Sunday, June 29, 2008

JUNEUARY NO MORE

video
Summer came to Bellingham this weekend and this time it seems like it's here to stay. John Clark, America's Sweetheart, and I took advantage and headed up the Mount Baker Highway as far as it's plowed, just past the upper ski lodge. (See video above.) It was John's first time up with his compact crank, which I ask him about, and as I pull ahead I make some unintelligable comment about how he better get used to this view.

Here, the boy Baker flies high at the Burlington Skatepark, about 25 minutes south of B'ham. Nice blue sky, huh? We've had it for a few days now and I think we've got two more coming. Last week, the McQuaides welcomed a new addition to the family: a Specialized Tarmac Pro delivered via craigslist. That's me (the proud papa) below trying to nudge John out of the photo opp. Up at the ski area, we went around the gate and kept riding for as far as we could. As you can see the snow banks are still pretty high. Great day. Great ride. About 45 miles with 4,400 feet climbing. Felt pretty darn hot, actually, which isn't too common out these parts. We saw many riders just heading up as we were finishing and we didn't envy them at all.

It won't be our last time up. We've got RAMROD in about a month so we've got to get some big mountain mileage in our legs.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

MAILBOX PEAK STORY DELIVERED

Check out today's Northwest Weekend section of the Seattle Times for my story and photos about the trailwork and our recent hike to Mailbox Peak, just east of North Bend. Steepest, toughest trail around though thankfully not that long. (Climbs 3,900 feet in 2.5 miles.) That's Lace Thornberg above, of Washington Trails Association getting to the root of the problem. (That's supposed to be humorous b/c of all the roots you can see. Ahem.)
There's a Mailbox up top and from time to time assorted other kookiness, like the fire hydrant you see above. Here's the story here via the Worldwide International GoogleWeb thing: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/outdoors/2008016454_nwwmailboxpeak260.html

Sunday, June 15, 2008

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY

There's me and me da' in the above photo, circa 1967, I believe. (I'm the small one.) Today's Seattle Times' Pacific NW magazine contains a story I wrote about he and I searching for birds among other things. Check it out at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/pacificnw/2004468939_pacificperson15.html.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

WENATCHEE CENTURY, MINI-GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS

Headed over to Wenatchee for Saturday's Apple Century Ride. That's a hunnert miles for those varmits who maght not know otherwise. (Watched "3:10 to Yuma" last night, thus the Old West-speak. Wow, what a good movie.) Anyway, this being Juneuary, it wasn't quite the 80s and sunny one hoped for but rather about 60 and partly sunny. But, I'll take it.

I'm an early riser and with rides such as this (which aren't races) you can leave whenever you want. The forecast called for gusty afternoon winds so I figured the earlier the start the better. I was pedaling at 6:15 a.m. Thing is, I was in the minority. I saw three other riders about 10 miles in, another two at 40 miles and that was it. It was a solo 100-mile ride. At the 50-mile aid station, four or five riders came in after me and I thought good, pretty soon we'll all bunch up together and can help push through this wind together (more on that in a second). But it never happened. I never saw anybody again. I know I could've waited but, along with being an early riser, I am the boy who does not like to wait, and I really expected and hoped to turn around at some point and see a train of club riders that I could just latch onto.
Before I continue, let me interject some comments about the above two photos. The top one is from last month's Mount Constitution Hill Climb. As I think you'd understand, I make my son where a helmet at all bicycle time trials. (That's me in the background just about to start.) The photo just above is the drawers and cabinet door of our Wentatchee Avenue Motel kitchenette. They seem to be a tad askew, wouldn't you say. The word catawampus comes to mind. Back to the ride ...

I've done this century twice before. You ride north along the east side of the Columbia, cross over into Chelan, ride along Lake Chelan for about 10 miles, then turn around and after climbing out of the lake basin, return to Wenatchee on the west side of the river. It's beautiful, the river is stunning (and might mighty) and usually the return is straight into a headwind.

This year the wind was seriously schizophrenic, especially on that final stretch. Thirty miles an hour in your face, round a bend and it's a 30 m.p.h. tailwind, round another bend and its from the side and you felt like someone was trying to shake the bike out from under you. Between the giant gorge that the river sits in and the many canyons on either side of it, the wind was whipping up and down, in and out all morning.

At the 75-mile aid station no one came in whilst I was there (not even the two dudes on the lust-worthy S-Works Tarmacs) so I decided wind or not, no one was going to catch me the rest of the way. I finished a little before noon, 5:30 of riding time, totally solo. At the post-ride dinner, some 50-miler riders were there but it wasn't the crush of riders I've seen in previous events. (I know I left early, but one year I left even earlier.) I imagine $4.30-cent gas scared away a lot of folks from other parts of the state who usually do this ride.

Afterward, it was the McQuaide Family Miniature Golf Championships in Leavenworth, in which I proved unbeatable. Then, peanut butter milkshakes at the 59er Diner.

Friday, June 06, 2008

WENATCHEE WEEKEND

Because lately it's been so hot and sunny in Bellingham (ALERT: An ironic tone is being employed), we are heading over to Wenatchee this weekend for (hopefully) a good ole-fashioned downpour. I'll ride the Wenatchee Century (http://www.applebikeride.com/) while Jen 'n' Bake will likely hit skateparks in Leavenworth and Apple town. Jen shant skate but will likely knit, for those of you scoring at home. Aplets and Cotlets is no doubt on their agenda as well.

Crazy weather, and by that I mean annoying (ALERT: An ironic tone is NOT being employed now), we've been having. Some have taken to calling this Juneuary, which is fitting. As we head over Stevens Pass later today, we're likely to drive through a rain-snow mix. Well 'tis the Northwest, I suppose.

Yesterday I was interviewed as a mountain-bike expert on KGMI, a local radio station. You can hear it here: (www.kgmi.com/news.asp?newsid=10971&page=hearitnow). I'm on segment 1 and 2 and what's really cool is Baker shows up a little at the end of the second segment. Kinda fun.

Back to the Apple Century ride. I've done it twice before. It's beautiful; you ride along the east side of the mighty Columbia River north to Chelan, climb a big hill, then return on the west side. Both times I've ridden it that return leg has been windy as heck, right in the old kisser. Tomorrow's forecast: 25-mph winds in the afternoon. Hmm, guess I'll get an early start.

Oh, and here's a story I wrote about mountain biking in Winthrop that was in The Seattle Times last week:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/outdoors/2004443280_nwwmethow29.html