Mazama Weekend trip report

The Redmond Cycling Club ( ran their Mazama weekend trip this weekend. It its a 2 day trip that is 75 miles from Marblemount, WA to Mazama, WA via North Cascade Highway 20 and then back the next day. 6800 feet of climbing the first day and 4800 feet the second. I was fortunate to get a ticket because Mitchell Shoenfeld decided he wanted to not risk complicating an injury, and so I was able to buy his ticket off of him and do the trip.

Summary: Do this ride! The weather on the trip can be tricky as it has been known to snow and sleet some years in June, but if you can find a sunny weekend like this one, I have not ridden such a dramatically pretty stretch of road. Highway 20 parallels a river that leads up to a set of dams and lakes for Seattle City Light and then climbs up Easy Pass, Rainy Pass and Washington Pass at 5700ft. Having support on the ride is a requirement as there was definitely a need for extra water and food along the ride. By splitting the ride to two days, you get a chance to socialize with a bunch of bike enthusiasts and hang around the Mazama Country Inn and use the swimming pool, hot tubs, and just lounge on the porch.

Day 1 Highlights:
Driving up to Marblemount meant leaving Seattle at 5:30 to get up to the parking lot by 7:30 and start the ride. There we 3 different groups climbing the hill. The Bellingham Bike Club, Redmond Cycle Club and a third group. SAG wagons powered by the family members of one of the RCC group brought our bags and food and water up the passes. With all the riders climbing up we were in good company for our 8am start in ascending the mountain. The first and last 10 miles are relatively flat, which means of the 75 miles about 55 miles of it are either ascending or descending. The ascent is relatively fast as the grade averages about 3.2% over the total distance. The amazing part is the spires that rise over Washington Pass are stunning and still had snow fields by the side of the road. The descent off the mountain was uneventful other then being fast and almost running into a brown bear! I was screaming down the road at 35mph when a bear popped out across the road 50 yards ahead of my bike. I slammed on my brakes (slightly skidding) as did an oncoming car. We both waited until the bear crossed the road and made sure no other bears were following. The Mazama Country Inn was a great stop on the east side of the mountains. The weather was a warm 85 degrees and the RCC members were all in a great mood after the ride. Everyone was social and talking and either hanging around the pool, jacuzzi or the dining room. We ended up staying out until around 10pm when everybody went to bed for the next days ride.

Day 2 Highlights
Day 2 had everyone waking up around 6:00 to 6:30 for a 7am breakfast and 8am ride start. People were up early talking and breakfast was pancakes, oatmeal, granola, fruit and egg souffles. The ride starts with 10 miles flat and 10 miles of climbing up to the Washington Pass. I was a little worried about the climb first thing in the morning, but it was a beautiful morning and the road was clear and the climb was just finding the right gear. The descent past that point was swift, but with the persistent wind coming from the west there was a lot of speed shaved off what should have been an equally fast ride. The only thing to note coming back was that the views down the canyons and gorges were beautiful, and I got two flats on the way down. The first was easily replaced and patched, but the second happened 3 miles from the end of the ride, and without a spare, I had to ride the last 3 miles with a flat rear basically riding on the rim. Given that I need my bike next weekend for STP I will need to make sure that tire and spare is ready to go as it has had 3 flats in the last 200 miles of riding.

RAMROD Training Ride #1

RAMROD No1Today was the first of the RAMROD training ride series and given the gorgeous weather the turnout was large. There were around 80+ people doing the ride to day. Which started from Ron Regis Park, cut through Renton to the Green River Trail, headed south to Auburn, looped back through Maple Valley, and went straight back to Renton. The ride had 1000 feet of elevation gain and was just a great warm up ride.

The bike felt great and the tailwinds on some sections of the road made the trip really fast. Despite training through the winter some of the hills were steeper then I had trained for, as with every climb uphill you get a nice downhill too. The group was nice and social and its interesting to hear why various people are riding this particular series. I was explaining to my son that the reason this crowd is interesting to bike with is that they were mostly interested in competing with themselves as opposed to each other. All in all it was a great start to the hills part of the training series.

Obligatory Stats:

Escape from the Rock

Good Morning Race Fans,

This past Sunday I completed my first triathalon (Seattle “Escape From the Rock Triathalon: The race day was a sunny and gorgeous start at 8am and water temperature was a lovely 72 degrees. I was fortunate to have a cheering section of Lauren and Elias and Joan (who all woke up at 6 am to get me to the start in time), and Linda and Mitchell who cheered and took the pictures enclosed below.

Compared to Danskin, Escape from the rock felt like a private family event. With only 500-600 entrants it was smaller and you felt like you could actually get some breathing room. Pre-race nerves had me talking with Anthony LaMarca about leaving in an earlier wave just “to get it over with”, but Anthony convinced me to hang out for the last wave and just enjoy the passing of people.  The start was in the water and it was certainly a unique experience in getting bashed around while trying to “relax in your stroke.”  There were only a few moments of “I wish I could get more oxygen while doing this”, but all in all the swim was a quiet affair as I took a _very_ outside lane and just took the course as quickly as possible. (Of men swimming I was 146 out of 219 in my swim time).  I left the water ready to get out of the suit and get to the biking, and happy that the hard part was behind me.

The transition had a 250 yard run to get from the beach to the bikes. I got there to see a lot of people had already left, because being a slower swimmer  and leaving last left me a little behind the curve. That said, the transition to the bike was smooth, I ate my little packet of caffeinated goo and went flying up the hill to play catch up. The only distraction on the bike ride was that my GPS watch got into a bad state and ended up losing the data for the event. (*sigh* more lost data to mourn) The personal achievement on the bike was that I was able to average 19 MPH the length of the express lanes on the I-90 bridge and ended up catching a lot of people (37 out of 219 of men biking)

The last transition to the run was a quick 50 second turnaround and off to the run. This is the part that worried me the most, as I have been coddling a back injury and even though I have been doing exercises I was given explicit instructions by my Physical Therapist: “Don’t Run”. I couldn’t not do it for this event. The day before I couldn’t take a step without some twinge of back pain, but through some miracle of lack of sleep, not running, and other events, I was able to do the 2.5 mile run healthy, (tired) and whole. (I finished well placing 83 out of the 219)  I was able to average 7.9 MPH for the distance and crossed the finish line the way I wanted to, happy healthy and strong with no flats and no injuries.

The really cute thing we saw at the finish line was this cute couple crossed the line, and while she got her award, he got down on one knee and presented her a wedding ring and proposed at the finish line. We joked it was a little unfair doing it when she didn’t have the oxygen to think straight, but she smiled and said yes, and it was really a cute and lovely moment. [Makes you wiggle and we all cheered for them again :)

This was great, I have to give a special thanks to Lauren for running all the kid interference while I was training. Elias and Joan for waking up at 6 am and cheering me on at the break of dawn. Mitchell for taking all the glorious pictures during training and race day. Linda for getting in the water with me the first day and showing me it could be done……with a wetsuit  :)   I ended up biking the 11 miles home after the ride as it was such a beautiful day and a small victory ride doing what I like best is always great  :)

I recommend this Triathalon, and would gladly do it again, if I weren’t thinking about training for an olympic or 1/2 next year……if I can get this damn swimming figured out.

Obligatory statistics:

Total time: 1:22:47
Swim (1/2 mile) : 22:14
Bike (12 mile) : 37:31
Run ( 2.5 mile): 18:56
22nd out for 42 in my age group (35-40)
76th overall


Seattle to Camano Island (And one stupid move)

Rubens to Camano MBSaturday morning Lauren gave me the opportunity to bike one-way from Seattle to Camano Island and given that it was something I hadn’t done before I thought…. Why not?.

The reason for the trip was that we go to a July 4th party at a friends place up where they have a great cabin, and enough space for 3-5 families to camp out on their lawn and eat and drink to excess and light up some Indian Reservation fireworks into the sound. The weather was forecasted to be sunny and beautiful and 2/3rds of the trip I had traveled before and 1/3 of it would be new bike route. Lauren was taking up the kids and the camping gear, so all I had to do was pack up a change of clothes and some things from the night before.

Ride Notes:
Ideally I would have gotten out the door at 7:30 to avoid the heat of the day but there was a small twist in my planning, I got a major cold that night and my nose was running and that left me without sleep and sluggish getting out the door by 9:45AM. Luckily, bike riding has this great effect that while I am riding I have enough blood flowing to my head that my nose stayed relatively clear. The warm day also helped and with the known route everything was fine. The ride to Arlington was entirely familiar as it is simply Burke Gilman to Woodinville, Woodinville to Snohomish via 156th St, Maltby and Broadway, and Arlington via the Centennial trail. I had done this ride earlier and the only new part would be Arlington to Camano. This part of the ride was lovely, but had one tricky part that no GPS or software planning tool could help me with……..

While I was up late prepping for the ride not only did I build a paper cue-sheet and some street level maps of the Arlington to Camano trek, I did something _really_ geeky and for the first time I uploaded the biking route into my GPS watch which was _REALLY_ _REALLY_ cool! All I had to do was follow the route on my GPS watch and I had mapped it close enough that I never had to really look at my cue sheets for the majority of the ride. I did use Lauren’s fancy new cueclip that she made for me and it worked wonderfully, but after this ride I thought that it was pointless given that my watch could hold the route for me. Luckily, (again) I also had a paper backup of the route with maps which became really important when I made the one juvenile decision of the day.

Ride notes (Continued):
There was bridge out and under construction at Smoky point at mile 54. My GPS watch said, cross the non-existent bridge. There was a big tractor and large orange construction signs that said ‘Bridge under Construction until September’ There were no easily visible detour routes since I was in the middle of the countryside. I had to resort to the paper maps of the area and found that the nearest detour involved riding 5 miles on the I-5 highway or 15-20 mile backtrack or detour. After looking at the maps, considering the weight of my bike, I wondered if I could walk a 2-3 foot wide ledge 50 yards (and 20-30 feet swampy fall on one side or a 10-20 feet fall onto a partially constructed concrete base on the other side. Must be testosterone poisoning…..I picked up my bike and walked the ledge. In retrospect, it was a completely stupid thing to do, but my balance was good, my bike was light and the winds were quiet. The rest of the trip was uneventful and I arrived to a party that was just starting with _lots_ of food and _lots_ of water which was exactly what any rider would want after such a ride. The weather was in the 70’s arriving on the island and a long stretching session that night, and a morning Yoga session with our yoga instructor (who owns the cabin) made for some very happy legs.

Ride Stats:
94 miles, 5:30 minutes moving time, 17MPH average.


Cascade RAMROD 7Good Morning Ride Fans,

Saturday morning found Greg and myself up at 6:45 am and driving towards Lakemont to the start of the ride. The hill climb up Lakemont is daunting because as you are driving up the steep hill, you realize the only way home at the end of the ride will involve you climbing it again to get to the car. The sprinkles while we were loading the car were making us wonder if this ride were a good idea, but by the time we got to the ride start everything is partly sunny and dry. The ride was a 100 mile loop south to Enumclaw via Ravensdale and back up to Lakemont via Black Diamond and Factoria. The ride leader was especially cruel in that he specifically chose side routes that had the steepest/ugliest/gnarliest hills I have ever seen on a ride. The majority of them were relatively short, but to end the ride on a 1200 foot climb is just not nice.

The only things of note were that for the first time this season my inner leg cramped while I was in the 95th mile and I realized I was just pushing to hard for too long. I was doing a paceline with a bunch of young’uns who were leading it out at 22-25MPH pacelines which was a little beyond my capacity (at least for 100 miles). Luckily some of my compatriot riders realized the same and we ended up taking the last hill at our own pace. Fortunately, the cramping disappeared after a mile of riding (slower) and standing up and stretching on my bike. It was intense enough I was worried it was going to lock up my right leg and cause me to fall off my bike.

I still want Lauren’s triple for RAMROD, but I was able to slog out some very steep hills on my double.

Greg was a trooper in that he did the entire ride using a very heavy bike, and large tires which put him completely out of drafting zone of the rest of the group. That said he soldiered through the entire ride and we were both able to get back in time to do kid duty and let Lauren and Elizabeth go out for a ride.

Obligatory trip stats:
104Miles, 7700 feet of elevation gain. 15.9mph base

5 _very_ steep multiple mile ascents.

Sunday Solo

Ruben Ride 2007-06-10The ride to today was Seattle to Snohomish and then up the Interuban to Arlignton. Despite the forecast for 30% rains, know was to be found and we had a slow ride out with some great pie in Snohomish. That said my ride back was a little more stressful as it was 2pm and I was 50 miles away and had to be home by 5pm (I got home by 5:30) the second part of the trips is noted by the higher heart rate. That said it was lovely day to ride as I could do it with just lycra and a short sleeve, and figured out how to attach my jacket to my bike using the velco and turning the thing inside out. (I have only had it for 2-3 year, and wondered what the velcro was for…duh).

Another Sunday Trip Report

cts-june-03Had a really strong biking day today and a “lucky I live in a good place” moment. Headed off to Renton to go do the Cascade Bicycle Ride (advertised as “Very Hilly”) down to Black Diamond and then back and over I-90 to head back to Renton for an 80 mile ride. I drove down and arrived within 15 minutes of the start so I was worried I would miss the start. (I thought I forgot something, and I did but that would not be revealed until later…..)

I hurriedly parked, got my stuff together and headed off underneath the 405 to find 4 huge groups of riders out biking on a sunny Sunday morning. They grouped the people into 4 speed groups 18+, 16-18, 14-16 and 14 and under. Not knowing where I would fit in, I selected the 16-18 group and took off down at the start. Having never done that road before, the ride was gorgeous and it’s really amazing how fast Seattle turns rural the second you get a few miles east of 405.

After biking with the group for a bit, I realized that when they said 16-18 they _meant_ the base was 16-18 regardless of uphill or downhill, realizing that I was just pedaling in the back of the crowd, I got my cue sheet and decided to bike on ahead so that I could at least train a little harder. (I did fall off the bike at one intersection because my left pedal refused to un-clip, but fortunately that occurred while I was just stopping. *sigh*). I took off solo and had a great time biking at the pace my legs wanted to go. The ride was gorgeous and there were relatively few cars and just a joy to be riding. When I got to the rest-stop in Ravensdale, I realized that A) Erik was in the middle of the race I just had gotten to and B) I had just caught up with the 18+ mile/hour group. (They had just finished a 10 minute break, and I was able to down some food, and take off when they did).

The ride bike via May Road was a bit car-filled, but the group formed into some pace lines and we were flying down the road. The pace was great, and 2 times on the ride home I pulled the pace line at 21-24 miles for a 2-3 mile stretch (and then fell back to the end of the line exhausted, that said the group complimented me). We ended up shaving 10 miles off the route by not riding around Mercer (because of some other event conflict).

By the time I got back to the car, I realized what I had forgotten, I had left the sliding door of the mini-van open for the entire morning. After taking a quick peek at the contents of the vehicle (everything was still there), I realized that I was glad that nobody had thought to do some car prowling on a Sunday morning in Renton.

Anyway, the ride was great. I love my skinny go fast bike and I definitely need to take a nap.

Total Ride: 70 miles, 18 MPH Average, 3:50 hours riding time (4:20 total)

Obligatory trip data: There is an anomaly in the data in that it is only good for the first 70 miles. the last data point by the house was triggered accidently and I didn’t bother to delete it.

RAMROD – CTS Training Series

MotionBased CTS RAMROD BellevueMan I am glad I went biking yesterday as opposed to today.

As I managed to get myself a ticket for RAMROD, I am currently trying to get a lot of long hills in on my rides. Fortunately, Cascade Bicycling has a Saturday morning ride for people training for RAMROD.

The ride (70 miles, 5000ft) yesterday was gorgeous and took me downs some roads and parts of Bellevue that I had never ridden through. The weather was perfect, as it was partly cloudy and appropriately cool on the uphill and warm on the flats. The faster part of the ride was when we formed a pace-line for the final stretch from Maltby back to Marymoor park. Unusually, I was borrowing Lauren’s bike today which was _REALLY_ good since she had a triple which I had to use once on a particularly nasty uphill, and had the nice psychological effect of knowing I had a bail-out gear if I really needed it. In talking about this with the other bikers, I was able to get from most people that a triple would be a good thing to have esp at 6500 feet :)

The interesting part is that every stop people mentioned other interesting rides to do like the Bluett ride today, and another ride called the “Death Ride”. I will let you read the details for that here:

-Ruben ” Back to your regularly scheduled memorial day weekend …. ” Ortega

Daffodil Classic Ride Report

DSC04243.jpgToday ended up being a great day for a ride out in Pierce County. Erik (with Laura being towed in the trailer) and I ended up doing the 62 mile bike ride with no flats and no injuries. The conditions were fast and dry most of the day. There was a 5 mile stretch where it rained, but the reward was the sun came out by the time we were climbing hills in Eaton and the day got wonderfully warm. The food at each of the rest stops were grapes, cantaloupes, bananas, bagels, red potatoes and my weakness (extra chunky peanut butter). Most of the day is spent climbing the foothills heading towards Mt. Rainier and Eatonville. There were tons of farms, and cows and farm animals to entertain Laura. The big reward at the end of the ride is a 500 foot drop into Orting where we hit a max speed of 44MPH and an average of 35MPH for a mile.

The other reward is Strawberry Shortcake :)

Link to the ride:




University Zoka to Alki and Back (April 7, 2007)

Megan and I ended up doing a simple out and back loop from University Zoka to Alki and back (37.6 miles). I picked Saturday morning because I really wanted to get a sunny day bike ride in. That said the weather gods were unusually cruel in that Friday Afternoon was gorgeous, and Sunday Morning was great for a bike ride, but Saturday……not so much. Don’t get me wrong, at no point were Megan and I complaining about it being unusually cold, but the day was not as advertised. The 9am start found us riding on relatively clear trails out to Alki and our return around noon found Myrtle Edwards crowded, but on the whole the conditions were for a great bike ride. Our 30 minute coffee stop at the Alki bakery for a latte and a Chocolate Chip Espresso Muffin was definitely worth it.

The data on the trip via Motion Based is inaccurate as I forgot to turn my watch on until we were in downtown Seattle. That said since it was a simple out and back course the return trip was 18.8 miles out so a 37.6 mile round trip.

Your humble scribe,

Ruben ” Next time complete data and in sunny weather please… ” Ortega