Archive | August, 2010

RAPSody 2010

29 Aug

Yes! 170 miles, over 9000 feet of elevation gain! Tacoma, Gig Harbor, Port Orchard, Allyn, Shelton, Olympia, Yelm, Lakewood, and then back to Tacoma.

Starting gate.

Compared to STP

No comparison, or at least the comparative comparison is favorable in favor of RAPSody, not that there’s a contest, nobody actually says they love the oldest son first, although I happen to know I’m the most loved of my siblings, hey, lots of responsibility on these older-kid shoulders. Where was I.

If you haven’t done STP and are wondering, yes there’s a pageantry to STP… crossing the finish line in downtown Portland, running through the gauntlet of cheering people, is very cool, and reminds me pleasantly of my modeling/dancing days (I needed the money). STP is also about humanity – just read my previous posts. The math is formidable, 10,000 maniacs, around 20% of which are one-day maniacs. Whereas, RAPSody had a little over 400 riders sign up this year, and about 40 or so as the one-day option. 98% of the day I was purely alone, couldn’t see anyone behind or in front. Blissfully lonely. Yet about every 30 miles or so there was fan-solutely-tastic food at the rest stops with smiling volunteers. Lovely back roads. A country circuit circumnavigating as many waterways as possible. I had no idea, for instance, there were so many lakes in Mason County, and of course the Hood Canal can’t be beat. Again, if you haven’t done STP I recommend doing it at least once… then if you want to take it to the next level, or at least avoid the crowds, I strongly suggest RAPSody.

The Route and The Day

Before the ride I had spreadsheeted sections of the route and done a relative assessment of the average mph I’d need for each leg; heavily assuming my legs would be aching by the end of the day (9600 feet kept echoing in my head) I built in a ton of contingency, thanks to the project manager in me. It turns out I wasn’t too far off. It didn’t help that I got started about 40 minutes later than I’d planned. The fact that I was still able to get back to Tacoma Community College 10 minutes earlier than my worst-case-scenario plan means I shaved 45 minutes off that scenario, but still means I wasn’t burning the barn at all.

When we pulled into Fife (SurlyLady very graciously drove me there, and then came back to pick me up! Bless her!) it was sprinkling and 49 degrees. Yikes. This time however I was prepped, wearing leg warmers and a light rain shell. So, bike out of the car, front wheel back in, bib number diaper pinned on, shake the knocking knees and off I went after kissing the ‘Lady g’bye. It was dark and cold out. Here’s a pic of my freezing fingers:

Too cold for pandas.

Within a very short space I was on the Tacoma Bridge, awed by the view:

Galloping, but only early on...

There were scattered groups of two-day riders. I passed most of them by the end of the bridge and then I hardly saw anyone for a long time. Ran into a few in Gig Harbor (which was super quaint, but my pictures didn’t come out as it was still too dark). I was in a sweat to make the Manchester rest stop by 8:00 as my Mom was going to meet me. Since I was 40 minutes late I had some time to make up. What I didn’t realize was (oh yeah) there’s a lot of elevation on this route, and I wasn’t able to fly like I’m used to. I was able to shave off about 10 minutes, getting to Manchester at 8:30, but my Mom called about that time to say she’d overslept! As for the Manchester stop, I saw the most people there, of the whole day. The food was fabulous: yogurt, homemade chocolate thumbprint gluten-free cookies (are you kidding!), lots of fresh-cut fruit; I had the cantaloupe, banana pieces… just so happy and lovely. And everyone so friendly. Those of you used to Cascade Bike Club rides where there’s a one banana to 100 rider ratio… RAPSody is sooo much better in the food department!

At Manchester I took off the leg warmers, but kept the jacket on as it was still chilly. Up and around some lovely backroads to Port Orchard (riding right along the water!) where it started to get sunny:

Porchard.

Yay, sun! Then through Port Orchard’s charming downtown… was tempted to stop at the Morningside Bakery which is really good… but I was following a gent on a Litespeed and decided to keep up. Then a curious road branching off from downtown P’orchard, just past the city hall spot, curious in that it was a three lane thing just surrounded by trees and hardly any turnoffs… like one of those planned truck routes that never got around to being an official truck route. Plus, it was mostly uphill. Ah, the uphill had begun. Well, my name is SurlyLad Montoya. You hills murdered my past self. Prepare to die.

Leaving the Port Orchard area the route started m’andering along backroads in a rough line to Allyn town, first reaching the tippy top of the Hood Canal and then skirting along the water. The Allyn rest stop didn’t come any time too soon. I was starting to seriously drag… there was a lot of altitude gaining! Again, the food at Allyn was amazing, calzones, fresh fruit in abundance, cookies, just the best, with smiling friendly volunteers. I was starting to see this was a theme. Also I was starting to see that you absolutely do not need to carry food with you on this ride, other than maybe a pack of M&Ms for bonk protection. Lovely Allyn:

Rest stopping here in Allyn town.

I did some stretches, took a pee, put on some sunscreen (after taking off the jacket). Okay. Deep breath. I checked my phone and lo, I was leaving Allyn exactly per my timetable – that meant I had made up a lot of time! That put me in a better mood. Soon I caught up to the one of the few one-dayers I’d see all day, a nice woman cruising along on an orange Felt. I stuck with her for awhile and then took off. It was to become a recurring scene for the day.

Oh Lordy. The stretch from Allyn to Shelton has some serious ass hill climbing. With 9000 or so feet of elevation, and without any geographical points explicitly with the words ‘Mount so-and-so’ I figured that meant RAPSody equated to lots of rollers and, while technically true, I think the section between Allyn and Shelton had the most uphill of the day. Or at least maybe that’s what my legs were telling me. I started off that leg very strongly, averaging 18 mph, but by the end I had slowed to 11 mph, just as I limped into the Shelton rest stop. This wasn’t looking good. I was feeling kind of weird. On top of waking feeling like I’d maybe caught SurlyLady’s cold, all the incredible food and 79 degree temps were starting to roil around. In spite of that, when the fellow at Shelton walked up with a freshly made berry smoothie I could have hugged him – it was the best thing ever. Imagine, an organized ride with real berry smoothies, with a mixer machine and everything. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes. Dang that smoothie was good. So, back to the routine, stretches, sunscreen, pottie break, and back off I went. This time I was behind the lady on the orange Felt and we trooped along through Shelton and then hit a monster hill leading out of town. This was the only time of the day when I really was near someone else at all. Then a section along a really crummy road (mismatched concrete blocks) and eventually were got onto Highway 101. Yes, a highway.

As before, I started off a little slow from Shelton and then started feeling saucy so after talking with the lady for awhile (she was wearing a past RAPSody shirt so I was asking about how much more hill climbs there were) I took off. The route followed Highway 101 for awhile, and then branched off on interesting little detours (Hurley Waldrip Road anyone?), but every time winding back up on 101; this continued on for four cycles or so. The speedracer in me actually preferred Hwy 101 as it was relatively flat and bump free, but while the backroads had some height and a lot of crummy chip seal to them, the randonneur in me felt their views were incomparable, tidy little pastoral pastures etc. Except for when I rode past the Little Creek Casino and saw the hundreds (thousands?) of cars parked there, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I had to shake my head. It just made me feel sad, and well, to be selfish, happy for me because I feel like I’ve won the lottery with this biking thing. It just fills me up with so much joy, the adventure and the grind and the challenge and the sweat and the sun and fresh air… I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything. Okay, maybe a Ferrari TDF Berlinetta in baby blue.

One quick callout: finally leaving 101 behind, you proceed over an overpass and then through a charming little squirrel hole of a one-lane road down to the water for some nice views, parallel to 101, coming up five miles or so later on the Blue Heron Bakery, and then up a sobbing, heartbreaking hill next to the bakery… ugh. Not too far past this was the McLane Trail, which is a very fun, curvy and swoopy paved trail, almost like single-tracking through the forest on a road bike. At this time of the day, feeling more and more weary, a stretch of trail through a shady forest was perfectly placed. As before, I was starting to seriously drag by the time I got to the Yauger Way rest stop. Again the volunteers were friendly, but a little restless: I was #22 for the day, and they were wondering where everybody was. From what I saw at Shelton, aside from the lady on the orange Felt there were maybe half a dozen behind me. Speaking of the orange Felt lady, darned if she didn’t pull in behind me and leave while I ran off to the men’s room – total tortoise and hare action! I soon caught up to her again and we chatted for a while. She then led me through downtown Olympia, where we were both almost plowed into by a right-turning SUV (geez what a moron that driver was), then on the outskirts of Oly (Boston Harbor Rd) I bid her adieu (this time for final it seemed) and took off, feeling saucy again. And then about half an hour later, per usual, not so saucy.

Here’s the part of the day when, I won’t lie, I started to seriously doubt myself. Physically I was taxed, but more than that mentally I was starting to lose it. Unlike on STP when you can’t help drafting, even if you don’t want to, due to the sheer number of people, where there’s always a bunny rabbit beckoning in the distance to chase after or a wolf in the back to run from, on RAPSody you’re all by yerself. It’s a mental trip. At one point I got so desperate I started casting around for anything to draft. Ah! There’s a couple of kids, one on a mountain bike and one on a BMX-er, I’ll draft them. They weren’t fast but I stuck with it, giggling to myself. This worried them, I could tell, and they started slowing down. I cursed them, and in a gravelly voice started chanting things like “I’ve got the grime and crud from three different counties crusted on my legs! I’ve got the bugs of three different counties in my beard! I’ve got pictures of Marilyn Monroe in my wallet, shaped like my ass!”

Understandably, they peeled off. I don’t even have a beard.

Soon I was in the Fort Lewis area and hit a demoralizing hill just before I-5. I made it up that hill. I had to lose a part of my soul to do it, however. At this time of the day I was hitting the granny gear pretty much at even the sight of a ten-foot long hill. One of the best parts of the day was getting onto I-5, what a crazy trip that was! It was only for a mile or so. If you happened to be traveling northbound on I-5 near Fort Lewis and saw a bicyclist in a blue shirt on a red bike who was alternately falling asleep and sobbing openly, that was me! Seriously though, that right there made the trip worth it in my book: in one moment you’re rolling along a gorgeous valley, watching fly fisherman lined up in a sunset-framed river, the next you’re on I-freaking-5.

Another hallmark of RAPSody is the use of all the paved trails down in that area. All you STPers know about the trail you get on soon after Yelm; well, let me tell you there’s a veritable network of such trails down there. It was a shady, surreal experience, having been alone for most of the day and then finding myself among recreational riders and dog walkers etc. Soon I made the Yelm food stop, where they had awesome turkey wrap sandwiches! Oh the food on this ride, I felt like I was actually going to gain weight on the day. At this final rest stop of the day, while doing stretches in the grass, I watched some of the other one-dayers leave me behind. I called the SurlyLady to tell her I wasn’t going to do any better than I’d planned, and that it looked like I’d hit Tacoma Community College at 8:00. I was bone tired. And about *this* close to asking her to come get me. But there’s a stubborn streak in me that hates even the thought of DNF. So I thanked the two volunteers and threw a leg over the saddle. They were taking the measure of me and wondering if I was going to make it, maybe because I got off to a wobbly start, missed the pedals the first 10 times I tried before finally I started turning over the crank. In the motion of the bike you will find salvation… that’s my mantra.

I managed even to get her up to around 17 and 18 mph for some stretches, feeling anxious about my timetable, but then I realized those were the last of my matches. I didn’t even have a scrap of newspaper to burn. From here on out it was going to be all fumes and fury. And so I wrestled mentally with the old noggin and physically with the leaden legs. Before I knew it I was in Lakewood and crossing a pretty little bridge, and had to stop for a snap:

Rainier at sunset, over water.

Holy crap, it was starting to get dark! Back off I went, with a lot more urgency. I didn’t want to get caught out without a light, and besides I told the ‘Lady I’d be there at 8:00. There was a killer series of hills leading up through the end near TCC, with lots of cross-grained redlights no less, but before I knew it there was the campus! Yay. I rode up and saw the ‘Lady in the big parking lot, and then the lone sweet volunteer, sitting there in the near dark, starting ringing her cowbell and suddenly I just started grinning, I did it! I was so happy, and relieved.

I went to collect my ice cream (darn it I’d been picturing that for the last several hours) and SurlyLady said it was 8:00 exactly. Nice. Change of clothes, quick stop at Taco Time (blech!) and then she courteously entertained my raging demands for a chocolate milkshake before we made it home.

Today I’m a little sore but I actually feel pretty good. Rather than a recovery ride today, like real riders, I instead went to the Goat Factory up north for some volunteer work, shoveling the poop out of the goat pens for a couple of hours…

In summary, RAPSody is well worth it. I loved the variety of scenery, the volunteers and the food. Even the Dan Henry’s were judiciously spaced – I never once had to look at a map! Everything about the ride was top notch, and I think this is going to be my annual marker of fitness, rather than STP. It was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done on a bike; it taxed me to about 100 and one percent. Next year I hope to bring the SurlyLady back with me and make a tradition of it.

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Fall on Fall

24 Aug

Open letter of petition, addressed to Old Man Autumn:

Season’s Greetings (ha!),

No offense, but we don’t want to see you until September, at the earliest. Have some dignity, sir.

We can’t even remember where we put our arm and/or leg warmers.

Yours sincerely,

SurlyLad and SurlyLady

P.S. You are a stinky butt.

Blueberries (and Hills)

22 Aug

What a nice lazy day! Woke to the sound and later the sight of rain. Enough to form rivulets off the roof. SurlyLady went off to volunteer at the Burlington Goat Factory (heh) and I stayed home to hang out with the pups and watch some depressing documentaries, all about man folk who stay home to hang out with the pups and watch depressing documentaries.

Then I snapped out of it (at the same time in the documentary when the subject snapped out of his torpor, weird that) and said, with one finger pointed inspirationally upward, “I shall go to the Farmer’s Market (swell of music) and buy some froo-it!” The dogs shared a look. “What?” I asked, wounded. They pretended to not know what I was talking about.

So I went to the Lake Forest Farmer’s Market where I purchased a purple pepper, onion, carrots, radishes, redleaf, and a ton of blueberries and raspberries. My sudden inspiration earlier was to go get some froo-it and freeze it, so that when the rainy season starts (monsoon hits Seattle around September and lasts for the next 9 months when we have a bouncing baby spring, born late!) we can reach in the freezer and grab a little bit of summer goodness. Here’s what they look like tucked into the freezer, the poor wee ‘uns:

Summer goodness, about to be frozed to death.

On the way back home, I noticed a text from JamisLad – DY wn2 ride 2day??

Hell’s yes! So JL drove up north with his newish Jamis Quest, which looks awesome, and leading out from my house he proceeded to spank it all the way down to Sammamish River Trail and Marymoor, bunny hopping over bumps like a pro. Dude’s got legs like pistons! There were times when he’d switch gears that I could literally see his back tire rubber compound almost deform the way that dragsters do. On the way back from Marymoor, we took a detour up the Woodinville hills and he was sprinting the whole way. What a motor!

Wound up being a perfect ride, everything had that fresh-from-the-rain smell, sun was out, nice puffy clouds here and there… in short, a consummate goldilocks ride, not too long, not too short, just right.

Now my main mission this week is to get a few ride commutes in, a gym session or two to loosen up this old guy’s body, and above all, sleep, sleep and more sleep… all in prep for RAPSody next Saturday.

Tidbits of Etcetera

18 Aug

1. Came up with a character the other day who is a dead ringer for Napoleon, a multi-disciplinary disciplinarian college kid studying medicine, biology, philosophy, politics and law… a nascent bioethicist. Not sure what to do with that part yet, specifically.

2. Came across a lovely band today, walking back to work after going to Pike Place Market to pick up some lunch and provisions for dinner. They were playing in the Westlake Center wedge area, absolutely charming band called The Jaded Optimists. Picked up their CD… just had to after hearing them play their song ‘Be Yer Natural Self.’ I think you’d like them. For reference points only, the chap (who played stand up steel drum bass) and the chapette (on resonator-style geetar) sounded a bit like M. Ward and Patsy Cline, vocally, his a bit of a hoarse pine and hers a nice warbling clear yodel. One of the songs on their CD, ‘Pet Sounds,’ is a departure from the toe tappin’ tunes elsewhere (including a Willie Nelson cover and ‘Brazil’ from I think, ‘Brazil’): on it you’ll find dialogue between the two, such as:

My hamster is sad; he’s recently developed allergies to wheat.

(sniff) That is the saddest hamster I ever heard, I never heard hamster cry before. Well, now that I am crying, let me tell you about my pet cockatiel Pishti that for years has been diagnosed with elephantitis of the esophagus.

I do have a very extraordinary schnauzer that you may be interested in. He can sing many songs for some reason, only sing Beach Boy. Beach Boy. Beach Boy. Except for one exception he can also sing Blue Danube Waltz, he claims it is by Brian Wilson, but I don’t think so.

This is my uncle’s hippopotamus practicing yoga before morning breakfast.

Interspersed between each are odd sampler/decomposed sounds (or simple microphone fun) approximating the animal in question. Very odd. But hilarious, especially with the Russian accents. I couldn’t find a website. Very anachronistic band, even down to the burned CD-R CD! I thought the kids just exchanged USB thumb drives or sumthin’ nowadays.

3. I’m not training anywhere what I need to do for RAPSody. I’m going to get my butt kicked. The project manager in me put together a spreadsheet and figured, with appropriate contingencies built in, if I limp through the day and start as early as 6am, I should be able to limp into Tacoma before the course closes at 8:30pm. I’m a little dismayed at reports of rain the next two weekends… oh well, I’ve got fenders! As for the training, sometimes you just have to have a little fun in life too, in addition to the training. I’m hoping all the hiking and non-biking will at least rub off a little. If not, I’m having a blast of a summer.

4. The True Deceiver, by Tove Jannson. One of the best books I’ve ever read. Intense, in that stoic-Scandanavian-survival-grade-snow-fever-dream kind of things. In form I found that it very closely resembles a palindrome, but rather than some kind of Oulipian exercise it’s more of a palindrome in plot and tone, ascendancies of characters mapped inversely to each other. Enchanting! I want to read it again.

5. Now working on The Collaborators, by Pierre Siniac (trans Jordan Stump). So close in humor and characterizations to Raymond Queneau that at times I’m astonished to the point of falling out of my chair when coming across references to 90s-era features. And on top of that, on top of the genuinely francophilish fun is the ingeniously devised meta-author-meta-reader style treatment… not too heavy handed to be off putting, for those who just rolled their eyes, not all crazy Memento time shifting, more of an unfolding mystery novel within a mystery novel… I’m not quite putting it right. Just check it out and you’ll see what I mean.

6. I have recently completed watching Food, Inc. And… wow. Have already been making huge diet changes over the last year or so, and now this adds an ethical/sanity aspect to my existing healthy motivations. I love the line, “We’re so good at hitting the bulls-eye on the wrong target.” Can’t stop thinking about this documentary, and all week I’ve been attempting a ‘whole foods’ diet (and no, that doesn’t mean just eating the ‘whole thing’ Mr. Wag).

7. The Salsa Vaya is mostly built up. I just can’t find the energy or time to finish up the bar tape. I need to take it for a little ride to see if the brifters are positioned okay, before the bar tape goes on. As for the ride… it’s hard to say. I’m hoping it’s not too big… that would be a bummer. The 56cm I rode seemed a touch too small, and so I was hoping the 57, along with the Nitto Noodles, would make everything work. It is way more stretched out than the Long Haul Trucker. It feels really, really comfortable, so much so that I almost mistrust it. Of course I’ve only been up and down the street a few times to test the brakes. Speaking of which, damn installing road disc brakes is a bitch and a half, oy. I’ve got them adjusted for rubbing but still not enough teeth in the throw. The BB7s have universal-style washers so they’re adjustable on the frame and fork, in addition to adjusting the pads and in addition to adjusting the cables, so there are three pivot points so to speak when dialing them in. Soon I’ll finish the bars and throw some fenders on and it’ll be ready. I’m already discounting taking it on RAPSody or maybe not even High Pass Challenge… the Poprad is pretty perfectly dialed in right now.

Salsa Vaya

Good night!

hot & cold

17 Aug

Today was wholly unspectacular except for the commute, which achieved a level of weather perfection that is probably being documented in bike blogs all across the land. It was mild in the morning, and just hot enough on the way home. Hot enough to work up a good sweat in the sun on Eastlake, then you hit the Burke and it gets all shady, and the breeze you’re making by moving starts to cool down the sweat, and the faster you move the cooler the sweat gets until you pretty much become your own super-refreshing sprinkler system. Is that gross? Maybe, but it feels fantastic—the ultimate summer-on-a-bike sensation. Of course then, if you’re us, the trail spits you back out into the sun for five more miles of hill climbing, and then, just when you think it’s probably your time to die, you’re home, taking the coldest shower you can handle. There is simply nothing better. Well, that’s not true. But it’s definitely in the top five.

Duthie Rulz

14 Aug

Or, “Doofie” as I heard someone put it today.

Met my brother at the W. Seattle ferry dock this morning at the brisk hour of 7 point 5. It was already hot! He threw his bike in the back of the truck and we had a nice chat as we drove to Issaquah, all about how our Mom now claims she never attempted suicide and that the addictive med(s) aren’t a problem anymore, she feels much better if she can “keep them in her purse”… Piece of advice for y’all: do yr level best to avoid a black belt master of emotional manipulation who also happens to have a master’s degree in counseling psychology and a near-perfect memorization of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as well as a nice Rolodex of physicians and psychiatrists who aren’t aware of what each other is doing or prescribing. But… heh… back to biking.

Duthie rulz. What a fun place. When we got to that big middle circle area, it seemed like all of the new people (selves included) just had big, broad smiles on their faces. Even the broads had broad smiles, which grammatically makes sense.

To start the day, however, brother and I started on the Grand Ridge Trail, which is gorgeously shaded. Getting up to the plateau is quite a grind. Unfortunately, we had to turn back about two miles into it as brother was still recovering from a cold and also was getting asthma attacks… so back down the switchbacks, ahead of a bunch of 29er dudes, and on to the truck to drive to Duthie Park. I hopped onto I-90, to the Preston-Fall City Rd, found the back way to Duthie Hill Road (look at all the roadies reprising the Flying Wheels route!) and then on up to the plateau. Parking at the Endeavor School, I was somewhat shocked to see how many people were gathered… turns out there was a MTB skillz class or something.

Communal.

Brother and I suited up and hit the roadway for a short spin until we found the nearest entrance, and after a little gravel two-tracking we came upon something called Boot Camp! And two cyclocross guys just ahead of us!

You know what this means now, I asked my bro. I can bring my Poprad (or Vaya) on a long road training ride and then, to cool down a little in some shady trees, make a slight detour for Boot Camp’s swoopy smooth berms and then head back out to the road ride. In fact, if I do Flying Wheels next year maybe I’ll try to incorporate that.

And yes, just as we started off on Boot Camp (hey, it’s one way, oh better turn around… unclip… unclip… sloooow crash) I fell over and bunged up the knee. Nice little bloody start to Duthie, with a swollen goose egg on the old knee. Let’s all just face the facts: I’m horribly incompetent. But, I’m not letting it stop me.

We poked around the park with the ooohs and awes of newbies. I was so impressed by the people there (even the ‘rad’ body armor types were being so nice… in Whistler they don’t even look at you if you’re on a hardtail). You had a training group doing exercises in a big circle, families on hybrids, hardcore DH guys with their full helmets, cyclocrossers, average Joe full suspensioners, older hardtail pensioners… very diverse mix. The best feature of the whole park, aside from the amazing trails and vision and layout and heart, were the one-way signs. Love, love, love that feature. I hate coming up on another mountain biker coming the other way and one of us has to break our rhythm to pull over etc, not to mention it can get dangerous sometimes.

Chutes too narrow...

So kudos to Evergreen and all the volunteers. I’ll definitely be back there to Duthie. Whether it’s on the MTB or on the ‘cross bike, we’ll soon see.

Heaven – in the Cascade Rain Shadow

11 Aug

First, a warning note: SurlyLady tried commuting during RSVP last year, and HIGHLY recommends not trying to go against the flow. So, if you’re headed south on the Burke Gilman as part of your commute, maybe consider taking the bus on Friday!

Next, wow – the Methow Valley is pretty darn cool. As SurlyLady mentioned, in her post, we fell in love with that place. It’s basically a mecca-like destination for outdoorsy types, be ye hikers, rock climbers, kayakers, rafters, road bikers, mountain bikers, cross bikers… and in winter, skiing and snowmobiling and survival. Mid 80s, beautiful weather, beautiful mountains (we went hiking every day), and – almost best of all – an awe/jaw dropping view of the Milky Way at night. No light pollution (no any pollution over there). I like that it’s just over in the rain shadow, so mostly dry, but also somewhat elevated so not as hot as say down in Wenatchee/Chelan.

One day we stopped in at the Methow Cycle & Sport shop and spoke with the owner about the local riding. He gave us a map and I mentioned how excited I was at the prospect of looping together long rides including gravel and pavement. He agreed! I think he ‘gets’ it too… blowing past the mountain bikers on your ‘cross bike, getting funny looks, and then blowing past the roadies and getting funny looks. There are literally hundreds of miles of low-traffic nirvana awaiting me in that valley, mostly up near Mazama and Winthrop.

One day, after the ‘Lady went horseback riding at the Sun Mountain Lodge, we took a long drive down through Twisp, on over to Okanogan and Omak, then over to Concunully, and then onto a 50-mile gravel road that went over Mt Baldy – amazing views! It would make for an insane century-ish loop out of Winthrop.

Another option: mountain (okay, no ‘cross bike on this one, even for me) biking all the way up to Hart’s Pass, and then on to Slate Peak if still feeling peppy… maybe 7000 feet or so of elevation gain along a narrow-ass dirt road with the most incredible mountain scenery, mountain meadows, mountain flowers, mountain dew.

Finally, I will try to get back there to do the ‘Tour d’Okanogan’ in early October, a century from Winthrop down to Twisp, then over the Loup Loup pass and back to Winthrop – all pavement. Very excited about that.

Now I’m gonna go dream about that valley agin.