Sunday, November 22, 2015

Coffeeneuring Recap - 2015

For the third straight year, I can count the Coffeneuring Challenge as part of my cycling adventures.  One of the many positive aspects about this world-wide event is to be a part of a greater community, to share experiences, to keep riding as the days get shorter, the weather, in our part of the planet, colder and wetter, and the temptation to park the bike and sit on the tukhas greater.  And, with the preponderance of events of tragedy, meanness, pettiness, and violence that have crossed the radar in the past months, Coffeeneuring is a powerful and necessary positive counterbalance to the universe's tendencies toward entropy and madness.

My mileage and intensity drops after the riding season ends, generally with Kitsap Color Classic, but the goal to keep riding during the winter months is helped by participating in this.

So, here's the recap.

Preseason #1 - Ashland to Jacksonville, Oregon.   Grande double iced mocha at Good Bean Coffee.  41 miles round trip and average temperature was 95 degrees, further complicated by smoke and haze from Cascade wildfires.  Blue Riot received compliments from locals and bike-friendliness rating of shop exceeds expectations.

Preseason #2 - Kitsap Color Classic.  Cascade Bike Club's fall end-of-season ride involves a ferry ride from Edmonds to Kingston, and then a jaunt around the Kitsap Peninsula.  I rode the shorter route, 38 miles, and enjoyed a muffin and ferry boat coffee on the voyage over to the start.  Blue Riot met up with the World's Smallest Viking. Washington State Ferries's crew always do a great job with all of us on our bikes and again, and their bike-friendliness exceeds expectations.

OK, down to business.  Coffeeneuring #1 - 2X short Americano at Starbucks with a Rice Krispie Treat.  34.9 miles on Cascade's Free Group Ride series, Saturday mornings in Snohomish County.
Starbucks' bike-friendliness meets expectations, but then again, they handled the caffeinated peloton's rush with good service, smiles, and sustenance for the balance of the ride.

Coffeeneuring #2 - A familiar route to Phinney Ridge Starbucks, 2X Iced Mocha, then out to Golden Gardens, across the Ballard Locks, around Magnolia Bluff and through Seattle Center on a warm October Sunday.   32.5 miles.  This Starbucks has no wi-fi, but does have pleasant tables shared with Red Mill Burgers, a must when we get around to organizing Burgerneuring.

And now for something completely different for #3.....Keeping on track with the challenge involved riding while I was traveling, and in this instance, to the mile-high city, Denver.  I rented a Denver B-share bike, rode the Cherry Creek and Platte River Bike Trails to Confluence Park, stopped at the REI Flagship Store for a tall iced coffee, fine ambiance, and finished by cruising around the downtown area.  About 14 miles, mile high, warm, friendly.

#4 in the series was combined with Cascade's Seattle Pastry series of rides, and this one took the group from the Central District, over the University Bridge to Green Lake, and then out to Ballard, the Locks, and Magnolia, for a stop at Uptown Espresso, the Home of the Velvet Foam.  2x Americano.  Parked outside with all the other bikes, across from the Magnolia Farmers Market.  Simpatico.  27.4 miles.

For the next two, a couple of Coffeeneuring standbys.   #5 centered around a visit to Zoka Coffee, complete with a Zoka Bar and a 2X Americano.  Zoka Coffee always is filled with U of W students taking advantage of wi-fi, studying, reading, surfing the internet, etc., and no exceptions on this rainy Sunday.  Zoka sponsors a cycle team, so they like bikes.  Followed this up with a Lake Union>Locks>BGT loop.  Two weeks later, and on another rainy and windy Seattle day I rode to Zeitgeist in Pioneer Square, a 29 mile loop.  Apple fritter and coffee, for Coffeeneuring #6.  The baristas tolerate bikes inside, as do the other customers, and bike friendliness at both venues meets expectations.

Finally, on the Sunday after the tragic events in Paris, the 2015 Coffeneuring challenge was completed with a visit to the Starbucks at Seattle Center, a 26 mile loop on a sunny Sunday.  The French Tri-color Flag was flying atop the Space Needle, putting all of our coffee bike rides into proper perspective.  As the Coffeeneuring World Map reinforces,  we are part of a large community of cycling coffee friends and neighbors,  and are grateful for being a part of something larger than ourselves, something fun, healthy and contributing to the greater good.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

STP - 2015

Another successful STP this year, as measured by smiles, good times both Day 1 and Day 2, good time over the course, lack of collisions and falls, and friends met along the route.  Sure, there were the usual STP frustrations, crowds on the road, bad cycling behaviors witnessed, the Dirty 30, the last 50 miles before crossing the St. John's Bridge into Portland, but the good far outweighs the bad.   When asked how many times I've done this, my response is that the right number of times to ride STP is N +1.

What worked:

  • Getting an early start on Saturday, which was cloudy and cool relative to the extraordinary heat in the Great NW from the previous weeks.   
  • Riding with another CTS ride leader to have some company, swap stories, and share the way-finding.  Using Google Maps to get back on track when we missed a turn.
  • The training prior to the ride.  I've put more miles on the bike than in previous years, so the 12 hours in the saddle on Day 1 was doable.
  • Route changes - riding through JBLM and stopping for lunch by the aircraft, quiet roads by the ammo bunkers and shooting ranges (!), guarded by the young soldiers, but a strong upgrade over SR 507.
  • Overnight in Napavine.  That means climbing the Napavine hill at the end of Saturday, allowing for a much easier start on Sunday with rollers, countryside, and quiet roads.  And, avoiding the circus at the Midway point in Centralia.
  • CTS and other connections to the broader community.  Always great to see friends and fellow travelers en route.
  • Sensible eating, plenty of hydration, Starbucks stops.   Breathing and stretching.   Laughing and smiles.  Rest stops, snacks, and sites.  You know, 'Eat before you're hungry, drink before you're thirsty.'
  • The Blue Riot.  No breakdowns.  No flats.   The only mechanical issue was loose handlebar tape.  Quiet, comfortable ride.  Best bike ever.  Terrific contrast to the carbon, titanium, pseudo-racers.
  • Cascade's organization.   Medical staff to keep us healthy and Outriders to keep us safe and in line created a presence that made riders feel comfortable.  Heard many compliments from locals and more importantly, from out-of-towners and first-timers about how impressed they were with the Club, the support they received and the 'feel' of the ride.  And, heard many times how well CTS prepared riders for the experience.  The thank-yous were gratifying and give me the encouragement to do it again next year.
STP is one of those group experiences where everyone projects their own perspective and experience onto a larger stage.  It's intense, 205 miles, 10,000 riders, each with their own baggage to pull, reasons for riding, things to prove to each other and to themselves.  Emotions can run high among those in the peloton, but the perspective of accomplishment, confidence, camaraderie and having fun overcome the discomfort and the snarkiness that some express, at least for me.  Next year, again.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

CTS 2015 - Wrap Up

CTS 2015 concluded today with a Full Lake Loop, and a fine one it was, with a cooler day than yesterday, a thunderstorm in Bellevue (first real rain on the series this year!) and Dante's Inferno Dogs for a treat at the Tailgate Party at CBC HQ at the end.   It's great to see the riders get stronger and more confident as the series progressed, and we should be in good shape for STP, (route map here,) and the other challenges ahead.  

How did we get here?  Rather than riding Flying Wheels with the crowds, I pre-rode CTS #9, a new route this year, the Magnuson-Everett. The cue sheet starts at Cascade HQ, runs through Richmond Beach, Woodway, Edmonds, Mukilteo, South Everett, then down into the Snohomish River Delta and out to Snohomish, which is a popular destination for cyclists in the North End. From there, a return to North Everett, along the Everett waterfront, and then return to Magnuson via Mill Creek and Bothell.  It's a hilly route that combines urban, suburban, and rural miles, lots of lights, twists and turns, and it turned out to be a challenge a week later for the group.  The weather was warm and sunny, and several riders bonked, with a few more complainers.  The pre-ride took me 6.5 hours, the real deal was over 7, with 10 hours elapsed time, due to stops, regroups, etc.  A definite challenge, and one that I'll repeat in a couple of weeks on CTS Rides Again.

CTS #10 was the Kent-Enumclaw Loop, a 90 mile ride through SE King County with great views of Mt. Rainier, but with family in town and a bit of vacation on the calendar, I passed this one up.  Next year.

CTS #11 is the CTS-Century and rather than the table-top flat ride to Flaming Geyser park, this year a new route from Cascade World HQ down to Renton, out the Cedar River trail, over to Hobart, and then up the Sammamish Valley to Issaquah, Redmond and Woodinville, a trip up the Paradise Valley to Maltby, and then return via the SRT and the BGT.  The cue sheet says 101, but my results claim only 94 miles.  More hills, more scenery, a challenge on Paradise Lake Road near the end of the ride, and my first flat in several years, all marked an exceptional ride, an upgrade over the previous years' capper, completed in 7 hours and 20 minutes.

Lessons learned.....Eat right.  Clif Mojo Peanut Butter Pretzel, banana chips, PB&J, and some fruit kept me from bonking.    Hydrate.  Water, water, water, once in a while with Nuun,  all to keep the fluid levels right.  Midweek rides help a lot.   NERD, MORE and even a commute once in a while keep the legs fresh.  Ride all the rides I can, and be consistent.  Be patient, friendly and supportive to the newbies.  Watch for wildlife, including hawks, eagles, osprey and herons, as well as point out the other marvels of the region.  "And, we get to ride our bikes here!"

Next up, CTS Rides Again and the STP.  1,556 miles so far this year, 43 rides, 74K feet in elevation gain, which compares well to last year at this time, 1,317 miles, 36 rides and 56K feet in elevation.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

CTS 2015 - So Far

Crossed the 1K mile year to date and it's a good time to reflect on the CTS rides, plus others from this year.  The Cascade Training Series is designed to help riders prep for the STP and other events and I signed up to lead to get the legs and my wind back to where they should be.  The Chief Coffeeneur writes about how to train for a century in this piece, but my plan involves little more than getting the miles, getting the rhythm, eating better, riding more consistently, and tweeking the bike to improve comfort.

To that end, the last tune up included new shifters, tires, a new rear wheel as the old one had a crack, plus removing the fenders, thus insuring that the first ride following would be wet.

Here are some of the CTS ride highlights...

CTS #1 - Out and back to Seward Park from Cascade HQ at Magnuson.  Similar to several of the Getting Ready to Ride routes from the previous two months.

CTS #2 - South End Loop - From Renton, around Mercer Island, and then down past Seward Park and the Boeing Plant to start.  A new route for the series and a nice addition.  The Mercer Island section has a sustained set of rollers that always gets the legs warm.

CTS #3 - Mercer Island Loop - A combination of 1 & 2.  Can the nice weather continue through the spring?

CTS #4 - Now the fun begins with the Eastside Urban Loop.  44 miles, with a Bellevue P & R start, meaning that we get the Medina rollers first, a segment on the new 520 trail with new smooth pavement, then the Kirkland hill, the SRT, and ending with the Newport Hill.  Lots of anxiety among the newbies for this climb at the end of the route, much huffing and puffing, but most made it.  I waited for one rider at the top, who was working through some severe health challenges, gave her encouragement but also advice about riding at a pace where she'd feel comfortable.  Cascade may be about SMART riding, but CTS is also about learning to have fun in addition to training, and sometimes that means dropping back a pace.

CTS #5 - Circumnavigating the Lake - A touchstone, a marker, a formative assessment.  Again, nice weather helped.   The big challenge here was getting over the Montlake Bridge before it was closed for the Opening Day of Boating Season.  Made it with ten minutes to spare!

CTS #6 - Marymoor-Snohomish Loop - A favorite.  Starting from Marymoor, up and over the ridge into the Snoqualmie Valley, out to Monroe, rural roads to Snohomish, up the hill to Maltby, through the Paradise Valley and home to Redmond.  Farmland, climbs, warm weather, rollers through the forest, what's not to like? At 60 miles, a good stretch and really the culmination of six weeks of training.

Missed CTS #7 -  I was here instead, and got some miles in on the Miami Beach Bike Share plan.

CTS #8 - 73 miles.  A fine route with the hills and climbs in the first part, and the second half mostly a descent,  but it's more complicated than that. Rain showers at the start, ride leader had a flat as we got the go signal, grumbling from other RL who thought I was leading to fast a pace, and then someone else said we were going too slow. Sometimes the rides are like this, more of a schlep than a glide. Cooler, cloudy weather, but we made it and brought 'em back alive. Plus a stop at the Black Diamond Bakery is always a treat.

More to come in the coming weeks leading up to STP, but what are we trying to accomplish?  Emulate Platty Jo?  Rando? Try to keep up with Lynne?   At this point, it's not just about the bike, staying in shape and healthy, viewing the scenery, and enjoying the ride.  But this year, CTS, Getting Ready to Ride, and Dorothe's North End rides in winter all have have made me feel better with more miles earlier in the year than in previous ones.   Keep movin.....

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Miami Beach - Citi Bike

Rode one of the citi bike Miami, Bike Sharing tanks for a couple of hours today, over the Venetian Bridge over Biscayne Bay, seeing wild parrots, a shallow Biscayne Bay, deco buildings in South Beach, and up to the Fontainebleau Hotel.

The bike sharing programs make it easy to get out and spin, once you figure out how to pay, select a ride and get it unhooked from their kiosks.   Miami is flat and Sunday on the boardwalk is full of joggers, families, and other beach denizens, so the riding is easy with lots to view.

Cost was $10 for two hours, a lot less than taking a cab or the shuttle, and definitely worth a repeat in other cities with similar services.

Friday, April 10, 2015

First Quarter Recap +

Much riding was accomplished in the first part of 2015, more than last year, and building up the miles plus scheduling the mid-week jaunts with MORE is all helping.  As Anne Lamott recently wrote, ' if you want to have a good life after you have grown a little less young, you must walk almost every day.'  My addition is getting on the bike, as well as stretching with the yoga folks.

CTS is part of that, and helping lead the rides with the newbies gets me out on the weekends, with a good group, through this scenic wonderland and marvelous city.   A few of these rides contain parts that are in the regular rotation, especially the Seattle Urban Loop, as well as the commute, aka The Interurban Trail Loop.   Nice to know others like these routes!

Keep movin'.  And here's a goal.

It's good to have goals.