A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Heading West to Find My Pot of Gold!

Well, it's official (registered official not just Facebook official). I am skipping Ride the Rockies this year to head west to Cycle Oregon and find my Pot of Gold! I am excited that my brother Jon is going to join me for this adventure -- his first week long ride and my first outside of Colorado. 

Riding with brother Jon last year in Sacramento.
The route looks amazing, starting on I-5 in Myrtle Creek and heading west through Camas Valley and over the coastal range to Bandon on the coast in the first two days. From there (on Day 3) we will turn south along the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway to Gold Beach, home of the largest Myrtlewood Tree in Oregon (and the sunniest spot on the coast!). 

Day four is an option rest day (hmmm) or loop south almost to the California state line and back (I bet we'll ride, it won't really be beach weather with highs in the 60s that time of year). On the fifth day we will follow the Rogue River inland from the coast climbing 5,000 feet up to Bear Camp and then back down to Indian Mary Park

The final two days will take us tot he lumber town of Glendale and along the original California and Oregon railroads back to Myrtle Creek. Seven days, between 365 and 457 miles and 25,853 to 33,689 ft. of elevation gain, depending on options.

Hiking with brother Jon in 2014.
The best part is Jon will be along for the ride and the September date gives me plenty of time to train and should be good motivation to ride all summer long. I usually lose motivation after RTR in June and really don't want to see my bike (or sit in the saddle) again for a long time! That, and the beer tent stays open until 10 every night (gotta have our liquid carbs!). Watch out, Oregon. Here come the Williams Brothers.

Ride On!


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ride the Rockies 2016 Route: I'll Pass

That moment when you realize the Ride the Rockies 2016 route has been announced and you haven't blogged since the end of last year's ride! Yeah, that just happened. Where have I been? Struggling with injuries (right IT band/hip/knee and left foot/metatarsal nerve pain) and lack of motivation (to ride or to blog). I've even decided to sit out this year's RTR, but not because of that.

The RTR 2016 route includes some epic climbs but also one of the worst days I have ever experienced.

For the uninitiated, the RTR 2016 route includes two epic Colorado rides -- Aspen to Copper Mountain over Independence Pass and Grand Lake to Estes park over Trail Ridge Road. If you haven't done these rides they should be on your bucket list.

Unfortunately, the ride also includes one of the worst rides I have done in my nine RTRs. The 85-mile slog from Copper Mountain to Grand Lake on Day 5 is not tough, it's just no fun. So-called "Ute Pass" bears no resemblance to an actual mountain pass. Because it isn't. It's actually just a road near Ute Peak. The real Ute Pass is west of Colorado Springs on Hwy. 24.

But that's not the worst part. After riding past Ute Peak the road takes a nasty turn. According to the RTR website, "At the bottom of the pass, cyclists will test their handling skills on a 13-mile stretch of compacted dirt as they navigate their way through the open range of Grand County." I call bullshit. This stretch of road, as I described it after we did it on RTR in 2012, is "unsuitable for skinny tires and put the cyclists in a no win situation of either gutting it out and risking a fall, walking or SAGing the 15 miles." When I complained to Ride Director Chandler Smith that year he claimed that many riders loved the "Roubaix style" ride. BS. It was awful. I would never subject myself (or a decent set of rims) to that nonsense again. I'll pass. Good luck to this year's riders. I hope the road has improved and there are fewer accidents and injuries.

So now I'm looking for a new ride to tackle in 2016. My brother plans to join me and we are looking for a well-supported ride with great scenery, a little less elevation gain than RTR, and lots of fun! I've looked in RAGBRAI but am not sure I want to deal with 30,000+ riders. I'm also looking into Ride Idaho and Cycle Oregon. Has anyone done these rides? Other suggestions?

UPDATE: My brother and I have settled on Cycle Oregon! It looks like an amazing route in southwestern Oregon, skirting along the coastline on the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway with a two night stay in Gold Beach, the sunniest spot on the Oregon coast, followed by an epic climb from sea level to 5,000 ft. over the mountains in the Rogue River-Siskayou National Forest.

I feel like I've already found my Pot of Gold after discovering Cycle Oregon!
This will be my first weeklong ride other than Ride the Rockies -- and my first with my brother -- and I have all summer to train!

Ride on!