Thursday, October 27, 2011
Actually, it's already here. I travel periodically to Boise and Spokane for work for two or three days. I have a minivan for a company car and always take a bike with me - just in case. It's come in very handy this year.
Last night I had to work late and it was already dark so outdoor riding wasn't an option. Fortunately, not only did I bring a bike but I also brought a trainer. Be flexible when you travel - take running clothes, use the hotel workout room (something I don't do), join a gym like Anytime Fitness or YMCA that has locations around the country that you can use. Just get a workout in. It's too easy when the days are short and it's cold to talk yourself out of the exercise.
As seen in some of my prior posts this year I have focused on riding in different areas when I can. One of the primary reasons is for maintaining fitness but it's also important to mix up the scenery where you ride to breathe some life into the monotony of always riding the same route or in the same area.
I last rode a 100 mile ride in 1997 when I was training for the cross state ultra endurance Cannonball bike ride. That ride traverses I-90 from Seattle to Spokane in one day and has a length of approximately 275 miles. The ride was shortlived thanks to a crash five minutes in but I at least had the comfort of knowing I was in the best shape of my life. Since then family and work obligations have pretty much eliminated the time needed to do a 100 mile ride.
This year I was determined to get a century in and to do it somewhere other than Kittitas County. My selected location was the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes in North Idaho. This trail is on an old railroad bed and is paved for the full 72 mile length of the trail. The trail runs from Plummer to Mullan. My plan was to ride from Plummer out 50 miles and turn back. I chose the route for several reasons: beautiful scenery, low traffic in October and little to no climbing. I didn't want to stress the metatarsal issue in my right foot by climbing a lot of hills and then having to cut the ride short.
Thursday, October 20 was the selected date and my 70 year old father was going to deliver me to the start point and also ride a portion of the trail. This is one of his favorite places to ride. We parked on the north end of Plummer and started out in the chilly 45 degree air. It was overcast and a stiff wind had picked up from the southeast. This would be great on the way out but would make for a tough ride back into the wind.
From Plummer there is approximately a six mile descent (2-3% grade) to Lake Coeur d'Alene where you ride next to the lake up to Harrison before cutting east across the panhandle of Idaho. My dad was enouraging me to leave him and ride on since I was going a longer distance and ride 4-5 miles per hour faster than him. I had made up my mind to ride with him to Harrison before taking off. That's just past mile 15.
At mile 14 my dad looked down to put his water bottle back in its cage, drifted off the trail and crashed in the gravel. I could tell he was hurt pretty badly and told him we were not going to get him back on his bike - which is what he wanted to try and do. We were able to get an ambulance to him and the short story is he had several fractures to the pelvis and saccrum.
My dad feels horrible about the accident and "ruining" my 100 mile ride. I feel blessed that I was there and able to help him. There are times when riding just isn't a priority and this was one of those times. I had to remind him that he's not the only person to do this. Just a year ago I had drifted into some gravel and crashed - well, more like fell over onto the road. Yes, it's embarassing. Yes, the bikes survive. Yes, the ego will forget about it - 10 yrs down the road. As the French might say, ces la vie.
Riding down the hill to Lake Coeur d'Alene
Monday, October 3, 2011
In contrast to the 2010 ride there was no fog or mist at the start. Temperatures were in the high 40 degree F range to maybe low 50's. Overcast skies with thick gray clouds were in the sky with the most threatening ones west toward Cle Elum but most riders were probably not too worried.
I had been looking forward to the 2011 Manastash Metric since I missed the hill climb race I normally do in June and had only done th 24 hour mountain bike race in Spokane in May. The summer was short with a boy playing baseball through the middle of July. I just didn't feel ready for the ride until the week before when I was able to get in a 73 mile ride to the top of Blewett Pass. Finally, the conditioning seemed to be coming around.
As I wrote back in August the Internet has shrunk this world we're in. If you've read this blog much you know I'm interested in classic and vintage bikes - primarily road bikes of the 1970's and 1980's. There's a rich history in the old steel bikes of those days from their design, simplicity in components and durability. They are fascinating and fun to work on and ride.
I participate in the Classic and Vintage (C&V) forum on Bikeforums.net on a daily basis. Most of the users are cordial and helpful in offering advice, locating hard to find parts, identifying bike makes and models, etc. It's a fairly close knit and friendly community. The funny thing is how an like posting on an Internet forum can start moving toward the realm of friendship. In June, I was able to meet up with two other members of the forum that I had corresponded with for a couple of years and we did a 35-40 mile ride. We have stayed in touch always hoping to do more rides. Fortunately, for me one of those guys was able to make it to Ellensburg this past weekend for his first ride in the Manastash Metric. I had ridden it alone the past couple of years and was looking forward to having someone with common interests to socialize with while we rode. We first met in person this past February at the Cascade Bicycle Club swap meet in Seattle and then for the ride in June.
Thanks to having a scheduled "appointment" with the CWU football game that afternoon and taking four boys to the game we decided to load up my "bus" with the bikes and try for an earlier start. That didn't necessarily work as we still hit the road sometime after 8:00am. I have to say the one advantage to the ride having an early start time is cylists could get the choice parking spots at West Ellensburg park before the soccer parents arrived for the full slate of Saturday games.
Not knowing what the weather would be like throughout the ride and after much debating I decided to go with a polypropylene base layer under the jersey and leg warmers for the knees. Jeff figured he'd warm up quickly and went with a jersey and knicker style cycling shorts. It was a little brisk at the start but not nearly as bad as the year before. 10 miles in we stopped at the Thorp Mill rest stop so Jeff could adjust his shoes and I decided to shed the base layer. This is when I realized the extra water bottle was a stupid idea since it took up one pocket and the base layer shirt filled up another one. The fig newtons we had to eat were quickly crumbling under the pressure of all the junk in my pockets.
About three miles into the ride we were welcomed by the abrupt arrival of the Ellensburg 15-20 mph wind from the northwest. Frankly, riding in it is great for training on shorter rides but sucks when you have 30 miles or so to ride in it. We fought it up the hills and down being especially shocked when we could only muster 18 mph on some of the smaller downhills into the winds. And, that was while pedaling. We finally arrived in Cle Elum, a little over two hours after we had started the ride, glad to be out of the wind briefly and able to catch a quick snack. A quick photo opportunity with about ten other riders and a brief conversation with a reporter and we were on our way.
Suddenly we found ourselves travelling 23-25 mph on the flat streets through town with very little effort. That is the one major benefit of the normal Kittitas County wind - the ride back from Cle Elum is fast and fun. Highway 10 is gorgeous this time of year even with the few drivers that, for some reason, are can't figure out how to drive around cyclists. That one side mirror that missed us by a foot or two was just too close for comfort. A quick hamburger at the finish at it was off to the game.
I have to say it was another great job by the RSVP group and thankfully CWU won the football game so it was a awesome day!
Nothing is complete without a picture of the bus that transported our bikes
The parking lot was quickly filling with cyclists by 7:45am
Our two vintage bikes - my 1984 Gitane Sprint (yellow bar tape) and Jeff's 1971 (or so) Swiss Mondia Special. The Mondia has been restored beginning with a repaint at Elliot Bay Cycles in Seattle and then outfitted with full Campagnolo drivetrain that is period correct. Jeff has added some detailing of the lugs and components that makes the bike a stunning example of history.
We spotted this bike before we even started. An early 1980's Team Fuji with the original owner who actually raced it back in the day. He had kept it mostly original and had no intentions of getting rid of it. The black anodized Ukai wheels were a nice touch.
Cruising along Highway 10 looking more relaxed with that tailwind behind us
Jeff working his way up the hill before Elk Heights in a stiff headwind
Another gratuitous Highway 10 shot
Yakima River canyon along Highway 10
So, one more great year is coming to a close. If you missed the ride this year, plan on coming next year. It's guaranteed to be a good one.