Tuesday, October 14, 2008

He Keeps Going, and Going, and Going...

5,575.57 miles to date. 4,503 are on the Sutra, which I bought on Feb 1. At my current rate of 19.4 miles per day, I should break 7,000 miles before the end of the year.

I have a grand total of 542 hours and 15 minutes in the saddle. That's more than 22.5 DAYS of riding, or to put it in terms of the work week, equivalent to performing a full-time job for a bit more than 3 months. That's a LOT of time.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

5,000 and Going Strong

So, I broke 5,000 miles on the Alder Flat trip, and I'm now only 24 miles away from my entire mileage of last year. Wahoo! Or Sutra! Or both! (ok, bad pun)

502 hours in the saddle, and 5,146.08 miles. 24.32 more to go. At the current rate, my spreadsheet guesses me at 7,035 miles for the year - but we have 2 of the crappiest weather months ahead: November and December, which normally totally kill my mileage. In fact, last year I only rode 1,065 miles for the entire final 3 months of the year. I'll need to do almost twice that THIS year.

I think I can do it. I have at least 3 more camping trips this year, plus the Harvest Century. That's at least 350 miles right there, plus the normal riding around. It could be as high as 500 miles depending on where I ride.

I'm looking forward to blowing out the end of the year, if I can just stay dry enough. The Ortliebs will ensure my gear stays dry, but I'm another matter entirely.

At least I'm not sick anymore.

Alder Flat - A Camping Slice of Paradise

This past weekend, 4 brave souls made the trek from Portland out up the Clackamas River to the gem known as Alder Flat. Alder Flat is the only USFS campground up the Clackamas with NO FEE. That’s right, NO FEE. Despite this, it’s rarely if ever full. Why? Because Alder Flat is a mile hike in from its parking lot, and the car-bound don’t want to schlep their gear by hand one mile down a dirt trail.

Psst… guess what? It’s a good enough trail to ride a fully-loaded touring bike up and down, and while the Forest Service doesn’t encourage bike use on the trail, they don’t PROHIBIT it either. If you know me, you know that that's all the encouragement I need - I totally respect the restrictions placed by property owners and government agencies, but if you don't tell me I need to stay out, I've just GOT to see what's there. And in this case, what's there to see is pretty awesome!

Alder Flat is 44.5 miles from the end of the MAX at Cleveland Avenue in Gresham, or 63 miles from downtown Portland if you want to do it the hard way. Don’t ask me why, but Steph, Ed, Tomas and I all decided to do it the HARD way, even though none of us got more than 4 hours of sleep and ALL of us had been drinking cocktails the night before.

The route climbs from basically sea level (Portland ranges from 0' to 1,100' in elevation) to about 1,500', and the trail to the campsite drops from there to about 1,300' elevation. You can see on the GPS elevation chart I've posted that there are two large hills - one between miles 8 and 10 and another one near mile 42. Both are about 300' tall, and both fairly steep. No matter which way you're headed, you have to go down one and up the other. Makes for an interesting trip.

We dragged our asses, but we made it, and made it fairly easily down the trail, which leads about 200’ down to the river through old-growth Douglas-Fir trees. We were welcomed by a completely empty campground, right on the river, with a tiny little sandy beach, a nice slow-moving area to swim in, fire pits, and picnic tables (granted, some of them are a little… worn).

A few of us promptly skinny-dipped in the water and dried off in front of the fire, and everyone else skinny-dipped the next morning. No road, no cars, no noise, no people. AWESOME.

I’m going to be leading another trek up to Alder Flat at the beginning of November, before the snow moves in, but the weather isn’t likely to be as nice as it was last weekend. Still, that late in the season, it’s guaranteed that we’ll be the only ones there. Keep an eye on http://www.cyclewild.org/ for details.

In the meantime, here are a few pictures of the event:

We rode 63 miles each way – it took about 6 hours heading out (slightly hung-over) and 5 hours heading back (mostly downhill). That’s actual riding time, plus another 2-3 hours of stops (we had lunch at the bakery in Estacada on the way out, and at the brew-pub on the way back). The day ended for half of us with a trip to the Kennedy School soaking pool. Yay McMennamins!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Flu, Camping, and the Elusive 5,000

I got sick this week - REALLY sick. Flu, chills, sweats, fever, sore throat, sore joints, tired, lethargic, headache - almost every single symptom of the flu, and it only took about 12 hours to get them all. It started on Sunday, and I was out flat in bed almost all day Monday and Tuesday.

I'm doing a lot better now, but it really put me behind in the work I'm doing for umbrella, and really screwed up my mileage this week. I'm currently at 4,974.27 miles for the year -just shy of the elusive 5,000. The exciting thing is that it's only September, and I only rode 5,170 miles TOTAL last year. So in 200 miles, I pass ALL of last year! My spreadsheet keeps guessing I'll ride about 7,000 this year - my goal is 8,000. Rainy season is coming up, so we'll see what happens.

This weekend is the first official camping event for Cycle Wild - a ride out to Alder Flat in the Mount Hood National Forest. Alder Flat is a campground along a bend in the Clackamas River above the last of the dams - the river runs wild there, and there are some nice rapids, and about 6 campsites with firepits and picnic tables. I'm looking forward to it.

That's about it for now - 4,974 miles, average speed 9.9, total of 486 hours in the saddle (20 DAYS!). I'm over 1,000 miles on the Gary Fisher, almost 4,000 on the Kona, (since February 1st) and only 17 miles on the 20" Huffy. Hmm... need to Zoobomb more. Now that it's getting colder and I can wear more padding, I think that's a given.

-rubber down!

Friday, September 05, 2008

It's Official!

Cycle Wild is a reality, even if at the moment it's just me and a handful of friends.

Cycle Wild is my attempt to blend my 2 greatest interests: Biking and the wilderness.  Put simply, Cycle Wild's mission is "To reconnect people with nature via the bicycle".  The main focus of this group is bicycle camping.  Starting from home, riding out to a location to camp, camping, then riding home.  Totally self-supported, no private motor vehicles involved.  Taking transit or Amtrak to extend the camping range is ok, but no personal automobiles.

It works great in Portland since we have so much great camping within one day's ride (40-70 miles).  Within 100 miles of Portland, we have a half-dozen or more state park campgrounds, a state forest, a national forest, 3-4 dozen federal campgrounds, an 11,000' volcano, 2 major mountain ranges, 2 major and countless minor rivers, 2 major river gorges, and the Pacific Ocean.  Yet we have people who never camp, and rarely leave the city.  Those who do usually do so in cars - which was fine when gas was $1 a gallon, but more problematic when gas is $4 a gallon.  A bike can be outfitted to camp for less than $100 (2-3 tanks of gas!) and allows a 40 mile trip to a state campground or the national forest for camping at $4 a night (or in the case of the national forest, for FREE).  All it takes is some muscle power.

What it also takes is knowledge.  Where are the parks?  What are the best (low traffic) routes to get there?  What do I need to know when I'm out there?  Cycle Wild aims to teach people the answers to those questions, and to lead bike camping outings (usually weekenders) to help people develop the skills they need to enjoy camping by bike.  In effect, we want to create a nation of bike tourers - one metropolitan region at a time.

I hope that the Cycle Wild concept can be extended to other cities - Eugene, Seattle, Vancouver, San Francisco - and eventually across the US.

You can see the site HERE.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Way over 4,000 miles

On a happy note - I'm at 4,380 miles and climbing, and I'm doing the Portland Century on Sunday - Yay! I should be over 4,500 miles in no time!

I've averaged 19 miles per day for the year. At my current rate, 7,000 miles for the year is no problem, and my goal of 8,000 is in reach.

Carfight! Mano e Auto

So, I finally got involved in my first bike/car collision - an event I was hoping never to have, and one which, fortuately, ended up a lot less damaging to me than it should have been.

The frustrating thing is that generally, I follow the rules. I usually stop for stop signs. I signal my turns. I generally don't ride like a nut, and I usually wear a helmet. Now, that last item isn't against the law, but I personally believe that helmets are a good idea, even if I am adamantly against the government making it mandatory.

I was on my way to the bank to deposit a check. I bank with WAMU, and there is a branch at SE 39th and Hawthorne that I usually go to. Rather than taking my usual route, and popping out onto 39th at Main and riding south to the bank, I decided to ride along the west side of the Fred Meyer on 38th and turn left onto Hawthorne. It being about 10 minutes to 6pm, there was a lot of traffic. I was sitting patiently at the stop sign at 38th, waiting for my chance to turn left. I'd signalled my turn to the car(s) behind me, and traffic was clear to my left but not my right. I saw the end of the cars coming to the right, and then there was traffic on my left. No problem, I can wait.

The traffic on the right-hand side then stopped, someone was going to let me cross the road. On my left, two vehicles were in the near (outside) lane (lane two in traffic-speak), both were turning right. I didn't see anyone in the far (inside) lane. I looked right, and traffic was still stopped, and the guy in back of me honked at me. I started out into the intersection to turn left, and looked right to make sure traffic was still stopped, returned eyes to forward and heard at least one yell at the same instant and then my front wheel was impacting a car and the bike turned and I went down. Never saw it. Apparently she never saw me either.

The car was a gray Mercedes, and the driver was an older woman who looked to be in her mid to late 50s. After a couple bystanders helped me get over to the curb (I was slightly shaken), I heard one of the bystanders telling her that she couldn't go, that she'd just struck someone. She seemed pretty calm and we really didn't exchange a lot of words after the incident. A few of the bystanders stood around for a couple of minutes to make sure I was alright, and several gave me their name and contact information.

The front wheel of the bike was partially taco'd, and unrideable. The impact had torn the cover of my Ortlieb handlebar bag partially away, and dumped the contents all over the street. The GPS flew out of its cradle and had hit the street, as well as my Kryptonite lock. As near as I can figure, she must have been going at least 20-25 when we collided. I was going maybe 5mph. My right thumb hurt, and I had sore spots on my left arm and left hip where I contacted the pavement, but no broken bones and no road rash. My head never got near the pavement, which was good because I was not wearing a helmet. Why wear a helmet when you're riding less than 10mph on local streets? Well, apparently this would be the why.

One of the bystanders had called 911 and I spoke with the dispatcher and let her know that I didn't need an ambulance, but yes, I still wanted an officer to come out. She (the officer) showed up about 20 minutes later, which I thought was pretty good for an incident with no ambulance call.

The motorist's Mercedes had lost its cowling to the passenger side mirror due to the crash. The motorist wasn't aware of that, and she'd thought I was in the crosswalk at the time of the collision. I did the right thing, and not only informed her that I was not in the crosswalk, and also informed the officer of the same. Legally, I was required to yield to the automobile, since she was on the through street, I was on the side street with a stop sign, and acting as a vehicle and not a pedestrian. I have no idea where the motorist came from - if she was traveling straight down Hawthorne, or is she came out of the side street or the bank parking lot on the other side, or wherever. When I looked left, the road was clear in that lane - I started to cross and looked right to be sure that traffic was still stopped, and then BAM!

My feelings after the incident are a bit conflicted. Certainly I was trying to make a left turn at a BAD intersection. The incident definitely reinforces my opinion that speed limits on roads are too high, and that helmets are a good idea. While I didn't hit my head, if I had, I'd have a serious head injury right now. Had my bike been 2 feet further into the intersection at the time of impact, I'd have bounced off the hood or spun off the front corner of the car - both situations would have been MUCH more serious than what actually happened. I made every effort to be aware of the traffic situation, and I started from a dead stop. I'm not sure what more I could do in the situation other than choosing a different intersection to enter Hawthorne. I can't look left AND right simultaneously,

So, I'm left with an unrideable bike, and I'll be heading to Sellwood Cycle in the morning to replace the wheel. My hand doesn't appear to be serious, and hopefully I won't be getting a call from the motorist or her insurance company. She's probably got a few hundred dollars of damage to her car, and I've got at least $150 damage to the bike, maybe more. Hopefully this is a case of live and let live.

In any case, even though I'm not sure what more I could do, I'm going to try to be more alert when pulling out into traffic - and I'll probably always be wearing my helmet again.


Postscript: So, it was $360 damage to the bike, and I was only able to get it fixed due to the generosity of an anonymous group of my friends. The driver put in a claim on her insurance, and State Farm is looking to have me pay for it. Uh... no.

The motorist did not exercise due care when approaching that intersection, and bears some legal responsibility and liability in the incident. Not to mention that since she pays insurance premiums, State Farm has already been paid. Not sure where this is going to go, but I'll be seeking legal assistance if necessary. I'll keep ya'll posted...


Post-postscript: My insurance (State Farm - renter's) paid for the damage done to her vehicle ($2,100 - WTF?!?) and I didn't have to pay anything out of pocket. My premium went up $10 per month. Amazing.

Monday, July 14, 2008

New Posts on the Way!

Ok, so it's time to update the blog and start posting on a regular basis again. No excuse since I'm not at the moment employed.

First of all, I've been rockin' it with the mileage. We are 196 days into 2008, and I've averaged almost 20 miles per day - 3,825.77 miles so far, including the 200+ miles of the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic. At an overall average speed of 9.8 mph, that's 378 hours of saddle time!

This year, there were 9,500 riders in StP, and I have to say that despite the increased numbers (last year was 8,000) this event was much better than the previous 2 years. I've got photos going up on my Flickr account (check the sidebar for the link) in another day or two.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Roads Go Ever, Ever On

Still racking up the mileage! I've broken 1,000 miles on the new Sutra, and I'm coming up on 2,000 miles for the year - I'm currently at 1,912.72 miles. Yowza!

Gary Fisher Wahoo (mountain bike): 837.79 miles.
Kona Sutra (touring / road bike): 1,058.86 miles.
Huffy Sea Star (20" kids' bike - for Zoobombing): 16.07 miles.

The Basics:
Total Mileage: 1,912.72 miles in 121 days. An average of 15.81 miles per day.
Scheduled Mileage: 1,630 miles. I am 282 miles ahead of schedule.
This Time Last Year: 1,028.24 miles. I am 884 miles ahead of last year. (nearly double)

Total Time on Bike: 193 hours, 25 minutes.
Average Speed Overall: 9.7mph.
Average Ride Length: 1 hour, 22 minutes.

I'm averaging very close to 500 miles per month, and that should accelerate as the weather gets better. Life rocks!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Silence is Deafening

Yeah, it's been a while since I last posted. I guess it's time for a little update...

Stats for 2008, as of 04/15
Total Mileage: 1,656.49 miles (an average of 15.48 miles per day)
Average Speed: 9.7 mph
Total Time: 167 hours, 50 minutes in the saddle

Mileage by bike
2004 Gary Fisher Wahoo: 800.79 miles
2008 Kona Sutra: 839.63 miles

The mileage on the Sea Star is unchanged - no zoobombing in a while

So, in the last 2 months, I've nearly tripled my mileage - not too shabby. If I keep my current pace, I'll still outdo last year by 300 miles, but I have ambitious plans this riding season once we get out from under the rain. This past weekend, I led 16 other cyclists on a trip to Champoeg State Park for Exchange Cycle Tours. It worked quite well, and as you can see from the pictures, my bike was pretty loaded. See the second pic for a great example of exactly how much you can fit onto a fully loaded touring bike! The Sutra with racks, GPS and mount, and lights weighs 36 pounds. I was carrying about 77 pounds of gear, food, water and bags, for a total load of 113 pounds. Despite the load, I still managed to average 10 mph from Portland to Champoeg, even with a 400' climb through Oregon City sandwiched in the middle of the ride.

The camping trip was great - we had a few mechanicals, but with a few exceptions, everyone had a good time and the trip was completed safely.

That's not to say that it didn't have flaws - besides the mechanicals, we had difficulty communicating along the rider line, the pacing was sometimes too fast for some of the beginners (and no one told me), and I broke two welds on my rear rack before we'd gone 4 miles. (No, it wasn't overloaded - it was within the listed specs for the rack!) So, I guess it's time for an Old Man Mountain rear rack.

The good thing is that my setup has proven itself, and I'm totally ready to do the touring trip through the northern California coast in late May. (Yeehaw!)


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Bike, a Beer, and a Benefit

So, first off, mileage: 790 miles for the year. My bike has a stuck link, so I'm going to either get Sellwood Cycle to take care of it for me, or I'll get a new chain. The new bike already has 254 miles on it, and I haven't had it quite 3 weeks yet. Yowza!

Tonight was the Shift meetup, which means a bar, and at least one beer. In my case, two. Better yet, there was a lunar eclipse tonight, so we all sat out in the backyard of the bar watching the freaky moon and talking about the upcoming Raunchy Ride, where we're going to tour 4 strip clubs in the Portland area. Before everyone gets up in arms, let me say that this isn't MY ride, it's my friend Heather who is leading the ride, and there's likely to be as many women on the ride as men.

Oh, and a benefit. My friend and co-ECT conspirator Aaron and I are talking to Bishop Creek Cellars about organizing and making the 2008 Pinot Pedal ride happen. It's probably going to be a bit of work, but I think we can do it in the allotted timeframe. Man, what a busy week this is turning into. The Pinot Pedal is a fundraising benefit to help move the old Sauvie Island bridge to NW Portland and install it as a bike/ped-only bridge over I-405 at NW Flanders. They've already raised the majority of the $5 million needed for the project, but there's still work to be done. I, for one am glad to help out.

So, in addition to the 790 miles I've ridden so far in the first 51 days of this year, I've spent 81 hours and 44 minutes in the saddle. Nearly 520 miles have been on the Wahoo, and almost 255 miles on the Sutra. Yippee!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

New Bike!

Yes, I got a new touring bike - a 2008 Kona Sutra (yes, I'm sure the name was intentional). She's a beautiful bike, and I'm already calling her my trophy girlfriend. (she's younger, prettier, and costs a lot more)

I bought her at Sellwood Cycle Repair at a very reasonable price, and she fits like a glove. Very responsive, well-balanced even under load, and I love the disc brakes. My one complaint is that I can't seem to find anywhere to mount a kickstand. I'll figure something out eventually, I'm sure.

I've already ridden 130 miles on her, including a 48-mile jaunt out to Troutdale and back, and I'll be putting on another 40+ miles this Sunday. I'm just loving it! Anyway, I haven't updated my stats recently, so here they are:

Stats for 2008, as of 02/13
Total Mileage: 632.9 (average of 14.06 miles per day)
Average Speed: 9.6mph
Total Time: 66 hours, 21 minutes in the saddle

Mileage by bike
2004 Gary Fisher Wahoo: 486.23 miles (mountain bike) (pic from Flickr)
2008 Kona Sutra: 130.6 miles (touring bike) (pic from Flickr)
200? Huffy Sea Star: 16.07 miles (20" girl's child's bike - for zoobombing)

I got an impressive bruise from wiping out on Zoobomb about a month ago (which is what happens when you drink and bike, um... or if you bomb the hill at excessive speed on a kids bike with a wheel size half your age) - I think I'm about ready to head back from another go. No, that last picture isn't me, it's Reverend Phil.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Raining Like the Dickens

So, Tomas asked me to ride with him tonight, while he adjusted things on his new Surly Long Haul Trucker. Ok, I can do that - I need mileage, I've got rain gear, piece of cake, right?

Wow, is it wet... and cold.

It wasn't too bad heading up Interstate, or getting onto Marine Drive, or the path that goes near the airport perimeter fence. Once we were up on the levee along the Columbia, however... Brrrrrrrrr!

Water in the face, breathing mist, 20mph wind straight in our teeth slowing us down, and cold. Boy was I glad I bundled up.

It was a good ride - 25.03 miles, in 39 degree weather with a ESE wind at 20mph. Brisk, baby - that's what it was. With wind chill, it would have been 29 degrees, but that neglects the effect of parts of me being wet - which feels much colder.

What great mileage, though! 9 days into the new year, and I'm already at 167.4 miles. 18 hours and 15 minutes in the saddle.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Year's Off to a Great Start!

Well, 5 days in, and I already nearly have 100 miles on the bike. More than half of those miles are on my new hand-built 36-spoke wheel from Sellwood Cycle Repair. Hopefully, that means no more busted spokes (YAY!)

Total mileage for 2007 was 5,170.4 - a lot more than the 3,022 miles I pedalled in 2006. I'm shooting for an even more aggressive number this year - 8,000 miles. I think I have a good shot at pulling it off, especially since I've gone car-free.

In this last year, I got divorced, moved back into Portland and started living on my own, gave the car to my ex, started riding the bike for everything, bought new rain gear, bought a new wheel, new light, and a new tent, and became a member/owner at People's Coop in SE Portland (less than 1 mile from my apartment).

I haven't gone vegetarian yet, but I've gone mostly organic. Over this next year, I'm planning to move to more local food and sustainable practices, reduce my energy use, and stop eating most processed foods and go back to "real" food. Eventually I may go vegetarian, but at the least I'm going to greatly reduce my consumption of meat and animal products. There are a number of reasons for this, and maybe I'll go into it on my soapbox blog.

Anyway, lots of changes have happened, and many more are in store. Here's my details for today:

Today's Ride(s):
Distance: 29.49 miles
Time: 3 hours, 44 minutes (7.9 mph)

2008 Stats:
Distance: 97.65 miles
Total Time in Saddle: 11 hours, 14 minutes
Average Speed: 8.9 mph
Average Mileage: 19.53 miles / day