Sunday, October 21, 2012


Author:  Mike Hassur

This will be a short report.  I just got back from a ride on my new cyclocross bike.  Scott Larson took me on a tour of the levee system around Orting.  One and a half hours, no climbing, pretty easy – AND REALLY FUN SINCE IT WAS ONE OF MY FIRST EXPERIENCES ON A CYCLOCROSS BIKE!!  A word of warning: if Scott says “let’s get on our cyclocross bikes and go exploring” make sure that you get a definition of what Scott means by “exploring”.  If he wants to go fast (especially on some of the rougher trails), the appropriate response is “thank you, Scott, but I DECLINE”.

Anyway, Scott, was a great tour guide.  We rode the levees around Orting and north toward McCutchen Road and spent the time visiting.  Unlike yesterday, when Scott and Rod rode the trail south out of Carbonado, got rained on, and froze; today’s weather was nice.  It was in the 30’s when we started; but it was sunny, and it wasn’t long before I was peeling my vest off.  It turned out to be a spectacular, sunny morning with temps in the middle 40’s.

I don’t know what it will be like if the trail is more technical, but those bigger tires and lower tire pressures make regular trails and gravel surfaces (like forest service roads) a cinch to ride on.  It opens up a whole slew of new areas to explore.  Now that road biking season is winding down, I’m psyched to get guys together to see what we can find on our  cyclocross and/or mountain bikes (weather permitting).

Saturday, October 20, 2012

2012_10_20 Scott and Rod Cyclocross Ride

Author:  Rod Hart

Friday afternoon I received a group email from Scott L (You think I know enough Scott's yet?) asking if anyone was interested in riding some trails on CX bikes. Uhhhhh, yeah!!!! All in!

We agreed to meet up in South Prairie at 8:30 am, then ride out towards Fairfax bridge. It was not the most beautiful morning, it was cold, wet, and cold, but I was very excited. You could liken my excitement to that of a child waiting for his birthday.

Scott and I hit a few small trails before getting to Carbondao, where we then transitioned to a long trail that took us towards Fairfax Bridge. This being my first experience not on the road, I was unsure what to expect. I A-B-S-O-L-U-T-E-L-Y loved it. I had the time of my life, and cannot wait to do it again.

The trail we were on took us past an old structure, that Scott told me was an old dynamite storage house. It was very neat to see, all the wood was gone and only stone remained. It had also become overgrown with bushes and trees. So, what do you do when you see a structure like that...Duh, use it to go to the bathroom.

At some point, we hit some good CX cycling...There were rocks, logs, water, and mud. I learned that mud is so much easier to crash on, compared to grass and asphalt. At one point, my left side was completely covered with mud! I was very pleased with myself, and could not have been happier. I also manage to crash and fall into some bushes.

We also road down to an old camp. There are no houses, nor footprints of the houses. However, there was a big open field. After riding through the field, Scott asked if I thought I could ride up a hill. I said I could try, but waited for him to give it a shot. If this hill did not have a grade of at least 45%, then I would be wiling to eat mud...wait, I ate lots of mud on this ride. Scott, gave it a good effort, but after about 5-10 ft up the hill he crashed. We then ran up the hill with our bikes on our shoulders.

We road for a while longer, experiencing some rain, hail and sleet, before deciding to turn around. It was at this point that I realized I was VERY VERY VERY cold. I also realized that I had not eaten while on the ride, and thus was having even more trouble warming up. It also did not help that I was covered in 38 degree water and mud.

Scott was the ultimate trooper, and kept by my side through the walking, slow riding, complaining, near crying, and my almost succumbing to the oh so warm fetal position. Ok, most of that is true, but I did not come close to crying...maybe!

We finally made it back to to Wilkeson and I told Scott I was going to do the least manly thing ever...I called Bella to come and get me. I thought I could go into the one breakfast restaurant, but it was closed. I thought that since it was 11 am I might be able to go into the bar, but it too was closed. I then went into the "corner store" and promptly found out that they had no bathroom, nor did they have any hot water.

 The lady working was kind enough to offer me my least favorite beverage...Coffee. I hate the smell of coffee, and find the taste even worse. I can honestly say that I have consumed coffee 1-2 times in my life. While waiting for Bella, I consumed the offered coffee. It might have been the worst stuff ever. I would guess that it was 2 years old, burnt, and HOT!!!

I slowly drank the disgusting brew, while my body shook so hard I thought I would fall over. My fingers, as the thawed, hurt so bad I really did want to cry. Slowly I warmed, some, and Bella appeared. She wrapped me in a blanket, not to keep me warm but to keep her precious car clean, and drove me home.

 What an almost epic ride, and a total blast. Hopefully Scott will give me another chance.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

2012_09_21 & 22 Leon and Conor Trip

Author:  Leon Matz

Conor and my trip to Southern Oregon and Northern California started at 4:00 AM. We drove for 6 ½ hours to get to Merlin OR (near Grants Pass) for the start of our Bear Camp Rd. Climb.  Most of the way the road was wet from some light rain. The first rain I had seen in two months.  The sky was pretty cloudy and somewhat threatening.  As we climbed over the last hills prior to our start the sky cleared and the air warmed up considerably. We hoped this sign was an indication of good fortune.

The first 10 miles of the ride were rolling hills. It started with 3-4 % grade following a creek. The grade soon changed to 10-12% and lasted for about 10 miles. Conor enjoyed the steep pitches while I just sweated and tried to somewhat keep up.  He kindly would wait or loop back when he was too far in front. The climb was mostly shaded with very few cars and 2 logging trucks. It is the road that about 10 years ago a couple and their daughter became trapped in the snow and the husband actually perished trying to get help.  On the decent our roles reversed as I felt more comfortable going fast and Conor taking it slower. We eventually made it back to the car grabbed a quick bite of food and for me some chocolate milk; we headed off for Mt. Ashland and our second climb.
Conor atop Mt Ashland (Mt Shasta in backgroung)
Although we were both a little tired from the first climb we quickly jumped on our bikes and started our climb knowing that we had to get up and down pretty quickly to avoid trying to come down in twilight. The 17-mile ascent started right away but only a 5-6% grade. With the temperature in the low 80’s I enjoyed the shady start.  On this climb I was doing a better job of staying close to Conor.   At about mile 12 I started feeling a little stronger and Conor started feeling the effects of his first double climb. I lead for a while and then gradually pulled away. Wanting to stay close to each other I would loop back or just wait.  I saw a side of Conor I had not seen yet.  I could see he was in lots of pain but he would not give into that pain and kept riding hard. After arriving at the ski area we took a few quick pictures including some of Mt Shasta, our next challenge.   The climb was a very nice climb with no steep pitches but with lots of smooth curves and lots of trees the decent was pretty cold. As the sun had started down the temperature quickly went from the 80’s to the low 60”s and racing down the mountain caused both us to get cold with goose bumps evident.  We quickly loaded up the bikes and headed to our hotel and eventually dinner having road 79 miles and climbed over 8,000 feet and 480 miles of driving.  Conor was a little down because I had beaten him up the second climb. Who knows but it may be the last time I beat him up a climb.
Conor heading up Mt Shasta
Leon climbing on Mt Shasta

Mt Shasta from the air
The next day we were up at 5 and on the road by 5:30 heading to CA.  After about an hour we could see an outline of our next challenge.  It actually looked a little scary. The 14,140 ft peak is pretty impressive looking. When we arrived at the start of the climb we put on all of the clothes we had because the temperature was in the low 40’s. As we headed out I worked hard to get warm and to try and stay with Conor.  I wasn’t very successful with either.  Conor would loop back every mile or so come back and say hi and then just as quickly leave me behind. Gradually I warmed up and even stopped to take off my jacket as the sun started to warm up the air.  The climb was full of wonderful vistas of the mountain and the foothills below.  Conor patiently waited on a regular basis.  I started to feel think that the previous climbs had me tired out and causing me to climb slowly but after checking my climbing rate I discovered I was actually climbing pretty fast; with over 2,250 feet climbed in the first hour. What this meant was that Conor was climbing incredibly fast.  I wish his Strava time didn’t include all the looping back he did to keep us somewhat together.  As we started getting closer to the top I started feeling stronger and tried to catch up with Conor but as soon as he noticed me starting to move up he stepped on the gas and he left me far behind.  The view at the top was wonderful as you can see. It was probably in the top 5 of my all time favorite climbs.  I hope all of you have a chance to climb it someday. The 14-mile climb is not easy with 4,300 ft of climbing with an average grade of 5.9% and a max of 11%.  The large number of views of the mountain and the foothills surrounding it were wonderful.  I was grateful that our 3 climb was finished.  The 9 ½ hour drive was still to be completed.  Almost 1100 miles of driving, 107 miles of riding and over 12,400 ft of climbing in 39 hours left us both tired and anxious to hit our own bed.  One of the best parts of the trip was getting to know Conor better as a cyclist and as a person. He is a very special 15 year old who has an exciting future in cycling.  I don’t know of any other 15 year olds who would take on this challenge with some “old guy”.  It was a trip I will never forget.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Mt. Baker Hill Climb 2012 (RIDE 542)

Author:  Conor Collins

            This ride was a blast! We left home on Saturday around noon, to get up to Bellingham around 3ish. After a late lunch, the evening was dedicated to relaxing and analyzing the Mt. Baker STRAVA segment, which could only tell me so much about what the race was actually going to be like… The next morning came fast, and we left for Glacier by 7 a.m. The hour drive to Glacier went by fast, and we were parking alongside the road about ½ mile from the race start. I quickly put my tire on my bike, and rode into town to check-in, and get my number. Over the next hour I paced up and down the ½ mile strip of road until the race official started staging us in town. Once everyone was there and ready to race, we then ‘rolled’ ¼ of a mile to the race start. My positioning at the start of the race was poor, not where I would have liked to be, something to keep in mind about mass starts.

Start of the race: passing through the town of Glacier
            At the start of the race, we quickly gained speed, going faster than 25 miles per hour within the first ½ mile of the race; I couldn’t believe the group I was with! The first ‘little’ climb of the race whittled down much of the start group. I got stuck right in the middle of the whole group, so I wasn’t able to catch the high paced leading group. I was all on my own the next 11 miles of the relatively flat part of the race, not knowing how far behind the lead pack I was. Once I passed the USDOT barn, I knew the actual race was about to begin. The real climb started shortly after that, and quickly started to gain altitude. I slowly found myself passing guys that were a part of the main breakaway group. They told me there was a fairly large group not too far ahead of me, so that became the next target. After about 2 miles, I passed the whole group, and enjoyed seeing the surprised look on their faces. Soon after passing that group, I passed quite a few guys one by one. Once I reached the ski resort (which I would find perfectly acceptable to being the summit after 10 miles of climbing) I thought the end of he race was near. Well it turns out it was, I just had to climb another 1000 feet, and navigate through the most intimidating switchbacks I’ve ever seen with under 25 meters of visibility. Thankfully all of that went by fast, and I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:38:24.

Overall I think it was a good race, with lots of room for improvement over the next few years. This ride also being my first ever bike race offered a great learning experience. The best high paced sprint riders, and the mountaineers from the Pacific Northwest area all come to this race, making it a good experience ride.

Race finish at Artist's Point (38 degrees)
The descent was brutal; having only half-finger gloves on, the 38-degree weather at the top did not make the descent any fun. Once I got to a more comfortable level, I was finally able to take in the beauty of the ride. The river, and the dramatic mountain cliffs make the ride amazing. Once I got back to Glacier we decided to wait another 3 hours for the results… that, naturally, never came.
I have to say thank you to all the Cyclopaths that helped prepare me for this race over the past 2 months; and, of course, thank you to my parents for taking the time and supporting me on the start to my cycling career.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Puyallup Cyclopath Windy Ridge Climb

Author:  Mike Hassur

This ride was so much fun.  First of all, I got an email from a cyclist in Germany, Jurgen Becker, who said that he would be visiting Tacoma for three weeks and would like to ride with us in the mountains during his stay.  He had somehow found the Puyallup Cyclopaths Blog, read it, and decided that we might be the guys to guide him through the mountains in the Tacoma vicinity.  I sent an email back to Jurgen with a few questions and received a prompt reply that 70 miles and 6500 feet of climbing would not be a problem.

As the date for our ride approached, we had seven cyclists interested in going: Les Becker, John Winter, Conor Collins, Jurgen Becker, David Garate, Brent Moody, and yours truly.  Since Les was driving from Tacoma, he agreed to pick up Jurgen (who is staying with a family in Parkland). 

Mike, John, Jurgen, Conor, & Les
We met in Randle at about 7:45 AM and were surprised to see Mark Delrosario pull into the parking lot.  I had not heard from Mark before the ride, so I had no idea that he was interested in going.  When Mark got out of his car and informed us that he would be our Windy Ridge Sag Wagon Driver, we were even more surprised.  Mark had come well prepared: lots of water, chocolate milk, pretzels, etc. in a huge cooler that sat on the backseat of his car.  All of a sudden we went from trying to make it 70 miles in the mountains with just two water bottles apiece to – NO PROBLEM!!

We were going to try to leave by around 8:00 AM.  By 8:15, there was still not sign of David and Brent (who were driving together); and the cell phone reception was spotty so calling wasn’t working.  We left and had Mark stay behind in his car to see if they showed up.  Mark waited for a while and then met us 8.5 miles up the road (where the single lane National Forest Road - #26 began).  NF-#26 is a cool road: single lane, very little traffic, and climbing almost continuously for approximately 19 miles with beautiful scenery the entire way.  We asked Mark to go back to Randle and check for David and Brent one more time.  If he found them, he would make sure that they did not miss NF-#26 (as it was not well marked) and then proceed up NF-#26 to find us.

Jurgen and Conor in the distance heading up NF-#26
With Mark headed back to Randle (thanks again, Mark, this would not have worked without you), we proceeded up NF-#26.  Since the serious climbing begins right away on this road, Conor took off almost immediately.  Jurgen followed him, and we lost contact with them within the first mile.  John, Les, and I proceeded up at a brisk pace but not so fast that we couldn’t enjoy visiting on the way up.  About six to seven miles into this climb, Mark caught up with us again and reported that David and Brent were on the road about 6-7 miles behind us.  ONCE AGAIN, we asked Mark to go back and let them know that we would meet them up at Windy Ridge.  We proceeded on up our single lane road enjoying the climb (or at least most of it).  The only problem with NF-#26 is that it has one long descent that has some dangerous patches of gravel (maybe 50-75 yards long) that you could hit at high speed if you didn’t know about them.  Les, John, and I had done this ride before; so we made sure to warn Jurgen and Conor about the gravel.  Everyone made it through safely, but I was so busy talking to John as we descended this section of road that he had to remind be to slow down as we approached the first (and worst) of the gravel sections – thank you, John.  We climbed up to the end of NF-#26 where it meets NF-#99 at Meta Lake.  We then climbed on NF-#99 to the Spirit Lake overlooks (linking up with Jurgen along the way) and on up to the Windy Ridge Lookout area where we took photos and hung out until David and Brent showed up.  

Les, Mke, John, and Jurgen at Spirit Lake

Windy Ridge Lookout
It had been overcast when we began our ride with temperatures in the high 40’s.  By the time we reached Windy Ridge, it was sunny and starting to warm up; and we had enjoyed spectacular views of Mt Rainier, Mt Adams, Mt Hood, and – of course – Mt St Helens on the way up. 

Leaving Windy Ridge (Mt Adams in background)
After our stop at the Windy Ridge Lookout, we descended back the way we came to Meta Lake.  Then, instead of taking NF-#26 back down, we proceed on #99 to NF-#25 and took it back.  The road surface is rough in many places (especially on NF-#25), so we had to be vigilant; but we managed enjoy a fast and safe descent back to Randle.

This was a really enjoyable ride.  The weather was perfect, the cycling was challenging, and it was a great group of guys with whom to share an adventure.
Finished: Mike, John, Les, Jurgen, Conor, Brent, & David

Click on the following link to view all photos for all rides: 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

2012_08_25 ROD’S RIDE

Author:  Mike Hassur

What a fun ride.  Rod Hart emailed everyone mid-week about an impromptu ride on Saturday (today). 

Leon, Conor Collins, and I left our neighborhood at about 5:35 AM (with lights flashing as it was still dark).  By the time we hit Orting, it was beginning to get light; but it was cold (low 40’s).  We met Scott Larson in Orting and proceeded on toward South Prairie.  On the way to South Prairie, we met David and Rod; and, before long, David’s friend, Scott, arrived. 

We passed through South Prairie and headed up the Tubbs Road Climb.  The two Scotts, Conor, and Rod took off like rockets.  If you want to know who finished first – look at Strava.  Let’s just say that I had no view of that finish – too far behind.

Bridge At Carbon River Entrance of Mt Raineir
(Leon & Mike not shown)
We headed on through Wilkeson and to the Wilkeson-Carbonado Climb (unfortunately, another Strava segment).  Once again, the same crew shot up the hill with Leon, David, and me following at a more sensible pace.  Next, it was on to the Fairfax Bridge.  Leon was pretty cold so he did hill repeats from the Fairfax Bridge up the Mowich Lake Road (at least the paved part) while the rest of us went to the Carbon River Entrance to Mt Rainier and back. 
Coming back from the Carbon River Entrance, we were in a “spirited” pace line (with speeds generally between 25 – 33 mph).  At one point; Rod, who was leading the pace line hit a dip in the road and went airborne.  He managed to land on his wheels and keep going; but I was following him, and it scared the heck out of me.  We met back up with Leon above the Fairfax Bridge and enjoyed a nice ride back to South Prairie (visiting most of the time).

At South Prairie, we parted company with Rod, David, and David’s friend.  From there, it was an easy ride back to Orting (where Scott Larson peeled off); and, then, back to Puyallup.
This was a very enjoyable ride with a great group of guys.  Thank you to Rod for organizing it.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Puyallup Cyclopath Courage Classic (Alternate Route)

Authors:  David Garate and Leon Matz
The day started off like a normal Western Washington-Summer day: mid-60's, no clouds, and the pulse of adrenaline in the ears. OK, so no adrenaline yet but I was anxious to get started!  I met Rod at his house about 4:15am, we loaded up and were on our way. We had no issues on the drive to Skykomish which was approximately 2 hours away.  Cast of riders: Mike H, Leon M, John W, Jeff G, Rod H and myself (anonymous), got there just before 6:30am.  As we suited up (which doesn't take much when you arrive in cycling gear already), we talked, and then we were off.  We took it easy for a while so our legs could warm up and Mike, Leon and I chatted for a while.  We got to the first climb and it started to warm up...or maybe it was just the blood pumping.  As the climb kept going the group started to thin a bit and I thought maybe the guys were pacing themselves.  John, Leon and Mike stayed together as Jeff, Rod and I picked up the pace a little (this is when Mike went back to Skykomish for the van) but after hanging around as long as I could stand I was off like a the back that is.  Yes, Jeff and Rod are strong climbers- even though Jeff doesn't like to climb he is naturally good at it being a CAT 1 racer.  We made it to the top and had some food and a little chat.  Rod being Rod, he stopped his Garmin to cease the time so as not to get cheated by Strava...and yes, he also forgot to start it again.  Somewhere down the road he remembered but it wasn't too far because we were all still together on the descent.  Somewhere near the middle of that long descent Rod lost a water-bottle which wasted some of his "precious time".  As we regrouped, Mike passed in the van and a couple miles down the road had stopped for us to rehydrate and eat.  This was a good vantage point and picture opportunity.  
Rod, Jeff, Leon, John, and David

Down to Leavenworth we headed another 20 miles or so. A pace-line formed in which pulls ranged from 2min to 10min which were no big deal- we were all ready for whatever came next.  I really kind of told myself I would be riding in the "Sag Wagon" sometime in the day but that never happened as you will see.  The pace into Leavenworth was high- 20-25 for long stretches.  As we came into Leavenworth the group relaxed and we looked for the McDonald's where we had decided beforehand to meet. This was harder than we thought as in Leavenworth, all the signs look similar! As we got close, I had the bright idea to take a rear-facing picture of Jeff and Rod. Immediately after the picture, Leon slowed (after giving hand-signals) and I grabbed my rear brakes as my left hand was full with my phone. I slid sideways on the back of Leon's wheel without causing a full wreck and pulled into the parking lot. Close call though I bald-spotted my Armadillo tire (which I didn't find out for 26 miles). We fueled up at McDonald's, stripped off some layers, and even found out John hadn't been able to clip in to his pedals for a while and had been having issues.  He then switched with Mike and drove the van over to the Das Rad Haus, which is a bike shop in downtown Leavenworth, to find out about adjusting his pedals.  

Leon, Rod, Jeff, Mike, and I headed for Blewitt Pass which was about an 18 mile climb to the summit.  As we headed out to the climb we kept the pace high 20-22 on a 1-3% grade. As the grade kicked up some, that is where Jeff and Rod pulled away.  Leon, Mike and I hung together and each took our turns on the front. The only thing I can say about being on the front on a climb is that you aren't really doing much for a pull but I think it's more motivational than anything.  On the way up the heat started to rise and really helped my legs loosen up, I don't know about Mike and Leon, but I felt pretty good!  Leon and I heard Mike give us a sailors send off and he dropped back to keep his own pace.  As we neared the top of the climb, Jeff had dropped back from Rod and become overheated (from wearing all black, I think). Jeff took a rest in the shade but eventually did make it to the summit.The temperature was now in the 90's and we were all sweating profusely.  Leon picked up speed but I didn't feel like attacking so I kept my own pace so Leon took off. Leon was first to the top with Rod, David, Mike and then Jeff following.  As we all regrouped at the top, Rod had noticed the bald section on my tire so Leon graciously let me *borrow* one. As soon as the tire was back on we headed down.  The cast for this section was scarce: Leon, Rod and myself.  A good descent is what we needed after a long climb up Blewitt but the descent was kind of tough because of some pretty good headwind.  Then as we all know about Leon's record-breaking "flat-fest", he did it again.  Another quick change and we continued down the mountain with some good pulls by all as we re-entered Leavenworth since the heat was nearing it's peak.  

Back in Leavenworth, the temperature was at it's highest (Rod's Garmin read 116°), so we took one of our longer breaks.  After bathroom, food, and water re-fills, we were set.  Jeff started back up Stevens as soon as the sag-wagon got to town.  As we re-grouped and got everyone together to leave John (with now new pedals and shoes), Leon, Rod and I were set to go.  Leon and John had rolled out a minute before Rod and I but I figured we could catch them on our way through town. Of course Rod's tire decided it couldn't handle the heat and gave up it's air so after Rod put a tube in, we were on our way.  As we got out of Leavenworth a few miles, I saw Leon going the wrong way. I guess he flatted again and forgot his pump at the scene of the flat.  So, we were all back together for our ride back to Skykomish, kind of...  I'm not sure of the exact circumstances but John and Leon were not around when Rod got another flat and he decided he was "done".  Rod had mentioned he wasn't sweating anymore and I agreed he should give up and ride in the sag wagon back to our starting point.  After I left Rod and continued on, I guess Mike had showed up about 30 seconds later. I ended up finding John and Leon somewhere and we rode back towards the Stevens climb and eventually the summit.  After a few stops at the sag wagon because my feet were on fire and I was going through lots of water, the temperature started to become more on the normal side. The closer we got to the summit, the more thoughts went through my head about giving up and jumping into a cold river...every mile closer to the end I seemed to be fading more and more. Leon and John were nowhere in sight about 4-5 miles from the top. The temptation to climb  off the bike and go skinny dipping in the Wenatchee river tempted us all.  So as not to make this story longer, I finally made it to the summit with everyone on the side of the road cheering me on and I sprinted for the line! Now at the top, I figured I would make the descent and be done with it.  The guys took off and got a good head start on me, and I caught them on the way down and led the pack back into Skykomish with a couple of good pulls by John and Leon.  As we came into Skykomish the pace quickly slowed and we all knew we were finished.  Finally, back at the car I broke out the Elk Head beer I brought and Jeff, John, Rod and I had a small cup of it for the perfect recovery drink.  

Overall the ride was good as long as you look back on it and think the suffering was well worth the glory of the finish.  The only huge factor I could say that had a big effect on all was the was HOT!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hurricane Ridge - August 5th, 2012

Early Sunday morning (VERY early - about 4:30am in fact) 8 of the Puyallup Cyclopaths converged at the Tacoma Narrows Park n' Ride to begin the drive to Port Angeles for the "Ride the Hurricane" bicycle ride (put on by the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce).  This ride was billed as a "Strava Free" ride so we were all looking forward to a casual, social kind of a ride (Ha!).  As we made our way to the Olympic Penninsula I struggled to keep my eyes open as we watched the changing colors of the sunrise over Puget Sound.  When we arrived at the Penninsula College parking lot there were already several cyclists getting their bikes ready for the ride.  As usual, our first order of business before getting our equipment ready was emptying our bladders.  What! Only one port a potty!!  Oh well, better get in the line quickly.  After that we headed over to the registration desk to pick up our packets.  Chris Fox met us at the parking lot which brought the total number of Cyclopaths to 9: Mike Hassur, Chris Fox, John Winter, Leon Matz, Mike Smith, Dan Haller, Mark Delrosario, Les Becker, and Rod Hart.  As we started out we made a left turn after about a quarter mile and the steady uphill climb began.  Out in front and gradually leaving the peleton behind were Rod and Leon (as expected).  So much for a "Strava Free" ride!!  In usual Cyclopath fashion we all put our heads down and quickly got into our climbing rhythm.  The temperatures were already pretty warm for 7:30 or so in the morning but we were fortunate that the first part of the course was well shaded.  The aid stations were spaced at every 4 or 5 miles and were well stocked with water, goo, bananas, and cookies.  All the volunteers were very supportive and friendly which helped tremendously as we climbed above tree line and into warmer temperatures.  The course was beautiful and the snow capped mountains, visible in all directions, inspired us all to dig deep as we made our way over the last ridge - Ah! The visitor center at last!!  All the ice cold chocolate milk you could drink!  And lots of other stuff too.  We all took in the breathtaking scenery for awhile and posed for out group shot before starting down the mountain.  Of course we couldn't think of quitting after just 18 miles of steep climbing so we decided to head back up for one more go after we descended about 5 miles.  I think we all began to question our decision after the group began to push the pace upward once again.  After reaching the top we did a 180 and headed down for the final descent to Port Angeles.  The road was super smooth and made for a nice quick ride back to the cars.  Though we topped out at 40 mph plus, none of us received the promised speeding citation for exceeding the 35 mph speed limit.  Ah well, maybe next time.  When we arrived back at the parking lot we snarfed down complimentary Costco hot dogs and other goodies.  After loading up the bikes we all bid our farewells and headed back home to the families.  Mike couldn't resist the temptation of the 'Golden Arches' and we pulled in for one last treat.  I had a large 'Chocolate Chip Frappe' which really hit the spot.

We all agreed it was a great event and definitely worth repeating in the future!!

John Winter

See all the photos by clicking here.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

2012_07_26 RAMROD (2012)

Author:  Mike Hassur

Editorial Comment: 
One quick note about RAMROD’s Stevens Canyon descent (and many of the others that we do), IT IS DANGEROUS.  As most of you know, a man was killed there in this year’s RAMROD.  All of us do descents like this so often that I think we tend to forget that the very things that make them stimulating (high speeds, a rough road surface, gratings in the road, a cliff at the side of the road with no railings, a dark tunnel in which it is difficult to see if there is a rock in your path, etc.) also increase our risk level.  For me, nothing could diminish the joy and excitement that we share for cycling more profoundly than one of us being seriously injured in a crash during one of our rides together.  I’m not saying that we won’t take some risks, I just want to make sure that we don’t take them lightly (i.e. have fun letting the testosterone flow, but don’t let it do your thinking for you).

Short version of the 2012 RAMROD narrative: 
It went great.  The weather was cooperative (and not overly hot), Mike and Les broke the 9 hour barrier for total riding time (including stops) for the first time, and Mark Delrosario completed his first RAMROD (way to go, Mark).

Long version of the 2012 RAMROD narrative:
Les and I had talked quite a bit about our strategy for trying to break nine hours (total time including stops) in this year’s RAMROD.  What we finally decided was not to burn ourselves out riding with the >25 mph crowd in the first 30-40 miles and to spend minimal time at the rest stops (i.e. pee if you have to, quick refill of water bottles, and “adios” to the rest stop).

We met at the starting line at ~ 5:15 AM (it was easy to spot Les with his Cyclopath jersey on.  Mark showed up shortly thereafter, and we were off by 5:25 AM.  It wasn’t fully light when we left (rear lights flashing), and it wasn’t too cold (middle 50’s) so we didn’t need arm warmers, leg warmers, or an under-layer.

We were cruising along (~20 mph) just past Buckley when this woman passed us.  She was going 23-24 mpg, so we hooked in behind her.  She had no interest in sharing the work, so we just followed her.  She took us through South Prairie, past Orting, and part way to Lake Kapowsin before we hooked up with a larger group.  We made it to Lake Kapowsin at a brisk (but not killer) pace without using much energy at all.  From Lake Kapowsin to Eatonville, we were a part of a larger group.  Our pace was around 23 mph which was relatively easy in a group.  As we approached Lake Ohop, the pace picked up, and it was during this stretch that we lost contact with Mark. 

Les and I didn’t bother to stop at the food stop in Eatonville.  Our plan was to make it to the food stop just after Ashford (at 60 miles) where we would make our first brief stop.  Along the way, we met Chris Allen, who is a friend of Tom Peterson’s.  Chris had spotted our Cyclopath jerseys and introduced himself.  We rode with Chris for a while, but his pace was a little too brisk for us.  We rolled into the food stop just behind Chris, lost track of him, and didn’t see him again until the finish. 

After the food stop, it was on to the Nisqually Entrance of Mt Rainier National Park.  Once again, we were fortunate to find ourselves in a group of guys that was going at a pace with which we were comfortable.  We breezed through the park entrance and started the gradual climb toward Longmire (where the real climbing begins).  Les and I lost most of our partners as soon as we started climbing, but there was one fellow (who had been with a group of fast guys) who was going about the same speed as us.  I can’t remember his name; but he was 53 years old, and we ended up seeing him for a good portion of the remainder of the ride.

The steeper climb from Longmire to the Paradise cutoff (to Reflection Lake) was uneventful.  It was interesting that Les was not feeling very strong as we began the climb; but the further we went, the stronger he seemed to get.  By the top, he seemed to be the stronger of the two of us.

As we passed Reflection Lake, I remember thinking how much better I felt than the previous year when we had burned so much precious energy by riding too fast in the first 60 miles of the event.  We zoomed down the Steven’s Canyon descent on the east side of the mountain:  feeling great, speeding over the gratings in the road and through the tunnels, peering over the edge of the cliff at the side of the road at the beautiful valley below, and – in general – enjoying a fast descent to the food zone just before Box Canyon. 

After a fairly quick stop at the food station (not as quick as it should have been because of cookies and chocolate filled somethings(?)), we were off to the Backbone Ridge Climb.  We followed a tri-athlete (aero bars) at a fast clip all the way to the climb, where he promptly dropped us.  We summited Backbone Ridge fairly quickly and found ourselves descending toward the eastern park entrance/exit.  This descent was interesting because there were sections of the road that were gravel (they were under repair).  We noticed that these sections were very short (maybe 20 yards long) and did not have a lot of loose gravel on them; so, while many of the riders slowed down a lot for these sections, we didn’t.  We would slow down a little, pick a safe path through what gravel was there, and zip through the repair area.  By the time we reached the Ranger Station at the bottom of the descent, we had caught the tri-athlete who’d dropped us so convincingly on the Backbone Ridge climb.  We rode with him and five or six other strong riders to the base of the Cayuse Pass climb. 

Les and I felt relatively good going up Cayuse.  The tri-athlete dropped us almost immediately, and we dropped everyone else in our group.  For most of the way up, it was just Les and me.  We caught and passed a few riders on the climb, but there just didn’t seem to be that many people on Cayuse.

At the top of Cayuse, we refilled water bottles (important for me as I was beginning to cramp a bit) and headed down the other side.  In order to save time, we did not stop at the “RAMROD Deli” at the Crystal Mountain turnoff.  Instead, we zoomed by the “Deli” and immediately slowed down.  There are almost always faster riders who have stopped at the “Deli” who are leaving about the time we pass.  Our strategy was to slow down, not waste energy and link up with them as they caught up to us.  There is almost always a headwind in this last 40 miles of RAMROD, and it is much more efficient (and fast) to be in a group.  Sure enough, after a few miles two guys came cruising along at a nice pace.  We hooked up with them, and everyone was happy (except that I was starting to have some really bad cramping in my legs).  The cramping was bad enough that I was not sure if I could keep pedaling a couple of times.  Fortunately, the cramps were only bad if I really had to apply power, and I was able to keep a pretty smooth pace most of the time without too much trouble.

Just outside of Greenwater, our group encountered a solitary rider heading the other direction.  It was Leon!  He had to work that day and could not do RAMROD.  As soon as he finished work in Orting, he hopped on his bike and headed up to find us with the idea of helping us finish those last 25-30 miles.  In the end, Leon was a “God send”.  As we neared the Mud Mountain Dam turnoff, the other two guys from our group deserted us (one of them had to pee).  Leon, who had already been working like a madman, took over and pulled us up to a group of riders near Mud Mountain Dam.  We rode with them almost all the way to the finish line with Leon leading us out over the last few blocks to get us to the finish absolutely as quickly as possible. 

In the end, Leon’s efforts (and ours) bore fruit.  We managed to finish in less than nine hours (around 8:55.40) in total time (including stops) which was a first for both Les and myself.  We were very pleased.  Mark Delrosario followed us in completing his first RAMROD.  Way to go, Mark.  That was a real accomplishment!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

2012-07-08 Valley First Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan

Author:  Les Becker

Leon suggested this great idea to ride/race in beautiful Penticton, BC which sounded very fun.  Some folks say a Granfondo is not a race. So why the individual timing chips? And what’s with the guy with power gel packets taped to his top tube so he doesn’t have to waste time reaching into his pockets? And what about the pros from Belgium who will be with us at the mass start or the fact that this event is one of only two qualifier events in North America for this year's world championships in South Africa.
"Penticton" Cyclopaths
I am standing in the starting line with Mike H, Leon and Mike S and 1400 other riders (racers). It’s 7:00am and I am already warm with only the Cyclopath jersey, no baselayer  or knee warmers. I know the 90 deg + heat will come. Excitement builds as the announcer counts down. I think “am I really supposed to be here?” So off we go in a mass of high end bicycles and adrenalin.
Up and down the first hill got me acclimated to climbing and cornering in a tightly packed fast group. Then out the highway along Lake Okanogan with the power boys out front doing 26-29 mph. Reminded me of the RAMROD where we rode too hard in the early part. But what can you do but just hang on? Then up the first real hill; still we rode hard and passed many riders including Eddy Merckx who abandoned at that point. Then hard pacelining until about 50 miles when reality set in; I knew I was spent so let the group with Mike H and Leon go on and soon came to a rest stop and quickly got food and water and jumped back on the saddle.
Rode with various individuals and small groups. They would invariably point out obstacles, communicate slowing or direction changes and letting me into lines to help me get out of traffic or away from obstacles. Nice to be with friendly riders. Began to feel better, passed a rest stop and regained some form. Got water once more and headed up the last and biggest climb. And there was Mike Smith. He’d passed me when I stopped, so we then we rode together for awhile. The climbing took us through some beautiful high mountain valleys with vineyards. By then riders had spread out and the slower uphill pace enabled me to see and appreciate the beauty of the Canadian mountains. At one secluded farm, a gentleman about 70 was standing alone at the end of his long driveway pumping his fist in the air, cheering us on. And in many other places near town, groups of spectators were cheering and ringing cowbells. The people of Penticton love their outdoor sports!
Down the hill and then needed to turn left onto the highway. Race crews had stopped traffic so we didn’t even have to pause. Seemed like ¼ mile of cars were held up just for us. Then they gave us the entire outside lane of the 4 lane highway for the 15 miles back to town. I felt good and we had a brisk ride to the finish. My 5hr 11min eclipsed my prerace prediction of 6 to 6.5 hours.

Addendum by Leon Matz:

On Sat. July 7th I left for Penticton at 6:20. I wanted to leave early because I was told Axel and Eddy Merckx were going to be signing autographs from 1:30 to 2:30 and I wanted to take advantage of that. If you have never been to that area before, you really should visit.  It is very beautiful with lots of  beautiful orchards, vineyards, and lakes.
Eddy Merckx
After I registered for the ride and visited all the booths I decided to find out where the signing was going to take place. When I enquired I was told the signing was cancelled because Axel and Eddy were forced to do it for a long time last year and did not enjoy it.  The gal said the two of them were down at the park watching the little kids race. I decided to walk downtown.  It turned out to be father than I thought and when I finally got there I was thinking I made a mistake tiring my legs out in 85-90 deg temps. As I approached the announcers booth I thought to myself that I better keep my eyes out for a large  group of people surrounding Eddy or possibly a stage that he might be on.  As soon as I finished the thought. Eddy walks right past me. I had come prepared with a permanent marker and my Cyclopath jersey. I quickly got it out and approached Eddy and asked for him to sign my jersey. He replied, “Sure”. When I held the jersey up he said in a gruff voice, “stretch it out” . I held it to my chest and spread it out tight. He responded in a disapproving way , “No not like that but like this”  I finally got it right and he signed a 8-10 inch signature. “SWEET”  I expected my request would now cause others to approach Eddy but no one seemed to notice.  As he walked away I thought I need some kind of proof it was Eddy s I walked fast past him up the street and then took the picture of him. After sharing the story with Les and the two Mike’s I decided to take their recommendation and retire my jersey and put it in a display case. I haven’t done that yet but plan to.
The next day about 15 miles into the race we were going up a fairly long hill to the town of Summerland. All four of us were climbing pretty fast passing lots of riders. Up ahead of me I noticed a rather big guy going fairly slow. As I started to approach I noticed a #1 rider number on the back of his jersey. I though  to myself, “Could it be Eddy??” As I go around him it saw that it was!!!  Here is the greatest cyclist ever being passed on a hill by  4 Puyallup Cyclopaths. BOTH WERE INCREDIBLE EXPERIENCES AND ONES I WILL NEVER FORGET.
WE ALL QUALIFIED FOR THE UCI WORLD CYCLING RACES IS SOUTH AFRICA. I don’t know if any of us will actually go but it is spectacular that we all qualified.
For the 100 mi course (~ 4000 feet of climbing):
Leon                      4:55.17                  20.2 mph             201st of 1424 riders          6th of 78 (age group)
Mike H                  4:57.01                  20.1 mph            210thof  1424 riders          7th of 78 (age group)
Les                         5:11.30                 19.1 mph             316th of 1424 riders          30th of 161 (age group)
Mike S                  5:18.23                  18.7 mph             380th of 1424 riders          15th of 78 (age group)

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Author:  Mike Hassur

"Triple-By-Pass":  one of my favorite rides and, definitely, my favorite name for a ride.

The weather forecast was pretty good (i.e. 10-20% chance of rain and partly sunny).  The plan was for Scott and Mike H to meet Les and Mike S at the top of Cayuse Pass and be leaving on our bikes by 6:30 AM on Sunday, July 1st.  When we arrived at the top of Cayuse; it was misting heavily, and the roads were quite wet.  It didn’t take us long to decide to drive over Chinook Pass and look for a drier place to start the ride on the eastern slope. 

About 14 miles east of Chinook Pass (on Highway 410), things had dried out considerably.  We unloaded our bikes and headed out on a clockwise route.  The temperature was cool but not cold (1/2 fingered gloves and no jackets seemed pretty comfortable).  We were riding past  Whistlin’ Jack’s Resort in no time.  As we descended next to the Naches River, the landscape changed from an alpine setting to the more arid scene that is found near Naches and Yakima.  The ride from where we started to the junction with the road that leads to White Pass was downhill most of the way, so it was relaxed and fairly brisk. 

As soon as we made the right-hand turn onto the road to White Pass (Highway 12), things changed.  The road started going uphill almost immediately, and it was into the wind (as it is almost every time that we do this ride).  We just chugged along in a pace line and were at Trout Lodge (the place where we traditionally stop to replenish food and liquid supplies on the climb to the summit of White Pass.  After a brief stop for food, liquid, and bathroom; we were off again. 

The climb to Rimrock Lake seemed to go by quickly, and the relatively flat riding by the lake was a nice break before the steeper final climbs up to White Pass. 

 The temperature was cool probably high 50’s on the final climb to White Pass which eliminated overheating and made this final part of the climb comfortable.  We were at White Pass with a minimum of stress or effort.  After restocking at the summit of White Pass (and the all important bathroom break), we were off descending the west side of the pass.  Les, Mike S, and Mike H took off pretty fast; but Scott took off like a missile.  He waited for us after a few miles, and the next time he took off I (Mike H) stayed right behind him in this little “cocoon” of a draft.  It was wonderful.  We were going 40 mph – AND I WASN’T PEDALING!!  Okay, so maybe I pedaled a few times on the rest of the descent, but not much.  Thank you, Scott.

We reached the bottom of the White Pass descent and turned right onto Highway 123 (the road to Cayuse Pass) with Les and Mike S right behind us.  We ascended past the road to Paradise (Steven’s Canyon Road) and headed up toward Cayuse Pass.  Mike H had to stop for a bathroom break early in the climb.  Scott and Mike S went on ahead, while Les waited.  Scott and Mike S were out of sight by the time the bathroom break was over, so Mike H and Les took off with the idea of trying to catch up.  We rode well and were pretty strong for the entire climb, but there was no catching Scott and Mike S.  They were cruising.

We regrouped at the top of Cayuse and headed up to the summit of Chinook Pass.  The section of road from the top of Cayuse Pass to the summit of Chinook is a “Cyclopath Classic” (i.e. you are climbing the entire way and the scenery is breathtaking).  In spite of being fatigued, we seemed to breeze up this section. 

After the Chinook summit, it was 14 miles of fast descending back to our vehicles.  This was fast and fun and a little scary (scary because our fatigue compromised our judgment and reactions (at least mine).  Before we knew it, the ride was over.  The sun was shining, it was warm, and we’d had a memorable Triple-By-Pass.

2012_06_24 Chinook Pass (Yakima) Ride

Author of this post:  Mike Hassur
Date:  07-04-2012

This title is a bit of a misnomer.  Due to a dubious weather forecast west of the mountains and a decent one east of the mountains, our plan (Les, Jim, and Mike H) was to meet at the top of Chinook Pass at 7:30 AM, ride 30-40 miles down the east side toward Naches, and head back up the way we came. 

As we drove through Enumclaw and headed toward Greenwater, the rain seemed to get worse; but that was to be expected because we were on the west side of the mountains.  When we got to Cayuse Pass it was still raining some and the roads were quite wet, but – no problem – because we were still  on the west side of the mountains.  At the top of Chinook, sure enough – no rain, but the roads were quite wet and it was cold 35 degrees.  No problem – we would just drive down the east side of the mountains 30-40 miles.  It would be dry there; and by the time we rode back up to Chinook, it should have dried out as well. 

The further we drove east, the more it rained.  Finally, we were in Naches; and it wasn’t raining.  By this time, we had decided to ride a loop from Naches to Yakima and up north of Yakima.  We stopped at a Shell Gas Station for a bathroom break before getting out the bikes.  As we were standing inside of the Shell Station, the hardest rain that we had seen all day began.  At that point, I was ready to call it a day and drive home; but Jim Wilcher suggested that we drive over to Yakima, have breakfast, and see if things dried out.

We drove to Yakima; and, lo and behold, NO RAIN.  We decided to forego breakfast and head out on a ride while it was still dry.  Our goal was to ride through the town of Selah and catch Canyon Road which runs north along the river toward Ellensburg.  In keeping with our less than stellar luck for the day, we got on the wrong road and never saw the river to Ellensberg.  On the other hand, the road that we were on turned out to be beautiful.  We had decided to turn around at a certain time in order to get home at a reasonable hour.  Ironically, when we reached our pre-determined turnaround time; the road ended (turned to gravel).  We had been riding into the wind and gradually climbing for the entire first half of our ride, so the ride back was fast and fun.  We were back to Yakima in no time. 

 It turned out that we really enjoyed this ride - enough so that we discussed possibly having an early Spring Cyclopath ride in this area next year (maybe from Yakima to Ellensburg and back).  We actually know where Canyon Road is now, so no worries about missing it the next time!