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.