Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day Five ROAM

Today I had a new perspective on velomobiles from the car driver's viewpoint.  I was riding in Craig and Vicky's van still feeling the effects of getting too hot the day before. First and most important observation is that velomobiles are very visible.  If you have a bright coloured velomobile you are more visible on the road than most cars.  Also seeing the person riding the velo, at least in the head out versions makes a more personal connection than you can get in an automobile.

After watching some riders from the van I noticed that some of them bob around a bit.  Much to my chagrin I found out that I bob around a lot when I ride.  I knew that I bob around some when I am not paying much attention to my pedaling but apparently I am really bad.  At the beginning of day four I was stretching while riding along and bobbing a lot and Bram asked me if I was alright.  I must be wasting some energy doing this.  I now have something to work on while riding.   Here we are at a brief rest stop just before the event described below.

We also had one of those silly things that happens once in a while.  Joseph ended up with a bit of gravel rash on his elbow. As he was getting into his nice new Quest it tipped over.  It was sitting on a slope beside the road and when he got in his centre of gravity was a bit high and it tipped. A few of us saw it happening but we weren't close enough to stop it.  His velo has some small scratches that should be easy to buff out.  I have had a similiar experience with the velo tipping over and landing on top of me.  I was on a little bit of a slope and getting out.  As I was getting out I caught my foot on the edge of the cockpit which made me fall down on the ground with the velo slowly turning over on me.  Luckily there was no one around to witness my clumsiness!  I was quite tired at the time but I am now more careful with slopes.

 Ready to ride once again.

Riding up Lolo pass looked like hot work. Everyone who made it to the top  felt good about their accomplishment. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Day Four ROAM

A short and a bit flatter ride coming up today.  Had a very light breakfast at camp and then headed out.  A while into the ride, Steve on his F40 caught up with me and we rode along together for a ways.  The F40 is about velomobile speed on the flats, a bit slower on the downhills and quicker on the uphills even when he's carrying his camping gear.  He manages to fit it all inside the body sock in panniers--total weight of his camping gear about 8 lbs.   

First stop was in Orofino at about 80 km into the ride.  Found a perfect stop for food.  It was a buffet-- what else could a cyclist ask for!!  Had two plates full of food in about half an hour.  Carried on riding shortly after the food, next stop Kooskia to pick up food for breakfast the following day.  Was feeling pretty good riding along the river and then stopped to take a picture of a place that sells flower and plants.

Nick waited in the shade while I rode back a bit to take the shot.  I was in the sun and not moving and it was suddenly very hot.  Carried on to Kooskia and hung out in the restaurant trying to cool off. While waiting to enter the restuarant there was a velomobile accident just front of us.  Marcus was slowing down to join us and Jorg at that moment looked over and didn't quite have time to stop and hit the Milan about  a foot from the back end.  The collision dented in the side of the Milan and cracked the laminate in a couple of spots.  The dent popped out and the Milan remains useable for the rest of the trip.  Marcus had a hard time dealing with it as his pride of ownership is very high.  He assembled the Milan from a kit with all the composite work done. After we had to leave the restaurant I stayed in the shade on their patio but still felt overheated.  Decided to carry on to the campsite but the first stop was a dip in the river a few km outside of town.  Spent about half hour swiming and laying in the water and started to feel better. Carried on to the campsite and immediately headed to the river for another soak.  Felt better afterwards but decided not to ride the next day.  Even though I was disappointed not to ride, it was the right descision.  The next day I got an entirely different prespective on ROAM from a SAG vehicle.  Stats for the day:  about 170 km (105 miles) and 2470 metres (8,103ft) of climbing.

Day Three ROAM

Left camp quite early today as it will be a long day.  Some climbing to do with a steep descent at the end.  A bit worried about the distance not wanting to do the downhill bit at the end in the dark. 

First picture of the day looking east.

Two other early risers heading east into Washington State

Entering Washington State

Today's ride should be about 240 km long with the first stop in Walla Walla for some food.  Very glad to be off I84 and looking foward to arriving at the first place to eat. 

Ended up riding with Nick in the Go One as we are about the same speed.  Actually he's a bit faster at least on the uphill bits but likes my pace.  He was riding with some Quests and Mangos but they dropped him on a climb and we rode together from there on for a while.  Just before Walla Walla we caught up with the group that passed us as they had a flat. A couple other Quests came by at this time too and we all ended up entering town together.  We rode into town and spotted some other velos parked in front of an eatery.  First rule for food, look for velomobiles in front of the place, second rule look for bikes parked, third rule ask local cyclists where is a good place to eat.  Needless to say we parked and went in.  It took a while to get inside as we stood around answering some questions.  Once inside I order eggs benedict.  They were excellent, the best food on the trip.  So if you are in Walla Walla this is a highly recommended stop, Olive MarketPlace & Cafe at  21 East Main Street.  After this stop we were back on Highway 12 with the next stop being Dayton.  There was a fair climb up before heading down to Dayton.  It got very hot on the way up but once at the top there was a steep descent where I did use the brakes to slow down a few times.  I ended up dropping the Go One on the descent but Nick caught me up before Dayton.  
The stop in Dayton

After Dayton more climbing but not as steep until after Pomeroy.  When I finally got to Pomeroy I needed a rest before the final push to the top of the pass.  Luckily the grocery store was still open.   As I pull in behind the gas station there were  already eight or ten velos parked there.  I guess I wasn't the only one needing a break.  After a rest we all headed off with only another 15 miles to go to the top.  When I got to the final clmb I was feeling quite energized so I picked up the pace a bit and just made it to the top as the sun touched the horizon as you can see from the picture.

I hopped out and ran across the highway to snap the photo just as another rider was passing.  After a brief stop at the top, checking the tires and setting up the door to the max open position to act as a bit of a brake I was off.  It was quite steep and I braked often to keep speed in check.  I am pretty sure we got to over 80 kph.  The door being held open some was quite effective in helping control speed but even better it allows lots of air in to cool this overheated rider. 

 I was almost getting chilly and then I would hit a pocket of hot air and suddenly be warm again.  Hard to believe that we rode in those temperatures.  After the steepest part of the descent Marcus in his Milan flew by and was soon almost out of sight.  His rear lights are exceptionally bright, so much so that they may be too bright.  Even looking at them from a km away when he braked  reduced my night vision a bit.  The last half of the descent was in the dark.  I lost the two riders in front of me when I could no longer distingsh them in the distance from the traffic and car lights.  Thinking I had made a wrong turn I doubled back and discovered that I hadn't.  I searched around town a bit for the others and ended up riding back on the sidewalk on a one way street in downtown.  While doing this a truck stoopped to look at the velo and I asked for directions to the campsite and some place that would be open for food.  I rode across the bridge again to the suggested restaurant and found it was just closing.  However they did give me a large lemonade for free.  I drank about half of it right away and then headed off to find the campsite.  Once on the right track I went to drink some more and realized that it had tipped over. I guess I will have to wash the inside of the velo once I get back home.   Finally arrived at the campsite ate some of  food I had onboard and when to bed.  Long day probably about 250 km with a couple of good climbs.     

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day Two ROAM

This is the first long day of ROAM.  It is also further than I have previously ridden on any single day.  My plan is to ride carefully to conserve energy for the next day which will be even harder.  I also want to sure to drink enough water as it is scheduled to be hot.  So far  in our summer we have only had a handfull of days that were even warm.  Upstairs in the shop it sometimes gets to the temperatures we have today.  It normally takes me a week or so to adjust to these temperatures but then I am not working as hard as I do riding a velomobile for 10 hours or so in a day. 

Navigating should be much easier today as there are only two detours and if I make a mistake I can always just figure out a way to get to the campsite at the end of the day.  Started out early and was soon riding by myself.  I almost stopped for a "second" breakfast in the first detour at Hood River.  This would have been a disaster as I would have ended up behind all the other riders and  have taken time out of the day for me to cover the distance at a reasonable pace.   I did stop a little while later at a Subway and picked up a small sub and some chocolate milk.  A bunch of other riders passed while I was there but they didn't see me as I was on the other side of the street.  I rode on a short ways and they were all pulled up at a coffee shop.  I sat in my velo and ate half my sub and had some milk while they got coffee.  We had a few folks come by and talk with us while sitting there.  We had been on the TV news the previous night so lots of folks were curious about us.  This is about as close as I want to be to being famous!!!   Velomobiles already attact lots of attention and I would prefer to remain somewhat more anonymous.  I did end up adding a few extra km and some extra climbing to the day when I made a wrong turn.  Ended up with a nice view of the valley.  At the next detour I was on the right track and asked a local man who flagged me down and was sent down the wrong road.  At the top of the hill Tom was stopped and pulled us over to redirect us to the right route.  Tom being there was a good thing as I may well have missed the next turn and ridden a few extra km before realizing my error.  This saved trying to get through some construction on the freeway.

Just after getting back onto the freeway after Hood River I was riding with Joseph, Nina and two other Quests.  I was feeling pretty good at this point and stayed with them for a while.  I decided after a while that their pace was a little high for me and let them get away.  I watched as they pulled away with the sun glinting off their velomobiles.  On the next uphill you could see them all in a row all looking quite yellow in the reflected light like a bunch of ducklings  along side the road.  This is probably the image I will remember best from the trip. 

At the stop in the afternoon when I arrived Joseph and Nina were resting in the shade.  They directed us to a restaurant across the street.  When we went in the temperature was 93 on the bank sign and when we came out it was 98.  This wasn't quite the hottest it got during the day.  It was really warm riding that afternoon!!

After this stop I continued on riding a bit slowly when I heard a beep beep behind me.  It was Joseph closing in fast and wanting to pass.  I moved over and let him by.  Luckily at this monent there wasn't much junk on the shoulder and two velos fit side by side without  riding on the rumble strip. Joseph was soon out of sight but I was now riding a bit faster with a slight downhill grade and a tailwind.  I hate tailwinds, especially on this day.  For the rest of the day on I-84 I was in top gear cruising along at 45-50 kph in virtually dead air.  I was very much looking foward to getting off the freeway.  I had had enough of lots of traffic and the danger of getting a flat from the tire debris on the shoulder.  The last few miles before turning off on 730 the freeway was newly paved.  Very smooth and very fast without a rumble strip.  Delightful to ride on but a bit scary as the lanes weren't yet marked and you could easily edge out into traffic.  After turning off on 730 I met up with Nick and John and we stopped at Irrigon for dinner.  This was necessary as there was no food at the campsite.  We also stopped at the grocery store in Umatilla for food for breakfast the next day.  Rode the last few km with the lights on, arriving at camp after dark. 

Here's the link to he route,

Saturday, August 6, 2011

More on Day One ROAM

The highlight of the day was an escorted trip down the freeway with no cars.  It was really neat to be riding the freeway with no cars in sight.  Thank you, Oregon Depatment of Transport.  The reason for this was that there is a short section of tunnel with no shoulders on the freeway.  ROAM and  another large organized ride were to pass through the tunnel at similiar times and they were worried about our safety.  Here are a couple of shots of what it looked like. 

In the first picture you can see the EVO R overtaking me.  I'll have more to say about this velo in a later post. 

The Pub parking strip in Cascade Locks

The last bit of the ride I zoomed into camp.  Knowing the end was near and feeling good I pushed it a bit.  However riding back to town for dinner I noticed the effect of this and the days riding. On the way to town I spotted a fruit stand on the side of the road and stopped to ask where there was a good place to eat.  The fellow wasn't sure where but recommended the burger joint.  I bought some cherries from him and continued into town.  All this without getting out of the velomobile.  First drive thru fruit stand I have been to.  In town I met Joseph and Nina waiting at the burger joint.  They were worried about leaving their velos at the Pub as it looked like you couldn't keep an eye on them while in the Pub as there were a butch of motorbikes parked out front.  I went to check it out and returned suggesting we go there as you could park the velos around the side and keep an eye on them if you sat at the corner window.  Joseph headed over and by then some of the motorbikes had left so he could park out front.  We go inside and lots of our group were already there having gotten  car rides into town. By the time we came out velomobiles had completely displaced the motorbikes.

Friday, August 5, 2011

First day of ROAM

We were finally on the road headed to Portland by about 10:30.  When we got to the US border the wait to get across was about an hour.  So by the time we arrived in Portland it was very late in the afternoon just in time the hear the last bit of the volunteers meeting and attend the riders meeting at 7:00.  On the drive to Portland Aaron remarked that it seemed like a long drive and that we would have to cover half that distance every day riding.  This realization made me wonder what I had gotten into. 

Upon arrival at the Days Inn we were greeted by the biggest display of velomobiles in front the the Motel I had ever seen.  That night we put almost all the velos in the conference room in the motel.  There were too many to fit so some were left in the hallway.  The picture is actully the next morning with folks getting ready to ride.

Here is the start of the ride just leaving the parking lot to head out on the road.  It felt good to finally be underway as I have trouble just waiting around.

Here we are at the official send off spot at the fountain.  Once again I can hardly wait to get going.  It was fun talking to folks but I was still eager to go.

We are leaving downtown Portland. 

The route was a bit complicated -- the last person to make a turn had to wait before the turn for those following to show them the route.  This didn't happen a few times and some folks got lost.  It happened to me too but luckily I had ridden this stretch at the Left Coast Velomobile Gathering and was helped out by a local cyclist who guided us back on route.  The Springwater Corridor is a rail trail and quite nice to ride along.  It has quite a few intersections with the road network.  It was not uncommon for motorists to stop and get out of their cars to wave us through while stopping other traffic.  A good day was had by all.