Great Day for a Ride!

Its time I come clean.  I have been stretching the truth a bit for the last couple years.  When asked, I have said that I have conquered every hill I have ever attempted on my bike.  Well there was one in which that was not entirely true.  3 years ago I tried this hill.  I got about 4.5 miles from the top, and called it quits.  Now granted, I was out of water, (I didn’t follow my own rules this time) and it was hot. So I blamed needing liquids. Truth be told, It kicked my ass.

I did this same route 2 years ago, but I hung a right and ended up at the highest paved point in Washington State.

Enumclaw to Mt Rainier
Enumclaw to Mt Rainier

So a good route!  But still hadn’t completed the one that beat me.  Nope, never gotten to the top of Chinook Pass!

imageIn Washington, we have the Cascade Mountains that divide Easter and Western WA.  I live in Western.  there are 5 main passes.  Rainey, Stevens, Snoqualmie (i-90) Chinook and White.  Chinook has always been my favorite.  I camped there as a kid and it takes you in Mt Rainier.  Since it is narrow and steep, they close it every year in the winter, and one of the first signs of summer is when it is open.

I was up at 4AM and out the door at 430.  It was supposed to be Hot so I wanted to beat the heat!  I drove to Enumclaw, famous for the King County fair (which no one attends) and the last real grocery store if you are going camping.  I parked at Safeway, and I was Eastbound on hwy 410 by 6!

Its nice, 410 has nice wide smooth shoulders and for most of the trip, the road parallels the White River (named for the grayish white color due to being fresh off the glacier.)

imageimageimageUntil you get to the park entrance, its 32 miles of rolling hills, with only one town (if you can call it that) Greenwater.  Two stores, a tavern and a porta potty.  (Guess which I used!)  However, when you leave Greenwater, the scenery starts getting more rustic.

I had to pull over to see Skookum Falls, they aren’t the most spectacular, but they are one of my favorites.

imageimageSoon thereafter, you hit the entrance to the park and the real ride starts.

imageit’s about 12 miles from the entrance of the park to the 5430 ft top of Chinook pass.  It’s a steady climb, but luckily for me, it is shaded the whole way.  I was passed pretty early on by a peleton of 20 somethings, and two old farts.  The O Fs fell out of the pack pretty quick and I ended up passing them later.  Of course I was passed by this 75 pound girl with steel cords for legs and some poor guy who was just trying to “Keep her in sight”  Not sure if he was stalker or boyfriend, but if he could keep up with her, more power to him!

Sadly Rainier herself was clouded in

imageimageBut she was still pretty!  Sometimes her being cloudy makes you notice the other things in the park 🙂

The climb was steady, but NOT brutal.  I am not sure if I am just in better shape, or it’s just not as hard as I thought it would be.  I passed the spot I turned at before and stopped for lunch.  And gave myself a bit of a scare.  I dropped a Nuun tablet into an empty water bottle.  Then as I went digging for the spare water I packed, I heard this loud hissing!  I was sure it was a flat tire!  Nope, the bottle wasn’t bone dry and it was the tablet.  WHEW!

From there on it got a little easier!  I hit snow country (it doesn’t all melt till the end of July) and there was a ton of run off going on!  This is where being on a bike is nice!  I can pull over ANYWHERE and get a picture! Thats how I got theses.

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The road starts running into switch back, but being more level I was making better time!  Better yet, being surronded by snow was natural air conditioning.  VERY refreshing!  I came around a corner and saw Tipsoo Lake!

imageYes I know it looks like a snow field, but if you look closer you will see there is water.  I have to be careful when I snowshoe here in the winter!

imageTipsoo is the last landmark before the top, and the road got steeper.  Soon though, I saw this! The top of the pass!

imageAfter crossing it I decided I needed to climb up there!  I traveled up he for 40+ years and Had no idea this was not just a sign, its a bridge!

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imageAll in all a great ride up!  The best was yet to come though!!  12 miles of downhill, no pedaling and hitting 30 + mph!  It took just under 2 hours to climb, and 20 minutes to go down!  I was smiling ear to ear!

Sadly,the hill ended and it was back to town.  88 miles, 8 hours (including food and picture stops).  I’ve decided I need to do more biking in our National Parks, we have 3 within driving distance of my house.  Its beautiful, the cars give you room, and it combines my need to ride with my need to be in the mountains!  OH!!!  and the downhill is a kick in the pants!

And for the record!  NO hill I have ever attempted has stopped me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ride Prep!

As the rides get longer, especially depending on the route, the prep is more extensive.  For a supported century, I just make sure I have both bottles full, the right clothes, and maybe an extra snack.  The food stops happen often enough that I never have to worry about running out of water or carrying too much with me.

For an unsupported ride, it depends on where I am going.  That, if all goes according to plan, is what I will be doing when this post appears.  I have an unsupported 90 mile ride planned.  This requires MUCH more prep!

First both water bottles and my small camel back will be full and ready to roll.  Its going to be toasty out there and I need to make sure I stay hydrated.  Plus if I ride where I am planning to ride, there aren’t many stores.  This means I need to make sure I have enough. 

That includes food as well!  I will be making up 4 PB&Js tonight, the perfect bike food!  In addition, I hit REI and grabbed cliff bars as well as shotbloks!  Things you can eat as you pedal.  This ride will also let be burn off some of the calories from the giant burrito I had at a unit lunch today!

Speaking of toasty, that means sun. I have not done well doing sun block this year, so I grabbed the 40 block.  If I go where I plan, I will also have issue with mosquitos.  There will be a lot of slow uphill pedaling, which will make me a sitting duck for them!  Bug spray goes in the bag!

Tubes, patches, and CO2 cylinders in case of a flat.  There won’t be anyone driving by with a full repair station as they do on the Seattle to Portland ride. 

Finally the camera and extra batteries!  The views should be gorgeous tomorrow, and I hope to be able to share some amazing pictures with yall.  The extra batteries will make sure I can!

Now you may be wondering why I am not telling you where I am going.  Well I don’t want to jinx it!  To make it work, I will have to have my butt up and out the door by 430 AM!  This leads to the last piece of prep, hitting Starbucks tonight to have a 4 pump Vanilla Ice Tea sitting in the fridge for my wife!  One of our longstanding traditions is I make the Starbuck run on weekend mornings.  She tells me I am silly to do the night before run, but its what I do!

So wish me luck, by the time this first publishes, I hope to be 20 miles in!!

The Shows I Watched as a Kid!

My last post dealt with a Looney Toons cartoon I liked as a kid, and truthfully, even into adulthood.  I mean, how can you not watch Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, Road Runner, or one of my favorites Foghorn Leghorn!

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It started me thinking about the other shows (cartoons and otherwise) that I liked when I was a kid.  Some are well known while others maybe not so much.  So I thought I would share a few!

SeaLab 2020An underwater city, it’s where I first learned about the pressure of deep water as well as “the bends”.  Classic story in cartoons of a brother and sister who wouldn’t listen to their parents and were always getting in trouble!  Scary to think that its only 7 years until 2020…

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Speed Racer:  Who doesn’t know about the Mach 5 (can’t tell you how long I thought it was the Mark 5)  Speed, Trixie, Pops, Spritel, Chin Chin, and the car!  To this day sometimes I wish my old wagon had some of the buttons the Mach 5 did.  Never could remember what they all did, but my favorite was the saw blades!

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StarBlazersDerick Wildstar (who looked a lot like Speed Racer) Sandor and the rest flying a old battleship across space to fight the Gamalons who were bombing earth with meteor bombs.  Starsha from Iskandar called them to come to her, and helped with the Wave Motion Gun!

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Speed BuggyHow many cartoons were there with a bunch of teenagers who solved mysteries?  This one was with a car that could talk!  (kind of) Sadly I have to admit that yes, I can do a pretty darn good Speed Buggy Impression!

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Herculoids:  I remember this as a little kid.  But didn’t remember the name.  All I remembered was Tantro, the Rhino like Herculoid that would shoot energy bolts out of his head and charge into things at a dead run!  More than once I got in trouble pretending to be Tantro and knocking over my sister!  Prehistoric planet with this group fighting off evil aliens!

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Thundarr the Barbarian:  Gotta love the sunsword!  Who cares if it was a obviously stolen from a light saber.  Never liked HeMan, but Thundarr was a stud!

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Danger Island:  UH OH CHONGOOOOO!!  Ok not a cartoon, but a serial show about a professor his daughter, his assistant (Jan Michael Vincent) who get marooned because of Mutan and his prirates.  They meet Morgan and Chongo.  Slapstick action, lots of fights and fun!

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Lost in Space:  “Warning Will Robinson!  Meteor Shower approaching! ”  “Never Fear Smith is here!” Classic Sci Fi of a family in space blown off course and lost.  Robots, bad special effects and loved every show!

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There are many many more.  Land of the Lost, Scooby Doo, Land of the Giants to name a few.  All were fun, many had fights, explosions, danger, but we, as kids, knew it was make-believe!  We would fight with our sun swords, knock over our sisters, and race like the wind on the Mach 5 (our bikes!) It stirred the imagination, shaped our games, and bring back fond memories.

Do this day, I sometimes slip and say “Uh Oh Chongooooo!”

  • Yob! (mountainstroh.wordpress.com)

 

YOB!

I know many of you had to be Looney Tunes fans when you were kids (or even now!)  Cartoon network, even with Sponge Bob, Johnny Bravo and RugRats can’t touch the classics!

But do any of you remember the one with Yob?  The Martian baby who’s rocket ran into the earthling baby on the way to be born. 

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Because in the 50s, women didn’t go into labor, they went to the hospital and either a stork or a rocket or a parachute delivered the kids. 

The Earth family had no idea this happened, but they started noticing the kid, Yob, just wasn’t normal….

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I bring this up because I am starting to think there is NO way my oldest can be mine!!  (Maybe HE is YOB!)

He is going to be starting his junior year in College in September.  Last year, he had his first apartment.  I took him grocery shopping the first day. It cost me almost $200!!  The kid had recipes!  He wanted diced pimentos!  Hell, I am still not sure what a diced pimento is or what you use it for.  I lived on Kraft Mac and Cheese and cheese burgers, plus trading Barb and Terry baby sitting for real food…  He cooks!!

I found out early on that even on Saturday nights, he was studying. 

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“Dude,” I said, “You have to find fun stuff!  It’s college!”  I was thinking intramural sports, or even beer pong…  He took up Tango dancing “Well theirs more girls than guys and they are gorgeous…”  Well I can’t fault the logic, but I can dance a lick….

Speaking of talent, he can sing, play anything with a string, and borrowed a flute to play with during the summer.  I couldn’t even figure out how to play cymbals….

He has an actual fashion sense and girls love him! 

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I was more of a crash and burn kinda guy, and without my village my clothes still don’t match.

And the kid is incredibly smart!  He’s carrying straight A’s in his major (Math) and has never gotten below a B+ in any other class…. 

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He was also, in high school, and incredible inline speed skater, going to nationals twice!  Yeah I was a helluva flag foot player, but honestly.

Instead of zombie books, Sci Fi, Old Westerns or Mountain climbing books, the kid reads, understands and enjoys literature.  He bought and read the complete works of Edgar Allan Poe, just for fun…

I just can’t help but think somewhere out there is a Martian Family, raising an 80s rock listening, bike riding, zombie watching, Levi wearing, nature loving kid, and wondering “How the hell did he turn out like this?”

Proud of him though!  He is his own person, and he will do well!  But is he realy mine???

Save Your Breath!

Yep, I think it’s official, I owe Joe Kurmaskie a beer or 12!

Why you ask?  Is it because he has great books that have given me hours of entertainment? Is it because following him on Facebook makes me laugh at inappropriate times at work?  Is it because he has 4 boys and deserves a beer?  (well yes, any of these would be a good enough reason!)

But none are the reason for me saying this right now.  The reason is this:  Reading his books strikes a chord inside me somewhere, and then a blog post just wants to jump out!!

This happened last night.  I am rereading Riding Outside the Lines,

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in particular the story about heading for Ayers rock “Three (Unlikely) Amigos”.  I won’t spoil the story (though I highly recommend this book and I will review when done!) but it had a line I read last night that stopped me short and made me think.  (not easy at 10:15 PM I tell ya!)

It was this: “If you have to explain to someone why you ride, save your breath!”

Lord aint it the truth!

Those who ask “Why would you want to pedal 200 miles in a day?” or “It’s raining, why would you want to go out there?”  or “You ride on roads isn’t that dangerous?” or any number of other questions, will never understand no matter how much you try to explain.

There is no way they would understand the thrill of topping a long hill knowing there is a fantastic downhill coming up.  Rounding the corner and being close to a deer, or elk or blue heron or any number of types of wildlife that didn’t get scared away by an engine of a car.  The feeling of pride when you look at a map and can slide your finger down for hundreds of miles showing the route you rode.

The feeling of peace when there is no one around, the road is clear, the wind is behind you and you are almost floating.  The solid feel of your legs when you slap them, knowing they will take you anywhere.  Driving up a hill in a car and thinking “Oh I could ride this sucker no problem!”

Unless you are a cyclist, there’s just no way to know all of these.

In my experience, there are 3 types of non-cyclists.  (editors note!  NONE of these are bad, nor am I meaning any insult, just my observation).

The first are those who intuitively get it!  They may have dreams of being a cyclist, or have their own sport that has this same response from people (I had it when I tried to climb mountains as well explaining to people about blue bags (look it up) or poop cans made MANY walk away)!  These folks can feel your passion and support you 100%

The second are those who would never WANT to do what I do, but are very impressed and want to hear more.  They love to ask questions, and are genuinely curious.  You can tell these by the fact they go out of their way to ask you questions about rides more than once.  They are NOT just being polite!  But there is no way they would ever want to saddle up and ride the Chilly Hilly on a rainy Sunday in February.

Then there’s the third type.  They just think I am nuts and would never want to do what I do nor are they interested in the least!  They could be great friends, and you can have other things in common, but if you mention the bike there is that glazed look that appears!

Now, just so you don’t think I am holier than thou, I think we all, at times, fit into all of these categories.  I for one will NEVER understand: Why people like to wear ties, why Levi 501s are not appropriate attire for anything, why people enjoy weddings, why someone who lives in Seattle would ever own a boat, how anyone can be a complete vegan. (NO CHEESE????), or how a guy can read Nicholas Sparks books! (sorry Dave!)  But the fact that we are all different is what makes life fun!

I am thinking most of the followers to this blog are in the first 2 categories.  But for those who aren’t but still read regularly, Thanks!!  I appreciate you doing so!  I know it can’t be easy…

But I now know, if someone ever asks, “Why the hell would you….”  I’ll just smile and shrug and save my breath!

This was NOT a Normal Sunday

So as the title says, this Sunday last was NOT a normal day.

Now Saturday was gorgeous, warm, sunny.  I did some yard work, the kids went to the Solstice Festival and saw some Naked Bike-Riders  Yep the oldest called up and asked if the manchild, his little brother wanted to go.  Now it could be the kid just wanted a full tank of gas, but hey I am not arguing!  My wife and I spent the afternoon relaxing, we got nachos to go from Azteca, and we just hung out together.

The boys came home, and the oldest was searching up something on the web.  I looked outside and there was a person in the car.  “Toe (we call him Toe, short for Tony) is Naomi in the car still?”  “Yeah she is waiting for me to look something up…” “You know, she can come inside.”  “Oh, OK!”  And we met Naomi, his blue-haired, tin-whistle playing, folk singing friend from college.  Nice girl, we don’t know if they are dating, but she did hit him and flip him off (both well deserved) so I am pretty sure they are.

But this is about Sunday, not Saturday.

So, the plan was to wake up, jump on the bike, and do a 50 miler.  Well, the alarm went off, I woke up, and it was raining…  On all the stuff I forgot to put away!  I noticed the day before, that all the gear i wore on the monsoon commute home Thursday was still wet.  I put it in the sun to dry, AND it got rained on again….

Well, I went back to bed.  When the manchild woke up, I heard an unhappy 15 year-old pitching a fit!  He had pink eye!  CRAP!!  Off to the doctor we went.  Luckily, my doc, part of the Holy P, is part of a clinic open 7 days a week.  In and out, and sure as heck, conjunctivitis!   As it turns out, the kid had it about a month ago, so the doc prescribed something that would kill it dead!  (3 drops, 3 times a day, 3 days, 3 3 3, how hard can this be?”  he was a pit of a strange doc)

We went to the pharmacy, they didn’t have the meds, in fact it was back ordered!  CRAP!  The kid (ok he’s a pharmacist, but damn he looked 12) got on the computer and tracked down 1 vial, at a place 9 miles away.  He gave us directions and sent us off!  A quest for meds!!  We got there, got his meds, and life was good.

Well, since we were traveling. I stopped to pick up my regular meds.  The dude behind the counter said $51.  Um NO it should be $10!  We had gone through this just a month ago with the other prescription! Well I had him cut it to a 30 instead of a 90 day supply, still had to pay $21, and got out!  I was tired of pharmacies! (Yep, called my insurance today, they called and chewed them out, and I stopped on the way home for the refund!)

On the way to the kid home, I stopped by the longboard shop so the manchild could drop off a permission slip for a “slide session” in the future.  He still does NOT have a board, as his was run over by a car.  Turns out his mom wants him to earn a new one (I’m ok with that) and has things for him to do.  He just needs to get off his butt and start doing it!   Guess what he and I will be talking about after dinner at grandmas tonight!

It was just a strange day!  Nothing that needed to be done, was easy.  I wiped down the whole house to help keep my lovely wife from catching this crap.

Today, everything seems back to normal.  Lets hope the rain stops soon, and this weekend I can get that long ride in.  I really don’t need another tour of 3 pharmacies!