Archive | July, 2010

just for fun

27 Jul

Going on week two of absolute work insanity—whew! So I’m extra-excited that in just a couple of days I’ll be on a campsite next to an ice-cold river, in the middle of which floats a cooler full of exceptionally frosty beverages. It’s a birthday shindig for a girl who has been getting me into trouble since the sixth grade, so I’ve already told the lad to have some bail money ready. This blog is where I usually talk about the joys of solitude, but in this case there will be 15 crazy ladies and a pack of adorable pups. Oh, and per the birthday girl’s request, we’ll all be wearing ballgowns:

I call this beauty My Little Loretta, due to its Loretta Lynn styling and My Little Pony hue. When I brought it home from Value Village, holding it out at arm’s length like the treasure that it is, the lad said, “You know you’re a weirdo, right?” And you know what? I do know I’m a weirdo. And being a weirdo is really pretty fun. This has been a grim month with the lad’s mom, and one of the worst parts is feeling guilty for enjoying life when you know someone you care about so obviously doesn’t. But I know that’s silly, and I know that this is her journey and all I can really do is cheer her on from the sidelines. And as for my own journey, I want to spend every day I have on this planet indulging my weirdo ways and enjoying as much of it as I can.

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RAPSody, STP, Tour de French Fries, and Goats

26 Jul

1. I’ve signed up for the RAPSody ride in late August – August 28th to be exact. And I specifically only refer to one day, Saturday the 28th, in that I’m going to attempt it in one day, or die and/or call SurlyLady to pick me up trying.

170 miles. 9600 feet elevation gain. 6am to 8:30pm. Which means I need to average around 13.5 mph for the day (with around 2 hours for breaks and cushion). All the way from Tacoma, up along the Kitsap Peninsula via Gig Harbor and Port Orchard, down to Shelton, then along down to Oly and back up to Tacoma. Part of the rationale involved numbers (which is rational): the 140-mile ride I recently undertook had around 7500 feet of climbing. STP, which was further, only had around 2000 or so. The ride we did yesterday with KonaLad out in the Snoh-boonies was around 3500 feet in around 47 miles, and I felt pretty darn good. Part of the rationale is emotional, i.e. if my life is going to be an emotional roller coaster I might as well take a chipseal roller coaster around Puget Sound, a beautiful ride from all reports. The real reason I’m doing it in one day? I only have one pair of bibs, and all my half shorts from years gone by are way too big. In fact the bibs are probably getting a bit too big for my britches, but I can make ’em last through the season.

Another way to look at RAPSody is as a bloody great training ride for the High Pass Challenge.

2. As for STP, one final thought: it was such a marvelous feeling driving home from Portland that night, and seeing/visceraling all the miles and signs of the progress made by bike by day… exits for Chehalis, Tenino, Yelm, etc. That is one of the best parts of STP, taking almost 4 hours (horrible snarl in downtown Portland to the border) to drive home after a day it took less than 14 to bike the same distance.

3. Tour de France – This year was disappointing for a lot, it seems, and while I didn’t watch it like I have the last two years, I obsessively read reports. What I gleaned:

  • Schleck learned what he needs to do to win the Tour; more importantly, I think he learned what it takes to win the Tour memorably.
  • Contador seemed to do just enough to win. Possibly he couldn’t even do anymore. This didn’t inspire me to run out and buy a bunch of posters or anything.
  • However, I do think Contador learned a touch of humility, both from seeing Lance Armstrong’s fade (intimations of cycling mortality) as well as Andy’s onslaught – not to mention the boos after the chain incident. Last year he looked and acted invincible, and that was a turn off to me and I think many others. This year he seemed more human, and this was altogether more appealing.
  • Lance – well, you have to give him credit. He showed up. He still came in like the top 30. The Tourmalet must have been amazing for him, all the thoughts running through his head, his farewell go. For me this year’s performance just makes last year’s even more amazing, the way he came out of retirement, muscly arms and all, and came in third… that was truly special.

I believe next year, if Saxo Bank (or whatever their new sponsor) comes back with an equally strong team and, more importantly, with Frank, the two of them (I’d have to give the edge to Andy) could be nigh unstoppable. Imagine Frank, as a possible GC candidate himself, side by side with Andy, dancing around, accelerating, siphoning off Contador’s energy from the mid point to the end of the race… sort of like a couple of years ago, before Sastre took over, or even last year when Frank was less than a minute behind Armstrong and wound up in 5th place overall. Unless Astana (or whatever team he winds up with) manages to put up some mountain climbing firepower before next year, it could wind up being a very interesting triangle!

Yesterday, as mentioned, the ‘Lady and KonaLad and I rode around Snohomish County, and naturally wound up at Pilchuck Drive-In. Ummm mmm. Our own Tour de French fries. It was a shortened day, as we had planned on including Monroe and bits of the Snoqualmie Valley, but it was super hot and we were just not feeling it so we cut things a little short. For my part I had a good time practicing ‘recovering’ on hill climbs, using different breathing and other techniques to keep the heart rate down and not redline while still maintaining something around 12 mph up the steepness; this should stand me well for RAPSody and High Pass.

4. We’ve decided we’re going to move up near Granite Falls and get a couple of goats. Now I just have to find a way to squeeze in home improvement stuff around the biking, so we can sell this dump and move on up!

pack animals

21 Jul

After a lengthy internal debate (which, by the way, I won!) I decided not to do the High Pass Challenge this summer. But the lad is, and we’re going to spend that weekend in Packwood, which presents the perfect hiking opportunity for me while he’s huffing up all those hills. Since I’ll have the pups with me, it only makes sense to put them to work:

Of all the levels of outdoor nerdiness which can be encountered at REI, the dog backpack shopper probably tops the heap. I was the one and only dog backpack shopper last weekend, and I took my sweet time gauging pocket depths and kibble cubbies and which colors were most flattering for freckled redheads and elegant brunettes. Blue and orange, obviously. The dogs think I’m a nerd too but I don’t care—I can’t wait to try these out on the trails!

Long Rider

20 Jul

I’m still buzzing from STP, and not just from the chipseal. I really liked it. Can’t stop thinking about it.

The week prior, as I told someone today, with my mom’s attempted suicide and the fallout/stabilization/realizations that came after, I felt like I had aged about 10 years in about 10 hours. Last Saturday, I feel like I became 10 years younger again over those 14 hours. The math doesn’t add up, I know, and so now probably some butterfly over in Chile or possibly Japan has just sneezed and fatally infected the future religio-political leader who was destined to bind the world together in peace and harmony.

Suffice to say a lightbulb has gone off in my head (and not just because SurlyLady keeps whacking me with fluorescent poles; that’s a different story): I really like the long rides. I like the sunrise-to-sundown thing. I like the self sufficiency, i.e. I didn’t just ride with a pump and banana in my jersey pocket, although yes I was happy to see you.

I think I may be ready to do some official Seattle Randonneur rides now, confident they won’t make too much fun of me. I like the idea of less-supported and more scenic routes. There are several to choose from, including 200 and 300k’s coming up. For sure, I’ve signed up for the High Pass Challenge, and am getting ready to train specifically for that, and hope it’s helpful for the other things I’d like to try, including the RAPSody in August, during which I’m hoping to take a short detour to my Mom’s house, or even better try to get her to come out and meet me on the route! That would be cool. Hey Mom, look what I’m doing. Mo-o-o-o-m, over here! Watch me!

The Inevitable Procession: STP Seattle-to-Portland in One Day As a Study in Kinetic Chaos Theory (Kinechaotica)

18 Jul

What an awesome ride! I’m so happy and grateful it went as well as it did. While chilly in the morning (51 degrees and spitting rain in Puyallup, hello summer?) it turned out rather nice from about Castle Rock (2pm ish) on to Portland. Basically, I had a blast and loved every minute of it. No, there were about 5 minutes I didn’t love. But for the most part, golden. I went in with low expectations. It had been a bad week (see previous post) and I hadn’t slept very well, but ultimately I exceeded all my expectations.

Overcast still in Centralia

Numbers: On ride days, I’ve found that within the first 25 or 30 miles, I know if I’m ‘feeling it’ or not. On this day, I knew I was in a good groove early on, and quickly revised my goal to beat an 8:15pm finish, by staying as close as possible to a 17mph average. For the day, happily, I averaged 16.8 mph! Right up until Centralia it was exactly 17.0. Even crazier is with all the rollers between there and Portland I still managed to only lose a few tenths off that. Overall ride time was 12 hours and 20 minutes (per my cyclocomputer). Overall day, I left the finish line just ahead of the 5:15 massed start of the two-day riders (boy am I glad I didn’t wait for that, can’t imagine Lake Wash Blvd S-curves with hundreds of riders) and rolled into the finish line at Lloyd Center at 7:15, for a total of 14 hours.

The Plan: I did okay following my proscribed plan. I did blow off a couple of stops at Yelm and Lexington, partly by design and partly by accident (oh, was that the stop???). What happened was this: At the 50 mile stop I waited in line for over 10 minutes to take a leak. Not a good way to spend my time, I thought, even though I was stretching while inching forward. So for the rest of the day I avoided using the major stops for pee breaks in favor of the incidental Honey Buckets strewn along the course, even at one point availing myself of a large forested spot (read about my near bonk on the bike path past Yelm down below, mostly mental after shivering for awhile, so I pulled over to get my shit together with a Clif Bar and leak). Having at least the stated plan of stopping every 25 miles kept me on pace, so if I was feeling good and wanted to keep going and stretch out a segment, or conversely take an extra break, I could, because I was sort of keeping track. It kept me honest in a way, is what I’m saying, since I didn’t have a riding partner and was all alone in my head. My echoing, dark, lonely head.

The Route: As for the route, it was the same as last year, except a little change at the end in Portland itself. The first half of the day was cold and overcast, then it was overcast and warmer (you could sense the sun above the grayness), then the sun would almost burn through here and there, until about 2pm when bingo, suddenly there were no clouds at all and it started to warm up nicely. The only thing I’d like to add about the route is, yes it ‘feels’ like a lot of elevation gain with all the stresses (traffic, yahoo hammerheads, fatigue) – trying to crest the Longview bridge when a far piece into the day, I would gladly swear that no way is STP ‘flat’ – but really it sort of is mostly flat! Oh, and chipseal. Dear god the roads are bad in some places. The thrum and vibration of rough chipseal… when you suddenly come upon recently paved sections, it’s almost a joyful respite.

Just try to make me laugh, I dare ya.

Equipment and Health: Everything worked well. The only thing I regretted not bringing was the micro-weight windbreaker, as it was freaking 51 degrees most of the morning. At one point, as mentioned, on the bike path just past Yelm I had a serious bonk, partly because I didn’t stop at the station in Yelm but partly because I was shivering with cold so long I think it got to me. Everything else on the bike worked fabulously. The comfier gloves were splendid (Specialized) and my hands were hardly tingly/hurtie at all (in contrast to the 140-mile ride). My SIDI shoes, the left one, started getting a hotspot but only at the end in downtown Portland. The Salsa Bell Lap bars are awesome! Serious improvement over the Bontragers. I had some sore neck and shoulder issues, but again no worse than any other long ride, i.e. not 200 times the pain rather than 100 times the pain. At each stop I made a point to go through a fixed routine of arm, neck, shoulder, hamstring, knee and quad stretches. At about three stops I got on the grass and did some glute/piroformis stretches. Overall I felt great physically, only wished for some chocolate milk and/or real food at the finish line! I helped drive home in fact, and was jogging around today for fun. Oddly, I’ve had a heel pain ever since the Beat the Bridge run, it only gets acute when I in fact run or jog, and it seems to have cleared up after the 206 miles. Maybe those hundreds of thousands of pedal revolutions?

One last thought on fitness – I think gym miles this spring sort of helped make up for a lack of road miles on the bike. I felt surprisingly strong and comfortable throughout the whole ride. Oh, the other thing – I will bring two bottles next year, or purchase one on the go as I did yesterday; there were times I almost ran out and wasn’t sure when the next water stop would be. On a really hot day that would have been a problem.

Mental health – I thought a lot about my Mom. But I also just thought a lot about inane stuff. Got the ‘Wang Chung’ song stuck in my head (Everybody have Fun Tonight!) and every time it happened I forcibly thought of Sebadoh’s ‘Drama Mine’ from Bakesale. Other than that there was a lot of focus on just what was going on, what was flying by, the fields and farms and so on. It was really, really nice in this respect. I could easily get hooked on long rides!

Performance and Tactics: I say with some pride that I led a paceline (more of a group, as people really don’t paceline properly on STP) of say a dozen bikers out of the St Helens stop for about 8 miles at 20 mph! I really didn’t draft too much on the whole. I’d say about 15% true drafting, 40% marking, and solo the rest. Most of the time I just joined up with groups out of feeling lonely. I saw two scary bike-on-bike violence crashes in the morning, one with an older fellow on his back with blood all over his face, that early made me start to question drafting off some newbie yahoo. The truth, or the ‘inevitable’ part of the title of this blog, is that even for the one-dayers, with only around 2000 riders, there’s still a long ass stream of bikes, just not as dense or continuous as on the two-day option. For the first 25 miles things were very static with city traffic; it wasn’t until further that things stretched out a little more. When they did, it came in the form of really long mutually supporting lines, like a slinky coil queue, all sudden compression and expansion, and so it was inevitable to get caught up; rather than get passed by a thirty-long line of bikers over and over I preferred to stick with one of the lines, often joining in a gap (heh) and then happily drafting. It was odd because every single time there was some sucker out front getting mooched off by those of us in back, but there was no rotation. Partly due to narrow roads and the constant presence of slower bikers (What is up with that? Do they start really early, or start off 30 miles into the route or something?) – partly because people don’t know about rotating?

Around the middle of the day I found it increasingly hard to match up to a sympathetically speedy group and either discarded the ones too slow or let the ones too fast go by. Often to escape the wind I’d expend a lot of energy trying to bridge up to a solo rider in the distance, only to get there to discover they were only doing 17 mph and so I’d pass them in hunt for faster prey. It’s a funny habit that’s quickly formed where you’re constantly hunting for an advantage, a shelter from the wind or, as was principally my case, just someone to focus on and mark time with. Often I’d come up on a likely solo rider and just sit about 3 feet off their back as a way to keep things steady. The second part of the day things were much more sparse, and I found myself cruising alone most of the time, until toward the Portland city limits when I jumped on several good trains and bridged up and up to faster ones, just out of pure excitement! Sprinting along at 23mph 200 miles into the ride, wow never imagined that.

As for breaks, my strategy was to keep them to an absolute minimum, so that I could go slower while riding and things would even out. For each stop, then, I pulled in, went through my stretch routines (see above), had a ‘major’ snack in the form of a Clif Bar or similar, put on sunscreen (the last three stops or so of the day in this case) and then get going again. Always short of 10 minutes, in other words. As I mentioned before, I tried to use the restroom in ‘off’ locations or mini-stops as there weren’t as many lines. That in itself, I calculate, probably saved me 30 minutes on the entire day.

Deer Island, mini-mart stop away from the madding pee crowds

Another skip I recommend: the food line in Centralia. There was a super long line of one-day riders waiting to get their free food. Why? I rolled in, was handed some lactose-free choco milk (?) and stretched and took off. Then I stopped at Jack-in-the-Box in Chehalis (same place as last year’s ride) and got a small burger and used the restroom there. So, I spent $2 and saved a good 10 – 15 minutes. The burger was actually kind of gross but it was warm and much appreciated at that point! Plus it was fun to have people as me questions, I felt like a mini-celebrity.

Nutrition: I carried M&Ms, yogurt-covered pretzels and beef jerky in the gas tank bag, and made myself nibble every now and then. For the stops, I would then eat something more substantial. I only picked up food at the Castle Rock stop, a banana and Snickers bar; otherwise I stuck with what I brung. I had that lactose free choco milk (about half a bottle of it) in Centralia, and half a Vitamin Water at Deer Lake. Otherwise it was water and electrolyte pills. There was the small cheeseburger at Jack-in-the-Crack, other than that no real food. I suppose I did okay, never really bonked, and I found a nice mix of variety. Next year if it’s hot like it was in the late afternoon I might go for some ice cream.

Odds’n Sods:

  • The guy in full-on race kit, standing in the middle of a yard sale on the other side of the street on the route section through Chehalis, shopping for what exactly?
  • The guy on the unicycle with the 42″ knobby mountain bike tire.
  • The guy who passed a knot of people at a stop light… on the right… and nearly eating it on the curb in doing so… to be passed by that same knot of people within 20 seconds… because he had already been passed…
  • The number of racer types on Wiliers and Pinarellos and Times and Looks with their support vans full of spare wheels… what are you doing? Do you realize this isn’t a race? Did Mark Cavendish fly over for the day or something and we didn’t hear about it?
  • The guy, in downtown Portland, who said to me, “You’re rocking some wide tires there.” Pause. “I’m surprised you’re able to keep up this kind of speed on those things.”
  • The guy with the Boston-Montreal-Boston shirt who, when asked about it, sheepishly admitted it was his friend’s jersey, that he hadn’t done it himself.
  • The fellow with an artificial leg made out of what looked like carbon, in a specialized rig.
  • The guy on the skateboard… oy!
  • Zero pukers (as opposed to last year).
  • Two SPD pedal fall-overs.
  • Two hundred SPD pedal keep-missing-the-clip-in wobbly weavy incidents at traffic stops; they’re a hazard man!
  • The older guy at St Helens stop, on the grass, being taken care of by his wife (from their SUV support vehicle), as she talked about how their son had posted to Facebook already that he’d dropped out.
  • The father and son team, father in amazing shape, cruising past me, the son keeping a careful eye on the father (must have been in his 60s).
  • The big guy on the Long Haul Trucker in the CCCP commie jersey who was absolutely hammering past everybody.
  • Flying up the Puyallup Hill just because I love hills and passing people on them! Kind of a waste of energy, but oh well.
  • That eerie feeling of starting a long ride behind the main one-dayer pack, but just in front of the two-dayers, all alone in the quiet and dark Seattle morning, heading off on an adventure.
  • The quiet, reflective part where there’s a gentleman’s agreement, even among the hammer heads, that once in downtown Portland proper, after the amped-up lead up of the last few miles, everyone gets into that Inevitable Procession and holds ‘place’ as we grind out those last few miles to the finish line.

Assessment: I loved it. I want to do it again. I might just do it every summer, as a marker of fitness and happiness. There’s an inexorable rush to go as fast as you can. The ‘cyc’-ology of a long line of fit bikers, as opposed to the two-day version, is much more palatable, fun even. I found myself shaking off a little weariness in the bones at the last few stops and just getting back up to a cruising speed of 19 or 20 mph simply because so many other fit folks were flying past me at high rates. Overall, I did way better than I’d hoped. I’d feared I wouldn’t make it by 8 or 9 pm, that SurlyLady would have to wait for me forever. I’m extremely pleased with my ride. I’m also pleased that I hardly feel sore today, and that I’ll ride to work in the morning…

What a ride!

Finish line!

Checklist for Seattle-to-Portland STP One Day, and Some Thoughts on the Topic of Suicide

16 Jul

Yesterday afternoon I was on my way to a hospital in Tacoma. I’d given myself plenty of time, and expected the traffic through Seattle itself to be bad (it was) but then I heard on the radio that a tanker truck fire had caused I-5 to be shut down in both directions at the Tacoma Dome; accordingly, I got off onto 99 and then, thanks to the iPhone, got over to 509 where I promptly ran into another catastrophe where a car was somehow dangling off the side of the bridge; forced to detour I became intimately familiar with some back streetage of Des Moines etc. From that point on the drive became pure stop-and-go hell, driving into a blazing sun, surrounded by others similarly avoiding I-5 as well as locals fuming at us interlopers. The air was full of the sound of sirens, I was followed for miles by a large truck with only one headlight left on hi-beam… in short it felt like a bit of an Odyssey.

The reason I was in a hurry was that visiting hours were only from 5 – 7 at the Mental Health In Patient facility where my Mom had been transferred the night before. She’d tried to commit suicide on Monday. Monday night through Thursday evening she’d been in E.R. then in-house care at a hospital in Bremerton. Now she’s in Tacoma for (hopefully) 5 days or so of some behavioral/mental treatment.

My brothers and I have… well it’s been quite a week. Our family, Mom’s family, does have a history of suicide. So that makes me about 1/32nd suicidal; not enough to qualify for college scholarships but enough to take notice. She’s been deeply unhappy for most of this decade. I won’t go into details, but it’s a horrible mess, and I’ll constrain myself to a string of words swirling through the air like divorce, depression, medications, over-prescribed medications, doctors who prescribe psychiatric medications, psychiatrists who prescribe health medications, threats, bankruptcy, anguish, pride, embarrassment, dishonesty, brutal honesty, hope, no hope, addiction, displacement, denial.

On to STP. But first some other news.

I heard back from the bike shop. The frame is okay. I don’t know why the initial guy went to such a radical prognosis… he’s done that to me before, with something to do with the ‘Lady’s Crosscheck. The other main mechanic guy took it apart, inspected cups and bearings and tested it all; in short, the Poprad is ready to go. I managed to do a quick 20 mile spin yesterday morning to test it out, and all appears to be okay.

Ankle wise, ugh. It went from softball size last Sunday to baseball size earlier this week to golf ball on Wed. Then all that stop-and-go driving yesterday got the swelling back up. I’m trying to ice it this morning. It didn’t hurt that bad on the bike ride yesterday, so I’m confident I’ll be okay. The good thing about biking is the low impact on most lower body parts; for instance, I doubt I could even hobble through a 2K race right now.

And now to focus on STP, which I haven’t been doing this week… and as a project manager type, what better than to use a list? Please indulge while I divulge.

Equipment and accessories:

  • LeMond Poprad disc – old faithful, and used to the route I’m hoping
  • Schwalbe Marathon 32s – I prefer over lighterweight, ‘specially with thoughts of the glass and debris on that Longview bridge
  • Brooks Imperial B-17 saddle (sounds like something from Flash Gordon comix)
  • Speedplay Frog pedals
  • Revelate Designs medium Gas Tank frame bag – to carry electrolyte pills, goodies, spreadsheet/map, phone up front
  • Carradice Zip bag – hanging from saddle, to carry tube, tools, bulky food etc
  • Sidi Dominator MTB shoes
  • Tifosi ‘Vogel’ sunglassses, along with pouch for cleaning or carrying them
  • Rawland cap – short brim is perfect
  • Specialized Propero helmet – a new one after I dinged up the other one a few weekends ago! Gregg’s had the same model and color, thankfully
  • Jersey (no wool if in 80s in Portland) and bibs
  • Crank Brothers fairly lightweight and compact multi-tool
  • Crank Brothers Lezyne mini pump (Lezyne is lighter, and has a stretchy cable thing that’s easier to use)
  • One water bottle – figure I can refill at stops… that’s good thinking, right?
  • Four zip ties of various sizes
  • Spare SRAM master link for chain
  • Seat cover… in case it rains, and it helps wrap up the spare tube
  • Patch kit
  • Tire iron
  • Spare tube
  • Sample size of Chamois Butt’r (from the STP packet I picked up today!)… who knows? Maybe I can sell it on the black-and-blue market
  • First-aid kit, with plenty of band-aids
  • Handful of ibuprofen pills
  • Hammer Endurolyte electrolyte pills
  • Clif Bar – two fruit bars (nummers!), one ‘protein’ builder bar, one Mojo bar
  • Fruit & granola bars from Trader Joe’s
  • Two bags of peanut M&Ms
  • One pouch of yogurt-covered pretzels (I’m also going to partake of the free food later… but I’ll be eating the carry-on stuff first parts of the day)
  • Neutrogena ‘Sport Face’ sunblocker 70 proof – they didn’t have any ‘Lazy Face’ available at Bartell’s
  • Lots of cash, credit card, health card and driver’s license
  • phone numbers of JamisLad and KonaLad and a list of favors they owe me, just in case
  • a Spanish ‘physician’ waiting in a hotel in Chehalis with a briefcase full of blood and syringes and assorted equipment
  • unabridged three-volume edition of Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  • Yellow Pages directories for Tenino, Winlock and Castle Rock
  • a spare kitchen sink

As for the spreadsheet mentioned above, I took the ‘cue’ from a sheet sent from one of the SurlyLady’s coworkers, who did STP in one day last year. I’ve modified it slightly, but the numbers remain the same. She basically had plotted out her estimated MPH needs between every major food stop, around every 25 miles, with a planned 10 minute stop at each. I plan on following the same. She tried to start the day at 17+ mph, then tapered to 16mph for the middle parts, then finally to 15mph for the ending. I suspect I’ll be able to manage something similar, especially with latching onto groups. She apparently finished much stronger than anticipated, and found she didn’t need 10 minutes at every stop (I need to guard against that myself!).

And so that’s it. I’m going to try to get some extra sleep tonight, and spend the day trying to clear my muddled head. Next time I write I hope it will be with good news all across the board.

Mount Poopie

11 Jul

I’m grumpy, so fair warning.

Yesterday we went for a nice Lake Washington Half Loop ride – basically down to UW, thru the Arboretum-ish to Lk Wash Blvd, down to I-90 and over Mercer Island. Gorgeous day!

Panda eyes're smiling

We got to Bellevue and decided to take the Beaux Art route, cutting out the Mercer Slough and downtown Bellevue option:

Bow's Art

What a nice way to go! I think this is the official directional of the full Lake Washington Loop, evidenced by the other bikers we saw. Disappointingly, rather than being populated by beautiful artists, all I saw were ugly business folk, but they do have a pretty little ‘burb:

Old School Old Money

Rather than continue Northerly to Kirkland and up/over the Juanita Hill, we took a right at 24th and rejoined our usual way, just in time for that long downhill curve leading into the 520 interchange, and just in time for that long uphill stretch capped by the very steep hill leading on to the 520 pathway. Good leg work for the High Pass Challenge, indeed. The rest of the day was okay. We weren’t feeling that hot and were feeling way too hot by the end. SurlyLady is just not liking her Jamis Quest lately; did STP and numerous miles on it last year, but this year there’s just no joy in Questville. As she put it, “Just about everything that can hurt is hurting.” Which, to my ears, means it’s time for a pro fitting.

CRAPPY NEWS #1 – The bad news came later in the day. I’d been noticing signs of a loose headset and took the Poprad into the shop to have ’em take a look. First blush analysis from them was that I might possibly have a ruined frame, due to ovalization of the head tube due to a loose headset. I’d noticed ever since I bought it what seemed like signs of a loose headset, but put it down to the carbon/aluminum fork which was famous for ‘chattering’ – I think in a sense the 160mm disc rotors are probably as much or more than the fork can handle. I’ve tightened it a few times as part of regular maintenance, and then of course lately I have been swapping out stems and even more recently put on new bars, but I thought I’d done all the headset stuff correctly… though I did notice the headset was hard to get tight the last time. Well, just hearing I possibly ruined the frame just about stopped my heart.

For next week’s STP I may have to scramble at the last minute to fix up the Sarthe or the Trucker – I don’t want to take a chance on the Vaya, although maybe that’s what I’ll wind up doing. Hopefully the Poprad will be okay. I’ll just always keep an eye on the headset, check it for looseness like every ride, if it does come back okay.

Today we went hiking down near Mount Rainier:

Meh. You seen one mountain, you's seen 'em all.

Lovely day!

Christmas in July Sale

Lovely trail!

Trail Mix

Lovely sprained ankle!

Pain in the patooshka

CRAPPY NEWS #2 – While looking up at the lovely mountain I misstepped and sprained the old right ankle. A mile or so down the trail I suddenly had the idea… need some ice… wish had some ice… little dancing cows wearing grass hula skirts playing ukeleles… hmm, ankle swelling like a ripe melon, pain, pain, pain shooting pain… dancing cows again… now one is playing lap steel… and then I realized, oy! There’s snow all about. So we stopped and, per SurlyLady’s excellent suggestion, I dunked the swollen extremity (What??) in the cold, cold creek for a long while. Then I pressed several handfuls of snow against the ankle, all in the hopes of keeping the swelling down.

So, aside from a potentially crippling ankle injury and equipment failure, I think I’m all set for STP.