Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Recap

Finished the year with a 37 mile loop around Seattle, including visits to Golden Gardens, Magnolia Bluff and Leschi, all of which were dominated by the clear, cold, dry weather and views of Rainier.

During the year, I rode more times than the previous year, as well as more miles (about 2,750), 117K ft. elevation gain and 12.1 mph average speed.  But, no century ride this year, as the longest ride was 97 miles on CTS #12 (the Flaming Geyser out and back).   Greatest elevation gain was on the CTS #10, Renton-Black Diamond-Issaquah Loop, topping out at 3,757 ft.

And, I can count the 2014 Coffeeneuring Challenge as another significant accomplishment, for the 2nd year in a row!

2015 plans include GR2R, CTS again, STP, RSVP, weekly commutes, more coffeeneuring, and keeping the rubber side of the bicycle in contact with the planet while doing so.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Don't Take Any Placebos

I’ve read a lot about the placebo effect. Does that mean it won’t work on me?
It turns out that placebos operate to some degree outside of our awareness—which means that even when we know a particular medication is a placebo, we can still benefit from it. So don’t worry about knowing too much. Just take two placebos and call me in the morning.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Coffeeneuring #7

Completed the challenge, two years in a row!  After a clarification of the rules by the Chief Coffeeneur, the 47 mile Magnolia>Alki>Leschi loop qualifies as the 7th in the series.  A crisp, cold day, a hot mocha, homemade PB & J, and a chance meeting with a Cascade Group on the Magnolia Bluff made for a great day in the saddle.

The 6th ride was on Veteran's Day, a 24 mile jaunt to Golden Gardens, with a stop at the Phinney Ridge Starbucks to sip a 2x Americano and admire the destruction caused by a runaway truck that plowed through the guard rail and into the plate glass window.  When asked about the incident, the barista, obviously tired of being questioned, said no one was hurt and the driver got away.  Such is life in the big city.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Coffeeneuring #5

Leisurely 28 miles today down the Burke Gilman Trail and around Magnolia, with a stop at the Magnolia Starbucks for coffeneuring.  This particular Starbucks attracts a number of riders who make the circuit on the bluff for the views and the climbs.  The double tall mocha hit the spot and provided enough spark to get me back up to the Chittenden Locks and then a return trip on the north side of the ship canal while the sun was still out.  In November, those of us in Seattle need to grab the warm and dry while we can!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Coffeneuring #4

We're getting into serious autumn up here in the Great Northwest, but it was dry this morning and the BGT beckoned with another coffeeneuring adventure to be had.   This time, a traditional counterclockwise North Lake Washington Loop took me around the top and down into Kirkland.  There Caffe Ladro served up a terrific double-short latte.  There's plenty of room inside and out, bike, dog and kid friendly, a good stop about a third of the way on a 40 mile circumnavigation.  A fine ride and made even finer as the rain held off until I made it home.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Coffeeneuring Map - A Connected Activity Made Possible by the Web

In this post, the Chief Coffeeneur describes the map that is being used to track locations for this year's event.

And here in his fine blog about biking around the neighborhood, Daniel describes the process by which he is accumulating the information and creating the map.

In the category of when worlds collide, this collective activity has much in similarity with the Connected Courses event in which I'm participating over here.  Both involve a loose collaboration among a set of interested participants, where communities are defined with links and hashtags.  This one here is about riding bikes and going for coffee!

Coffeeneuring #3

After a start under threatening skies, I got a phone call from my brother and stopped to chat.  As those autumn Seattle skies opened up and the squall commenced, I moved under a tree to continue the conversation and stay dry.  After wrapping up business with Sam, the prudent thing to do was to cross the Ravenna Park Bridge and head down the hill to Zoka for a latte and a Zoka Bar.  

The plan was to wait out the showers.  But, back on the bike, it became obvious that I wasn't dressed for the weather.  With the cold/cough/upper respiratory phlegm yuckness that's been present for the past couple of weeks, I turned back, headed up the hill toward the warmth of home.  On the way, I snapped this photo of a casualty from last night's wind storm.

Fall in the Great Northwest is time for rain gear and long-fingered gloves.  8.7 miles today, but let's live to ride another day and be better prepared.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Coffeeneuring #2

An almost 29 mile loop around Seattle on a beautiful fall day included a stop at Zeitgeist Coffee in Pioneer Square for a double latte and a ginger molasses cookie to qualify for Coffeeneuring #2.

The Blue Riot was back from it's overhaul (bottom bracket, drive train, etc, etc,) with new fenders for the upcoming monsoon season, and a spiffy new accessory, an Acorn Medium Saddlebag.

Record-breaking heat today (73 F!) brought out the crowds, including several sightings of those using the new Pronto bike-sharing service.  Popular today, but we'll see how many of these things get used between mid-November and the end of February.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Coffeeneuring #1 - And, we're off!

Coffeeneuring 2014 began with a counter-clockwise Seattle Urban Loop, including riding past Green Lake, Golden Gardens, Magnolia, Seattle Center, Downtown, through the I-90 tunnel and return via Leschi.  37 miles, 2129 ft elevation gain.

Highlights of the bright fall day included a trip through Seattle Center, as well as my first use of the new 2nd Avenue bike infrastructure. SDOT has made 'improvements' to the Bike Lane of Death, still sort of gnarly and emotional, especially when passing the ghost bike memorializing where the cyclist lost her life.

The requisite coffee was obtained at the Leschi Starbucks, a frequent stop for many on their Sunday rides.  The double grande iced mocha hit the spot.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Coffeeneuring Preseason #1

Didn't sign up for the Kitsap Color Classic in time, so instead I used this last day of summer to start rigorous training for the 2014 Coffeeneuring Challenge.   Rode a Magnolia loop, a distance of 26.7 miles, along the Ship Canal and around Magnolia Bluff, stopping at the Starbucks in Magnolia Village for a double Americano.   This particular location is bike friendly, with plenty of tables, places to secure your bicycle, and the typical upbeat baristas you've come to expect.  And, because the local NFL team was playing, the staff was outfitted in their 12th Man garb.  Given the prevalence of all that, maybe the Seahawks' new nickname should be the Dozens.

Highlight of the return was viewing the M/V Thea Foss on the Ship Canal as it passed under the Fremont Bridge and headed toward Lake Union.

Next week, we'll attempt another preseason trial run so I'm prepared once the real challenge begins!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Losing that Loving Feeling?

Jenny Oh writes here about here her DNF randonneuring experience and gets to the heart of some of the difficulties we encounter as we build our mileage, ride long distances and deal with limitations.  The ride report is worth reading as well. (Plattyjo does a great job on her web pages, BTW!)

After piling on the miles and leading the CTS and CTS Rides Again jaunts, the summer is waning.   We experienced the first significant rainfall in a while, and not just a result of taking off the fenders. Some oral surgery hurt more than expected, and coupled with the awfulness of the news and current events, and I'm feeling my six decades in my gums, teeth and even spirit.

I wish I was doing the RSVP this weekend to clear it up and stretch it out.   The mileage was there, the prep was there, riding partners were going, but scheduling, logistics, etc were in the way.    Next year, the CBC Major Events go back on the calendar and we make room for 'em.

For now, maybe it's just time to just ride through it and change the narrative.  Or, as Coffeeneur says, use the cycling as an escape.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


A few more reflections on not riding the STP are in order.  I was wistful about missing the ride, until I thought about the crowds and yahoos, the ugly rest stops, the heat and the conditions, US 30 into Portland, blah, blah, blah.

Packet pickup duty at REI was different this year, with a new cast of characters at Cascade, younger, seemingly less connection to the volunteers, no jackets to give out, and the new Cascade brass present but not taking the time to say hello to those of us giving our time to help....

Lots of complaints from the Bike Tawkers about number of riders, personal support vehicles, lack of common sense, lack of ride refs to address the yahoo factor, hot weather, rain coming into Portland, etc....

Kevin summed up his frustrations here...

Still, there is this video of crossing the Lewis and Clark bridge over the Columbia into Oregon to consider.

We'll put a big WE'LL SEE on next year.  RSVP yes, STP, well, maybe,....

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Something to think about from Iron Rider

The Iron Rider talks about what goes through his head on those long distance rides.

Lots of things go through our heads.  Claire wrote about some of them.   Bicycling can be lonely or a time for contemplation, sometime an opportunity for ruminating, and best of all, and especially when climbing or descending, a time to wash that all away and focus on the bike and the road.

1,342 miles YTD.   After the month long layoff and the bonk on CTS #9,  I've readjusted, rebuilt the mileage base with CTS #10 (196th and Black Diamond), #11 (Kent-Enumclaw route) and #12, and am feeling pretty good about where I'm at with the bike, my legs and ability to ride the longer distances.  The Ride Leader experience has been both fun and satisfying, as well as frustrating and work, like being in the classroom is work.  Last week on the Flaming Geyser Century out-and-back route, with the rain squalls, wind, and cranky riders, the satisfaction waned.  Riding in front, watching the route, keeping to the pace, and keeping on eye on the other riders, being a model and example, answering questions from the newbies, building their confidence, coaching and mentoring, all that can be gratifying, but can also detract from the benefit of washing out the mind and getting to the cycling zen that is one of the reasons I keep coming back to the bike.  After the series ends, I'll need to reflect on what worked and what didn't.  For one thing, I know that the bike worked!

Tomorrow is the last one in the series, a Lake Washington loop, and then STP for those 10,000 who choose to do so.  Not me this year, and that's just fine.   I'm planning on the CTS Rides Again first ride, and we'll put a big 'we'll see' on the rest of them.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Two Films about Creativity

Two movies that focused on creativity and artists caught my attention recently.

Tim's Vermeer tells the story of an inventor who discovered the methods and process by which Vermeer painted such classics as the Girl with the Golden Earring with such realism and attention to detail.  Narrated by Penn Jillette and directed by Teller, the film focuses on the inventor's work to replicate Vermeer's process and his painting.  Lessons learned her include attention to detail and the focus that the artist must have to perfect their craft.

More fascinating and perhaps more disturbing is Finding Vivian Maier, a documentary about a reclusive street photographer who is now consider one of the 20th Centuries greats.   The documentary filmmaker's unravel the mystery behind her hoarding, her volume of work and walk around the edges of her madness while focusing on the lost treasures of her insightful and startling art.   Loneliness, obsession and the detachment yet ability to connect with her subjects emerge as key themes.

What connects the two films for me are the struggles with identity, the obsessive nature of creativity, and the nature of image versus external reality that humans encounter.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


CTS #9 takes you out the BGT to Woodinville, up through Maltby and out to Snohomish.  Beautiful countryside ride through Monroe and up the Sky River valley to Sultan, 42 miles from the start.   And, aside from aches and pains (hip, some leg stiffness), I felt good.   Had been off the bike for any serious saddle time or strain for four weeks, due to travel.   Can't complain about going to New Orleans, Montreal and New York!

But, after lunch we cross the Sky River and go west on Ben Howard Road.  With the first hill, I knew I was in trouble.  Tough to get my wind, legs hurt more than normal, and slow.   First signs of bonking.  Peeing had been hard back at the rest stop, where I ate PB&J, drank an iced double-tall, consumed cookies and (bad choice) a couple of caramels.   Not a healthy, carb-filled energy lunch.    And while drinking a lot of water, not able to produce a whole lot of pee.  Yes it was sunny and yes it was warm, but by PNW standards.

Started to get a bit cranky, but glad that I was in the role of ride leader, as that meant I had to keep going, despite a few chills, a bit of dizzy.   The route back, once we cross High Bridge over the Snoqualmie River, gets hillier and tougher, and it's that part of the route, leading back into Maltby where I felt fried.   An apple, a lot of water and then back up the hill into Woodinville, out to the SRT, and ten miles on the trails back, limping all the way.    I walked 70th up home, stretching, stopping every 20 yards or so, hurting in legs, back, hamstring, shoulders and was thoroughly whipped.  

What's different for next time?  More rest, better eating, hydrate throughout the week, back on the exercise regimen with some consistency.  There was lots of pollen in the air, and the eyes and throat were constricted, so many that contributed.  But, the CTS is meant to be done as a series, and picking up with a strenuous ride after than long of a layoff was probably not the best plan.

Still, a beautiful route, and when I look back at my numbers, not a bad result.  Avg speed = 12.7 mph, elevation gain 3,215 ft.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

30 Days of Biking by Eunice Chang - Exposure

Note to self:  It's not a contest.  Enjoy the ride.   And, every day is a victory.

30 Days of Biking by Eunice Chang - Exposure:

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Rules, according to Kolo T.C.

The Rules | kolo t.c.:

Of course, these rules are meant to complement those specified previously....

19 great miles from Marymoor over Newport Hill and into downtown Bellevue today on CTS #3. Those dry miles were followed unfortunately by a downpour, gusty winds and a schlep back over the 520 trail through Microsoft Land to the starting point.   We combined with another Yellow Group, after polling in the rain while shivering, and finding that no one wanted to endure the weather.

There was confusion about the route, we got lost once after missing a turn, but made it back to fight another day.

694 miles YTD, with over 60 hours bike time.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lynne's Mostly-Cycling Blog: The Making of a Cue Sheet

Lynne's Mostly-Cycling Blog: The Making of a Cue Sheet:

I've been struggling with maps, map formats, Google Earth, etc., as the duties and responsibilities of becoming a CTS Ride Leader push their way to the front of my limited attention span.   Here, cyclist extraordinaire Lynne F describes how to make a good cue sheet, and her attention to detail is noteworthy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Impulse Control

1. Does this need to be said?
2. Does this need to be said by me?
3. Does this need to be said by me right now?
— Craig Ferguson’s three questions to ask yourself before posting something on the internet.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

GR2R, Commuting, Six Years

Rode the sixth in our Getting Ready to Ride Series today, a total of 52 miles.  Last week on the series, I led a leisurely group in a downpour and when I started down the hill this a.m., the sprinkles made me think, "Here we go again!"  But, the rain held off, and the ride was fine.  Longest of the year so far.

On the way to the start, I rode over Dexter and into downtown, stopping at Zeitgeist for some coffeeneuring sustenance, and then out to Jack Block Park in West Seattle.  This week, I was a sweep in the steady pace (12-14 MPH), and the route was hilly at first, a bit of a challenge for some, but interesting.    We rode along the West Seattle ridge and down through north Burien, back into White Center, stopping at Ambaum Park for a fluid exchange, a regroup, and encouragement.  Then, down to Fauntleroy, around Alki Point, and back to the start.  My return was through Myrtle Edwards Park and the Ship Canal Trail, subject of more photos watching the changes along that route.

The CRV gave out this week, replacement crankshaft, and another expense we just don't need.  The one bright spot is that it provides me the encouragement for two-wheeled commuting for a couple of days.

While riding, I couldn't help but think of the same Saturday 6 years ago, and my attempt at the McClinchy Mile, interrupted by the phone call.  Six years is a long time, but also so short, and much water under the bridge, but many memories as well.  Good reminder to be thankful for being here, for what we have, and for life.  Puts the expenses in perspective.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

On Writing & Riding: The Full List | chasing mailboxes d.c.

On Writing & Riding: The Full List | chasing mailboxes d.c.:

Maybe I should be writing more about my riding so I can understand why I do what I do, where I've gone, what I've seen, why I use the 'I' pronoun so extensively?

Since the return from the East Coast, there was the CTS Orientation, where I felt like one of the oldest in the room.  The presentation seemed to focus on rules, requirements, tips on how to survive, and needed an emphasis on the notion that biking was fun.  

And, there was the preride of GR2R #4, in warm, sunny, 55 degree, shorts and fingerless gloves.  Seattle spring, fleeting, almost teasing, as it was followed by the real deal the next day, 42, drizzly, chilly.   But I led, enjoyed the leisurely pace and those who choose to ride slowly.

Signed up to ride CTS after the GR2R series winds up at the end of the month, and the goals, as always, are to ride more and to enjoy the ride more.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Roger Angell: Life in the Nineties : The New Yorker

Roger Angell: Life in the Nineties : The New Yorker:

Roger Angell is the greatest of all baseball writers, or so they say.  But here he shares his insight and eloquence about growing old, living, loss and our need for love.  Note the quote from Laurence Olivier, "Inside we're all seventeen, with red lips."

Monday, January 6, 2014

Fast start

Off to a good start in 2014, with three rides, all with dry and cold weather, totaling 113 miles in less than a week.  Plenty of good views, a few hills, and a bit of coffeeneuring going on.  On Sunday, work up too late to get to the Chew #1 ride, which ended up canceled due to icy conditions.   I waited until about 11 and headed down Leschi, through the Bike Tunnel and down toward Boeing Field.  The northbound return was into a chilly headwind, and used the stop at Alki Starbucks to fill a prepaid tumbler, eat a cream cheese brownie, and get out of the breeze that was kicking up white caps on the Sound.    I counseled a new rider at the Myrtle Edwards fishing pier about the Elliot Bay Trail, and ended up learning a little too much about her, coming off an undescribed several tough years, relocating from Bainbridge to the Big City, raising a son (probably alone.)   Amazing how some will open up to complete strangers!  Maybe not so strange, on a bike, looking harmless, smiling and offering tips on how to get to the Burke Gilman trail, where to get a map, etc.  But still.    Anyway, a good start to the year.