High Pass Challenge, here we come!

10 Sep
Hood Canal

Getting to the root of the Hood Canal

It’s finally here! I’m so excited to get down to Packwood and do this again. Memories of last year have come flooding back this morning… the fear of the unknown, the 3 hours of sleep due to said anxiety, the rush to get to the 3pm cutoff (a chap I was riding with was mistakenly convinced the silver cutoff was at 3pm; turns out it was 4) and then the delicious surprise of a silver medal at the end. Now that I’m on the verge of the ‘big ride on the calendar’ for the year I also can’t help but review how things have gone over the recent calendar. Overall I couldn’t be happier with life. This past week I had two huge presentations at work — one with the biggest of wigs in my building, pitching a new job for myself, and another with biggish wigs in a different building, pitching the idea of growing an entirely new platform to position our company for the next 10 years. In other words this past week has been a ‘mental’ high climb challenge and I did well – possibly gold in one, probably bronze in the other, which equals silver I should think!

Beyond the mental and overall life happiness, I do feel this year that I’m leaner and tougher — I met my target of losing 17 pounds, and all that yoga and kickboxing I hope has helped as well. But I don’t think I have the same kind of engine I had last year. We’ll see. I suspect I’ll be faster going up the hills, but maybe slower on the flats as the endurance runs out. I have until 4:00 for silver so it’s all good. ‘Silver’ trim is good for a dude who just a few years ago was nearing 300 pounds! I intend to really enjoy the ride this year, take a few more pictures, and not totally concentrate on the odometer… which, BTW, I replaced with a new one after I couldn’t appear to revive the old faithful.

One thing that’ll help is the ‘C-Line’ road is apparently closed, and so we have to head back to Randle and take Hwy 12 back to Packwood. I think this alt was a semi-sanctioned option in the past but this year it’s a requirement. I say it might help in that I remember C-Line road being demoralizing last year, the rollers and bad chipseal — I could feel it soaking up my energy. One other small item of note that probably won’t help are the predicted mid-90s temps. Oy.

Salsa Casseroll Salsa La Cruz

Ferry-tale ride...

We’ll soon get the pups in the car and head down south. But first a quick mention of our training ride last weekend – we rode down to the ferry at Edmonds, boated over to Kingston, then roamed out to Port Ludlow and back. I took the La Cruz for its shake down ‘cruz’… probably not a good idea a week before the High Pass Challenge. I kept fiddling with the fit, moving the saddle up and down etc. My knee started hurting with the odd fit/feel. The Woodchipper bars… naw, they’re not going to work on the La Cruz. Not enough steer tube to get them high enough, and I really just prefer having more ramp. I far prefer the Bell Lap or Short and Shallow over the Woodchippers for on-roading; I can see however why they’re so popular offroading.

As for the La Cruz itself, it’s a very nice frame, has a nice solid-yet-lively-enough feel. I put it exactly between the Long Haul Trucker and the Poprad. It’s not has heavy as the former, nor nearly as light as the latter, even though the front triangle is OX Platinum tubing. In fact, in that respect, it is very similar to the Vaya. The effective top tube winds up being just about that of the 57cm Vaya and so I have no complaints about the sizing, it’s spot on. The steel fork, like that on the Vaya, is more confidence inspiring than the Satellite one on the Poprad, but then it’s also heavier. The bad news about trying the Woodchippers is that, if I don’t turn this into a purpose-built off-roader, then really it doesn’t fit any niches beyond what I have with the Vaya or Poprad. A small surprise to the peanut gallery I’m sure. However, I really, really liked the ride of the frame! The parts components worked great too, Sugino triple, mix of XT and Tiagra and bar ends. I was even able to keep up nicely with the SurlyLady even on knobby tires.

Okay, we’re off. Good luck to all the other HPC riders! I can’t wait to be there and see all the colors and bikes and people!

Salsa La Cruz

Seriously fun bike!

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