Monday, February 23, 2015

North Cascades Highway 2015

I took my first trip of the year into the higher mountains to see what the status of the North Cascades Highway was.  The road is closed to motorized traffic at milepost 134 every winter, and reopens once it's been plowed all the way through and over Rainy and Washington Passes. This happens at different times each year depending on snowfall and avalanches, and there really is no way to know how far you can go without just getting out there and going.  Part of the appeal is riding this beautiful stretch of road without the cars, RV's and motorcycles which are endemic to it once open.

This year's winter has been both warmer and dryer than usual, and hence, I was exploring the route much earlier than I have in the past.


Looking down to Ross Lake on a beautiful, sunny February day.

There was a rock slide covering about half of the road about half of the way up the 12 miles it was navigable by road bike, and a couple of icy patches where water runoff crossed the road in the shade, but it was a wonderful day for a ride.


Climbing ever closer to the snow line.

Eventually, all good things must end, and after an initial crossing of snow across the road, the second snow field was much longer (and would only continue getting more so the further I climbed) so this was the point I turned around.


The proverbial end of the road.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

People

A good article here on how we are people cycling/walking/driving etc, and how framing it in this way can reduce the the tribalism of identifying as cyclists/pedestrians/drivers.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Church

You say the hill's too steep to climb,
Chiding!
You say you'd like to see me try,
Climbing!
You pick the place and I'll choose the time
And I'll climb
The hill in my own way
just wait a while, for the right day
And as I rise above the treeline and the clouds

I look down hear the sound of the things you said today

Pink Floyd - Fearless




One of my favorite things about climbing is that on the ascent we can sometimes ride out of the clouds.  On this day, on the Golden Gardens hill climb, which starts at roughly sea level and rises to only about 350 feet above; it was the right 350' to be treated to the above view.  I often describe such moments of beauty as church, for it's clear at such times that the earth is a sacred, living becoming.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Riding Tampa

This year, I scheduled a trip down to Tampa, Florida for Christmas with my family.  Upon seeing that the weather forecast for the week or so that I'd be there was for high temperatures in the 70's-80's, I was unable to resist the temptation to rent a bike and get some miles in.  A google search found City Bike in downtown Tampa, who kindly obliged me with a 58cm Jamis Ventura, which was adequate for the task and cost about $160 for the 10 days I'd be there.  They set it up with my pedals, and once I got to my sister's where I was staying, I went to setting the seat and handlebars to their correct positions.  I would rent from them again the next time I'm in the area for an extended period.

My sis's house is actually just north of Tampa, near the Hillsborough/Pasco county line, and as this was my home base, all of my rides in the area were in the north end of Tampa.

Florida is flat.  The first real ride I did that wasn't just exploring the neighborhood was up to San Antonio, which folks assured me was the hilliest terrain around.

This is about as hilly as it gets.
It was a fairly nice ride, and once I was able to escape the 6 lane divided highway arterials that are ubiquitous throughout the area and get onto some nice rural 2 lane road, the scenery was nice and pastoral.

Wide open spaces just south of San Antonio, Florida.
There is even a seminary along the way called St Leo's.  It is telling that the elevation gain on this hilliest of area rides is about as much as the flattest routes around the Seattle area.

The longest ride that I did was along the northern section of the Suncoast Bike trail.  I drove up to the northern end of the trail and started there, as there were storms coming in from the south that day and winds were out of the south at about 15-20 knots.  I much prefer having a tailwind on the way home during a long ride, and given the distance, and strength of the wind, this turned out to be a good decision.



The trail was very sparsely used, I encountered about 5 cyclists over the entire 50 mile route

I also discovered the aptly named Flatwoods Park, which is situated between Bruce B Downs and Morris Bridge roads to the northeast of Tampa proper.  I did a couple of rides here, the first day doing the south end of the loop and using it as a connection to continue south on Morris Bridge road.  On the second day, I took off on a dirt spur that seemed to be on top of a flood control dike.

The surface was hard packed sand.

Miles of gravel grinding goodness amidst solitude.



Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lighthearted California PSA

After passing a law requiring drivers to provide 3 feet of space when passing a vulnerable road user, California released this lighthearted Public Service Announcement that's well worth the 30 seconds of your attention.



Design Matters

The Economist posted an article today contrasting how different approaches to road design result in drastically divergent outcomes for vulnerable road users.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Riders on the Storm

There was a storm that went through the area on Saturday that prompted the first tornado warning in western Washington since something like 1996.  I rode right through it, as it was between me and home.  On my way south down to Seward Park, I picked up a few sprinkles early on as I skirted the line of clouds slowly moving in from the north.  But after turning around to head back to Ballard, it was clear that dark and ominous cloud line would not be moving out of my way.

When the rain started, it was a heavy rain, much more like a Florida thunderstorm than what we typically get out here.  Then it got heavier.  And turned to hail.  And then it got even heavier.  It was coming down so fast there was an inch of water on the road, not just in the gutters, but across the whole road.  I just put on my rain jacket and kept going.  And within about 10 minutes, I had passed through it and there was bright sunshine.

The transitional seasons of Spring and Fall always make me feel alive.  Sure, summer's great, with day upon day of great riding weather beckoning me to go for a ride.  But the sudden and dramatic changes that happen here on a minute to minute basis in the Fall just fill me with a feeling of being alive.