Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Cold One

Was it summer when the river ran dry
Or was it just another dam.

I saw a bald eagle frolicking on the beach with ravens

And gulls

I couldn't help thinking

They are back

So was it conservation
or was it the cold spell with flooding rivers that brought them here.

A week today was the coldest 200k ever for me. Amy, Kristie, Ralph, Mark and myself set off from Tully's with some trepidation for various reasons. It was a simple plan; we see ice and we abort.

Feathered in Woolistics and Synthetics
Snubbed mostly by other birds of the cold
And a large Squadron of Snoqualmie Swans.

A bird feathered for tempest
Cannot become a sparrow seeking a nest.

So Ralph was the ranger riding ahead, Mark was a GPS with an uncanny sense of True North, guiding us especially in the dark. Amy's long legs beat out an unforgettable stroke during the last hills as Kristie spun her cranks, yes, like a hummingbird.

A cricket in my ear was chirping the words:
Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in.

of Leonard Cohen


We did it! Thanks Guys.

Camp One

An old Igbo proverb states that when a maiden divorces her husband and marries her lover, she gets to figure out who was the better man. Me, I loved them both, having rode Hood Canal Loop 2.0 on Wednesday and the Original Hood Canal Loop the following Saturday. Both rides were done under similar conditions, relatively dry January days but cold enough for a 200k to exact a toll. Geoff describes the geographical and topographic differences, I tend to remember more clearly the Rando's and the Rando's and perhaps two long climbs on the original loop, from Allyn to Belfair and then out of Belfair and the feeling of freezer burn on my african skin.
There was endorphin-talk on the ferry ride home Saturday about Hood Loop 2.5 a 250K
Sunday I found myself very stiff and definitely in need of a recovery ride and the motivation to undertake one.
The motivation came from John from the Lahar club. he was going to do one of the popular club rides, what we refer to as "Camp One". We would start from Orting instead of Sumner cutting the ride to 30 miles.

We start from John's house in a neighborhood that takes stunning views of The Mountain for granted, you can hear the Carbon river running in his backyard. We head south on the bike trail, running parallel with Hwy 162 between the Puyallup river and its vassal, the Carbon river, this is the flat part.

I am behind John the whole time pretending to be taking pictures, truth is that my behind is pretty sore. I had spent much of last fall breaking in my Brooks saddle yet it seems it tightened up again in the freezing weather, should I have used more proofhide?

Should have! Could have! Would have! it tilts up to 2-3% as we abandon the Carbon river to stay with the Puyallup river towards Lake Kapowsin. Then we turn off into the Camp One forest road

to greet 5-6% and ice, deciding to explore further we walk past the ice and continue without

further interruption to the turn around point.

Where it is a balmy 60 degrees Fahrenheit. I wonder why there was no inversion at Walker Pass that registered 30 degrees the day before. We have gone 15miles out, climbing from close to sea level to 1500 feet ASL.

We start the return to a view of Lake Kapowsin and a narrow atmospheric line that may be the point of inversion, watching carefully on the descent for the ice which we walk across, agreeing unanimously that it would be no fun to hit it at 30MPH.

Jury is still out if this was a good choice for a recovery ride, but I felt a lot better after a cold one and some mmm tasting almonds at Johns.

Thanks John

Sunday, January 18, 2009


First 200k of 09 and a month away from R12
A shout out to the Lahar Bicycle Club

A Band of Brothers and a few Sisters.

Sharing the road with rivers rising

and rushing.
Just a false alarm.
The Ocean refuses no river.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lama Sabachthani

I heard once; "if you try and don't succeed, try! try! try again, if you continue to fail, quit! don't be a dang fool about it".
There is a little town Brinnon WA (home of the Shrimpfest) that straddles US101 on the west bank of the Hood Canal. Brinnon serves as the halfway control for the out and back RUSA 0202. Brinnon the northern tip of this route sits just north of the Dosewallips river, which runs north of the Duckabush, which runs north of the Hamma Hamma. These rivers run from the Olympic Mountains to drain into the Hood Canal under the bridges of the 101.
Dr C's paper made reference to the brackish waters and tide flats of the mini-estuaries of these rivers, in fact I was inclined to believe without any concrete evidence that the "said conversation" took place here. Close examination of the paper also suggested that the whiny Osprey was most likely at this point annoying Hugo Chavez and his countrymen with his screeching.
The last day of the year, Olympia is still sleepy at 0630, Top Foods is quiet, I suspect it will later be thronged with revelers eager to chase away a year of record low consumer confidence with lots of alcohol.
I wonder if the state and local police are up calibrating their breathalyzers. I start to think that most folk would find this last gasp grasp for the Osprey foolish, I reassure myself that Karl Jung would have called it synchronicity.
The Black Lake roads were icy and the lake was a black hole that early in the day, it was smart to rig up Little Wing with big 25 Armadillo's running 100PSI and an outrigger from her fork for the Light in Motion lamp. Lucky traffic at this section was almost non existent.
I was happy to get past the info control and get unto the 101. I like riding the 101, its rollers have just about the right gradient and wavelength for me, it has a decent shoulder mostly and the cavitation created by highway traffic facilitates displacement. Careful! there are some problems. Rumble strips from Olympia to Shelton, not fun to hit at speed, but if you find yourself on the wrong side of the strip slow down and cross it: Debris on the shoulder, usually wood from logging trucks but at this time of the year sand and gravel: Exit points, and you have to stay on the 101, requires pre-planning the crossing and vigilance: One dangerous underpass at Hwy.8 on the southbound lane.

It starts to rain as I get on the 101, forecast called for winds and precipitation, but the wind is now at my back and I make progress. Past Shelton the shoulder is sometimes not so good.

As I go further north into the peninsula it gets milder and the wind and rain subside.

Potlatch, I find the Hood Canal and the sun is rising east of the waters.

Got to Brinnon before noon and before my heart rate came down, in came two Raptors swooping down from Walker Pass, with SIR mud flaps. "Vincent"! Joe calls in surprise. I feel like a kid caught with his hands in the brownie jar. Geoff flashes a big grin and announces that they have come to set up a secret control. "Whatever", I quipped "you are two certifiable's, just like myself". We all laugh.
Short Business at Brinnon and we are off now into the wind, I believe they had been fighting it for some time and it is always better done in a group.
I realize that I did not get a pic of my Raptors and pull out and power on my cybershot still on the fly and inadvertently put it on video mode which I never really use and captured a moment in the last gasps of 08, my first year with the randonneurs. As well as this still shot.

Too little and too good for a randonneur, the time we had together, a brief stop at Hoodsport, Potlatch and they split east on the 106. I wished them fairwinds and stayed on the 101 passing the cow sculptures of the Mud Bay area

there was still a liitle daylight at the final control.

Driving home amidst a plethora of flashing red and blue lights, part illuminating sobriety tests, I realized that I had forgotten all about the Doc's Fish-Birds.

Congrats Geoff on the 10K (no re-name needed).

Monday, January 5, 2009

Hazels Quest

As a teenager in Eastern Nigeria (after the failed secession as Biafra) I had read much of the work of John Steinbeck. If you have read "Sweet Thursday" the sequel to "Cannery Row" you need no introduction to the bawdy characters, the denizens of the Row in Monterey. Doc was modeled after Steinbecks friend and marine biologist Ed Ricketts. Hazel (an unlikely name for a male bum) one of Mack's boys and a regular at the Palace Flophouse made up with heart what he lacked in refinement and common sense.
Having read the Doc's paper I felt akin to Hazel. I had to do something. "The Calling" came after communication with Ward Beebe (the Seer in this case) and the road would again hug the sound. Ignoring a previous abject failure the Quest would chase further north in deeper cold.Chuckanut Drive 0730: 12/28/08.
Turned south towards Edison and BayView and it looks like permafrost. Then!

Hot soup at deception pass, Ward leisurely fixed a flat, then off to Fort Casey.

Where it seems a little strange.
And clear up to the Port Townsend Ferry no sign of snow.
We headed home, mixed results, I think I saw an Osprey, I wish I saw an Osprey.

Sincere gratitude to Ward who patiently slowed down while I constantly scanned the land sea and sky and snapped incessantly with Cybershot.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


It was a deep and sustained freeze all over the land and the horses where confined to the stables. Only the older natives could remember such a deep and persistent cold front. Lake Limerick and I am sure hundreds of other lakes were frozen.Then Merlin sent out the call to Charge the Solstice. This created a great buzz in Camelot, the neighing of thoroughbreds could be heard from all over as knights polished old studded Armor. Word on the street was that the most gallant of Knights would lead the charge with no Armor at all. My heart went to Guinevere and beat a little faster in my chest, but the sky opened and the snowflakes kept coming down, even the Budweiser Clydesdale's stayed in.
The wire relayed a lot of valuable instruction from the old Pro's, but if I may modify the words of Sir William Osler; Learning a skill without instruction is like sailing an uncharted sea, but learning a skill by instruction alone is like not going to sea at all. So one has to go out on that internship.
Xmas 0700 I put out a call to my friend Doug, a local team road racer, high octane,yet very easy to be around.0929 at the Green River Trail he takes a look at Guinevere and shakes his head. "You should make it a dirt bike", he tells me, "your knobblies are not for off-road and get rid of the Garmin" I explain that I had ordered 26 Nokian studded tires but they had not arrived.It was difficult (much more than I expected) to get going. Life is a game of adjustments, so first I let a lot of air out of those "Walmart Knobblies" and then I really lowered the saddle so I could push off from a more stable seated position. I also noticed that it was easier at least on this day to ride the fresh snow with no tracks.Careful don't fall into the green river. You can see the learning curve, eventually hitting 13mph. A whopping 2 miles this ride and back to the truck.
Getting cocky I decided to use momentum to smash through a snowbank rather than circumnavigate it.
I harmlessly crashed into snow and lay there laughing from deep down in my belly for a few minutes.
My brain chemistry was already coming back!

Thanks Doug.