Sunday, March 29, 2015

Up the Big Muddy Q

the world's slowest bike blogger returns...Let's see..where were we?

Oh yeah, at the bottom of Quilomene Canyon, finishing up some shrimp and cocktail sauce.

We set up camp and had some eats.  I checked the expiration date on my tuna salad and crackers that were left over from bike camping last year and whoa it said Mar2015! Just made it.

Not good.  I recommend eating them in the year bought.

We were getting ready to ride out to the river, and Randy or Ward spotted a car coming down the extremely rough dirt road.  A Subaru wagon!  We were impressed with anybody driving a Subaru down there.  We talked to the two guys who got out of it, but weren't sure what they were up to.  They seemed out of place, but were familiar with the area.  We had a few theories.  Gov't agents. Birders. UFO searchers.

We rode out to Quilomene Bay. The water is still low from last year's drawdown due to the crack in Wanapum Dam, and we kinda sorta skirted around over or near the warning signs to stay above the drawdown area.

We ditched our bikes behind a dune, and climbed up it.  We were directly across from the Gorge Amphitheater.  For years, we've gone to Dave Matthews Band and other shows there, and looked out at all the boats on the Columbia partying (I suppose) during show time, and wondered just where is this spot?  And how do you get there?  And now I know.  Well, I guess most people get there by boat.

Perched on our dune across from The Gorge, drinking
beer and Pat's Scotch.  A great way to end the day.
This dune was tempting - would be fun to ride the bikes down.  There are motorbike tracks down at the bottom so there had been some yahoos out there, but we wisely decided not to ride it. A sheriff's boat boat appeared and scoped us out, went into the bay where they could see our bikes behind the dune, and eventually left. 

We came back to camp and the Subaru was still there, which gave us a bit of an uneasy feeling as it was getting dark.  Eventually they came back, and Ward talked to them for a bit. Turned out they were Turkey hunters, scoping out the canyon for the upcoming season in April.  Did not envy them their drive back up in the dark.

Trying to make this short, but not succeeding.  Fast forward to 2 or 3am.  It's starting to rain.  Luckily, I had most of my stuff under the rain fly, but my garmin and frame bag were still on the bike.  I left them there, too lazy to get not out of my warm sleeping bag.

Morning.  It's wet, still raining off and on. We decide to forgo Ward's famous grilled cheese sandwiches and kielbasa and get the heck out of there as we were looking at 4-5 hours of climbing back up to the 3,000+ level.  We were also concerned once we made it back to the trucks, we might not be able to get safely out on Parke Creek Road without tow truck assistance.

We didn't get far before my back tire went flat again.  Turned out to be a valve core malfunction, and only had to swap out the valve core instead of changing the tube or fixing a flat.  (shoot - hope Pat doesn't need that core, meant to drop off my extra).  I crossed my fingers and we rode on.

After a bit the rain started falling more and we donned rain jackets.  I fell behind, but wasn't too concerned at first.  I don't have good legs for climbing, my front tire kept bouncing back and forth off the rocks.  This took more energy to stay upright, but I didn't want to stop and lower pressure in the front.  There was a certain speed had to keep going to keep upright but once the tire bounced too much I'd lose momentum and stop completely.  Think I might be carrying too much wait up too high, which didn't help the handling.

It became a real slog.  The tires and drive train got covered in mud (see Pat's pic), I couldn't get traction on or off the bike because I was wearing 5-10 flat bottomed shoes - good for gripping pedals, but not slippery muddy trail.  At least they are waterproof!

A few thoughts kept running through my mind:

- Glad I didn't bring my Fargo and BoB trailer.  The trailer would've had to be left behind.
- Why didn't I buy those waterproof ankle high hiking shoes I was looking at the day before the trip?
- When does hypothermia set in? I had gotten wet before I donned my rain jacket, my pants were covered in mud splatter.
- Maybe I should've signed up for the MedStar air ambulance service before the trip.
- A Spot satellite beacon is a good idea, too. And an extra battery pack for the phone.
- I can walk out with or without my bike if I have to.

At one point I finally pulled my phone out of my pocket. It had 10% battery charge left. The temp was below 40F, I was soaked.

Now I was a wee bit concerned if I had a problem - mechanical or physical - I'd be in a tough spot.

Sometimes I'd get momentum, only to have my crank and chain seize up from the mud, and come to a slippery sudden stop. In a particularly bad spot where I couldn't get traction on or off the bike, I tried pushing the bike off the side of the road in the grass and weeds.  I only picked up more crap, weeds and mud in the tires which made it harder to push. I still couldn't get any good footing.

Then out of the mist ahead a figure in yellow rain jacket appeared on foot.  It was Pat, ever the gentleman, coming back to check on me.  He figured it wasn't good the group had separated in these conditions. Ward was up ahead, and Randy was ahead of Pat.  He offered to push my bike for me and I said no it's ok, went a few more feet and said oh ok!

We got to his bike, had a bite to eat, and continued the slog on and off the bike.

My one pic of the day, and this isn't even the steepest or muddiest, dreariest part of the climb.

(Pat has a few pics of the day here - he took a total of 8)

Eventually, we made it to the top and met Randy and Ward under some trees.  Ward had some food laid out, crackers and cheese, sausage, good stuff, and we rested a bit.  Got chilled, and got on the bikes for the last mostly downhill leg to the trucks. At this point, the worst part was knowing the worst part was behind us, but knowing that we might get to our trucks and end up getting stuck and having to get back on our bikes which would then be the worst part.  Luckily, the trucks made it out on Parke Creeke Rd without getting mired down. A few hairy moments, but eventually we breathed a sigh of relief when we made it to a gravelled section.  Woo hoo no more mud!

Here's the Garmin of the ride/walk up Quilomene.  I thought we took a completely different road up than down, but it looks like we started out different and then connected with the same Army Rd we took down. I'm a little confused.

Flat Tire Postscript:  I washed the mud off the bike a couple days later.  The back tire had plenty of air in it.  Then last weekend I pulled the bike out and gave the chain and gears a good scrubbing.  The tire was completely flat.  Pumped some air in it and it wouldn't hold any air at all, lost it about as fast as I could pump it in.  Finally took the bike in the back yard today to fix the flat.  Found this with the thorn end completely stuck in the tire:

It's odd if I picked this up at Quilomene that the tire held air for so long.  I don't think I picked it up at home somewhere between the front and backyard. Maybe it was stuck in the tire just right.  I managed to get the tire off and back on in the comfort of my backyard, carefully checking for any other thorns. Sure glad I didn't have to fix it in the rain and mud.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Down the Mighty Quilomene

The biking trip last Saturday and Sunday out to the Quilomene Unit can be summed up in two pics. (Spoiler alert if you've read Pat's first post)

The weather forecast for the area did not look promising, but we convinced ourselves that NOAA didn't know what they were talking about and it would clear up and we'd have a dry weekend.

Pat picked me up at the downtown Grocery Outlet - (it's Spokane's meeting-pick-up drop off spot - sort of like in olde Spokane people would say meet under the Clock at the Crescent - people now say meet at the Grocery Outlet). We were driving to Vantage, then to the old Vantage Hwy, up Parke Creek Rd to the mighty Quil.  The weather forecast did not look promising and when we stopped in Moses Lake, the wind was howling, the rain was falling and it was cold.  We weren't sure about this bike trip happening, and we figured we could always turn around if we got there and things were still bad.

Glory be, it was excellent when we pulled into our parking spot off Parke Creek Rd.  It should be noted Parke Creek Rd is a dirt, deeply rutted road.  Keep that in mind.

Pat's Blackborrow on the left, Ward's older style fat bike on the right. Ward was loaded down with beer to drop off for the big trip in April.  I was able to fit 3 cans in my pack.  Only drank one, so I was able to contribute a little to the cause. (Stomach was still queasy from some gastrointestinal distress a week before. Probably all you need to know).

I had thought about taking my Fargo with the BoB trailer hooked up to it.  It's easy to throw everything and more in the trailer, and I've been wanting to take the Fargo on an overnighter.  Pat's posts from last year showed a guy on a mountain bike with a two-wheeled trailer so I figured it was doable.  His pictures also showed a rough, rocky terrain.  And we were going to climb back up from river level to 3,000 feet.  I took my Pugs N/R and it turned out to be the best decision I made on this trip.

My Racktime TopIt front rack was on the Fargo and the center bracket was bent for it, so I put my Velo Orange Porteur rack on the Pugs.  It's wider and easier to strap the tent and dry bag/sleeping bag to.  I was a little concerned about how well the nice stainless steel VO city style rack would hold up in the wild.  The rack attachment at the bottom of the fork wasn't straight and I crossed my fingers and hoped that the welds would hold.

We had to climb a bit to the top of the ridge before heading down.  I'll let the pics do the talking mostly. I just brought my phone for pics, because I hadn't worked out a decent spot to carry a big camera, or bought a decent small camera.
Pat at the top
Randy and Ward - Wind Farm
embiggen  the pic and you can see the herd of  elk that crossed our path

The road is very rocky in spots, (see pic from Pat of yours truly here) and I bombed down it faster than a guy with concern about the sturdiness of his front rack had any right to.  I couldn't resist though, and the fat bike tires rolled over the rough sections with aplomb.  Hit 24mph at one point.  Not real smart. But super fun.  I wised up after a bit and slowed down.

We hopped off the main Army Road and took a less-travelled road/path to the bottom of the canyon.
At the bottom of the canyon is Quilomene Creek that we crossed a few times.

Our creek crossings were through some brushy, thorny growth and I managed to get a flat in my back tire that the few ounces of sealant in it wasn't able to stop.  Luckily Pat assisted me changing the tube out, otherwise the process would've taken awhile.  I had a brain fart and trouble with the horizontal rear dropouts and pulley combo.

Here's the Garmin of our trip down the Q: Quilomene Down

We made it down to the bottom and set up camp.

What do rugged bikepackers have for an appetizer after a long day on the trail?
Pat surprised us by carrying these in ice
I'll stop here and put up a short post next about camping overnight, turkey hunters, sheriff's boat, tempting dunes And you guessed it - MUD!

Monday, March 16, 2015

here and there last 4-5 months photo dump

Outside the Portland REI, a Bridgestone something or other caught my eye:

The boys in Eugene, waiting for their mom running a half-marathon:

Some Portland on-street bike parking:

A Surly parked in an odd spot downtown Spokane Parkade:

A Salsa parked in an odd spot:

An odd shot taken while driving of a guy riding Second Ave, Spokane

He's making jewelry now:

A bike friend in City Hall, 2nd Floor middle window

I have perfected the art of sliding down an icy hill in a semi-controlled slide:
I learnt pretty quickly DON'T USE THE FRONT BRAKE! 
Really bad at taking selfies. A shot taken on a Knickers Friday (my workplace allows jeans on Fridays. Capris are allowed year round. Combine the two - Knickers Friday. or Manpris Friday)

I keep meaning to write to Deaconess - I know not many people use the bike racks at your Medical Center office buildings, but these are the worst style of bike rack, an upgrade would be appreciated:

I really hate close-to-the-corner parkers:

Valentine's Day - the folks at Boehm's are always willing to box up some flowers for me:

Presidents Day -  even us liberal socialistic bike riders can be patriotic:

Spray cans don't come with auto correct or spell check:

a new to me trail off Pettet Dr that branches off in a few spots, links with trail off Nettleton to NW Blvd, and also bottom of Pettet/TJ Meenach. I think of it as Hank's trail as he's the one who pointed it out

ready to roll out to Quilomene:

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bikepacking Readying makes me hungry for...

leftover from last year - I'm sure they still taste wonderful
Mr 26InchSlicks is readying for some bikepackingcamping, and hey guess what? so am I.  Which means suddenly I am hungry for the above gawdawful industrialized foodstuffs.

When you're out in the middle of nowhere, no gas station store within 50 miles, and you're tired of jerky and trail mix, these taste pretty darn good.  They're a quick and easy snack, no cooking involved. I brought some along with me on my first biking trip with Pat and Eric E., and now it's like a tradition to carry these along.  The only downside is the packaging waste. Might be able to cut down on that a bit by buying the larger tuna/chicken salad cans and crackers separately.