Monday, May 26, 2008

MOUNT CONSTITUTION HILL CLIMB

Whilst all in Bellingham were preparing to ski to sea, the family and I woke before 4 a.m. Sunday for the drive to Anacortes to catch the 5:35 a.m. ferry to Orcas Island. Our goals: the Mount Constitution Hill Climb time trial (for me) and the dreamy Orcas Island Skatepark for Bake. For Jen: hours of sunshine and uninterupted knitting time in which she began and completed the fetching hat for the boy that you see below.

First, the hill climb. From Rosario Resort at sea level to the top of Mount Constitution at 2,409 feet in 7.8 miles. Take away maybe 3 miles of flat and downhill along Cascade Lake and along the ridge just before the summit and you have roughly 2,600 feet of climbing in about 4-and-a-half miles. Tuff stuff. Held the same day as Bellingham's Ski to Sea (which cuts the area cyclist pool by 800) and requiring a $50-and-up ferry ride to get there, the Constitution Hill climb has yet to draw a lot of riders. Only 20 showed up for this year's race, its third edition, but whatever, the less the merrier. I thought it was a great race. Low key, the islands couldn't be more beautiful, and truthfully, though it may be sacrelig for a B'hamster to say so, Ski to Sea doesn't do much for me. Fanatik's Andrew Leese was the fastest up the hill, setting a record of 36 minutes and some change. I was 43 minutes flat, finishing about 5th. (Results aren't up yet.) Above, that's Charlie Heggem (he the director-guru dude of the Mount Baker Hill Climb) and Richard West, who finished third overall and of course first (and only) in the tandem division. Later, they said they got up to 38 m.p.h. on the Cascade Lake flat. Wo!

The tough parts were right out of Rosario--just a seriously rude hill that went up and up and up for about three-quarters of a mile before leveling out. Later my family had lunch with Richard, Charlie and his wife Kelly, and Richard was saying they'd pushed it a bit on this first hill and that he was in recovery mode for quite a while after. After it leveled out, we cruised through Moran State Park where the smell of campfires and breakfast was extremely alluring. The road tilted back upwards, gradually at first until we hit the Mountain Lake entrance where it got serious. We climbed like 1,300 feet over the next 2-1/2 miles maybe (these are all estimates), the sky clearing, the temperature rising and of course, the views getting better and better. I'd wanted to pre-ride the course, but exhorbitant ferry fares kept me from justifying that. Not quite as steep as the last mile to Mount Erie, the tough Mountain Lake to summit ridge stretch I'd estimate to be about as steep as the steepest part of the Sehome Arboretum climb up at Western Washington University, but for a sustained 2-1/2, 3 miles straight.

Along the ridge at the top, where it flattens a bit before the final evil quarter-mile or so, I'd hoped to be able to really push it, ala Fabian C. time-trial fashion, but I just had no power left. I think I got up to 20 m.p.h. where it was perfectly flat but even the slightest rise gave me serious spots of bother.

Among the folks who finished ahead of me was a fellow riding a 12.67-pound Cervelo SL. Crazy light, and narrow as a shark's fin. I heard him talking afterward and he said that if he and another rider were climbing at the same speed, his power output was probably 40 or 50 watts lower because he had so much less bike to push up the hill.

At lunch, Charlie said he'd had a meeting afterward with the race's director who said that next year he plans to move it to the week before Ski to Sea. Also, Charlie would like to partner with him in the hopes of making the Constitution race part of a series with the Mount Baker Hill Climb. (Which I guess everyone else but me is now calling the Ride 542.) Other Charlie plans: a 2010 running marathon that follows the same Glacier to Artist Point course as Ride 542 and a Sehome Arboretum prologue as part of the 2009 Nooksack Omnium.

Ah yes, and here's the hat Jen finished about 24 hours after she bought the yard at the Bellingham Farmer's Market.
Below is a video of the Bake Boy at the Orcas Skatepark. At the end, I think you can see Jen knitting away.
videoNOTE: I am forever indebted to Charlie Heggem for at one point during lunch sticking his finger in my ear to kill a mosquito. Charlie, thanks.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

SKI TO SEA WEEKEND

Bellingham's Olympics--the Ski to Sea race--takes place tomorrow. Something that's pretty cool is that our John Clark is featured on one of the posters that's plastered all around our fair county. (That's him above.) I shant be doing the race; I'm headed to Orcas Island where I'll try my hand (and legs) at the Mount Constitution Hill Climb. Afterwards, Bake will skate at the cool skatepark over there and we'll all dine at Bilbo's Festivo. Should be a great day!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

PITCHERS 'N' STUFF


video
Random photos and a video from recent weeks. Above, the Mount Baker Highway on the way to the Mount Baker Ski Area and Artist Point taken a couple weeks ago. (One of the most scenic stretches of the Mount Baker Hill Climb.) It was the week before Scott, John and I rode it. Below, John Clark ridin' Buck Mountain, out Winthrop way.
Below, Bake finishes up Jr. Ski to Sea--that's him in the black shirt and gunny sack hopping to ring the bell. (Teammate Peter has his hand extended for a semi-hi five.) Flowers--arrowleaf balsamroot--along the Buck Mountain trail. Here, John test rides a Kona 29er hardtail. He doesn't seem to like to too much, does he? Post Ski to Sea, Bake makes his PowerAde bottle float in mid-air.
Then lies down, exhausted.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

WEEKEND HEAT

Rode from the D.O.T. shed up to the upper Mount Baker ski lodge today with the venerable Scott Young and sassy John Clark, also known as "America's Sweetheart." Did it twice and Mr. Young, as is his wont, put the hammer down on the second run and it was all we could do to hang onto Mr. High-Cadence himself during the 8-mile, 2,200 foot climb.
It was a hot weekend (for Bellingham in May), a temperature record-breaker and glacial melt was turning rivers such as the Nooksack into veritable ragers. (As the above photo doesn't show at all.) Melting snow and rocks were breaking off on some of the steeper roadsides as the day wore on and Johnny boy almost got clocked by one falling rock.

Below, me (left) John and Scott pose in front of Mount Shuksan, the state's second (or third?) highest non-volcanic peak.
Below, please take note of our Team Unattacked mascot, a creepy green-haired pierrot clown-like thing that gives us inspiration when things get tough.
That was Sunday. Saturday was Jr. Ski to Sea. Check out the boy Baker sprinting away at the start of the obstacle course.

Monday, May 12, 2008

AREA BOY SURVIVES BACON-MAPLE BAR

Nothing quite says Breakfast of Champions like strips of bacon atop a maple bar, wouldn't you say? Bake's been eyeing this thing for weeks at Rocket Donuts but yesterday took the plunge. Today in school, he shared his experience with the class. Would he recommend it? someone asked. No, not really, he said. But at least he took a risk.

Today was a climb up Cleator Road via the 24-pound Fantom CX. Killer climb--1,700 feet (from Chuckanut and Hiline) in 3.8 miles. Subtract about a mile from that for a mostly flat stretch in the middle--1,700 in about 3 miles. Evil.
From the top, I rode (the brakes) down Fragrance Lake Road to an old forest road that lots of folks refer to as the Burnout Road. I've run down it a couple times before from the Lost Lake/Dictionary end of the world and have been meaning to CX-plore up it. Not too far up is probably the best Samish Bay-San Juan Island viewpoint around. See below. It's about a 180-degree view extending far down into Skagit and north to the San Juans and lower BC.
That prominent bump there above is Mount Erie which we rode two weeks ago and I wrote about a couple entries below.

Finally, I'll leave you with some more bacon maple goodness:

Thursday, May 08, 2008

SEATTLE TIMES LONGBOARDING

The Northwest Weekend section of today's Seattle Times has a story I wrote about longboarding. Here's a bunch of photos they didn't end up using, all taken at Interlaken Park in Seattle. The story features James Peters who has longboarded the last two STPs (the 204-mile Seattle to Portland bike ride) and who last weekend 'boarded 208 miles in 24 hours as a fundraiser for Livestrong.
The riders pictured here are Dennis Manougian, Shane Donogh, Sheldon Lessard, Jeremy Geier and James Peters.
Find the story here: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/outdoors/2004398520_nwwskateboards080.html

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

SUNDAY RIDE

Great ride on Sunday. Out to Sumas and back. For fun we threw in North Pass Road hill and Reese Hill Road (Reese Hell Road), both of which are tilted rather steep, but are not super long. Both hills were enjoyed by those who rode last year's Nooksack Omnium road race.

Above, birthday boy Scott Young, Steve Vanderstaay, and John Clark enjoy froofy espresso drinks while mesmerized by John's bike leaning against the espresso stand. Below, Steve appears to be reprimanding his bike for one reason or another.
We got in 70 miles or so with some fast rotating paceline stretches and team-time-trial wannabe behavior. I felt a little off at times. Not sure why. I had one extended pull where I couldn't really feel anything, not quite bonkish, but close. Had to look down at my computer to make sure I was riding a good speed because it was like I couldn't feel anything. Kinda odd.

Scott was manimal (part man, part animal) on the hills. But only because it was his birthday and we let him. (Yeah, right.)

Friday, May 02, 2008

MOUNT ERIE RIDE

Ah yes, Mount Erie ...
... let me just say that this is probably the hardest frickin' hill I've ever ridden. (Perhaps contributing to that impression is that Scott Young, this other person, and I had already ridden 40 miles to get there, much of it into those Skagit headwinds.) Mount Erie Road climbs 900 feet in 1.7 miles, 600 of that in the last mile. And the leadup from the south climbs about 400 in probably 1-1/2 miles. Above, see Pinkboy Young doubled over the handlebars in exhaustion and me wearing an expression of a mouth-breathing goober whilst I try to catch my breath.
Afterward, Scott, the other person, and I stopped at the charming Lake Erie Grocery for refreshment. The retired gas pumps were stuck $1.45 per gallon. Below is Mount Erie, also renowned as rock climbing hotspot.


On the way back, we added a loop around Lake Samish and a mini-Donut ride out Marine Drive to total 100 miles. With 4,600 feet climbing. RAMROD, here we come!