Monday, October 31, 2011

A Zombiesque Tale and a 4-wheel Adventure

In keeping with the season, I have a tale to share. It relates to the reason no 2-wheeled adventures were on the docket for the weekend. Ron had oral surgery this week. Our dentist appears to be a nice enough fellow, but I have to wonder at his motives. Ron needed a skin graft on a portion of his gums, and our Dentist recommended...

 ...dead skin.

EEEEEW!

Creepy! The dentist has some crazy story that skin from a cadaver is sterile, has no dna or whatever, so there are no rejection issues and so on. Yeah, right! I suspect the real story is that our dentist is secretly turning his patients into zombies piece by cadaver-skin piece. There goes the neighborhood.

To allow the zombie skin to heal, Ron was told to avoid exertion, so no bicycling. A swollen face and no desire to slip into a helmet left motorcycling out as well. Guess that leaves the transportation of last resort for us zombies - the car.

We have two objectives this weekend. Drive the old McKenzie highway and check out the McKenzie River Trail. With low snow levels in the forecast I imagine the highway will be closing for the year. This weekend is probably our last opportunity to travel the route. For those familiar with the area, you know this is one of the premium motorcycle routes in the state. This time of year it is stunningly gorgeous. Today we only see two sport bikes moving at a rather sedate speed. The road often has rock debris in the curves, but one can still travel briskly if you keep a sharp eye out for debris. Today it has the rocks, along with a wet surface, and leaves and needles added to the mix. Let's just say it's a good day to enjoy views at an unhurried pace rather than enjoy the curves.
Alder Springs
On top of the pass I stop for two panoramic views of the lava field. They didn't turn out as I'd hoped, but that's how it goes sometimes.
Windy Point
Ron and Cookie near Dee Wright Observatory
 McKenzie River Trail
Ron and I have a goal to mountain bike the McKenzie River Trail next year. 26 miles of beautiful single track with some rather technical sections. Our mountain biking consists of very non-technical easy stuff, so I'm thinking it's a good idea to go take a peek at what kind of mess we'll be getting into.

 Lunch was at Carmen Reservoir.
The view at lunch.
Best seat in the house.
 Afterwords we stopped at various trail heads to take a peek at the trail . We didn't find much technical stuff, but we did find some lovely views. The Cascades are beautiful this time of year.
McKenzie River
Sahalie Falls
Path at Sahalie Falls
Bridge across the McKenzie River - McKenzie River Trail
McKenzie River Trail
McKenzie River
The road home wasn't bad either...
Highway 20 - Santiam Pass.
Not a bad weekend for Zombies.
Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Change of Seasons

Autumn has arrived. The best season, my favorite season. The busyness of Summer settles into the calmness of Autumn. I love this season but I'm not ready yet. Winter seemed to linger into July. When summer did arrive it was nice, but over too quick. Autumn came anyway.
Shadows have grown long on the commute. The sun is low in the sky, shining directly into my eyes. I almost wish for overcast skies to cut the glare, but that's a silly thing to wish for. Grey skies will arrive soon enough.
I've used the heated jacket a couple of mornings. Partly because it's cool and partly to be sure it's all in working order for the really cold mornings. All is good. We're ready for cold.
Light mist over the fields. Today it was thick fog and no view.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cheadle Lake Morning Ride - Sunday

I didn't have to return the Epic until Sunday afternoon, so that left us time for a quick morning ride. I recently rode the Rockhopper to Cheadle Lake, so it would be a good comparison for the Epic. We rode from home and the Epic isn't too bad on pavement. Not a road bike for sure, but easy enough to roll along.
Cheadle Lake. Yes there is a lake there somewhere
It's a foggy morning. The thick, gloomy kind of fog that isn't pretty, and isn't much fun. Still, maybe it's because I'm on a bicycle, but it doesn't seem so bad.
One ride on the Rockhopper was enough to know I didn't want to ride there again. It was a slog going through the fine gravel on the trail, and the rougher trails filled with larger rocks were just harsh and not enjoyable. I'd rather walk.
Local wildlife were not so impressed
The Epic excelled on both surfaces. The big wheels made quick work of the fine gravel, and was simply a pleasure to ride over the rougher surfaces. Ron took it for a spin and declared it a fine ride. He took quite a beating riding his old Giant ATX on the trails.
Ron riding the Epic...seat's a little low :)
We returned the Epic to Peak Sports in the afternoon. I definitely think I would enjoy a 29er now that I know I can find a bike that fits well enough, and they don't feel too big. I had one complaint on the fit. The handlebars seem a little high for my taste. At the bike store they said the bars could be lowered a little, or the stem could be flipped to get them even lower. That would probably be enough for me.

Monday, October 17, 2011

More from the Forest

This weekend I rented an Epic FS 29er, then went to play in the forest. Another opportunity to try out a different mtn. bike.
Homestead trail head
 Look what a short person does to a perfectly respectable bike...turns it into a clown bike with big goofy wheels on a teeny, little frame. As if that's not silly looking enough they had to find a shorter seat post to drop the seat way down for me. The sexy little FS XC racer must be feeling a little sheepish looking like this.
But I don't want to ride up that!
 McDonald Forest doesn't have stunning scenery, but it is pretty in a subtle, woodsy way, with snippets of pretty scenery. The sun will manage to dapple the trail a few times, and there is just a hint of fall color to come.
Top of Extendo
Our first destination, Extendo. It defeated me last time, so it needed to be rode again. It's just the way it is.
I get a few butterflies in my tummy at the trailhead, but I'm ready to go....I think. Extendo isn't so bad on the Epic. The big wheels and full suspension do their job smoothing out the trail and handling the roots with aplomb. Before the end I'm choosing to go over some roots and rocks rather than ride around. That's always a good sign. I'm glad I rode Extendo again. Now I know I can learn to enjoy the trail and not just fear it.

Some thoughts from the trail:
I was able to get up to a reasonable speed, which gave me the momentum and stability to get through the rougher stuff. Hit a root quick and roll on over, and if I do slip...it goes fast and I get traction again, that much faster. Much better than moving slowly. In my head I know this to be true, but it's hard to get past the fear.

The bigness of the bike and limited standover was not a problem on the trail. Going from a small 26er to a 29er feels strange (and big) at first, even on smooth bike path. I was worried it would feel big and awkward on the trail, but it was a non-issue. This bike feels so much more stable and solid than my little Rockhopper. I have noticed when I walk the 29er, it's big. Like a bull in a China shop, it seems to bump into everything, but when riding it's all smooth and graceful.

Calloway  & Bonzai
While on Extendo we got a call from Wally and Linda who can join us in an hour for a ride. We agree to meet at Peavy Arboretum for a ride on Calloway trail. Many of these trails will be closed to Mtn. bikes for the winter, so it's a good time to get in one last ride for the year.

We ride up Calloway to Cronemiller Lake, taking the short route. I manage to ride to the top without stopping. I don't think I've done that before. Definitely out of breath, but I made it. I can't decide if it's a little easier to climb with the big wheels, but I think maybe it is.
Ron, Linda and Wally
From the Lake we head on up to the intersection of Patterson and Davies Road. I must be feeling more confident (or foolhardy), I agree to ride down Bonzai.
Road to Bonzai. Not sure why I didn't get a picture of the trail.
Photo opp at the cap house. This is the same scene as my avatar. The avatar was taken sometime in 2009 I believe, probably in autumn.
Cap house
I survived the ride down Bonzai! I even kept up (more or less) with everyone. Yeah the guys did roll out a little faster, but they weren't that far ahead. I even had fun on the whoop-de-doos. Our return route was back to Cronemiller lake, then down Calloway trail, taking the longer route. A perfect autumn day ride!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

N. Albany to Dallas - 60 miles

Our biggest ride this year. Neither of us thought we were ready for this and nearly ditched to ride the trails. The default ride prevailed and we rode. A beautiful, perfect fall day for riding. the wind was nil, the sky was partly cloudy, just enough to be pretty. Temps were comfortable.

Outside of Independence Ron had bicycle noise that couldn't be identified. We finally found the culprit. His rear tire was delaminating...the thin surface was peeling away in one spot. We taped it up with electrical tape and that seemed to do the trick. On to Dallas. We met Jo and Ace outside of Independence. Ace helped with the tire repair.

The return would be over Independence highway. Just outside of Independence Ron had a flat. He sent me on ahead to get the car, if he couldn't get it repaired. That was some of the hardest riding I did, and I managed to finish with the pack - who'd a thunk I could keep up. Well, I cheated, I didn't stop for breaks, so I could shoot ahead, and soon enough everyone caught up. Turns out Ron got the tire repaired, and it wasn't even the bad spot in the tire. He rode most of the way back. I only picked him up a couple miles from Dian's house (the start).

Great ride. I got a taste of pushing hard, and after I recovered, it was kind of fun in a sick sort of way. Hope the feeling passes.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Detering Orchard - Apple Daze

A day of firsts. Must have been that fancy s-works helmet Nelson sold to me.
On our way to Detering Orchard

 New thing No. 1: The club did our annual Detering Orchard ride, this time in reverse.
New Thing No. 2: Some of the Corvallis club joined us on the ride for an exceptionally large group, and good company. 
New thing No. 3: Not only did I keep up with the group, I was exceptionally strong too.
New thing No. 4: A fantastic (for me) average. Would be sucky for most riders though.
New thing No. 5: A new maximum speed. 46.27 mph coming down Gap Road - Woot!
A new record!
 I couldn't see my speed until I checked later, but I did notice the increased wind noise and wondered if I was getting some speed. (or was it that fancy-smancy s-works helmet again?) Dennis Murphy had an even better top speed on his recumbent: 53 mph - Awesome!
Scenes from the road


Finished off the day with a trip up to Santiam Cycles to show off the Juliana to Ron. Met some more of the crew up there - seems like a good bunch of folks, and got invited on some trail rides. Maybe this mountain biking thing is going to stick :)