Tuesday, October 29, 2013

2013_10_26 The Climb To Paradise

Author:  Nick Iverson

Saturday morning October 26, I felt tired and a bit stiff from doing a few local hills to augment my ride home the night before.  The weather was dreary, but not foggy.  Listening to the local news the weather report claimed that the place to be was in the mountains, as we were experiencing a prolonged temperature inversion.  After finishing some chores, the day was slipping away, but I decided to check out the Webcam at Mt. Rainier.  Sure enough the sky was blue, the mountain was out, and even at Longmire the weather was clear.  In a frenzy, I put all my biking gear into my Volvo, and headed out.  The leaves are beautiful at our place with many vine maples, and bright red foliage on the flowering plum trees near the road.  Heading down the driveway, a deer, on a suicide mission, jumped out from the back of the house crossing right in front of me, then again as I rounded the corner of our long driveway, the doe made another attempt to get whacked as I left.  On the way out Shaw Road, then eventually Meridian, the beauty of the autumn foliage began to show its full glory.

Reaching the cut off to Mountain Highway in Eatonville, the sun was beginning to peek through the low clouds.  As I descended down to Mountain Highway, and drove along Alder Lake, the sky was a deep blue, and the shiny surface of the lake reflected the colors of the sky and the trees on the other side.  The water had a hint of green color.  No boats on the lake could be seen.  One lone biker, clad cleverly in black… black shoes, leggings, jersey and helmet and no lights, was moving along near Elbe like a Ninja.  I thought a Cyclopath Jersey would be helpful.

There was no line at the Park entrance, and once inside, the October sun was lower in the sky than I was used to seeing, and streams of light shone between the trees, and the ferns and moss were brighter than I remembered.  I considered riding from Kautz Creek, but had left so late, I mainly wanted to make the climb from Longmire.  After getting my bike ready, I found that the auto stop on my Garmin was not turned on, and after about 5 minutes of trying every screen, gave up and just started the climb, planning to hit the lap button at Paradise.  The ride up the hill was in mid forty degree weather all the way to the top, but a bit warmer at the very top.  By this time I know pretty much every turn and viewpoints, but the beauty of the ride in the still air, surrounded by silence, seemed to enhance the awesome climb that I have enjoyed so many times.  The last stretch to the top seemed rather effortless, as I was enjoying the peace and
beauty of the green valleys and periodic views of Tahoma.  At the top, there was no snow at all in the meadows above the Paradise Lodge, and I found a camera person with a fancy SLR to take a couple pictures for me on my iPhone.  Determined to make some effort to have this be a Cyclopath worthy ride, I went down the one way road, then circled back up to the Lodge, then descended again and bade the mountain farewell. 

The temperatures had dropped significantly, and several places the sun was very low, making a few stretches of the descent downright scary as I was also competing with the cars all leaving at the same time.  With all my layers now on, I did begin to feel downright cold even when pedaling as much as I could.  The ride down seemed longer than the ride up the hill. 

Reaching my car in the Longmire parking lot gave me time to ponder the many times that the hills of Mount Rainier have tried to discourage me.  Sadly, I put my gear away and felt that this could be the last trip up the climbs of Mount Rainier for 2013.  I think that this trip was number eleven.  But there is next year…..

Monday, October 28, 2013

2013_10_26 "On The Road With Brent Moody": Fort Collins, CO

Colorado 2 times in 1 year! This is the first cycling on my vagabond adventure. I met up with some of my buddies in Ft. Collins, Co that i originally met at BRAN (Bike Ride Across Nebraska). Since mid, couple of buddies were happy to play hooky from work, as temps were forecast at sunny and 65 degrees! 4 of us, Jim, Jack Wendy and myself were able to group together and took off out of Ft. Collins, heading south to Loveland along the foothills to meet up with 2 more buddies, Anita and Greg. What a beautiful day, specially in October! After meeting up in Loveland, we cut across some roads to climb onto Hwy 34, which is the main highway to Estes Park, CO. This is the Big Thompson Canyon, where all the severe floods took place in September of this year. The destruction caused by the water was truly mind boggling; the amount of silt, movement of trees and rocks is hard to imagine. We rode about 6 or so miles up Hwy 34 to The Dam Store, which the road was closed at that point. Was hoping to cut through some of the back roads, but all the bridges were washed out. We decided to take a ride up thru Horsetooth Reservoir, following the route taken on the Pro Tour this year. My buddies were laughing as they wanted to get my opinion on the "rolling hills" that Phil Ligget commented on. The route along the dam, breathtaking and for sure, I didn't think they were rolling hills, as I was huffing and puffing up those. I'm a little out of shape from this summer, and maybe try to blame it on the altitude as well. :) Once we arrived at the reservoir, we had headed in different directions. I was staying north of town and Wendy was kind enough to escort me home so I didn't get lost. Beautiful Ride, 60 miles in and I believe about 4000 ft climbing in. My Garmin ended up not saving the ride, so didn't get to log the route in. Will for sure coming back in Spring to ride some more along Ft. Collins and Boulder.
Waterfall where River Blew above Longmont, CO

Saturday, October 26, 2013

2013_10_26 "Off Road" Riding With Scott, John and Kurt

Author:  Mike Hassur


Fun ride yesterday with Scott, John, and Kurt.  We met in Wilkeson, unloaded our

cyclocross/mountain bikes, and headed up the trail to Carbonado and beyond.  Scott and I had done this ride last year, and it had been one mud hole after another.  Since we haven’t had much rain of late, Scott theorized that we wouldn’t encounter nearly as many of those obstacles.  He was right.  I believe that we made it from Wilkeson to Cabonado (on the trail) without having any problems. 
After Carbonado, things got more interesting.  I was lagging behind when I heard Kurt yell and saw some feet up in the air.  He was passing through a small mud hole, hit a submerged rock, and went over his handlebars into the mire – no injuries, just wet gloves.  We pressed on stopping here and there to climb over big logs in the trail or to detour around some of the bigger mud holes that must make a permanent home on this trail.  Before long we had made our way to the Fairfax Bridge.  We passed under the bridge and headed toward the ghost town of Fairfax.  On the way to Fairfax, we passed the old stone structure that was used for dynamite storage during the region’s coal mining heyday (approximately 100 years ago).  After a brief stop, we continued on the trail to its conclusion about a mile or two past Fairfax.


On the "outward bound" portion of our ride, I managed to fall twice (couldn’t get my foot out of the cleat when things got squirrely – I’ve got to get some mountain biking cleats and pedals.  Luckily, the landing was soft on both occasions.  John fell a time or two as well – again no serious damage to body or bike.

After reaching the end of the trail, we headed back.  Going back always seems easier for some reason.  Kurt was bombing along somewhere ahead of us; while Scott, John, and I just cruised along.  It was beautiful and fun.  Then, on one of the smooth sections of the trail between The Fairfax Bridge and Carbonado, I managed to find a rough spot which jerked my wheel to the right.  The next thing I knew, I was laying in the bushes on the right side of the trail on top of my bike.  When I raised my left leg to disentangle myself from the bike and get up, the bike sort of rose up with my leg, and I realized that the left pedal had impaled my leg and stuck in it.  The pedal came out of the wound as I continued to raise my leg and so did a fair amount of blood – great!  Scott and John were both right there offering any support that I might need; but the wound didn’t seem to interfere with my ability to stand or ride my bike.  Surprisingly, the wound – which was pretty impressive looking – didn’t really hurt much (the same cannot be said for the stinging that I experience in both legs (from the nettles that I fell in when I crashed).  I got back on my bike, and we took off.  Since I was wounded, we went out to the main road (where we found Kurt waiting for us) and took it from Carbonado down to Wilkeson to our cars. 

This was a really fun ride.  Great guys, the sun came out during the ride, the sky was blue, and the trail was beautiful.  As for my leg; I went home, took a quick shower, and went to the Group Health Urgent Care in Tacoma where a PA friend of mine (George) sewed me up.  I was worried that this mishap might interfere with a planned surfing trip to Santa Cruz week after next, but George thought I would probably be pretty well healed by then.  Keep your fingers crossed – cowabunga!!
To see all of the photos associated with this ride click on the following link:  https://picasaweb.google.com/103821724300588557330 .

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Adobe Cross at Tall Chief Golf Course 2013

Author:  Dwaine Trummert
Cyclocross is a mixture of chilly fall weather, bicycle racing, mud, and sometimes beer. Seattle Cyclocross's first event at Tall Chief Golf Course also included a new ingredient. Grass. Not the kind of grass making up the well kept lawn in the neighbor's front yard. Instead the course was littered with long, stringy, and surprisingly tenacious grass clippings. These grass clippings became the theme of the day for many racers.
As is becoming normal for me, I arrived early to have time to 'get right' with the event. I walked some of the course, bugged the folks working the pre-registration booth before it was open, set tire pressures at 28 front and 30 rear, and got myself suited up in plenty of time to get a few warm up laps under my belt.
Tall Chief Golf Course has been unused for a few years which is probably why a bunch of bicycle racers were allowed entry. As I took my first warm up lap it immediately became apparent that this (cyclocross) course was like nothing I'd seen before. The first third traversed a hillside. The ground was soft without standing water and quite bumpy in places. This upper third also contained an exciting descent featuring a slightly tricky left hand turn at the bottom and and a short climb up what once a gravel path. Then it transitioned to a flat series of straights and turns where a lawn mower (probably industrial strength) had been used to carve a course out of the tall grass. This section, being flat, was still slow due to the grass and even softer soil.
By the time I reached this middle section during my first lap I realized the importance of these grass clippings. These grass clippings were finding their way around the wheels and clogging up the areas between the brakes and tires. At first they were easy to clear. As the course became muddier they started to show just how much trouble they would become. I could always tell when they were packing in as I could hear them rubbing against the sidewalls of my tires.
The third section of the course was tough. It started with a fifty foot section of marsh that was quickly turning into a mud pit. Then three short slippery climbs that traversed the hillside that looked over the bottom third of the course. Then two more shorter sections of flat mud pit. This really got the heart rate up right before a set of barriers and up the paved road to the finish line. This last third of the course was a real test.
After my warm up laps I was pretty happy with my tire pressures (not ever having run pressures this low) but was not happy with how much friction was being created by the grass clippings. Lots of grass and mud was wrapped up into the brakes and bottom bracket and rear cassette and derailleur jockey pulleys and pedal spindles. Just about any part that was spinning became a nest of mud and grass. These areas were cleared and then it was off for the start area.
My good result at McCullugh park earned me a call up for this race and I would get a chance to start on the front row. On my right was Rick Birdsey. After he introduced himself as 'Birdsey' we chatted about the previous race at McCullogh Park and relived my 'lead them through the woods' strategy and his 'power past for the win' finish. On my left I met Damon Gjording and further down the line I saw the distinctive helmet of Matthew Sweet who also finished in the lead group at McCullugh Park.
During our wait for the start we chatted with the USA Cycling official, were reminded of the beer garden, and then were informed that Hammer Nutrition was sponsoring today's event and that the top 3 finishers should pick up a prize bag after the race. Neat.
Off the start and for the first one and two thirds laps the pace was reasonable and the leaders were tightly bunched. I pushed up to second and then just followed Damon who was setting a strong yet sustainable pace. Damon rode smooth and his conservative style led me to believe he was just waiting until the end before dropping the hammer. Whenever I got a chance to look over my shoulder I saw a fair number of riders hanging on with the lead group. And I felt that I could hang on until the finish - then the wheels fell off.  For me. Not the bike.
Two thirds of the way through that second lap the course beat me to a pulp. The mud sections were getting difficult to ride. Some riders were dismounting and running through all of them. Some riders were powering through. I made a couple poor run vs ride choices and lost three positions in short order. That had me starting the third and final lap in fifth position, no longer in the lead group, and really gasping for air.
Having not completely blown up but not being far from it I made the choice to slow to a pace I knew I could sustain to the finish. That first third of the course turned out to be a good place to recover and I found myself on Damon's wheel as we started the flat middle third. He bobbled in a corner and I dropped him to fifth. With 2/3 of a lap to go. (This detail becomes interesting later on...).
My pacing was perfect. I was hurting good and keeping the pedals turning. By the end of the middle section I had every so slowly reeled in Birdsey. The final third of the course was now lined with spectators and I heard shouts of 'Go Birdsey, Go Birdsey, Go!' at each turn. As I tried to stay with him up and down the short climbs I also heard 'Keep at it number 424'. (I thought to myself "I have a fan!! A fan that doesn't know my name?") I stayed on Birdsey's wheel until the final two mud pits. I gave it a little bit extra, got lucky on my choice of lines, and put twenty feet between us. We were both hurting and I gave it everything I had over the next thirty or forty seconds to get to the finish five seconds ahead of Birdsey and on the podium in third.
My finish celebration consisted of coasting fifty feet past the finish line, stepping off my bike, rolling onto the ground, and wheezing. This area was soon full of other racers (most of whom stayed on their feet) who celebrated similarly. When I could talk again I congratulated Birdsey on a job well done and we talked about how treacherous those mud pits had become. Lots of riders were commiserating about the mud/grass and then Damon showed us his derailleur. It was labelled 'Ultegra'. And it was attached only by the derailleur cable.
On my slow mosey to my vehicle I continued to witness acts of bicycle cruelty. Wheels and brakes packed with sticky mud/grass, clipless pedals that didn't clip, chains that just skated over the teeth of their seized jockey pulleys. And at least one broken derailleur hanger...
After getting myself sorted I wandered around and shot some photos. Cyclocross is a family friendly event with lots of spouses and kids in attendance. Many of those same spouses and kids take to the racing too. I tried to get some photos that reflect the atmosphere and scene of these Cyclocross events. And I just enjoyed my time watching the racing and chatting with other racers.
During this time I caught up with Matthew. He had a good race and finished ahead of Kristofer Koehn (who I didn't get to chat with) for the win. Our chat was cut short as he needed to cheer his girlfriend on during her race.
When I picked up my prize bag I found 'CX' socks, a George Hincapie DVD, and a big jug of Hammer Nutrition's Strawberry 'Recoverite' powder. Thank you Hammer.
Eventually I caught up with Damon whom I had followed for the first half of the race. We chatted for a good while and he told me has a background racing mountain bikes and that, like me, he is relatively new to Cyclocross. We shared that we are both driven to race (which I admitted is one of my character flaws). We also chatted a little bit about training. Training for racing the bike. And in the past when he was doing some running. I complimented him on his smoothness and told him that from my saddle he looked poised to take the win. His response was that he didn't feel he could sustain the necessary power level for the entire race and that maybe he might let someone else set the pace next time. He said when I went past him on that last lap he felt like he was fading and he was pleased to hang onto fifth. Fifth?  I asked him about the broken derailleur. "Yeah, I just ran the bike in for the last half lap."
Let's put that in perspective. He felt burnt up. I slipped past. Then his derailleur broke off and he ran the bike the rest of the way. Without losing any positions. Amazing!!
It was a great day. The course was crazy tough. The folks I met were great. I got to ride my bike.
What else could you ask for on an overcast October Sunday?
(The photo directy above is Courtesy Woodenville Bicycle http://woodinvillebicycle.smugmug.com/. All other photos copyright Dwaine Trummert.)
Oh, did I mention the beer garden was free?  See you at the next event.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Leon's trip to Italy and UCI's Master's Cycling Worlds

Author:  Leon Matz

When I found out on July 17th tht I had been granted a "wild card" entry to the World's competition in Trento Italy and actually cried.  After my fall in January I wasn't sure if I would ever seriously ride a bike again and getting ot go to Worlds was a dream come true.  At that time Mike Hassur was still considering to go and Mike Smith was trying to get allocated.  As it turned out neither would be able to go.
On Sept. 14th I headed to the airport on an adventure different than I had ever undertaken. I started out the trip spending a day in Frankfurt, Verona, Italy and then two days in Venice, Italy. I visited the typical highlights of all three cities. I then headed to Trento Italy for the "Worlds"competition. Trento is an incredibly beautiful city.

The first scheduled competition was the Team Relay.  It was a country to country competition using 4 people at least one female from 4 different age groups.  I was selected as the "old guy" for our USA team.  The competition was a 1 k loop through town over the cobblestones with each person doing 5 laps.  When I arrived at the Piazza where the race was to start it became clear that this was to be a special event.  Over a thousand fans were already lining the course and riders from each of the 12 teams started riding around the course.  I must admit I got a little concerned riding over the rough and unpredictable small bricks with many tight turns.  This could be pretty dicy.  It was then shared that 4 former pro riders and 2 current pro riders were going to parade around the route on their bikes prior to our event.  Two of the riders had their World Champion Jerseys on. I started to get really excited about this opportunity but that excitement disappeared as I noticed that I was the only USA rider present and ready to race. I had several officials asking where my partners were.  I had no idea.  As it turned out they never did show and the race went on without me and a USA team.  The home country Italy ended up winning the competition.  I decided to drown my disappointment by getting my picture taken with the two podium girls. I didn't get the kiss on the cheek like the winners receive but... not a bad gig. I found out later our one female rider decided the cobbles looked to dangerous and another one of the USA riders had his bikes lost by the airlines and as a result could not race.

Friday was the TT which I had chosen not to do so Friday and Saturday was spent mostly doing tourist stuff with only a little bit of riding.  On Sunday at 7:45 1,400 riders and myself lined up for the Road Race.  It was scheduled for 69 miles and 9,700 feet of climbing.  I was excited but nervous.  The officials decided to start the older and most likely slower riders first followed ever 2 minutes by a younger age group.  Prior to the first climg the 55-59 age group caught my 60-64 group.  As the climb started it was pretty crowded .  Most of the riders stayed close together as we completed the 4 mile climb.  As I started to hit the descent I came around the first curve and saw 7-8 bodies laying on the pavement.  I found out later two people with broken collarbones, one with  2 broken ribs and another wiht a broken neck. I think the slowest to fastest start was partially to blame for the accident.  There was another serious crash farther dowwn the hill and another on the flats.  I thank God avoided those dangerous events.  When I arrived at the bottom of the climb I ended up being alone and having to start the 20 km flat section by myself.  At about 15 km I finally found a group. At that point I was riding faster than expected and feeling good about my ride. As a group we were making good progress when we passed a police officer.  I thought he was just holding back traffic but he was actually suppose to be telling us to take a 90 deg turn.  He was talking  with bystanders and neglected to inform us of the turn until we were passed the turn.  When he finally yelled the other 3 riders jammed on their brakes causing me to run into the back of one of them and falling.  I seemed to be o.k. but my saddle needed an adjustment and my computer was nocked off. By the itime I was ready to start riding my group was long gone.  I finished the flat section by myself but was hopeful as I started to climb I would catch up.  As I started to climb I noticed that shifting wasn't working well and the next thing I knew the chain became jammmed between the wheel and the back of my cassette. It  took me about 10 minutes to pull it loose.  After riding another 1-2 miles it happened again except this time the chain was jammed so hard that neither I nor a motorcycle rider could free the  chain even after struggling for 15 minutes.  Soon the sweep wagon arrived and they loaded up me and my bike. I was real frustrated and disappointed. I had come so far to do the race and now won't even  finish.  Those feelings subsided some as we picked up more and more riders some and one of an American rider who was expecting to be on the podium for my age group but crashed.  He had two broken ribs and his front wheel was trashed.  I started to feel grateful that I didn't have serious crash.  Feeling that I had some unfinished business I did a temporary repair to my bike and then road the Monte Bondone climb the next morning.  It is a beautiful climb with numerous views over the city as it climbs its 4,600 ft in 13 miles. Here is one of the views as you head up the climb.

On Monday I headed to Florence and watched American Kristen Small win a Bronze medal in the Elite Women's Time Trial. On Wednesday I headed up north to explore the Dolomites. On Friday I did a ride called the Sella Ronda. It was a 40 mile ride with 7,000 feet of climbing as you go over 4 passes. It was the most beautiful ride I have ever seen or road.  Vista after vista.

The next day I headed west to do famous Stelvio Pass a 15 mile climb that covers 6,000 ft. and tops out at 8,700 ft. It is the 3rd highest pass in Europe.  It is famous for it's 48 hairpin turns.  They have signs that allow you to count them down as you climb.  The climb get's steeper and steeper as you climb.  As I climbed  came across  a group of 4 guys XC skiing with rollers up the climb and they reached a female amputee doing the same thing.  Their climb to the top made my climb a minor accomplishment compared to theirs. They must have been incredibly fit and very powerful shoulders and legs.

My trip to Italy was a tremendous experience.   I met many very special people, ate wonderful food, and saw incredibly beautiful things made by man and others untouched by man.  My racing was a big disappointment but was overshadowed by all the incredibly wonderful things I experienced.

To see all of the photos from Leon's trip, click on the following link:  https://picasaweb.google.com/103821724300588557330/2013_09_22LeonMatzAtTheUCIAgeGroupWorldChampionships#5931449485601186258