Monday, September 24, 2007


Chilco Mountain

In endurance athletics, ignoring the nagging voices in the head that try and talk you out of the activity at hand is just part of pushing oneself. Then comes a time when you have to decide whether the voices are right. Intuition is a difficult thing because it can sound just like the negative thoughts that want to send you back to that warm bed that you left behind to sweat and grunt out yet another 5-6 hour ride. Intuition is knowing when experience not laziness says to bag it.
Today I headed out to the CDA national forest to ride the Independence Creek National Scenic Trail. I was excited at the prospect of riding a lengthy singletrack trail that winds along a valley floor. No two hour climbs, no endless washboarded forest roads; this was going to be fun. With that said, I pulled the plug on the ride after riding up to the trailhead. It was a beautiful morning with fog in the valleys and sunshine up at 4600 feet where I was. I can't say exactly why I turned around and went home but the hunters might have had something to do with it. In three miles I came across three groups of hunters. There was a large camp set up at the beginning of the trail with several trucks and a couple of trailers. I don't want to get shot but I find that outcome to be fairly unlikely with the noise my bike makes coming through woods. Regardless, my intuition told me to skip today's ride and that was good enough for me.
I salvaged the morning by stopping by Doma Coffee Roastery and having some espresso and conversation with Terry. The day turned out to be one of those perfect days of Fall when the sky is impossibly blue and the mood is mellow. I went home and made some stew with the veggies from the garden and tried not to worry about the ride I could have had. I have to trust that intuition was in control and it is the wise voice of reason and experience.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Richmond Peak

Click Picture to see it Montana size.

Saturday after work I drove the 280 miles to Seeley lake MT to do a pre-ride of the GDR segment that goes over Richmond Peak. On Sunday morning I woke up early, parked my car at the gas station and rode Highway 83 twenty some miles to Holland Lake. At Holland Lake I got on the GDMBR. I started the route at 7:30 a.m. My goal with this ride was to get an understanding of the terrain. When they say "begin steep climb" what is that comparable to from my terrain back home?
Overall the ride is pretty much what I thought it was going to be. It does remind me of the riding I have been doing in the Coeur d' Alene national Forest. Long gravel climbs and the occasional rocky single track. The differences were few but significant.
Altitude. Once the climb got in the 5,000 to 7,000 foot range the legs felt empty but it was just the lack of oxygen. When I remembered to exaggerate my breathing things improved.
Navigation. I don't have any experience following cue sheets and the ACA maps use of running mileage totals bothered me. I was reading off of the maps and then shoving them into my side mesh pockets on my pack. When I got to the next turn I would pull the map out agoing. This experience has given me insight into how to write-me own cue sheets. The running mileage total doesn't work all that well if you get off course. After doubling back to the route the mileage is all wrong and you spend the rest of the day doing math for every turn. And yes I took a wrong turn...a really bad wrong turn. Up on Richmond peak I knew that my next navigational cue was "switchback to the right" also vaguely remembered the line "trail deteriorates". I saw a switchback with a gate and though the directions did not mention a gate I saw orange arrows pointing up the deteriorated trail. I had been seeing the orange arrows all day so I thought it helped the case for this being the turn. I followed that brushy rock and rut path for two miles DOWNHILL before I accepted the fact that that I was going to be going back up to where I came from. Getting off track (different than getting lost imho) is part of the GDR and so for that reason it was good to get a little of that practice in as well.
Scenery. I am not saying that the vistas are not beautiful around these parts but staring into the mountains of the Bob Marshall Wilderness I felt compelled to take up painting so that I could spend my days looking at them.
The full ride was 65.0 miles with a moving average of 11.3 mph and with 41 minutes of stopped time I had an overall average of 10.0 mph. I rode for 5 hours and 45 minutes. Starting at 5:50 a.m. I finished at 12:19 p.m.
There were no problems on the ride but my pedal fell off while pedaling down the dirt road into town. Nothing was wrong it just managed to vibrate itself loose during the long descent off of Richmond peak. I have never had this happen before and I wrenched it on to make sure that it would be the last time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

CDA 70 miler

I haven't ridden out in the CDA forest since the 60 miler that left the Gary Fisher with multiple component failure and that was early summer. I was eager to continue piecing together the route for a hundred miler. I decided to follow the course from the beginning in downtown CDA but this time I wanted to add a drop down Trail 78 to the South Fork and then back up to Hudlow Saddle.
I admit that I am out of shape. I know that the months ahead before the GDR will require consistent increases in fitness and I have allowed myself to take the summer off from worrying about that. Considering I am at the bottom physically I have to be pleased with my ride yesterday. Regardless of what kind of shape I am in I can always grind out some long hills and long miles. I would have preferred to understand algorithms but I got the slow hill climbing gene instead.
The route consists of some hills that are perfect for me and my 2:1 gear ratio.
The first climb up Fernan Creek road is paved and climbs 2518 feet over 8.95 miles. A mile later the burnt cabin trail tops out with a 1461 foot 3.08 mile rise. There is another good rise from burnt cabin saddle up to Spade Mountain but at the end of the day it is not much to worry about. From Spade mountain Trail 78 is some technical singletrack that drops down to the river. The descent is so long and difficult, it left me as wiped out as the climb that preceded it. FR 392 does a serpentine climb up to Hudlow saddle. The road barely tilts ups. It does most of it's 1743 feet of climbing in the switchback corners that are numerous during it's 6.35 mile length. From the saddle I took a wrong turn and made the descent down to Hayden lake a little early. The route was new so once I discovered I went the wrong way I decided it wasn't worth climbing a couple thousand extra feet just to come down the next road over. The 100 mile route won't come down this way in fact it will come up the road after descending Hell's Canyon trail. Ohio Match road is a bumpy dirt climb that starts behind Hayden Lake and climbs a mere 1666 feet over it 9.36 mile length. Yes, it is a gradual climb but considering it's placement towards the end of the ride in the afternoon sun; I started thinking about the end just after the halfway mark. The last couple of miles were an exercise in mental strength.
I decided to come down Canfield butte on trail 10 and was able to find it only after I found a couple of dead ends. For some reason I have a knack for picking dead end trails when I am at Canfield. Trail 10 is a douzy of a descent with trenches filled with rocks and plenty of root drops. I was pleased with my handling of the worst part at the top and feel like I am making progress with my technical riding ability. Of course, that doesn't seem right to say after the fall I took on the lower "easy" section.
I still don't know what happened but I was cranking on the pedals and then I felt the whole drivetrain come to a short stop. While skidding I had enough time to think that I had survived another close call and then I went elbow first into the rocks.
I expected to see a mangled chain or a bent wheel but the bike was absolutely perfect. The numerous gouges in my forearm hurt like hell so I did not spend any time trying to see what the cause of the accident was. I had been riding six and a half hours at this point and the car was still 7 mile away. Having no more water made the last bit of riding a grueling slog.
I am clean and bandaged now and feel great about the riding yesterday.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Liberty Lake Climbing

Mt. Spokane was good fun last week but it was all about the downhill. This week Ben and I headed to Liberty Lake. Liberty Lake is all about the climbing. Even after getting to the top, the downhill is just what you do after the climbing. I always ride from the West side of the lake up tire shack hill. I rode up from the County park on east side once and did not really care for that route. The climbing from the lake up to Mica Peak is relentless and for a good stretch, utterly torturous. The rocky, rutted and steep section in the middle of the ride is difficult to walk (as I did) and nearly impossible to ride (as Ben did).
The trail starts at 2216 feet and we finished up 8.3 miles later at 4710 feet. We turned around at the rock shelter which is a false summit but the waning sunlight and my wasted legs told me to go home. I have a touch of some bug going around. I felt good at the start but the legs had no reserves. I kept bottoming out and the legs couldn't turn the pedals over. I haven't been so destroyed in years.
The downhill is stupid fast and filled with water trenches that are either perfect for a little airtime theatrics or for an unexpected endo at 25 miles an hour.
I am going to be using this climb as a marker for my fitness this fall. I would like to try it again Friday but I will see if my health returns enough.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Glamour Shots

I have been riding the Independent Fabrications Steel Deluxe around for several hundred miles now and finally have some pictures of the bike. The fit has been dialed in now and I couldn't be happier.
This 4140 steel Surly Torsion Bar is 26.2 inches wide (666mm) and sports a nice 20 degree bend.

Single Speed and Phil Wood. Mmmm. 32 spokes and some heavy duty DT Swiss Tk 7.1 rims make the wheels heavy but bombproof.