Doing it all the hard way...

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Big days

Still here. Tired and about to go to bed. Because it is Europe dinner starts at 7:30 and we aren't really done until almost 10:00. I will do a day by day report next week. In the meantime here are some photos.

KB nearing the Passo Brocon

Not a lot of room on the roads and less in the tunnels. We go through quickly even when it is uphill.

The bridge you see here was the lowest elevation point of our ride.

From there it was only a thousand meters of climbing to the high point.

Yeah, what can you say?

When we finish our rides at the hotel we quickly shower and do laundry.

As always our bibs dry "Business side out"

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Italy is underway


We all arrived without incident. No lost bikes, no lost luggage no consequencal delays. We loaded up and nodded off while Horst and Lutz drove us from Munich via Austria to Italy.

After dinner we assembled bikes we fell into bed with a thud and slept. In the morning is was raining and the radar said it would pass so we relaxed and got off too late but dry start.

This place totally ripped off Leavenworth. I am surprised Leavenworth hasn't sued.

We regrouped at the top of a short climb. Waiting here was not a big inconvenience..

Marc and KB making their way through the Dolomites.

Lots of views to be enjoyed.

Rain off and on and off and on meant the rain jacket was jumping from jersey pocket to shoulders and back often. Oh well, we are from Seattle.....

They really dig goats here.

The final approach to Dobbiaco was on a bike trail.

German water at dinner

Thisnisnwhat laundry looks like among rude Americans....

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Ellensburg Fondo Trifecta Ride Report

We are all about breaking boundaries here on the blog and today we do this via a combination of three perspectives on the recent Ellensburg Fondo.

From Aaron the Arrow:
Big John, Richman and I left Seattle early Sunday morning and were met with beautiful weather in Ellensburg. Not a cloud in the sky and a relatively cool temperature. We rolled out as a group and headed into the stiff NW wind. The group built up the pace, but there was a large group at the front to break the wind. One of the noticeably faster riders made a move off the front, and Big John said he had to make it interesting by matching him and pulling around him. As usual, Big John spent a good portion of the time up front leading to Cle Elum. Incredibly beautiful ride along the Yakima River, and it felt good to be heading into the wind with such a large group.

After going through Cle Elum, we headed south and started the gravel. The first climb was crazy steep, and I was definitely missing a couple more gears. Just concentrating on not putting down a foot. This was one of many amazing performances with my new tubeless wheels with Trigger tires. Definitely an impressive setup! There were a number of people spinning out in the loose and steep gravel.

This was my first Gran Fondo, and the gravel was really intense. Having it all for the one stretch of 30+ miles with no letup was exhausting. I basically rode alone with people passing me on the uphills and then catching up with them on the downhills. The downhills were awesome. The downhill in the Nature Conservancy was the best with smooth gravel.

There was a ton of washboard on the second big decent to the rest station, and then the last downhill was so much fun with high speeds and relatively smooth gravel.

I took a shorter stop at the main rest area before the last gravel climb. I was hoping to take my time on the uphill, let people pass me, and then catch people on the downhill for the last 23 miles of pavement to the finish. As it was, nobody really caught me on the uphill or downhill, so I found myself at the pavement alone.

Fortunately, the wind remained out of the NW, so I figured I'd ride hard with the tailwind and see what happened. A group of 5 finally caught me 10 miles from the finish, and I joined them. We had a great pace line going and were flying with the tailwind and long sweeping downhills. The road riding portions of this course were beautiful. We hit the last couple miles of gravel on the John Wayne trail. Sketchy with lots of loose gravel. I was feeling better than I expected, but happy to just stay with the group to the finish. Big John and Richman had successful finishes with their own stories to tell...

All in all, it was a great day and an epic ride. We were fortunate with the weather and wind direction... I was impressed with how well the ride was organized and how difficult the gravel section was. Fun stuff.

This was the trash can at the food stop in 2015.  Flat city !
Big John reported that he missed the Dolomiters. He added that Aaron the Arrow’s report captured the ride well. He was craving a 12 x 30 instead of the 11 x 28 he was on. After holding out like an old school laggard Big John is now on the waiting list for gravel tubeless. Sharp rocks had intervened in 3 rides over the past 8 days. His highlight was seeing Rich's beaming smile at the finish line

From Richman:

There is something that satisfies the soul when you ride past a sign that forbids your route

Really nice terrain. From following up the glittering Yakima along the back roads to Cle Elum to great views of the Cascades on the climb to running a nice ridge line after the big climb to rolling home by wind turbines and the occasional right-wing political sign. And, as has always been the case with Jake of Vicious Cycle, really well marked course with arrows before and after the turn and pavement markings. That plus RWG course map made it quite comfortable to be way back on a route that you never rode before.

For the first 30 miles Ellensburg to CE - against a headwind - I managed to limit energy expenditure by getting on a couple of pace lines and following the wise team advice (I think from WhipLaesch), "Never pull if you don't have to." My excuse was that I had fatter tires than the other riders...anyway, it provided sufficient rationalization to leave me in good shape for the big up. Fortunately, I had the patented Davo top tube Suffering Still to Go (SSG) cheat sheet so knew precisely where I was on the climb in terms of mileage and elevation and that helped.

I opted to ride with higher tire pressure to avoid pinch flats and that plus my concern for falling on a high speed gravel descent and turning into a bloody mess had me taking it casual on the downhills.

A shaggy coyote crossed the road in front of me.

A side fun fact is that we passed through Nature Conservancy gated land that is part of the effort of consolidating the public-private checkerboard of forest ownership, which dates from the days of original federal land grants to the railroads, in the Teanaway and along I-90 and Mrs Richman (Evo-planted naming convention) played a major role in the acquisition of this land from Plum Creek. I had been hearing about the deal for a long time before it was public in spousal cone of silence work talk.

Big Thanks to Aaron, John and Rich for the words and Rich took the pictures !

Coffee and Lies # 181 Revving the engine

I anticipated that the finial Coffee and Lies might be exceptionally “frisky.”  With many of our clan peaking for the Italy trip, Fitness and Freshness were forecast to be high.  With a thousand paranoid thoughts running through my head I had promised myself I would not “engage” when things hotted up. 

McWoodie and Moonlight Burnside had made no such commitment and sure enough as soon as we rolled southbound on Mercer it was on.  The Wizard of Coz jumped on and seeing that nobody else was partaking in the folly I grabbed his wheel. 

McWoodie was driving the pace and he was like a kid running to a ride at Disneyland.  I powered along in the draft and after a quick paceline rotation Coz pulled off.  I could say I held on but it would be more accurate to say I sat in. 
Drafting Doggie-style
A few long minutes later I waved and pulled off.  I wanted to touch Z5 so I didn’t feel  like a failure.  Soon Einmotron pulled up and I grabbed his wheel.  We took a couple turns and when I slowed to let him go, he backed off and once I was back in place he picked it up again.  I needed a bit of hard effort today and he was making sure I met my goal.

We continued thus to the hill and I sprinted up the hill with the intention of then taking it easy to the finish.  Einmotron must have kept it real on the hill and when I looked over my shoulder expecting to see him when instead I was scooped up by the train of Coz, El Chefe’ and the Silver Bullet.  We took a few rotations and I was feeling like I was about to be dropped.  I held on for one more cycle.

I hung on and as we neared the finish I decided to blow out the laundry and I went hard with about 200m to go and didn’t look back.  I had the feeling that nobody was chasing but I kept pushing anyway. 

On the way back I was cooked and El Chefe, El Jefe and I formed a Gruppeto and just kept a steady pace.  
Time to R-E-L-A-X

When we were seated and savoring the Coffee and Lies portion of the ride many of us we thinking ahead to Italy.  Some of our clan were battling the gravel of Ellensburg.  Some were preparing for the week ahead.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Bike in a box

I will try not to lose this..

After our Coffee and Lies Throw down I wiped the chain and began the process...

You start with the bike and the box. I took pictures of the process once upon a time and that has proven to be a very smart thing.

Like a lot of things, taking it apart is easy.

Finally this was all that was left in the stand.

This is something you should practice.

I haven't done this in a long time and it took longer than it should have. If I had to do it again I would be faster. I will do it again in a couple weeks.......

It is, however, done.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Jack Black Oil Free Sunguard SPF 45 Review

This is the best and it is what I’m taking on my trip to Italy and anytime I need sunscreen.  Most every sunscreen I’ve used causes even my wrinkled face to break out when slathered on but not Jack Black.  Buy it off eBay to avoid the monster called retail.  Better than Neutrogena, and all the others.  No kidding.  Shizzle in a squeeze tube.

Esprit de Corps

I have memories of athletic successes and failures spanning six decades.  My favorite memory took place in the finish chute of the city championship in cross country in 1975. The city was Los Angeles and that included over 100 high schools with a combined high school enrollment in excess of 140,000 students.  Following a progression of league, district and semifinal meets over the preceding weeks the finals had been whittled down to a starting field of just over one hundred runners on a cold Saturday morning in December.
After crossing the line and securing my place in the finish chute I was clutching the Popsicle stick that indicated my finishing place.  I looked ahead a few spots at my teammate Todd who was looking back at me.  He was clinging to the chute rails, his chest heaving. I could tell he had given everything he had and his eyes met mine and his wordless expression asked if I had done the same. I matched his stare and nodded toward Todd. I grimaced as I looked behind me in the chute a few places and saw my teammate Scott had just finished.  We had the same silent exchange.  He too had left it all on the course.
(Scott's stunt double)
The feeling of looking a teammate in the eye and sharing an acknowledgment that both of us had done all we could cemented a bond I had not experienced on any team in my young life. More satisfying than knowing I had done my best on that day was the comradery we shared as seven teenagers who had given everything they had for each other.  Not just that one day, but in the weeks and months leading up to it we had trained together and pushed each other and pulled one another. We were a youthful band of brothers.

We won the championship that day by a single point.  If any one of us had lost a single finishing place we would have finished second.  It was a true team victory by the thinnest of margins.  In the forty years since I have given away every trophy I ever received except this one.
For the past six months my Europe-bound brothers and I have ridden together in the rain and sun. We have also logged many miles in solo efforts and we have trained with those who can’t join us in Europe.  What we do have in common is the knowledge of the commitment and sacrifice we have made in order to share the perverse pleasure of riding hundreds of kilometers and climbing thousands of meters in a far off land. 

As one of my teammates pointed out back in 2011 one man’s heaven is another man’s hell.  If we are prepared this should be on the heavenly side of the equation.

My heart sincerely goes out to Big John and El Chefe who can’t make this trip.  With the utmost respect to those guys and all those we will leave behind I do look forward to sharing an acknowledgment, albeit an unspoken one, that we have all worked hard to prepare.  Like many things we all have our own individual stories that are unique until viewed from a distance then the stories are the same.  Our preparation wasn’t done in an attempt to best our brothers, but to keep up with them.

Besides my understanding is we get to eat pizza every night.