Drivers by and large were cooperative but am still amazed about how some hock at you when you are doing nothing wrong and how some when there is no oncoming traffic still pass you not moving over 1 inch!Easiest day: Day 1 with fresh legs and a strong Ellensburg wind.Hardest day: Day 5 from Missoula to Whitehall 143 miles 4,600 ft of elevation gain,a 3 mile climb (Homestead Pas 10 miles from the finish in 90 degree temperatures. Took me 9:45 of riding time! Thunderstorm hit one hour after I made it to town!Least attractive town: Rawlins Wyoming. No evidence of community pride in public or private buildings.Most attractive: Breckinridge probably wins but Lander Wyoming was very cute! Nice people and cool shops!Worst accommodation:West Yellowstone a small cabin with no air conditioning and uneven floor for $235.Best accommodation: Breckinridge but the valet parking was a real pain ! Both Fran and I found lots of outlets a bigger priority than you would think!Keys to success: for any multi day challenge like this recovery is a big key! Most days I started at 5:30 so that I could avoid the heat of the day and had more hours to recover for the next day! This caused me to work harder than I would have liked to!Fran would have enjoyed going on some walks/hikes but I had no energy for that! You need to try and stay off your feet once the ride is over! All of these blogs were done on my phone while lying on the bed or floor!The tube ice socks were a lifesaver for me! Those hot days were greatly helped with Fran being able to supply me with it !Thanks for all of you who have followed my adventure and have written kind words of encouragement !Thanks and have a wonderful and safe 4 th of July!Leon