Thanks to everyone who as able to donate to my ride, we completely destroyed the $10,000 goal by raising over $12,700 when it was all said and done. I'm working on a short little zine/book about the whole project so if you want to know all the details of how it went, that will be ready in a couple months. In short, the ride was amazing, I had so much fun and saw so many beautiful things along the way. Michelle and Ruby had a great time doing the support job and we had a great time at the farm with the wonderful people and animals there.
I posted most of my favorite photos from the ride here:
Monday morning bright and freakin' early HB picked me up and we stormed Multnomah Falls. The Beez was a real trooper as I KINDA mislead her about how much climbing was involved. I didn't do it on purpose. As all of you who have followed this blog for any amount of time know, I rarely know where I am, where I'm going, or how to get back. So being able to honestly say how much climbing there was going to be was just outside the spectrum of my cognitive abilities.
I'll say this in my defense: we didn't get lost. Of course the entire 36 mile out and back route was one road, clearly marked, with no turns, and a huge river to our left the whole way guiding us BUT STILL! DIDN'T GET LOST!
This ride was crazy beautiful. I've driven it many times as it's a big place to take visitors, but had never pedaled it. There was a lot of climbing but most of it was in the saddle so by the end my knees weren't crying out in pain as they sometimes do after really mashing it out for a lot of miles. I figure on the big ride, at the end of the day, I'll go stand in the cold ocean for a half hour. I call this the poor man's icing of his old man joints.
I took Tuesday off, other than commuting the 10-ish miles to work, and woke up at 5:30 this morning to log some more miles as I'm leaving town for a few days and only have a couple weeks of solid training time left.
I got up, made coffee, got ready to go, and then poked around on the interweb while I waited for the sun to come up. I could have slept for an extra 45 minutes had I looked to see when sunrise was, but whatever. I'm sure I'll fall asleep at work about 4 pm, but we have a chime on the door that will wake me up if anybody comes in.
No pictures today, this ride was all about knocking down some miles. And these were tough ones. I rode over the St. John's bridge then climbed up my old nemesis, Germantown Road. It was funny, I've logged a lot of tough miles since I last went up Germantown and figured I was in much better shape than the last time. About a quarter of a mile up the big hill I said to myself "Wow, I am really attacking this hill! This isn't nearly as hard as it was the last time, I am freakin' awesome. Damnit I am one awesome cyclist and I am so goddamned gorgeous too!" Then about a quarter of a mile and 10 feet up the big hill I started to come apart. I mean I was WORKING! What the hell happened for something so good to go so bad so fast? I had to talk myself out of stopping a few times and thought I was going to throw up a couple times just before the top.
I told myself never to tempt the Gods with such hubris again. You remain humble as you climb into the heavens! Or Zeuss will make you pay!
My plan was to take Skyline Blvd. to Dixie Mountain which is the highest point in the West Hills according to my book of bike routes but, yep, I made a wrong turn and got lost. But I managed to have a good ride anyway on some pretty quiet roads on the backside of the West Hills. I had to climb back up to the top but it wasn't as punishing as Germantown so that was nice. Once on top, I had to come down Germantown which is usually a lot of fun but today it sucked. It had started to drizzle a bit so I was braking the whole way down and it was about 8:30, which means lots of cars. There is no shoulder and one lovely shitbird in a huge white Escalade decided 18 inches was plenty of room for me and nearly ran me off the road. This gem of a human also thought gunning the engine when the pulled up right next to me was an entirely appropriate way to behave in civilized society.
Germantown is steep and twisty and the speed limit is like 25 tops. I was going about 20 for most of it so shitbird wasn't exactly leaving me in the dust. I road for about a hundred yards or so behind them with my middle finger up. I don't often give in to my road rage but I am also not a fan of people who put my personal safety at risk so they can get to wherever they are going 2 minutes sooner and I don't mind letting people know that.
I was hoping to catch them at the stop sign at the bottom to further register my complaint but they had already made it through. Probably for the best.
All told, a solid ride which put me over 100 miles in the last 5 days. I feel like I'm inching closer to ready for the big one.
My first ride after the pox was lifted from the house of Hooten and it was triumphant. This was a beautiful ride up the Washougal River Road, which is a steady climb as you ride upstream, then you haul ass back down. I was doing a slow but steady 12-13 miles an hour out and around 17-19 on the way back. The road follows the river most of the way so you're always making these turns and seeming beautiful scenes of the river. There were several moments when I'd round a bend and come upon some gorgeous view, throw my hands up and say out loud "Oh hell yes!"
I was out the door early and on the bike by 7:30 which I think was why I had almost no traffic the whole ride out and not much on the way back. It's also pretty remote, so the further up the river you get, especially when it's way too cold to hit the dozens of swimming holes, the less people you find. It was a chilly ride, but one of the better training rides so far this spring, as far as the weather goes.
A couple of funny-ish moments: I pulled into a little store to grab some energy drink and some old dude looked at my bike and said "How many hamburgers per hour is it to ride that thing?" I smiled and told him I don't know, I don't eat hamburgers. He said "Oh, well, whatever you eat then." He wandered off before I was done calculating how much tofu equals one mile of biking.
Another moment: I found a little rock embedded in my rear tire as I was starting the ride. I figured I could make it out and back and be fine. I'd been planning on new tires here soon anyway, these have close to 2,000 miles on them so I want to change them out before the big ride. So I do the ride, drive home, and Michelle has to go to work so she wants to ride my bike. I go out to get it for her and find the rear tire is flat. Somehow I made it through the whole ride and only when I was done did the tire finally die on me. Woo!
Roundtrip this was a 36 miler, which was a good distance to test out my general well being after the flu. It felt good the whole time and I could definitely have gone further. Which I will tomorrow.
Ok, since I've been down with the flu and waiting for full recovery to get back in the saddle I haven't had much to write about. Unless of course you all want the intimate details of me waking up several times a night soaked through my clothes with sweat, dropping pounds like a high school wrestler getting ready for the big match, and how I was sleeping 14 hours at a time. You DON'T want to hear more about that? Good, me neither! I hate whining!
I am over the killer bug and seem to have my strength back and am going to put some serious miles in on Saturday morning, bright and early so the ride reports will be back. I'm excited to get to it. But in the meantime I will fulfill a request I've gotten from several of you and that is to talk about my bike.
My whip is a Surly Cross Check, it's a 56 or a 58c, I don't remember which. I've had it for about 9 months, it has about 2,000 miles on it. I've changed very little from the stock set up. One of the nice things about a smaller company like Surly is that they put a bit more attention into the details and the components on this ride are a little nicer than I found on bigger companies bikes in this price range, which was about $1100.
The things I changed were mostly just for fit, not for quality or anything like that. I put a taller, shorter stem on, I've switched out the bars for moustache bars for a while but am now back to the bars that came on the bike, which I really like. I put some new pedals on it because it doesn't really come with pedals. I added waterbottle cages, a little bike computer, lights, and that's pretty much it. Oh, I put on Schwalbe Marathon tires to replace the cyclocross tires that came stock because I wasn't going to be riding off road and didn't need the tread.
When the big ride comes I'll add a rear rack with panniers and probably a handlebar bag and I might add a flag because I really want to fly the Jolly Roger.
This bike weighs a ton, it is a real tank. Which is awesome, I don't care about weight, I'm not in a race, ever. It is a very sturdy, solid ride and this thing is gonna last longer than I do, I'm positive.
I have no plans to change anything on this bike. It's a great bike and even though I'm a bit bike nerdy sometimes I really don't want to mess with this thing because it's served me so well as is. I'll probably put a new set of the same tires on before I hit the road just to be on the safe side, but that's it. Oh, I might customize the graphics, a friend of mine has a vinyl cutter and I can make my own stickers with it so I might put something like "Vegan Powered" on the downtube for fun, but I'm not sure yet.
And I just realized my bike doesn't have a name. Anybody wanna make a suggestion?
One note about my bright orange bar tape. I was reading a blog about bike touring and the author said "You're going to be staring at your bars for hours on end, day after day, you should pick a color you really like." There you go, orange it is.
And one note about the chainstay graphic that says "Fatties Fit Fine." That means this bike can take wide tires. My bike did NOT just call me fat.
Today was a nice 30 miler. I gotta be honest with you, after the freezing cold and hunter disrupted Sauvie Island ride I wasn't feeling the bike rides. I was spending more time trying to figure out the weather, dodge the weather, and predict the weather than I was riding. I was looking for an elusive nice day with some sun and above freezing temps and I just wasn't getting one.
Until today! I decided to try another ride across the river into Washington. One of my first training rides was over there, but not the one I wanted to do today and I hadn't been back across the water since.
The route was so-so but the ride was great. The sun was out, the temps were the nicest yet and I was able to feel my toes the whole time.
I left the house and headed up Willamette, then cut across the peninsula for the dreaded I5 bride. That bridge is a beast. It isn't even fun to cross in a car. And the designers decided the walkway/bikeway needed only be about 9 inches wide. Not the best, but it didn't last too long. Once across I turned down into Vancouver and headed...west? The road was wide with no cars and a big shoulder. Though not the most scenic, I was happy for the quiet and the sun. The ride ended at Vancouver Lake where I turned around and headed back.
All told, a nice day. I'm super excited to be riding after a little slump, and I'm beyond excited for tomorrow's 60-70 miler with Glenn. Word is this route is gonna be epic. You'll know when I do!
And hey, if you've donated to my ride (www.firstgiving.com/joshhooten) thank you sooooo much. We're halfway there! You all are the best and make this all so much easier for me to take on.
Getting my legs and brain in shape for this ride is obviously a big part of my training but there is a lot more to it than that. There is gear to collect, campsites to reserve, altitudes to calculate, and routes to nail down.
So far my gear collecting has been super on the cheap, which is nice cuz....you know...recession and all. I got a 4 dollar water bottle cage at Target the other day and a 24 dollar tent on sale. I also got a 29 dollar wind shell jacket on sale. I'm borrowing a bike rack and panniers (thank you Heather Bendyshoe.) I found a camping stove in our garage which we got for our wedding and had forgotten about. I also found a camping espresso maker. (Woo! That may prove to be the single most important bit of gear I carry! Or at least the most likely to save my life!)
On the still to find really cheap list is an inflatable pad to sleep on, perhaps a handle bar bag, cookware, and I think I'm going to get new tires and tubes before I go cuz my current ones have been wonderful, but have about 1500 miles on em. I think they are going to get an honorable discharge before I leave.
I'm going to be camping on the way down and all the campgrounds have biker-hiker walkup sites that are about 4 bux a night. Day 4 I roll into Harris Beach State Park where Michelle and Ruby will meet me and we have booked a Yurt for two nights. Woo! Yurt! The Yurt has heat and....wait for it....cable television, you just have to provide the television. We...uh...won't. All the sites I'm staying at have hot showers, which will be awesome at the end of a long day. Most of them have 24 hour vegan donut carts as well.
This ride is getting some attention, which I'm very happy about. Mark Hawthorne, author of Striking At The Roots wrote a nice piece, as did Parrish over at Ecorazzi. Woo!
Though we have a looooong way to go to raise my goal of $10,000, I am so pleased with how it's going so far. Thanks a million to all the people who have donated so far, and thanks in advance to all of you who are planning to.