Sunday, October 19, 2008

Club Ride . . . Rivers, Falls, Colors Galore, and Great Fun!

Yesterday I went on a Cascade Bike Club ride. The ride started at 10 AM from the town of Fall City. We met at Quigley Park which is right on the Snoqualmie River. About 30 riders showed up for the ride. It was a big turn out but that was to be expected; the weather was beautiful. It started out cloudy and wet because it rained last night. When we started the ride the roads were still wet but the sun broke through just as we began and by the time we finished the roads were dry the sky was blue and the sun was shining brightly. We rode from Fall City to Snoqualmie Falls, then through North Bend's back country roads finally returning to Fall City. We crossed the Snoqualmie River about a half a dozen times, saw Mt. Si breaking clear of the clouds, and was treated to beautiful trees in their fall wardrobe, fields, and farm critters. We stopped in North Bend for lunch. Our total miles was a little over 45. I sure hated to see the ride come to end.

Wouldn't you love to have a driveway like this, lined with beautiful trees on both sides?!
Town of North Bend with Mt. Si just breaking out of the few remaining clouds.
This picture was not taken on yesterdays ride but I had to put it up. This was taken on an early morning ride about a week ago from my house.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Harvest Century

What a great weekend! The weather was autumn perfect and the Harvest Century bike ride was one of the best organized rides I have been in all season long. On a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is the worst and 10 is the best, I give this ride a 10+!

It all began in August when I found the web site of the Harvest Century on line and thought that it looked like a wonderful ride in which to end the 2008 season. Fall rides can be very special and spectacular, especially if the weather cooperates. Fall brings with it shorter hours of day light and chilly mornings, but the frosty mornings and shorter day light is off set with magnificent views of colorful trees, fields of pumpkins, and warm autumn sunshine. And we had all of these, fields of pumpkins, gorgeous foliage, and sunshine on our ride yesterday. My friend Jennifer and I did the 75 mile course which was described as having rolling hills (and a lot of steep ones too) for example the 14% grade hill that we had to climb when we got off the Canby Ferry. What a leg burner that was! But regardless of the hills it was the "day" that made it so perfect. The sun appeared around 10 AM, the sky became a clear blue, the temperature was a not too hot not too cold mid sixty degrees and the course was marked with Dan Henry Pumpkins or should I say Jack-o-Henry legends!
The only negative thing I can think of is the constant headwind we had all day long.

my husband Joe was going to do the ride with me but instead he went to Montana to hunt with his brother. Being the understanding wife that I am I knew how much this meant to him so I said have fun and be safe. At work I talked about my ride and discovered that a coworker was also a cyclist and was looking for bike rides to ride in. I told her about the Harvest Century and she said it sounded like a great ride so she signed up to do the ride with me. I think I should have asked her how fast she was before I agreed to ride with her! She hammered up the hills and left me in her dust. Her pace was totally above mine. She was strong and fast. The first half of the ride I was able to keep up with her but my legs started to cramp from her faster pace plus the hills, oh those hills. After our lunch stop I told her not to wait for me. I would finish but at my own pace. I saw her at the last rest stop. She said I wasn't too far behind her (hmmmm was she being kind? probably). She really pushed me and I loved it. My rides with my husband are always casual pace. We rarely push ourselves except on the flats which my husband just loves. He hates hills but I think hills are what make you a stronger rider.

Jennifer left for Portland on Thursday along with two other teachers from my school. They were attending a WLMA conference on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I drove to Portland on Saturday afternoon and checked into my hotel at 2:00 PM. As I was walking my bike from my car to the hotel Jennifer, Hillery, and Cheryl pulled into the hotel's parking lot. Perfect timing. They had checked out of their hotel in downtown Portland Saturday morning when the conference ended and joined me at my hotel in Lake Oswego.

That night we had dinner reservations at the Greek Cusina restaurant. It had a purple octopus outside just above the restaurant's door! The food was great! The entertainment fun. We got to break plates and watch a belly dancer.
The dinner was another highlight of my weekend in Portland. It was a lot of fun. We arrived back at our hotel a little past 10:00 and immediately went to bed.

Early the next morning, at 5:45 AM, Jennifer and I got up while Hillery and Cheryl continued to sleep. We dressed as quietly as we could, grabbed our suitcases and bikes and packed them into our cars. Then we went back inside to the hotel's breakfast room for breakfast. We had coffee, omelets, and English muffins. Fueled we left for Champoeg Park (pronounced sham-poo-ee) where the ride was to start.
It was still very dark outside when we left the hotel at 6:30 AM. The temperature was 42 degrees. Jennifer and I arrived at Champoeg Park around 7:20 AM. We parked our cars and walked over to the registration table to pick up our packets and numbers. We returned to our cars got our bikes out and started the 75 mile course.

A field of dahlias (I believe) along the route.

The first 15 miles of the ride it was very cold. It was overcast and sunless but after riding for about 10-15 minutes I began to warm up nicely. At mile 15 we reached our first rest stop at the Historic Canby Ferry. The ferry takes you across the Willamette River. It could only carry 60 riders at one crossing so we had to wait. The line of cyclists was beginning to back up and Jennifer and I did a little calculating and found that we would make the fourth crossing. It took the ferry 12 minutes to cross to the other side, unload it's passengers, and then return. So we had a good 48 minutes to wait. When we stopped at the Canby Ferry rest stop we were sweating and hot; as we waited we began to get cold. I couldn't wait to ride so I could get warm again! Brrrrr was it chilly waiting for that ferry.

Line forming for the ferry crossing.

Cyclists arriving for the ferry crossing behind Jenn and I.

On the ferry.

Jennifer and me after the we got off the ferry and just before that 14% grade climb!

One of the Jack-o-Henry Legends that marked the 75 mile course.

Start and finish of the Harvest Century at the Champoeg State Park.
Pronounced Sham-poo-ee.

Jennifer and me after our ride.

We stopped at mile 42.7 for lunch. The organizers had baked potatoes, cheese, chili, salad, cookies, and fruit for us. We got our plates and loaded them up and then found a nice sunny spot to sit and eat our lunch. After lunch and with only 32 miles left we set off again.

Jenn flew up the hills while I slowly ascended them. With each hill she got further ahead of me. She is quite the climber! I was amazed! She went up them like they were nothing. If I'm going to ride with her again I have my work cut out for me! The course was so well marked and there were so many cyclists and sag vehicles on the road I just told her to go for it! The second half of the course my legs were just cramping terribly. Especially after the lunch break. Every time I pushed on a hill my left quad would begin to cramp. So I had to spin up the hills in my lowest gear. But I made every hill. The downhills were pretty awesome and I really looked forward to them. But with every downhill there came an uphill and a climb. Willamette Valley is a very hilly place to ride. Great training, in my opinion, if you want to get hills into your workout.

I seemed to get a second wind, or "life" into my legs about 7 miles from the finish. I found a group of cyclists and fell in with them. We hammered to the end. I thought for sure I would have severe leg cramps last night but they never came. Thank goodness. My legs seem fine today. I plan on going to a spin class this Wednesday to see how they do.

I finally came rolling in and Jenn was packed up and waiting for me at her car. We did it! What a great ride it was but Jenn and I still had to drive home from Champoeg State Park, which is about 20 miles southwest of Portland, back home to the Seattle area. Oy vey, something I was not looking forward to. Tired and exhausted I arrived home just before 7:00 PM. I did stop on my way out of Portland for a burger and fries. That was the best burger and fries I have ever eaten!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

First Day of October Ride

Today after work I went on a 25 mile bike ride on the Orting Trail. It was warm and a bit humid. Rain is on it's way and today is supposed to be the last nice day for a week. Or so say the weather people on the local news. But what do they know, right?

Mt. Rainier was hiding behind a thin veil of high stratus clouds. The clear blue skies of the weekend are gone. Leaves are really starting to fall from the trees that line the bike trail and when the rain and wetness finally do arrive they will be treacherous to ride on. But for now they were quite pleasant. As I rode over them they made that crackling dried leaves sound. People were still fishing along the banks of the Carbon River. The once crowded banks at the beginning of the king salmon season a few weeks ago are now thinned out with only the most dedicated fishermen still casting out their lines.

Today's ride was easy and casual. Just spinning and getting my legs stretched. Enjoying the autumn day, the ride, and my bike.

Along the trail I passed a farmer on his trackter in his pumpkin field. I took a picture with my cell phone's camera. It didn't turn out too good as the sun was directly in front of me. But you get to see one of the beautiful views I cycled past on my after work ride today.