nwhiker: (Cottage Lake snow)
My doom is sealed. In a fun way.

We just signed up for our yearly bike rides, that we missed last summer. Flying Wheels, a nasty hilly metric century in early June, and the Seattle to Portland, 204 miles! It's just dh, Perry, and me this year, Anne-Chloe having said "oh hell no" about doing it again.

We need to buy Perry a bike (sigh.... decent road bikes are expensive, even if we buy used) and get training.

The three things I am not looking forward to:

-- Getting up early for STP Day 1. I hate hate hate the nauseated feeling of getting up too early.

-- The hill into Napavine at the end of the day, 110 miles in, on STP Day 1.

-- All the condescending Good Jobs! tossed at the fatty biking. Those hurt my soul in a way I'll never fully be able to articulate. Someone I know, when I was complaining about it, said it was the compliment giver's way to welcoming me to the biking community.... To which someone else pointed out, which really helped me in articulating my feelings on this, that this was seriously othering, because it assumed I needed welcoming into anything, it removed the default if you're doing this ride, you're a cyclist into something that can be bestowed by someone wanting to feel good about tossing a compliment the fatty's way. They are. I must be given. So blah.

Also, OMG, I'm going to be biking with a taller than me teenaged boy. Why do I sense he's going to just head to Portland and call us from the Finish Line? (He's not 18, so he can't do the one day solo, poor kid, or he'd be sure to try.)
nwhiker: (heart)
A bit of a recap and some reflections on the ride....

Man, 10000 cyclists. That's a lot, and they ranged the gamut from safe and good riders to OMG, who the hell let you on a bike. It's always interesting to see the asshole cyclists because when you do, you start to feel sympathy with motorists who complain about cyclists. :P

As for the motorists. There was a apparently one incident with the one day riders (nobody was hurt), and as I wrote we passed two accidents that may have had vehicle involvement, but aside from that and two or three assholes? Most of the motorists that passed the ride were polite, careful, and drove to maximize rider safety. That was quite nice.

For anyone who wants to see photos: if you know our last names, MarathonFoto had them up. :P

Since we didn't have sag support (my MIL or dh's aunt) following us this year, we took the bus back from Portland. OMG. The guy behind me ate at least 4 bananas. I about died. I LOATHE bananas and I'm very sensitive to their smell, it was so gross. I mentioned this one a forum I'm on and someone -bless her heart!- suggested using muscle balm or some such on my upper lip. I knew this from crime novels, where everyone carries Vicks VapoRub for icky crime scenes, but it had not occurred to me. I borrowed some of AC's chapstick and aaaaaah, the minty smell pretty much drowned out the disgusting banana!

AC, for the second year in a row, won STP Bingo overall. She had the lowest number (1), second lowest number (2), the lowest support rider number (S1). I won on pallindromes (I saw 2002 and 7007), we all independently saw highest number, I saw rider 5205, so the closest to any of our numbers, and dh saw rider 2014! Nobody got their birthday years. Heh.

So there are various groups who sponsor small teams who've fundraised (oh man, their catering is so much better than official stuff!), and just small teams. I passed a support group for "Team Nietzsche", with the giant slogan "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger". Thank you for the earworm, Team Nietzsche and my strength class teacher!

I still cannot beleive how well the weather turned out on day 2. From expected record highs to a high of maybe 72F!

I so enjoy my teens! They're nice kids.

I love Dave's Killer Bread. We eat it loads at home. But, um, pbjs on it? NSM. Too dry. A few places had those Costco roll ups, thank goodness. The ride is pretty much Catered by Costco!

It's Wednesday, and I'm feeling pretty recovered by now, mostly. I was able to go to spin class yesterday without too much trouble, I wasn't sore much at all. Where I still feel off: I'm more thirsty, and my sleep cycle still feels off.

OK, guys, this might be TMI for you. I'll white font! I have one of those proverbial 28 day cycles. I usually start bleeding Saturday early afternoon, every freaking four weeks. Which I was expecting to do Saturday. Which did not make me happy. BUT. This was a rare occurrance of a 29 day cycle, and I didn't start until Sunday evening AFTER the ride. I was SO freaking happy about that!

Port-a-potties in July. OMG, right? No, not really. They were mostly clean... the only real problem is that it was so hot, and they had hand sanitizer in them, I'm still shocked nobody got drunk from inhaling the alcoholic fumes! :)

Perry wanted to go to racing Monday evening. It was hot out and dh and I nixed that idea. Not because we didn't think he could do it physically, but because he was still mentally tired, and no, I'm not sending a mentally tired kid to race at a velodrome on a bike with no brakes!

Monday afternoon, we cleaned our bikes. They were covered in grit! Removed wheels, cleaned pretty much everywhere except we were too lazy to remove the chain. The gear train is pretty clean aside from that, everything was at least wiped down.

Next year Perry will be in a full size bike. We will never catch up with him. Oh wait. I'm not doing this next year. Never mind!

And of course, as per tradition, both kids "turtled" once, ie fell with their feet still in their pedals. They both managed to get up by themselves. Ah, how fondly I remember the time when I'd pick up Perry, bike and all, still clipped in and right him. Yeah, NOT!

Ah well. It was fun. It was a good time with family, we'll probably do it again.

Next up: hiking trip to the Enchantments!
nwhiker: (heart)
I woke up a few times during the night. The first time because I was cold. Cold? Really? Oh whatever.

I woke up again, cold again, and I could feel the dampness. I thought about suggesting to Perry, who was sleeping outside, to go drag his sleeping bag into the gymnasium, but I was too tired and I know how hard it is to wake Perry when he's out. Back to sleep.

4am. My alarm went off, I ignored it for a bit, then got up, went to brush my teeth and pop 3 ibuprofen. I feel ok from a muscles etc standpoint, but my head still ached.

As the others stumbled to morning things, I started stuffing bags and repacking. It was still dark. Then I came up with a brilliant idea, if I may say so myself, to fix AC's seat: one of dh's cotton socks. Part can be wadded up to replace the missing gel and the whole leg part pulled over the whole saddle to keep it in place. And to follow up here, it worked! At the next big rest stop, we got some duct tape from the bike repair place to keep things from shifting around, but overall, the sock contraption was a workable solution and allowed AC to finish the ride.

That she would finish was not evident. Even though it was now chilly, and breezy, the forecast, last we had checked, was still gruesome, and AC was in a bit of a panicky, anxious state. Note that's she in good shape, had had few problems the day before, even with the heat, so it was clearly a mental problem. She was pretty depressed and weepy at breakfast, refusing to eat properly, working on convincing herself that she wasn't going to be able to finish. We tried to dispense a combination of sympathy and "sorry, there is no plan in place for you to bail, you need to finish" practicality.

Off we headed for day 2! Officially we had about 85 miles to go. The first part of the route is "rollers", then over the Columbia on the Lewis and Clark Bridge into Oregon! After that, the long slog that is US 30.

But the weather still seems to be holding as cool. There are clouds in the sky. A nice breezy tailwind. Things aren't too bad!

The Lexington rest stop came up quickly, which was nice. The rollers weren't too bad, and I think the fastest I got was about 34mph.

Weather still cool, cloudy, nice breeze, with the occasional sunbreak. I was really starting to wonder if the high had broken, or what, because this was not the morning of a day that was supposed to beat record temps. Not that anyone was complaining, of course. I don't think anyone was really daring to speak much about it, Saturday had been so very miserable for everyone.

Lewis and Clark Bridge. Always a bit nerve wracking. We check water bottle cages to make sure everything is in tight, pockets etc. There are some nasty gratings on the down that you hit going very fast and the ground is literally littered with water bottles and other things!

Grind up the bridge... this isn't my video -I wish I were that fast on the way up!- it's from some one day rider.



Oregon!

I'm pretty sure my speed exceeded the posted 35mph. Heh.

Into the small town of Rainier, where I saw a breathtaking example of racism that I'd never noticed before.

A barber shop/salon, called Head Hunters, which ya know, is just stupid but not intrinsically offensive. Only... the painting on the wall, clearly visible where driving the highway was... a young Native American man with his hair unbound.

You'd think that a highway that follows the course of a river would be flat. Alas, it is not. Ups and downs, some of them pretty intense. Overall, the trend is upwards, I swear it is! I mean, I know that Rainier OR and PDX are the same elevation (ok, PDX is 1ft lower...) but the whole road still feels like it has an upward trend!

Overall things were going pretty well, except for dh's knees that were bothering him a bit. We were making quite decent time and pulled into the lunch stop at St Helens a bit before noon. The weather, I'll add, was still cool and overcast. Usually St Helens is a hot, full sun food stop, so this was nice.

30 miles to go.

What to say about the last thirty miles? We picked up, alas, a headwind, which I think really bugged dh, and that slowed us down a wee bit, but we were still making ok time.

I saw lightening to the north. Three bolts. Didn't hear the thunder, so it was quite far.

And then it started to rain.

A big fat drop heavy rain, that left me wondering if glasses on or glasses off was better. I should have my glasses on, but my eyesight is good enough for day time driving/biking if need be. I kept them on, but there were a few times where I wondered.

Rooster tails and OMG GRIT was the name of the game from then on in.

St John's Bridge, as usual my favourite part of the ride. The bridge itself is beautiful, and once you are over it, you are into Portland proper, the end of the ride is near, at least distance wise, and it always feels like a privilege to be able to cross such a bridge in a lane without cars!



Things slowed down considerably then. The traffic was not too horrid, but there are red lights, pedestrians, and cyclists, many of them not riding STP. Nothing awful, but we're not longer doing the same speed as on the highway. I always forget that when I'm calculating how long the last 30 miles will take, that the 5 or so from St Johns can take a lot longer than the 25 highway ones!

Dh described what happened next best, and I think he said it like this, "All of a sudden I heard 'ouch! ouch! ouch!' behind me, and I couldn't figure out what was going on, then three seconds later, the hail hit me!".

Hail.

Rilly?

That said, I'll say it now: hail and rain vs record high temps? Bring on the hail.

Dh's aunt was waiting for us at the last block! We high fived as we slowly rode it, under the finish line, picked up our finisher's badges, and onto the grass.

DONE!

Proof:
Finisher badges!

And here is the obligatory at the finish line photo, take a bit after we got in! Note that Perry is still eating....

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Day 2 stats: 85.2 miles, 12.5 mph, 6h46min on bikes!

Next post up: the recap and some extra commentary!
nwhiker: (heart)
First I must set the scene. As the week progressed towards STP, the weather reports, especially those for Oregon went from bad to worse. It was... worrisome to say the least. The thought of biking US 30 in temps in the mid 90s was actually frightening, and I had doubts as to our ability to do it at all.

Dh and I talked a bit about circumstances in which we'd call off. Since we were doing the ride unsupported, we had no good plan for failure, which is never a good thing. Though I suppose, with a credit card, there is always a solution, right?

Friday was a day of frenzied getting everything together. Dh had checked over the bikes already, so that was done, and I'd gotten camping gear together, so that was done, but there are always a zillion details to attend to. We also went into Seattle to pick Perry up at rowing camp, and to get our rider packets at REI.

At rowing camp, the instructor, who teaches PE at his school, as well as crew, told us that Perry just did not stop. Always full of energy. Which, um, we know. I mean... at his middle school continuation ceremony, the teacher who roasted Perry said exactly that. That just keeps on and on, high energy. Until, not. And then he showed a photo of Perry on the way home from a day of noxious weed pulling, sound asleep with his head on the teacher's shoulder. It was so funny. Anyhow, we took our not exhausted yet child to REI.

Picked up packets. Bought t shirts, and a key chain for Linnea who was quite vexed that, yet again, she didn't get to go.

We got to bed Friday night, tired, and for me, dreading the 4am wake up. Once the wake up is done, the only thing I really dread on the whole ride is the hill into Napavine!

I ended up waking up at 2:45, and not being able to get back to sleep. Sigh.

4am. Since I'd been awake for a while, at least I didn't feel nauseated or anything. We got out reasonably fast, with -it turns out- nothing forgotten, which is always good. Of course the Dept of Transportation had to close the 520 bridge over the lake so our trip into Seattle took a lot longer than it otherwise would, and of course the traffic to get to the starting parking lot was long and took forever.

In parked. We were leaving the car there, and it didn't take long to get the pre-ride stuff done: potty, numbers on bikes (we do that last minute in case they don't stay on for the drive!), luggage dropped off on the truck to Winlock, selfie taken...

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and....

Off we go!

It was about 6:30 am. And it was already hot. Most STP starts we've needed jackets in the early am. Not Saturday.

We passed by a bad accident even before we reached the University Bridge, on Eastlake Ave. I know there was an accident there last year as well. Anyhow, she did not look in good shape. :( I wasn't able to find any report on her condition. I felt sick to my stomach.

Onwards.

The beginning of the route is beautiful, though the Arboretum, then down next to Lake Washington, to Seward Park. Then you make a right. Straight up a steep, though short, hill. If you haven't already geared down, it's too late! Good thing we know this, we were already geared down, so up we went.

The REI stop, at 25 miles in, is the first stop. Before that however, was our first encounter with a dangerous rider: Mimi's dad. Mimi is -according to the sign on her recumbant trail-a-bike- 7 years old and she was doing her first STP. Which is awesome. Her dad's name, judging by what people were calling him, is "Asshole!" He clearly had no idea of how long his bike + Mimi's tag-along were, and it was only the skillful riding of others that prevented him from knocking two cyclists over that first time I encountered him. We saw Asshole and Mimi several times, and his riding didn't get any better. I also heard several other riders commenting about him, so it wasn't just us.

The REI stop is always fun. Two years ago, it was The 80s, so everyone had leg warmers and 80s music was playing. Last year has faded, but the theme was... polka. So yeah, when we got in the live band was playing a polka. Then they played Edelweiss, which isn't a polka, they admitted, but hey, it fits the theme! Thanks for the earworm, guys!

We made the stop short, and got out quickly. Temps were going up and not wasting any of the relatively cool morning time was important.

After the REI stop, there is a short bit of semi-rural area. That's when we saw another guy. The call of "Car BACK!" which means... car coming, get out of the effing way would sound and... he'd pull into traffic. He did this several times. A gal right behind him finally shouted at him, "Dude, don't be an asshole! Car versus you, car wins!" Everyone laughed, but it really isn't funny.

Then there was The Hill. It's not that bad of a hill, all things considered, but I think it's... the first big challenge of the ride, so has taken on mythical proportions. Conquering The Hill is an STP milestone. I suspect that has happened because that's where many people realise HOLY FUCK WHAT THE HELL DID I SIGN UP FOR? We all did it ok. At the top, dh had to stop because the clip on his shoe was stuck to his pedal. He managed to get it off -phew!- and re-tightened. He only had one screw in, but was able to get a much needed second one later in the day.

We got to Spanaway, 50 miles in, the traditional lunch stop. The Spanaway stop sucks rotten eggs. It's too hot, the lines for the potties are epic, and the food isn't always great. It was worse than usual this year in that the water lines were about 20 minutes long. That should have been remedied right away. It was awful. The temps were probably already in the 80s, the sun was beating down, and waiting for water was no fun. I had a splitting headache.

I was really worried about Perry at that point. He was whiny, which is not typical of him, he looked tired and red. Dh and I got a bit more hands on at managing his food and water, ie we started reminding him non stop. Eat, drink, whatever.

After more sunscreen and ibuprofen, off we went.

The area around Spanaway is an area we call the "Military stupid zone". On I5, or on these smaller roads, the whole area around JBLM (Joint Base Lewis-McChord) is an area of bad traffic, and bad drivers. On I5, typically the traffic stops for no reason, only the right lane moves, the accidents are more numerous, and it's not a fun area to go through. On STP, it's a scary area. It was around there that a truck threatened Perry last year, and where the asses downshift their diesels in front of cyclists most often.

As we're biking... an emergency vehicle passed us, sirens blaring. Shit. Then a second. We passed the accident a few minutes later. Cyclist down, though this gal was at talking, and the situation didn't look as bad. Still, gulp.

Wanted to fill up water at McKenna mini-stop. They are out of water. We have enough to go on with, but still disconcerting.

After a bit, we got on a 14.5 mile section of bike trail. It's always hot, there is very little shade, but no cars, this year most people who were not part of the ride stayed OFF the trail. Last year there were parents with small kids, and that's always scary when you're going even slightly faster than walking speed. Which, of course, we all are.

Perry got a flat on that section. Grrr. It looked like, and this was verified when I fixed the tube after we got home, that that brand of patches isn't that great. Sigh. The other brand we have was great, but I can't figure out what it was, since there is no name or anything.

Anyhow, fixed the flat. The heat is awful, it's bright, and the water in our bottles is warm enough to make tea.

The Tenino rest stop was up next. It's run as a fundraiser by the high school basketball team, and this year? I suspect their forethought saved quite a few people from medical problems. The water there is cold, and there was plenty of it :) . There were no lines. In addition, they'd set up a line of pvc piping shooting water up 6+ feet into the air. Cold water. Many people got soaked, finally cooling down. Damp and in the shade, I felt SO much better, my headache subsided a bit.

It came back within minutes of being back out in the sun and heat, but still, I felt better.

This section was where Perry had decided he didn't need us any longer and taken off. AC did that this year. Only unlike Perry, she didn't stop to wait at the gas station at the entrance of Centralia. Sigh.

100 miles done. 20 to go. Temps are apparently around 95F. Fucking HOT.

Centralia mid-way point. We found AC waiting for us (sigh...). We got creamsicles. This is the only time I'd ever eat a creamsicle, because things taste very different when it's hot, they are cold, and you've just biked 100 miles.

We spent a bit too much time in Centralia, doing various things. We didn't feel in a major hurry, it was still brutally HOT, and we needed the rest. Eventually we headed out to Winlock.

After Chehalis, we stopped for some energy gels. Those things are gross, especially warm, but do they ever work! Dh's knees were bothering him and while I was having zero issues with fatigue, my head was still in pretty awful pain. We told the kids to go on up ahead to where we were camping, and they zipped on up ahead, soon out of sight. Gulp. My babies!

My personal bugaboo, the hill into Napavine, was next. I made it, if slowly.

Last six miles to Winlock. Rollers. Which are hills following each other, the idea being that you use the speed you get on one downhill to help you up the next. We were just outside of Napavine, about to hit the first hill when....

Flat tire. Crappity crud. It's late, we now had to change a flat, and we may not make it to Winlock in time for dinner... and who knows what is open in Winlock this late?

But then...

My phone rang. I picked up the call, thinking it might be AC or Perry in trouble, but it was my brother...

Standing by the side of the road, temps still in the 90s, I'm hot and sweating, and my poor spouse is changing my tire as...

I squee with excited excitedness because I have a brand new niece!!!!!!!!!!!

I'd have missed the call without the damn flat.

There are truly few bits of news that are as incredibly wonderful as people you love having a new baby that you get to love too.

The next six miles literally flew by. Still concerned about dinner, it's still hot, and I hoped the kids weren't worried about us, since the flat repair took some time.

When we got in, we biked to the elementary school. A quick look at the field showed our red tent set up.

Instead of finding what we could have, ie two teens flopped on the grass eating the free pretzels, we found a tent all set up, sleeping pads blown up, and sleeping bags fluffed. And the kids, having done that, eating pretzels. I am so proud of them, they thought to pick up our luggage and made camp. It may seem obvious, but with teens? You never know.

120 miles, 13.4 mph average, 9h18min on the bike.

But we have a small problem. AC had a cushy gel seat on her bike. Last Tuesday -note that STP is Saturday- she points out that the lycra cover of her seat is torn. The seat is too old to find a direct replacement, and that's a pretty major equipment change very late in the game. We decided to just go, after all, it was just a tear in the lycra. However, now, we have a problem: the lycra continued tearing, and she lost the hunk of foam at the front of the saddle, straight down to the plastic frame. We need to figure something out, because the bike is not ridable under those conditions. Still, first, dinner.

Dinner presented a challenge. We went down to the Senior Center. I'd purchased dinner, breakfast, and camping vouchers for all four of us last February, but... huh. They show dh, and the kids paid for but not me. We have no cash (long story, but dh swapped out his wallet and didn't put the cash in the bike bag), so no way to buy me dinner. I'm looking at these old ladies and going I did this for three people there is NO WAY I didn't get it for all four of us. Since they'd apparently had LOADS of problems this year, she let me in. I checked when I got home and yes, I had paid for all of them. They marked me as paid. I did, but I'll still send a thank you note with a donation for letting me in, on my word that I really had paid. Which I think they did because....

Mine wasn't the only effed up registration... they ran out of food, both that evening and breakfast the next day. People were quite pissed, but it seems like there was some serious miscommunication between the Senior Center and the guy from the school district who arranges everything. The ladies didn't want to feed anyone from the elem school, saying we hadn't pre-registered, but only the people from the HS had. Which was not the case. It was a bit of a mess.

It was hot, people were testy, but they managed to get people mostly fed. Alas, unlike previous years (we've eaten there 5 times), this year they put bell peppers in the tomato sauce, so ew gross, I got as much sauce off the pasta as I could and ate the pasta as plain as possible with loads of salt.

And during dinner, bro texted a photo of my niece!

Cold shower after dinner, brr, then off to collapse in the tent. Perry opted to sleep outside. It was still hot, there was barely a breeze, but we were so tired we all feel asleep quickly, having set the alarm for 4am. The plan was to get up early and attempt to beat the worse of the heat into Portland.
nwhiker: (heart)
And the biking season has officially begun! On Saturday, with our traditional first ride of the season, the Tulip Pedal up in Skagit County.

Now that they have eliminated the evil Bow Hill from the course, it's a moderate 40 mile ride. Nothing too strenuous, but a good touch-base of where we are at this point in the season.

We did surprisingly well considering the lack of biking we'd done so far this year. Perry wanders around the neighbourhood on his bike a bit. Dh and I went on a quick 8 mile ride last weekend. AC had not been on her bike since STP last July. So yeah, pretty much 40 miles cold turkey.

The wind was, of course, fierce. 15-20 mph according to the weather service. As a headwind, it was brutal, but it was worse as a sidewind. I mean, I'm still surprised skinny little Perry didn't blow over, because I almost feel a few times!

The tulips were in full tulippy glory, which was nice.

AC was using clipless pedals for the first time. She fell twice, which is pretty standard for a first time out on those it seems. Both times at intersections when dh didn't signal a stop as quickly as he should have and she couldn't unclip fast enough. Perry did that before he got used to his pedals, but since his are different (he has racing cleats), he would turtle, and I'd have to pick him up, kid and bike, and right him. I don't think I could do it any longer. Anyhow, poor AC has a bruise on her hip/butt that she refuses to ice. "I am NOT going to ice my butt!" :-)

And Perry clip funny. Stopped at a rest stop. Leave rest stop. Make turn, head straight up overpass. We're in single file paceline, and Perry can't get his right clip in (again, he has racing clips, which are much more finicky that SPDs. I may buy him a second set of shoes/clips for road rides). So he flipping powers up that hill, right leg held out, pedalling madly with his left leg to get up because he's the head of our little paceline! It was so funny, and, to be honest, quite impressive.

The weather was supposed to be crappy starting at about 11am, so we got out early, and finished the ride at about 11:30, literally as the temps dropped, the wind picked up even more, and the skies opened. It didn't last long, but boy was I glad we were under the shelter of the door of the SUV as we got gear off, done with the ride. I do feel for the large number of people who were still riding.

Also, note to self: just because people have expensive bikes and gear does not mean they are experienced riders. I always fall into that trap, and then I'm shocked when they don't understand the rules (like, oh, pull off the road to stop, stuff like that.)

Skagit Valley environmentalists have a slogan about the presevation of farmland: Pavement is Forever. Which is why, I assume, Skagit County does not beleive in repaving its roads! Which in previous years resulted in a bad case of road shock (ie numb tingling fingers) that lasted a few hours after the ride. This year, with my new spiffy carbon fiber bike, I had no issues.

Anyhow, after the ride, we met up with my mom, sister, and Linnea. We had a picnic... in the car, because wind and rain, and then drove around the fields. It was so pretty. Got some photos, and yet again, dh's Nokia Windows phone proves itself to be an excellent camera.



The entire Tulips 2014 flickr set.
nwhiker: (heart)
Packets are all picked up, last minute REI purchases are made.

In a superstition be damned move, we bought ride Tshirts. Normally I get those AFTER the ride, so I feel very concerned about getting these. :P

The ride jackets are UGLY as sin. We'll be wearing last year's, I think. Yech, and very male-centric to boot.

stp-paint

OMG. I'm freaking starting to majorly panic. What the FUCK possessed me to think this was a GOOD idea?
nwhiker: (heart)
About a week ahead of STP 2013, here's a quick synopsis of STP 2012!

First, a slightly blurry photo of us at the start line....

IMAG0179

The updates I wrote at the time: -just a few words-
Day 1
Done
Biker's tans!

A fuller account:
Day -1
Day 1
Day 1 continued
Day 1 continued from the continued
Day 2

At some point, I hope to finally get the photos from Greta. Heck, maybe this weekend, she's coming to visit, and I'll put those on Flickr. [eta] Got 'em. A few of hers show the lineup to the bridge at Longview better than ours, since AC was taking them from the car.

STP 2012 Flickr set

We purchased the photos from the course photographers for Perry, and they're fabulous. I haven't uploaded them to Flickr yet, but I'll try to do that in the next few days. He's so stinkin' cute! There are some good ones that show him in front of dh, and he's so freaking little

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Coming into Portland on the St John's bridge:
721273-1100-0030s
nwhiker: (heart)
This weekend we planned -and did, yay us!- two rides back to back: yesterday we did a 50 mile or so (the exact mileage is unknown because of device and app issues, but around 50.). It went well, and we had a good time. Linnea had had a sleepover with my MIL, so we were even able to get out reasonably early.

Then today the idea was to do another ride, though only about 20 or so miles. We thought we might have to split up, since Linnea can't come, but MIL said she'd keep her another day. Linnea was vexed at not being able to ride with us, though.

Problem is, she can't really ride on the road. She's too slow to be safe on any real road riding. So we decided to go on the bike trail: we left the car at one location, did our 20 or so miles, and swung back to about 7.5 miles from the car to a park where we met up with MIL and Linnea. And Linnea rode back with us (most of the way. She, dh, and Perry split off to drop of their bikes at a local bike shop, and AC and I took the opportunity to ziiiiiiiiip the rest of the way back to the car.)

It was... different biking with Linnea in our paceline. Obviously, she has less experience, her bike is smaller, she's much slower etc. Still, it was fun. Lots of people encouraged her as they zipped by us. Two guys followed us for a while in a busy area, and when they prepared to pass one of them said to me "Nice paceline!" and I called to him "Wait til you see who is pulling!" As he went by he told her good job, and gave me a wave and a thumbs up! It was so funny.

We must have looked quite incongruous on the trail. I'm fat, but aside from that, four of us have clearly put some money and effort into our gear, right: road bikes, real bike jerseys, clipless pedals.... and there was Linnea: so very small, on her tiny old old old mountain bike, her pink helmet, in regular clothes, though carefully chosen for biking, and looking so cute you could eat her! :-)

It is very hot, and Linnea got discouraged for a while, but we told her how well she was doing, gave her some more water, and she finished what we'd intended her to do, claiming that she was "roasted" or maybe it was "toasted", though she was a bit soggy, but clearly cooked. That conversation was so totally Linnea!
nwhiker: (heart)
My photo isn't great, but here's my new bike:

IMAG1658.jpg

It looks a bit brown (yuck) in the orange-yellow light, but this is closer to the colour in bright sunlight:

IMAG1656

It rides beautifully, and I can't wait to take it out on a longer ride.

I just bought a new saddle for my old bike, and I have to decide if I am going to swap saddles or not.

Whee! So excited!
nwhiker: (heart)
I got up feeling quite sick this morning: headache, nausea, a bit of a fever, and the awful combo of congestion and runny nose.

However, I really felt we needed to get the experience of riding in a group of four among lots of riders, so I decided to take 3 Motrin, ie one more than my usual, choke down some toast with marmalade, and attempt the ride.

There is a decision point about 15 miles: left, you're opting to go 65 miles, whereas right, you only need to go 45. Since I knew that, I decided I'd make a decision there which to do, figuring that I'd be able to go 45 unless I was really feeling icky, in which case, about 10 miles prior, I'd been within 10 miles of home and could just bike back there.

So two possible ejection points planned, we headed out.

Here's the ride, mapped by someone last year, same course: Flying Wheels 65 mile route.

I was feeling ok by then. Only one problem. I'd forgotten to bring Kleenex. So I had my pockets stuffed with crappy toilet paper from the port-a-potties. Ooops.

Started out feeling pretty ok. My ears were bugging me and my throat was sore, but still, on average, who cares? I could ride! And ride I did. Until Inglewood Hill, which is nasty, straight up, and still very crowded because it's the beginning of the ride. After a while, granny gear didn't feel too safe, too many people, walking, hopping off their bikes, going to slow, and zig-zagging, so I hopped off too and walked a few hundred feet. That, I'll say now, was the only walking I had to do all ride, yay me! AC, dh, and Perry made it up the whole hill.

Next is down. And then back up. And down. And... you get the picture.

First decision point, and I felt fine, so continued: that was the "ride home point". Um. I should mention now that while I had it in the back of my mind that I could do this, I hadn't actually brought my house keys, so it wouldn't have been the best decision I could have made! Hee.

Continue on towards Carnation, and the second decision point. I was feeling good, dh and the kids were doing great, so we turned left, and committed to the 65 miler.

Note: it's the same ride as last year. Just read that description, add in AC, and you've got this year's ride: Flying Wheels, 2012.

AC did fine. She had a bit of a hard time on the last hill, which is killer: you've already biked a long while, it's long, and the temps are up. She used her inhaler several time, positive that she was having an asthma attack, but I'm pretty sure it was a panic attack again, she's gotten these before at hills, I'm not sure why. It's not asthma in that if she does calm down enough to actually breathe, she's fine. I do need to discuss that with her doctor.

Food stop funny: Perry has found a new method for collecting food. He takes off his helmet and piles it full of stuff to eat and brings it back to the bikes. AC sarcastically called it a cornucopia, I said it was the helmet of plenty. That kid cracks me up. And eats, OMG.

He got a lot of kudos, as usual. The biking community really is encouraging of younger riders.

It was long and hilly, but eventually, we got back to Marymoor Park. We were a bit faster than last year, but in the same range, which surprised me. AC has now done her first metric century, yay AC!

Photo of us, we're done:
Untitled

Such fun, sharing that with my kids! Can't wait until Linnea can join us on longer rides!

And then I went home and pretty much crashed. Actually not feeling too tired from the ride but this cold is kicking my sorry ass. Heh.

One thing to come from this: it's not a question of want, I need a new bike. My gearing is off, and I think my derailleur may be on its last... legs? Cogs? Anyhow, it's not a question of it, but when I will have a bike failure. I need to get my act together and start making choices and decisions about what to get and when.
nwhiker: (heart)
After our bike ride yesterday, I rode two more bikes that I wanted to try out. Both Fujis, one under my price limit, the other just above.

Both were very nice. The lower priced one was white with pink and orange: think sherbet! It was good ride, climbed nicely, and I'd take it over the Trek with the ugly flowers, so that removed any residual "there is a sale! Just this weekend!" pressure.

The other was last year's model, a full carbon frame, like the covetted Ruby. They didn't have my size easily accessible, so it was hard to tell, but it was a good bike, and it would be my top pick so far if I decide not to go with the ridiculously expensive one and IF the one is my size sits as well as the same-brand sherbet one did. It's also very ugly, white with red and purple.

I still want to try the Specialized Dolce that got me into the damned tempting bike shop in the first place, and also a more modern flat bar, also a Specialized.

I don't mind the ride of drop bars, but I'm not sure I like the braking position. It's hard for my hands, and I don't have small hands, I wonder how more petite women manage. OTOH, I could get mini brakes put on as well, they're easy to add.

So still in decision mode.

A note on esthetics. Why oh why are so many bikes butt ugly? I know I'm in minority for really not liking the red-and-black combo, but so many are red and black. And the whole pale grey-ish blue? Pretty for an eye colour, so totally not good for a bike! Let's not mention the burnt orange and white that was last year's colours for the sherbet model! It isn't a major stumbling block, of course, but when rides/components/prices are all within ballpark, damn straight I'm getting the bike that I think looks best.

I don't like shopping much. Bike shopping isn't as bad, as say, clothes shopping, but really, I just flat out don't like shopping.

I think dh is just waiting for me to go ahead and decide to get the expensive one. I just hate spending that much money on a toy. That I don't really need, because, hey, I have a perfectly good, if heavy, bike, and could buy a perfectly good new bike for a lot less than the Ruby. Le sigh.

Links:

Orange sherbet bike

Red and purple full carbon
nwhiker: (heart)
Looking at getting a new bike.

Let's just say that I'm so totally outclassed in this arms race between dh, son, and daughter, that something HAD to be done.

I decided on a budget.

I went to one of my fave bike shops first. They were having a sale.

But oh, they didn't have the bike I'd wanted, but why don't you try this one, it's "a bit" better than the one you were looking at... yeah, a bit. $1200 vs $700. But oh, it's 20% off! And see how nicely it fits, and how good you feel on it? Yeah, all that.

The good thing? It's ugly as hell, white with -ugh- teal "Hawaiian theme flowers" which I am not fond of. So while the ride was nice, it wasn't love at first sight.

Tabled the decision and went to bike shop #2.

I wanted to see a Dolce compact. Still in my price range, and a beautiful black and purple colour scheme.

Only they didn't have it. They had the slightly more expensive and slightly more ugly Dolce Compact Sport. And not in my size.

But in my size, they had the bottom of the line bike of the Ruby line. Yeah, I'd looked at the Ruby line. The top of the line -same frame- costs $8500. Yes, eight thousand five hundred dollars. Full carbon fibre frame, which ended up being a crosshatch of deep purple and almost-black grey in full sunlight. Beautiful. The purple is called blackberry satin. Even the colour name is gorgeous....

They put it on the bike trainer and tell me to get on.

Perfect fit, straight out of the gate. All the angles just... fit.

There is a reason I have vintage early 90s mountain bike, also by Specialized: something about their geometry just works with my fucked up weird body.

But I don't want the Ruby. I mean... Too expensive, folks!

Go ahead and take a ride, they said.

I should have said no. I should have left and gone elsewhere.

Three pedal strokes out the door, I'd fallen in love.

The bike felt perfectly. Just... everything. I'm not fond of the new type shifters, but all the bikes have them, but everything else? Perfect. I felt properly balanced, upright and in the drops. I felt in control, at speed, and when going slow. I went up a hill that I've done before. It was... easier. And doing back down it? I was going so fast I was almost scared.

I'm in total love.

Now just to persuade my spouse I want to spend that amount on a bike.............
nwhiker: (heart)
Day 2 started early in the morning, just before dawn -I think- when a plump drop of water hit my nose. It was raining.

Anne-Chloe, bless her 100% in Outdoors Education little heart, got out of the tent and pulled on the rainfly.

We got a bit more sleep, but since we did want to get an early start, we eventually crawled out of sleeping bags to find a rainy, cool -almost cold-, and misty morning.

Dressed, in full gear, ie our STP jackets from a few years back, we headed out to breakfast.

Why the old jackets, rather than this year's? Because they were easier to spot, there were less of 'em than of the 2012 variety. We'll wear our 2012's next year, probably. Oh, I didn't mention we're planning on freaking DOING THIS AGAIN? Fingers crossed, with AC this time.

Breakfast, and then we headed out. The rain had stopped, but it was a cool misty morning, not too bad for biking, all things considered. AC and Greta took care of breaking camp etc.

So off we went. This section of the ride is called "rollers", so ups and downs. There was one bad hill at Vader, and again, I was able to bike up it, I didn't have to get off the bike and push.

More worrisome, however, were dh's knees. They were starting to really bother him.

Lunch stop at Lexington. It was much earlier than we expected to be there. We were making seriously good time. We'd averaged over 13.3 mph on day 1, so we were pretty confident going into day 2 that we could finish at a reasonable time.

Saw some more cool jerseys at the Lexington stop. The Iron Maiden one was dh's and my favourite.

Onwards to Kelso, and The Big Bridge.

This bridge.

The way it works? They collate riders on one end, and let traffic by. Then they stop traffic and let a whole wave of riders go past.

Dh took a photo while we were waiting for our turn to cross. I'll put up a post with all the photos as soon as I'm done with all this.

As usual on an incline, dh and Perry got ahead of me. I went at my own uphill pace, but almost got in a minor wreck when a guy ahead of me to the right slooooooooooowed down to take photos of the view from the top, and the guy behind him swerved towards me to avoid hitting the idiot.

Zipped down off the bridge. We were in Oregon, Rainer Oregon to be precise!

50 or so miles to go!

And on we went. It was mainly uphill this whole way, and dh's knees were in pain. Plus there was a guy who randomly passed people, cut them off, etc. A lot of us complained about him, he almost hit Perry a few times, and I think he was the cause of an accident that took out a small group of people.

It was about then that we encountered a woman, STOOPID, who would be paralleling us the rest of the way into Portland. I think I saw her almost get killed at least 3 times. More on her later, but I'll say now that considering how utterly stupid she was, I'm surprised she managed to avoid being creamed.

Perry and I got away ahead for the St Helens food stop. Dh was not doing well at all, and while we waiting for him, we saw a spectacular face plant. The guy was ok aside from road rash, but damn, that was scary. Dh managed to avoid the aftermath, and we all went to sit in the sun, finally warm after a cool morning, and get some food.

At that rest stop, we saw a kid from the Velodrome, and a kid from the Velodrome who is also at AC's school.

Greta and AC met us there, and dh took some more Motrin, and debated if he could finish or not. His knees were pretty much done in for, and he wasn't sure he could finish the final thirty or so miles. He decided to continue so on we went, keeping closer together at this point.

Portland city limits, which comes about 15 miles before the end of the ride! Which is extremely frustrating, but we could taste the finish line, even dh.

We crossed over the St John's bridge. That was pretty damn spectacular.

We meandered our way through Portland streets then. The gal whom I mentioned above? OMG so fucking STOOPID. She'd scream STOP! at cyclists who were going through intersections because a car was waiting. Um... we have a green, ie right of way, STOOPID? And she'd stop randomly for traffic, confusing the other cyclists and the drivers. It was pretty awful, and we sped up big time to get ahead of her, which we did.

Then Perry fell again. Oh, no biggie, he was trying to do a track stand at a red light, failed, and couldn't unclip fast enough. Down he went, I had to right him, bike and all, and she caught up with us, and was with us all the way to the end.

Until the last intersection. STOOPID, who'd been slamming on her brakes and screaming STOP at intersections when cyclists had the right of way? Sped through a red light when we didn't, and caused a minor fender bender between two cars on the perpendicular street. AS I said. STOOPID. By then I was SO pissed with her, I thought about giving her number to the ride refs, but in the end, I didn't.

Because, yay, finish line! We went through. AC and Greta were there, but for some reason, they'd taken my SLR with them -I did not know this- , they did not know how to use it, and were attempting to take photos with that. Needless to say, there are no photos of us from the finish line. More on that in a bit.

But finished we were! Got our finisher badges, got out of the way, and I hugged my little brown boyo and started to cry. I was so so freaking proud of him. He did it, all by himself, all spindly-legged 11 years of him.

A moment of extreme bitterness. Right before we rode in, a dad came in with his 7 year old on a cushy custom recumbant-trail-a-bike with headrest and five point harness. She had a sign that said, "I'm Leia, and I'm 7!" or some such, and the announcers made a fuss over her finishing. And didn't notice Perry. What was worse? The course photographers were making a fuss over her too, and thus there are no photos of him at the finish line, neither ours nor theirs. I'm a bit bitter. Yeah, the kid did the whole ride, and that's quite impressive. However, she didn't bike it solo, and she was also featured in the bicycle club newsletter the following month, interview and all. I'd not care, except for the no photos of Perry thing. Bitter, bitchy me, sorry.

Also, rereading myself I realise I complained a lot about people... but there were SO many nice ones. So many people who shouted encouragement at Perry, congratulating him. Me too, but I always feel uncomfortable when I get that... Like Oh Look, Good Fatty Biking! People who let us pass politely, or more often, passed us carefully, were safe riders, and who made the ride better. They were there, but alas, somehow, it's always the jerks that you remember.

It was so exciting to be done! It felt good. Dh's knees had just held out, though he was in a lot of pain.

We got our bikes on our SUV, and drove over to the Westside to go for dinner. Perry had ever intention of eating a yard of Coneys at Sonic. He actually managed to eat 1.5 of them, I think he could have gotten to two if he'd skipped the tater tots!

So we'd done it. Seattle to Portland in a weekend, dh, Perry, and I. It was a good fun ride, we were all in easy shape to do it, give or take dh's knees, and we made good time. And more importantly, for dh and I, it was something rather special we did with Perry. He's a fun kid to be around, and we had a good time training with him. For all he was a high-strung, wailing infant, he's not a whiner, and indeed is a strong, focused, and competent athlete. I'm very proud of him, but also very impressed by him.

Because I had a lab the next morning at 7:30, and Linnea had math camp, we drove back to Seattle that evening. It had been a long day, but I think it was taking all of us a long time to come down from our adrenaline high! Even AC was bubbly and in a great mood. I hope that the excitement will be enough to encourage her to bike it with us next year.

A few stats:
Day 1: Time on bike: 8 hours 52 minutes, Average speed: 13.3 mph, Distance: 119.7 miles
Day 2: Time on bike: 6 hours 16 minutes, Average speed: 13.3 mph, Distance: 84.45 miles.

Total training for the ride: 666 miles! Heh.
nwhiker: (heart)
Wow, it's been a while. I'm hoping to write up STP and our trip to Yellowstone, plus a few spectacular hikes, over break.

So where was I? Oh yeah. At the lunch stop at Spanaway.

More food, and then I saw a triplet, a triple tandem come in. Dad with his two kids, young teen boy, younger teen/tween girl. They parked it right next to us...

Dad and the son wandered off, and the girl stayed. I was waiting and I saw people come up to her and ask her questions about the bike, the ride, etc? She literally turned her nose up and her back at them. It was... jarring. Friendliness is pretty much a standard for most bike rides, and seeing this little brat was bizarre. Later on, their triplet passed me to the RIGHT. I was not near the curb because... oh, the curb turned in and being near it at that point would have you running straight into it in a few moments. The dad realised this, of course, seconds after he passed me on the wrong freaking side, and cut me off to get out of the way. I yelled something rude at him, because he barely missed my front wheel. I saw several more assholish moves by him that afternoon, so I can see where the kid comes by her rudeness.

Anyhow, we headed out from Spanaway. We were making good time, I was quite impressed with how good, actually. After Spanaway is the long stretch of road that goes through the military base. It's flat, and boring, and yeah, it was flat and boring. AC and Greta met up with us at a pullout. We swapped some snacks and other gear around, and headed back out. They were having a good time, and were headed to Portland to have Greta's piano tuned up, then back north to Winlock where they'd meet us for dinner and camping.

We pedaled on.

We'd biked many of these roads before, so Perry wasn't unfamiliar with them. He was doing SO well.

And then... the incident. OMG. I was a bit behind dh and Perry, having slowed for a hill. I could see the group of cyclists at the light ahead of me and... someone went down.

I couldn't see, but I just knew it was Perry. I got there, confirmed that it was him, and I was out of my clips, my bike tossed onto the sidewalk SO fast it wasn't funny. Dh had already hauled him out of the road, from the tangle of two or three down bikes. He was ok. As were the two guys. What had happened was that one car lane and one bike lane narrowed down to just a bike lane, adjustments needed to be made, and someone negotiated something wrong. Nobody blamed anyone else, but Perry felt bad because one of the guys had a mechanical issue. He was SO relieved when it turned out to be nothing. Me? I was in tears. That was my little boy, tiny little boy, on the ground in a mess of moving bikes. Shudder. The guys decided that this the incident had happened in front of a Starbucks, that it was time for coffee. We dusted Perry off, he was fine except for a scrape and a small cut.

Onwards. But wow. Those are the moments when you wonder WTF you are doing, letting a little boy like Perry ride with SO many other people?!

We biked on.

Shortly after Yelm, we got on the bike trail. We'd ridden most of the trail before, so it was familiar and safer than roads at any rate. It was a bit warm and... I was starting to get worried about Perry.

He was clearly tired. Speeding up. Slowing down. Weaving a bit too much. We'd talk to him, he'd be ok for a while, and then get back babbling like he does when he's overtired. We finally made a long stop by the side of the trail, pushed some extra water and some gel and food. It was, at least for me, a last ditch effort. Had he not settled after that, I was going to call the ride for him. It would not have been safe for him to continue. This was, I might add, about 75 miles in, his longest ride ever. And we still had... gulp... 45 miles to go, though it wasn't that late and we weren't concerned about time.

He recovered nicely and we headed on out. We met some people doing STP with their 12 year old, on a bike that was MUCH too big for him. I hope they finished!

We stopped at the Tenino mini-stop and Perry ate more food. The water there was nice and cold and I refilled bottles and we all drank. Mmmm, water! I thought, btw, that Perry would take to energy drinks but no, he, like us, preferred straight water. We called my MIL and got to talk to Linnea and she was so sweet and encouraging!

And I stepped on an energy bar that someone had dropped. OMG, getting that sticky stuff out of my bike shoe took for freaking ever, and there is still some there, hard as cement and impossible to chisel out, almost 6 months later!

From Tenino, we headed out towards Centralia. That'd be 100 miles, and the ride half-way point, and the stopping point for many riders, though not ours!

Centralia was great. Since we were making SO much better time than the previous time we'd done it, we were getting to stops in the middle of the events, rather than trailing in laaaaate. At Centralia, there was the mid-point festival, with an arch, a row of sprinklers -that was SO nice- and volunteers handing out Creamsicles. I'm not usually much of a Creamsickle fan, but that one was DELICIOUS.

Again, since we had time, really, we hung out for a bit, dh and Perry shared an order of meatballs wrapped in bacon with bbq sauce, and we enjoyed a break before the last part of the ride.

Our camping was to be in Winlock, twenty miles out from Centralia, and out we headed. Since so many people stopped in Centralia to camp there, there were very few people on the road, and we were often alone. Nice, rather flat roads, few cars, and very pretty scenery. One homeowner had set up their sprinkler to hit the road, and we went through that, waving and yelling thanks. Perry wanted to turn around to go through again.

And then. The hill. Worse, imo, than The Hill, is the long, dragging, hot hill up to Napavine. Grind, grind, grind. It was hot, and it was long, and remember, we'd already biked over 110 miles by then.

We did make it. It was slow, at least for me, but we did make it, and stopped at the top to catch our breath and get some more water. It's a small town, there was the usual water or gatorade leave a donation for our football/baseball/cheerleading/track whatever team, which we did.

And a little guy, probably about three, was there with his mother, and he was handing out popsicles. And OMG, he was SO sweet, and that gesture of kindness on their part meant a lot. Perry had a lime popsicle, and eventually, we headed on our to Winlock, feeling... good about life.

The road runs near the train track, and we stopped to watch a train go by. Remember, my spouse is a train nut. It was a stinky garbage train. I made him leave before the whole thing passed by! Onwards towards our evening destination, Winlock, and dinner and tents. This area is the start of the big rollers, ups and downs, where you can get enough momentum that the up isn't quite as bad as it would otherwise be.

We missed the turnoff to the elementary school and our camping as we blew through Winlock, it was not well signed. However Perry and I -we were ahead of dh, whose knees had started to bother him- realised that something was wrong, stopped and turned around. We made it to the elementary school field, checked in, and went to chose a spot for our tent.

We had just dropped down bikes when Greta and AC got there. With the car, our camping gear, and OMG, the cooler with a diet Coke!

AC and Greta started setting up camp, and dh, Perry, and I decided to head for showers. Which is when we found out that someone forgot to... pack one of our bags. We had toothbrushes, but no towels. Yay, cold shower and no towel afterwards. THAT was not too fun, but oh well, I made do, we got our showers, and drove to dinner. It wasn't far, we could have biked or walked it, but I wanted the five minutes of charge time for my cell.

I'd bought one of those battery chargers, that uses AAs to charge the cell? Yeah, no, that did zip.

Dinner, at the senior center, was pasta, salad, garlic bread, and a cookie. Perry... devoured so much garlic bread, it wasn't even funny!

After dinner, we headed back to our tents. We had the usual argument about the rainfly: on or off. My vote is always off BUT set it up to where a quick pull gets it ON. Which has saved our butts (or at least our sleeping bags) more than once. We opted to do that, and after brushing teeth and setting alarms, went to sleep. We were TIRED.
nwhiker: (Default)
Beautiful ride, though more difficult than the short distance (39 miles) would seem to imply.

There will be a photos, and it's long... )
nwhiker: (heart)
So where was I? Oh yeah. Perry. Doing well, alert, biking responsibly and quickly! This was going well.

After the REI stop, there was more biking around Puyallup. The big Thing was the anticipation of The Hill.

It's The Hill, yes, capitalised. One of the STP rites of passages, the one people talk about (how'd you do with The Hill?). Me, myself? I mostly walked it the first time, and the second time, the same, but it was instrumental in killing me enough that the bloody blisters on my butt (I was taking Accutane. It thins the skin. OUCH!) were just the final straw. (The second time I attempted STP I wanted to avoid the enourmous weight gain I'd had the first time, and decided to stick to Weight Watchers Points, despite the amount of exercise I was doing. This did not work, and I bonked. Took a long time to get my blood sugar back up, and I was shaky, I had blisters, and I was DONE. This time I decided I'd eat and take the weight gain, which was pretty bad but not awful. Anyhow.)

The other issue with The Hill? There is a light at the bottom and it's invariably red, so you start from a dead stop. Which we did.

And up we went.

Dh and Perry are better hill climbers than I, and off they headed. Me, I followed, flipping down gears as the road got steeper. Granny gear, eventually, but I kept going. I made it without walking, and I was completely thrilled! Perry and dh were waiting for me at the top, but not for long, and off we went, having braved and overcome an STP bugaboo! More on The Hill later.

The Hill is where I encounted my first asshole rider. I was having some problems shifting (which didn't go away on the rest of the ride, but I learned to deal with them) so I told dh and Perry to go ahead, I was exploring gears. There were a few hundred meters ahead of me and this guy started drafting me. He was REAL close, much too close for comfort, so I asked him to back off. He ignored me. I slowed down. He slowed down. I stopped, which I didn't want to do. He had to pass me then, and I boggled at his attire. He was in full Israel regalia. Bike jersey, with an Israeli flag, blue and white bike, pretty pretty pretty, wtih stars of David stencilled on it, Israeli flag bike SOCKS, and more stars of David on his helmet. I have to say, he looked impressive, though I'm not fond of white bike shorts on men, and I'm glad I never got to see that! (Men should not wear any colour bike shorts but black. Google polish cycling team if you don't beleive me.) I got some water, and got back on my bike to get going. Get going. Three seconds later... he's behind me AGAIN. Grr. I wasn't able to lose him until the lunch stop. After lunch I saw him head out right before we did, drafting on a group that was clearly together and he wasn't. The problem wasn't the drafting, really. People do that. It was how close he was drafting. Dangerous. And not backing off when I asked him to.

I caught up with Perry and dh, my drafter still drafting, and we got to the top of a hill. A group passed us. I noticed the young woman in the group. She barely had any clothes on, as in biking in a teeny tank top and teeny shorts. I don't know what else I noticed about her, but it was something because I had a bad feeling.

A few minutes later, we were at the bottom of the hill, traffic was being diverted, and the gal I'd just seen was standing skakily, her bike on one side of the road, her body on the other. Blood freaking everywhere. Road rash, and at least one severe gash on her elbow. Ugh.

That shook me up a bit.

Anyhow, we got to lunch! Boy this is getting long.

We grabbed some quick food, Perry went to get in line for Free! Jamba Juice. I went to get in line for the potties. Which were far from the food, and the lines were humongo. I think I waited almost 30 minutes.

More food, and then I saw a triplet, a triple tandem come in. Dad with his two kids. They parked it right next to us... And I'll have to finish this later. Dh and the kids are ready to go!
nwhiker: (heart)
We didn't sleep too badly the night before the ride. I think much of our anxiety had been used up the day before for our "can we get up and actually bike at dawn?" trial ride, and we got to bed early, slept well enough that we didn't hear dh's aunt G getting in at about 11.

Up, shower, and breakfast. My usual Greek yogurt, blueberries, and Kashi GoLean Crunch cereal.

And miracle of miracles, Perry is coherent.

They closed the 520 bridge into Seattle that weekend, so we had to drive down to I-90, adding extra time to the drive in. We'd left the house at about exactly the time we'd hoped. It was still dark, and dawn came nicely as we were driving in, peeking in over the Cascades behind us, but the morning was misty, very misty.

The traffic to get to the parking lot at the start line was pretty bad. We crawled along, my stress levels mounting. Though to be honest? One of my biggest fears for the ride was getting up on Saturday morning, the sick feeling of OMG I need more sleep, and that didn't happen, and I felt good and strong to start.

Perry was chirpy and chattering away. Perry is not a morning person. This was different. He does chatter when he's nervous though, and he definitely was. Not bad nervous, I think, anticipation nervous.

Parked, and got gear on the bikes, and G, who'd be driving our car home and then later with AC down to Portland, via camping in Winlock, dh, and Perry waited by the mush of a start area while I went to the porta-potties.

Waiting in line for potties is a fact of life of STP. Some rest stops are well organised when it comes to potties and potty lines. Others less so.

Anyhow, that done, I got back to the others just in time to catch a departure wave, they let people leave every 10 minutes. Perry and I clipped in, we cleared the bike computer, started the tracking program on my cell and...

We were off!

The beginning of the ride is through Seattle, some nice areas too, through the Arboretum, around the lake. The first unofficial rest stop is 10 miles in. You can take it, or you can take a right. Right before that right there are is a BIG sign spray painted on the road: GEAR DOWN.

It's the first hill! It's teeny and short, but OMG, straight up. That done, there is a long upslope and we continue on towards points south.

We had our first incident at a stop light. Perry was still getting used to his clip shoes, I think and didn't unclip fast enough. He went down, he was fine, and we were alone, so no danger. I picked him up, bike and all, he and dh grabbed their first snack of the morning and we went on, hitting, it seemed, every single light red.

Before we knew it we were 25 miles in, at the first official rest stop, at REI headquarters. The theme was 80s, the volunteers were wearing head bands and leg warmers, and Juice Newton, really? On the loud speakers. It was fun, full of energy, we got to the bathrooms, Perry started eating and eating and filling his jersey pockets with more food, and we refilled waters.

We were making good time. We felt like we had to hurry, but not terribly so. See, to do STP in two days, we needed to average about 12mph, including stops, and I wasn't sure we could it. We planned a long first day, 120 miles, and I didn't want to get into camping too late. Yet here we were at the REI stop, in the thick of the crowd.

I'll say this now. We averaged much better than I'd expected, much better than last time, and as a result, instead of being in the lagging group, we were in the thick part of the python! There were always lots of people around us, and it made for a very different ride.

More points south. The next planned stop was Spanaway for lunch.

Perry was doing fine. He was cheerful, riding well, and safely. I was very proud of him!

And you know what? I need to start more last minute stuff for Yellowstone. Dh and I were up until 2:30 am, and the cat woke me up at 6, so I've gotten quite a bit done. Still more to do, and the kids have lost their DS car charger. OF course, like the library (see yesterday's whine), they knew they were supposed to get their DS stuff together days ago, but chose to sit on their butts in front of Sonic (crap) Shawn the sheep (double crap), Gloomy Ruby (I think) and bad anime. They can't use the DSs in the park at all, but they'd have liked to have them to and from, but no dice. Because they never listen to anything I have to say!

Anyhow!
nwhiker: (heart)
We'd decided to do a kinda dry run of getting up, that Friday before STP. We set the alarm for very early, 5am, and planned on a short early morning ride. Just to make sure we could do it, and to iron out any early morning unexpected bugs.

That night? I was up every 30 minutes. It was a miserable night, I didn't get much sleep, and from talking to dh, he didn't either.

But we did manage to get up, fed, and out. Went for a short, about 10 mile, ride along the trail, it was very pretty and very empty in the early morning.

Next we set out to getting ready. Well, dh did. Me? I studied for the test I had Monday morning early, and did homework. Camping gear, that would go in the Pilot with dh's aunt G and AC. Stuff to go on the bikes. Extra food. Water. We decided to carry a bit more water than we'd planned, the thought of running out on a hot day, which it was predicted to be, was just not good. It made the bike bags pretty heavy.

I'd picked up our ride packets at REI downtown with Perry and AC while Linnea was at her math camp. It was controlled chaos, but fun. It was, also, the first little bit of STP, if that makes sense. It feels real, once the packet is in hand, the jacket unpacked and tried on, the numbers pinned.

My least favourite pre-ride tast is that, btw: filling out the bibs and pinning numbers on the jersey! We did get it done.

8007 for dh, 8009 for me, and 8016 for Perry.

We actually managed to get to bed about when we'd hoped to, much earlier than for previous rides.

My MIL would be picking up G at the train station, and dropping her off at our place, so we could all leave bright and early to the start line. We didn't hear G come in, we actually, OMG, slept!

Anyhow. I was freaking out, to be honest. I hate hate hate the waking up early part, it's seriously the hardest part for me, and I dreaded the hills. And the heat. And the hills. And I wasn't 100% sure I could make it, and most importantly, I wasn't 100% sure Perry could and I desperately didn't have to have set him up for a pretty major emotional failure.
nwhiker: (Default)
My boyo, all 11 years of him, rode 65 miles yesterday on those spindly legs of his! Yay Perry!

So, first the ride.

Flying Wheels Summer Century, or on MapMyRide which shows the evil 2000+ foot elevation gain. Note: 2000ft on a hike is bad but not fear inspiring. On a bike, it's terrifying!

We started from Marymoor Park at 9am. I waited in line to use the port-a-potties. Perry "didn't have to go". This is important.

We all started in windbreakers, and cycling jerseys. Perry had a technical shirt under his, dh and I had hiking silks under ours. It was chilly!

We left, stopped right away to set one of our ride tracking devices, and about 1/4 mile in, I realised that the other one wasn't tracking. Turns out the magnet was on the wrong side of the wheel, post-tire replacement. So we pulled off the road, flipped the bike over, and turned out the wheel. I love easy releases! The bike computer then started tracking nicely.

The first part of the ride is nice and flat, and pretty. The weather is chilly and damp, but not raining, so far so good.

Then, the first Evil Hill.

Let me be very clear about this ride. It's all hills. Not easy rolling hills that you can slingshot up. No, evil hills with sharp turns or stoplights at the bottom, that you have to take from a dead stop, with no momentum. Grades up to 12%, and that's a lot. Yeah, you get to go down them (wheee! 35!) but the getting up is painful. You know it's going to be hills when the roads you go up are called Inglewood Hill Road, Sillwater Hill Road etc.

I geared down quickly to my middle ring. Dh and Perry are going and I try to get down to granny-gear. Um. No, not so much. It didn't want to go. I could not get up the damn thing in 2, so I got off and pushed for a while until I reached a flat space where I could try to start again. About... oh 25-30% of people are walking. Started again, it still won't get into granny. Grrr. Push for a bit longer to another spot and get the damn thing onto the smallest ring essentially manually. Get on my bike and make it up the rest of the hill, meeting up with dh and Perry who of course made it up perfectly fine.

The next series of hills aren't that difficult, and we got up them ok. Then, after a long while, we're into the Snoqualmie River Valley, an area we know because we've biked it. Several times. Rolling hills there mostly, some grinds up, but they aren't too bad. Me, I'm slow on them, but that's ok.

Small King County riverside park. With two pit potties and a line of about 15 people, moving very slowly. With Perry in it. Because he has to pee. We're about an hour in and I was grumbling big time. Since we're on the slow side, as far as riding speed goes, we need to minimise stops. A potty stop with no food and no place to refill water bottles is not an efficient use of time.

Anyhow, onto Carnation. There we make The Choice. Take a right, and it's a 45 mile ride. A left, and we commit to the 65 miler. Needless to say, we didn't even pause, made the left and biked down 203 to Stillwater Hill Road. I did note, however that the food stop was 0.5 miles away if we went right (for the 45 miler) and 11 miles out if we went left.

That is the most evil of the hills, imo. The first... oh, 50 ft are almost impossibly steep. Seriously steep. Along with the Dan Henry's there was a big sign before the turn: Gear Down.

Well, I geared down to my second ring... and right at the bottom of the hill, just a few feet up, tried to get into granny gear. Which failed again. Grr! Not that it really mattered, since Perry stalled right in front of me. We both walked to the nearest flattish part, he was able to get going, I yet again had to coax my chain onto the smallest front ring. It went though, and bizarrely enough, I never had any issues getting in there on any of the other hills on the ride.

Stillwater Hill Road is one of the prettier stretches of the ride: wooded, rolling hills, a combination of rich people estates and rural makeshift shacks. We passed one accident, though Cascade came to help them out, though a fire engine was there, they didn't appear to be doing anything.

Ups and down, some really fast downs, and a long trek up the hill above Duvall to the food stop.

We all ate, including me. I mean, I was hungry, breakfast was a long way past, and I didn't want to bonk. I'll deal with the inevitable weight gain on Wednesday! But while dh and I ate, Perry? Ate.

Oh did he ever eat.
Flying Wheels Food Stop

That is just some of what he devoured. They had little packages Danishes, he ate at least one and a half. Oreos. Granola bars. When I went to get in line for the bathroom, he had at least 5 bars etc to pack down, and he finished them all, unwrapped a few things to put in his pockets, and we headed off down the hill to Duvall.

As we crossed the valley, we saw a med evac helicopter. I told Perry not to pay attention to it, but it definitely landed back towards where we'd come from. :( I don't know anything more.

Anyhow, at the intersection of Woodinville-Duvall Road and West Snoqualmie Road, Perry realises that we're only a few miles from home, and we've biked that before (we actually often start rides there, leaving the car, but we've also biked to there). He suggested bagging the whole thing and going home, but he was clearly joking.

Off we go on West Snoqualmie Road. Rolling hills, mostly, with a few minor climbs because of stop lights. And here is what got me.

There was this guy? Drafting off of Perry. An adult male on a regular bike drafting off a kid? Come on, asshole! Back off. Perry lost him at one point, but after a long hill, I got stuck "pulling him" for a while too. Then I caught up with dh and Perry, we rode for a while, as a paceline of four, doing between 15 and 17. I finally told dh we were going too fast, and we slowed to about 13, and the guy passed us and caught another group. I can almost see helping yourself to someone's paceline, but drafting on a kid is beyond the pale.

Anyhow, soon were were on roads we'd done earlier that day, because of the way the ride loops, then into Carnation the food stop there.

Where Perry ate some more. And more. And... Wait. What did he say? OMG. Perry said, "I've had enough carbs." And he tossed about 1/4 of a chocolate chip Costco muffin.

The next part of the ride was the most difficult. A long stretch by the Snoqualmie River, in a full headwind, and then.... Issaquah-Fall City Road. That's the climb about 50 miles in on Map My Ride. It's long, not very very steep, but omg long. I biked the whole damn thing, something I hadn't been able to do in previous years. Perry and dh did fine.

It got warm in that bit. Perry was still wearing his technical shirt under his cycling jersey, and I still had on my silks. Dh has been in just his jersey for a while, we'd all taken off the windbreakers long before. So Perry took off his shirt, and I did too. At that point, I don't care if I flashed my bra at half the county! Hee.

A few more climbs, some downhill, then the last food stop. We got fresh water. I'd not noticed the water at the other places was filtered, and I'd gotten burned before on that ride, filling up my water bottle with plain water and having it be nigh on undrinkable. So I'd gotten whatever electrolyte replenishing drink they were offering (Nuun?) and it was vile. Got water at that stop, and away we went.

There was one more biiiig uphill, then the steep, fast descent to East Sammamish Parkway. Into a roundabout, which dh sailed into, with a smile of apology to the car he kinda almost cut off. Dh insists I point out that he was under full braking but still not able to slow down enough to obey the right of way.

Headwind on the last part of the ride. And this paceline of women in pink who tucked in behind us and just drafted, never pulling ahead to help or anything. Grrr. Rude people....

The freeloading drafters were the exception, really. Most of the people on the ride were good riders, careful riders, and so many called out encouragement to Perry, and congrats to dh and me for having him along. Felt good!

Other interesting bit: you really do start to see the same people. I mean, people who started at the same time as us this morning? I saw them finish about the same time we did. Groups that we passed, and passed us etc, over and over. It's funny how that works.

Anyhow, eventually, we got there: back to Marymoor Park. Total distance on the bike computer was 63.83 miles, which agrees with the phone app which gave 103km. Total time was about 6.5 hours. Time on the bikes: 4h59min59sec. No, really!

IMAG1052.jpg

So, Perry's first metric century! Yay Perry.

I am so proud of him. He did so well, and he did it, ya know? Long day for his skinny little legs! He's a good strong rider, though, and I think he'll do fine on the Seattle-to-Portland next month!
nwhiker: (Default)
He saw it. It was on clearance, but still ridiculously expensive, and only size available was a Men's Small.

I bought it anyhow.

It's barely big, which again points to cycling clothes sizing being completely disconnected from real world sizing.

I think he looks great!

IMAG1032.jpg

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