Doing it all the hard way...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Team trip to Lake Chelan

The gang just up from the training table on Saturday..

With eager anticipation I awoke before my alarm was set to go off at five AM. A quick shower and then I loaded my bike and travel bag into the war wagon and headed down to the rendezvous on Capitol Hill. There I hooked up with other men who were likewise eager to be underway. Quickly over the pass and then to a stop in Cle Elum to grab some been beverage and baked goods. My coffee was full of grounds, and I ended up pouring it out. Our early start brought us to Chelan mid morning. We found the condo, and in mere seconds the vehicles were emptied and ten brave souls were soon dressed in lycra.

The ride was so fun we needed full face protection !

The riding was wonderful. Riding along the north side of the lake and then back in the vineyards and hills the scenery was very European. Almost no traffic, warm air, good pave’ excellent companions; it was the riding we had been dreaming of during the long winter months spent on trainers or bundled up under layers and layers. We were like children at a party. The climbs and descents were a joy and we were immersed in the joy of cycling.

The reward after a long climb, the beginning of an effortless descent

After thirty-six miles and thirty three hundred feet of climbing we stopped for sandwiches. El Presidente’ made his presence known at the counter and the lunch makers paid him the honor he deserved. We all enjoyed some cool liquids and listened as Dave told us what the rest of the route would entail. With our tanks topped off, we rolled south and down to the mighty Columbia. After just a few miles we turned up Navarro Coulee and began a steep climb. The climb soon mellowed and some took the time to look around and enjoy the scene. Others kept the tape measure out and pressed the pace. Soon enough the road turned downhill and we were on the shoreline of Lake Chelan. The miles along the lake went quick and approaching the city limit sign the traditional sprint broke out. More than one rider started their sprint only to back off when quads cramped. Although it had been a great day of riding; pretty much everyone was spent. 70 miles, 5,300’ of climbing none of it slow or even moderate.

Time to strip down and take a plunge !

The balance of the day was spent swimming, sunning and consuming a huge dinner.

If you could have weighed us before and after the results would have been scary !

After waddling from the dinner table we drove the cars to the market and bought yet more food. Then some quality time to lick our wounds in anticipation of the next days suffering.

Back at the condo the stiff bikers lounged and munched. A trip to the hot tub loosened up some tight legs and then after Brother John shared some stories about reading and rabbits, we retired for the night.

Sunday we felt better than we expected and got an earlier start.

Coffee and pastry was a good way to begin the day’s journey. Hank had a lapse in judgment and ordered some kind of sausage-egg-tart thing that slid down his throat and left his fingers shiny. A quick descent down and across the Columbia at BeeBee bridge led us to the base of McNeil Canyon. The ride there was quiet. We knew there was a plan for pain awaiting us on the climb. On the climb, Hank looked as though he might be earning a new nickname as he almost herfed his breakfast. The climb varied from 5 to 14 percent and climbed from 700’ to 3,100 feet without a break. More than one rider was fumbling in their suitcase of courage.

From the top we could look east and almost see Idaho, and back west was Chelan. A fast descent and then a left turn pointed us towards Manfield. We covered the 8 miles in about fifteen minutes as a tailwind and crisp pace line technique paid off.

Enjoying the shade in Mansfield

We defiled the grocery store and after stoking up on fluids, fruit and bar we headed out. A little reconnaissance work and we were on the right road only to hit the dreaded “pavement ends” sign. Some strong emotions prevailed and we retraced our steps. We formed a rotating pace line as we fought headwinds back towards the top of McNeil Canyon. The final climb to the pass saw some of the weekend stragglers move up in the field as the weekend miles kept it real.

The descent to the river didn’t take long and Davo clocked 48.5 mph on the way down. The final climb was fun and then it was time for sandwiches, a swim and the return home.

Pretty much every one of us was wiped out. A strong visual image that I did not think to photograph was the kitchen trash can stuffed with empty bags of potato chips, Gatorade bottles, and a pair of wet bike shorts. We stopped to eat on the way home and eat we did. More than one of our group ordered food to go as we ate our meal. With bags of food in hand we climbed back in our cars to head home and tend to our wounds. Mentally refreshed and physically exhausted. Hearty thanks to Dave, my fellow riders, and our wonderful supportive spouses.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Go ride a bike

After returning from our visit to Zach in Damascus, I have been hitting it pretty hard. I added a midweek early morning ride which was actually a joy. In the post dawn light this past Wednesday, I felt some rain drops on my head and shoulders and soon I was in a rain shower. I didn’t have my rain bike, or booties, or even long fingered gloves. I was unprepared. It was so fun. I got wet and loved it. Maybe it was two weeks spent with temps in the 30’s and 40’s (hint: NOT Fahrenheit), maybe it was the pleasure of riding again. Maybe it was accepting the ache in my legs from the hard ride Sunday. Maybe it was riding while everyone else slept. I don’t know and I don’t care to know. It was fun.