Thursday, June 29, 2017

2017_06_29 Puyallup/Tacoma to Santa Barbara Trip (Leon Matz & Mike Smith)

Author:  Leon Matz
Here I am 36 hours away from starting our bike trip from Puyallup/Tacoma to Santa Barbara! 
Mike Smith is my companion on this 1,400 mile trip! Mike and I were tennis friends starting when I was 17! Here we are 50 years later teaming up to take on an adventure different from all my other explorations. Our plan is to ride 80-95 miles a day for 16 days and meet up with a long time Puyallup Cyclopath Wayne DuPont! 
As with most adventures I am experiencing excitement and nervousness! Can our bodies handle this kind of daily abuse with no days of rest! The Pacific Coast route follows highway 1 and 101 and hugs the coast most of the way.
My bike fully loaded and hopefully ready for the trek to Santa Barbara.
The bags stuffed with everything we hopefully will need for the trip! 
Mike and I have had a many discussions about what we need! There are number of other things that I would like to have but have run out of room. Many cyclists ride this route each year but most cover a smaller number of miles each day and with periodic rest days! By staying in Motels and Hostels we hope to be able to cover the distance more quickly ! Originally we were going to do it in 15 days but s bridge washout and landslide near Big Sur is forcing us to reroute out trip and ride an extra 70 miles or so! I hope to daily write a blog to keep those of you that have expressed interest in following our adventure ! Excited to see the beautiful Pacific Coast and the physical and mental challenge that will come our way! Please keep Mike and I in your thoughts and prayers! Leon.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Sunrise Ride

Author: Les Becker

At 3:30am I was sound asleep. At the same time, Leon had wakened and couldn't go back to sleep, so was getting ready for an even earlier drive to the mountain. I arrived at the base of Sunrise road at 6:40 and Nick Moffit also just pulled up. The closed gate was a sign of choosing the perfect day. The road was open this weekend to bicycles and walkers but not yet to cars. Nick and I got 700 feet of climbing up the road when Leon and Scott Wager came zipping down, Leon with a tire that was going flat. We did an about face to join them. I wasn't sure how many trips they had made as Scott had a tendency at that moment to exaggerate (ha ha), but I assume that was their first.

Nick Moffit just below Sunrise

After swapping for new rear wheel (why patch the flat when you have a spare wheel in your car?) the four of us proceeded up the road again. This was one of many trips and parts of trips up the hill as small groups split and coalesced depending on how fast or how far we wanted to go. Leon stayed on the main hill up to the hairpin turn and viewpoint with 360 deg view to be efficient in getting total feet climbed since he planned to "Rainier". The rest of us rode to the upper parking lot on the next trip. There was a few feet of snow there. We met a rider who was carrying skis on his bike up to the snow. With no cars on the road I took liberty to sit in the middle of the road trying to get good pictures of John and Nick when surprised by a park van approaching - had to skidaddle out of the way.

John Winter, never breaks a sweat.

One trip up we ran into Mark on the upper slopes. He was having a good time in the sunshine. His busy schedule had prevented much training before this ride so I was impressed that he took this on as an "early season" training ride. Another trip, we were surprised to see Mike Smith and Tammy catch up to us. They had ridden Cayuse and Chinook prior. Mike pushed the pace and I never felt the same after that. Thanks Mike!

Me, feeling there is no other place in the world I would rather be.
Toward the end of my riding I had only one speed left: "just keep the bike rolling" but really enjoyed a chance to ride on such a beautiful and peaceful road talking to Leon. After my 9,000 ft I left Leon to finish his impressive 14,500, the first Rainiering, I presume, in the Cyclopath club this year.

Following "perpetual motion" Leon.
Thanks to Leon or Mike, whoever planned this ride to coincide with the bikes only weekend. It was like having our own private playground. Will do it again next year.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Skate Creek Loop 2017 -- by Dwaine

Seven Cyclopaths arrived for the 2017 Skate Creek Loop event in the following order: Leon, Adam, David, Les, Dwaine, Rob, Rex. Mike was not in attendance. The Cyclopath administration offered no official reason but I did hear whispers in the wind that indicated beer or beer making was at the heart of his absence. Leon stepped up and took charge for the day.

The cool air and Leon's gentle reminder motivated us to get pedaling in short order.

A quartet of Cyclopaths flying in formation early in the day.

The gradual gradient leaving Ashford and entering the park was a good fit for getting chilly riders warmed up. The road was still wet but there was only light traffic and we rode at a comfortable and sociable pace. Multiple conversations were in full swing. Adam shared what he had learned regarding current gravel/cross bike offerings. Later Rex and I discussed some of his wheel building experiences. The Cyclopaths seem to maintain a good balance of performance pedaling and social camaraderie and I especially appreciated this balance after my early training season.

Posing in front of the inn at Longmire. No need for hot chocolate, fresh socks, or a warm fire.

After a short stop at Longmire the ride resumed at an increased pace. Conversations continued but we were now into a more scenic and challenging portion of the climb. This section of this long climb is still one of my favorites and it did not disappoint. At one point, as Mount Rainier became visible, I shouted to the group "We'll forget the suffer but remember that view!".

This image shows demonstrates how quickly playing paparazzi can get you dropped. But I wanted to take a step back and let my camera absorb more of the road and trees. These twists and turns are some of my favorites.

As we passed Steven's Canyon Road the group chose to separate a bit. Before long I was following just Leon and Adam. The air was feeling cooler and we were seeing more snow. Adam commented that the air felt thin. I responded that Leon's pace was making my lungs work a lot harder. Leon ignored us and kept cranking the pedals and later claimed that he wanted to test his fitness. He certainly tested mine.

Adam is looking strong here and the blue skies gave us all an little extra to smile about.

After regrouping at Paradise we discussed the idea of descending through Paradise Valley. A barricade read 'Road Closed' but the pavement was bare as far down as was visible. Les cautioned us against the idea. Later we thanked him as we passed the Paradise Valley Road East outlet. Many feet of snow still covered the bottom reaches of the road.

How many times have I asked the Cyclopaths to pose with Mount Rainier in the background? Too many! This day Adam's Giant Defy anchored the shot.

A group photo was planned at Reflection Lake. Neither the mountain, hidden in clouds, nor the reflection, buried in snow, was willing to cooperate.

As Stevens Canyon Road turned down hill the air began feeling warmer and the sun broke through. As we passed Stevens Creek we experienced a number of temporary waterfalls. Water cascaded off the high rock walls and down to the road surface. On a hot climb up in July or August we would have surely cooled ourselves in the water. But this day we enjoyed only their beauty.

The remainder of the descent was uneventful. Just what we hoped for.

Reflection Lake with no reflection. The sky was full of clouds and the lake covered in snow. This photo represents all riders except myself who was twiddling the camera knobs. My silver bicycle 'Huckleberry' stood in for me. This image also gives hints of the not too summery temperatures.

As the air continued to warm we started on the short section of Highway 123. We rode conservatively and enjoyed the marvelous scenery. At least until the Highway 12 junction.

The pace quickened, leaders changed, I followed wheels, and pretty soon just David and myself had a gap on the rest of the riders. David pulled me most of the way to Packwood. Thank you David. It wasn't until the last mile or so that I noticed a rider coming up from behind. Adam had closed the gap and brought Les with him. It was a strong show of power from Adam and we silently hoped it had taken some of his edge off.

As we provisioned in Packwood the sun continued to smile on us. I was able to remove my extra layers. Leon cheerfully and efficiently repaired a front flat. Rob shared some cold water for topping off bottles. And we generally enjoyed the warmth, company, and the choice of messages on patron's t-shirts as they drifted in and out of the convenience store.

I like to bring home the detail shots. Mechanical issues often attract the attention of my camera. Although just a flat front tire, I asked Leon for a smile as he quickly swapped tubes.

As we embarked on the road for which the day's ride was named the discussion of the upcoming climb was broached. Adam seemed unaware that, on occasion, the pace has seemed to elevate on this final climb. I characterized this increase in pace as 'A gunfight' and advised that I, for one, had only brought a blade. At first the pace quickened within reason. Eventually Adam went off the front.

As many Cyclopaths recall this climb is never too steep and the grade tapers. Leon watched Adam ride away and then quickly organized the four nearest riders into a team. "One minute pulls" he cheered. I guessed that Leon was planning that our group of four would loose time on the bottom half of the climb but then share the work enough to make up the difference on the top half of the climb. David, Les, and myself bought into the plan and went to work.

Over time Leon's group dwindled to just Leon and myself. One minute off the front was not enough for me to keep my battery up. Eventually I told Leon I couldn't pull and he seemed to have no problem towing me the remainder of the distance up and over the top.

As fine a plan as it was, we did not catch Adam until Adam wanted to be caught. He turned around to regroup. Nice ride Adam.

At about that same time the sun chose to hide behind the clouds. Cooler temperatures followed us the remaining ten miles as we each chose our own pace to finish the ride. I fought some cramps and Les slowed to shepherd my in. Thanks Les.

As the group trickled in we all seemed to express the same series of emotions. Despair from that final effort, satisfaction of completion, and then gratitude. Gratitude that we can cycle our way up and down the mountains, at speed, with our friends.

During the ride Leon asked me to be this rides photo journalist and I happily agreed. It is an honor to ride with this group and I get to relive the day while I create this document. I am also afforded a venue to share my gratitude with Leon for leading us. Both as the ride organizer and as the pace maker. Thanks Leon.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

2017_06_07 Puyallup Cyclopath Riding Solo

Author:  Nick Iverson

This year, even as a recently retired physician, my schedule of birthdays, more birthdays, baby sitting, visiting grandchildren, and weather have made it difficult to ride with the Cyclopaths on “official” rides.  Being on the waiting list for the Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day (RAMROD), and having survived my 72d birthday, has kept me in training in the mountains, albeit mostly alone.
The mountain rides have been several trips up Mt. Rainier:  one from Ashford then another from Elbe where I was surrounded at the Paradise parking lot as a Celebrity Cyclopath by a bunch of students who had just returned from a hike up the Mountain.  Subsequently I rode with a friend up almost to Sunrise until the snow, then going down to Crystal Mountain Blvd. to ride to the Ski area.  The 45 mph descent was awesome.  My last trip was a solo Skate Creek Loop ride, starting with a trip up to Paradise.
With a gradual weight loss, using the Dr.. Iverson technique:  “no white foods except cauliflower” has promoted good nutrition and eliminated as much sugar as possible from my diet.  Having preached this formula to patients for over forty-one years, the minimal change was simple, but….  I LOVE SUGAR!!  I walk by the sweet stuff in the grocery stores with a full stomach, and took a special formulated product, not available in stores, but if you called 888-Get Thin, between the hours of 1 AM and 1:01 AM January 32, 2017, you could have purchased the formula, guaranteed to help with your weight for the rest of your life.  OBECAL-P!!!  You got three bottles (1,000 doses) for the price of five, plus a couple hundred dollars in handling fees.  The secret?...  The product is placebo spelled backwards, and each dose contains the message:  “Do More and Eat Less.  Maintain Discipline!”
I digress.  June 10th was a scheduled ride I love:  The Skate Creek Loop.  The weather report for that Saturday looked cold and rainy/snowy and the ride was postponed.  The result prompted me to ride at the end of a warm stretch of weather on June 7, three days before the scheduled ride.  The ride is from WA 7 at the turn off to Skate Creek Road, (On our bikes at 5 AM!) up to Paradise (I love that climb), then descend past Reflection Lakes (still covered with snow), a quick stop at the hair pin curve for a Photo op, then on to Ohanapecosh with a short speed bump over Backbone Ridge.  No, this is NOT a mountain pass.  Then the most glorious descent of the ride winds down as fast as possible, ending near the Grove of the Patriarchs.  After the initial smooth portion of the Stevens Canyon descent, the road is a little sketchy, and riding alone, I did not feel comfortable at full speed, but two quick stops for Photos, gazing up and across the Canyon to see the road already descended, and looking backward to see the Mountain (which is not seen unless one rides backwards or stops to look), made the descent much more glorious, and the small waterfalls on the left provided an almost mystical music of nature.  Only a bicyclist has the opportunity to hear these sounds, smell the clear air and the perfume of the trees and flowers.  There was enough snow and run-off that there was some rivulets crossing the road, which was another reason to be careful; however, past Backbone Ridge—no brains and no brakes!
View from Kautz Creek...

Just past Longmire...

As an aside, there was a decision point regarding continuing the ride, as there had been a power outage at the Visitor Center at Paradise, and I did not have enough calories packed to get to Packwood.  After sitting across from the empty food line, and having squeezed past the barrier to this area, I kept pestering the fellow who runs that food service, and he said, “Weren’t you up here last week?”  I said I had been up twice.  Using some cash, he was able to let me buy some Gatorade and salty potato chips, to replenish the fluids, as the day was quite warm, and I had intentionally polished off both bike bottles on the ascent.  The ride was a go.

Reflection Lake...

View from hairpin turn just above Stevens Canyon...

Stevens Canyon Road...
Backbone Ridge...

Continuing down WA 123 until Hwy 12 was amazing, with temperatures rising to be HOT, but this stretch is surrounded by trees, which helps keep the temperature down a little, and I rode this short distance with only one car passing me until reaching the “T” in the road.  At this point I drank most of the fluids remaining, as the trip to Packwood was going to be hot and into the usual headwind.  Knowing that there was not going to be a paceline of Cyclopath riders or Rob C., to blast into the wind, I needed to conserve energy, but eventually I saw the sign “Welcome to Packwood.”  At the Mobil Gas station off Skate Creek, I stopped for about 20 minutes, ate as much as possible, and gabbed with the gentleman running the station, and a motorcyclist who happened in.  “You are riding around this trip on a BICYCLE!!”  Sure, why not.  “MUCH quieter than your HOG,” I said to myself.

Recovered, and fueled up, I stuffed my undershirt under my short sleeve jersey along with my light jacket I took just in case, as I still had 24 hot miles to go to get back to my car, hoping that the windows would not be bashed in.  By this time, it was rush hour, and there were at least TEN cars coming toward me, and three or four pickup trucks passed me on the climb.  Each truck waited to be just along side of me to stomp on the accelerator (the diesel pedal) to be as obnoxious as possible.  Apart from those 13 or fourteen vehicles, I rode the 24 miles with the Skate Creek to my right, and the road had been patched, making the trip up and over in a PR for me.  The quiet ride up the ascent is meditative.  Other than the problem with my new cassette, chain and shifters not working properly, the ride was wonderful.  I wound up doing the entire climb in the big ring in the front, as this minimized the self-shifting cassette.  Amazingly, the weight loss this year allowed me to get up and over the top feeling quite well.  The spin back to the car was a little unnerving, being alone, and dodging a few potholes.  At the car all of the windows were intact!!