Wednesday, August 30, 2006

70 miles to Ft. Stevens

With the help of Ambien, I had a good nights' rest. We all broke down our camps and had breakfast. We ate the freshly picked blackberries with our oatmeal - nice treat!! Tea doesn't really do it for me in the morning but I knew we would be stopping in Birkenfeld shortly. Dave and Edna got going before Mike and me. As I started riding a pain in my knee had me taking notice. I remembered feeling something as we ended our ride yesterday but figured it would alright with rest. As we rode on the pain increased to the point I was worried. After about 5 miles I asked Mike to stop so I could adjust my cleats hoping that would help. It did somewhat. I decided to make another adjustment in Birkenfeld. Boy was I upset. I'm sure someone driving to the retreat today would have been able the pick me up but I really wanted to ride. I made another adjustment, popped some Advil, drank a latte and that seemed to do the trick. I'll bet that extra speed yesterday put extra stress on my knee. It was a great relief to be able to continue on. Just before we arrived in Birkenfeld we past a field with a long line of blue rooms set up for the Hood To Coast run. It was a beautiful day with temps in the high 70's . Temperatures in Portland were expected in the 90's so we were grateful to be climbing the coastal range with the lower temps. Last year was my first year on a recumbent and I had to walk alot of the hills. This year I made it with no problems. One of the nice things about riding a trike is you can stop and get started again anywhere. Edna and I rode together and gabbed our way through the day. It was very comfortable. We stopped about every hour for a rest and a snack. The riding was very quiet. I expected more logging trucks. We were stopped once by some logging operations but that was about it. The terrain is beautiful and lush. As we crested the top of the mountain the landscape become more stark and rocky. The ride down was very fast. Dave had flat after he rode into a pot hole. I was surprised he was able to keep such good control of the bike. He had it fixed in no time and we continued on down the hill into very lush, thick overgrowth. The temperture dropped at least 10 degrees but still very comfortable. This year we went into Astoria around another way. I liked it better. There is something about riding by water that I really like. It feels so clean. We refilled our water supplies and took a potty break at a restaurant just before the Astoria bridge. This bridge has a sign that blinks caution lights for bicyclists crossing. All the roads around Astoria were pretty flat and had good shoulders. We made one more pit stop before arriving at the Ft. Stevens campground. I found my site and set up feeling very proud of my riding. This is a big accomplishment for me. After setting up camp and taking a shower I rode around and saw there were already a number of recumbent retreat riders. Everyone was excited to see each other. I liked getting there a day early.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Ride to the Big Eddy Campground

I was so nervous about this ride that I had trouble sleeping for a few nights before starting out. I don't know why I get so nervous and it totally overwhelms me. Everything was packed and organized so there really wasn't anything to be worried about. I called Mike the day before we left for directions to his house and to talk about what we were going to cook for the first night's dinner. He gave me ideas and suggested a stove and cookware set to buy. I don't have a lot of experience camp cooking so I really had to think about what kind of food I needed to pack. Smoked salmon and couscous took care to the first dinner and oatmeal for breakfast. I decided tea would be easier than coffee. Camp cooking just doesn't sound very appealling to me. Maybe after a long day of biking anything will taste good. I made another trip to REI. The next morning I headed out to Mike's arriving around 9:30. Dave and Edna drove up shortly thereafter and we all set about getting our bikes set up. Mike is very organized - he even had maps copied for each of us. After a trip meeting and pictures we were off. Mike lives at the top of a mountain and for the first four miles we screamed downhill. At the bottom I realized I had lost my flag. This flag was expensive and I had put in considerable time adding reflective tape - bummer. Edna suggested Mike call his wife to see if she could drive down the hill to look for it and, viola, within 10 minutes I had my flag back - good move. We found trash along the roadside to help tie it down. Dave found some crepe paper wedding bells that had multicolored ribbons which worked really well. As the day progressed we added a number of streamers to it. This flag wasn't going anywhere.

Our first 20 miles flew by. I was so surprised how fast I was riding. Here I was fully loaded with an extra 50 pounds and I was riding 2 mph faster than normal. I've heard people say they always ride faster in a group. I think I could be pushing myself a bit more on my solo rides!! We made our way to Banks in search of the Banks-Vernonia trail. Somehow, Mike and I missed the very beginning of it and turned off to wait for Dave and Edna when we did. I found some low hanging blackberries and set about picking a bagfull - easy pickins. Here was desert for tonight!! The trail continues on paved for a few miles and then turns to gravel. We knew this and were hoping for hard packed gravel. I'd call it medium packed. I was on a trike so stability wasn't an issue but this trail really was suited more for mountain bike riding. I don't know if I could have done it on a bicycle - I certainly would have been very stressed out. It was alright for the first 3-4 miles and then it started getting old. Off road riding is hard on your equipment and your body. Then the gravel started getting thicker. I wasn't happy about it but the trike handled it just fine. Dave and Edna both almost wiped out and had to walk some of the deeper sections. Mike was so far ahead I don't know how he did. The scenery was gorgeous. We were riding under a canopy of overgrown trees and heavy, thick, lush underbrush most of the time. It smelled good too. Edna and I rode together gabbing away and noticed that the trail was also slightly uphill most of the time. Our speed was somewhere in the 4-6 mph range through the gravel patches. Then we came to the washed out train tressle with a very steep downhill and then walked up an even steeper uphill. Walking with a trike is difficult. My lower back was crying out trying to push this beast up the hill. Luckily, the guys came down to help. I was starting to swear pretty regularly by this time. Everyone else really wanted to ride the whole trail to see what it was all about so we continued. How much longer could it be? There were a few paved sections but mostly it was gravel. We went through one section where the gravel turned to big rocks and we had to move some of them out of the way. There was another steep uphill we all had to walk and by now everyone was ready to be done with this trail. We also passed a section where a new state park is going in. This park should be ready for next years ride. Towards the end of the trail we met a group horse back riding. I wonder how they managed the steep uphills? It wasn't too much longer and we finally got to pavement. It was heaven. From here on out anytime we came across rough road the response was always - " Atleast it is paved!". We stopped at a market in downtown Vernonia and then rode the last miles of the day to the Big Eddy campground. Even after riding all that gravel my average speed was still faster than normal - amazing!! I put out some cheese, salami, and crackers while we had showers and set up camp. Then everyone set about cooking dinner. We really had a lot of food and it turned out to be a nice meal. Mike is so organized with his food. Every meal is labeled what day it is for. I took notes of his techniques. I also tried out my new Snow Peak stove which is the same one Mike has. It is so small if I didn't know it was a stove I doubt I would know what it was for. It worked great although I don't know if I would make couscous again. I especially liked the Jenny Craig pasta dish Edna heated up. Another good idea for the future. We built a blazing fire and enjoyed the evening.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Bridge Pedal and Packing for the Big Ride

Road down to Annie and Shawn's late Saturday afternoon. Everyone tried out the trike. Shawn got it up on two wheels. Ellen road with a huge grin on her face. Annie was giggling the whole time she was riding. A neighbor and his son also tried it out. Annie, Shawn and I went out for dinner and ice cream yakking it up the whole time. Before bed we played a game of clubs. It had been a long time since we played cards. Shawn killed us.

Got up at 5 am Sunday to get ready and head out to the start of the Bridge Pedal. I was surprised how quiet the esplanade was. I thought it would be crowded with riders also heading to the start. It was early. I arrived at the starting line around 6:15 behind at least 1,000 other bikers. It felt funny to be surrounded by upright bikes - everyone was so tall. The ride was good. I was a interested to see how I would handle the hill up to the St. John's bridge. It looks intimidating just driving past it. Dropped the gears down and spun my way to the top. I wasn't much faster than the people walking to the top but I really didn't care. Met a woman I know from the recumbent rides as we road up and she asked "When did I get that thing?" and then "When did I switch?" meaning when did I stop riding my fold rush. She asked me a bunch of other questions which showed her displeasure that I was riding a bike different from what I had been riding and different from the bike she is riding. So wierd!! At the rest stop following the big climb I discovered that my flag was gone. Immediately I suspected someone had taken it but as I thought about it more I realized that I could have lost it if I rode under a low hanging branch. The pole would have bent and the flag may have got caught in it. Whatever happened someone has a really nice flag. At some point riding up the St. John's hill I thought someone had yelled "Nice pole!!" but decided I had miss heard them. Turns out I heard right. It was easy riding from then on to the finish. A guy road past me yelling "You are the future - You are the future!!" 3 1/2 hours to complete 36 miles. I stopped at New Season's for lunch on the way home for a tuna sandwich and a chance to get off the trike. About 2 miles from home I got a flat. I was on the phone with Shawn at the time - pretty funny. This was my first flat to fix by myself. I was actually kind of excited about it. As the bike came to a stop I could feel and hear air coming out of the tire. I felt certain it was a piece of glass but when I took out the tube and felt around the tire I couldn't find anything. I put in a new tube knowing the cause of the flat still lurked. Sure enough, the new tube flatted 1/2 mile down the road. I found the hole in the wheel but still couldn't see anything. I started digging in the tire with a key and found the glass. It took awhile but I finally got it and made it home.

First thing Monday I order a new flag for overnight delivery. I liked the way that flag looked and really wanted it for the ride to the coast. Then I went back to the safety store for more reflective tape to add the new flag when it arrives. Next stop was to drop off my car to have a hitch installed at Rack Attack. I already purchased a rack for the trike. This way I could drive over to Mike's house Wednesday morning and ride with the others to Vernonia. From there I walked to NW and my massage appointment with Jessica. It was a really nice message. My body is doing so good and so much better than when I started body work. After that I met Gloria at Mio Sushi. It was really good to see Glo and the sushi was good too. We walked down to REI so I could pick up a couple things for my trip. She drove me back to Rack Attack to get my car. I don't think I've ever seen an Audi A4 with a hitch. The hitch looks alright. Made a couple of other stops on the way home and set out to start packing for the trip. Put the trike rack together and installed it in the new hitch. Very fancy!! Took the tail sok off and packed it up so I can put it in Edna and Dave's van so they can take it the retreat for me. I can't use the tail sok with the bags - yet. I've got some ideas how to make that work and I'll be talking to Robert and Pat of Terracycle about putting those in play. Put the fairing back on the trike which I haven't used since returning from Kentucky. I didn't get nearly as much done as I had hoped but I still have tomorrow.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Goin' to Annie and Shawn's

Ro started throwing up today. The vet warned me this would happen. I'm not ready to lose her so soon. It's so hard to know when to put an animal down. Maybe she will rally and maybe she is sicker than I thought. She also hasn't eaten today. Usually she's pawing at me in the moring to get out of bed to fill her bowl. Poor 'ol girl. I hate to think she is suffering.

I'm getting ready to take the trike down to Annie and Shawn's in preparation of tomorrow's Bridge Pedal ride. I really want to start the ride around 6:30. 23,000 bikers rode last year. By starting early I will hopefully get ahead of the families and kids. This way I won't have to get up so early. It's about a 6 mile ride to the start from thier house and close to 20 miles from my house. I got a new mini lawn flag and put some reflective tape on it for additional visibility. I'd like to stop off at Mallory's to get more reflective tape and I'll also stop at New Season's market to pick up my registration packet on my way down today. It will be good to see Annie and Shawn - it has been awhile.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Rowena Doesn't Get Her Teeth Cleaned

Poor 'ol girl!! I took Ro to the vet this morning to have some bloodwork done. The vet needed to check on her kidneys before we could talk about having her teeth cleaned. Turns out her kidney's are failing and the vet didn't want to chance putting her under. I asked how much time Ro had left thinking it would be about a year. The vet said it's possible but more likely just a few months. This cat has been such a good friend. It will be hard to say goodbye. We've been together for over 15 years. She was a stray when I found her and could have been 3 years old at that time. I guess she's had a good long life. There's no treatment for her condition I'll just try to keep her comfortable. To be honest, she doesn't really seem that sick. I've noticed over the last couple of years she's been drinking more than eating but she doesn't seem to be in any pain. Here I was worried about a little gingivitis. She sure is a good sport!!

I also went to the dentist and got my teeth cleaned. They are looking good. One of my implants has come loose so I'll be going to my old dentist tomorrow to have her tighten it up.

Later in the day I got my bloodwork results from my new doc at St. Vincents. My prolactin levels are 28. Yaahoo!! This is great news. The last few times I've had this test done the levels were approaching 50. They are supposed to be under 25. The doctor also wants me to lower my dosage of synthroid. My thyroid apprears to be stronger as well. About 2 months ago I started using progesterone cream with good results. I noticed that I was feeling calmer - inside. Much less anxious. Could it be affecting my prolactin and possibly thyroid hormone levels? Wouldn't it be great if these two problems could be eleviated with an over the counter cream?!?!? This will motivate me to keep using it.

I also took the time to change tires on the trike today. I'm so glad I did. It was hard but I did it. On the first try, the tube got a snake bite puncture when I pumped it up. Then I couldn't get the patches to stick to the tube. Maybe the patches were old - I used patches from another kit and those worked just fine. Then I changed out the rear tire. It also took awhile but I finally got it. At least I know I've done it once. I tell you those 20" wheels are hard to get the tires off of!!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Sauvie Island

A ride was proposed online for a trip out to Sauvie's Island. The rider's that responded are so strong and fast I decided to meet them on the road. If I started with them it would be the last time I'd see them. I headed out from my house just after 8 am and after 23 miles of riding still hadn't seen the others. I pulled into a 7-11 to use the bathroom and pick up a snack. I'm trying to remember to take the GPS off the bike everytime I stop. It would be too easy for anyone to steal it. While I'm at the counter waiting to pay for my snacks, I set the GPS on the counter and promptly knock it to the ground. Great!! I've only had the unit for about a week and it was very expensive. Not only for the unit but the extra larger memory chip, maps and the DVD player I had to buy to use the maps. As I'm finishing my snack the rest of the gang rides by - I yell at them to stop and we all regroup. All but one was on a recument bike. There was one upright, 6 recumbents and me on the trike. As we get going I notice all I'm getting on the GPS is elevation. Something is wrong. We get to Sauvie's Island and one woman who I'll be riding to the coast with decides she wants to go back. I decide to ride back with her so we can talk over our camping and route plans. It really is a lovely day. We're riding on Hwy 30 which is pretty flat, it has a lot of traffic and a wide shoulder. We try to carry on a conversation but the traffic noise is too loud. Almost back to NW Portland we stop at a subway for a snack and the restroom. I'm messing with the GPS and can't figure out what is wrong. Edna and I talk over plans for riding to the coast and we decide to leave a week from Wednesday and set up camp at the Big Eddy Campground. It's really exciting talking about this ride. We will be going with Edna's husband Dave and Mike, a guy I rode with last year. Dave and Mike can ride at a faster pace and Edna and I can keep each other company at the rear. We'll come up with a menu for Wednesday night so we can divvy up the food and gear to share the load. Edna has just bought a TI Rush frame set and needed to go over the Coventry Cyclery to pick out components - very exciting!! REI was just a block away and head over there to see if anyone can help me with my GPS. There had been a big bike ride earlier in the day and REI was packed. Somehow I managed to get 2 guys to help me. I went outside with one guy and then he passed it on to another after he couldn't figure out what was wrong. At one point the second guy asked how old the batteries where. I replaced them yesterday and I asked if maybe the batteries got jostled but he said there was clearly power and so everything looked ok with the batteries. After walking around and pushing buttons for about 20 minutes he suggested I take the unit back to where ever I bought it. He said the units are expected to sustain 5 foot falls. The drop from the counter to the floor couldn't have been more than 3 feet. Boy was I bummed - I bought it on EBay and didn't know if there was any kind of warranty. All that money and now I'd have to spend more. Would I even have it fixed for the ride to the coast? As I'm riding home I start thinking about what someone would suggest I do before sending it somewhere to get fixed. Certainly, they would want me to put fresh batteries in it. This got me to thinking I should check the batteries to see if they were seated firmly. Sure enough, one of the batteries had come loose - just a bit. I felt it click into place, put the cover back on, and voila, the GPS starts to work perfectly. Yeahh!! Wow, what a relief!! I'll have to come up with a better system for how to handle the unit off the bike. The ride overall was really good. The temperature was close to 90 and I was slathering on the sun screen all day. I'm using a 50 spf and surprised how much color I'm getting. At least I'm not burning. For someone so fair, I'm actually getting tan. Not exactly attractive tan lines though. I was stopped a few times by people asking about the trike. At Zupan's on Hayden Island I stopped for a snack and talked to a few people. The ride through Vancouver was surprisingly quiet. Got home around 5 pm.

Something around 60 miles for the day.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Breaking in the Tailsok

Today's excitement was to find the entrance of the I-205 bike path. This path's entrance is hidden in a neighborhood. I didn't have any trouble finding the bike path but I did get lost shortly after leaving the house. The GPS needed batteries and I stopped at a market on the street where I needed to turn. I got the batteries but forgot to turn. Really got my barings messed up. I asked 2 people where the street I was looking for was and they each pointed in opposite directions. I decided to turn back and do the route as originally mapped out. Everything was going along fine when I started to notice that most everyone I was passing was far too serious. It made me feel like something serious had happened in the world and these people decided to go on a bike ride anyway. Even the recumbent riders were serious - very odd. After a stop at Taco Bell for a snack I went to Performance Bike hoping someone there could help me with the rubbing disc brakes. It's a very slight rubbing but I'd like it better if it wasn't there. These guys said not to worry about it - eventually the pads will rub down enough to clear the discs. I've heard this twice now and am willing to let it go. I also picked up some Cliff Bars, which I have yet to try, and a vertical rear blinky for the new tailsock.

All throughout the ride I noticed that the hills were so much easier on the trike. I am so pleased with this bike. I feel like hills are no longer an issue. What a great feeling to not have to worry about that. I continued down the 205 path to the Springwater trail. Gave Shawn a call to see if he was around but no, he was kayaking. Got down to the Esplanade and decided since everyone was being so serious it was time to put on the headphones. Biking with music is great. I have a lot of classical music recorded. Mostly Bach, Stravinsky and Chopin. It seemed like as soon as I tuned out I started getting more positive reactions from people. There were families with kids out on the Esplanade and they seemed to get a real kick out of the trike. I got to the Steele Bridge and headed up Interstate. There's a long gradual climb up this street and I had Carmina Burana playing - very fun music. I was on my way to Barbie's house when a guy on a homemade trike pulls up. His trike looked like it was built from an erector set. He was pretty excited. As we were talking a young kid comes up to ask about the trikes saying he is looking for ideas for next years college human power vehicle contest. The trike guy goes off on him saying he needs to build bikes for older people to get them out of their cars. He started telling this kid about all the global warming issues his generation will have to endure. It was a little much. The kid finally cut him off and said he had to go. Luckily, my turn was the next street. Had a nice visit with Barbie while she was taking a break from painting her house. What a job!! After that I made my way over the Interstate Bridge and back home. Once I got to Vancouver I got a lot a people pulling up and telling me how much they liked the trike. One car full of kids were screaming how much they loved it. Very fun. I had Bach's Italian Concerto playing on my way up the Hazel Dell hill. Terrific!! All in all a good day!!
52 miles.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Back on the trike

After doing a few trial runs to make sure I had put the trike together ok I went on a real ride. Last Saturday, I rode to Amy's house in Waverly for her pool party. I got a pokey start to the day. Made a few stops and didn't even get going until after 11 am. One stop was to the Community Cycling Center to visit with my buddy Larry the Mechanic. He had offered to come over and help me put the trike together if I had trouble. Luckily, that wasn't necessary but I wanted to show him the beauty. All the mechanics were so interested. Larry helped me with a couple of small adjustments I needed including getting air in the AirZound. Turns out I had filled it but somehow had also turned the volume all the way down. They had some bad news as well - the Vancouver CCC will be closing its doors on August 17th. Everyone will be going back to the Portland shop. As I continued on my way one of the highlights of this trip was to find the entrance to the bike path over the I-5 bridge and then Interstate Ave from the other side. I made it across the bridge easily but somehow made a wrong turn before finding Interstate. It was a beautiful day and the ride was fun. Drivers gave me plenty of room and people gave me plenty of thumbs up. Very fun!! Made it to the party by 2:30 and was really hungry after riding 25 miles. Ate and yakked it up for a few hours and then headed back about 6:00. It was much later than I had planned to return. My only eventful moment going home was trying to find the path leading to the I-5 bridge. There are paths that wind around and cross and I took the wrong one. I kind of brokedown mentally and cried for awhile. I was really afraid I wouldn't find my way. Mostly, I was worried about losing sunlight without any lights on the trike. I just wanted to get home. This didn't last but a few minutes before I found my way and made it home just after 8:30. It felt really good to go out and do this ride. I was really tired when I got home. 50 miles for the day - not bad.

On Tuesday I went for a 40 mile ride with the Vancouver Bike Club. A weekly ride that starts at the Oxford Athletic Club and meanders east to Bad Boyz Cycling shop in Camas. There were about 20 riders. I was the only one not on an upright bike. Everyone took great interest in the trike. Most of the bikers were older men - many who do this ride regularly. Good guys!! I was definitely the slowest while we were climbing otherwise I hung in there alright. A couple of guys stayed back with me. We did one short steep climb of 11 %. It wasn't too bad as I just spun my way to the top. I was tired but felt good after this ride. I think I'll attempt it again next week. They said it was the longest ride they could remember ever doing. I'm trying to get my miles up for the ride to the coast in a couple of weeks. I'd like to be able to do 50-70 miles 2 days in a row. Maybe I can do the first 2 days of riding this weekend. What I really need to do is practice changing the tires on the trike at home before it happens for real.

I also sent a package to Deborah. I bought a new digital camera so I sent her the old one. I also finished a couple of books she lent me. The most important part of the package was a letter telling her I'm not moving the Kentucky - at least not now. Hopefully, she'll understand.