Sunday, July 13, 2014


We too often in life and on the ride make a mistake.  On the bike, just a moment of inattention can have painful consequences involving leaving skin on the tarmac, and the same is true of life.  Under such circumstances, we have little choice but to dust ourselves off, get back on the bike, and do what we can to enhance the body's natural recovery.  We know there may be sleepless nights of wounds sticking to sheets and getting up in the morning feeling stiff and sore, but we also know that if we let the natural processes work, we will slowly heal ourselves.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Morris/Hemlock Valley Road

I was up in BC and of course had to do some exploring of the two wheeled pedal variety, and I chanced on this gem of a climb up the Morris and Hemlock Valleys.  This area seems about 90 km from Vancouver, and starts in the Fraser River Valley.

I started my ride just after the Morris Valley road turns off to the north from Highway 7 along the shores of Lake Harrison, which seems to provide hydro power to Vancouver.  The road continues along the lakefront almost indefinitely, if one looks at the map, and it all looks rather remote.

Several KMs into the ride, there is a turnoff to the left to take the Hemlock Valley road up to a ski area.  This is always promising in terms of elevation gain, and the road points immediately skyward from the get go.  It doesn't; however, stay pointed in any one direction for long, and as it twists and switchbacks its way up the drainage, the gradients change sharply and suddenly.

Looking back down toward the Fraser Valley.

As I made more progress, attacking the steeps and recovering somewhat on the shallower sections, the road becomes more gravel and less pavement.

A typical switchback on the route illustrates how the grade is steepest toward the center of the corner.

The climbing did not last.  About 3k up the road, the pavement gave way to gravel of a particularly ball bearing like sort.  I rode some way up it, but turned around to see how it was descending it.  This was scary - too scary for me, and I continued my way back down on the reappearing pavement.

Monday, June 9, 2014

North Cascades Highway, part Deux

I made circles to the top of Washington Pass finally, after riding most of it car free a couple of weeks prior.

Looking down the other side of the pass.  This made me want to continue to Mazama.

Banana break time.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

North Cascades Highway

Being the northernmost pass over the mighty Cascade range and peaking in excess of 5000 feet, the North Cascades Highway closes every Fall and reopens each Spring due to snowfall and avalanche chutes running where the road is cut. When the DOT starts plowing the road in Spring, they keep the gates closed at both sides of the pass and plow up the road, leaving it clear of motorists up to where the crews have cleared.

The parking lot for the Ross Lake Trail, beyond which the gate closes the road to motorists.

At a certain point in the Spring, the legs have enough miles in them and the snow is cleared enough to begin contemplating longer alpine rides.  I've been doing some of the shorter steeper climbs around Seattle where I live, but climbing for more than 20 miles straight is another thing entirely.  The legs started to complain, but the only solution is to keep going and hope that the next time, they will be more accustomed to uphill efforts of this length.

Starting to get up to the snow line.

This is a beautiful and mostly steady climb.  On this spring day, the sun shone, yet it also never really stopped raining.  As I made my way up the grade, it was clear to see where the avalanche zones are located by the rock shaped pock marks in the road.

As I got higher, so did the snow and the views.

I've ridden this pass before, but with vehicular traffic, and it was quite amazing to ride without fears of getting buzzed by cars and RV's.

The end of the road.
I enjoyed riding this route sans autos so much that I checked in on Monday to see if there would be another spring weekend to ride it.  Sadly, the report was that the road would be open to all vehicular traffic again starting Thursday, May 8, but it was lucky for me that I got at least one car free ride up the North Cascades Pass in this year.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


In 2013, I rode 2,936 miles over 189 hours.  My goal for the new year is simply to follow the advice of the prophet Eddy and ride lots.  I opened my account yesterday with a short ride after coming back from visiting family and friends for the holidays.  I know that folks often advocate setting goals that are objectively measurable and achievable, for instance that this year I will ride 3,500 miles.  But I'd rather just ride lots and not worry about the details.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Few mm

I rediscovered over the course of my weekend rides why I am so uptight about my bike fit. I didn’t change anything on the bike, but the cold weather has forced me to put on my long cycling tights, which results in an extra layer of chamois between my scranus and the saddle. By the end of the weekend’s rides, my left hamstring began calling out to me as a dissatisfied reminder that I need to lower my saddle to compensate for the extra material. This feels in a way like a capitulation to the forces of winter that I’ve been reluctant to make thus far. But it is time.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Blue Sunday

Seattle is currently in the grip of a strange malady that affects a predominantly male audience, and this affliction of sorts seems to further confirm another one of my pet theories.  The sickness is called Seahawks fever, and is a result of the long suffering American Football fans in the Pacific Northwest finally having something to cheer about in the form of the league's best record and Superbowl expectations.  It is to the point that a coworker chastised me for not wearing Seahawks blue at work on Friday.

I'm not really a fan of this pointy ball football as practiced here for several reasons.  As is typical of American sports and attention spans, I don't find much flow in it.  There is a short play, which takes about 5 seconds, and then everyone regroups and mulls around for the next 40 seconds or so.  Also, it seems almost entirely an expression of militarism.  Witness the line of scrimmage, which must be moved forward by penetration.  There is also the long bomb, the sack, etc.

Perhaps this is the reason that pointy ball football fans are mostly male.  The theory that all this Seahawks madness seems to increasingly confirm is that the best time to go for a bike ride is during a football game.  For years now, I've been going for rides on Superbowl Sunday, and have always found that it's one of the quietest and most peaceful times on the road.  There is always less traffic on the road during the big game, and what traffic there is less likely to buzz me or behave generally obnoxiously.

Now that Seattlites have a football team they actually care about and are jumping on the bandwagon for, every Sunday becomes like Superbowl Sunday.  Today's ride was very peaceful and quiet, with nary a road user conflict.  Needless to say, I will be scheduling more rides during Seahawk gametimes on Sundays, and if my pet theory is correct, the further the home team advances in the playoffs, the more gloriously peaceful my Sunday rides will get.