Sunday, August 16, 2015

Upper Priest Lake Ride

I wasn't not entirely sure where I rode yesterday so I looked up all the trails for this post. John was coming over for the weekend so he brought his 29er. We parked at the trail head for Lakeshore Trail (east of Nordman) and rode north alongside Priest Lake until we ran out of lake. Then we got on Navigation Trail and followed that to its northern terminus, I think, and then took some old forest service roads eastward where we hooked up with the Upper Priest Lake Trail. Then we headed south and followed the east bank of Upper Priest Lake until we got to the second beach along the trail. Everybody brought at least one beer so there was enough to go around.

The trails were beautiful. There were some awesome flowing trails that were a joy to ride on. And there were some climbs where I had to push the bike. Fortunately, there weren't many of them. I crashed three times but only sustained flesh wounds on my legs. The first was an endo I did going into some tree roots. I think it was a slow motion one because I landed on my feet. The second crash happened on a sharp right turn up and over some wood. I did not have enough speed, lost my balance and fell over. On the way back from the beach we were crossing some wooden bridges. One had a very large step so we picked our bikes up over the step to ride on. Instead of dismounting, I stopped next to the log on the side of the bridge to put my left foot on and lift my front wheel over the step. The log was very wet. It was as if I stepped on ice. My foot slipped right off and I fell over the edge. Fortunately, it was at the end of the bridge so there wasn't much distance to fall down. The rest of the ride was uneventful as far as crashing goes but the trails were a blast.

I didn't do a Strava session because I couldn't figure out how to start one. If only a teen had been on the ride to help me.

Looking fresh and well nourished at the start.

Some falls at a bridge where I think we crossed Upper Priest River.

 Having a well deserved beer at our destination...

 ...a beach.

 Someone else's Strava map of the ride that I pilfered.

 Yeah, we were a little tired.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Not Getting Sucked In By Strava

Which of the following is the best description of my commute to work yesterday?

Yesterday morning I rode exactly 18 miles to work across Peone, over Argonne Hill, and following the Centennial Trail into town. It only took me one hour and nine and one-half minutes and I did 502 feet of elevation gain. My top speed was 38.3 miles and hour and my average speed was 15.6.

Yesterday I left home early to ride a longer route that takes me over Argonne Hill. The sun was bright red as it rose, the only beauty from the smoke in the air from all the wildfires. The temperature was a cool, which made climbing the hill easy to tolerate. Going down the hill a cop had someone pulled over so traffic slowed down to the speed limit, which meant I was riding with traffic for a change so that was cool. Coming in on Upriver Drive just about everyone on a bike going in the other direction waved back. I passed a guy who had a small cooler on the back of his bike. It was probably his lunch. I asked him if he had any beer in it. That made him laugh out loud. I said good morning and waved to the regular morning runners and walkers I see on the trail between Mission and Riverfront Parks.

I prefer the second one because it focuses on the experience, not the accomplishment. Some years ago I got rid of the small computer on my bike that kept track of my distance, speed, etc., because I found I was focusing on the accomplishment instead of enjoying the ride. When I ride with other people I notice a number of them pause to start their tracking app or, after we've started riding, stop to start the tracking app they forgot to start, and when the ride is done, announce and compare results. Me, I just want to enjoy the ride.

Yesterday was my first attempt at using Strava. Why am I doing this? One thing I enjoy is exploring roads all around Spokane. There are some really good gravel roads and I'd like to map them out to help me remember where I went. So I'm playing with Strava on my phone to see how well it works and how it affects battery life, especially on rides exceeding 50 miles.

I find it disturbingly appropriate that the icon representing Strava while it's active on my phone is a trophy. I will do my best to avoid segment comparisons, top speeds, and all those other bits of data that people post on their blogs, forums, and Facebook pages. If I fail to do so, then please ask to see my phone when you happen to run into me and smash it on the pavement. It'll be for my own good.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Kidical Massive

Bill Bender is the force behind Spokefest, Summer Parkways, and Kidical Mass. The folks in Eugene, Oregon who started Kidical Mass are asking that participating cities hold an event on September 19 (Kidical Massive) to help raise awareness for the program and get kids out on bikes.

Spokane's Kidical Massive event will take place in Kendall Yards at 1:00 pm on that day. The kids will be briefed on safety and hand signals before heading out on a three-mile ride.

Kidical Massive from hank greer on Vimeo.

Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes

Last Sunday, Kathy and I took our friends Bob and Donna to the trailhead at Plummer and rode to Harrison and back. It was their first time on the trail and they enjoyed it very much. As usual, the wildlife was on display for us, although the ospreys nesting on top of Chacolet Bridge were not very cooperative.

The trail is a very pleasant ride. Coming from Plummer you have five miles of slow descent to the southern end of Lake Coeur d'Alene. The trail travels north on the west side of the lake for a bit before crossing the lake on the Chacolet Bridge, which used to be a railroad trestle. Then you follow the west side of the lake to Harrison.

We ate lunch at One Shot Charlie's in Harrison and then went for ice cream at the Harrison Creamery and Fudge Factory. It's been a while since Kathy and I took the kids to Harrison and the ice cream shop is under new management since. They boats the largest single scoop of ice cream and I have to agree. 

Fortunately, the ride back to Plummer is level until you leave the lake. Then it's a 3% grade climb, which isn't bad at all even with a belly full of ice cream.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Midnight Century 2015

Last night I rode my fourth Midnight Century and it was the toughest one I've done yet. The gravel roads were in horrible condition with high washboards and lots of deep, loose gravel. I rode the Elephant CX bike and it was lively on those washboards to say the least.

I'm guessing there were about 40 starters. The fast burners, and there were many of them, disappeared  before we got to Bernard Street, which is just over a mile from the start. I linked up with three other guys and we ripped along the Centennial Trail to the state line, arriving there about ten minutes after one. I was concerned I was burning myself up so I stopped to have a snack and get my mind together. I had my cue card out to make sure I didn't take any wrong turns. While climbing Idaho Road I connected with Jayce Robertson of This Bike Life. His battery was already low so we rode together on my lights. He used his on the downhill stretches.

Along Quinimose, Jayce and I connected with Ian Butler and a fellow named Chip. The four of us road together until just before Sands Road, which is the midpoint of the ride. I stopped for a short break and then started climbing after them. They were stopped on Bruna Road taking a break. When I arrived, Ian handed me a small bottle of Jack Daniels. That was a sweet drink. We continued riding together until just after the last climb up Spangle Creek Road. At the top of the hill and a little farther down the road on Yale there were gallon jugs of water, trail mix, and breakfast bars. I topped off my water bottle but I held out on food because just a little farther on, just like last year, Art and Julie Thayer had a table set up with coffee, cookies, and bananas. Thank you!

Once we reached Jennings, Chip started falling back. Ian, Jayce, and I rolled along the gravel as best we could. Ian almost bit it when he hit some deep sand but he worked through it. Going into Cheney on the pavement we were taking turns leading the pace line. Ian accelerated to take the lead and kept going at his new speed. Jayce gamely hung on. Since we were going uphill, I wasn't about to blow myself up trying stay with them. They drifted farther and farther away from me but I was okay with that. I stopped at Fish Lake Trail and ate a Clif bar to fuel up for the final push.

While I was zooming along the Fish Lake Trail I would time myself between the mile markers and figure out my speed. (I don't use any electronic gadgets on my bike.) I stayed at 18-19 mph all the way into town.

I rolled into Central Food at 7:35, which is about 20 minutes faster than I'd done before. Not very many riders were there since so many arrived before the restaurant opened. I was surprised when I looked at the sign in sheet. There were two people who signed in about an hour before me. I got ahead of them on the Centennial Trail at Plante's Ferry. I was on course the entire night and they never passed me. So something isn't right there. David Blaine said they came in from the wrong direction and they were not dirty from riding on the gravel roads, so that's pretty much an open and shut case. It's a shame people would do that.

Like I said, this was the hardest ride I've had yet because the gravel roads were so bad. And that's why it's the best ride I've ever had. The Midnight Century is supposed to be a grueling challenge and it really came through this year.