Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Doc's Fish-Birds

I tried riding Guinevere (my Trek hard-tail from 17 years ago) in the snow Xmas day after drooling over the photo's from up in Alaska. I did not get very far (more on that, next blog), but yes my brain chemicals were getting way off. The last time I had rebalanced or rebooted, two Saturdays before Xmas and I had refused to believe that this (the storm) was all going to happen. Reality set in as a permanent set in Oregon with John and David had to be postponed. Back up plan; The Charly Miller training ride. Being a denizen of the south end I got a little pumped about riding that Saturday in my own turf so to speak.
The weather that morning was what my friend Jean Philipe would refer to in his French Pyrenees accent as "Randonneur Weather"

A famous poet once wrote; "drink deeply, or taste not the pierian spring, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing". This proved to be true this day as considering this my turf, I thought I knew exactly where the training ride began--wrong.

Waiting at a Starbucks half a block from the meeting point (another Starbucks) I missed the Blue shirts. As I was waiting in vain I could not get a blog that I had read recently out of my head, like a pesky tune that will not go away it had gripped me, perhaps the fact that I had read it over again and again had something to do with it. Perhaps it reminded me of my ex-neighbors the Blue Herons that had a nest in the trees you see in the picture until new construction (note the snow-covered roof) forced them to relocate.

Heron Family was a big talking point, I pointed out to my children how every late spring they would hatch typically 4 new Herons teach them how to fly and fish at the Redondo waters and by mid to late summer the new members were on their own. I remember once interfering, and maybe I should not have when a bald eagle hijacked the nest for a hearty breakfast of eggs.
I reckon I miss them and the feeding-time racket they made.

0900 no Blue herons or Blue shirts, just noisy gulls in the parking lot, I headed north, I was going to find The Doc's fish birds. From Southcenter thru Fort Dent on to the Duwamish river trail.
If you don't like the weather around here, stick around it will change.

Like a bird on a wire
Like a drunk in a midnite choir
I have tried in my way to be free
L. Cohen

Free as it may be, this was no Blue Heron or Osprey so I had to push on.
Thought crossed my mind that I really should be doing a permanent today but I had no clue how long it would be before I could get another permanent in.

Past South Park with opportunity to practice riding my fatter tires on gravel which was sure to come.

To the West Seattle bridge and then to Alki; spectacular views of Seattle, I ran into a friend Dan walking his dog. Still no Heron or Osprey, just the inexorable gulls.
Things were getting choppy as the storm was for real, glad I wore my Gore soft shell. Pushing past Fauntleroy and climbing into Shorewood I decided to go visit briefly with Michael an old hiking buddy and his Swiss mountain dog Anton (who likes to lay by a fireplace).
I forgot my eye-wear there and had to repeat the steep climb out to Marine view drive but the view made for easy sublimation.

Hugging the sound, I stopped to snap pics at the Des-moines Marina and Saltwater Park before climbing through Woodmont and then back down to Redondo.

Only birds there was a penguin with SCUBA gear and a weathercock with nothing good to report.

Joined By T-bird who was antsy to try out her new Shower Pass jacket at Redondo. I had company to Dash point and Browns Point. Heading back north from Tacoma on 99 past Fife
and down Peasley Canyon to the Green River Trail. Temperatures were steadily dropping but not enough moisture for significant icing. The trail took us back to Southcenter and by now it was beginning to snow.
I got 92 miles and 4000ft but not A Blue Heron or Osprey.

Thanks to Paul Johnson
Please Keep Writing.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Come Oh Beautiful Rain

Rain come down and wash this snowbound town.
Rain come down I crave an apres ride with friends and liquid carbs.

In envy of the randos from down under

It has come to my attention that wishing for warm rain may not be entirely appropriate.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Oregon Skies

Having spent 30 days in monastic retreat at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey in Lafayette Oregon, I feel sometimes that I miss the smell of the woods in winter in Oregon. The retreat had been the last 15 days of November and the first 15 of December in the year 2000, and it required a vow of silence, obedience and poverty which mandated a vegetarian diet, some hard work which entailed running a self sufficient cloister, managing the abbey's significant piece of wooded land and making the abbey's famous fruitcake and creamed honey. I also remember there is a book binding workshop and we built ware houses and stored Pinot Noir wine from the very delicate grapes that for some reason like to grow in this part of the world. My best times, was the Chapel singing (not barred by the vow of silence) and the personal meditation time. I had the hardest time with the seated meditation, I reckon I am a creature of motion. I spent all my personal meditation time hiking in the nearby woods and sometimes had the silent company of one of the monks who was a strong hiker. One of the brothers was a hermit and had his Shack up a hill in the woods and I would often go up there to see if I would catch a glimpse of any activity. I only saw him twice, once when the Abbot took me up there and when he came down for Guadalupe day, talk about lost in prayer.
I wrote to John Kramer and David Rowe and explained my ailing and they recommended a Susan France Permanent. As it happened a group of ORando's were riding the 3 Prairies, I suppose to satisfy R12 requirements. Now a Randonneur would have done the STP on Friday and the permanent on Saturday but with gas prices down,I loaded my bike and and drove south on I-5.
I left really late and did not arrive at the Travelodge in Newberg OR (Lafayette is a few miles further south) till it was past midnite and with gear management involved was able to get 3 hours of sleep before driving to the Newberg Public Library, the agreed meeting/parking place.
Everyone arrived promptly with lots of reflective gear in the freezing cold and we rode a short distance to Thriftway to obtain reciepts for the first control, 0730 and we were off.

Hatsu idling in front of the Randonneuse from the fogline at Thriftway. She had arrived from White Salmon that morning.

More about this tandem team later, they created a big sucking sound that pulled us to the final control in the last hour of the ride. It was not long before the Sun came bursting in, I was pondering the effect of a degree on the longitude line on the atmosphere. Mostly rollers and a few rather steep ones we cruised past farms, orchards, vineyards, hazelnut groves and ofcourse grassland.

Cecil Anne paced us up the early hills, what a climber? I had seen her work earlier this year at Bingen and she does it with a rather heavy bike with wooden fenders and springs on the saddle, not to forget her trademark stuffed Bunny to keep her company on long rides. Here at Dayton between Doc Sal and The Kramer, heading for the control at Dallas.

The group stayed pretty much together on the way to Dallas, chatting under blue sky with frozen grass on the side. A gentleman (and I use that term loosely) stopped Cecil and myself just before a climb and asked what we thought if bikes were required to travel the road in the opposite direction with motorists. "It would be very blinding at night" I thought out loud my mind already on the rest of the group who were already at the summit of the climb. He continued to develop his premises, argument with Cecil until I heard about a "biker in MY lane", "My Lane" I retorted and quickly admonished myself about my own ego, leaving Cecil to explain the Law to him.

A rather peaceful ride in the sun, we controlled at the subway in Dallas and then at Newberg before going back out to Mt. Angel. Returning to Newberg, I stopped to capture Mount Hood whispering in the distance (you probably have to click on the image to see it).

Then the sky became magical.
Even the eastern sky had its own glow.

It just got better and better with the sunset.
Turning us all into Sunset Paparazzi to use Cecil's term, and thats when a front grupette disappeared sucked away by the tandem. I decided to chase, wanting to thank John Kramer before he left for White Salmon.
It was hard, what a mirage of shimmering light glimpses as my hopes of catching them swung back and forth. Assisted by a traffic stop I caught them a few miles before Newberg and the final control.

Photo taken (that's Bill Alsup in the shadows to my left), it was back to the library where the rest of the group met up, sadly I had to skip the invitation to Burgerville to get into the drive back north.

Thanks to the Oregon Randonneurs (ORando's).

Friday, December 5, 2008

Black Friday

The last Friday in November and almost always some over-indulgence the day before, this is when the store owners are supposed to start writing in black ink. Kim and Ben a mountain biking couple had invited Trudy and Myself to meet at the QFC in North Bend. Still giving thanks for good health, and good people and an excellent meal the day before which we shared with Jess (whose Husband is in Iraq) and her 2 year old daughter. It was not a bad idea to get up early to meet Kim Kadence and Ben.
I don't generally favor bringing in dead trees to brighten up the cold months so we would go to live ones out there. However happy to report no dead store clerks at the QFC.
I have been promising myself to try to stay away from the extra winter blubber this year having set my sight on 2010, now was as good a time as any to start getting in shape.
I have not hiked up a mountain in a long time, at least not since I fractured my ankle last November and I wondered how it would work out as cross training. I had also discovered that Peter Beeson runs a spin class in West Seattle, early Monday morning and after work on Thursdays and his spin music is right up my alley.

Little Si was looking very inviting but it was not to be. Ben had chosen a more difficult climb; Mailbox Peak, I had never climbed this one before. There is 4,000 feet elevation gain and my altimeter read about 5,000 ASL at the top.

It starts off looking pretty gentle and I am thinking about my mountain bike at this point. At that little notice board with warning and statistics on rescues from this hike we branch into the woods and it tilts up.

I was sure I was way over-dressed fighting those grades with my hiking poles and began to strip things off as we ascended.
The last stretch to the top was very rocky and especially on the descent resulted in a lot of impact.

We made it to the top in about 3 hours, the descent was the the killer though as my quads are no longer used to acting as shock absorbers. It took just over 2 hours to come down reminding me of something else to be thankful for: The Wheel.