Monday, January 23, 2006

Did aliens take the Seanman?

Since school started last week I've been rather busy working on my bright future. But it's hard to sit home and study when the weather has been so nice and my bikes are in the next room calling me. Not to mention I can feel the weight chunking on every second I sit idle where only my brain is getting a workout. Then it happens...I build up too much energy (lots of eating) and it has to come out which means the bikes get a serious workout (day or night). After an hour or two in my death-paced workout mode it seems that my lethargic dispair monster is calmed - the world is a good place again, the crabby monster inside is gone, and wow, do I feel GREAT!

The other night I was out at Hellsgate horse and weed park at dusk and had a super ride, but I had to slow down some when it got dark. I had lights, but not enough to continue super speeds so I was reduced to just riding along - it was great! Well today was one of those days when I jumped on a bike and took off with intent to inflict some serious pain to burn off the stress. It was like 53 degrees outside and my roadbike has been calling for some time now (like since I last rode it in the fall - hey, what can I say other than I enjoy riding mountain bikes more) . Right away I decided that anything less than 20mph was a wimp's pace so I was at the Seanman's house in VERY short order. I heard he got a new Klein rocket recently (and I wanted to see it). Strange thing though - it was like aliens had been to the Seanman's house...I mean there in the back of his pickup was one of the dogs - the other dog was missing and so was the Seanman (and his lovely mate, Carol).

His bike repair stand, a tire pump and an open bottle of lube were all sitting out on the driveway just like someone had been using them moments before...but no Seanman to be found (not even behind the Christmas tree in the driveway).

I looked up to the sky hoping to see an alien vessel overhead (beam me up!) but no such luck. This was strange but I had way too much energy left to burn off so I rode on contemplating what I had seen. It was nice out there today - spring like to say the least.

I eventually circled back to the Seanman's house only to find that the eerie stillness was unchanged...hmmm. It was getting late so zoom-zoom off I went home - it was an awesome ride of 33 miles in 1:25. I'm still wondering about the Seanman - I tried to call him later but no answer...have the Aliens taken him?!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Pre-school Ride

With school starting again soon (like tomorrow - ahhhhg) and having a few days of relief from the rain I've been riding as much as possible. Today I had a nice time in the wind and cooler temps up at Hellsgate State Park over in Spudland (that's Idaho for all you that can't figure where that is). This park is more of a refuge for noxious weeds than for anything else, but it is a place only a few miles from home to ride the dirt so I don't complain too much.

Up on top I could see that the surrounding mountains finally have some snow which gives me hope that I will get to use my new snowshoes this year.One more semester of school and some summer clinicals is all I have left. By this fall I will have to get a job working 3 days a week as a nurse and play 4 days a week - that is going to be so hard!

Bikes Attachment

It always amazes me how attached I feel towards a bike and not realize it until I sell it. Once a particular bike is gone there is nothing left but the great memories from all the good and trying (the pain it put me through climbing hills) times I had with that bike. I still reminisce about how much fun and pleasure I got from most of my past bikes (there have only been 2 that I gladdly sold). My bike barn looks and feels a little empty after selling my 2004 Gary Fisher 292 recently. It was a sweet ride that I built up from a frame I got late in the summer of 2004.

I built it up into a light full suspension bike for specifically for racing on rough and long courses as well as for general pleasure riding. In 2005 I rode it in 2 races. The first race was in the Spokane 24-hr race as part of a team (the Twisted Shifters). Needless to say we hit the podium with no problems. During that event I rode this bike about 100 miles at race speed - it was such a pleasure to have full suspension after the first lap. My team mates are all friends from around Washington and the best!The second race on this bike was the Schweitzer NORBA nationals marathon race. This bike was perfect for this course and it helped me win the race (about 60 miles + 10,000 feet climbing) with ease at 45 min ahead of my closest competitor. It was like a Sunday ride that day.

Times change though and I felt this bike needed a new home since I actually rode it very little after starting school again this last fall. With almost no effort I sold it to a friend that rode an older Fisher 292 that was once size too big for him and way heavier than mine.

He rode this overweight bike to many victories and podium places like the one below where he got 3rd and the Schweitzer NORBA XC race last summer. I have been glad he does not race in my category. Someday I'm sure we'll mix it up though.

Even though I miss my bike I'm sure I it will not be the last time I see it. Actually, I am anxiously waiting to see what it will win next. Go Tim!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

When Animals Attack

As I've said before everything seems to happen while "just riding along." Squirrel dumplings anyone?

Some of the WSU riders posted this squirrel attack (I don't have a clue where this actually happened). but it reminded me of the suicidal squirrels around here that have on many occasions caused nearly the same fate for me.

Edit 01/16/2006: Jeff Kerkove gives proper credit for the pic above. Another pic I had on my computer from on unknown source is below so this squirrel suicide thing is not an isolated one time event.

My closest animal encounter in recent times was a dive-bombing bird that flew through the front triangle of my frame last summer while I was just riding along to work last summer. Amazingly the bird navigated the tiny corridor through my pedaling legs and a water bottle while I was riding in excess of 25 mph. It did hit my water bottle cage hard enough to loose a feather or two but other than that it just kept flying. I sometimes think it's an animal dare or thrill seeking thing - you know, they see you coming and devise a daring feat for thrills (had experience doing this as a kid and I am alive still - somehow).

Usually we worry more about the dogs while on bikes, like the other day when the Seanman was attacked by a dog while just riding along with Corrie through dog-bark corridor somewhere on his Lapwai Loop. Sean "was a man" and gutted out the ride plus more with dog bites in his leg. At home his wife the nurse did her job by making him get treatment so that he could ride again another day.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Gumbo George

When I lived in central and eastern Montana we had a tire globbing mud termed "gumbo" for it's nature of turning any tire into a growing rotational mass of mud-yuk. The stuff would turn any 4-wheeldrive into a useless pile of metal with a motor that couldn't go anywhere. Walking in gumbo had the same effect - it would glob on until you had so much mud-yuk on the shoe that you couldn't lift it or you would walk right out of your shoe. When it dried it was like someone glued it onto your vehicle. I hated the stuff and I thought I was forever free of it after moving here to the reaches of hell in SE Washington.

Well some time ago I found that there were long patches of gumbo-like mud-yuk up on the George Creek Grade and Meyers Ridge Road. On that fateful day of discovery after spending more time cleaning the stuff off my bike than riding I decided I would never do this route again when it was wet.

So yesterday, Jan 8th, I decided to try George Creek so I could do a loop over Meyers Ridge and Weissenfels Ridge for a 60ish mile ride on another nice day (a day predicted to be raining - hah!). The road was a slight bit damp so I was hoping I could get through without hitting any of George's gumbo. Almost to the top of the grade I ran into a small patch of it though. My tires were instantly slick with half-inch of mud-yuk on them and that was enough for me to stop and decide on an alternate ride. The view from near the top was rather nice -
After an anti-bonking snack I headed down and turned up Cloverland Grade for a few miles of (yawn) pavement riding before hitting some more dirt on a road called Back Road (ingenious name as usual). This road got me off the pave and eventually onto Campbell Grade. Campbell Grade is a favorite to climb, but I was going down this time - it's a 1000 foot drop in 1-mile so it's a steep little hill to say the least. Here's a nice view from the top of Campbell grade of Lick Creek (center), Asotin Creek (left) and S. Fork Asotin Creek (left and just below) - The single track in Asotin Creek canyon was tempting for me to go and check out, but it was still 20+ miles home and getting late so home it was. The ride today was 5o miles and I took my sweet time doing it in 3 hr 30 min.

The Couse Creek Bonk

The weather around here has been predictably unpredictable to say the least. This time of year I love to ride dirt roads on one of my mountain bikes, but only if I can do it without becoming a muddy mess. Usually the roads are frozen this time of year so it's not a problem, however this year it seems that the new globally warm norm around here is 45-50 degees (F) with plenty of rain. This translates into lots of mud-yuk! Just when it dries out enough for a little ride another rain storm hits us. I should have known this would happen since I got snowshoes for Christmas (the last winter this happened to me is when I got XC-skis for Christmas). There is no snow to speak of where there is normally several feet.

I've had my eye on the map looking at a new places to explore. Couse Creek looked interesting so I gave it a try on a "nice" sunny day last Thursday (Jan 5th) starting at 11:30AM. There was a little breeze at the house and temps were near 50F so off I went. I was yawning for 16 miles of pavement riding which I had to do to get to Couse Creek road. Finally the dirt - there's nothing better than riding on dirt. The bottom of Couse Creek, looking up (awesome!) -

A view riding up -

The monster switchback - each leg of this switchback was just over 1-mile long -

Looking down from the monster switchback onto Edeburn Gulch (an alternate route to try in the future - too muddy today) -

Up on top the view of 3 states was great - Washington in the foreground, Oregon to the right, and Idaho left and in the distance. The lower reaches of Hells Canyon (Snake River) is just below and to the left) -

The wind was really blowing up on top making my life full of leg burning pain for 12 miles of headwind + uphill pedalling. Several times I almost turned back while I struggled to make headway at 8-10 mph. By the time I hit my return road (Weissenfels Ridge Road) I was tired, but it was getting late and I wanted to get home before dark so onward I went. The wind was now at my back making pedalling a bit easier - in fact I was coasting right along on the very slight downhill at 30-38mph without using my superhuman effort.

A few miles from home (after nearly 60 miles and 4 hours of ride time) I was feeling a Stage-1 bonk coming on (that means I was not sure if I was going to make it without stopping in the park for a rest). The headwind up on top took a lot of energy and I was feeling it now in a big way.

I did make it home just in time to get my bike in the door and fall down on the couch. It was bad and after a short nap I resolved to take more food on my rides in the future. That means more than one Hammer Gel, 8 gummy candies, and 1 small bottle of Hammer Perpetuem - usually enough energy for me to make 60 miles on a breakfast of oatmeal and midmorning toast, but not enough with 20-25 mph headwinds I found out.

Welcome to my Adventures

Just Riding Along - This is one of the best sayings ever in the bike world. This last summer while working at a favorite local bike shop (B & L Bicycles) I got more laughs from hearing this term. It seems that no matter what happened (crash, dog bite, parts breaking) it always happened while just riding along. After some time it became a truthful joke that everything happens just riding along on a bike. I thought of starting this site while just riding along a few weeks ago, but I quickly found out that there was another fool who had aleady taken the "just riding along" name as their blog address. I visited their site and found it totally lame - it's so lame that it has not been used since 2002. Looooser!

OK enough ranting. In the end I started this site to waste my non-precious time on posting some of my adventures up here on the edges of hell in SE Washington. I'm not kidding about the hell thing since I live in a area dubbed Hellsgate. All I know is that it is barren, full of devilish weeds and smells like hell here so it must be so.