Monthly Archives: April 2013

Deschutes River Valley Time Trial Festival

“A festival or gala is usually a happy, fun event, usually and ordinarily staged by a local community, which centers on and celebrates some unique aspect of that community and the Festival.” from wikipedia

The Deschutes River Valley Time Trail Festival was not a happy, fun event for me this year. It was character building.

The DRVTT consists of three stages. The first is a 25 mile loop that climbs up out of the town of Maupin on Saturday. This is a steep climb of about 800 feet of elevation gain to a plateau. It is mainly flat until you reached the descent into Tygh Valley where you enjoy another flat section before turning onto to road to Shearers Bridge. This road has a couple of nasty bumps before dropping you down to the Deschutes River. There you return to Maupin on the flat river access road.

My time was a very respectable (for me) 1:22:00, beating my best time of 1:23:09 by over a minute. I attached the first hill very hard. But I can never claim to be a climber and the fellow who started a minute behind me caught me very, very quickly. No worries, I expected that. I just kept working hard. Before the top of the climb, I did manage to catch and pass some of the women who started before me. However, just before the top, my old Race Across Oregon teammate, Mark Newsome, caught and passed me. Since we were at the top, I managed to keep close to him as we crossed the plateau. Then, just before the descent, I passed him and started flying down toward Tygh Valley. Then a strong cross wind hit me and my bike began to shimmy.

A bike shimmy is never pleasant. It has caused me to panic. But not this time. I pressed my right leg against the top tube, loosely gripped the handlebars and let the bike slow down. The shimmy lessened, but it stayed with me all of the way down the hill. I was disappointed that I could not pass the two riders in front of me during the descent. At the bottom of the hill and during the roll out, I started peddling again, but this only caused the shimmy to worsen. The only cure was to let the speed drop until the shimmy stop and then start racing again.

With the bike under control again, I peddled hard, passing the two riders in front of me before the turn to Shearers Bridge. I was a bit surprised that Mark was not catching me as he is faster on the flats then I. I was watching him in my mirror but did not see him until the last short climb before the descent to the Deschutes River. He was coming hard, but I had enough of a lead on him to stay in front and I pulled away on the descent.

The last portion of the course was along the river access road and when I turned onto it, I found that I would be fighting a fierce head wind all of the way back. I tried not to let it bother me, to keep my hard work up, but the peddling was difficult. More of the faster riders who started behind be began to pass me, and I tried to stay with them, but each slowly pulled away from me. Again, I expected to see Mark, but I never did.

After crossing the finishing line, I did a short cool down and then returned. There I ran into Mark who told me that his bike shimmied too, but this was a new experience for him and it affected his confidence. As such, he took the descents slowly, which explains why he never caught me. Later, in talking with other racers, many of them experienced bike shimmy on the descent into Tygh Valley. Mark and I were not the only ones.

After the first stage, I took a shower, ate lunch and then took a nap before the second stage that afternoon.

The second stage is only 8.1 miles long, but climbs nearly 2,000 feet. And it is all climbing; there is no relief, not downhills at all. The winds had picked up in the afternoon, and I knew that this would be a tough stage. And it was. I started hard, but at a level of exertion that I though I could maintain for the entire eight miles. I did pretty well holding my power, but nearing the top, the winds really began to push the bike around. As such, my effort lessen and my power output dropped. I finished in 51:44, over seven minutes slower than last year, but at nearly the same power output. Blame it on the wind.

The third stage began early Sunday morning, and it is a monster of a stage – 23 miles up Bakeoven Road to the summit and then 23 miles back down to the river. The elevation gain is over 3,500 feet.

After two stages, I was not in last place in my division. I was in next to last place with a 1:27 cushion. However, 1:27 on a 46 mile stage is nothing, but I thought I might be able to stay with him, to shadow him and not finish last in my division. That was my hope.

I started the stage two minuted behind my rival. During the steep portion of the climb out of the Deschutes River Valley, I kept him in sight. Once the grade lessened, I could see him up ahead, but he seemed to be pulling away. I worked as hard as I could, but he slowly pulled away and out of sight. None the less, I kept up my effort all of the long way to the summit of Bake Oven Road. As I approached the turn around, I kept hoping not to see my rival. I wanted to be very close to the turn around before I saw him. Then, shortly before the turn around, I saw him. I marked the location and glanced at my watch so I would know just how many seconds/minutes I was behind him.

The turn around did not go well for me. The road is narrow and three of us were attempting the turn at the same time. However, it was not a long delay before I got myself turned around. Then the head wind hit me. And it was strong. Last year I flew down Bakeoven Road, but this was not to be this year. I worked my way to the spot where I had seen my rival, and saw that I was seven minutes behind him! With the two minutes that he started in front of my and the 1:27 cushion I had, I realized that he had a big lead on me.

I thought I could make it up, but the wind worked against me. Instead of being able to recover during the descent, I found myself working hard in an attempt to catch my rival. It was not to be. I soon lost power and it became evident to me that I would not catch him. With the strong head wind, I found myself just working to get down the hill. I was no longer racing, but just trying to finish. when I crossed the finishing line, 3:30:35 had elapse. This was almost an hour longer that the year before and I was told I looked like death warmed over when I finished.

I was disappointed in my effort and the result, but some days you have fun, and some days fun is harder to have.

SBC Wednesday Night Ride

A perfect evening for a bike ride.

Six of us rode out to climb Hibbard the hard way. This is one short, steep hill and three of the group rode it for the first time. Congratulations to Chris, Lori and Mike!

Time Trial on a Stationary Bicycle

I had to work late so I could not do my workout on my training bike at home. Coach wanted me to do a TT intensity ride. What to do?

Simple, slip down to the PCC workout room and ride one of their stationary bikes.

30 minute warmup
15 minutes at TT Intensity
5 minute cool down
Zero average speed!

Last Day in Julian

A short but tough day of riding. This route is the reverse of a portion of the Mount Laguna Route. We rode out to Lake Cuyamaca, climbing all of the way,. and then took Engineers Road. This involved more climbing, a steep downhill and then more climbing back to Julian.

This ride ended our Vino and Velo camp, and we are very sad to leave Julian. There are lots more roads that we would love to ride, but back to Oregon we must go.

Happy Campers

Look west from Engineers Road.

Lake Henshaw via Mesa Grande Road

Our last full day of riding.

We woke up to another day in paradise. The sky was clear and we were expecting temperatures in the low 70°s.

The planned route was 70 miles and over 7,000 feet of gain to Mount Palomar and back. To be honest, Joanne and I were not up to that. So instead we rode to Lake Henshaw and back – 46 miles with 4,000 feet of gain. That was a big enough bit of the apple for us.

We left Julian on State Route 78 and descented 1,200 feet down to Santa Ysabel. It was fast and it was cold. It was fun. In Santa Ysabel, we turned onto SR 79 and then onto Mesa Grande Road, a gorgeous road to ride!

The view from Mesa Grande Road

The old Mesa Grande Store

Soon, we reach the old Mesa Grande store and our AdventureCORPS support van. That is where I discovered that I had forgotten my water bottles. Joanne came to my rescue and lent me one of hers.

AdventureCORPS Support Van

We now continued on to Lake Henshaw where we turned around to retrace our route. Joanne and some others opted for the flatter route back along SR 79, but I went for the return on Mesa Grande Road – it is just too pretty not to ride even if there is some difficult climbing involved.

I met back up with Joanne at Santa Ysabel where she had been waiting for my for thirty minutes. Yes, I took the scenic but slower route. After a pie of pie at the Julian Pie Company (in Santa Ysabel) to fuel our six mile climb up to Julian, we reluctantly left our table in the sun and climbed onto our bikes. The climb was long. The climb was a bit hard. The climb took us nearly an hour!

Back in Julian we showered and then walked down to the local espresso bar where we sat outside in the sun and cheered or co-campers as the finished their rides.

Mount Laguna

This morning California fulfilled it’s promise of sunny skies and warm temperatures.

Today’s ride was wondrous. At 7:45 this morning, 15 of us rode as a group out of Julian and onto the back roads south west of town. Joanne and I rode along side of our new friends marveling at the pastoral scenery around us. The group finally broke us as we climbed Engineers Road which had some very steep pitches. I took it very easy heeding my coaches advice – ride at a level where you can talk, but not sing. Little does he know I can not sing even when standing still. We climbed up high and were rewarded with views to the west that would have included the Pacific Ocean, if there not been no marine fog.

Looking west from Engineers Road

Climbing Engineers Road in the sun.

Soon, we reached Lake Cuyamaca where we came upon the big, white AdventureCORPS van. Several Fig Newtons later, Joanne and I were riding along on a very lightly traveled road heading toward Pine Valley. We passed many racnches and we stopped to visit a friendly inhabitant.

A ranch inhabitat

In Pine Valley, the big, white AdventureCORPS van resupplied us in preparation of the big climb of the day to the summit of Mount Laguna.

The AdventureCORPS van in Pine Valley.

The climb to Mount Laguna was eleven miles long and we gained over 2,200 feet. The grade was not too steep so that we could keep a good rhythm. We rode with three cheerful French Canadians who kept us company as we climbed. Once we reached the top, we stoped at the small store (‘No Bikes on the Porch’ read the signs) and were looking forward to our last 20 miles back to Julian. There may not have been any bikes on the porch, but there sure were hikers everywhere.

As we began our descent, the views opened up causing me to stop several times to take them in and record them with photographs.

Looking down onto the Great Southern Overland Stage Route Road

Looking north from Mount Laguna

We finished the ride with 62 miles and over 6,000 feet of gain.

Yaqui Pass and Borrego Springs

Woke up to clouds, wet roads and 34°. As such, this would be day two of altering the route.

We drove down to ‘scissors’, the intersection of C78, San Felipe Rd and the Great Southern Overland Stage Road. Our new route was to ride to Yaqui Pass, Borrego Springs, climb Montezuma Grade, Ranchita and return on San Felipe Rd. One problem, the wind. It was so windy that most of us decided to drive on down to the base of Yaqui Pass and begin riding there. Joanne and I decided not to climb Montezuma due to the wind (been there, done that and fell down).

We started up Yaqui Pass with a powerful tail wind at our back. We hardly had to peddle. But when we crested the summit and began our descent, the tail wind turned into a strong cross wind. While it was as strong as yesterday, it was interesting descending at speed with the wind blowing the bikes around. However, once we reached the valley floor, the wind lessen. That was strange as we could see a wind blown dust/sand storm on the far side of the valley.

We rode into Borrego Springs and then headed out to the north following a route that the locals showed us last year. Then, just in front of us, we found the very same locals. We joined them as they wandered around Borrego Spings enjoing good company and windy roads.

Joanne and the Borrego Springs Locals

After a quick bite to eat, Joanne and I returned to our van via Yaqui Pass. This is a long, even climb that today was complicated with a strong tail wind. I wanted to ride it hard, but my coach wants me to continue my “base” phase of training and limited me to an average power output of just 178 watts. I was a tad bit over.

Yaqui Pass Climb Statistics

6.8 mi/h 143 bpm 187 Watts 42:09 Climbing Time

The descent back to the van was in a cross wind, so I stopped for a couple of photos.

Looking south from Yaqui Pass

Looking north from Yaqui Pass

I had intended to ride up the Banner Grade beginning from the Banner Store. Joanne dropped me off and I started climbing. I was feeling good and climbing well. The wind would occasionally hit me head on, but nothing too strong to cause me problems.

Then my front tire went flat. A careful inspection found two thorns, one the cause of the flat. This should have been an easy fix, but my CO2 failed me and I did not bring a second cartridge. I flagged down a pickup truck and the drive was nice enough to deliver me to my door.

Shelter Valley

Shelter Valley is not named well.

Instead of the planned ride up to and back from Mount Laguna, we did something else. Perhaps it had to do with the cold temperatures. Perhaps it was the fog. Perhaps it was the high winds. No, it was all three. So instead to climbing into more fog, cold and wind, we drove down to Shelter Valley and did a short out and back in the sun. Yes, it was warm, but the wind was still something to contend with.

We parked our cars in front of the Shelter Valley Community Center and headed southeast on the Great Southern Overland Stage Road. The wind was blowing strong, but it was not ‘damn this is a strong wind’ strong. And after all, it was a tail wind. Joanne and I rode together, sometimes right next to each other and sometimes one would get up ahead. This would happen when I would stop for a photo.

Mount Laguna from the Great Southern Overland Stage Road

After descending Campbell Grade, the tailwind was really strong. I was in my biggest gear and it was not big enough. I knew I would pay for this on the return, but I was having great fun!

Joanne and I stopped at Vallecito Stage Station County Park for a bit of a rest. It seemed the longer we stayed, the stronger the winds became. We were 15 miles from Shelter Valley and we knew that we would have to fight the head wind on the way back so we decided that we should begin our return journey.

Mount Laguna from Vallecito Stage Station County Park

We turned back into the wind and maintained about 10 miles per hour into the wind. Along the way, we say a Coyote and the blooms on the cactus.

Actually, the return was not that difficult. We even had some tail wind. But the last mile was epic. Very strong, perhaps averaging 30 mph, side winds made our forward progress very difficult. We slowly inched our way forward fighting the side wind that was trying to knock us down. We were very pleased to see our van come into view!

Back at the van, the wind had escalated to ‘this is very strong wind, way too strong to ride in’! And and were in Shelter Valley. I guess it could have been better named.

Later, a clerk in one of the stores in Julian told us that the original name of Shelter Valley was Earthquake Valley. It seems it is easier to sell lots and homes in Shelter Valley.

It has been a bad week for me…

After my long ride on Saturday, April 6, I took Sunday off expect for some recovery work at the gym.

On Monday, as I was preparing to go to work, I had a migraine attack. I went back to bed and did nothing the rest of the day. On Tuesday, my headache continued and I also developed a sore throat. I spent the day in bed feeling worst as the day wore on. Wednesday was another bad day, that got worst when another migraine hit me. I did manage to make it into work on Thursday and Friday, but I was not feeling well enough to work out.

Now, as I write this, I am in Julian, CA begining a week long cycling vacation. My throat is better but still sore and my headaches are gone. I am looking forward to a good ride tomorrow – 62 miles with 6000 feet of gain, but the weather could be a factor. Winds with gusts up to 40 mph are forecast for tomorrow.

Three Capes Brevet Pre-Ride

I rode the Three Capes Brevet as a pre-ride and consented not to blog about it until my report was published on the Oregon Randonneur mailing list. Well, that happen today, so here is my report…

Saturday morning delivered the promised weather – rain. None the less, I left the Grand Lodge in Forest Grove just a few minutes after 6:00 am on the Three Capes Brevet Pre-Ride. Passing through the still sleeping town of Forest Grove, it seemed that each and every stop light was red for me causing me to have a slow start for this brevet, and they did serve as an indication of what was to come.

The back roads to the Wilson River Highway were quite in terms of traffic, but busy at the dairies that I passed. Farm workers do start early! The shrot section the Wilson River Highway to Timber Road was OK, but for me the rain moved from light to medium strength. The Timber Road climb is not difficult, until the last half mile, then it becomes worthy. Back on the Wilson River Highway, I slowly climbed up to about 1,600 at the summit. The warming of constuction on my tentative queue sheet was not to be found. Descending, the rain became very heavy and water soon covered the road. Cars were splashing me as they passed and I was a bit unnerved. However, as I gained the plains nearing Tillamook, the rain stopped and the roads were dry.

There is road construction on the long, straight stretch of road from the truck scales all of the way into Tillamook. Traffic barrels are placed between the traffic lane and the shoulder separating you from traffic. However, there were several construction ‘Caution’ signs that I had to maneuver around. This could be an issue if you are in a fast group.

In Tillamook, I stopped at the Safeway and a helpful worker directed me to a cycling shop so I could pick up an item I had forgotten. This is Trash Mountain Cycle and is two blocks north of the Safeway on First St. It was there that I learned the the Three Capes Loop road was closed due to hillside slippage.

It was true, just after crossing the Wilson River Bridge, there two dogs came out after me, the signs began. I soldiered forward knowing that I had ridden many closed roads before. After turning up the hill toward Cape Mears I came upon the barriers blocking the road. Beyond them, I could see where the road had slipped down toward the ocean. This section was now about 50 feet of gravel with cracks that indicated the earth movement.. It looked to be momentary stable, so I walked my bike around the barriers and across the gravel. Back on the bike, I soon came to a second but shorter section of gravel. I passed and continued up the hill and found more barriers just short of the Cape Mears Lighthouse road.

The descent to Netarts with the rather larger rollers were fun, especially because the roads were dry and there was no rain falling. I did not stop in Netarts but set my sights on Pacific City.

However, between Pacific City and myself was the Cape Lookout climb. This climb is steep but there is a wide bike lane available. I did take advantage of it whenever what little traffic I came came pass. As to the descent, the queue sheet warns “caution on descent, very rough with erosion”. Please heed this warning as it is valid. In several areas, the road is slip, sliding away.

After fighting the Oregon Coast south wind, I stopped at Stimulus Coffee in Pacific City enjoyed an latte and one half of a turkey club sandwich. The other half was wrapped in plastic by the helpful folks so I could enjoy later.

After a short ride through the rest of Pacific City, and for a short distance along US 101, where the rain started again, I turned inland and began the Little Nestucca climb, which is not as steep as Cape Lookout, but is much longer. Passing Sourgrass summit. As I descended I saw the sign “Grooved Pavement Ahead” and sure enough I encountered short sections of somewhat older, but still annoying grooved payment.

I rode down into Grand Ronde, but I did not stop. Looking at the two opportunities for services, I would recommend the Casino Gas Station Market as it looks much more well stocked.

SR 18 is very busy highway, with an adequate shoulder, but after the Casino Market, you come to a very narrow bridge with no shoulder. Checking traffic behind me, I decided to wait until the road was clear rather than contest the bridge with much larger, and faster traffic. After the bridge, I stayed on SR 18 all of the way to the freeway-like exit bypassing the grassy route to the Yamhill River Road. It was much too muddy for me.

SR 18 coming into Willamina looked to be freshly repaved, but be aware of several dangerous, recess water runoff drains. They looked to be very dangerous!

After passing through Willamina and Sheridan the back roads to Amity were nice. As I approached the Dayton control, darkness fell for me, but the rain that started on US 101 continued (as it would all of the way back to Forest Grove).

In Amity, I stopped at the Amity Chevron and ate my saved sandwich from Pacific City and made my favorite ‘this bottle will get me home’ concoction – One scoop of Hammer Perpeteum and one scoop of Hammer HEED, mixed with Red Bull. Wait, don’t have that reaction – it is really quite good! This helped concoction me to be awake as SR 99 and SR 233 can be rough at times with some potholes.

I did stop at the market and Dayton and found it to be friendly and well stocked.

Following the back roads to Forest Grove in the rain was without issues, and even a bit of fun. Once back at the Grand Lodge, I arrived early enough for a late night dinner of fish and chips.