Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Everest Challenge Stage Race 2013

"The hardest two day event.... anywhere"

Bishop CA

Start of Day 1
Day 1: This stage was possibly the most intimidating. Set to have 15,000 feet of climbing over 88 miles. We started at a small recreational center called "Millpond" a nice park with ball fields, and a "pond" that was a center for swimming At about 7:20 the CAT 4 "racers" and myself departed on what would be the most challenging day of my life. After the 3-mile neutral roll out, the climb began, along with the "racing" immediately the grade picked up to 7%. As always, since the stage was so long, and everybody had the attitude to simply finish, I took control of the pace... But still remaining in my "comfortable" zone. This first climb is called "south lake" and is the third longest climb of the race. It lasts about 14 miles, and climbs a large amount. Nearing south lake, the grade steepens to 14%, for about a half a mile, before finally reaching the summit of the first climb. I did not realize until the U-turn that the field had exploded, and I was in the lead group with about 7 or riders. Now came the fun part, the rapid descent. This climb was one of those boring ones.... Just straight, long and consistent in grade, thus, making the decent the fastest possible. Since I am under 18, I have to use junior gearing, which limits my maximum gear to 50x15... Making me very vulnerable on descents. This group and road was fast, at about a -8%, in a tuck position, I was able to
Riding to Pine Creek Climb

FInish of Day 1, at Mosquito Flat 
attain 53.5 MPH.... FLYING down this mountain. In what seemed like a few minutes, we were already at the bottom, ready to begin the next climb... Pine creek. Not much happened on this climb, except for the fact there weren't any trees, and it was approaching noon, so the beating sun was directed right over us. This descent was sketchier, with lateral cuts in the road, and a bunch of people that were next to bonked riding their bikes. At the base of this climb, only five of us remained in the lead group. The largest climb of the race was next... We already had 68 miles under our legs, with about 9,000 feet of climbing, so this next climb was built to be brutal. The first part worked its way up through a very rich neighborhood called "paradise" HA! From my perspective it was ANYTHING BUT PARADISE. Finally, the heat and distance caught up to me... At about mile 65, I decided it would be a wise choice to drop back, and save a little bit for the remainder of the ride, as well as the remaining 70 miles, and 14,000 feet of vertical the next day. To get to the point, the last 10 miles of Rock Creek climb were the most difficult, stressful, intense, and painful miles of my life. At this point of the "race" to me it was no longer a matter of placing, instead a matter of finishing, and with enough left to ride the next day. In the end I finished 7th overall on the 1st stage, at an elevation of 10,220 feet.

Start of day 2
Day 2: The final of 2 stages, and the one that was bound to be the hardest. Same start time as day 1, and 70 miles with 14,000 feet of vertical, could only mean one thing. Steeper climbs. We started in the middle of a desert, on Death Valley RD and rolled neutral for about 3 miles, to the town of Big Pine. From there the first climb was right around the corner. Literally, we turned a corner, and the road pitched up towards Glacier Lodge (no longer there, but there is a pretty good size glacier visible the whole way up) quickly the grade advanced to 7% and was sustained for about 3 miles before a wide switchback. From there, the land was dry, trees were gone, and the winds began to blow from all sides. Unlike the previous day, the field remained largely intact surprising until one guy decided to attack off the front. I was feeling quite fresh and decided to go after him, eventually a few other guys followed, and we managed to drop about half the field. Once at the top, and through a fast U-turn, came the RAPID descent this descent I was not looking forward to. Since, for about 4 miles, directly to my right was a 250 foot drop, with no guard rail, as well as some very unpredictable winds, it was not going to be fun. Once again, my junior gears were not working for me, and even in the most aero position I could attain, the guys with bigger gears zoomed right past me. For some reason the only guys I was able to catch and pass on descents were CAT 3s, superior level racers to that of the CAT 4s. Once at the bottom I had a 4-mile TT to catch back on with the remaining lead pack. I tried to stay as relaxed as possible during the pursuit, which worked out, as I caught them before the second climb began, with ease. We then turned down Death Valley RD, which meandered its way through 13 miles of NOTHING. The road was the only road closed to traffic, since it was washed out 30 miles in due to a recent storm. The sun was over the top of the valley walls, and heating the ground, FAST! Originally, I planned the climb up Death Valley Rd to be 10 miles well, as 10 miles approached, no turn around came. We just kept on riding until finally, 3 miles later, we turned back to descend to the final massive climb.As desolate as it was climbing, the descent was the same, however more fun, the road was old, and not properly graded, thus having massive dips. While descending at 40+ MPH those dips made it like a roller coaster, and on the last one I attempted to gain some air while shooting out of it. Not sure if I actually did, but it sure felt awesome! The descent ended quickly, and the final climb began right away, shooting up to 5% then 6% then 7-8% for 6 miles, until the final turn of the race onto White Mountain Rd.
At the finish of the final day,  Elevation 10,100 feet in the
Bristlecone Pine Forest  
The sum of the two days of racing was beginning to take a toll, but I did not feel as bad as before, and was able to power out the remaining 10 miles and keep my overall GC placing the same as day one.

Strava from day 2... EC

The remainder of the trip we spent around the area, exploring Yosemite National Park, and hiding from the smoke due to the fires in the area. I managed to ride Tioga Pass, a stunning and difficult climb into Yosemite, I guess I could call it a Warm Down from the Everest Challenge” Tioga Pass Climb, Strava data
Panorama of Tioga Pass 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

2013_08_15 Puyallup Cyclopath Chris Fox On The North Cascades Highway

Travel news, consumer advice and trip reports for the Northwest and beyond.

August 15, 2013 at 11:22 AM

North Cascades Highway may reopen on weekend

Posted by Kristin Jackson

(Chris Fox photo)

Look – no cars on the North Cascades Highway, which is blocked by mudslides. But an eastside  portion of the road, from the Methow Valley up to Washington Pass (which is by the Liberty Bell peaks in the background),  remains open to bicyclists and to  drivers who want to get to trailheads. A portion of the road on the west side also remains open.

Crews are working long hours to clear mudslides on the North Cascades Highway, and it’s possible that the popular mountain road could reopen this weekend, says Department of Transportation spokesman Jeff Adamson. In the meantime,  some bicyclists are having a field day pedaling up and whizzing down part of the blissfully empty road that remains open.

 The road, also known as Highway 20, is a scenic and popular route that leads from Western Washington to  the Methow Valley. It was shut down  Saturday night because of mudslides touched off by an intense rain/hail storm. By Sunday, eight mud slides just west of Rainy Pass had buried the highway in debris up to 25 feet deep in places, forcing the closure of the road between mileposts 147 and 157.

A firm opening date may be announced Friday; see the DOT’s highway website for updates. DOT spokesman Adamson said crews are working as long as there’s daylight to clear the slides.

Some bicyclists from the Methow Valley,  meanwhile, are making the most of the road closure. The eastern portion of the highway  remains open from the Methow Valley up to the 5,477-foot-elevation Washington Pass, the highest point on the road, where there’s a dramatically scenic overlook facing the craggy peaks.  With the road mostly empty of cars (since it dead-ends because of the closure), bicyclists are enjoying riding up and then whizzing  down – without having to worry about cars speeding past them on the narrow-shouldered road.
(Chris Fox photo)

Bicyclists are heading up to the Washington Pass Overlook on the North Cascades Highway from the Methow, enjoying a car-free bike excursion on the road.


Chris Fox, a part-time Methow resident, rode  from the Mazama Store in the Methow up to Washington Pass earlier this week, sharing the empty  road with about 10-15 other hardy bicyclists. (Part of the road on the west side also remains open, giving access to the community of Diablo, Ross Lake and other areas.) 
It was  just too good an opportunity to pass up,” said Fox. “There were a few vehicles parked at trailheads, but it was mostly human-free except for cyclists  pedaling quietly up the roadway (and not restricted to the shoulder or, for that matter, even one lane),” said Fox.

 It was 17.7 miles and  a 3,000- foot climb up to Washington Pass, said Fox, who logged his ride on a GPS. And, said Fox, he bets there are more bicyclists  out there now since the word has spread about the closure which lets them ride one of the most  scenic highways anywhere car-free.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

2013_08_10 "The Climb": Bear Sighting

Author:  Mike Hassur

This will be our shortest blog post ever. 

This past Saturday (August 10th) Les, Dwaine, and I were out at The Climb.  I was only going up once as I had wedding duties (for our son) to attend to.  Les and Dwaine were going to do six repeats.  Anyway, on the first trip up (about 6:45 AM), we had gotten about 0.5 mile away from the cars when Les said "look at that".  We looked up in time to see a mother bear and TWO CUBS crossing the road about 100 to 150 yards ahead of us.  They quickly scurried off into the trees, but we got a pretty good look at them.  It was pretty neat, and I believe it is the first time any of us has seen bear cubs there.

This just reconfirmed what we have long known:  "THE CLIMB" IS A PRETTY AWESOME PLACE!!

The Grosslockner High Alpine Road

Author:  Jurgen Becker

The Grossglockner High Alpine Road (in German Großglockner-Hochalpenstraße) is a panoramic road in Austria in the state of Salzburg. It connects the state of Salzburg with the state of Carinthia

The Grossglockner (12,461 ft) is the highest mountain of Austria and the eastern Alps.  The pass road reaches 8451 ft. with a branch-off to the "Franz-Josefs-Höhe" viewpoint ( images ).

This viewpoint was my day target on a rainy Tuesday in July 2013, in the morning it was so rainy that I thought that I might have to cancel my mountain ride. After checking weather forecast, I was relieved.  Dry and maybe sunny in the afternoon.

My ride started a few miles before the toll station and after passing this station I saw the sign with 12% for 33 km.  Never in my life I did ride 12% average about 33 km.  In this moment I realized it would be an "afternoon of struggle".

I'm not sure was it really a 12% average for the entire alpine road, but one is for sure - never again will I ride a crank with 53/39 in the Alps!  I rode the whole afternoon my maximum gear of 39/28 with a cadence of 40 to 50. Many times by standing and standing again. Sometimes you reach a point where it's just not fun. I was happy to reach the viewpoint after approximately 3 hours of climbing with few breaks.

I think my photos say more than a thousand words…..

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

California Climbing 8/2013

Author: Leon Matz


On Monday July 29th at 5:00am Leon picked Mike up at this house to head off on their adventure to California to do some bike climbing. Leon still has 26 climbs left on his list of the toughest 100 climbs in the US. To help in my recovery and to get ready for “Worlds” in Italy I wanted to go test myself on some of the toughest 25 climbs in America.

After 13 hours of driving they spent the night in South Lake Tahoe . We were both amazed at how much cooler it was. When we left early that morning it was only 45 degrees. As we headed south the road took them through part of the course for The Death Ride. I enjoyed sharing the route with Mike and reliving the wonderful experience I had doing 6 years ago. We had two climbs planned for that day (Rock Creek #26 and Pine Creek #81) but as we got closer we noticed a lot of smoke. We turned on the radio and discovered that there were 3 fires burning in the Sierra’s. YUK! What do we do. After a delay and some deliberation on our part. We decided to start the first climb and see how far we could go. Rock Creek is a 20.5 mi climb with 5,600 ft of elevation gain. As it turned out as we climbed the wind shifted and the climb became smoke free. We didn’t start the climb until around 11 so by the time we were down it was in the 90’s and the wind was howling and the smoke started to return. The wind in fact made the descent a challenge. As we drove to the second climb the wind seemed to shift again and the smoke returned. Even though I wanted to cross Pine Creek off my list by completing it we decided to skip it. We then headed to Bishop, CA to stay overnight and plan our next strategy.

The next days plan was to climb South Lake Road# 16 and Sabrina Lake #25. Unsure on weather the weather would allow us to climb or not we prepared to go. To our pleasant surprise the smoke had cleared and the climbs were very do able. We were able to ride straight from the hotel. We were up and on our bikes by 7. It quickly warmed up (way too hot for Leon). It was in the 80’s 1/3 of the way up. Mike kept saying how perfect the temperature was for him and I am sweating like a hog. I got so hot that I had to stop and dump my head in the creek and soak my neck scarf with the cold water. That seemed to help but the 5,445 ft. climb for 15 .8 mi. proved to be a real challenge. Part of the challenge was the 10,000 ft finish The last 2 miles included segments 12-14%. Mike proved to be real strong and left me in the dust up those last steep sections. We then descended for 7 miles and then climbed up to Sabrina Lake. We finished with 7,200 ft and about 50 miles. I had to stop a second and third time over the day. Too hot for me! The next two days Mike graciously agreed to try and get started on the bikes at 6 instead of 7 a.m.. That greatly assisted me in staying cooler and not needing to stop.

The plan for the next day was to drive north through Yosemite to do 3 climbs on the other side of the Sierra’s. One fire was in Yosemite and the other two were just south of there. The chances of us being able to do the first two of those climbs (King’s Canyon #94 and Sequoia #24) didn’t look very likely. We adjusted our plans and stayed in the same hotel and decided to do #7 on the list White Mountain. #7 on the list. It is a very isolated climb of 20.1 miles with 6,200 ft of climbing entering the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forrest. The climb ended at just over 10.000 ft. A very tough climb! Summerson in his book claims that the steepest pitch on the climb is 11% but Mike and I saw extended stretches of 12-14% We were cursing him! Conor has signed up to do the Everest Challenge in September. The challenge requires a rider to do 6 climbs over two days, log over 200 miles and climb more than 29,000 feet. Conor will need to do Rock Creek as the first climb on day one and then finish with South Lake on the first day. On the second day he will need to do White Mt. as the last climb of the two days. Mike and I are both in awe of that challenge. We did 3 of the climbs over 3 days and found them tough. The idea of doing them plus 3 other climbs over two days sounds incredible. Hopefully it cools off for the September ride.

Since heading north to go through Yosemite was problematic we drove south through Bakersfield to our next climb. The name Highway 190 doesn’t give you vivid pictures of a beautiful climb but that is what the climb turned out to be. It started out following a beautiful creek that had sculptured the sandstone rocks around it. The climb entered a scrub brush area with some views of the valley below and soon it transcended to a Sequoia Forest. The road winded back and forth and I loved the shade. The 190 climb was #22 on the list with 6,200 ft and a 24 mi. long climb. Both Mike and I loved the climb but the descent tired our necks, hands and shoulders with all the tight switchbacks. Wonderful Climb!

After a quick shower we headed for Sacramento to have dinner with my daughter Becky and her boyfriend. We drove to get to Redding to stay overnight. We talked about trying to do Mt. Shasta on the way home. To our disappointment some forest fires in Oregon were sending smoke into the Shasta Mt. area. Combined with our bodies feeling tired from 33,000 ft of elevation gain over 4 days we decided to head home. It was a wonderful trip even with the forest fire problems. We were very fortunate to be able to get in 5 climbs on my list all in the top 25 of difficulty with one being in the top 10. Spending 6 days with a terrific friend driving and riding bikes in some of America’s most beautiful roads is a heck of a priviledge. My fitness is improving and Mike is riding stronger than ever. GO CYCLOPATHS!

To view all photos associated with this trip, click on the following link:

Sunday, August 4, 2013

USAC Talent ID Camp Forest Grove Oregon

Author:  Conor Collins

Day 1:
            Check-in was at 1300 hours, in which most of all the 24 riders where on time and ready to go. We were forced to wait outside for about an hour as the cleaning crew went though each room… I’m assuming they had an orchestra ‘Camp’ leaving as we were arriving, since each kid had a violin. We got settled, in our massive dorms, with their very own kitchens, and private rooms. After about an hour we got ready to do a short ride going down the “5-Minute TT” it was an 18-mile ride with a small amount of climbing… Interesting… After the ride we changed, ate dinner, and listened to the introduction lecture.

Day 2:
            Rise at 0630, to a very cold room, with little sheets! Maybe turn the temp. up a bit for the next night…  breakfast was at 0700, with some rock solid waffles, and some juice and sausage. Then came about an hour break, and departing to “recon” the “5 minute” Time Trial we will be doing the next day.  Everyone that was able to go fast was very anxious to race… not sure why… but they did a great job of perfecting their drafting more over examining the actual course. It will be a challenging course, with little to no breaks, since it is so short. We then continued to ride about 20 more miles for a nice hour and 10 minutes of breaking and sprinting… Juniors aren’t the best at riding in a group… some are sketchy, others just love their break handles. Once back to the university, we had a quick stretching session, before lunch…. Proved how inflexible cyclists are… a session of bike handling, and cornering courses followed that evening. Dinner came, and lectures about “Life” followed.

Day 3:
            The 5 minutes Time trial was set to separate the field, and divide us by time and more importantly Power to weight Ratio. Everyone was nervous, knowing that this performance may decide whether or not he or she is selected for a “National Junior Camp” held at the Olympic training center. Breakfast was quiet… kinda funny to watch kids attempt to get into their “zone.” The ride out to the TT was quick, and we got 2 chances to ride the course, and prepare for the real attempt. I was 5th to go, and managed a 5th overall… I wasn’t too happy with my placing, until they showed the Watts Per Kilogram page. This page is how they select for the National Camp. Since each of the 12 Regional camps are in different locations, the times can’t be compared… you can think of the reasons why. As a result, measuring Watts is a constant, and can be reflected over everybody, regardless of location and course. Watts per Kilogram is taking your total Watt output, and dividing it by your weight in Kilograms. The page showing Watts per Kilogram was surprising to me, I was 2nd overall, and averaged 5.86 WpK for 5 minutes and 33 seconds. After that result, I was determined to do well on the “20 minute” long TT.

Day 4:
            Wednesday was an early rise; a Portland Morning news crew was coming out to document our camp, and the “Future” of American Cycling. We woke up at 0400, and slogged out to the parking lot, to ride a mock criterium. We did some bumping drills, and I managed to break my right foot cleat off of my shoe, thankfully, packing smart saved me, and a brand new cleat was easily installed on my shoe. The local baking shop was kind enough to donate a few muffins to our group, which acted as a breakfast. Our morning ride was the best yet, “Pace line training” I was placed with the 6 fastest guys in the camp, because of my TT performance the previous day. We crushed it, going about 29 MPH the final stretch working flawlessly as a group in a rotation pace line, the camp director was impressed. The evening held a session of bumping drills, rubbing tires, and “Garbage Ball” a game where you must remain on your bike, and play catch, to place a basketball sized ball into a garbage basket in the middle of the field. If you touch the ground with your feet, you are out, and need to sit on the side. The evening lectures consisted of a nutritionist talking about how to recover, prepare, and eat on rides to effectively regain lost energy. Based off of our power and HR readings, she put together a rough sketch of daily needs, specific to myself.

Day 5:
            The final “20-minute” TT was planned, similar to the morning of the “5-minute” TT, everybody kept to himself or herself at breakfast… once again, attempting to get into the “zone.” I had a high expectation for this TT, being longer (7.3 miles) but not any climbing, I needed to push real hard to keep the bigger, “Muscle men” off of my back. We had 1-minute intervals, so at any single time about 19 riders were on the course. Once again I was 5th to leave, and not having ridden the course, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Once I was set free to fly down the road, I took it hard, and eventually found my 1-minute man, a kid from Seattle whom I have raced, passed him on the first stretch. Then, unknowing of how I was doing, I kept the pressure on, and eventually found sight of the 2-minute man, and passed him on the single “Up pitch” of the road. I crossed the line 1st so far… eventually, 3 “Muscle men” were able to better my time, putting me in 4th for the day.  The importance of this test was to see your Watts per Kilogram, since it was our last full day of camp, and with nothing to lose I wasn’t too concerned. After dinner, and a session on bike care and mechanics, we finally got to see the results. The Director of the camp showed us the page, and my name was first, highest watts per kilogram for 20 minutes… 5.22 w/k.

A very nice end to a solid week of learning and gaining experience on a bike.