Go Big or Go Home!

This was a bit of a surprising day, after a surprising weekend.  We woke up to driving rain this morning, but unusually warm.  Surprising mostly due to the fact it snowed hard Saturday and was butt cold most of the weekend.  But we woke to 50 degrees and serious wet!

We had heard it was going to rain, so I packed all the gortex I had for the ride home.  I planned on warm and wet.  What I got was the second surprise of the day. Continue reading “Go Big or Go Home!”

OK time for Plan B!

Well, as we all know, My plan this year was the RAMROD (Ride Around Mt Rainier in One Day) for July.  I joined the lottery last month, and I was waiting for the reply….  Well today I got this

Thank you for your interest in the 2013 RAMROD. We are sorry to inform you that your entry was not selected in the lottery. Your credit card has not been charged the balance of the registration fee.

The response was overwhelming! Over 1,000 were not selected in the lottery and are now moved to the Wait List.

Your current position on the wait list is 407. We have a link to the wait list on the RAMROD website. Please keep checking there to see your place on the wait list moving down and to determine your odds of getting in.

If your initial wait list number is 100 or less you can be very sure you will have a chance to ride. Between 100 and 200 your odds are still good. Above 200 the odds will depend largely on factors such as perceived weather conditions the day of the ride.

CRAP!!  OK, time for plan B. There was a second ride I wanted to do this year, but without any vacation time, I would not have been able to do them both.  This one allowed even fewer riders, so I was sure I was aced out.  So I accessed the Crater Lake Century, and damned if there wasn’t still room!  Out came the debit card and I am signed up!

For those of unfamiliar with Crater Lake I am taking this from the Century rides website:

Crater Lake

The deepest lake in the United States and the 7th deepest in the world is located in the northern part of Klamath County and was chosen as the site of the century ride because few places on earth command overwhelming awe from observers as Crater Lake does. Even in a region of volcanic wonders, Crater Lake can only be described in superlatives. Stories of the deep blue lake can never prepare visitors for their first breathtaking look from the brink of this 6 mile wide caldera which was created by the eruption and collapse of Mt. Mazama almost 7,000 years ago. Even seasoned travelers gasp at the twenty-mile circle of cliffs, tinted in subtle shades and fringed with hemlock, fir, and pine: all this in a lake of indescribable blue. For more information about Crater Lake , go to www.nps.gov/crla.

Now, this is a century instead of the 150 miles of RAMROD.  But this is no slouch!



The Century Ride

Century Riders (100 miles) will start at the Fort Klamath Museum on Crater Lake Highway (Rte 62) at 4,000 ft elevation, and will enjoy the first 35 miles along the valley floor of the Wood River Valley with breathtaking views of the surrounding Cascade mountains with old growth forests. This will be a nice warm up for the 3,000 ft climb to the Crater Lake Rim. Once reaching Crater Lake Rim and getting your first view of the brilliantly blue, awe inspiring Crater Lake, Century Riders will continue another 30 miles of peaks and valleys for an additional 3,000 ft of climbing around the lake on Rim Drive. Then riders will enjoy the ride back down to the Wood River Valley and will end the ride with 8 miles of flat roads back to the Fort Klamath Museum.

OK a 3000 foot climb and a total of 6000 ft of climbing means its mountain training time!  I will be road tripping down to Enumclaw for a trip to the top of Chinook pass and back a few times when it gets warmer, as well as the two Century Rides I have already lined up.

I am excited about this ride.  I have ALWAYS wanted to see Crater Lake, but somehow have never gotten there in all my travels in Oregon.  I am also a National Park Geek (as well as many other kinds of geek) so I get a passport stamp every time I go to one.

We have booked a place in Klamath Falls for Thurs-Sat.  This means we travel there on Thursday, drive the route, get my stamps, take pictures and walk around in the park Friday, then get to sleep close by Saturday night!

Rest assured I will be signing up for RAMROD next year again (the year I hit 50!) but now I know what I am training for this year!  Sadly, its been raining non-stop today, so time to go out to the shed for an hour on the rollers!

This stuff just got real this year!

The $6 Down Payment that Could Shape My Riding Year!

It’s March 1st ladies and gents!  I’ve had that day marked on my calendar for quite a while!  What is March 1st you ask?  No it’s not my wife’s birthday, or our anniversary.  I am not WAY late for Valentines Day nor did Easter come early this year.

It’s the first day you can enter the lottery (anyone feeling lucky?) with a $6 fee (shoot I’ve paid more for bad beer) for Redmond Cycling Club’s    R A M R O D 2013!  Anyone who has read this blog from the beginning knows I have one big ride each year, and I have finally reached the point that I think I can pull this one off!  What is the R A M R O D you ask?  (Well even if you didn’t) From the website we see:

RAMROD 2013 – Thursday July 25th
  RAMROD [Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day] is the Pacific Northwest’s premiere one-day ultra-marathon cycling event. It combines the incomparable scenery of Mount Rainier National Park with a challenging course featuring 10,000 feet of climbing over 152 miles. The course begins in Enumclaw, WA and takes riders through the rolling hills near Eatonville, Elbe and Ashford before entering the Mount Rainier National Park.  You’ll be challenged by three climbs: a 12 mile ascent to Inspiration Point (4,850 ft), the 3 mile Backbone Ridge climb and the challenging 9-mile Cayuse Pass ascent (4,694 ft).  Join us for another great edition of this classic ride!

I think the “by the numbers” helps explain it even more:

1 Mountain    
152 Miles    
800 Riders    
10,000 Feet of Climbing

English: NPS map of Mount Rainier National Par...
English: NPS map of Mount Rainier National Park Français : Carte du Parc national du Mont Rainier. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To me, it’s the one ride I have always looked at and wondered if I would ever be able to pull it off.  That is one BIG mountain, and I have done some of the hills around it Chinook Pass (well almost, more later on that) and Sunrise Visitor Center are two memorable and VERY steep HARD rides.

Why now? I pulled off the Highpass Challenge 2 years ago, within the allotted time, while wearing running shoes.  I didn’t have clips yet (yes we will discuss that later as well) not even baskets on my pedals.  You know you are the odd man out when someone says “You are going to ride this wearing those??”  Yep and got a finisher’s medal and backpack to prove it!  This year I am clipped in!

Holding the bronze medal after the High Pass Challenge!
Holding the bronze medal after the High Pass Challenge!

Last year did the Seattle to Portland, 206 miles, in one day. and aside from a sore tush, I was rarin’ to go!

Now add to it the stupid reason.  My ex wife had a best friend whose husband I could not stand, but I couldn’t figure out why.  Then looking at this ride it hit me.  When I was new at this biking game, anytime we discussed it, the “I completed the RAMROD you know” would come up.  Lord I wanted to punch that man (but I digress).  So instead of punching him (chances are I will never see him again), I will complete the ride as well!

So why the lottery?  The National Park only allows 800 riders.  This is a ride many people use to challenge themselves.  In a normal year 1700 – 2000 people sign up for the lottery.  This means the odds could be 60-40 against me!  (So if anyone has a rabbit’s foot or other good luck charm they could give an extra rub for me, it would be appreciated….)

I won’t find out until the first week of April if I was selected.  Then there is the waiting list if I DON’T get selected.  This means training without knowing for sure!  MUCH harder, but I can do it.

I am looking at plan B rides, but nothing is drawing my interest.  Any ideas?

Think good thoughts for me folks!

Pushin 50! But Riding Like the Wind!

I remember back in high school and even college thinking that be 30 was beyond OLD.  Shoot, but then I’d be falling apart, and ready for a rocking chair,

A Farmer Reading His Paper. Photographed by Ge...
A Farmer Reading His Paper. Photographed by George W. Ackerman, Coryell County, Texas, September 1931. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

talking like an old man, saying things like “Yep, I remember back in the winter of 80, or was it 81, yep got so cold my ol pappy had to thaw out his words to before I could hear him a yellin at me!”

Funny thing, as I got older, the “age” of old got older.  As hit 30 I thought, yep, it’s all over when I hit 40! Shoot I bet things will start falling off!

Then I hit 40, and I knew it was all down hill at 45!  Turn out the lights and break out the walker.  You know the one, with the tennis balls on the feet so it doesn’t scuff the floor.  Time to sit around the wood burning stove and complain about that “rap music and those damn kids with metal in their faces and skinny jeans!”

Now, 50, the big half century, is the scary number.  I have a hard time not thinking that 50 is beyond old, and one day I will wake up and look like Grandpa from the Simpsons!  I mean I already have found gray chest hairs!

Funny thing happened Sunday, though, riding the Chilly Hilly.  I hit the last hill and felt GOOD, so I HIT the last hill.  I was passing people half my age.  I passed some in full matching spandex on a bikes worth 5 of mine.  While doing it, I wasn’t hurting or breathing to hard at all.  I thought to myself, “HA! Not bad for a guy who is almost 48!”  Then it hit me.  I did some quick math “ok borrow a 10, 2103 – 1964 is  HOLY CRAP! I am 48, I am about a year and half from the big 50.

I just rode a very hilly and windy cold route much better than I did the first time 14 years ago, and the fastest of all my times.  I woke up the next day feeling great and rode 14 miles on the rollers that night!  No pain at all!

I am honestly right now in better shape than any other time I can remember with the possible exception of the Mt Rainier years.  I have never been feeling this good this early in the year.

My gorgeous wife Michelle keeps telling me I am nuts, that age is just a number.  She makes sure to tell me how proud she is of me, and that there is nothing I can’t do!

Then i look around at the office and see what kind of shape others are in.  I see the look of “Are you flippin (ok maybe not flipping) crazy” in their eyes (Or they say it out loud) when I tell them what I rode for the fun of it, or what I am going to sign up for.

One of my best friends tells me every year, “I’ll ride right along with you, on the motorcycle!” I know down deep, somewhere, he is proud of me, but I also know he also thinks I am nuts!  He told me once, “Dude you only have so many pedal revolutions in your life, and you are using your’s up way too fast!”  I always tell him “Well worst case, I will look GOOD at the funeral!”

Here’s the deal.  I am deathly afraid of being old and decrepit, and of being an out of shape couch potato.  Always have been, probably always will be.  However, maybe it is finally sinking into this thick skull of mine that I do have control over what happens.  If I keep up what I am doing, look for the challenges each year, keep the workouts consistent and safe, and have fun doing it, I may be one of the 80 year olds riding the Seattle to Portland.

I may be pushin 50, but I am still THE WIND!  I feel like John Belushi in “Animal House” here, but what the hell!  I am signing up for R A M R O D 2013!  “WHO’S WITH ME??”