Nobody wants to ride when it’s cold and nasty out. That’s why we do it! Sound like fun? We usually meet on Saturdays at the Bookery in Ephrata around 9:00, unless we don’t.
Dec 12, 2015 Dry Coulee
It was another grey 33 degree day so we made the best of it with a trip north toward Dry Coulee. But on the way we came across a cool old house, guessing around 1900 ish. Stone walls and quite a bit of detail, not a quick shelter, was someones pride back in the day. It was on a road that I hadn’t been on before. And that is what I love about these rides… at the end of the day it’s not about the miles (except for Festive 500) it’s about finding new places and occasionally getting a bit lost in the process. On our way back in we had conveniently routed ourselves right past the Del Red with the thought that a hot toddy may be in order. However with the impending rain we opted to get home before it hit. Our timing was perfect, just a enough rain to make us look like bad asses rolling into town, but not out in it long enough to get wet and cold.
Dec 5, 2015 Let the Adventure Begin!
I can’t speak for the group, a few guys may have been on the bike a bit, but I have for the most part spent the month of November eating/drinking like a pig, and at best getting on my bike for the occasional Weds Nite to which I immediately cancel out any benefit with the mandatory Weds Nite post ride beverage -or six. With that said I knew our first Winter Saturday ride would hurt a bit. We meet at the Bookery in Eph which is a great place for a cup of coffee. I was late, getting winter kit dialed… where’s my shoe covers, lobster or fingers, where’s my hat …#@%*!!!! Had a good turn out though, Bill, Brian, Dave, Geordie, Kyle. We were on the road around 9, it was overcast with wet roads and about 34 degrees. We climbed up Baird and things were just on the verge of icy. Where the pavement ends the road was compact snow, and yes, ice. This slowed down the pace for sure. We regrouped at Monument Hill road and decided that would be our best escape route. The only catch is the giant decent off the hill in fog and snow and ice. No worries we bombed it all banzi, gravel and snow flying, drifting the corners, totally pro… it’s true. We made it down in one piece anyway and were greeted with bare, wet roads again, which was nice. From there we got onto the wasteway road (gravel – well more like peanut butter with a few pieces of gravel mixed in. Like chunky peanut butter!) way out Rd 9 then Rd A and back to Eph. We ended up with a great variety of conditions and a solid 47 mile ride to kick off our favorite time of year!
Jan 31, 2015 The Grey My Life Has Become
I could never live in Seattle. I talk big about being a tough guy riding all winter but a week of overcast/fog/mist and I am ready to lose it. And it’s not even cold! After the crabby hundo we couldn’t stand the thought of more flat lands so we headed for the hills aiming for paved roads knowing any gravel would be soft. But as soon as we got to the top of Johnson Rd we found that the dreary wet weather in Eph was dreary icy weather up high. So down Sheep Canyon and out toward Adrian we went. We even found a few miles of gravel that was reasonably firm. While it was nowhere near clear skies at least it was less foggy than last Sat giving us a couple nice views, one looking down the cliffs into Lake Lenore and the other dropping into Dry Coulee. We were able to get in 45 miles which was okay until we later heard Shiggy did 124. Yes, we suck.
Jan 24, 2015 Crabby Hundo
After the snow from last weekend followed by a warm week we opted to stay out of the hills again. Today was a big loop south, through the Crab Creek area. Despite the dreary conditions we had a strong group of six. The ride was supposed to be about 85 miles. We set out with a great pace on Dodson road all the way down into Crab Creek. This is a cool area that I haven’t explored much. We figured it was a good time of year to be there because the gravel road would likely be sandy and not much fun in the summer. There were big basalt cliffs almost like Palisades, with a lot of bird life around the water. This was pretty much the highlight of the ride, from there it was onto Beverly Burk road and a 12-15 mph slog the rest of the way back. I’m not sure if the wind shifted directions slightly or it was a slight up hill grade, or we went too hard on the way out… or a combination, but it sucked. The only thing that got me through was knowing we would stop in George for lunch. Ahhh but that was not to be. Nope not for this cowboy, by the time I got there I could see I didn’t have time and would have to skip lunch, leave my buddies and keep truckin to make my [wife imposed] deadline. The tentative plan was my lovely wife was to pick me up at Brian’s (15 miles south of Ephrata) to save time and my legs. I messaged here to confirm I would make there right on time, knowing that I would have to go hard to pull that off. Easier said than done 80 miles in. As I get to Brian’s I am right on time, only to find that my lovely wife is not there. My choices at this point were either to continue the final 15 miles home or curl up and die. I could’ve went either way but I opted to continue. It was slow going, I was cramping bad and crabby. Just outside of town, low and behold, look who decides to show up, my lovely wife. I had just hit 100 miles. I tried to gather my jumbled thoughts and explain why I was crabby, but it just didn’t quite come out as it had played out in my head earlier. She took me home, made me a giant sandwich and chocolate milk and I forgot I was crabby.
Jan 17, 2015 Wintery Mix of Canal Roads, Ice, Wind, and Sleet
The title pretty much says it all. It was about 29 degrees this morning with a cold wind blowing out of the North. There was about 2″ of snow from a couple days ago just to keep things interesting. Dale was the only one dumb enough (other than myself) to show up with a bike. Our challenge was finding a route that wasn’t icy, and without traffic. The only problem was the back roads weren’t plowed and compact snow/ice, the busy roads were plowed… but busy. So we ended up on canal roads, most of which had a couple tracks but not too icy. This took us all the way out to I90 to which we were able to piece some pavement back to town that was reasonable. It actually wasn’t that bad up until the last 10 miles. It’s funny, because I’ve noticed many of the winter rides with Dale over the years have had a similar bad to worse type progression. This is about when the light sprinkle gradually became more of a steady, pelting rain/freezing rain/sleet mix. Oh and it wouldn’t be complete without a headwind. By the end we had racked up 39 miles, but it was definitely the last 10 that left a mark.
Jan 10, 2015 The Red Bridge of Yore
I was beginning to think that the red bridge was this some sort of metaphor my friends speak of. I have been close to it but never actually seen it myself, only heard the stories of it. But alas I have visited the red bridge, seen it with my own two eyes, now my life is complete (aside from milking a badger of course). There were six of us with Tom visiting from Wenatchee to start the day. We again were headed north into the hills. It is amazing that we are still able to do this in Jan. We climbed up Norton and into the fog and frost, the gravel was wet but not as sticky as the last few weeks. With the temps right around 32 we were watching to see if the dirt road to the red bridge would be thawed and muddy mess (not that we learn from our mistakes or anything). Luckily it was frozen with patches of snow. At least lucky for some of us, turns out the patches of snow do a great job of hiding the frozen ruts in the mud, which are able to take you down before you know what’s happening. The red bridge was cool to see finally, even if it isn’t really red, it was old and crusty and cool. We soon found that even more tricky than the ruts at the red bridge were the ruts on Overen… at 26 mph… ouch. Fortunately nothing serious, just a few scrapes and bruises. More importantly no Rapha gear was harmed in this ride. I am amazed at the what the Softshell Jacket can take and come out unscathed. We rolled back into town with 38 miles on the clock, feeling not nearly as frozen as the previous week, but maybe a bit more battered. In the end you can take the dog out of the fight, but you can’t take the milk out of the badger… or something like that.
Jan 3, 2015 The Coldest Ride Ever
So the holidays have come and gone, we got through the Festive 500, and are finally back on our regular Saturday ride schedule. This Saturday we had hoped to show Kelly -who took off of work just to ride with us-what Saturday rides are all about. We had a 60 ish mile loop in mind that would take us up into the hills, all the way across Overen Rd into Quincy, up Monument Hill and home. The only problem was the that it was about 20 degrees, and overcast. We set out six strong with the Norton climb up first to get warmed. It worked well, but we soon found for every hill we climbed we then had to go down hill and freeze again. At the intersection of Overen and Baird we were all feeling the freeze. But more importantly were the parts we couldn’t feel. This helped convince us to cut out the extra Quincy loop and take the shortest route home. It was on the final descent into town that the group (not me) went all roadie and attacked the rest of the way. This was also a fairly effective method for staying warm.
Dec 13, 2014 The Road to Nowhere
It’s been overcast and dreary for too long. But today supposed to be a break in the weather, with a forecasted 45 degree high, but more importantly sunshine, glorious sunshine! I had a route planned taking us into Douglas Creek. It was a bit ambitious at 65 miles, but if not on a day like this then when? We had 10 of us show up at the Bookery ready to hit the road. I like to think that the large turn out was because people are attracted to my razor sharp whit and charming personality, but maybe it was the sunshine. We left town heading north out Sagebrush Flats Rd, I was worried that the route I had planned could be a muddy mess. We were cruising along pretty good, in a paceline, just before Rimrock when I got a puncture in my rear tire. Stans sprayed Dale who was right behind me in the face. I actually took some enjoyment in this because this is the same Dale that will draft me on a wet day and get the spray from his front tire to hit my backside (while I have fenders with “buddy” flaps). It lost some air but eventually sealed. I put a tube in it anyway so it wouldn’t give me problems later. After that we hit the first of the gravel which soon lead to dirt which was indeed muddy. We forged ahead for awhile, then it was suggested we bale out, turning south (for the record I thought this was a bad idea), trying to tie into Palisades. We found something that resembled a road and despite my doubts went for it. They wouldn’t build a road if it didn’t go anywhere right? Slippery, slimy, sticky mud, it was not something one would want to backtrack out of. We rode it all the way to where it stopped, right at a huge cliff looking down on Palisades. It got a bit adventurous from here as we had a fair amount of hike a bike and picking our way down goat trails, but we did finally tie into Palisades road. We stopped by Billingsly’s ranch to say hi then up three devils and out of there. As it turned out we were a muddy mess for a second week in row. It needs to be 10 degrees warmer, or colder, or we could just stay on pavement… but what fun would that be.
Dec 6, 2014 DS Mud/Punch Bowl Fail
I’m usually pretty good about rolling with the punches (no pun intended) on our winter rides, but it’s different when it’s me getting punched. It all started at the Bookery at 8:00 am, a little earlier than normal to get a few of us back in time for family obligations. The planned route was a revisit of the Punch Bowl ride we did last year. Our (my) concern (a valid one) was that the dirt road portions of the planned route may very well be a sticky muck mess from the recent rain fall. The group did not think it warranted a reroute. So off we go. The paved wet roads were no match for me as in anticipation of a wet, rerouted day I had freshly installed fenders. As we got to the gravel it was in remarkably good condition, but before long I was noticing a few soft spots. We regrouped at the intersection of gravel and dirt for a last minute assessment. At first glance it appeared to be okay. But that’s always how it works, it doesn’t get bad until your in deep. And that is exactly what happened. It got worse and worse… and worse. The mud began sticking to our tires and fenders. And before long was packed so tight I literally was not strong enough to turn the cranks. We pulled the plug at that point and back tracked out of there, mostly walking with feet that soon resembled our mud caked tires. I don’t like walking, so this made me grouchy-er. I kind of had a mini melt down at that point, picking mud off my bike and cursing, trying to convince myself to finish the ride as opposed to hurling it into Soap Lake and drowning my fury at the Del Red. Things gradually got better and we were able to get on a good gravel road and move faster than 3 mph. My big victory of the day was instead of freaking out when my fender finally came apart, I calmly pulled to the side of the road and removed it (with tools) then placed it gently on the ground (and kept all obscenities under my breath). We rode through Adrian again, but learned that it maybe wasn’t almost the county seat, it could’ve been Wilson Creek… but legend has it (according to Bill) that the night before the meeting in Olympia to finalize the deal they got the mayor wasted and he was a no show. The rest of the ride went okay. The time we saved from bailing out of the Punch Bowls came in handy, I was able to use it, and the rest of my afternoon cleaning my bike. grrrr. But as they say, a bad day on the bike is still better than a good day at work.
Nov. 29, 2014 Forbidden Lake/Dry Coulee
We’ve been talking big about winter riding, yeah, we’re so tough, nothin gonna stop us. Well, as they say, sh!ts getting real now: 22 degrees with a nice steady 25 mph arctic breeze blowing. Wait, did I just say breeze? I feel that is not an accurate description of the howling wind storm we rode in. And the funny thing is just 24 hours earlier I was riding in knickers and ls jersey. I guess it’s not that funny. There were four of us and we were headed north into the wind. Immediately I could feel the exposed skin on my face burning with cold wind pelting it. I thought there’s no way we will be able to stay out very long as nasty as it is. We found our way to the city that very nearly became our county seat: Adrian (Brian says this about every small town we go by). It was shortly after this that the adventure part of the ride began. It may or may not have involved us getting a little bit lost and accidentally trespassing and finding a lake. We paused briefly for one of Dru’s rice cakes then it was onward. The wind pounded us as we continued up Dry Coulee. We turned to head west on a gravel road and the side wind was so strong that I nearly slid out a few times. As we made the left turn onto High hill road all of the suffering in the wind became worth it, we raced toward Soap Lake at 25-30 mph in pure silence. Straight to the Del Red Pub where it was a round of hot buttered rum to take the edge off. As we rolled back into Eph, somewhat numb from the cold (and hot buttered rum) we took great satisfaction in the 40+ mile we were able to knock out on such a nasty day!
Nov 22, 2014 Rattlesnake Springs/Red Bridge
This was a ride that we did last year (see below) without the “Red Bridge” portion of it. The plan today was to make the most of the forecasted 45 degree heat wave and see both. But after two weeks below freezing temps, then a day of rain, then 45 degrees our route was thawing and muddy. After getting to Rattlesnake springs it was decided to skip the red bridge. By all but the youngest member of our party. It was his suggestion that he and the next youngest (aka next dumbest) member of the group throw caution to the wind and despite the worsening road conditions assume that they will improve. Seemed like good logic so off we went. And in a way the conditions kind of did improve. It went from slimy, thawing mud to snowy. This created a few new challenges getting traction on the long climb out, and the fact that for every pedal stroke approx 25% of it is lost to wheel spin. I could see my partner was beginning to fade so we stopped to refuel. I had a sandwich of organic natural almond butter with organic strawberry spread on multi-grain whole wheat bread. He had goldfish crackers. Shortly after a light breeze kicked up blowing the low clouds off of us and giving us blue skies, sunshine and a tailwind for the final push over Baird Springs and into town. We rolled into town covered in mud, but all smiles. So awesome to get a 19 yr old kid out there slaying a 50 miler. Stoked!
Nov 15, 2014 Crater Lake Epic
Awhile back a few of us decided to keep riding through winter. Other than the bitter cold, snow, ice, and lack of daylight, we could thing of no reason not to do at least one substantial ride per week throughout the winter months. Even though it’s not even winter yet it has been wicked cold all week so this was as good as anytime to get this thing started: our first official unofficial winter Saturday ride of the season.
We met at the Bookery as always for a pre-ride shot of caffeine. We made our plans and hit the road. It was 34 degrees, but the sun was shining and there was no wind. We took off out Sagebrush Flats road on our way to awesomeness. But there are certain requirements that must be met in order to call your ride epic. As we happily made our way down Baird Springs and to Crater Coulee we were all caught up in the moment. Some very cool terrain. It was on our way out of the coulee where we ran into trouble. Picking our way up what was once maybe a railroad service road, now overgrown. I had just picked up a tumble weed in my cassette, at that moment, as Brian was about to warn of the dangers of tumbleweeds SNAP, not me, but Chance’s rear derailleur was now dangling from the chain. We were able to break the chain, remove the derailleur, and make a single speed of it. And it work surprisingly well, at first. We limped along with it all the way back up Overen rd. That’s when it started to twist in the drop out ever so slight, just enough to shift to a higher gear,and over tighten the chain. So we stopped to fix it. Then it happened again. And again and again… It was getting dark and cold. Oh, and we were out of food. And our lips were chapped. Just trying to set the stage as to how dire things had gotten. It was time to call for a bail out. Fortunately we had signal and a willing driver. The rest of us proceeded to fend off hypothermia by pedaling really hard all the way home. It worked. It was a long day, and most of it was awesome.
Dec 21, 2013 Rattlesnake Springs
This was one of my first rides of the season where I got really cold. A couple weeks ago it was cold. Like single digit cold with wind. I remember being pretty cold on that ride, but more of a freeze your face/exposed skin off kind of cold. Today was more of a deep down cold. The kind that soaks into your bones and takes all night to get warmed up. But it started out so nice… It was Brian, Dave, and myself and we were headed for Rattlesnake springs. Of course we took the graveliest (I’m not sure that is even a word, but I’m going with it) way there, up Norton, Sheep Canyon, Rd G etc.
Between intermittent breaks of sun and climbing the first half was fairly comfortable. We rolled through the springs which were awesome. There was a grove of pine trees that looked quite out of place in the middle of a baron desert wasteland, there was a water crossing to navigate, deep draws, and amazing basalt rock columns.
It was right around here however that we all became cold. It was just like the temperature dropped 10 degrees and we went from delightful tour of the countryside to a freeze your butt off death march home.
By the time we were back on pavement and able to start pushing, it was getting dark and some fog was settling in. The faster we went the colder it got. But wait it gets better. As you may have guessed we survived (barely) and got home. Just in time for the Vicious Cycle winter solstice mtb ride. Oh yeah, that’s just what I want to do! Finish one ride and jump right back into the next one, with frozen (aging) joints on a single speed, riding the oh so smooth trails of Beezley. No matter, we did it, because that’s how we roll. Luckily it was followed up with plenty of good cheer (hot food and booze) at the Vicious Cycle Christmas party.
Dec 14, 2013 Punch Bowls
The Petroglyph ride was good. So good that it would be tough to top. But that is just what Bill set out to do today along with Brian, Dave, Dru, Nate, and myself. Today we set out to see the elusive “Punch Bowls” which have nearly reached folklore status to us. None of us know for sure what created these huge holes in the basalt landscape but we all have our theories: meteors, ice age floods, alien life, etc. We learned of this mysterious formation on a previous ride and have since been intrigued. As we began Nate showed us how to start a ride with style and grace by splatting himself on the ground exactly 35′ into the ride. It was very icy! He was okay and after we caught our breath from laughing at him we were off. We headed North, above Soap Lake and toward High Hill. From there we turned off the road and that’s when things got dicey. Poor Nate tore his rear derailleur to pieces after a tumbleweed got caught in it. We bent the remnants of the derailleur clear of the spokes, removed the chain, called a ride for him, and pushed him down the hill. I’m sure he’s okay. We proceeded with caution. The road we were on kind of went away. Then there was a fair amount of hike a bike, but sometimes that happens when in search of awesomeness. We got lost, then found the punch bowls, then realized that what we had found were impostures and gave up on finding the real punch bowls in favor of getting out before dark. Then, in search of a way out, found the real punch bowls. They were awesome. We eventually found a “game trail” that tied into a “jeep trail” that tied into a something that resembled a path out. We were saved! All in all today’s tour turned out to be exactly what these winter rides are all about.
Dec 7, 2013 Tundra Tour
I’m pretty sure this is the coldest I’ve ever ridden bicycle, aside from maybe a quick commute. They were calling for a high of 19, but our 9 am start (thank you Brian for that) was 12. But that wasn’t the worst part, it was the 20 mph wind. Although the sun was shining, so at least it looked nice outside. It was Nate, Bill, Dave, Brian, and myself. The route was tailor made for just such a day. Head wind out, tail wind back with multiple bail out points. We started out up Norton Canyon (First GFE climb) and just got pummeled by the head wind. The fact that we were climbing and the sun was shining kept the core warm, but everything else was cold. We turned on 19, made it all the way out to J, then were treated to a big tail wind most of the way back. We were feeling so good with the tail wind that Nate and I oped to off road it up the back side of Beezley and score some sweet frozen single track to finish the ride off. All in all we made it much farther than I expected. We ended up with 24 miles and are expected to make a full recovery from the frostbite and hypothermia.
Nov 30, 2013 Overen Wilderness
Winter rides are ON and we are back on the wagon! Or is it off the wagon, I can never keep that straight, but no matter because we are back at it and just had a doozie. But first let me back up a little and say that while this is our first “official” winter ride of the year (what makes it official you ask since it’s not even really winter? Because it was flippin cold! Now enough questions. If this is going to work you can’t keep interrupting me). So as I was saying we’ve actually been riding the last few weeks and there were a few note worthy rides that I feel I can’t just gloss over. Most notably was the awesome Indian camp and petroglyphs that Bill led us to. Very cool. But back to where we left off. We’re at the coffee shop. It’s Bill, Dale, and myself. It’s cold. It’s foggy. We are wondering why we were looking forward to this because it suddenly does not sound fun anymore. Then Bill got a flat tire. We haven’t even left yet. Change it out and on the road. We headed up Sagebrush Flats, then up Overen Rd, down the other side, and then off into the unknown. We were headed for a piece of ground that connected to Willow Springs. Notice I used the term piece of ground. It would be a stretch to call it a road. It was the type of road that you keep telling yourself has to get better, but then it never does. And with thick fog there was nothing to see, just a thorough beating to be had. We finally got ourselves back to Baird Springs Rd and on our way home when darkness settled in. At this point we were pretty zapped and just dragging ourselves out. Once on top of Baird we just had a few rollers and then it was all downhill into town. I’m just riding along and crunch, my bike stops. My rear derailleur is now in front. Not good. We quickly weigh the fix it -vs- call for ride option and opt for the bail out. Bummer way to end a ride, but when it’s dark and your cold with a broken bike you don’t care.
Feb. 22, 2013 State Patrol
Hey, wait just a darn minute here you say! February 22 isn’t a Saturday what the heck is going on here. I know, let me explain. I did ride on Saturday, but it just didn’t have the “Winter Ride” feel we have all come to know and love. For instance, it wasn’t snowing, it wasn’t 25 degrees, and I didn’t get covered in a snow/mud mix. In fact it was about 55 degrees and I even had skin showing, knickers! So I felt that the winter ride coverage had run it’s course and it was time to move on. That was until I was inundated with a mop of outraged readers demanding more winter ride reports. Okay, that is a total lie. I’m pretty sure the only person that reads this is my wife. And she only reads it to make fun of my writing. On Saturday February 16 I hauled to Kennewick to ride the trails at State Patrol. I figured with the Echo Red to Red mtb race coming up it’s time to dust off my mad mtb skillz. It was pretty windy, but that just adds to the Echo simulation. I hadn’t been to SP for years (other than passing through on the Three Towers Ride) so I had kind of forgot just how fun it is. All the swoopy banked corners on top are a blast, then lots of choices to descend. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to entertain myself for 2-3 hrs of riding, but it was pretty easy. I look forward to hitting it again next winter. And I thank my legions of devoted Winter Rides readers for all of their support over the last few months. I know it will be hard for you not having this, but before you know it, it will be cold and miserable again, and I’ll be on the world wide web complaining about it.
Feb. 9, 2013 Leavenworth Loop
Today we met in Wenatchee at Arlberg. I was thinking it would likely be another solo ride, partially due to my lifestyle of last minute plans. I also knew much of my regular crew was busy so I was happy to see two others show up to ride. Dan and Dan! What can I say, I’m good with names. We made plans to head toward Leavenworth, negotiating our way around climbing distractions like Nahum and Mission Creek. We had beautiful sunny skies with a bit of a head wind. The closer to Leavenworth we got the more the wind picked up. At times it was down right unpleasant. Luckily my bicycle had developed a squeak that helped to distract us. Now I’m usually not the squeaky bike guy. The one with the dry squeaky chain, creaking bottom bracket, and mud left over from cross season. Not me, I showed up with a clean, freshly lubed bicycle. So the squeak made me crazy! Thankfully I was able to get a shot of lube from my friends at Eurosport in Leavenworth. In case you were wondering it was a rear derailleur pulley wheel. Any yes I actually have lubed those before. On the road again, we went by the ski hill and cruised the strip, then made a nice loop out the the Icicle River and back. That was the best part of the ride, beautiful! Most of the way back to Wenatchee was a tail wind with rollers and mountains, and rivers… why do I live in Ephrata? Even with the tail wind I was still pretty zapped by the end though. Good stuff.
Feb. 2, 2013 Whitehall 50
The ride was supposed to be titled Pinto Ridge 70, but I liked the way Whitehall 50 sounds. And I gashed a tire 8 miles into the Pinto Ridge 70, so after going back down the hill to my house to swap a wheel, then all the way back up the same hill, We decided Whitehall 50 had a nice ring to it. Wait, did I just say I gashed a tire? I mean an angry snow Badger got ahold of it. It probably wouldn’t have been so angry, but we tried to milk it. I hear if you drink Badger milk it will make you badass like a Badger. Once that was behind us it was quite a nice day out. The temperature was cool, but we had blue sky’s and plenty of sunshine, FINALLY! Dale and Mark had enough of my shenanagans and just rode a portion of the loop leaving me all by my lonesome self out highway 2 and Whitehall Rd. And that is some desolate, lonely country. I had to push a little harder than I would have liked as I knew I would be cutting it close with daylight. The sun went down just as I hit Sheep Canyon, which made for a mighty cold descent. Got home just in the nick of time…cold and tired. And happy.
Jan 26, 2013 -Three Towers Ride
In an effort to break out of the fog and 25 degrees we’ve had in Ephrata for the past two weeks, I decided to make a run for the Tri Cities. The forecast wasn’t great, but even if all I got out of the trip was above freezing, I’d consider it a success. The “Three Towers” ride is one I had never actually done before, but have been wanting to. So when I heard the Chinook boys were doing it I jumped at the opportunity to tag along. In fact I may have jumped a little too fast without actually thinking it all the way through. I was getting myself into a 50+ mile ride with 6000′ of elevation with fast dudes. It was suggested to me in advance that I bring my mtb for the ride. But why would I want to take the advice of fast dudes that are familiar with the course? I brought my cylcocross bike. We took off from Richland in a thick fog. Almost right away I noticed the pace was faster than I was used to. Vicious Cycle Saturday rides are much more relaxed. We made our way to the State Patrol trails from a network of dirt roads. The State Patrol trails are where things began to get interesting. There was a slippery slimy layer of mud thanks to the above freezing (barely) temps. This was also the climb to the first tower. It was a mushy, power robbing climb that I’m sure I made look much more difficult than it actually was. By the time we got through SP we were covered in mud. So far the cx bike was doing okay. A little sketchy bombing mtb trails in the mud, but all things considered, not bad. The next challenge was a gravel road to the top of Jump Off Joe Ridge. As we began the climb in thick fog, I couldn’t help but notice the dump/make shift shooting range around every bend. I think small towns get a bad rap for this when in reality it happens everywhere. But it wasn’t long before we left the hillbillies and fog behind and broke through to magnificent blue skies and sunshine! And it felt so good! At least the sunshine part. The road got steeper and the surface was soft. That was one hard climb. At the top there was wind turbines and a layer of fog beneath us that made it feel like you were on top of the world. We made quick work descending the climb we had just painstakingly endured. We made our way back toward town and onto a canal road which snaked it’s way through a very nice neighborhood to a not very nice hill. The third of the Three Towers ride is Badger Mountain. I was totally shot by the time we got there. That’s when Greg smiles at me and says “so, have you ever been up Badger, it’s a nice single track climb of 900′.” I’m not going to report on that part of the ride as I’m trying to block it out of my memory, it was bad. I guess it was only fitting to finish the ride with something like that. Afterwards, I thanked them for the good time (lie) and tried without success not to act like a crippled old man for the remainder of the day.
Jan 19, 2013 -Seep Lakes Round-about
I’m noticing that these ride reports are beginning to sound all to familiar. Coffee, road, gravel, get lost, snow storm. And this report is very similar with change. In lieu of a snow storm we opted to up the get lost part of the equation. For this particular Saturday ride it was Dale and I starting at Potholes State Park. I had once again planned a route with never actually riding it (those are always the best). We took off east toward Seep Lakes Wildlife Area where we located the first of the gravel. This is a piece of a ride we did back in Dec. so you’d think I would’ve known the route. Nope. I somehow managed to navigate us from a crappy gravel road to a crappy jeep road. And then follow the crappy jeep road 10 miles in the wrong direction. Luckily Dale was a good sport about it (like he had a choice), we even doubled down and decided to follow our mistake out and go from there. Which turned out to be dang near Othello. I should point out now that at least there was no snow storm. Now back on pavement we were enjoying just how fast 16 mph feel after 2 hrs on a jeep trail. It was right around here we started to do the math and realize if we continued on to the planned route mileage would be 65-ish and we’d be fighting dark. We chose the slightly lesser of the two evil choices available – more crappy gravel road, but less mileage. This time we successfully made it back through the Seep Lakes on the “main” road. It felt like it was up hill the whole way. With a head wind. In deep gravel. And I think my brakes were dragging. Okay, maybe not all that was true, but some was. Just as we hit the pavement whatever little bit of sun that was shinning went away, the fog rolled in and the temps dropped fast. Luckily we only had 5 or so miles back to Potholes State Park. All in all it was a decent ride. What it lacked in mileage it made up for in off road gnar. As Dale says, “it’s not about how many miles are in the ride, it’s about how much ride is in the miles. Or something to that effect.
Jan 12, 2012 -Sunland Loop Fail
As you may have surmised from the title, this ride did not go quite as planned. Although they rarely do. This one had a strike against it before I even started. It was the 25 degree forecasted high for the day. Between that and the fact that all of my crew had “other commitments” I almost bailed on the whole deal. I was in Wenatchee for kid 2’s indoor soccer game, a quick trip to Arlberg to redeem my major award for the video contest (further down the page) and a cup of coffee at Cafe Mela. That’s when it happened. My lazy day was ruined. Bill called and asked where I was, he was in Eph ready for the Saturday ride. I told him I was in Wen and probably wouldn’t ride cause it was too cold. He said okay, and that he was going to go ride Sheep Canyon. If Bill was riding (by himself in the cold) then I no longer have an excuse not too. Luckily I just so happened to have my bike and gear along with me (what, doesn’t everyone do that). I jumped in my awesome vintage Subaru with a heater that does work, but just enough to keep the inside above freezing and headed for the Quincy Rest Area, which was the original plan. As I got on my way the sun was out, and while it was cold, it really wasn’t as bad as I would’ve thought. I was headed for Sunlands via Ancient Lakes, then back through the Quincy Lakes area. The first section of gravel was in great shape. A couple wet spots, but mostly firm and fast. Part of this was due to the fact it’s slightly downhill. The other part was I had a tailwind. Still, I felt good. Once at the gate to access Ancient Lakes road/trail the conditions deteriorated. It was now a mix of giant frozen puddles, big rocks and mud. I fought it for awhile to see if it would improve. It didn’t, so I cut my losses and made it an out and back. The road back was much slower, but no matter, the sun was still shining and I was lovin it.
January 5, 2013 -Unbanana belt Loop
In my experience anything south of Ephrata seems to be warmer. In fact back in my moto days we had course near Royal City we would ride all winter because it was always 10 degrees warmer there. We called it the banana belt. And so began our first Saturday ride of 2013. Dru, Dave, and myself met at the Bookery and carpooled to George, where we met Dale and Jason. It was 27 degrees. Exactly the same as Ephrata. I noticed a couple of the guys had made a few changes the their set up. There was a new set of fenders, some knobby cx tires instead of roadies, and even a one bike equipped with studded tires. The temperatures had hovered right around 25 degrees all week so there had been no thawing of anything since our last snowstorm. You should remember that, think back exactly one week. Our first off pavement section proved this. We followed a small wastewater canal South which was totally white. It was so white you couldn’t really distinguish bumps and ruts. Bumps and ruts that could take you down at any moment. So fast you don’t even get a chance to catch yourself. But it rolled great. It was a relief to make it to Adams Road where we made our way up and over Frenchman Hills. We turned off and followed a road just on the South side of Frenchman Hils that ran parallel to it. It was a nice twisty road with some great views overlooking Royal Slope orchard land and the Saddle Mountains. We looped around, just skirting Royal City, back to Adams Road and back over Frenchman Hills. It began to snow. The ride profile showed very little elevation, only 1400′ of climbing. But what climbing there was seemed punchy and bigger than the GPS said it would be. On the other side of the hill we were to take a different canal road all the way back to George. But with snow falling there was some concern about if it was like the first canal road we may consider an alternate route. This canal road however, was worse. Instead of a compact slippery surface it was not quite compact enough to hold a bicycle. We fought it for a half mile or so and bailed off when the opportunity presented itself. We then stair stepped our way back to George on rural farm roads. White rural farm roads as the snow was sticking. I guess it wouldn’t be a Saturday ride without it. So much for the banana belt!
December 29, 2012 -Winchester Wasteland
Well my iPhone weather app predicted just the slightest chance of a snow flurry, nothing that would slow us down. Or so we thought. And then the computer-generated route that I proposed also proved faulty. Technology is clearly out to get me. After a quick shot of caffeine from the Bookery Dru, Dale, Dave, Jeremy, and myself were on our way. It was just beginning to snow. We headed West on the canal road which proved to be in much better shape than the last time Dru and I had ridden it. As we rode along this first section of the ride I could swear there was even a glimpse of sunshine (still snowing though). We then followed the Winchester waste-way South -all the way to the end of the road. This is where the first of the mapping malfunctions occurred. Luckily we were able to rely upon Dale’s home court advantage to navigate us through a series of canal roads and possibly even a field (I can’t be certain there was even a road under the snow at that point). But low and behold we were back on track and running parallel to I90 on Rd3. The roads were wet, so those without fenders got wetter (still snowing though). We hit Hiawatha and were on the home stretch. Or so we though (again). This was supposed to be a straight shot all the way back to Highway 17. And technically I guess it was, however the last 10 miles were a jeep rd with 2-3 inches of crunchy snow. We opted to slightly modify the original route (again) and backtrack a bit to meet up with another road. At this point I’m not even sure what road it was, but it was paved and headed in the general direction we needed to be going. After a few miles we were able to locate yet another canal road that our home court guy assured us would be better than finishing the ride on pavement (so true). This road was mostly covered in snow and had secret patches of ice hidden. Ask Dave how we know. The snow was also creating some challenges in bicycle drive train performance. A few of the guys were having problems with iced up cassettes, brakes, fenders, pretty much everything important on the bike. There were some creative solutions to solving this issue. But somethings are best left on the ride. We rolled back into town just as it was getting dark and bike and body were about to give out. Perfect. Can’t wait to do it again!
December 22, 2012 -Seep Lakes Loop
It would seem my friends are smarter than I give them credit. It’s taken only two weeks for word on the Saturday rides to get around and suddenly it’s become pretty lonesome. Poor Wally was the only one today, but without fenders he was soaked to the bone and frozen at mile 12 where he turned around. He may be the smartest one of the bunch! I actually love these rides. There is not much value to them in terms of “training” at the pace I go -some would call them junk miles. I call them supercalifragilisticexpialadocious miles. It’s true, I do. And this ride was no exception. It started out with steady rain and wet wet roads. We began at the The Bicycle Shop in Moses Lake and headed South of town toward the Potholes. I was thankful I chose to put my fenders on this week. Even better I tricked them out with some extended coverage mud flaps to keep grime off my drive train and my cohorts (as few as they may be). At mile 13 I had made it to the first of the gravel and into Seep Lakes Wildlife Area. This was once again a ride I had never done, but came up with on the computer – so had no idea what to excpect. I have to say that was some really cool terrain though! What few pictures I got really didn’t do it justice. Lots of fairly chunky, rough gravel road with a good amount of small rollers and twisties. Also lots of interesting geography with small lakes and basalt column cliffs around every corner. There was about 14 miles worth of this road which eventually brought me back to the same place I had left the pavement. I was feeling so good, the sun had come out, there were bits and pieces of blue sky and I even had a decent tail wind to push me all the way back to Moses Lake. But not before one flat tire. It’s okay though, I was due. All in all it was a good ride… maybe the best of the three so far.
December 15, 2012 -Adrian Loop
Bet you didn’t know there was a town named Adrian did you. Well Dru and I were all over it and many other exotic locations Saturday afternoon. The ride started out as usual at the Bookery in Ephrata. It was a loop I had never actually done before, but mapped out on the computer. It appeared to be doable, but you just never know how those kind of rides are going to play out. As we began it was just starting to snow ever so gently. We got about 3 miles of pavement in before we hit the first gravel section. It was a rough, deep gravel compared to last weeks ride. And it was starting to snowing harder. At mile 16 we made it back to pavement, wet pavement. I had started to put my fenders on earlier in the morning, but changed my mind at the last minute and left them off. As a steady stream of water showered me from both front and rear tires my poor choice was beginning to soak in (pun intended). We soldered on to possibly the most uninspiring stretch of road I’ve ever ridden. We were about 30 miles in, cold and wet, in deep gravel with nothing to see. And I mean nothing, no rocks, no trees, no hills and no end. But what followed that section made up for it, a cool piece of the old, abandoned Moses Lake highway. We made our way along with no cars and even got across Rocky Ford Creek (something I was unsure of). We got one last final soaking as we finished out the ride on the new highway back into Ephrata. I got home cold and wet, but feeling pretty good. You gotta love a ride that doesn’t come easy!
Dec. 8, 2012 -Monument Hill Ride
It felt much more like a March base training ride than a miserable December death march. Although in an effort to stay upbeat and motivated to ride I’ve forbidden myself from using the term “training” or “death march” for awhile. And really, I am feeling quite motivated to ride, if anything I’m worried that I’m too motivated for this time of year. Especially considering how nice it was for our ride today. I was able to con three others into coming out with me for a 2-3 hour mellow pace ride with some gravel and dirt thrown in for good measure. We took off up the access road on Beezley which is usually done on mountain bikes but not this day. From there we bailed off the backside on a double track that had just enough thawing action to make a nice layer of slimy mud and keep the descend exciting. We then climbed Baird Springs, through rolling green winter wheat fields and sunshine. Shortly after the climb the pavement ends and the fun begins as they say. The gravel was amazing! Super smooth and fast. We made our way up to the top of Monument Hill where you can see forever (hey, it is the highest point in Grant County) then a long fast down hill. Once at the bottom and on pavement we found a good road to keep us off the beaten path and take us to the nearest gravel canal road and back into Ephrata. It was an awesome day, and I’m hoping to ride the stoke out on this one for awhile.