It's only two more weeks until we start riding? Oh, my! - Four Weeks in Oregon and Idaho - Summer 2006 - CycleBlaze

April 10, 2006

It's only two more weeks until we start riding? Oh, my!

School finished yesterday. Jacinto is finally free from his 70 hour a week schedule of driving students on field trips and sporting events. He typically drives a 40 hour week, but a rash of school bus drivers quiting before the end of the year made things very hectic. Jacinto rode perhaps one or two times a week during the month of May.

We were very happy to get a chance to ride together yesterday. We agreed to leave late (by my book) when it had 'warmed up' (gotten hot). We decided to climb the first part of our ride over Taugenbaugh Mesa to Parachute and then ride back on easy Hwy 6 to Rifle, taking advantage of the afternoon tailwind. Climbing up Taugenbaugh Mesa starts right off with switchbacks up the mountain. We skipped the last switchback, taking a formerly dirt road that has been chip and sealed. I looked around at the 'new view' with pleasure. We were only about a mile from the main back road, but the view had changed. Even though it was only 10 AM we had a strong crosswind. This was unusual for that hour of the morning. We agreed it would be problematic if the wind didn't turn into our desired tailwind.

I talked Jacinto into another side trip a few miles down the road. Once you get to the top of Taugenbaugh Mesa, the ride is fairly flat unless you take one of the creek roads heading up towards Grand Mesa. I talked Jacinto into trying the Spruce Creek road. We agreed it probably wasn't paved too far, but I've been putting on so many miles this spring that I am crazy to see some new roads - especially those in Oregon, Idaho, etc. !!! But we'll be there soon enough.

Anyway, I talked Jacinto into going up Spruce Creek. Up being the key word. It was a bottom of the granny gear climb. We hadn't gone a half mile before the pavement ran out. According to my handy dandy GPS we had climbed 100 feet in that distance. Jacinto and I stopped to discuss our options. One advantage to all of the gas workers in the area is that they maintain and upgrade the roads they use. This dirt road was nice and smooth and had been magchlorided. I talked Jacinto into going up the road until we had climbed a total of 300 feet. See, that GPS is doing my climbing good. The gradient stayed in the high teens as we panted our way up the hill. I didn't check out the scenery much as I was too busy panting and tracking a line on the dirt road. We were passed by three semi size water tankers. We pulled over to let them by. Otherwise we didn't see a soul. Weekends are the only time to ride the roads the gas traffic uses. Then it's really pretty good.

When we reached the desired 300 feet climb, I needed to used the bathroom. There was no place to lean my bike, except against Jacinto. The problem was that the grade was so steep that he needed to hold the brakes of both bikes and support their weight. "Hurry, I don't know how long I can balance." Jacinto told me. He got quite a chuckle out of my dropping my shorts right there in the center of the road. I am typically much more modest than that - I at least look for a nice fat bush to hide behind. ! ! ! It was so silent this far up the mountain that we could easily hear anyone coming. Modesty still intact, I reclaimed my bike for the coast back down to the main road.

We were back down close to the river when we saw a medium size bird with a reddish orange belly and tail feathers (a hawk?) swoop up out of the sagebrush. He had a very, very long snake in his talons! We stopped and watched him circle up, up into the sky. I realized I had the camera with me. I snapped several photos, but by the time I got the camera out, my zoom wasn't good enough to show much detail. We watched until the bird landed in a tree down the road. We stopped when we arrived close to the tree and I took another photo. The tree wasn't too close to the road. I don't know if my raising the camera made him nervous, or what the reason might have been, but the bird took off, dropping his snake. It was so big that it would probably had been lunch and dinner for several days.

At this point I was starving myself. We had eaten a big breakfast and I had not packed my usual PB&J. I ate a Cliff bar and some trailmix, but could tell all of the climbing had used the fuel in my tank. Our original plan had been to pass Parachute and circle back to eat at The Outlaw's. Instead I stated we need to eat NOW. The cross wind over the bridge into town reminded me of the wind on my Lewis and Clark trip last summer. I did not enjoy crossing those long, long bridges with the gusty winds.

Jacinto had been talking up the breakfast at The Outlaw's. I ended up with a sandwich as I wanted the big steak fries with plenty of salt.

Our trip back home wasn't near as pretty or eventful as the ride there. We cruised along at 14-15 miles per hour, hardly turning the pedals in the nice tailwind. Jacinto gets great pleasure out of knowing when I 'cheat'. I have a habit of slowly pedaling when coasting. My rear cassette makes a ratcheting sound when the pedals are turning, but are not actually engaged. Because I am heavier than Jacinto and my recumbent is longer and heavier than his, I frequently coast on the slight downhills when he has to pedal. It's a little inside joke about my 'cheating' and coasting so frequently.

Jacinto had a new pain on the outside of his knee during our return trip. We hoped it was a fluke and wouldn't be a problem during our trip. Jacinto ended up disengaging his left foot from the pedal, thinking that made the pain easier. We both use BeBop pedals, which have plenty of float. I think/hope Jacinto must have sat in a funny position while eating lunch. Otherwise I think his knee would have been a problem at some time previous, or at least during the climb.

I had wanted to make up a few miles by wandering around before we went home, but with Jacinto's knee bugging him, we took the easy hill home and finished the ride with 41 miles and 3,000 feet of climbing. I felt very good at the end of the ride. Jacinto kept mentioning how hard the dirt climb had been and how his knee was a problem. He felt that he did have enough gears on his bike, just that it was a steep ride. I hope he doesn't run out of gears on our trip. I wish he'd put those mountain bike gears back on, but Jacinto does like to go fast on the downhill runs and likes the high gears.

It was good to ride together. We spent lots of time talking about our upcoming trip and what we'd cook for dinner. I noticed that when riding, conversation frequently turns to food. : )

As far as trip planning and logistics go I have ordered another Sling Light Chair. I ordered some final cooking stuff from Campmor. I ordered a set of Continental touring tires and a chain wear checker. None of those things arrived this week. Monday is a holiday. I keep telling myself I have plenty of time - all of those things can arrive any time during the next week and we won't have a problem. I don't know why I waited so long to order the last minute items. It's not like I haven't had a year to get things together.

I can't decide if I should put a new chain on my bike. It actually takes 2.5 chains to make one chain for my recumbent. The common theory is that since there is so much more chain, it goes through the gears much less frequently and should last almost three times as long as a regular chain. I measured it with a ruler and got no chain wear at all. I think the chain has 3,500 or so miles on it. With a regular chain, this would mean it was past due, but using the recumbent rule . . . . . I believe I could keep it on and change it out in Missoula without being too risky. I want to put new brake pads on before we leave. Other than that I believe my bike is good to go. My bike is extra nice looking now that I'm finally following John at Recumbent Brothers Cycles advice. John recommends keeping two rags next to where you park your bike. One for the chain. EVERY ride, wipe the chain down. I do 25 revolutions of the pedals. Sometimes I do an extra 25 if the rag shows some grease. Take the second clean rag and wipe the frame down. My bike is always shiny and clean.

Jacinto has been riding his bike so little, I think he can just go. John had done a major tune up on Jacinto's RANS Rocket when he swapped the chainrings out. Jacinto has not been following John's cleaning rules. His bike is mud spattered and does not look loved. I gave Jacinto the talk about keeping his bike happy so it will get him down the road. The frustrating part is that if he has bike trouble, then it's trouble for both of us when we are on the road. But I'm darned if I'm going to clean his bike for him . . . .

We ended up renting a 10 foot Budget rental truck. Be forewarned, it's just like buying an airline ticket. The price can change at any moment. I called the local store and got a quote on a Thursday. When I called back on Monday to say that we did want the truck, the price had gone up from $553. to $719. The girl admitted she hadn't told me the quote was good for only 48 hours. The $553. was supposed to have another 10% off of that if I went to the post office and got a moving coupon. The end of the story is that the store gave me the full discount possible, which was 20%. The price ended up being $575. Had I known the 48 hour rule, I would have called back sooner. Oh, well. Live and learn. We will be taking Ann and Don's bikes and trailers with us. They'll chip in on gas. We are sharing the ride and expenses with Rodney from Montrose. He is doing a Trans Am trip. We won't ride together at all. I'm sure trading war stories will help the miles pass on the 18 hour drive to Portland. We plan to stop in Twin Falls, ID after driving 12 hours. That should leave us with a 6 hour drive to Portland. We'll have plenty of time to drop off the truck and start exploring the town. In the end we did stay downtown at the International Hostel. Downtown is so much more interesting than out by the airport. I have a bicycle map of downtown Portland, it doesn't look too complicated to exit town. It happens we will be in town during the Rose Festival. The Rose Parade is the same day we are leaving town. I emailed the Portland Bicycle Coordinator and asked for routing advice taking the parade into account. He said our location is on the west side of the river, so he didn't think we'd have a problem. I don't know if we'll take in any of the festivities or not. I've heard that there is a big parade of ships that come into the shipyard and that is outstanding to see. I fear we might be so busy concentrating on starting our trip that we'll have get-down-the-roaditis.

I've been paying extra on the monthly bills so we won't be late. I need to hold the mail and cancel the newspapers. Finally, our trip is almost here! I have most of my things already on the bike. I just need to pack up warm weather clothes that I am currently wearing. Jacinto needs to take out his three 10 pound weights and put in his actual gear. He did comment yesterday that the people who saw us riding together probably though he had given me all of the gear and he had nothing because my bag is full and his is very flat with just the weights in it. : )

I have some photos of us to post soon. I'm using my son's computer and it doesn't have the software installed to load my camera's photos.

Can you believe we're almost out the door? It seems unreal!

School's out and we finally have a chance to ride together! Yes, we really are going on the same ride.It certainly wouldn't seem so since I have on shorts and a sleeveless top and Jacinto is still wearing his winter gear. : )
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It's great to see green while on training rides. That's the Roan Cliffs in the background.
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