I woke up to the sounds of a pot being filled with water for coffee and the river flowing swiftly a dozen feet from my tent. Stepping out of the tent, Gabe pointed to a bald eagle soaring over our campsite. Seeing such a magnificent animal in it’s natural surroundings is always a treat, and in my opinion, a good omen of things to come. We took our time packing up camp, in no real rush to be anywhere other than in the moment. The sun was out and we were looking forward to a day of leisure.
As we saddled up, we noted that the wind was still just as strong as the day before, but today it was at our backs. We pedaled effortlessly along Hwy 402 towards Monument. The John Day on our side and the rolling hills and mountains surrounding us made for a memorable morning. We arrived in Monument around 10am and headed straight for the only store in town.
We hadn’t planned on taking a break, but upon seeing my fishing pole, the owner of the market clued us in on a local fishing spot just outside of town. There was a small boat tied up to the dock that was free to use, and with that, we purchased some tall cans and made our way to the pond. Upon arrival we found no oars for the boat, but a nice dock to fish off of. We cast a few times, but the wind was too strong for any real attempt. We drank our beers and enjoyed watching a Golden Eagle soar above us.
After leaving Monument, we found the first big climb of the day towards Long Creek, OR. With a generous tailwind, we climbed swiftly to the summit. We left the steep and colorful mountains behind and found ourselves in big sky country with plains surrounding us. Ranches with cattle, sheep, and llamas were a common sight as we kept lightly pedaling. We took care to not take our tailwind for granted though, should it decide to turn on us.
Arriving in Long Creek, we sat down for some hamburgers and planned our next step. If we stayed on route, we’d be heading north for the next 8-10 miles with a stiff crosswind. After the previous days 60 mile grind, we started looking at the map for another option. If we headed east out of town, we’d be cutting the course, but opening the possibility for more remote riding and adventure. County Road 18 was a red line on the map, and looked promising. And boy was it.
About 8 miles east of town, the road turned to smooth gravel and we entered the Malheur National Forest where we wouldn’t see another person until the next day. The wind was still very strong, but thankfully was still pushing us along nicely. We climbed past alpine meadows and springs until we found a small sheltered spot next to a small creek suitable for camping. At 5,500 feet, we were cold, tired and completely alone in the woods.
For the first day and a half I wondered if I had packed too many warm clothes, but as I cooled down, I was thankful for every last bit. We put the beers we carried up the mountain into the creek, made a small fire and started cooking dinner. As a precaution, we hung our food about 100 yards from camp to keep bears away.
The night was pitch black, and we eventually ran out of beer. The three of us each dipped a bit too heavily into our whiskey reserves, after which I fell asleep quickly. It was very cold that night, and my feet froze in my 30 degree bag. Adventure!
I’ll post Day 3 tomorrow. It’s a doozie!
After a good portion of time away from the computer I had to return. Money was running out and I started getting antsy. We’ve been back for a couple weeks now and life is busier than ever. But I’m not complaining, far from it. I’m just using it as an excuse for watching Law and Order reruns.
But since we’ve been back from Hawaii, I’ve been riding quite a bit. Weekly team rides, the regular commute, and finally some good racing. Last weekend the Dalles Mountain 60 happened and it was wonderful. I left Portland just before 7 and made it to The Dalles just in time to roll out. The race started from a coffee shop called Holstein’s around 9. Shortly after crossing The Columbia we started climbing up Dalles Mountain Rd shrouded in fog. The fog was thick enough to obscure anything past twenty feet, making the climb rather surreal. And then, just as we crested the top, we broke out of the fog into glorious sunshine. The descent was a tricky, muddy mess, which negotiated at high speeds was a real thrill. Finally out of the mud, the gravel kept dropping and at one point I glanced down to see 34mph on the computer, I was hauling balls. And then things started slowing down.
The route took us east to Hwy 97 where we dropped for about 1/4 mile before crossing the highway to take the old Maryhill Loops Rd. Tight hairpin turns on smooth tarmac made for a great descent.
Soon after we dropped back to the river and crossed over back into Oregon. A quick stop for a can of coke got me headed back towards The Dalles. The route back took us on Old Moody Rd which seems steeper every time I ride it, but eventually it leveled out. Five of us cruised back into town together fighting a headwind the rest of the way.
At that point I think most people headed home.
I decided to camp out and made my way to Deschutes State Park. It’s a nice place, and during the winter it’s practically empty. I found a good spot and made a nice fire. In the morning I woke up, made some breakfast and headed down the old rail-trail. About 6 miles in I stopped, enjoyed a nice beer, and watched a hawk fish from the river. It was slightly surreal, and although I had intended to ride the entire 16 miles in, decided to head home instead. It was a great trip, the race being the highlight.
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All of the photos from this trip can be seen here.
Looking forward to Echo Red to Red this weekend! More great racing and camping is always welcome.
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Cases that sell for three hundred dollars yours for thirty if you fill and cork your own bottles. We bought three.
This year it’s all about the good brakes. Thanks Byron!
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A friend of mine used to write a lot about arbitrary goals. It’s important to be motivated, and lately I’ve been a little overwhelmed with my current work situation. Spending a lot of time at a keyboard pushing pixels around can have a negative impact if it’s not matched up with regular riding. Add in the holidays and the chamois cream and there’s hardly any time for personal reflection/arbitrary riding.
But then Rapha comes out and throws down a gauntlet of sorts. I haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to document this, but I’ve got a computer and a digital camera. So they’re probably going to receive a large number of photos documenting the odometer and large cans of beer.
500km is just over 310 miles. In one week. I normally put in around 150 miles a week, so this is basically doubling the load. Seems like a good challenge. And if success comes around I might just get a sweet little patch to show off.
Anyone who knows me knows at least one thing. I like dirt. The kind full of the good bacteria that keeps me well balanced. Some people garden, I choose to ride trails. Living in Portland that can be a tall order if you don’t feel like driving. There aren’t a whole lot of trails in the city limits, but with some imagination and a couple hours, there are trails to be had.
I live in SE Portland so my usual haunt is Powell Butte. Again, this isn’t to say that the conditions are epic, but when you need just a little bit of dirt, it’s a good place to ride. In the last two months however I’ve found myself on the ground thanks to slick leaves and too much tire pressure. I generally only carry a co2 cartridge so I keep my pressure fairly high for the Springwater out-n-back. Riding home on 40lbs of skinny knobs is not how I like to roll. (Pun intended)
So the other day while working from home I fired up the google maps and started looking for parks nearby. I found a place in the SW hills that I had all but forgotten about. I used to read meters in this particular neighborhood and had only ventured into the park about 100 feet. Well last Thursday I saddled up and set out to explore the area.
It’s not a large place, but it’s fairly close to a couple other natural area/parks so I figured I could link up some dirt and make a good couple of hours out of it.
This park is about 7 acres in total with about two to three miles of trails, and it’s open to bikes. Well, I should say that there were no signs forbidding bikes, and the people walking in the forest were kind and friendly. I was laying down the only treads, and although it wasn’t a high speed kind of place, there was just enough shimmy going on to keep me happy.
In the SE corner of the area there is a hidden bit of trail that winds under a small tree tunnel before emptying out into a root filled short climb. This may be the only technically challenging spot in the area, but it was good nonetheless.
After a couple laps, I headed to the next park. This was a much more developed area, with wide paths for the most part. Marshall Park does have a couple narrow, steep, switchback areas though. The day that I chose to ride was a bit wet so the hikers were few and far between, which suits me just fine. One of the more difficult sets of switchbacks started from a crossing of Tryon Creek which was pretty cool in and of itself.
A dirt ride is never complete without a nice break at the top of a climb.
Marshall Park doesn’t have much in the way of trails. Tryon Creek State Park just around the corner is off limits to bikes, with the exception of paved paths. So running a couple loops in Marshall Park can be fun.
This is not destination riding, but with some creativity and free time it could be worked into a long cross-town ride. I’m working out a good network of off road paths/trails around the city in order to create a long training ride for next years long gravel races. Stay tuned for more dirt gravel reports.
It was supposed to rain all day. It’s Oregon in November and that sentence usually holds true. And in this case it rained most of the day. As of Sunday I was still fighting off a cold, and decided to spectate Sunday’s cross race. After watching some football, I picked Case up and we headed west. A couple high rollers over here, we arrived just in time for Matt to register and for me to get my shoes muddy. A couple free donuts here (thanks Switchblades), some free coffee over here, and a couple tall cans over there. Around that time, people I know and call friends started trudging through the off camber mud section right next to our tent. Ride it? Run it? Most definitely run it. Every person who ran that section made up time, and those who rode it often times found themselves face down in the mud. Joel had an epic endo, that resulted in a mud-face, but I didn’t catch it.
New PDW goggles? Check.
The grail. Now with cyclocross themed decal!
This is why it takes me days to put something up. I’ve been off the train for four hours and I’ve got nothing to say but huh. Or heh.
Even when I leave for the train early I end up rushing. But Matt and I both made the train, and promptly set up shop in the dining car. Sit with the savages in coach? Please. Although we had a very interesting sleazebag across from us. Hitting on the high school girls and polishing off a four pack of Seagrams Peach Fuzzy Navel before passing out for the remainder of the trip. Needless to say, we were pumped to finally be riding in Seattle.
Originally we were scheduled to qualify around 11am, but our train arrived at noon. Lucky for us we knew the jerks handling the affair and we set off around 1. In each wave of qualification, around 6- 8 riders would take off on the course, the top four of which would go on to qualify. Well Team Better-Late-Than-Never only had two racers. Accompanying us were our friend Dan and Collin, the latter being a photographer for Bike. Sweet.
I think the average qualifying time was around 45 minutes. We took 2.5 hours. A quick stop to pay for new Cthulhu shirts, and halfway up the greenbelt I flatted. Not being anywhere near a bike shop, and having brought no tools whatsoever, we raided Sally’s house for a wrench to remove my rear wheel. Case found some beers in the fridge, and a Lucha mask. We were pleased.
Moving on to the first checkpoint I flatted again. We found the pinch in the first go around, and the second time was a large piece of glass. But we were not dismayed. We pressed on, stopping frequently for photo ops with Collin. At first we thought he’d get tired of taking pictures of us doing stupid things, but he kept pressing us for more. It was the best qualifier I’ve ever experienced.
Being the last group out on course, the checkpoints were relieved to see us finally come through. The rain wasn’t very serious on Saturday, and the spirits were still high.
Moving on we found an abandoned checkpoint and cleaned up. A foam hand type thing, and some race ribbon took a ride with us back to the start.
By the time we got back to the finish, the event was mostly torn down. But thanks to our natural talents and dashing good looks we qualified. We felt a little bad for the folks that tried but didn’t succeed. Then that faded.
Having spent enough time in the south end, we found our way through downtown and had a stop for food at the Athenian. With extra time to kill, we moved on towards Shorties. And after a while we headed to the post qualifier party. Finally putting the bags down for a couple hours was a nice relief. The party was great. Except for the shit talking on my fair town of Portland. But have no fear, we stood up for Stumptown. Then some people rode stationary bikes and we took some liberties with the unsupervised belts.
At some point, Cory and I were sufficiently annoyed with the party and we found our way home. In the morning, the sun came through the windows and I was wide awake. For a few minutes there is was touch and go, but after a short walk for coffee and a pastry that solid feeling came right back. We watched the Steelers barely eek out a win, drank expensive Bud Lights and watched the sky open up on the city. Finally around 1 we felt fully prepared. Justin picked us up at the bar, and after the race he even dropped us at the bar. Justin, you made our weekend!
Torrential downpour. Absolutely gnarly amounts of water fell on the highway as we headed towards Kent. Within 100 feet of exiting the car, every article of clothing was completely soaked. The mud was like soup. The 45 minutes before the race was wet and very cold.
And then there was the race. That thing we came up to Seattle for in the first place. We lined up, sort of, and then we were off. The course was twisty, tight, fast, and always on. The run ups were perfect. The barriers were a foot and a half high. There were six of them after the gravel run up. The whoops were steep and air was had. There was beer everywhere. The start of the race was a hill climb. It was wonderful. Justin all the race photos, Thanks again!
One of my favorite styles of barriers, the over-under was steep and fast. It dropped right to the track crossing, the sides of which were fun for hopping.
I’m not much of a fixed gear fan, but my crappy 6 year old Iro was awesome. Great gear choice, complete commuter style with the front disc brake, rear fender, and blinking lights made the race not only fast, but fun for the haters.
Every time I passed the finish I was amazed they weren’t pulling me. Low and behold I didn’t get lapped and I completed as many laps as the winners. The last two laps were getting faster, and my group of racers was getting hot. There was a Yakima Vigilante trading spaces with me for most of the race, and finally I pulled away from him and took my middle pack placing. Results aren’t up yet, so you’ll have to take my word for it.
After saying our goodbyes Justin took us back to Seattle. Matt and I met up with Cory and watched Favre throw to the Packers all night. For reasons you don’t need to know, I ended up walking up Queen Anne, and the rest of the night floated away. Cory and I had some beers at the house, shared some laughs and the alarm came much too quickly.
So thanks for the fun times Seattle. I’m not sure why the rest of Portland couldn’t make it up, they missed out on a great time. The course was one of the best I’ve ridden, the support was top notch, the organizers were having a great time, and I managed to come home with a bunch of extra crap. At this point, San Francisco feels a long ways off, but we’ll see what happens.
I think it’s time for a nap.
So yeah. Friday. It was a long day at the office, and by 5 I knew that all takers had backed out. This wasn’t surprising to me all that much, but I also wasn’t going to let it hamper my spirits. After a brief text session with Drew I met up at Alberta Park to watch some polo to get my night started.
Shortly after a group of us made our way to Drew’s for taco night and it was great. It’s been a while since I had seen a couple of these folks, met a couple new people, and had a really great time. This should have been a clue to hang out longer, but I was determined to see Red Fang.
So I headed out on my own. Along the way I stopped for a minute in a “Cool Guy” kind of park and enjoyed the dry evening. So far so good.
I was fairly well lubricated by the time I arrived at the shop, which is helpful when you’re going to a rock show by yourself. I can’t remember the last show I went to, let alone by myself. This was uncharted territory. So I drank some more beer. Tall cans of Tecate kept finding their way into my hands.
The first band I saw was pretty rad. Three ladies up front killing it, but the white dreaded bass player dude had me bummed out. Nevertheless they sounded good. Valient Thorr made me feel like I was very out of place. I don’t own a jean jacket, and I brush my teeth. But whatever.
Finally. Finally around midnight Red Fang started getting their shit on stage.
This is where the story takes a turn. Dante’s has very shitty sound. Very very very shitty sound. While Red Fang was incredible, and they were. All I could hear was a wall of noise. Now it’s very possible that my years of absence from rock shows has allowed my ears to heal in ways that no longer filter out noise, but I still think it was poorly mixed. I’ve heard bad things about this club, but that was a disappointment. Oh well.
Oh. Yeah. About halfway through the show I was in the back watching, kind of leaning against the back bar. The floor was covered in beer(obviously) and I was wearing Sidi’s. Do you know what happened? I fell flat on my ass is what happened. That was around the time I knew it was time to get the hell out.
Red Fang finished their set. I took off. My ears are still ringing a bit.
But today is Sunday. Rainier is an hour away from Portland. And now that I’m done here, I’m going to go get muddy.
Race report shortly.