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Mar 11, 2009

2009 Overview

Click to see image enlargedThis season we decided we would try some self-supported touring. This is in keeping with our desire to not fly as much in order to lower our carbon footprint. We scoped out two major trips to aim at: riding to Victoria for the NW Tandem Rally and doing a tour of the Oregon Coast.

We needed something to get our season started. We have friends who have ridden for years with Cheryl Marek in her spring training program, HELP. We decided to give it a go. So, most every Saturday from March 14 until June 13 we were out on the road with a couple dozen other moderately insane cyclists.

I say moderately insane because the rides started at 8 AM and this winter was bitterly cold. We even had snow on one ride in April! We did almost 500 miles with the group, though and got into pretty good condition.

Click to see image enlargedWe also worked in a weekend ride to Port Townsend with Evergreen Tandem Club. Jim and Jeannie led the trip. The weather was wonderful and we had our gear sagged one direction.

We rode to Victoria for the rally. You can see the full story of riding to Victoria for the tandem rally here. The short version is that we took two days to ride from Seattle to Port Hadlock to Port Townsend. Then we ferried over to the island and spent three days riding at the rally. Then we took the Clipper back to Seattle. We had lots of good rides, one painful experience, and met many new friends.

Click to see image enlargedIn August we were ready for our big ride in Oregon (full story). We got my brother Ray to help us move our car so all we could start in Lincoln City. One day we rode to Yachats, visiting lots of sights along the way. The next day we rode to Reedsport with more touristy stuff during the day. Then we crossed the Coast Range on a logging road in a 97 mile ride to Eugene. That was very challenging and included one of the most amazing coincidences known to man.

Click to see image enlargedFrom Eugene we drove to Crater Lake. We unpacked all the panniers. Suddenly lighter, we spent one day riding the rim drive. The scenery was beyond spectacular and the weather was absolutely perfect.

At that point we had 1600 miles for the season. Who knows when it will end?

Jul 2, 2009

S2 Cycle to Victoria for NWTR

Click to see image enlargedThe Northwest Tandem Rally (NWTR) was held in Victoria this year so Sheila and I decided it would be fun to ride to it. We plotted out a course via Bainbridge Island, Port Hadlock, and Port Angeles. We planned on taking two days of easy riding then catching a ferry to Victoria. To the left is how we looked loaded with gear.

Day One – 41 miles: It was sunny and hot as we teamed up with a couple singles, David and Emily, who were starting a trip to the Bay Area. It was fun to ride with someone through the rolling hills of Bainbridge and the peninsula. We left them in Port Ludlow. Click to see image enlarged

Three miles from our hotel we were going up a hill when both of my quadriceps cramped solid. I couldn’t bend either leg. I fell off the pedals and stood panting and crying over the handlebars. A motorist stopped and helped Sheila get the bike out from under me. They had to manually bend my legs to break the spasms. After walking a bit we rode the rest of the way to Port Hadlock. Sheila powered us up the last hills. I was worthless.

Click to see image enlargedFortunately, our friend from Port Townsend, Robin Sharan, was coming to see us. She is a body worker so in addition to food, she brought us Kangen water and a massage table. I drank almost a gallon of water. She worked my body for more than 90 minutes. Then she gave Sheila a massage too! It was a great help. You can visit her healing retreat center in Port Townsend, The Annapurna Inn.

Day 2 – 57 miles: We got up very early because I was worried about making the ferry at 12:45. We were rolling by 6, but since we were only averaging 12 mph, that seemed reasonable. Again the day promised heat, but was cool enough for jackets starting out. Our first 24 miles were mostly on the wide shoulder of 101. By the time we got to Sequim (pronounced Skwim) it was warm.

Click to see image enlargedA gentleman in Sequim told us the Olympic Discovery Trail was finished and paved all the way to Port Angeles. Getting off 101 sounded great, so we found the trail. It was indeed wonderful. We saw bald eagles roosting on tall trees. The trail was mostly separated from traffic. It wound through lovely farmland and across long wooden trestles. One trestle had a ramp built for wheelchairs, not bikes and especially not long bikes. That was a minor problem. The rest was pretty nice.

We got in to PA by 11. We opted to take an earlier, faster ferry to Victoria arriving by 1 or so. Then we rode the scenic bike route out to Victoria. It was very nice, except for the 14% grade that snuck in for two blocks!

We checked in to our B&B, which turned out to charge for breakfast, then rode the bus to downtown for dinner. Ate at the Rebar, wonderful veggie food. When we got back we met our neighbors, Cheryl and Mike from Klameth Falls.

Click to see image enlargedDay 3 – 31 miles: We registered for the rally and got our new “kits”. Then we got into a group riding out to Buchart Gardens. Another hot day. We opted to NOT tour the gardens. Sheila’s foot doesn’t handle lots of walking well and my legs were still incredibly sore from the cramps. We sat and visited at the entrance with other teams and met Helen and Nancy (left). Nancy is blind and a paralympic athlete. The four of us rode back to the University of Victoria together. A lot of the route was hard-packed, gravel. We had to use our GPS to finish the course, but it was a good ride, all-in-all.

Click to see image enlargedThat evening we ate at a Thai restaurant then visited our friends, Sean and Heather. Sean designed the ETC logo when they lived in Seattle and rode their tandem from here to DC in 2001. They now have a 2 year old named Felix. They’ve been living in BC for 4 or 5 years now. Heather made a wonderful strawberry pie for dessert. Then it was back home on the bus!

Day 4 – 57 miles: We rode north from U Vic today. We actually retraced much of the riding we did to Buchart Gardens. After the ETC club photo we had a mass start with about 350 tandems circling the campus before heading onto the streets. It took a long time for it all to get stretched out. The first rest stop had a model airplane landing strip. Modelers were showing off their planes, but didn’t have many in the air. It was too bad. I would have liked to have seen more flying.

From there we rode up to Sydney and wound around the edge of the island’s tip. We were happy to spend the day riding with Eric and Arden as we don’t get to do that as much as we’d like in Seattle. The route was a nice blend of flats and hills, but again wasn’t marked as well as I expect for a rally. It was very pretty, though.

Click to see image enlargedWhen we returned  to the UVic campus we were met by lawns covered in bunny rabbits everywhere! The abundance and variety really tickled Sheila. They were quite cute, in all shapes, sizes and colors. The photo (by Barb & Randall Angell) only shows a dozen of them. There are also deer everywhere. Since it’s an island there are no predators to thin out the populations.

We finished around 2. After we cleaned up, Sheila went to the organizer’s meeting to help plan the next couple of years’ rallies. We caught a bus downtown to an all-veggie Chinese restaurant for dinner. We still were back in time for the NWTR post-banquet festivities. We heard a good speaker from a BC cancer research organization which was the beneficiary of the rally. Then we watched a unicyclist demonstrate some Click to see image enlargedextreme uni skills. He had a video showing him cycling along the edge of a cliff at Yosemite and hopping from boulder to boulder on his unicycle along a mountain ridge. He was pretty amazing. It’s worth taking a look on YouTube for “Kris Holm” to see some of his incredible footage or just visit his website at www.krisholm.com

Click to see image enlargedDay 5 – 50 miles: Today we rode with Gwen and Chris from Grass Valley, CA. The routes went mostly to the west. We had a loop around Lake Prospect which was very challenging. It was very twisty and alternated between steep inclines and descents. You couldn’t get momentum to help you up. We switched back and forth between 100% effort to 0% effort. It seemed endless and really sapped our legs. Much of the first half of the ride was climbs and descents. The last half was almost entirely along the Galloping Goose trail. It had been 9 years since we’d ridden it. It is still a green wonder of hard-packed gravel. It was very restful.

Click to see image enlargedWe’d stopped at a red light as we got into town and were waiting when a single shot past us and across the street…right in front of a police car. We motioned at the officer to go get her, but he was really powerless because the trail was protected from cars with posts. When his light was green he did drive her direction. Later we saw him ticketing her at the next road crossing. Chris said when they lived in Olympia they discovered both cyclists and police behavior improved when officers started enforcing traffic laws with bikes. Not only did bikes start obeying the laws more, but police started standing up for bikes in run-ins with cars protecting the bike’s right to the road. Makes sense to me.

We were pooping out by this time. Gwen and Chris were staying at a place in downtown and had actually met us at U Vic after riding 10 miles along the scenic ride we’d taken the first day in town. We opted to take a short cut home as the route bent towards downtown. We said our goodbyes and rolled home. We visited in the back yard of the B&B with the two other tandem couples staying there. It had been a very pleasant day.

Click to see image enlargedDay 6 – 9 miles: Fully loaded again, we rode straight downtown to catch the ferry. We stopped to take pictures of a neat fence at an elementary school. While we were in line for customs at the Victoria Clipper, Helen led in Nancy. Nancy was taking the Clipper home, but not Helen. We agreed to shepherd Nancy around. The side benefit was that we got priority boarding and nice seats on the boat. We learned more about Nancy’s athletic endeavors. She used to work for the government but has finally had to retire as her ears are starting to give out, too. Now she spends a lot of her time traveling and giving inspirational talks. She’s also led a Triathlon camp for blind athletes and their guides. Her website is www.nancyspeaks.com. We were happy to be home in our condo by early afternoon.

Aug 5, 2009

S2 Cycle the Oregon Coast & Crater Lake

Click to see image enlargedIn August, Sheila and I decided to take our tandem to Oregon to do two of the things on our bucket list: ride the Oregon Coast and ride the rim of Crater Lake. Well, we didn’t ride the whole Oregon Coast, but we got a taste. It was great fun.

August 5 – We set out from Seattle early on a Wednesday morning. We got to West Salem around noon. There we met my brother Ray who rode his bike up from Eugene. We strapped his bike next to ours on top of the car and drove to Lincoln City, gateway to the coast. It was a perfect coast day, sunny and no wind. Ray drove our car back to Eugene to await our arrival.

Click to see image enlarged

We strolled through Lincoln City and down the beach. We napped. I looked at tidepools just outside our window. The only thing I didn’t do was build a sandcastle. We even watched a couple of movies.

August 6 – Lincoln City to Yachats – 58 miles

We had a leisurely morning. We had a late breakfast, packed, and started rolling around 10. The coast from LC to Yachats is classic. There were vast stretches of beaches and gorgeous sea stacks. We went past Depoe Bay and took the Otter Crest Loop to avoid the climb over Cape Foulweather. There we saw this beautiful example of coastal bridges and had a long climb on a one way road to the top. We dropped down to Devil’s Punch Bowl. (It looked lots smaller than my childhood memories.)

Eventually we stopped at the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. It is almost 200 feet high. We took a pleasant tour of the facility, then continued on toward Yachats. We encountered our only bad weather of the trip about 6 miles from the end. It got misty, then drizzly, then rainy. It only lasted about 2 miles, just long enough for us to get really focused on finishing the day. We stayed at the Ocean Cove Motel. It was very nicely appointed. I’d highly recommend it. There was a sculpture of a whale’s tail with a mound of dirt in the front of it. Every minute the “whale” would spout. It was cute. We had a lovely vegan meal at the Drift Inn which included marionberry cobbler! Mmmmm. Then to bed.

August 7 – Yachats to Reedsport – 50 miles

We had another late start. But the first thing on tap was the climb over Cape Perpetua. It was blessedly short and there was virtually no traffic! The day was overcast again, but reasonably warm. We saw Devil’s Churn there. After about 10 miles we arrived at Heceta Head lighthouse and stopped to tour it. We met a pair of father-son teams who were riding tandems down the coast as we walked up to the light. Then we made the mistake of agreeing to a tour. We thought it would be 10 minutes max. After 20 minutes of listening to the volunteer’s spiel we still hadn’t gotten to the stairway and there were 2 groups still ahead of us in line. We eventually finished the tour but weren’t happy about spending more than an hour off the bike so early in the day. We got our picture as we prepared to climb back up to Hwy 101. We saw these sea lions at the next pull out.

We rode on to Florence and stopped at Fred Meyer for lunch. We ate at the sand dune behind the store. I climbed it to find lots of sand stretching north and a golf course just to the south. What a weird place! The fathers and sons had stopped at Freddie’s too and we discovered they’d taken the Sea Lion Cave tour. We should have done that instead of Heceta Head.

By now we just wanted to get riding. We still had half our ride in front of us. And it turned out it was the half with all the real climbing. We did lots of long hills and finally dropped down to Reedsport. We got an early night’s sleep to prepare for our longest day of the year.

August 8 – Reedsport to Eugene – 97 miles

We got up early. I lubed the bike, then we packed up and headed for breakfast. I got blueberry pancakes the size of Texas. Sheila helped me finish them. Then we stocked up on water and headed for Smith River Road.

Click to see image enlargedIt’s a logging road that winds up over the coast range to Eugene. We figured that it would be quiet on a Saturday and boy was it! We were only passed by one car going our direction once we left the county maintained portion about 13 miles from Reedsport. The road had moss on it. That’s how quiet it was. The river was pretty though. We saw a sign telling us we were still on Smith River Rd and that Eugene was 49 miles away.

Nine miles later we were at an intersection. Smith River Road went right. South Sister Road went left. The sign saying Eugene was connected to South Sister and it said 48 miles. Huh? We were confused and flagged down a truck which happened along. As I asked the driver directions, Sheila shouted, “Look who it is!”

It was my niece and nephew, Jacquie and Ben, Chris’ kids. We were stunned. So were they. They were camping down the road and had come to the intersection to direct friends to their campsite. Instead, they found us. Better still, they knew where we should go and told us. South Sister Rd, here we come! They also refilled our water bottles. Believe me, there were no stores on this road.

Now we had some serious climbing to do. We did a 2-3 mile climb and ended up at another intersection. We guessed it was time to descend, and so we did. It was fast and fun, but we weren’t completely sure we were going in the right direction. After several miles we found a wooden map that confirmed we were headed on the right road to Crow and Eugene.

We still had to deal with Wolf Creek Road, though. This was a pair of climbs that challenged riders on the 2003 NW Tandem Rally. It was getting hot and we were running dry. I was getting very tired of my view from the front of the bike. We got to Crow rolling on fumes. We refreshed ourselves at the general store there. We were lucky because it was due to close shop at the end of the month. Then we started the last 15 miles to Eugene.

We caught the Amazon Trail and had a pleasant ride through town. A single led us to the River Trail which would take us to my brother Chris’ house. It was a welcome sight. We called it a century, even though our friends Steve and Denise would have insisted on riding 3 more miles.
We visited with Chris and Marcy that evening and saw Marcy’s new place.

August 9 – Driving to Crater Lake

Before we left Eugene, we visited with our friends Larry and Luna, founders of Coconut Bliss frozen dessert. We had a nice lunch and Bliss Bars. I took Luna on a tandem spin. Larry gave us t-shirts. We are big fans. Then we drove to Crater Lake. It was a little hazy due to local forest fires. We  headed for our cabin to repack our gear to get ready for a challenging ride, but one without the 45 pounds of baggage we carried down the coast.

August 10 – Crater Lake Rim – 32 miles – 3379’ elevation gainClick to see image enlarged

The morning was clear and cold. We ate cold berry pie for breakfast and headed for the Park HQ to start our ride. Mind you, we were starting at 6500’ above sea level. And our first climb of the day started from the parking lot and was 600’ in less than 3 miles. But it was already warm enough to ride bare-legged.

We met three women unloading their singles for a trip around the rim as we started off. They were in primary-colored Livestrong jerseys. I called them Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Really they were Rachelle (yellow), Melinda (blue), and Louise (red). One of them passed us on that first climb and we played leap frog all day long.

When we got to the crater we discovered the night had blown away all the smoke from the caldera. The lake was in its full glory. We got many pictures of Wizard’s Island. Click to see image enlarged

But pictures can’t do this lake justice. You have to see it to believe it. It is the deepest lake in the US and 7th deepest in the world. We are thinking it would be great to come back here for a week sometime so we can really explore all it has to offer from hiking trails to a tour boat on the lake.

The route alternated between long, slow climbs and breathtakingly fast descents. We lost track of Huey, Dewey and Louie halfway through the day. Somewhere in there we got this view of the Phantom Ship. But after two three-mile descents at more than 45 mph, we caught them again a half mile from the Park HQ. It was great to finish in a pack.

Click to see image enlargedWe drove back to Chris’ place, visited with our friend Karin, then headed back to Seattle on the 12th. On the way we saw my old college roomie, Rick Hammond and his new place in Amity. We also visited with my mom in Portland.

It was a fabulous trip. I highly recommend the Rim Loop to anyone strong enough to cycle it. The cars were courteous on the narrow roads and the scenery was unsurpassed.