Doing it all the hard way...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Product Review CARMEX Lip Balm

In my inflated view of myself, I consider myself a lip balm connoisseur. I believe a small company called Raining Rose makes the best stuff. I also have an opposite view from that of Hottie who thinks Chapstick is the one.

CARMEX scores big in four areas.
1) It isn’t season sensitive. This isn’t a lip balm that is great for snowboarding, but turns liquid in summertime. It also doesn’t become a solid brick in cold weather.
2) It goes on smooth all the time
3) It has a new feature that the dial clicks when you turn it so you don’t go to use it and find you have a half inch of grease sticking out of the tube. When you pop the cap, the level of the balm is exactly where you wanted it to be.
4) SPF of 30 is even better than the universal 15

In my highly competitive world of lip balms, CARMEX gets a podium position !!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Puget Sound Super Loop Ride Report

Do this ride if you are trying to get in shape, or if you are mad at yourself...

Maps are a curious thing. They can tell you where the roads are, but they often don’t tell you much about them. This was a constant theme for my solo epic around the sound ride.

I had ridden from our home in Richmond beach to my in-laws place in Tacoma in the past and had looked across the Tacoma Narrows and viewed the bridge building over the last few years. I had not yet driven across the new bridge, let alone ridden across it. It is a good fifty miles to their place via Vashon Island. It is nearly sixty on roads suitable for riding. It would be just over sixty across the bridge and then a meandering route through Gig Harbor, Port Orchard, Bremerton, Poulsbo, to Kingston and across by ferry to Edmonds and then home again. A self powered loop of Puget Sound was intriguing, so why not? According to my Microsoft Streets and Trips 2004 it would be about 125 miles in total. A sanity check on Google Earth seemed to reveal nothing insurmountable.

I made a cue sheet and printed it in bold and 14 point type so I could read it. I also printed some maps of key areas just in case. These were worth their weight in gold I would later find out.

I set off on this ride a week ago, only to have a mechanical turn me around barely fifteen miles into it. Now, with a more casual attitude and all the time in the world, I set off.

The first miles were familiar and as I went down Fremont I could see the space needle framed in the trees. My camera, however, could not. Then I rode past Greenlake where the morning sunshine was drawing the usual crowd.

Continuing down Ravenna to the University District and through the Arboretum I stopped at an overlook of Lake Washington. When I rode the STP in 2006, we went through this section in the morning twilight and could not enjoy the view.

Along the lake is familiar territory and I was soft pedaling. This was in contrast to my ride Saturday where I hammered all the way. I was still feeling those hard miles in my legs and with my intended mileage, I thought it the better part of valor to just keep a decent tempo. I stopped at Seward Park to refill my bottles and snap a picture.

In Renton I picked up the STP route and followed the markers all the way to Auburn. Renton was as commercial as always and without a few thousand of my cycling friends to keep the cars at bay, I felt like I was riding on a freeway.

South of Highway 18 I turned west and made it to Fife and thought of stopping for the night and making this a two day adventure, but upon reflection, thought the better of it and continued on. My bananas and TERD bars were gone and my bottles empty so I planned a stop in Tacoma.

The bridge into Tacoma afforded a nice view and despite my claimed photography expertise, I could not get a shot without these wires in the way. Sorry.
I noticed on the Randonneur’s blogs they always photograph their food and so in that spirit I documented my snack.

After a humbling climb up 30th from Old Town Tacoma and some winding above the sound I reached the Tacoma Narrows bridge. As expected this is where the fun began.

The climb off of the bridge was reasonable and then I crossed over and followed 14th Avenue which changes names several times, into Gig Harbor. The views started out high above Puget Sound and then as I descended to Gig Harbor, became better and better despite the lowering viewing angles. Gig Harbor was a never ending series of right turns and quaint shops.
Finally you hit a climb and then you are on Crescent Valley Road and a series of rollers through lightly traveled roads. This was a wonderful section of the ride and although the terrain kept me from making good time, I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I watched my elevation gain and drop and went from sun to shade almost constantly.

Then skimming along the coastline and crossing a cool bridge I arrived at a corner store in Olalla. A wonderful girl filled my water bottles (she may be an axe murderer on weekends, but she was nice to me) and I snacked a moment before heading up Olalla Valley Road. I had seen some RAPSody Dan Henry’s and sometimes they went the same way I did and sometimes not. I turned right on Orchard Road and came face to face with a 17% half mile grade. Looking at the map later I saved a mile or so, but this climb, and the several STEEP rollers in between, told me I would change my route here if there is ever a next time…..

I met up with the RAPSody markings and diverged again on Sedgwick road. Again I would follow their direction given the chance, but alas, we are bound by our maps aren’t we?

Then an absolute cluster of learning experiences took me into Gorst. I was unhappy with the circumnavigation that got me there and perhaps that influenced my view of Gorst, but if there is a high point to Gorst, I missed it and passed through it with haste. Then I was on to Bremerton and flying past the Navy Base.

I found a Subway en route and dropped my $5 and chowed through a foot long in mere moments.

Heading north the road climbed and climbed until it dropped down toward Illahee. Once again wonderful views along the water contrasted by clustered developments away from the water. Ignoring the road closed signs I finally asked a fellow walking home from work (lunch pail in hand, backpack on back) if I could get through. “Absolutely not,” he replied without hesitation. A fifty foot section of road had washed out and it was a fifty foot drop on both sides. He drew me a map and I was able to backtrack and climb up from the coast and bypass the doomed area.

Then down to Brownsville where I shot this picture of this charming marina.

Then along quiet roads I rode to Keyport and then on to Poulsbo via back roads. I couldn’t get a good shot across the harbor of Poulsbo, and with my delays I was worried about making the ferry, so I pressed on.

At Poulsbo I had over one hundred and fifteen miles so I decided I wasn’t in danger of blowing up, so I started to push it. I felt like Fabian Cancellara, but I am sure I looked more like Jens Voight rocking back and forth as I rode fast.

I arrived at the Ferry terminal to a familiar sight; no ferry. It was running late. So I paid way too much for a soda and stopped and took off my shoes and waited. I looked at my hands and they were dirty, in fact my body was covered in grime. The combination of sunscreen, grease from the bike, food, road soot and sweat made me a scary sight.

On the ferry I started to get cold so I welcomed the ride up from Edmonds as a way to get my core temperature back up. 133.5 total miles. 7,251' of climbing. With a better course, a great epic ride.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Iron Horse Trail John Wayne Trail ride report

Hottie and I decided to try the Iron Horse Trail last weekend. For grins, and with the help of Google Earth, we decided to approach the tunnel from the Eest. We exited I-90 at exit 62 and followed the road and when it turned to gravel went another couple hundred meters and found the trail and a parking area.

We have usually done this ride in the spring or the fall and from the west you get lots of shade and so it is usually a “cooler” ride. This time the sun was warm and the sky blue with some perfectly white clouds. Hottie smiling for the camera....

Nice gravel “trail” some camping spots (maybe..). and only a few riders. I used my good lights in the tunnel and that was fun… Here is the view from the west side..

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Rapha Project

So I can't afford a Rapha jersey, so I thought I would repaint my commuter bike in Rahpa colors and call it a tribute bike.

Here are some photos so far...

From the front it just looks like any black bike...

But a closer look reveals a subtle pink from the rear..

I have some decals that I will affix and will post more pics soon.

The wood project in the background is a bench for our entryway.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Summer at LAST !!!

Out E A R L Y for a long one. Snapped the temp sign to document the change. Keep in mind this is early in the morning…

Along I-90 over the Bellevue hump there is a bike path that resembles a troll trail. Here is a shot of the scene.. Can you smell the humid greenery ?

Sad note was I broke a cog. I was powering away from a light and it felt like my chain skipped and then a high pitched “tinkling” sound that told me something was very wrong. I was amazed as it was genuine Campagnolo and less than 90 days old….

Although there were bugs out and I was sweating like a beast, I shall not complain and this is what I have been dreaming of for some months…