Group Rides

Join us for evening indoor training rides on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30pm at the Recycle Bicycle Shop in downtown Ellensburg.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The 2013 Kittitas county road chip seal program is set to start next week.  Some primary cycling routes in the lower valley especially northeast of town are set to be done including Thomas, Bar 14, Lyons, Parke Creek, Ferguson and Fairview roads.  Thrall Rd is also on the schedule.  45+ miles for the lower valley and 17 in the upper county.

You can get the full list here

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Short tour - final thoughts

Some final thoughts on things I learned:

* don't forget the chain lube/tri flow. * don't do a 110 mile day in 90 degree heat - I was wiped but was on a schedule. Total time of 9 hrs and 45 minutes is a long time.

* it's fun to just enjoy the scenery, but pick a route that is scenic and not monotonously flat and desert like.

* the 1989 Peugeot Limestone hybrid with 28c Specialized Armadillo was a champ and took everything I threw at it. While not light, it was a nice ride.

* the Avocet Touring saddle is really quite comfortable.

* no matter what, it takes about an hour to take camp apart, pack and get on the road.

* while I didn't have front racks on the bike it handled rock solid on descents with no shimmies, vibrations or anything of the sort. It instilled some good confidence.

* hard soled mountain bike shoes make a great hammer for tent stakes* I definitely prefer double sided clipless SPD pedals

Touring on an old bike works fine as long as the components are in good shape. I wouldn't hesitate to do it again and, in fact, can't wait to plan another tour. The dreams of a TransAmerica are still there but I will have to subsist on short tours for the time being.

Short tour - Day 4: Yakima to Ellensburg

I slept like a baby last night on a "real" bed versus the hard ground. I awoke around 6:15 am as Brian was finishing his workout on the treadmill. By 7:00 we had my bike loaded up and Brian jumped on his to ride with me a little while. A quick stop at McDonald's for some breakfast burritos and we were off for good around 7:15.

Yakima has a great trail system called the Greenway trail. We caught that from the 40th Avenue trail head off Highway 12 and then tied in with Interstate 84 for a few miles before exiting and taking Highway 821 up the Yakima River Canyon. This is one of the most scenic routes in the state in my mind.

My derailleur starting acting up again so my frustration started to build. Then we got stuck behind a state highway department truck that was checking freshly painted lines. Suddenly he stopped and we came close to rear ending the travel trailer we were following. After a few minutes we were on our way and Brian turned around at the top of the longest hill and I was on my own.

I reached Ellensburg about 10:15 and stopped by my wife's work to say hello and then ride the final 10 miles home.

Short tour - Day 3: Potholes State Park to Yakima

Since the campground wasn't heavily populated last night and I was tired after riding in the heat I fell asleep quickly to the sounds of fish jumping in the lake, crickets chirping in the grass and birds singing in the trees. I slept considerably better than the night before and was awoken around 5:00 am to the choir of birds chattering. Knowing it was going to be a very long day so I got up and started packing up camp. By 5:15 am the first fisherman had already driven by to put his boat in the water and head out for the day and this started the procession of fishing boats out on the lake.

This was an agressive day of riding and the temperatures were supposed to hit close to 90 degrees F by mid-day. I was scheduled to ride to Yakima, WA which was almost 120 miles away. A friend was planning on riding out during my approach to town and "escort" me back.

I was on the road by 6:15 am and had to back track about 8 miles from the night before as I headed west. I turned onto Frenchman Hill Rd again and was welcomed by the very low vehicle count. There are definite benefits to routes like this such as good safety because of the lack of cars. The downside is you do not see many people and even go miles without decent options to re-fill water bottles.

I was quickly bothered by an infuriating squeak coming from the rear derailleur. It had gotten embarassingly loud and the only way I could seem to get it to quiet down was to ride in the big (48t) chain ring and the 24t rear ring ...... for two plus hours. Fortunately the road was very flat. I assumed it was the chain drying out and, conveniently, I had forgotten my chain lube. Just before getting to a nasty climb I decided to pull into an orchard farm and see if they had an oil cannister I could use for the chain. Nobody answered even though the doors to the shop were open. As I turned around to head back to the road I heard a bark and turned to see a monstrous Rottweiler running my way. It appeared he wanted to take a chunk out of my leg. A couple of quick shouts and an acceleration and I was gone and he fortunately didn't follow me onto the pavement.

The climb was the start of the portion of the ride on Beverly-Burke Rd which turned out to be one of the smoothest asphalt pavements I had the entire trip. After cresting the hill I was welcomed by the expanse views of the Saddle Mountains leading to the Columbia River - my destination. I crossed Hwy 26 after some nice coasting on a long downhill and continued down to the river. At one point I saw a large sprinkler line soaking the road, looked both ways, and rode underneath it to get a quick refreshing "shower" and cool off.
Highway 243 along the would be a really nice ride if it were not for the chip seal covering - a layer of hot tar put over the asphalt and then 5/8" chunks of gravel rolled into it. The cars wear it down pretty well but the shoulders were rough. Thankfully I had a steel frame bike (absorbs the bumps well) and Specialized Armadillo tires so the only thing I noticed was the increased rolling resistance and a little slower speed. I was pleasantly surprised when the little fruit stand I have visited before was open and had fresh Bing cherries for sale. This made for a very happy cyclist since cherries are one of my favorite fruits.

Arriving in Mattawa a little after 10 am and with the temperatures quickly rising I stopped by a tire store and got some oil for my chain hoping it would fix the chirping. Then it was up the hill to Harvest Foods for a turkey sandwich, pina colada ice cream bar, Gatorade and more water. Had a nice conversation with a gentlemen driving a sweet late 1970's Ford Bronco. If you can't tell I like Fords and especially old ones.
I had another 55-60 miles to go and with a rest area about 15 miles up the road I knew I needed to be as hydrated as possible. After that rest area it was 40 miles of dry, open range land wih nary a place to stop or to find shade. I struggled up the last climb off the river on Highway 24 and tried to get into a rhythm as I fought the heat. I had done a couple of 100 mile rides last year but not on a loaded touring bike and was definitely struggling.

About 25 miles from Yakima I was passed by a rental motor home that suddenly pulled over to take photos of an old abandoned house. I thought I had recognized the motor home and as I passed it was confirmed. It was a young family that was at the campground with me the night before. I turned around and introduced myself. They were a couple from Munich, Germany on holiday for four weeks and touring around the state. It was a nice, refreshing conversation.

I finally arrived at Moxee - completely worn out and stopped at a convenience for a Dr. Pepper soda (sugar), ice cream bar and a liter of water. I called my friend Brian who was supposed to ride out Hwy 24 to meet me. He had gotten tied up at work and we agreed to meet at a new brewer just a couple of miles up the road. He brought his pick up and saved me 10 miles of riding by heading back to his house where I was spending the night. The beer we had at the brewery was definitely refreshing as was the super burrito for dinner.

It was then time to put the bike on the work stand, clean and lube the chain and hope that fixed the chirping problem at the rear derailleur.

Without irrigation it's this barren

Short tour - Day 2: Wenatchee to Potholes State Park

What an incredibly restless night. I thought I was ready for bed at 9:30 pm but it probably took a good 90 minutes to finally fall asleep. I woke numerous times from wind, car noise and some heavy equipment from the industrial area up the hill. Of course, it starts getting light around 4:30 am or so. By 5:45 am I woke again and finally again for good at 6:15. It was a losing battle so I got up and started packing up camp. It is probably for the best as the temperatures are supposed to be in the high 80's (farenheit).

Wenatchee has a great trail system along the river called the Apple Centennial trail. I rode it on the west side of the river into East Wenatchee for a quick bite to eat at McDonalds before heading east.

It was a beautiful morning to head east with a great tailwind all the way out past Rock Island Dam. The first part was on Rock Island Rd - one vehicle in 3 miles would be indicative of what I experienced on the back roads of central Washington in the afternoon. Hwy 28 was a stark contrast to Rock Island Rd - nonstop vehicle traffic and noise. At least the shoulder was smooth and wide.

After the biggest climb of the day to Quincy it was time for a lunch break to get ready for the expected monotonous afternoon riding through very flat agricultural land. Turning south on Road P NW and then east on Road 9 NW (yes, the roads really are named that in Grant county) I was soon to experience very straight and very long roads.

I made it all of 10 minutes and broke my promise to my dad. Out came the MP3 player and some needed focus for my brain. Many probably disagree with this but considering how far ahead and behind I could see (miles) and seeing how five cars passed me in my direction for a good 15 miles I was ok with the music.
Eventually I made it to Dodson Rd where it was another 15 to 20 miles south on completely straight, but smoothly paved asphalt. I was beginning to wonder if I would ever get to Frenchman Hill Rd where I was to head east again. In fact, I was staring at a mile long hill and really not wanting to go up it when I got to the turn at the base of the hill. Whew! The temperatures were now in the mid-80's with a slight headwind. I finally see a sign - 5 miles to go. I was just thankful there weren't going to be anymore hills like the killer one before Quincy - the second in two days that required my lowest gearing at 26 X 28.

It's amazing that, even tired, you can ride faster when you crest a small rise and see a refreshing view of a huge lake where the campground is and you realize you've made it.

The campsite I had reserved is right on the lake but is a swamp with gross water right up next to the tent pad and the soil damp, even in direct sunlight. I moved to the next site over that was drier and full shade. The tent area of campground is relatively sparse tonight which also means it's quiet. I will say I was a little apprehensive when I started to set up camp and was met by a 3 foot bull snake as it slithered by. I'm hoping he decides not to revisit at night.

Still no sign of Eric. His campsite was quiet this morning when I left Wenatchee. I just hope he found a good place to camp as there isn't much relief from the sun out there.

Short tour - Day 1: Ellensburg to Wenatchee

Heading into last night I was getting a little more nervous about this trip. I'm not sure why. Maybe it was just the unknown of doing something like this for the first time. Either way I slept great and only woke once. On average I'm up 2-3 times a night so this was a nice change.

I got up around 6:00 am as the kids started rolling out of bed to get ready for school. They were pleasantly surprised when I told them I was making pancakes for breakfast. Some carbohydrates for me for riding meant something different for them on a school day.

I finally started getting the bike packed around 8:00 and found 40 minutes went by very quickly. Once quick snapshot and an update here and I was on the road. One half mile from the house I got to the pavement and noticed a creaking noise as I was pedaling. I did a quick u-turn and went back to the shop to tighten the left crank arm. I had re-set the botom bracet cup and lockring on Friday and just didn't get the crank arm bolt torqued enough.

I was finally on the road for good by 9 am. It's not a definite start time since my phone was off (saving battery life) and I had no bike computer or GPS. I thought I had an extra bike computer but forgot it was installed on another bike last last summer. No bother, as this was supposed to be a relaxed trip anyway.
What kind of adventure would there be without bugs - of the insect persuasion. In a mile long stretch I went through two swarms of gnats that covered my legs with an incredible number of the flying bugs. There's no easy way to get them off so I just tried brushing them away. Unfortunately I think I was more successful in spreading bug "juice" on my legs than anything else.

About 17 miles in, and right before the first climb of the day, I found myself serenaded by crickets residing in a large field of white and yellow wildflowers. By this time my worst fears were realized as the nerve in my right foot started to act up. I had worn my hard soled mountain bike shoes because my foot seemed to "agree" in them better than my Lake mountain bike shoes which would have been more comfortable off the bike. The only benefit of the foot problem is it often forces me to stop every 60 to 90 minutes to massage it. That's not necessarily a bad thing while touring.

As I turned north on on Highway 97 to climb toward Blewett Pass I was welcomed by a tailwind thus reversing the headache (aka headwind) for the first 19 miles. The shoulder is wide and smooth for at least 13 miles making the ride enjoyable except for the occasional offensive smell of road kill somewhere in the bushes. I also saw three other tourists heading south within 5 miles of my turn toward the pass.

I made a quick stop at Swauk campground to refill water bottles and a quick bite to eat before the last bit (and steeper part) of the climb. The shoulder narrows but a second lane for slower vehicles starts so riding up isn't too bad as long as it's midweek in the summer. I stopped quickly at the top for a photo of the bike and the elevation sign and then started the wonderful descent. I was absolutely amazed at how planted and smooth this 24 yr old steel hybrid bike was. Granted I didn't have front racks and panniers on it but there was no shake or vibration even at the steepest, and fastest, parts of the descent.

I reached Highway 2 and turned east. The plan was to take back roads into Wenatchee from here. The first was going to be Deadman Hill Rd within 1/2 mile of entering Highway 2. I took one look at the first hill and decided Hwy 2 looked much nicer. I stopped at a local convenience store for a bottle of Coke and a huckleberry ice cream bar and then road to the first exit for Cashmere where I exited the highway. My directions ended up being horrible (Mapmyride) and I worked my way back through town to the highway and then took Old Monitor Rd through orchards and across the river finally getting away from traffic. I crossed over Hwy 2 on the pedestrian/bike overpass and proceeded up Easy St into Wenatchee and then on to the Confluence State Park where I had a reservation for the night.

My arrival at the campground was just after 3:00pm which was faster than I expected. Making a total ride time including rest stops of just over 6 hours. I set up camp and took a shower which was extremely refreshing (and I'm not a shower person). A quick run to the store for some more bananas for tomorrow and then dinner with a school friend I hadn't seen in 4 years and my evening was almost complete.

Another rider was in the campground when I got back from dinner. I found out his name was Eric from Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada and this was his first tour also - his fourth day. He was on his way to Moscow, ID where he was spending the summer. He was reportedly going to the same campground as me the next day but there didn't too be much interest in riding with someone so I didn't bring it up.

Best sight of the day:
A gorgeous, white, healthy sounding 1957 Ford Thunderbird stopped at the light in front of me about a mile from the campground. A very nice end to the ride to see that classic car.