Friday, November 21, 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014

License To Calculate

For the past several years I've been a licensed engineer in South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Ohio.  These states are exactly in close proximity to me and vice versa.

About a month ago my Minnesota license was up for renewal.  I didn't.  At the end of December my North Dakota and Ohio licenses will be up for renewal.  They won't be.  Of the five, I'll only keep my South Dakota registration current and active.  It's my home state and my first.

In order to keep options open I've made application for engineering license in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia.  I was thinking I might do a little engineering on the side during the wetter, less daylight months.  This would be extra cabbage for travel, gear, bikes, and maybe even the retirement fund.  Like I said, a dude's got to keep his options open.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

Movie Night

Sunday some the tribe and I met in North Bend, WA at the North Bend Bar and Grill.  The game plan was to chow down and then attend a movie.  Here's what we saw:

In this part of Washington, we're entering "monsoon" season.  The upside - it was a fun movie to see.  The downside - it made us want to go climbing.  Like now go climbing.  Crap.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Where I've Been

It's been a while since I've updated, new posted, anything here.  It's not that I've not been doing anything, it's pretty much because I'm lazy, I guess.

The reality is I really haven't been doing that much in the way of exciting.  I did do a ride on the John Wayne Pioneer / Iron Horse trail.  A rails-to-trails trail so no tech and gradual grades.

Though there were some pretty dangerous areas - not.  There was zero snow and the risk of avalanche and/or rock slides was pretty minimal - as in none.

Maybe we'd see some blasting!

There was no blasting.  Just 5/8 of the lake sort of gone.  Judging from a ride to this lake last year, my guess is the level was down about 30 feet.  I expect this is the case each and every late summer.

For example, these rock cairns will be under water come spring.

I did ride through the Snoqualmie Pass tunnel.  At 2.3, or 2.7 - I can't remember for sure, miles long, it is quite cool (even cold) inside.  And, it's as dark as the inside of a cow.  Lights needed.

A couple of weekends ago some of the usual tribe and I headed in the direction of Leavenworth, WA for some mountain biking and Octoberfest attending.  Since Tiger Mountain was on the way, we had our mountain bikes (obviously), we had to stop and ride Tiger.  The view from the top was its usual great.

Doug, one of our group, did some research and suggest we ride a "secret" trail right outside Roslyn, WA called Rat Pack.  Per this weekend's norm, we got out of the car, on the bike, and then grunted uphill for hours.  Though the trail is secret, it is totally legit.  And, there's a giant Spam can near the trailhead (if you know where to look).

Post ride we were into Roslyn to eat and drink at The Brick.  Of course, one can't go to Roslyn without taking a photo of the mural. You who know the TV show Northern Exposure can appreciate.

Our crew had rented a house near Leavenworth.  With enough people it was very affordable, very private, and had all the amenities a mountain biker could want.  Some of our group went to Octoberfest Friday night.  The report - stupid expensive and too many drunks crowded into a confined space.  We bought our beverages at the grocery store.  We rode hard all day and partied hard each night at the rental property.

The Leavenworth area has some pretty fun trails.  We rode Devil's Gulch, after riding up a gravel road for hours, on Sunday.  Saturday was a mixture of looking for a trailhead and bad weather.  No riding Saturday.

Monday we did what we did every day, drive to the trail, climb for hours, and then bomb down a trail.  The trail for Monday was Xanadu.  Xanadu is a (mostly) downhill type trail right on the spine of a ridge.

At times the trail is technical, other times is very fast, some of it is VERY exposed either right on a knife edge or just off the knife edge on loose, rocky terrain.  There pictures were not the hard parts.

Xanadu was a tough trail to ride.  But, it was great fun!  My adrenaline levels went through the roof at times.  There are sections of this trail we all walked.  They were ride-able, it was just mistakes would have had dire consequences.  I thinking I'll be back next year to ride this trail.  However, I'd like to have a bike that's for sure "all mountain" and pushing toward "downhill" for this trail.  Also, I'll have body armor and a full face helmet.  This trail has much to offer if one has the right equipment.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Look What's Coming!

I found a movie trailer that I wanted to share.  This looks amazeballs.....

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Road Trip Oregon

The 205 mile weekend on a fully loaded touring bike did not reveal Thee Meaning of Life.  So, what to do?  Road trip!

This past Labour Day weekend was a four day-er for me.  What better way to celebrate it than loading the vehicle with some camping gear, some food, some liquor, and a mountain bike and hitting the road for Oregon?

I planned on riding some trails in the Oakridge, OR area.  But when I got there, as depicted by the photo below (that's not fog), forest fire smoke was everywhere.  Since I didn't know the area, was solo, and not sure of the conditions, I opted to not bike the Oakridge area trails.

Instead I headed for Crater Lake National Park.  As I entered the park and worked my way toward the lake, I crossed the Pumice Desert.

A few miles farther on and I reached the lake proper.

After I'd seen enough of Crater Lake I made my way to Medford, OR where I obtained a spot at the KOA campground.  I had a shady spot and access to a hot shower.

The next day I drove to Bend, OR.  I wanted to get back to the Phil's trailhead trails I'd ridden earlier this year.  I made my way up Ben's

until I got to Lower Whoops.

I made three laps on Lower Whoops before heading back down Phil's

where I stopped to take a picture of the swan sculpture thing.

No trip to this trailhead would be complete without playing on the jumps and pump track a bit.

After chatting with some cyclocross riders, there to train, I made my way to Sisters, OR and to the campsite I'd used in during my earlier in the year visit this direction.  No crowds, free camping, and great location!

The next day I wanted to visit Eugene, OR.  I left Sisters via the Old McKenzie Highway and found lots of lava.

I had a great time in Oregon.  I stopped at a Rogue Brewery Public House in Eugene to eat and buy some of their finest.  I've still not found Thee Meaning of Life, or what I'm supposed to do with mine, but I had fun, and really, that's what it's all about.

All the pictures can be found HERE.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Gigantic Bicycle Festival Recap

Here's the short version - because I'm pressed for time and more on that later.....

Last Friday I loaded up the Surly Long Haul Trucker with food, tools, camping stuff including a tent, and clothes.  My destination for Friday was Seattle.  25 miles later I was at the hotel.

Saturday I was taking part in the Gigantic Bicycle Festival (Google it.  I'm not going to hot link it).  Though the organizer dude tried to dissuade co-worker Dan and I from riding the 100 mile option (it was either that or 77 miles) fully loaded ("We have a truck to haul your gear!"), riding the 100 mile route fully loaded is what we did.  Every once in a while, masochistic is the way to go.  It's therapeutic - really.

We made it to Snoqualmie OK.  It was good to get off the bike and shower, though.  We did so, found some food, we found some beers, and then listened to some of the live music.

Sunday we walked across the street to the golf course for breakfast.  The Modified Lumberjack (sized) was awesome!

Supposedly we had 31 miles to bike back to the ferry.  A wrong turn, a misplaced trail, and/or road construction later and we added a few extra miles.  I should have ended up with 44 miles for the day.  Instead it was 76.  If my math is correct that means we rode 205 miles on fully loaded touring bikes last weekend.  Even if my math is wrong, that is how many miles my bike computer says we rode.

Oh, for the Twin Peaks fans out there, you should recognize this:

I was too busy riding and such to take too many pictures.  The ones I did take are HERE.

I've today off work and Monday is Labour Day.  For those keeping score - four day weekend!  I'm off to Oregon for some mountain biking and some looking around.  A lot more pictures and full recap (that will put this one to shame) early next week.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Bike Fest

Greetings, Earthlings!

Today I make my way to Seattle via Surly Long Haul Trucker touring bike.  I'll over-night there and then head to Snoqualmie on Saturday for the Gigantic Bike Festival.  Though there's supposed to be transport for one's crap, I'm going to do this ride loaded.  There's a 77 mile and 100 mile option.

Once in Snoqualmie, I'll set up camp and then hit the festival.  There are bands and such.  To use the vernacular of people who are not mine, "It should be a hoot!"

A recap complete with pictures to follow - probably on Monday.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Slow Motion

There's not much out of the ordinary going on since my return from Canada.  There's been work and, or course, the Tuesday Night Mountain Bike Ride.

Starting later today family is visiting for about a week.  That means touristy type stuff.  Maybe I'll have some pictures to share.

Looking forward, the tentative plan is to do a four day tour of Oregon over Labor Day Weekend.  There's some trails I want to explore.  Also, I want to have a good look around at all Oregon has to offer.  I'll definitely have pictures to post if this trip happens.

Updates will happen this coming week but certainly no need to hold your breath for Amazing Adventure.  That's not coming up for a week or two.....

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Great White North

The week before this past I was traveling to Michigan for work.  I left very early that Monday morning and was due back fairly late Thursday night.  I drove to a park and shuttle type lot near SeaTac airport with the vehicle pre-loaded with bike stuff, clothes, and my passport.  I was going to drive direct to Whistler from the airport upon my return from Michigan.  Then my flight from Michigan was delayed in leaving.

The chain reaction was in motion.  My late Michigan departure meant I missed my connection in Chicago.  My late departure from Chicago put my back to Seattle much later than originally thought.  The silver lining in this traveling dark cloud is there was zero waiting in line at the Canadian border.  Welcome to The Great White North!

I pulled into my hotel in Whistler at 4:15 AM on Friday.  I was in bed at 4:30 AM but was up at 8:30 AM.  The bike rental place opened at 9.  I picked up the bike

and headed south to Squamish.  I'd heard great things about the Half Nelson trail there.

The Half Nelson trail is a very wide, pretty much all downhill, super flowy, mountain bike trail.  You have to grunt ride up a gravel road to get to the trailhead.  Vehicles are not allowed past a certain point - not that I had anyone I could shuttle with anyway.

The bike I choose was a Trek Session 9.9.  It is carbon fiber with eight inches of travel.  It is the only bike of that type, slack head tube angle, lots of travel, that I've ever ridden.  Therefore I can't say it is the best bike ever or the worst bike ever.  What I can say is I thought it a good bike and it served me very well.

A word about bikes like this - they don't climb well.  As in they resist climbing.  The gravel road was steep at times.  Where I would have just geared down and spun up it on my cross country bike, I found myself walking sections with this bike.  The other side of the story - coming down was FUN!

I rode three laps.  I could have stayed all day.  The trail was great!  I thought it prudent to save my legs for the next two days for the bike camp at Whistler.

Some of the trails at Whistler are smooth, wide, and about any bike will do.  However, many are quite a bit more extreme.  I'd rented a full set of body armour and a full face helmet for this camp.

We were divided up into groups of no more than five riders based on a combination of ability and experience with bike park riding.  After a brief lesson on how to get your bike on the chair lift, we headed up.  Some of the first things we passed were the jumps and structures for Crankworx.  That was supposed to start at the end of the following week.

The two day camp consisted of learning to corner better, riding technical stuff, and how to execute drops properly.  The drops stuff was prep for learning to land jumps well.

The first day was a blast and very educational.  The second day we went up and came down some easier stuff to get warmed up and allow everyone to remember what they'd learned the previous day.  We were bombing down a trail where we were to roll off a wood drop followed closely by a table-top jump.  For pretty much all the camp I was right behind the instructor and others fell into line based on ability and speed.  I cleaned the drop and jump.  I heard the rider behind me land the drop and then the hard crash at the jump.  He hit very hard and went over the bars.  He hit hard enough he wasn't sure how old he was and asked several times if he landed where we moved him.  Concussion.  He was done.  His girlfriend was then done, too, as she was going with him for medical treatment.  Five students became three.

We finished the run and head back up again.  We rode down a bit and then the instructor told the two other dudes to take this very easy trail down and around and to meet him and me at "the sign."  "The sign" being an actual sign we'd stopped at many times before.  The instructor took me down a very technical, double black diamond, trail.

Before we took off, he explained the trail.  His explanation included how to negotiate a particular section.  He told me there was a tree root of about four inches in diameter that curled from right to left.  He said it best to ride the root with the front wheel as it pointed to bike in the proper direction for the next section.  The root cantilevered out over the three foot vertical drop we need to ride down.

He said, "Ready?" and I said "Yep!" and we were off.  It is truly amazing how these slack head tube angle bikes roll very gnarly sections with bg drops.  If I were to try this on either of the two mountain bikes I own, this would probably be a hike-a-bike section.  We made it half way down with no problems and came to the curved root section.  The instructor headed down, got his wheel in the wrong position at the drop, the front tire washed out and he was down.  Meanwhile, I've got the front wheel on the root as I was told and was doing fine.  He crashed, I looked at him, my front wheel washed out, and I was down.  The body armour did its job.  I knobbed my knee a bit but knobbed my left hip more.  I got up, dusted off, and we rode the rest of the way down this trail.  That's when the call came over the radio.  One of the two other dudes in my group crashed hard and had to be hauled off the mountain.  Now there was me and the dude who'd only taken up mountain biking the previous week.

It was lunch break by then.  We split up, had lunch, and then reconvened for the finale ride.  The last ride of the entire trip was taking the gondola up

as far as it would go.  From there it was a short ride to the chair lift to take us to the very top of Whistler.

The ride from the very top all the way to the bottom is called Top of the World.  It starts with some double black diamond sections, goes to black diamond sections, and has over 5000 vertical feet of descent.  Since I was the orphan, I was thrown into the next higher ability group.  I was very pleased to be riding at the very front of that pack my the third section of this ride.  I was having a blast and riding as hard as I could for the end of three days of hard riding.

I did see five bears while at Whistler including a mom and two cubs.  The bears are very chill.  They don't mess with the humans and the humans don't mess with them accept to take pictures.  Everyone gets along very well.

I do have some very bad news.  I'm going to have to buy an eight-inch travel bike.  Riding at Whistler is so amazing that I'll be back several times.  Oh, the whole set of pictures is HERE.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Important Knowledge

I'm still working on the full-blown Whistler mountain biking recap.  But in the mean time, learn something very important.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Whistler Recap Abridged

I'm back from three days of mountain biking at Squamish and Whistler, British Columbia, Canada.  The short version - amazing!  A full recap probably Wednesday complete with pictures.

I saw five of these.....

Monday, July 28, 2014

Crystal Mountain Recap Unabbridged

It's a week late but better late than never, right?  OK!  The ground rules are the same.  I've uploaded pictures, I type up some recap in between the pictures that may or may not be applicable to the picture it is near, clicking the pictures makes them bigger, and a link to all the pictures is somewhere in here.

Friday July 18th I loaded up my stuff and Matt's stuff.  We were bound from the Crystal Mountain area, just East and a bit South of Mt. Rainier, for some camping and mountain biking.  Various others would be camping the entire time while others would come and go as their time allowed.

Deciding visual clues would help others find the campsite, Matt began drawing the visual clues while I drove.

He made up a bunch of paper plates signs, each with a bike, and each with an up, right, or left arrow.  As we got nearer

the paper plate visual finder aides were taped to various things.

We arrived and set up camp.  I found a nice level spot and put up my tent.

The campsite was immediately adjacent to Ranger Creek airstrip.  This dude did two fly-by's but this was a close to touching terra firma as he got.

  After the core group arrived we all changed into biking apparrel and were off to ride.  Friday's ride was to shuttle to the top of Suntop Mountain and then bomb down to the campsite, have a beer, and then head down Skookum Flats trail to the waiting cars.  On the way up Suntop there were excellent views of Mt. Rainier.

At the top of Suntop was a working fire lookout.  We chatted with the fire watcher dude,

signed the logbook

and then did the day's ride.  It was not without incident.  Rider Scott had some crashes.  One of which smashed his sunglasses into the bridge of his nose cutting him and the same tree punched him in the face hard enough he received a nasty cut a bit above an eyebrow.  Unfortunately, he was then done for the weekend and ended up going in to get three stitches to close the gash.

Saturday was a ride up Palisades Trail.  Below is a picture of the top of Palisades at the top of the rocks.  The picture was taken from the campsite near the airstrip.

Once on top, we could see the airstrip below as shown by the picture below.

About 1/2 of Palisades, if one chooses to go up it, is hike-a-bike.

The riding parts provided incredible views.

In the picture below, on the side of the mountain, there's a part where the trees are noticeably shorter.  That was a logging clear cut area from a few years back.  It has filled in nicely.

Get to the top, have someone else take a picture of me and the Ellsworth!

We'd had enough climbing where Palisades Trail intersected with Ranger Creek Trail.  At the cabin/shelter thing we Clif barred and then began the bomb down Ranger.

We were almost done.  We could see the road into our campsite from the trail.  The options were to ride a very steep, loose section, cross the highway, and be back, or, ride down Ranger another 200 yards, ride the highway back 200 yards, and be back.  Matt took off down the steep stuff.  I followed.  He attempted to stop.  I attempted to stop and gracefully dismount.  One very ungraceful dismount later and I had an ouch.

'Tis but a flesh wound!  It was scrubbed out, beer was consumed, and then we determined Sunday's plan.

What's planning without a wee bit of rain?  Boring, that's what.

Sunday the clouds were flying low.  Sunday's ride was to be up one side of Crystal Mountain and down another.  It didn't take too long and we ascended into the clouds.  We stayed in the clouds all day and did get out of them until back to the cars and were driving back down the final portion.

The vertical climb for the day was approximately 2800 feet.  We topped out and found a handy sign and clock.

Not having your picture taken by a sign and clock is as bad forgetting to bring beer on the three-day trip.

The group was glad to be done with the major climbing of the trip.

The top portion of Crystal mountain makes for sketchy riding.  The good news - fast down hilling.  The bad news - coming around a curve to find yourself on a scree field.  Fortunately, no one went down on the scree.  The other good news - riding on snow!

We'd made it about half way down when we rounded a curve and found a mine shaft.  Three of the five of us went in.  It had a narrow gauge ore cart rails and was an average of 5 1/2 feet high.  More than once my bike helmet saved me from another ouch.

We estimated we followed the shaft in about 200 yards.  The shaft kept going.  Our riding partners not in the mine shaft were outside doing mortal battle with the mosquitoes.  We elected to head back out and finish our ride.

It was a great three-day weekend.  We climbed, we down-hilled, we had many beers and campfires.  We did remember to retrieve our paper plate visual aides on the way back.  The link to the whole set of pictures is HERE.

I'm traveling for work starting today.  I arrive back at Seattle Tacoma airport Thursday evening.  From there I head directly to Whistler, B.C. for three days of more mountain biking adventure.  Pictures and recap of that when I get back.