Sunday, August 24, 2014

Martin Rd Bikexpedition

Now that it's cooled down out here, I did some bikexploring with the Fargo on Saturday from the Columbia Plateau Martin Rd Trailhead. After studying my DeLorme Atlas, the plan was to head a few hundred yards north to Cree Rd and take it down to Dewey Rd, to Cordell Rd, then to Mullinix. Then I would follow Belsby down to Hole-in-the Ground to Rock Creek, Pine Creek and the John Wayne Pioneer Trail like I did last year (Martin Rd Trailhead to John Wayne [gps]). I wanted to make a loop, trying to add a few more miles than last year, but ended up with an out and back with slight variation on the way back.

the patent-pending wileydogmapcap. the trailhead and
Cree Rd are in the upper left-hand
Well that was the plan.  There's a funny thing about the atlas, gps and actual on the ground road signs - they don't always agree. And it's awful hard to read tiny gps map screens in the bright sunlight with old eyes. I missed the first intersection on the Lincoln-Whitman County line, neither road sign had Cree on it and I went east instead of west. Link to the actual gps of the ride. The map and gps call the road I took Stoner Rd, but I it was signed in a couple spots as Swift Rd. I'll have to go back and check at this intersection as not sure if I have it straight now.

This worked out pretty good as Stoner Rd becomes a rough dirt and rock road akin to the gated off Dunn Rd/Summer Road of the Midnight Century. A little too rough for most vehicles in spots, but perfect for 2.2" mountain bike tires.

Back to the start:

Cree Rd
There must have been a hole in the barbed wire fence as I came across a calf on the road that took a little run at me, and then a group of 10 or so cattle loose on the road. Thought I was going to have to turn around. They panicked and tried to jump back over the fence, and then ran up the road ahead of me.
felt like a bicycle cowboy 
they finally found an opening near where the Columbia Plateau Trail
crosses Cree
the intersection where I turned right instead of left. the gps names
the road to the left as Elliot which becomes Cree again. i forget what
the sign said now.
Stoner/Swift Rd. 

The road is just a stone's throw away from the Columbia Plateau Trail in spots, and I remember we stopped for a rest by this road on our trip last May. I was tempted to stay on Stoner to see where it goes, but turned left on Dewey instead. I saw afterward Stoner/Swift will take you into Lamont.
back on gravel on Dewey
what's that up ahead? a dirt summer road?
 Munson Rd. It wasn't in the plan, and I wasn't sure where it went, but I had to take it.

It finally popped out on Rock Creek Rd and after I got my bearings, determined I was way further east than I wanted to be. Rode northwest on the paved Rock Creek Rd before backtracking on Munson Rd back to Dewey. Rock Creek Rd wasn't the type of ride I was looking for. Also, may not have had my helmet and felt a bit vulnerable. Hardly any traffic, though.

Back on Dewey, passed Cree Road after awhile and so was back on plan, looking for Cordell.
think this is off Cordell 
probably Cordell again. really need to find some way to sync the
camera with the gps.
I had been out for over a couple hours and didn't feel like making this an all day trip, even though I wanted to ride down Belsby, so instead took Mullinix to Martin Rd (Williams Lake Rd) back to the trailhead. Martin is a narrow paved road without a shoulder - think a more roundabout way back down Spuller to Dewey to Cree looks promising.

Think will head back out in a couple weeks, getting an earlier start and follow the same way down Cree to Stoner to Dewey, skip Munson and head down Belsby.  I like exploring these gravel and dirt roads in this area - the only problem it's an almost hour long drive to the trail head.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Midnight Century or A Whole Lotta Hills

whoa it's been almost two weeks since the Midnight Century!  Happened a week ago last Saturday at 11:59pm or so and continued throughout the night and early morning. I thought I was going to be lucky if I made it in by noon. Almost brought a bivy sack or tent along in case I broke down. Thought somewhere along the line if I dnf'd, no one would really know. But I banished those thoughts and kept pedaling on, a long and dusty ride.

First, a video collage of the first 20 miles or so heading out of town is on youtube here. The unofficial gps file I poached from the MC website is here

My rides the month before were generally only commuting, and not going for any long rides. Too hot. No hill climbing up Houston Rd to build some muscle.  And if there's one thing about the MC, well besides it being mostly in the dark, is that there is tons of climbing. I thought it was possible I could do better than last year's 8h15m, but figured I'd be lucky to break 10 hours.

After the flat fast ride to the state line, the course starts climbing and climbing and climbing the hills above Liberty Lake.  I fell behind Eric E and the group we were riding up the hills with, but I figured I would catch them on the downhill. But my legs felt like mush, I fell too far behind and lost track of them - until some hours later when I think I came across part of the group after they took a wrong turn.

Here's a typical view, maybe out on Belmont Rd:

It wasn't all pitch black, as we rode by various farms, homesteads, small communities.

Some blathering about gear:

Bike/Tire Talk: I was riding me Salsa Fargo, and appreciating the tubeless setup.  Passed quite a few guys on skinny tires fixing flats along the way.  Or maybe it was just the same one or two guys fixing flats I kept passing.

The Race King 2.2" tires roll surprisingly well on pavement, but there were lots of miles on the paved roads where I thought the tires might be overkill.  But then there many sections I was glad I had them. Like the gated off summer road (a road in name only), the downhill dirt Bruna Rd, and all those washboard gravel roads in the last half. Took the sting out of the bumps. Had 30+psi in them and maybe could've gone lower.

Garmin talk:  This year I had the course loaded on a Garmin Edge Touring model, and I could just follow the purple line. The screen would tell me when to turn.  This was working great except for a few spots like around Liberty Lake when the screen went dark. I thought maybe I lost satellite reception but I couldn't read a message at the bottom, telling me we were off course, so I think I missed the same turn before LL we missed last year.  Darn fuzzy contacts. We soon were back on the course and riding with a larger group again. Took me awhile to get the Garmin back on the course, but once I did it was back to following the purple line.  Helped a few riders find the turns along the way,

Later on I got the Garmin off course again by tapping on the wrong spot on the screen, and it decided I wanted to go where I tapped. Then it would tell me to turn around, make a u-turn but I could see the purple line going the other way. Luckily one time when it told me to go the wrong way, there was another guy who knew the right way to go.  At least now I know more about working the Garmin.

Shoe talk: my trusty, sturdy heavy duty 5-10 Freeriders. After 80 some miles these were feeling heavy - next year if I do the ride (well of course I will if I'm in the Spokane area) will wear something lighter like the Chrome shoes. I was having trouble with the hills and once or twice even thought maybe I should've gone clipless - gasp.  Around 3am I got a second wind and started just mashing down on the pedals on the uphills - that seemed to help. No spinning in tiny circles for me.

More cell phone pictures time:
Sunrise some miles before Spangle
a welcome coffee/cookie stop
they really don't want people getting past the
end/beginning of the new pavement on the Fish Lake Trail
Wildlife: 3 porcupines (close encounters only), lots of deer. other critters heard but not seen.

Downhill talk: I'm always surprised my heavy steel bikes coast downhill about as fast as most light, skinny tired bikes.  Noticed this first at Spokefest some years ago riding my Marin Muirwoods with its smooth 42mm tires and it continues with the Vaya and Fargo.  It helps on gravel roads to have the fatter tires give me a little more confidence and not hit the brakes as much.  I like going fast downhill, but after awhile thought maybe it's not smart to I push it too fast, especially when by myself out in the middle of nowhere. Thinking I was a downhill racer in another life.

food: brought trail mix and some Bobo Oat bars that looked similar to my favorite no-bake cookies. Except they weren't: they were dry and not much flavor. Didn't feel like eating much, think next time will bring some cookies, apples and a sandwich. Don't like the sport bars and gel-packs.

picture chronicling: think will fix a regular camera to the handlebars or rack next time, or carry a good small camera. Attached the gopro to my front rack with a ski pole attachment, but I had to build up the rack tubing with duct tape because it was a little too narrow. Made for a wobbly mount. The gopro battery died quickly and I need to get a new battery.  Not that there's a lot to take pictures of in the dark, but it'd help with a proper ride chronicle.

For all the tough uphills in the first half of the ride, the last 20-30 miles are the toughest for me, even though they're the flattest.  Especially the last few miles on the Fish Lake Trail - just wanted to get to Spokane. Stopped a bit extra more in the last third to re-group, but I wasn't in any hurry. Finished up at Central Food and chatted a bit.  Almost fell asleep trying to talk myself into riding home but hoping for a lift. No ride was available, so I took an easy meander home.

The MC is a great ride and I'm glad I finished.  There's something about riding in the middle of the night on the back roads, sometimes alone, sometimes with a group of strangers and friends.