Jun 30, 2012
Jun 29, 2012
Dust Mite inspects the brevet cards and cuesheets (for pre-registered riders; walk-up riders get monochrome copies) for tomorrow’s 200k brevet.
Jun 26, 2012
The Midlifecrisismobile sits at Velo Cult after finishing a workers ride for the summer 200k. It rained a bunch during this 12h04 ride, sometimes quite enthusiastically.
Note the continued lack of fenders.
This did not combine well with the rain – I ended up being soaked by the time I finally squelched into my front door after the ride.
So the fenders go back on again before I take the MLCM out for any more long loops. I’ll have to machine a fork crown bolt mount, but that’s just a matter of hacking away at a suitably large chunk of aluminum.
Jun 25, 2012
Two italian fruitcakes, one for later, one for the tomorrows worker’s ride for the summer 200k.
Jun 24, 2012
I had a lot of trouble motivating myself this weekend, and finally decided that I’d just do a first ride of my Zigzag 160 permanent populaire.
It was not exactly what I’d call a fast ride; after I started (at noon), got half a mile from home, and realized that I’d forgotten my helmet, the loop back to retrieve it set the tone for the rest of the day, which included many stops to take pictures, a leisurely (~30 minute) stop at Joe’s Donuts, and a (fenderless) ride through the edge of a fairly enthusiastic rainshower up on Devil’s Backbone. But I still made it back in under 9 hours, which isn’t bad for DGAFing the whole idea of a fast loop.
If I’d been more enthusiastic about just moving, it probably would have taken 7 hours, but then I wouldn’t have had to stop on Ten Eyck to wait for a buck to slowly wander across in front of me, nor would I have seen the doe in a field or alongside Lusted Road on the climb up out of the Sandy River gorge.
And now for a day’s rest (punctuated by working on handlebar bags and baking a fruitcake) before doing the actual workers ride for the summer 200k on Tuesday, and then I’ll have a couple of spare days before doing the other worker’s ride on Friday.
And one of these days I really have to get my butt onto a bicycle at 4:30 so I can do Sellwood to Hood & Back or my other alpine 300 (which I suppose I should actually submit as a permanent so I can get RUSA credit for the ride!) But I’m not going to worry about that just yet.
Jun 23, 2012
Two Gallus gallus in a Portland backyard.
Jun 22, 2012
Dust Mite takes a break at the Ripplebrook
RangerGuard Station during last Saturday’s ride up there.
I may need to ride it again tomorrow (I need to verify some distances, and there aren’t many pre-riders left to ride it except me) but, alas, the weather forecast is considerably more gloomy than it was last weekend (but at least a forecast of showers and/or thunderstorms would greatly reduce the chance that I’d want to dabble my feet in the Clackamas again.
Jun 21, 2012
I’ve put clipless pedals on all three of my bikes, so I’ve been riding with only clipless for two months now. I’m starting to get some feel for the advantages and disadvantages of both.
On the plus side, clipless pedals have
- easy to attach to (provided the cleats aren’t worn.)
- don’t go scrape scrape when I start up after a
stop and am trying to get my right foot into the pedal.
- don’t have as much toe overlap on the mlcm.
- don’t seem to cause any foot cramps when I’m running a fast 200 or 400.
On the minus side, they have
- you need to wear shoes with cleats to take advantage of them (and it makes riding a bit less comfortable if you try to ride with regular shoes, though this might be more of an artifact of me using Eggbeaters.)
- The cleats wear out really fast (1800 miles wore down my first set to the point where they weren’t latching well and were sliding all over the place and making wierd clicking. Plus my feet started cramping like the devil,) though, once again, this might be an artifact of using Eggbeaters (other pedals, like the Shimano ones, use steel cleats.)
- they can be really noisy, particularly after they’ve worn in a bit.
If I had infinite money, I’d get three pairs of MKS gr-9s and three pairs of Shimano mountain pedals, then play the exciting game of running fast brevets with GR-9s vs clipless. But as it stands I’m on my second pair of Crank Bros cleats and I’m going to see if I can get more than 6000 miles under my butt before the third pair wears out.
Jun 19, 2012
Apparently one of the New! features that some high-tech companies have started to use on interviews is that rather than shipping a prospective employee up to the company for a face to face interview they’ll phone them up and have them do coding on some sort of whiteboard website software.
There’s just something about trying to listen to an interviewer’s questions over a poor telephone connection (I’d jacked the volume up so far on my phone so that I could hear my voice booming back at me, but the interviewer still sounded like this when he talked,) then putting the phone down and trying to write some code to solve a problem the interviewer asked about, only to then pick the phone up again and discover that well,I actually wanted you to do this other thing.
Which I then had to spend a few minutes asking the interviewer just what they meant, because they actually wanted me to do this other thing that was intuitively obvious so why even bother to explain it to me.
I lasted about 45 minutes before blood started coming out of my ears and I (hopefully politely) told the interviewer that I was not the person they were looking for and they should consider someone else for this unnamed position they were interviewing me for.
This wasn’t as bad as the G**gl* interview where the interviewer cheerily told me that the screening interview was a lie and it was an all p*th*n all the time job, but it was pretty damned close.
Jun 18, 2012
I bought a nice green Kucharik jersey from Bike Tires Direct a month or so ago, and have been more or less content with it. But it has one big problem in that doesn’t seem to be tailored like a jersey should be tailored – the tail doesn’t seem to hang down any further than the front, so when I ride in the drops it rides up and reveals a slice of my pasty-white skin.
Which does not stay pasty-white after several hours of riding.
I guess what I’ll do is try to force-stretch the rear of this jersey (I’ll find some tenterhooks and stretch the rear panel onto a frame the next time I launder it) and also go out and get one of those spiffy cloud-chamber jerseys that I’ve been lusting over ever since I first saw one (yes, they’re designed for people without a broken chromosone, but if it’s not too voluptuous it should be tailorable to my not-voluptuous-in-the-least figure.) That jersey, at the very least, has a dropped tail that might keep me from getting the sunburn equivalent of a tramp stamp.
After the Friday loop I wanted to do another loop on Saturday, partially to do back-to-back brevets, but mainly because it’s now summer and I actually have unscheduled time these days.
My original Friday plan was be to do the second checkride of Portland-Ripplebrook-Portland, but One Big Hill had just been approved so I had to ride that instead. So that meant that I knew what I had to do on Saturday.
I didn’t want to do it as the official checkride for the June 30th brevet, so I instead decided that I would ride my conveniently almost identical permanent and put in the trolley trail rerouting along the return leg, then ride the half dozen variants of the in town routing between Velo Cult and the edge of town/the Springwater Trail on Sunday.
Once again I planned on leaving early. Once again I did not leave early. And when I rolled out the door to head on down to my fold control at OMSI (the P-R-P permanent normally starts in NE Portland, but an organizer can move controls up to 5 miles without forcing a reapproval, so I have a route variant that starts/ends in Sellwood, but hairpins at OMSI to get the proper milage. It’s a horrible solution for the end of the ride, because I have to ride right past my house and go another 5 miles before I’m finished, but I’ve gotten used to it) I realized that today would not be one of my particularly fast loops, because my legs felt absolutely dead.
I’ve ridden this loop a lot now; I think I’ve ridden it almost as much as I’ve ridden Michael Wolfe’s UGB 200 (and my variants
codename:UGB210 – the latter is what became my Volcanoes vs. Farmland loop) and it’s become a pretty uneventful loop that is made more interesting by my promising to myself that one of these days I’m going to detour up to Three Lynx and the village of Ripplebrook.
Today was not one of those days; being sluggish meant that the climb up to Ripplebrook was interrupted by quite a few stops to refill water bottles, scrounge for snacks, and otherwise just come to a screeching stop because I was exhausted. It did not help that the cleats on my brand new clipless pedals have completely worn out, and my feet were starting to cramp up with a vengance every time I put any sort of effort into pedalling, but even without that I was still suffering the price of not really doing much riding over the last few weeks (plus, apparently, still having a bit of the cold that felled me last week.)
I spent a lot of climbing in my absolutely lowest geat, plus, on the last ramp up to Ripplebrook I found myself actually stopping to catch my breath several times on the way up – and this is something I’ve not done for at least a year and a half.
But out I went nevertheless, checking out some of the cues on the cuesheet and marking them for later correction (the traditional cue for going into Boring is to take Wally Road east from Telford, except that these days that road isn’t even signed and *every* *single* *prerider* has commented on it. When I rode out there and tried to take an unbiased look, I realized that it was a doomed cue and I’d need to either route people along an unpaved part of the Springwater Trail or take them all the way down to OR212, and then across into Boring. OR212 has the advantage of being paved, so I’m choosing that.)
It is springtime, and the snowcover is still melting down off the tops of the mountains, so the Clackamas River is running pretty enthusiastically and provided a more-spectacular than usual side-view during the long climb up the hill.
When I reached the ex-Ripplebrook Ranger Station (it’s now the Ripplebrook Guard Station, because the US government has privatized the Mount Hood Wilderness as part of the ongoing process of asset-stripping this country for the benefit of the 1%) I stopped for a considerable period of time for snacking and catching my breath. During the time I was here the wind decided that it was time to start blowing south, which meant that my return would be against a headwind. Normally this would be a problem, but the first 40 miles of the return is basically all downgrade, so the wind has to be moving pretty enthusiastically to really slow you down.
Then, finally, 6 hours and change after I left home, I rolled out of Ripplebrook for the normally-store-but-it-seemed-pretty-long trip back to Portland. And,
as expected, most of the trip back down was pretty quick.
Most of the trip was pretty quick. Part of it wasn’t, though; my feet were starting to cramp up pretty badly when I pushed hard (I think it was an artifact
of the Crank Brothers cleats being completely worn away after only 1800 miles of riding) and it struck me that it would be a lovely break to stop by the river, take my shoes off, and dabble my feet in the water. So when I reached the first bridge, I pulled off to the side of the road, tucked the mlcm under the south footings of the bridge, took my shoes off, and walked down to the water to dabble my feet and take a couple of pictures.
I got one picture, then tried to wade into the water, but had my foot slip, which dumped me and the camera into the drink, and then after I grabbed the camera I realized to my intense disgust that I must have struck my hand in just the right way on a rock when I grabbed for a hold when I was slipping, because the index fingernail on my right hand was gone and the ring fingernail was crunched into my finger and was bleeding copiously all the way around the nail.
Well, goddamn. This is definitely not a good year for my right side, is it?
So I scooped up my camera (it was sitting at the bottom of the Clackamas River bubbling in a fairly unhappy manner), my shoes, and then climbed gingerly back to where the mlcm and my first aid kit were sitting. And then I sat down on a rock and spent about 15 minutes cleaning off the nailbed on my index finger (the one wonderful thing about shock is that if your nerve endings are shocked enough they won’t care about having someone clean them off with a nice stingy antiseptic solution) and bandaging up the bloody messes.
And then I jumped back on the bicycle and rode home, completing the permanent in just over 11 hours while doing the scheduled reroutes I wanted to try out in the process. I needed to stop a couple of times to rebandage (I stopped at the Thriftway in Estacada to buy a box of bandages to replace the now blood-sodden ones I’d put on up at the first bridge, and then I stopped at the Barton bridge to replace them again because I wound the previous set too tightly and my index finger was starting to hurt even after taking a couple of ibuprofen to take the edge off) and I was not at all shy about stopping to rewater myself, but by g-d I was not dead and I was not going to let another injury DNF a mere 200km loop.
Normally I’d be sad that it took me 11 hours to finish this loop, but I think that destroying a pair of fingernails is a good excuse for taking a hour longer than I should have. I’ll try to complete the loop faster when I do my last-minute checkride on the 29th.
And my camera? I had to disassemble it to dry, and it now (after two days) is powering up for me. It’s complaining about a lens error, which I suspect is point-and-shoot-ese for “the lens is packed with sand”, so I need to get a canister of compressed air and nail it with that to get the sand out, but there’s actually a fighting chance that I might have a camera-shaped object that takes some sort of picture of another when I’m all done with this.
I did get a few pictures, though I didn’t manage to get out for a ride on Sunday (I instead went to the doctor’s office to get a tetanus shot and have a red-hot needle rammed through the nail that didn’t fall off – that finger had swollen to the size (and color) of a large purple grape because of bleeding under the nail) nor today (some of the bandages had stuck to my finger when I changed my dressings today. That hurt badly enough that I had to use the Good Drugs™ and those put me right to sleep for most of the afternoon.) Maybe I’ll get out tomorrow. Maybe I’ll ride another 200 on Thursday. Maybe I’ll just stay on the bicycle on paved roads for a while :-)
The school year staggered to an end last Wednesday, which meant that the routine of having my day chopped into many tiny chunks also came to an end. So what came immediately to my mind? Taking the mlcm out on a permanent or two!
I couldn’t do a permanent on Thursday, though, because my front rack had cracked and I needed to braze in a new fork crown mountpoint before I could take it out again (I think I may have cracked it when I crashed on Saltzman last month, and then riding it for another 1000km was probably pressing my luck enough for one year) but I’d had that all done by thursday night and was ready to head out nice and early on Friday morning to do a nice loop.
My original plan was to do a second preride of Portland-Ripplebrook-Portland(As a permanent, not the preride, because there are a couple of in-town routing alternatives I want to ride in a batch to choose between later on this week) on Friday, but my new One Big Hill permanent was approved on Wednesday and I really wanted to do my checkride of that loop before anything else.
I’d designed One Big Hill as a sample route for an acquantance of mine, and the original plan was that we would do the checkride together, but, alas, we had a falling out and aren’t friends anymore. So, instead, I did the loop myself.
And one side-effect of that was that my “leave early in the morning” plan became “leave at 9am”, which meant that I’d have to maintain a fairly aggressive pace just to get back at a reasonable time. And there was one route variation I wanted to test out – Portland Traction’s Oregon City line, now rail-to-trailed as the Trolley Trail, provides a much more easily graded ROW that avoids the steep ramps up to and down from the point of land that Oak Grove sits on.
So out the door I went, and southwards I went. The first sign of the Trolley Trail was very encouraging; brand new pavement stretching south and under the P&W bridge, but after clearing the bridge the trail pretty much came to an abrupt end and deposited you into the 99e bike lane (which is better than nothing, but still not very good) for the climb up the ramp to Park Ave, where, thankfully, the Trolley Trail came back to life for the rest of the way south to Gladstone.
I’ve ridden this part of Portland Traction before, back when it was not paved, and lemme tell you it’s a lot nicer now than it used to be. Once the segment from River Road to Park Ave is finished I’m certainly going to reroute all of my permanents from River Road over to the Trolley Trail (even those routes, like Hills to the Yeah!, that involve stupid amounts of climbing.)
The new routing I’m using to get through Oregon City works out better and worse than I expected; South End Road is a gradual enough climb so that I can get all the way up to the top of the bluff without feeling like I’m going to die during the ascent, but once I reached the top and needed to dodge over to Central Point Road for the rest of the leg into Canby I managed to completely miss the offending (and not very well signed) turn onto Partlow Road, and couldn’t find it even after wandering back and forth along South End Road for a considerable period of time. So instead I continued south along South End Road, which is a lovely road except for the teeny detail that it deposits you onto 99e for half a mile before you can escape back to New Era Road and the published route. (I don’t mind traffic, but that’s not the thing that gets me about 99e. No, the problem with 99e is the narrow debris-and-pothole covered breakdown lane, which meant that I spent a lot of time threading a needle between really fast traffic that had no interest in giving me 3 feet of clearance and things that might want to shred my brand new tires.)
But half a mile, even if it’s slightly uphill, isn’t that long, and I was able to escape back onto the proper route quickly enough, then down into Canby for the first control. This control isn’t strictly necessary, because the route I picked from Portland to Silver Falls State Park is about as direct as possible, but the people at Cutforth’s Thriftway are really nice to wandering cyclists (I’ve staggered in there countless times looking like a rat that drowned in boiling water, and have never once been treated with anything other than the utmost respect) and deserve our custom.
When a friend noticed that the outbound leg was on Barlow Road, he mentioned that he thought it was really busy and unpleasant to ride on. I’d never noticed this in the past, but decided that I would take particular care to watch for traffic.
And because I was thinking about watching for traffic, I managed to miss the turn onto Barlow Road and went sailing right past it on Knightsbridge Road, then had to turn back on Arndt Road to get back to the route. And from that point on it was smooth sailing south – there was a lot of traffic on the northern reaches of Barlow Road, but that traffic evaporated at 99e. And even when it was there, it wasn’t that bad; I found that getting over the SP mainline just north of 99e was more problematic than the traffic, because it was just far enough away from 99e so that cars would go shooting over the railroad crossing, then stomp on the brakes for the highway crossing, which made the whole business of trying to cross the railroad without crashing even more interesting.
And then south to Silverton and the big hill. There are quite a few roads running north-south through here, so once you get off the primary roads there’s basically no traffic, so you can speed or dawdle along as you wish without worrying about annoying anyone else. And then, almost before I realized it, I was in Silverton, out of the flatlands, and about to do a nice long climb.
A quick stop to delayer, and then up I went. Last time I’d done this I was riding with a friend, but on a windy day, so the climb seemed to take approximately forever because misery enjoyed the company, but today, since I was doing it by myself (and not for the first time) it felt like I wound my way up the first and then the second ramps in no time at all (“no time at all” was probably around a hour and a half; it’s about 17 miles of climbing, interrupted by about 4 miles of gentle downgrades) and, in what felt like less time than actually elapsed, I found myself rolling into the South Falls day use area to hunt for the hidden control.
I already knew where the control was (I’d visited South Falls before, both on foot and on the spring 200k this year) but was still pleased to see that the signage had been modified since the spring and it was now a bit easier to follow the signs to the offending lodge.
And since I’d gotten there in 4h30(ish), I decided that this would be a good time to settle in for a nice long lunch, and it was not much less than a hour later when I walked the mlcm back down the ped-only path, then hopped on to ride back into Portland.
Sadly, a hour was long enough for my body to decide that it was done for the day, and I found the return trip to be considerably more of an annoyance than the trip out. It took several miles for me to start warming up, which was just long enough to reach the long descent into Silverton, and by the time I’d reached the bottom of that ramp I had cooled down to the point where I had to warm up again.
I’d tweaked the return route to take me over roads I’d never ridden before. I put a control into Mount Angel (so I could go over the Gallon House Bridge on the way up, and then routed myself over secondary roads back to Meridian, which would then go most of the way up into Canby before I circled southeast and then headed up into Oregon City. But a few of these roads I’d never ridden on, and found myself having to abruptly redo the cuesheet after making turns and realizing I was about to run into a gravel road (my shattered shoulder is discouraging my attempts to explore gravel roads these days.)
But I made my way around these obstacles and worked my way north, stopping periodically at convenience stores (for some unknown reason I’d completely run out of power in Mount Angel, so was stopping every half hour or so to pick up something or another to eat to see if that would kickstart my engines. Something must have worked, because by the time I’d reached Oregon City I was running along at about 75% of normal power.)
The route I’d picked to climb up to Oregon City was one I’d never ridden before – Leland Road, which climbs up the lava about a mile east of Central Point Road. This was a pleasant surprise, because, even though it was steeper than South End Road, it wasn’t that much steeper and I could get up to the top without too much fuss, muss, or stops to coalesce my water bottles into one.
And then it was a nice unfussy 10 miles back to town. I detoured onto the Trolley Trail again (this time it was Boardman->Trolley Trail->Arista->Oak Grove, which got me around the one steep narrow hill on River Road, and then River Road->99e, where I could hop onto the trolley trail and avoid the Wren descent. This first detour is pretty easy, and only adds about .2 miles; the second one still has construction going on so I;m going to put off officially using it until the construction is finished.)
And then back into Sellwood, arriving home 10h28 after I’d left. Not bad for a slow loop, and it was a nice day out, but the whole business of taking long lunches at Silver Falls appears to do horrible things to any hope of a quick return home afterwards.
The gory details for the loop are
- 203.5 km (rerouting, exploration, getting lost)
- 2040 meters climbing
- 9h10 moving time
- 47 pictures
Jun 17, 2012
Crank Brother clipless pedals are nice and easy to use; I could switch from clips and straps over to them without any fuss, muss, or bother. But the cleats are made from brass, and wear quickly. 1800(?) miles now and the cleats look like this, plus don’t have enough cleat surface to keep from sliding around on the pedals and making the most alarming clicking and clattering noises under load.
Perhaps it’s time to investigate some of the alternatives?
Jun 15, 2012
Because after coming home from the One Big Hill checkride – a loop where I managed to get lost a couple of times, did an exploration of using the Trolley Trail as an alternative to River Road, and managed to run completely out of steam at around mp 84 (it took another 10 miles and three lengthy stops at convenience stores to cram food into my gullet before I got enough energy back to finish the loop at an acceptable pace) – I felt like I was travelling really slowly to finish the loop in 10h28.
Now I have to decide whether to re-(etc-)ride Portland-Ripplebrook-Portland tomorrow. I suspect that if I do I won’t be matching the pace I maintained last time I rode it due to being fairly exhausted by today’s loop.
And, hey, I’ve now ridden more brevet miles this year than I did last year. I wonder what my milage will look like by the end of the summer, when everything will come to a crashing halt due to baby-herding related activities.
Dust Mite wants to do some beer tasting, but, alas, stuffed animals can’t actually digest beer.
Jun 14, 2012
I didn’t really like the looks of no fender in front, fender in back, plus something had fried in the taillight wiring, so I pulled the rear fender off to match the lack of a front fender.
If it rains, I’ll just have to take the project bike out instead.
I repaired the mlcm’s front rack today, and, as part of the process of putting everything back together (the new mounting arrangement for the rack puts it higher than it used to be) I attempted to change the fork crown mount for the fender from a L-bracket to a brake-bolt daruma.
The darumas I had (a couple of Velo Orange ones, or a Velo Orange one and a Rene Herse one) have a wonderfully non-optimal interaction with the fork on my Soma Speedster. A standard-length daruma fouls the tire, but if I shorten the daruma so it won’t foul the tire the fender ends up fouling the tire. And after an exciting couple of hours tweaking away at the fender, I eventually had to just give up and leave the front fender off the bicycle.
Gosh, I can’t see any situations in Oregon where this might not be a good idea.
I guess I could alway dump the 45mm fenders (maybe put them under Russell’s new bike?) and put the narrower plastic fenders back on instead. Or maybe it would be worthwhile to just use the super-low-trail fork I’ve got instead of the stock Soma fork, or get a Surly Cross-Check fork and rake it a little bit more so it doesn’t stand 1cm higher than the Soma fork does.
But in the short term, I’ll be riding a few brevets and permanents with a mlcm-mullet (fender in back, no fender in front) unless I decide to put fast tires on the project bike and use it instead.
Jun 13, 2012
One of my bicycles had been taken out of commission because I clipped a wet manhole cover during a 20mph turn – the rear wheel slid across the manhole cover and tacoed itself into oblivion when it reached the edge. After seeing if I could retrue the wheel (this failed when the pin joint separated when I was trying to flatten the warp) I shopped around for a replacement rim, and discovered to my intense disgust that it would cost me more to buy a new rim and spokes than it would cost for me to get a new rear wheel, so I bought a new wheel instead of doing it myself.
The problem was that tacoed wheel was from my trek, which is traditionally the bicycle I use to carry large awkward things like wheels. I can carry a wheel on my back, but after shattering my shoulder I’ve gotten a little shy about strapping things around either of my shoulders.
So what to do…
So what I did was to pull out the project bike, which has been refitted with 35mm Resist Nomad tires (33.5mm actual) to get a little bit of debris clearance under the fenders, and which now has the Brooks Professional saddle that was on the Trek (I moved the Swift over to the Trek because I only use that bicycle for shopping trips these days,) and loaded it up with a bunch of toestraps and webbing belts, then (after riding up to the LBS) strapped the wheel onto the side of the porteur rack.
It is fortunate that I spend most of my time riding in the drops, because the rim fouled my right brifter and made it so I couldn’t actually shift or brake unless I was in the drops. But it was only about 9 miles home, and then I could reassemble the Trek and have, once again, two working bicycles (we shall see what happens with the Swift; hopefully someone will buy it and I can use that money to get another Pro, or maybe it will magically become wide enough for me to sit on it without it being annoying.)
A couple of months ago, I rode orrando’s spring 200 which, in between bouts of rain and runs up the Molalla River to an info control out in the middle of nowhere, went south for a loop through Silver Falls State Park. It was a lovely ride (even including the rain, but not including the front shifter which wasn’t actually shifting that day) only slightly spoiled by the tiny detail that it started 18 miles away from home.
So, after the brevet was over, I started mulling over ways to get the most scenic parts of the ride (I’m sure the Molalla River branch is scenic, but it was raining and I was to busy being dropped and/or chasing after people) into a nice loop out of Portland, and eventually came up with this loop.
It starts, as is traditional, in Sellwood (nice and close to my house) and proceeds south through Milwaukie (etc) down to Oregon City, where you climb up onto the Boring Lava, then drop out of the urban growth boundary (and back to river level) for a long haul through farmland south. On the way down, it loops into Canby for the traditional stop at Cutsforth’s Thriftway, then proceeds on to Barlow Road for 20 miles of wandering south through gently rolling farmlands down to Silverton.
In Silverton, you can stop for a snack if you want, or you can just continue onwards. But it stops being flat here and becomes one big hill; halfway through Silverton, the road turns up and climbs, in two big steps, 1700 feet up to the entrance of Silver Falls State Park.
The hidden control at Silver Falls State Park is the south lodge, which is conveniently located out of sight and behind a confusing direction sign, about 1000 feet along a no bike-riding allowed gravel path. If it’s a cold day, they’ll have a fire here, and in any case there’s a little concession stand inside the lodge so you can get a little something (and a receipt) and stretch your feet for a while before it’s time to come back home.
There are a lot of waterfalls in Silver Falls State Park. Not many of them are visible from the highway, but South Falls is not too far away from the lodge so you can walk over and see it before you go, and North Falls is located where the highway loops around and turns back north (there is a scenic overlook just before this point – the last time I went through I didn’t stop for a photo, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t stop.)
You climb a bit from the lodge up to North Falls, then you bounce in and out of small valleys for a few miles, but after that it’s time to return to river level, and the highway does that enthusiastically – it descends long a series of long tangents, then sinuously wiggles down the side of a ridgeline and deposits you at the west end of Silverton again.
On the other side of Silverton, it’s only about 15 miles to Mount Angel and the last transit control of the loop. It’s not easy to keep of the main highways, but the route tries its best to do so, wandering along side roads (and through a covered bridge) until it deposits you onto Mount Angel Highway for the last two miles into Mount Angel itself.
And then its back into the countryside. The route wanders northeast for a few miles, then drops you onto Meridian Road for a fast run up to the neighborhood of Canby, where you come into the city to within 5 blocks of your outbound route before it turns back east and climbs up onto the Boring Lava for a series of annoyingly steep, but thankfully short, ramps, that deliver you back into Oregon City, where you (eventually) rejoin River Road for the run back up into Sellwood.
A cuesheet is available here, and if you want to ride this for RUSA credit contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My regular routine for riding my bicycle includes putting on my shoes. But now that I’m experimenting with clipless pedals, I need to amend that routine to include putting on the shoes that have the little brass clippy things bolted to them.
This afternoon, I was running up to the LBS to pick up a replacement wheel for the tacoed trek wheel and I got myself shod, loaded up the bicycle with all the straps I’d need to tie the wheel onto the front rack, rolled out the front door, hopped on the bicycle, and attempted to clip in.
And attempted to clip in.
And attempted to clip in.
And then realized that I’d put on my other pair of shoes – the ones that didn’t have the little brass clippy things bolted to them.
If it wasn’t for the whole “balls of my feet cramp up on fast 200s” thing, I’d be sticking to platform pedals like a drowning man clings to the head of a rescuer.
As it is, um, well, it’s nice to be able to push a <9hr 200 without having my feet convert into little clenched balls of pain, so I’ll have to keep considering the pros and cons of the silly things.
For the last couple of years I have been riding out to Sandy to stop in at Joe’s Donuts to pick up one or two dozen donuts, plus a couple more for the road. This is a nice little loop; it’s about 60 miles if I go there on a moderately direct route (120 miles if I take the scenic route), and I’ve been trying to do that at least once a month.
But if you’re going to go up to Sandy, why not go further? The mountain doesn’t start getting really steep until you get past Zigzag (the Zigzag river valley starts to slowly tilt more upwards as you follow highway 26 up towards Rhododendrum, or you can head north for 10 miles to get to Lolo Pass and a long fractionally gravel descent down towards Hood River) but the backroad up to Zigzag is a nice low-traffic way to spend a few hours riding 40 miles or so.
This route takes you all the way from Sellwood up through Sandy (with a stop at Joe’s,) down into the Sandy River gorge for a wander up and down Marmot, followed by a steady climb along the Sandy River up to Lolo Pass Road, where you fishhook back to OR 26, then turn around and retrace your steps down to what used to be Roslyn Lake, where you diverge from the outgoing route to head north (and down) on Ten Eyck & Lusted Roads to Dodge Park, then up out of the Sandy River gorge and roughly northwest to Troutdale, then onwards back into Portland.
About 25 miles of the route is along old Portland Traction ROW; from Sellwood, you take the Springwater Trail out as far as it’s paved (this will probably change soon; the town of Boring is working on their section of the Springwater Trail and may soon pave it all the way down to the edge of Gresham,) and when you’re coming back up out of the gorge, Dodge Park Blvd is the old Mount Hood Railway ROW that was briefly part of Portland Traction before they abandoned the line to Bull Run.
It’s a moderately climby route; in the 100-odd miles of route you end up climbing around 4500 feet (at least according to online mapping software) but the majority of that climbing isn’t all that steep, but is in the “why am I riding so slowly? Am I out of shape?” category. But there are some steep pitches; climbing Marmot from the east isn’t that bad because the steeper part of the road is bypassed by Shipley Road, but when you come back in from the west there are three scarily steep ramps that are only redeemed by being fairly short (and when you go east, you need to be careful of these ramps; the middle ramp has a sharp corner at the bottom of it and if you hit that corner too fast you’ll end up ramming a guardrail and launching yourself into a streambed.)
But if it’s a sunny day, you’ll never forget that you’re heading east towards a stratovolcano; Mount Hood will be visible in many places, getting larger and larger every time you see it until you’re tucked into the upper Sandy River Gorge and the walls of the gorge start to obscure the view (if you’re really fast and want to see more volcano, you can do 20 bonus miles by climbing Lolo Pass Road for some eyepoppingly impressive volcano viewing.)
The only really high traffic part of the loop is along Marine Drive from Troutdale to the vicinity of the airport, and this not only is high traffic but the shoulders tend to pick up pointy tire-eating debris. You can avoid some of the traffic by jumping off onto the Marine Drive bikepath (which is not continuous, but it’s follows about half of the Marine Drive segment) but it works out just as well to have new tires and keep a sharp eye out for broken bottles and other heaps of glass.
A cuesheet is available here, and if you want to ride this for RUSA credit contact me at email@example.com.
Jun 12, 2012
When I fire up the torch next week to build and reinforce racks (build a new rack for Bill Alsup; add some crosswise deckpieces to the porteur rack on the project bike; build a new rack for Russell’s P/R) I’m also going to have to do a little repair work to the rack on the mlcm because the fork crown mount has snapped in half and the rack is being held in place by the left side of the mount only.
It was never the best sort of mount – since it’s a crosswise-mounted piece of strap metal, it gets a lot of flex from the rack trying to vibrate back and forth (to the tune of maybe 11,000 miles since I put it onto the bicycle) when a more conventionally mounting strap would get twisted instead. The one big thing it has going for it is that it gets the rack lower than a conventional mount would get it, but I may have to abandon that feature when I repair it (I’m going to use some 5/16ths×0.028 stainless tubing as a lug to fit over the frame tubing where the mount used to be, then machine a slot and braze in a downwards-facing mounting bracket to replace it.
One day until summer vacation begins!
Jun 11, 2012
- Here’s this spiffy interactive whiteboard you can use! Tell me how to get and put information into a hashtable.
- ( sfx: clouds sailing idly through an empty sky as my brain completely empties of whatever technical skills I ever had )
- Maybe we should do this interview later?
- Good idea. Thanks.
I’ve never actually washed out of an interview quite so impressively as I did today. It doesn’t help that if I did a good interview I might get a programming job, and the whole idea of programming for a living repels me (“Congratulations, you win the grand prize! Would you prefer to be flayed alive or move to
[redacted] and work in a cubicle?” Can I decline the prize and live under a bridge instead, please?)
Two days until the end of the semester.
Jun 10, 2012
This has been one of those years. We had a long-standing medical emergency boil over in November (and then another one start last month when I shattered my shoulder, because what could be better than having bicycling cripple me?), and ever since that point I’ve been chopping my day up into 2-3 hour segments and trying to get things done inside those segments. Wake up at 6 in the morning, shuffle the bears off to school, then try to make use of the 3 hours before I start retrieving them from school. And then it’s 4pm, and there’s only a couple of hours to dinner, and then only a couple of hours until bed, and then the whole thing starts over again.
Sadly, this whole “couple of hours” thing is deadly to my ability to work. It reliably takes me about 2 hours to warm myself up to the point where I can sit down and either code and/or sew and/or weld (I can, sometimes, just hop on the bike and burn away some of that time, but on cold and/or rainy mornings it’s really hard to drag myself out the door unless I’ve got a scheduled event going down that I need to be at at a particular time.) And so I spend about 2 hours warming myself up, and whoops! my time is up.
Chop chop chop chop chop, and the week is done. The only time I have free is the weekends, and I’ve been trying to get out for longish loops on Saturday and do household errands on Sunday. Which means that Saturday is really the only long interval of time I’ve got that lets me unwind the increasingly huge knots of stress and fretfulness over the work I’m increasingly finding it unable to do.
Needless to say, self-medicating by bike riding is not the most reliable way to relieve stress – if a loop doesn’t work out, or isn’t pleasant (both of which have happened this year) that just adds another layer of unhappiness to the big ball of tension, and then that’s even more stuff I need to try to unwind when I’m warming myself up in these countless 2 hour chunks of time between wake/delivery/pickup/dinner/sleep. And then all of the stuff I need to do just piles up deeper and deeper.
But, fortunately, the goddamn school year ends in three days and I’ll (at least theoretically) have longer stretches of time where I can warm up, then sit down, fire up the sewing machine/computer/torch and make things. (They won’t actually pay anything, but I’m unemployed and the only income I’ve got is the just barely over minimum wage job known as “looking for work and collecting unemployment,” which, fortunately, is about to run out of money so I won’t have to pretend that I have even the slightest interest in doing coding anymore.) And, who knows, once I get the chance to sit down and make things, maybe my loathing for the computer industry will subside.
Three days. That’s all I need. If I can keep from breaking down for three days I can start work on the dozen or so things that have stopped completely dead in the last six months. And maybe that will get me above water before this whole carnival of despair starts again in the fall.
Jun 09, 2012
I’ve had a falling out with some of the people I usually ride with, and some of the others aren’t doing longer brevets this year, so I’ve been riding by myself more than usual. Sometimes it works, sometimes it’s homework, and sometimes it doesn’t work.
Today it didn’t work. I started out wanting to ride a 600, but after 95 miles of constant effing headwinds (I made it into a control 90 miles into my ride (68 miles into the official ride, because it started conveniently in Newberg, Oregon) with only about 1h10 spare time, which gives you some idea of just how helpful the winds were) I said to myself “This is no fun. Why am I doing it?” and when I couldn’t find an answer I just turned around and went home.
Lemme tell you, that last 35 miles with (mainly) tailwinds almost made up for the first 95 miles of increasing misery. Actually, no, the point where I said “DNF!” and turned around to go home almost made up for the first 95 miles; the following 35 miles was simply lagniappe.
I’ll probably get the stupid SR this year anyway – I’m volunteering on the summer 600, and one of the things the organizer wants is preriders – but it’s not worth being miserable for 32 hours while I’m doing it.
Jun 08, 2012
I was taking the trek out to deliver a wheel to a friend, but while I was in the middle of taking a nice fast turn off 17th I rolled over the edge of a nice rain-slick manhole cover. The rear wheel broke loose, slid cheerfully sideways, and came to a fairly abrupt halt at the other edge of the offending chunk of cast iron.
And when it came to that abrupt halt it did an impromptu restressing of the rim, which caused it to immediately reshape into a pleasantly taco-like form, which then meant that it jammed itself into the brake and fender, stopping any forward rotation and toppling me and the bike over into the middle of the street.
Fortunately I was only two blocks from home, so I could pick up the xtracycle, carry it back without much trouble, then use the mlcm to deliver the wheel and retrieve Silas from Llewellyn.
And now I get to decide whether to
- relace this wheel,
- get a new rim + spokes and build a new wheel, or
- convert the trek to 650b.
But I’m not going to decide that until after this weekend, because I’ve already got plans that will take up most of my time until Monday.
Dust Mite and Pigu hang out on the mantel.
Jun 05, 2012
Venus transited the sun today. Nobody alive today will see this again, and I only saw it because (unlike the 2004 transit) it was actually sunny today and I could juggle binoculars, my point-and-drool camera, and a piece of white paper to shine the image of the sun onto.
Jun 04, 2012
I’m no longer certain if I’m going to bother with doing a series this year, but I’m not so uncertain that I was going to stop riding lots. This weekend my plan was to ride my new One Big Hill permanent, but, sadly, it has not yet been approved and I’m greedy about accumulating RUSA miles this year. So what else to ride? Volcanoes vs Farmland was an option, but it involves climbing (and descending) the Tualatin Mountains and the last time I did that on a brevet it didn’t work out very well, so I shied away from that. Sellwood-Birkenfeld-Sellwood also climbs that range, so it was out as well.
Hills to the Yeah! and Sellwood to Hood & Back don’t have the Tualatin Mountains feature, but they’ve got a bucketload of climbing, so my shattered right shoulder vetoed my thoughts about doing them, and that meant I was left with one solitary permanent that I could ride at the last minute. And, as a bonus, if I rode PRP, I could also use that as a first preride for the upcoming summer 200k.
But first I had to get out of the house in the morning. On friday, I stuffed a bunch of science diet into the big rando bag (I’ve been out of sorts since the middle of November, so the idea of baking up a fruitcake seems like too much effort these days,) pumped up the threadbare tires (Clement Strada tires are very nice, but they wear really quickly; I’ve gotten three flats on them in the last nine days,) cleaned and oiled the chain, and otherwise got everything ready to go.
But then things came up on Friday evening and I didn’t get to sleep until a little after midnight, so when the alarm went off at 7am I sprung into action at the speed of an enraged sloth and didn’t get out the door until after 9am.
This was inconvenient, because I said I’d be back by 7pm, and that meant I had to do a <10hr loop to return when I said I would (and my usual loop average is in the 10h30 area.) But fortunately it was a ride from my front door (the official starting point is at Einstein’s Bagels in NE Portland, but permanent owners are allowed to adjust the location of controls up to 5 miles without forcing a reapproval, so I have a Sellwood start alternative that folds around a control up by OMSI) so I didn’t have to ride 4 miles and then do a <(10hr-transit time×2) loop.
The weather forecast called for chances of showers before 11am, and then partially sunny in the afternoon, but there were little bits of mysterious blue poking through the cloud cover as I sailed down 17th (a nice fast road now, but I’m not sure what it’s going to be like when a streetcar line is built down there this fall), turned west, and dodged through backroads over to the OMSI control, where I looped around (Water Street is closed south of OMSI so that ORHF can build their new museum to replace the soon-to-be-demolished Brooklyn Roundhouse, but it was possible to walk or ride your bicycle along half the road on Saturday morning. Alas, the entire road was blocked off by Saturday night) and headed south towards Portland Traction’s Springwater line (which is now the Springwater Trail, and only sees traffic as far south as the northern edge of Milwaukie.)
And then westward ho! I was pushing myself a little bit, but not too much, and wasn’t maintaining nearly the breakneck speed I’d done for the first 50 miles of the 300k, but still kept myself moving at a ~16mph brevet average until I was a mile this side of Boring, where a couple of short steepish ramps brought me down into the 15s. A brief stop to officially record the time, and then I bounced off to the south, taking Amisegger Road across a lobe of the Boring lava, then down into the valley that the Clackamas River (and Deep Creek) carved out of the foothills.
And after dropping down into the Clackamas River Valley, I had to pay it all back by climbing slowly up to the ridgeline that separated the Clackamas River from Deep and/or Tickle Creek.
And that was half of the steep climbing finished, and I was only about 25 miles out. Judd Road, after the initial steep ramp, is a pleasant country road that works its way gradually upgrade for a while until it runs into OR213, and then, very quickly thereafter, deadends into Howlett Road, which can either take you further uphill (followed by a screaming descent down to Eagle Creek) or take you slightly downhill to Van Curren Road, which goes off a cliff pretty much immediately and deposits you – at speeds of around 50mph if you can do an aero tuck or weigh 190 pounds – much closer to the mouth of Eagle Creek. The Portland Century goes upgrade here, but PRP goes downhill, and after plunging down the cliffside and riding a couple of miles on county roads, plunks you onto Eagle Creek Road, which climbs all the way back up again, but so gradually you won’t even notice it.
Normally I would take pictures here, but my brevet average had gone down to under 14mph by the time I’d climbed Judd Road, so my interests were more on the order of moving along fast enough to get my brevet average up to >14mph again. I didn’t bother to take any pictures until I saw a #30 interurban bus stopped at a store outside of Estacada, but instead just kept plugging along as fast as I could sustainably go.
And once on the other side of Estacada, I hopped back onto the highway to finish the loop up to Ripplebrook (with one small detour onto Faraday Road to avoid a nasty climb where OR224 goes all the way up to the top of the Clackamas River gorge, then plunges back down to the river level.)
When I’d started randonneuring, Faraday Road was open (I rode up it on my attempt to do the Barlow Road 300k) but it closed before I could start making up permanent routes that went up to and past Ripplebrook Ranger Station, so I’d spent a couple of year winding my way up and over the point of land that OR224 climbs. But this year it reopened, and I’ve been riding it ever since. But
on Saturday I made a pleasant discovery; one of the things that PG&E had done to Faraday Road when it was closed was to put a pipeline under the road, so there was this huge long scar down the road with periodic manhole covers jutting 3-6 inches above the surface of the road. This made return trips a little less enjoyable, particularly on days when the trip out to Ripplebrook were against headwinds and I was out of puff on the return, but I’d gotten used to it. But on Saturday, I turned onto Faraday Road, went past the barrier that blocked automobile traffic, and almost immediately discovered that PG&E had repaved the road with a nice thick smooth layer of wonderful wonderful asphalt. And they’d just repaved it, because not only was the surface still oily (it had been raining not long before I reached Faraday Road, and there were countless little oily puddles on the surface of the road) but there was a half mile or so stretch where the paving wasn’t finished and only half of the road was completely paved.
Alas, OR224 had not also been paved, and when I reached the south end of Faraday Road and went back onto the mainline it was back to the usual slowly disintegrating under the forces of nature and logging trucks pavement.
There were more signs of rain up here, and I was very happy that I do not ever take the fenders off my bicycle as I ploughed through various rainpuddles. But the sun was making a good effort to burn through the clouds now and the puddled wet pavement was punctuated by bits of dry sunny pavement and wet sunny pavement that was steaming like mad as the water evaporated away under the pressure of the sun.
One bridge, two bridges, three bridges, and four, and then came the second big climb, which slaughtered my moving average as I crept slowly up it. I was down to about 13.7mph when I crested the top of this ramp, and not any higher two miles down the road when I turned in at the Ripplebrook Ranger Station 4h45 after I’d set out in the morning.
And then I went in, got myself an ice cream bar, and spent about 20 minutes slowly eating it and relaxing in the not-sun before tossing my helmet back on, climbing back onto the bicycle, and heading back to Portland.
There was a bit of a headwind, but not much, and the downgrade made up for the wind. My brevet average was down to 13.3mph by the time I left Ripplebrook, but I shot downhill in the mid to upper 20mph range, and by the time I’d cleared Estacada I was averaging around 14.5mph. But then, alas, the indifferent state of cleanliness of OR224 struck; I’d been dodging glass ever since I’d passed Estacada, but as I was climbing away from Eagle Creek (the highway drops a little bit as it crosses over Eagle Creek) I nailed a patch of glass dead-on and the rear tire gave up the ghost with a resigned “Whufff!” as most of the air escaped through the huge gouge that the glass had left me with.
And since I was in a hurry it took me 20 minutes to change the tube, which dropped me down to 14mph again. When I got back onto the mlcm and was moving again, I managed to get back up to about 14.3mph by the time I’d reached Oregon City, but at this point I was running out of water, food, and energy and the last 12 miles of the loop became much slower than the previous 114 miles had been. I wasn’t exactly creeping, but I was running slowly, and it took me about a hour to make it from Oregon City up to the return fold control at OMSI (not helped by being stuck behind a collection of stoplights on Milwaukie Ave in Portland) which left me with 2 miles to go with 8h54 on the clock.
So I scrounged around internally for a bit of extra energy, found it, and cranked my way back south as fast as I could go, reaching a Sellwood control point just as the clock ticked over to 8h59.
When I got home, I apologized smugly to the best that I was not home at 7pm like I said that I would be :-)
Things that worked/didn’t work?
Well, the tires didn’t work. They worked well enough, but I would have been happier if that 20 minutes I was stopped by the side of OR 224 had been spent on the bike. And my shattered shoulder complained bitterly every time I stood to
climb anything more than a tiny bump, so I spent more time than usual sitting
down and just cranking my way up ramps. And I forgot to bring the padded gloves I wanted to try to deal with finger numbness, so I had to periodically ride on the brake hoods to relieve the pressure on those fingers.
What did work? Well, since I was riding by myself I didn’t have to worry about vanity, so I went out in what for me is full bikey mode (tights, honest-to-god bike jersey with back pockets that I’d loaded up with keys, wallet, and cellphone.) And this whole arrangement, regrettably, worked, so that’s another thing that’s going to force me to be doing a lot more riding by myself.
Everything else is about as well fit as I can get it without buying a torch and building my own frame. I’d like to stretch the mlcm out an inch (or 3 inches so I can use Cowbell bars) but, finger numbness aside, it’s about as comfortable as I can get these days.
Would it work for a 600? I don’t know. But I don’t know is enough so I’m not going to write the idea off just yet.
Jun 02, 2012
After several years of riding, I finally finished a 200k in under 9 hours.
It would have been comfortably within 9 hours, except that I’m running on threadbare tires (Clement Strada; lovely tires except they wear down quickly; 2600 miles on these and the rear tire is almost thin enough to read through) and I lost 20 minutes after running through some glass on highway 224 halfway between Estacada and Barton.
But I still finished in under 9 hours, and that’s more than enough for now! (This gives me a 300 that I finished in just barely over 13 hours, half of which was riding by myself, a 400 that I finished in under 20 hours by myself, and a 200 that I finished in under 9 hours by myself. And if I bother to ride the upcoming 700, this gives me some confidence that I could finish it in ~30 hours riding by myself, though I must admit that I’m having trouble seeing why I’d even want to.)
Jun 01, 2012
I’m planning on riding one of my permanents tomorrow (alas, I won’t be riding One Big Hill, because that hasn’t been approved yet and I want to add the miles to my RUSA totals) as a practice run for the 700 next weekend, and as part of getting ready for it I needed to replace all of the brake pads on the mlcm (the rear brake pads had gotten worn enough so that if I applied the rear brake vigorously it would go ssssccccrrrraaapppee as the metal part of the shoe ground against the rim.)
So Dust Mite supervised while I did the actual work.