Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Blue Shirt Runs Through It

Having read "Ready to Ride", the choice for the ORRando 1000K was a no-brainer, but typical of the ORRando's they put it out there on the wire. My attention to the ORRando mailing list became taut. Oh Yes! they made the right choice and I learned from a note from Susan France that only 2 riders had ever done Portland to Glacier unsupported, Mark Thomas and Greg Cox.
How Romantic, I was getting needy, one big bulkhead there, it would not be possible to escape my mundane world on the day of the ride.
Was it possible, Maybe! Perhaps? then word on the street was that Susan had invited Mark and Greg to do the Pre-Ride, everything in me was buzzing now. Oh No! Greg was committed already on the Pre-ride weekend, I was ready to shine Marks shoes, and I mean his mountain bike shoes for a month.
When word came from Mark that Geoff Swarts and I could come, I was too happy to remember how tired I should be.
We three had ridden a few Permanents together and I already liked the Chemistry. Most Rando are minimalists of sorts and the way I see it Mark is a minimalist for nonsense and foolishness (never mind the facade), Geoff is a minimalist for waste and time (the logistics type that knows when the store will open and close), and Vincent? well, from what I read, a minimalist on negative ideation. Too bad, but I think I would have really enjoyed a long ride with Greg Cox, Maybe one day?

With Nwachinemelu fully loaded as seen here at Dusty in front of Mark's Serotta, We left Troutdale just before dawn and headed in the drizzle to the Vista House were the Vista was all fog. Already we managed to get between a Baby Elk and Mummy Elk.

The door was locked, no shelter from the barely palpable northwest drizzle, we were off to our next challenge, crossing the Bridge of the Gods in the drizzle.

Our Serpent would not be denied and soon assisted by a solid breakfast at Lyle, we were rolling serpentine from left to right and up and down the Columbia River Gorge with a magnificent tail wind.

The Temps were going only one way which was Up, forcing stops to strip off pieces of clothes.
But with that Tailwind it was possible to catch up.

Caught up with a Tandem, nice couple from Davis California, fully loaded and headed for Portland Maine, shared time at Roosevelt WA.

They stayed, we left into the warming air and then to turn north out of the good wind, climbing out of the gorge unto a rolling plateaux, before the sweet descent into Kennewick.

At Subway I predicted that Fairwinds would soon have us in Connell, I was barred from making any predictions after that, we even ran into quicksand. Made the overnite in time for decent sleep but not in time for any decent food. I roiled my belly that night, trying to grab omnivore calories and woke up a little concerned, but I knew my bike was the solution. If I just rode at the right tempo my gut would start working again, and it did, at the Arby's at Colfax where I had 2 beef sandwiches, no curly fries please. After that I was able to tolerate caffeine and it helps.
I sensed that the next stage to Plummer was pivotal, but the Palouse was inspiring.

After lasagna and chicken in Plummer as we entered Idaho we got on their beautiful bike trail.
Which took us down to their big lake.

And this trail ran flat and for miles, interrupted only by whitetail deer leaping across.

It was a battle of attrition as our average speed stumbled downward. In the end, the trail won, as darkness crept in and we had to bow away from the still eastward trail to our overnite in Wallace. Again too late for a decent meal, vowing not to make the mistakes of yesterday I settled for beer, chips and sleep. I could almost taste white fish.

So you are a blue shirt, and you like mountains, and 700k into the ride is a mountain 300k, you wake up early and you start climbing the first pass, you passed (no pun intended) on a few bonus miles to breakfast, maybe! Then another call to skip breakfast before Thompson Pass the second and bigger with a long 8% grade. The maltodextrin was getting old, Mark offered me a precious Ensure and it was so, so, good. I will put that in my care package list. I stymied the stomach acid with antacids but I knew it was the right call unless I wanted to reclaim that breakfast.

The temperature was great for climbing, but we were all sweating at the top and then gearing up for a cold descent.
Excellent breakfast at Thompson falls, felt renewed and now daring to think how many miles left, we were in Montana.

One should really be of good behavior in Plains Montana, but we just had to go and make a left turn north and a hot muggy climb unto a rolling plateau that passes through Hot Springs.
It reminded me of the climb at the Warm Springs Indian reservation in Oregon, was I just making word associations?
No time for sniveling, Geoff had made a mental reservation.

We were jilted, as the lone pine behind the closed store rustled in the mild north wind without as much as a morsel to offer. This was perhaps the low point as quite out of character from this point my head phones remained lowered. Preferring to listen to the few words of my companions and mostly their silence.

It was Big Sky alright stretching on for what seemed like forever with an irritating 1% grade mixed in with some rollers, not that we were bored or nothing because everyone and their cousin was pulling a trailer at max speed on that shoulder less road. So Flathead Lake was a sight to see.

We still had to work for our late lunch with big rollers around the lake to the Dairy Queen in Lakeside a saver.

My friends were ready to muzzle me when I predicted again that we would "thread the needle" and escape all the thunder, lightening and rain in the forecast.
I almost had it, but in Kalispell the Sky started crying and the streets were filled with tears.
Big rain came down and washed 3 days of salt from our Blue Shirts.

Thanks to Mark, Geoff, Susan, Greg
Nels for the ride, and Peg it was all you said it would be.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Dad is visiting from Isseke, his beloved village to where he retired, the birthplace of one Gustavus Vassa (Olaudah Equiano), the first African Slave to produce literary documentation of his passage.
Concerns about his vision brought him this time, and his daughter and my sister Vivian was kind enough to visit with him taking the opportunity to visit her son in Seattle University (Trudy's Alma Mater).
Dad's Name is Vincent also but don't call me Vincent Two as that belongs to Peter "The Great" and certainly not Junior as nobody in my family or in my Igbo roots calls me Vincent (The Christian name), to them I am known as Emeka.
I thought the best medicine for my guilt for disappearing on the weekends on Rando business was to show him what we do. So off to the Nisqually Entrance of Mount Rainier National Park. Vivian drove Vincent while Trudy and Emeka rode to Paradise. We all had Ice Cream up there and Trudy and I almost beat them to the bottom.
He assures me he would do it again, so he must have liked it.
For this I am grateful.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Prineville Principle

Arrived at Prineville hungry and enthusiastic to ride in the cool of the night, had a delicious bowl of pasta. I had been craving chicken on the pedaling descent from Ochoco Pass, and the Apple Peddler was a big temptation. The Principle: Riding Thru!
At Overnite,
"fill the belly
jolting the brain"
After the Caffeine I looked miserably at the second bowl of pasta, and my gut did not disappoint. I nursed her like "Wounded Knee" all the way to The Dalles. Mylanta, Thanx Geoff for the chiropractic adjustment, mostly I put very little down, but riding in the early cool helped. Ice cream at the suggestion of Peter (you rock) at Maupin, to my surprise, felt good.
Tygh Rigde, Heartbreak Hill, Whatever!
I put down 40% of a big water bottle (100 % water) the whole way from the bottom at the Deschutes River, to the finish line where the pull of Sandman overcame the nausea. The other 30 big bottles from sprinklers, irrigation channels and of course Scott Peterson I thank you. They went all over my body and everytime a gentle breeze passed, it felt like the breath of a lost lover.

The Dude
I Salute You

Monday, June 1, 2009

Even Stevens

This Ephrata Moon shines on in my memory, harbinger of a magical day of such beauty that left me so bewitched that I forgot my eyewear at control twice. Perhaps the lapses of memory were Freudian (some need to see things more clearly)? Maybe just the result of body composition derangement and its attendant mental confusion. This is my second 400K and there were major similarities. I call on Freud to explain that again and he suggests that I use them for my wake up call. I remember riding under the stars from Electric City to Ephrata sorely in need of salt water and sugar but expelling rather than absorbing gut contents. Then came the lunatic smile, as I thought, I am killing a lot of body fat, but that is not the way to do it as there is also breakdown of lean body mass. When will someone invent cycling clothing that cools you using solar power? Till then I have to figure this out, cycling is mostly a summer sport, if you cannot stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.
By now everyone remotely interested knows "Vinny's Panacea" "ride a permanent or two and call me in the morning", this time out of the "briar patch" to Wenatchee "Home of the Crank".
There are two 200K permanents from Redmond to Wenatchee, RUSA 0122 and 0110 and they are both reversible.
I tried not to leave too early as I wanted to climb in the heat, could not resist stopping at the bakery in Cle Elum and then Blewitt obliged hot and high. At the top I saw SIR legendary climber dancing on the pedals of a tandem. I yelled out to Kole as he disappeared in the other direction, then concluded that It was just "Summit Fever".
Nice drop to the US 2 and fairwinds on the rollers to East Wenatchee, yes it was hot, 91 F at least.
The control in Wenatchee, now called "The Inn by the River" was fully booked so I got a Corona at the Casino next door for my receipt. They recommended a place next block, they seemed happy to have me, they also promised as I requested a 0400 wake up call that they would have breakfast that early as part of the deal.

The Room was quite adequate and they let me take my bike upstairs with no fuss (always a bonus). But they had no restaurant.

Settled in, my focus went to fuel, top of the list of things that I have to work out, nutrition on and off the bike. One small problem, shoes, not enough room in those weenie panniers for shoes. I would rely on "fast talking".

I declined the easiest option.

Was told straight up that I could not dine without shoes, but after they heard my tale, I was allowed to sip beer and wait for my order.

Back to the Cedars Inn for my Feast, it was excellent.

Moist Chicken and Cow muscle for protein, declined the fries,whole grain bread instead and salad of course. How good that tasted after a whole day of maltodextrin. Nothing gives me confidence on a bike like a good appetite.

The reason I chose the earlier wake up on the return, yes that picture of the Columbia River where I would have to go to Re-"Check the condition, my condition was in", but I did not know that at the time. My silly plan was to escape the wind, I rode into a strong headwind and while I was goo-goo ga-ga over the River it occurred to me that next control Leavenworth was not very far, with a strong headwind it could be missed. So back to work already. Did not have a good appetite for breakfast (bad sign) at Cedars, nothing jumped at me at the subway in Leavenworth so back to maltodextrin V8 and Choc milk yum!
But the mountains are always grand.

And that is where I was headed, for a photo shoot:

So if you read this and you have that shot of me cooling on the ice of Stevens SIR spring 08 400K, know that I would love a copy and that I still suffer overheat and gut issues, but I will do whatever I can to keep rolling. Stevens, she still confuses me I thought she would block the wind but faced headwinds from Wenatchee to Monroe.
Have you ever had to read a cue sheet in reverse, because you cannot trust your Garmin? Tough!

I Thank Mike Norman and Shane Balkovetz