Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Seattle to Portland

Day 1
  • 105 miles
  • ~7:45 riding time
  • Two records broken - rode further then ever at one time which was 90 miles, rode over 100 miles at one time which just a year ago I thought I would never do.
Day one started off cold. I didn't dress for the cold. I had that paper thin jacket that they gave to me, a jersey and some bike (aka lycra) shorts. Tim dropped myself and the luggage off at U-dub, then drove home and rode his bike back. In the mean time I loaded our bags on the truck bound for Chehalis. Riders were lining up at the start line and released when there were about 100 or so.

Tim showed up, we lined up and rode off. We rode maybe a mile and saw someone with a flat. This continued for the rest of the ride about every 5 miles or so. No kidding, flats galore! I just know these people are buying thin, lightweight racing tires with no puncture resistance what so ever. Why do they do this? To save a few ounces. Why save the ounces on the bike when you could stand to loose 20 pounds of fat? And how much time did you save on the side of the road fixing all those flats? I haven't had a flat in like 5000 miles!

There was no coffee at the start line and about 4 miles into the ride we stopped at a Starbucks for some. Apparently several other riders were expecting to see coffee at the start line too because they were also stopped. At about 20 miles we'd left Seattle and the temperature started warming up. This is also close to where we saw our first accident scene; ambulance already there.

Mile post 24 was the REI food stop. This was probably the best food stop. Maybe it was the music, maybe it was just the fact that it was the first food stop but it sort of sticks out in my mind.

Forty three miles in, just past Puyallup, is "the hill" that everyone was talking about. Sure it is a long hill. Sure it's 7% grade but it didn't really seem as bad as they all made it up to be.

Somewhere between Spanaway and McKenna was the only accident I actually witnessed. Everyone was signaling for train tracks and then this guy about 100 feet ahead just went down. I'm not even sure he even tried to stop his fall. It looked like he just stayed in his cycling position all the way to the ground. I yelled crash, we all slowed down and stopped. The dude was out cold. Someone pulled his bike out from between his legs which didn't really seem like the thing to do at the moment to me; aren't you not supposed to move injured people. Someone was calling 911 and a car appeared from somewhere with some STP staff I think. There was bright red blood on the ground and more coming from the guys head. He started to moan, got on his hands and knees and then off his hands. He must have caught his eye brow or something because I really didn't see any damage to his helmet. Anyway, there was nothing more we could do that wasn't already being done so we moved on.

For a while then we did a nice long straight clip, into the warm afternoon drafting behind 3 or 4 other guys. At Yelm we jumped on the Yelm-Tenino bike trail. A couple tandems cruised past us and we jumped into their draft and what a sweet draft it was. We were doing 25 to 28 mph. Then the tandems sort of took a break and dropped down to 16 - 17 mph. After a few minutes we passed them but soon they were back at it calling out,"Here we go again guys." We passed a lot of people. I called it the Tandem Express. We lost them at the Tenino mini stop.

It was a pretty leisurely 12 miles from there to Centralia which is just what I expected Centralia to be. Crowds, music, parties but most importantly crowded camping. Just 8 more miles down the road was our quiet little camp in Chehalis. Recreation Park is where our baggage truck stopped and where we stayed for the night. There was plenty of room on the baseball field for our tent. In a building that must be rented out for events was a nice pasta, salad dinner and dessert. All you could eat for 7 bucks. There is a pool at the park with showers for 3 dollars. All the hot water was gone but it was refreshing. Afterwards we walked to the local Safeway and bought a couple pint size beers. We said only one and it's a good thing the grocery wasn't right next door because then we would likely have gone back. It was expected but a little surprising to see people turning in around sundown (9pm) and so we did the same. I don't remember this but Tim says that at about 2am someone drove past the park honking and yelling, "Welcome STP riders!" In the morning they had a nice breakfast; eggs, pancakes, sausage, coffee; this time all for only 6 bucks. Then we packed up our little camp, placed our bags on the truck and hit the road.

Day 2
  • 97 miles
  • ~7:50 riding time
Total for ride
  • 202.18 miles
  • Max speed - 34.5mph
  • Time - 15:22
  • Average speed - 13.1mph
  • Odometer - 243.8
Today did not start out so pretty. In fact it was down right rough. Somewhere during the first 10 miles the fleeting thought passed through my mind, "I'm not going to make it." I quickly dismissed it. I'll make it. First I had some pain in my ankles. What, my ankles? This gradually dismissed during the morning. The real problem, however, was in my knees, or rather, behind my knees. Not my normal knee pain. I think this is more of a muscle pain then connective tissue but I'm no doctor. There are a few factors I attribute this pain to: a slightly different riding position on the new bike (which I believe is actually a good thing as my regular knee pain is virtually gone), doing all my training at a very leisurely pace and not doing the first day at a leisurely pace at all, and never before riding more then 90 miles, at one time, which I did on day one. I literally could not stand up and pedal this day. I was pretty good in the saddle but there was too much pain standing up. To make matters worse the day started with rolling hills for several miles. I like to climb shorter hills out of the saddle. This forced me to down shift and slow down. Tim rode ahead. I had no problem with this. Slow and easy. You'll make it. Hell, I was still passing people and the country side is beautiful. It was also cold all morning. I saw one sign reading 58F. I didn't really bring any cold weather gear. I expected the sun to be out and it was overcast until about noon. My fingers went numb. My toes started to go numb. Each downhill was a joy and a test, relaxing yet cold.

Tim waited for me at the first food stop. He had already ate. The food lines were HUGE but at least they had food. Every stop today I'd get off the bike and limp over to the food. I could never stop for to long or I knew I wouldn't want to get back on the bike. We rode together, again for a while and then he drifted ahead. Finally we reached the Lewis and Clark Bridge; Oregon on the other side. There is hope. I will make it to Portland. They were escorting us across the bridge in large groups, I'm assuming because of the traffic. Now I heard people talking all day about this bridge. The gaps in the expansion joints, how dangerous it was to ride across, blah, blah, blah. I don't know where these people ride, or what type of weather they ride in but this bridge was nothing. Easy.

Mile 173. Last free food stop at the town of St. Helens. After this there was a nice long flat ride for miles and while I couldn't stand up and pedal I could still move pretty good in the saddle. I was passing a lot of people and then the sun came out. I let go of the bars, reached my arms out and embraced its warming rays. I felt empowered like Superman.

Coming into Portland was a bit annoying however. We zig zagged through neighborhoods and hit stoplight after stoplight. It was like, "Hey you're here . . . but you're not here." Even after rolling across the Steel Bridge it seemed to take forever although it was less then a mile. The last mile. The finish line was nice, however. There were lots of people ringing bells and cheering you in. Tim made it in only about an hour before me. This actually worked out in my favor because he rode to the hotel and was just heading back with his Dad and a Van to pick me and our bags up.

At the hotel I got checked in, showered, had a nice dinner with Tim's parents in the city, and the next ten hours were all mine. We got some nice hot rates at The Nines and I was never so happy to have a hotel room all to myself. No alarms in the morning, no cats meowing, no one else waking up early and disturbing me, no outside noise from open windows. "Tim what time is check out? Noon? I'll see ya then. Goodnight." Room temperature, perfect. Pillows in proper arrangement. Big thick comforter over my head. Phone, silent mode. I think I slept for about nine hours, woke up, rolled over and slept some more. I woke up around nine or ten, checked my phone. There were little icons all across the top. Email, missed phone call, text message, voice message. Nice while it lasted.

Some other statistics for the ride

  • Uphill distance 30.87 miles
  • Uphill altitude 1,951 feet
  • Maximum altitude 463 feet
  • One 3rd and final personal record - 238 miles in one week.

I continued to ride to work over the next week and my legs finally came back to me. The bike handled like a dream. It's what really got me through this. I got many comments and a lot of compliments on it. It's really a great looking bike and will only look better. Almost all the other bikes out there looked the same to me. Blah blah. This one's a classic.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Birth of a Bicycle

Monday my frame finally came in from Rivendell. I spent all day building up the bike, cannibalizing parts from Musette. When it was all said and done I got to thinking just what parts were still original from Musette. Five. The bars, the right crank, the bottom bracket (showing wear), and the derailleurs. That's it.

At about 11 o'clock, Monday night I took it out for a short 2 mile test ride. One thing I noticed right away is this frame really soaks up the road bumps. I think it's either because of the wider wheelbase or that sweet taper in the front fork. Possibly just frame geometry.

Other advantages of this new frame: it has mounts for racks, fenders and water bottle cages; clearance for wider tires and fenders; mounts cantilever brakes which muck up less in the mud, and again, can handle wider tires and fenders; no toe overlap which almost caused me to crash on numerous occasions; it's my correct size; it's a lugged chromoly steel frame which will last years and years, is super strong, and can be repaired; it's geometry gives me a more relaxed riding position.

I've been doing some short rides, working out the glitches and I did some light paint work around the lugs. I think I'm ready for Seattle to Portland. The bike is ready anyway. Tim and I picked up our packets just today.

Musette is officially decommissioned. There's not much left of her. A frame, fork and some cantilever brakes. It's the end of an era. 11332 miles rode on that bike.

I've restarted my odometer at zero and so far I've 38.5 miles on the Hillborne.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Sam Hillborne Shipped

Called Rivendell today to see if the Hillborne's were in. They are. I paid mine off and they shipped it out today. It should be here by Monday the 12th. STP is on the 17th. I should be able to get it ready by then. I'm going to start work stripping and preping parts from Musette in the next few days here so all I'll have to do when it arrives is bolt on parts and re-dish the rear wheel. I'm not sure but I think I'll need a new chain, unless I have some extra links lying around. The chain stays are quite a bit longer on the Hillborne.