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STP (Seattle to Portland)
Summit to Surf
Tour de Blast
Spring Century - 1999
Well, I did part of the 100 mile option and part of the 65, for a total of 88. I met Curt Coleman on his shiny new recumbent, some other folks who have just signed up for their first CO and who now sport pink ribbon on their bikes, and generally ate too much and had a good time. I rode the last 12 miles or so with a woman who had just got back into cycling after a 15 year hiatus, and had never heard of Cycle Oregon! I though that we were famous.
Oh yes, it rained for about an hour in the morning, just before Bird Hill. So what?
I have done the STP ten times, and recommend it.
The STP is a very good training ride for Cycle Oregon.
The ride, if you take two days, is not particularly difficult - just the equivalent of two centuries in two days. Total elevation gain for the two days is around 2500 feet, with only two hills which could be considered noteworthy: One, between 35-40 miles into the ride, just south of Puyallup, is about 6% and a mile long - commonly referred-to ominously as "THE HILL". The other, (which is really not very steep) is the bridge at Longview, Washington into Oregon across the Columbia River. It is around 3.5% and about a mile long. In recent years, riding this bridge has improved, because the police let cyclists go in groups of 200-300 while they hold the cars back. Before this cars and bikes had to share a very narrow roadway - which made it rather nerve-wracking.
All-in-all, the ride is one long party, and is best done with a group of friends possessing similar riding skills.
The worst thing about the ride is the inexperienced rider, who is hard to distinguish from the boorish rider. These riders are a real danger, because they either do not know how to ride in a large group, or could care less about any other rider. You will need to be constantly alert to their careless antics. About 30-40% of riders are in this category each year.
Weather: historically, (for the majority of the 20-plus years the ride has been offered) at least one of the days includes rain. In recent years, since they have moved the ride to early July, the weather has been somewhat better. Temps can range from chilly to downright scorching.
If you are willing to ride 110-125 miles the first day, you can overnight in towns like Chehelis, Toledo, Mapavine, and Winlock. This will give you a head start on the masses on day two. (A small hint to everyone reading this who would do 125 miles first day: There is a great, inexpensive overnight in real beds with two meals, private showers and lots of hot water at St. Mary's conference center in Toledo.) If you go the extra distance on day one, bike traffic drops to a trickle after Centralia, compared to the first part of the day.
If you are going to use motels along the way, make your reservation in January or February.
Finally, if you do the ride in one day (typically about 196 miles), you will be among the animals of STP. As you might imagine, there is a different focus for that rider, when compared to the two-day'er.
Strawberry Century - 1999
I had planned all year on heading to Toutle to make it four Tour de Blasts in a row, but I went south instead to Lebanon and the Strawberry Century.
I saw Curt and Diane, and met Nannette for the first time, and that was fun... haven't seen or heard from any of them since seeing them on course, though... hope everything's OK. I waited at the high school until about 4:20 to see how anyone/everyone was doing, but had to leave after that.
Lessons learned (or reinforced):
Duct tape DOES work as a tire boot, but it's best if used in at least two layers. "Real" boot material would probably be a better choice if it's available. I'm glad it wasn't my flat, and the fellow who DID have the flat was glad I had the tape. Everybody was happy.
Knowing how to ride in a paceline can rescue your riding day. No, you don't have to do it, but those last 20 miles would have been a lot less fun and taken a lot longer if I hadn't found a group that rode about the same way I did where everybody understood how to manage a paceline.
The Strawberry Century seems to be becoming an unofficial recumbent gathering. Wow, there were a lot of rolling sofas out there! I wonder how much of that has to do with Jim Vorderstrasse's influence. Jim's the mayor of Barrow, Alaska, but he was brought up in Lebanon, still has family there, and is still (I think) a member of the Santiam Slowspokes. I first met him three years ago on this ride, and rode with and talked to him for a few miles yesterday. He's always trying to make recumbent converts. Last time I saw him he was on a DoubleVision recumbent tandem, but since his wife had to stay home this time, he was riding his new Tour Easy... I think it was a Gold Rush replica like Curt's, only it's black.
Hope everybody else had a good time!
I had the most wonderful time!! The route was beautiful!! It was nice to meet some of the Cycle Oregon Forum people I've listened to so much.
I want to give a special thanks to Nanci Wagstaff which opened her house to a fellow cyclist she didn't even know Friday night before the ride. Her hospitality was well appreciated and I really enjoyed her company. I hope we keep in touch. I also want to give a special thanks to Diane Kerns for being my biken buddy. The buddy system really works, I don't know if I could have done the century without her. Thanks, Amy Ream, for offering your house to me Saturday night in case I didn't want to drive home after the century. Thank you, Marilyn Lambert, for offering your house in case I just wanted a shower before the long drive home and for saving some strawberry shortcake for us! That made our ride complete.
A Very Special Thanks to the wonderful sag support. They made this ride one of the most enjoyable I've done. As Diane and I rode into the school carrying a very humble last we figured our cars would be the only two left in the parking lot but we were so surprised!! Several volunteers were still there cheering us on! Plus, they still had strawberry shortcake waiting! We were so touched! I won't forget how special it made us feel.
I love my new Strawberry Century socks, in fact I bought two pair!! Quite the souvenir!! I feel like I deserve to wear them now since I did indeed do the whole century.
Summit to Surf - 1999
I produced the road profile for the Diabetes group.
The route is from Welches on US 26, past Government Camp to the intersection with hwy 35, and north into Hood River, via 35.
The average grade from Welches to Govt Camp (10 miles, total gain 2000 feet) is a little over 5 percent (first 6-7 miles, gain = 1000 feet, last 3-4 miles, gain is 1000 ft). After Govt Camp, there are large rollers past where 35 begins, until you get to Mount Hood Meadows, for a total gain of over 4000 feet. From Meadows to Hood River, it is a sled ride and quite suitable for a "Bonzai" or primal scream. For the most part the whole route has a nice shoulder. You should be able to go as fast as you want. Near the end, the road flattens out, with some minor rollers.
The TdB road profile compares well with S 2 S. Traffic is much heavier and noisier on 26 than on TdB, but should not pose a problem. For the most part, the US26 shoulder is wide enough, though not always well marked.
The Diabetes organization does a good job on this ride.
This is one of the better Cycle Oregon trainer rides!!!
Last Sunday, I started out from Welches to go to Government Camp, but had to quit at 6.2 miles (900 ft gain) due to an allergy headache I couldn't knock down. Even on my recumbent, I was averaging close to the uphill speed I did on my upright when I have done the Welches-to-GC ride in the past.
The ride back down to Welches deserves a primal scream.
Go for it.
If I remember correctly, Summit to Surf was very similar to TdB... A little more climbing, but not any steeper!
I had a bad day last year, got slightly too much sun.. (a minor case of heat exhaustion), so don't remember. The downhill was GREAT!!!!! Miles and miles and very very fast..
This is a great training ride for CO..
See you in September,
Curt C's commentary is great and very informative re: Summit to Surf. Several of us did it last year and found it to be a terrrrrrific ride. It is good training for CO as Curt mentions, since Cycle Oregon always has several long hills on each year's route. It's also an enjoyable ride because of the scenery, support, uphills, downhills, sponsorship, etc. FUN!
Hwy 26 over Government Camp is not exceptionally steep, but I recall it's about 20 miles more or less. One real benefit is to experience both the physical AND (almost more importantly) the mental training that a long hill offers. If you have never done Cycle Oregon, or a similar multi-day, long-distance, many-hills ride, then it's imperative you do a ride like Tour de Blast (TdB), Summit to Surf (StS), etc. You should know (first hand) that you can ride uphill for one or two or more hours, without going downhill. And then know you can do it again, maybe the same day, and/or the next, and/or the next...
I have done 4 CO's and every one has had hill climbing days more challenging than TdB or StS. Last year's Day 1 option [CO 11] had a very steep segment which was about 2,400 feet up in about 4 miles. This is greater than 10% and was certainly challenging for me. I knew I would make it, even considering that those 4 miles took me well over one hour (since I averaged only about 3 mph, and stopped about three times to drink water, clean my dripping wet sunglasses so I could see, and eat the second half of my sandwich from lunch). Then there was Day 2 which was uphill, and Day 3 which was uphill, and Day 4 which had three options with uphill footages of 2,000 or 6,000 or 10,000 feet.
Conquering the hills, and enjoying the beautiful scenery, is what CO's all about.
Sign up for Summit to Surf for sure.... enjoy the ride!
Torture Ten Thousand – 2000
The name says it all.
Lets dispense with the formalities here and cut right to the meat of the matter. This ride is one *hard* summbeech! Words like "fun", "enjoyment", "pleasant" do not apply here. Words like "pain", "survival", "tired" apply in spades.
This ride is for hardbodies only! Us mere mortals can struggle through and only relish in the accomplishment later. We can only really begin to enjoy the experience days later after the pain subsides.
I began my day starting with Lonnie and Andrew at 7:10 AM. The course quickly dispensed with the city and put us on the scenic highway pointed skyward. This was my day to get dropped, I watched them pull away while I thrashed at the cranks. We turned up Hurlbert and I came across them peeling layers in the same spot where Jason and I spent time doing flat repair last year. I told them to go on without me as I was only going to hold them back.
From Hurlbert we turned up Louden which has a really steep section that usually has my heart rate hitting redline. Mindful of this I took my time and managed to keep below the limit but developed lower back pain instead. I soldiered on to the top of Larch fighting the pain, alternating between standing and sitting. 100 miles of this was gonna suck!
Saw Lonnie and Andrew at the rest stop. Stuffed my face and gulped sports drink (stuff still travels fast) :-) Felt OK by then so proceeded down Larch. I need to point out that the weather gods have a thing for this ride and arrange for it to rain in the morning thereby making the descent off Larch "Water Torture" or more directly freakin cold. Not quite as cold as last year we were still treated with the now standard "popsicle on a seatpost" descent.
I need to mention that I visited with Carl Thornton topside and several riders from out of the area. They had asked me about the terrain between the Larch stop and Sandy. I replied "it’s a bunch of *crap*":-) I wooshed past Carl on the descent, looked like he was frozen.
After the descent we undid the Louden section and whisked our way down Gordon Creek Rd. Nice twisty descents and butt kicking ascents led us to Bull Run Rd which dished out more of the same. By mile 43 we had ascended 5,000 feet but hey, we still had Ten Eyck Rd into Sandy to endure before the second rest stop.
On one of these nasty climbs the out of towners came by "This what you meant by crap?" "Uh Huh. Good description?" "Uh Huh".
This short section has some significant pitch. I had prided myself this year by having absolutely no need for my granny ring. On this ride I spent HOURS re-acquainting myself with granny. Nice granny! Even in my 30/27 ratio there were times when my quads would tighten and the speed (such as it was) would drop to the 5 mph mark. My back was still aching..
Ahh, Sandy! Time for some "vitamin I" (Ibuprofin) Saw Andrew and Lonnie again before they wheeled out. Also, by this time I'd encountered Mark Rambsy, Rich and Gayle on their tandem and Blake who was tailing the Andrew and Lonnie "express".
At the stop we ran into Igor who wisely chose the 72 mile course and gave a describe of the roads to come. The words "yeahw","bloody steep", "wished I had a triple" echoed in my mind as we started off on what the route map called "rollers".
I'm reminded of the old car joke "Rolls Canhardly" here. These were not rollers they were rollscanhardlys. You would roll to over 35 miles per hour descending and could hardly pedal back over the last third of the subsequent rise. Brutal and with no way to get any semblance of rhythm.
Finally a real downhill Yeehaw! Wait there are riders climbing this.. OHHHH s#it! This hill is gonna really suck! Ahh, the Eagle Fern park rest stop.
Our spot was clear in the back thru the gravel pit past the wedding party and conveniently located at the end of the horshoe pits. I tell ya the smell of burgers on the barby almost had me postal. I mean after 65 miles of torture subsisting on bagels, pretzels, and fruit we are talking serious real food withdrawals. A brief visit with Andrew and Lonnie who were on their way out as I came in...
A simple seven mile climb to George and seven mile descent back. Felt like a ten mile climb up with a four mile descent back. The road surface was rough chipseal, the pitches were in excess of 6% constantly. It was beautiful up there I'll admit, but by now I'm getting vocal over the discomfort. I encountered Blake on this stretch who had stopped to nurture leg cramps. We eventually struggled by the tandem of Rich and Gayle. Then Blake fell victim to cramping again and dropped back. Blake summed up my feelings at this point with the simple but elegantly stated phrase, "This is bullsh*t!"
Along the way we encountered a large collie dog that actually jogged up the hill with us awhile. Poor pooch was HOT and we eventually lost him on one of the searing downhill romps. This was a nice dog and I hope he got home OK.
Back at Eagle Fern we faced the 4 mile climb up "Igor's Yeehaw". Kitzmiller Rd. Nasty! I managed a 4.5 mph pace up most of it. The tandem managed a 3.2, this was one steep sustained grade. At the top it’s some minor rollers that would normally be 16-18 mph rompers but at this point 12 mph survival mode is just fine thank you.
Now its back on to the rollscanhardlys. This time, however, the downhill sides were longer than the uphill sides and they really were rollers going this direction. Hey, dare I say it? It’s almost fun!
Back in Sandy, Andrew and Lonnie are heading back out as we arrived. The rest of the ride on Bluff Rd though not flat no longer features crap hills or rollcanhardlys so nature compensated with headwinds :-( ARRGGGGH! Will it never end?
I'm so glad Lonnie talked me into the aero bars! By dropping into them the headwinds were not so bad and I was able to roll at about 16 mph till appx three miles from the end when the sports drink made a statement. As I was by the side of the road Rich And Gayle whisked by with Rich asking "Did I mention sports drink?" :-).
Blake and I pulled in at 6:30 as Andrew and Lonnie were driving out. At each rest stop we collected stickers to earn a prize at the finish. At the last stop in Sandy I'd joked that it would be just a big sticker :-) We all had a laugh and at the finish were greeted with... Yep, a big sticker :-) Actually, a refrigerator magnet.
I did have fun, but only in the interactions with all of the people I've come to know here thru this mailing list. The ride itself was just plain hard. Thanks to Jim and Ann Morrow, Igor, Andrew, Lonnie, Carl, Mark, Blake, Rich and Gayle and others for making the torture fun.
Stated altitude gain was 10,150 ft. My Vector showed 10,100 I'm impressed with its accuracy. I spent 9 hrs 10 min in the saddle plus 2 hrs 11 min at rest for a total of 11:21 min. My average was a paltry 11.4 which BTW reminds me....
Andrew: remember your prior posting about 15 mph average. :-) Given that I ran into you at every single rest stop I'd guess you didn't quite make that speed did you? :-)
So would I do this ride next year? Saturday I'd said definitely not, but now as the pain begins to fade I'm thinking maybe I could make it back before 6:00 if I...
Don "Hobble walkin today" Bolton
<< times when my quads would tighten and the speed (such as it was) would drop to the 5 mph mark. >>
Now Don, just think if some poor couple on a tandem (not us of course, someone else) was struggling up the hill, oh around 0 miles an hour, just trying to keep from tipping over and you mention your speed dropping to the 5 mph mark. How do you think that would make them feel? Hey man, congrats on making it, that is one hell of a mother ride. The seventy mile version kicked our butts. We would still be riding if we had opted for the 100.
P.S. OK, it was us and we didn't fall over once.
Actually, I thought of Tandems and that particular hill. I found myself at a 4.5 mph grind up that monster. That’s how I knew Rich and Gayle's speed. I had to ask as I had visions of them falling over.
To be truthful, going into Sandy on Ten Eyck Rd there was a stretch where the road cambered left. There was a car back and the pitch so steep I couldn't counter the camber beyond maintaining my line. I could not move farther to the right to allow more room for the vehicle. Hell, at that point I was lucky to maintain the line I was on.
At that point tipping over was a very real consideration for me...
As to your ears... For the first time I heard Ann's pipes after you started down one of the 'canhardlys after we passed each other going our opposite ways. I got a chuckle out of it, but you gotta be shell shocked if that was going on all day:-)
Don "I was screaming on the climbs" Bolton
Well Don's re-cap can not be topped. I'm still laughing.
I must say that my ride was truly an out of body experience (I'll explain later). Andrew and I rode along quite comfortably for the first 50 miles. Just before Sandy I heard this clinking coming from my chain. On the next hill it broke. About ten minutes before this we had passed a rider with a broken free wheel. As we left him (his buddies were going to report a sag pickup at the next stop) I thought as any war veteran looking at an injured mate going to the hospital with a flesh wound, `lucky bas...'.
Well back to my flesh wound. I called to Andrew and was in a complete daze thinking `I want to finish, I want to finish, Heck the bike is broke I'll go home'. My chain tool that I have carried for 5 years was removed last weekend while I was camping. I have never broken a chain on the road. Motto: always carry one (or do not leave Don behind... he carries everything). Thanks to Andrew's help. He helped focus my dazed mind and we got back on the road.
Now for the out of body experience. Seems that the top half of my body got back on the bike after the chain repair, my legs stayed behind (most likely laughing, "He won't get far without us!") From mile 60 to about mile 80 I struggled like I have never struggled before. I had to think about every movement and shift I was making. I had to really do full cycle revolutions on the up hills. My big chain ring got enormous and I hardly used it. I could not enjoy the log downhill into the Fern Park as I watched gasping riders on the other side forcing their way up. Was I happily descending into hell?
Fortunately my legs came back for the head winds that were so welcome after the ugly rollers. Would I do this ride again? Only after getting my legs permanently bolted to my knees.
Lonnie `mind is willing legs gone south' Wormley
Tourture 10k – 1999
There has been brief mention of the upcoming Portland Wheelmen Touring Club Torture 10,000 on August 14. I think it’s an excellent opportunity to assess your ability to enjoy days two and five of Cycle Oregon [CO 12].
This is the second year the Wheelmen have offered the Torture 10,000. The 10,000 refers to the feet of elevation gain in the century. At mile 43 you’ve already gained 5,000 vertical feet. I guess I don’t need to elaborate further on what the Torture might mean.
The metric century has about 6,400 feet of elevation gain. It’s an excellent gage of your readiness for climbing the Wallowas.
Both routes start at Mt. Hood Community College. The first major climb is up Larch Mountain. There is a rest stop up there and then an incredible descent. Gordon Creek, Bull Run and Ten Eyck Roads add the rest of the elevation (and a few descents). The century adds an additional 30 mile loop from Sandy out along Eagle Creek and to Eagle Fern Park and George then back to Sandy again.
To me, one of the great advantages of this ride is the fact that if you venture out expecting to complete the century and find it too difficult, you can bail out at the rest stop in Sandy at mile 53. From there you can simply head back to the college. Of course, the opposite is true as well. If you expected to complete the metric century and find, after only 6,300 feet of climbing and eating too much at the well stocked rest stops, that you’re eager for more torture, you can just head out along the century route! You can also bail out at Eagle Fern Park if time or energy is waning.
There is also a third loop, the scenic 50 mile loop, which simply goes from the college out the old scenic highway to Crown Point, down to Multnomah Falls and back. While it’s also a bit of climbing, it’s certainly not the challenge of the other two routes.
If you come out, please heed this advice: 1) Plan for heat and cold. Last year people were wearing Hefty trash bags as wind breakers coming down from Larch Mountain. It can be very cold up there, especially coming down at over 30 mph! Wear sun block. You’ll be out for most of the day. This is Oregon. Anything can happen. 2) Plan to eat and drink more than usual. The extra climbing will burn calories and dehydrate you. 3) Just as you plan to do on Cycle Oregon, don’t focus on the big picture. Enjoy the moment, enjoy the views, enjoy the ride and your fellow riders.
Tour de Blast – 2000
Saturday, June 10. Eighty some miles of leg cramping, wind whipping, hill climbing bliss followed by pasta.
For the past four years I have booked a site for my travel trailer at Sequest State Park which is appx. 10 miles from the start finish. This year is no different. I will arrive Friday eve and leave out Monday AM.
Showers are coin-op at 25 cents for almost a full shower, plan on 50 cents per and you'll be OK.
Don "Aging Bull meets the mountain yet again" Bolton
North to the Castle Rock exit. (exit 49) East to the town of Toutle (appx 10-15 miles) the crowd of cyclists will lead you to the school which is on the road you are driving on. It really is a can't miss deal.
Good for you and your rocker :-)
Hydrate to excess the day prior, eat well. Ride has lots of high carb snacks, but NO protein. You might wish to bring some protein laden snacks of your own to mix with.
The ride is essentially 19 miles of rollers stepping up to the first rest stop, then one 8 mile 5% to 6% climb, a 7 mile descent (6 miles at 4%, 1 mile at 6%) an 8 mile 6% to 8% grade climb.
The valley floor is the steepest and it eases off at the turn for the Spirit lake tunnels (looks like it's steeper after the turn, but that’s not true. I hit 53 MPH coming down off the hill on this stretch last year. Spent several miles above 50 MPH here!) There’s a final groaner for the last half mile or so as it rears back up to appx 8%.
Then you undo it all. Worst part is after the final major descent off Elk Rock where your brain is done, but you still have 19 miles of rollers left.
Hydrate. Prepare for temp extremes. It’s not uncommon to have the jacket off and on frequently on this ride. Pack a set of long fingered gloves for the descent. Maybe some ear warmers too.
Of the four prior TdBs I have done (plus 4 or 5 solo attacks) it’s almost always had headwinds on the return portion which has limited the descent speeds. Last year we had tailwinds for the return trip hence my > 50 MPH speed. Normally I hit about 43 off the top at Johnston Ridge till having to brake for the first corner and then struggle to get above the mid 30s because of the headwinds the rest of the drops.
Be prepared for winds! They seem to always be there in the afternoons. Relax on the descents, the road surface is really good and there is a very wide shoulder. There will be a lot of people easing down the hill scared because of the cross gusts. JUST RELAX! It’s a really great roadsurface with limited instances of cross traffic and a really *great* place to just let the bike roll. If relaxed the cross winds won't even move you. If tense, you could jump as much a several feet offline and soil yourself in the process. :-)
Don "looking to break the double nickel this time" Bolton
Tour de Blast - 1999
I've done the Tour de Blast three times now, and yes, it's a significant climb. On average, the grades are probably less severe than the steeper portions of Crater Lake, but much more so than the north approach Cycle Oregon used last year. [CO 11]
That said, you need to keep in mind that the grades are much more, uh, persistent than anything Crater Lake has to offer. You just seem to climb forever. The flier (I have it right in front of me) says that there are 6240 total vertical feet in the 82 mile option to Johnston Ridge and back. The total includes the climb back up to Elk Rock summit from Coldwater Lake.
The climb up from Coldwater to Johnston ridge is nine miles long with no letup. Really, it didn't seem all that bad until the last quarter mile or so... there seemed to be a little kick in the grade in the last corner... a final twist of the knife. I wasn't the only one who noticed it, believe me.
The roads are very good (with a very short exception), wide with ample shoulders and relatively light traffic.
Take a jacket, even if the weather looks good at Toutle... it can get very cool on the descent, and there's usually (unfortunately) a headwind on the way down.
For what its worth, the average up grade on the stretch from about mile 15 to the Elk Rock turnaround is 5.1%. I have never measured the grade on the last quarter mile to Johnston Ridge, but I would guess it to be in the neighborhood of 10%.
Their newsletter goes into more detail about elevation gain and loss.
Tour De Blast is one of the better CO training rides during the season - and - one of the more spectacular anywhere. Another good training ride is the Summit to Surf - around Mt. Hood, sponsored by the Diabetes Association.
A word to the wise: heed the temperature and wind warnings in Scott’s email. They can be brutal. If there is a wind, more often than not, it is squirrelly as it runs through all those canyons. If the weather is wet in addition to cool and windy - look out! BE PREPARED!!
Being a weather wimp, my plan is to wait until the day of ride, make a judgement, and bolt off to the Strawberry Century in Lebanon, Oregon if the Mt St Helens weather is bad. Even in bad weather, the Strawberry will be much easier to take.
I neglected to mention that I no longer pre-register for the TdB... I want to be able to opt out if the weather looks really crummy. It's a tough ride on the best of days. Really bad weather could make it downright ugly.
Last year it was rather chilly at the top, and it's rained lightly for part of the ride... fortunately always while I was climbing. If steady rain looks like a sure bet, I'm keeping to the flats myself... Lebanon's about as far south from me as Toutle is north.
Three years ago, the Strawberry Century and the TdB were scheduled a week apart. Now THAT was a good couple of weeks for distance preparation! I did 'em both... felt great afterward!
I'd second what Scott has to say and add that last year's ride was just plain cold - those who gambled on the weather report (myself included) lost. I recommend paying close attention to the weather and taking winter clothing with you if there's any doubt. It's a great ride with spectacular scenery that you won't find anywhere else (and well explained by several visitor centers, if you're interested in such things - actually I should mention to those outside the northwest that the ride travels through the Mt. St. Helens blast zone) - it's worth doing for that reason alone!
The Tour starts at about 50 ft. You ride to 4800 ft down to 2800 ft then back up to 4800 ft. The last mile or more is mountain goat like road. (Meaning it's straight up.) I have never stood riding for so long as with the Tour.
The weather. 2 years ago when I rode it was like this: Small amount of rain at the start. Once you got to the climbing we had fog. I mean I could not see the person that was only 50 ft in front of me for miles. I missed all kinds of things on the way up because of the fog.
Then we broke through the fog and it was sunny. So sunny that my skin blistered even with sun screen.
Once at the top it looked really cool.
On the ride down they warn you not to break the speed limit of 50mph, which you could do easily. Only, the wind was blowing so hard in your face by this time (this wind was not there at your back on the way up) that you really had to step on it to go down hill. Watch out for that side wind. Watch out for ALL the cars driving up and down that hill. They are looking at the MOUNTAIN, NOT YOU.
By the time I got to the finish I was also finished. If you can do the Tour the rest is EASY. Riding the STP in 11 hours was cake next to the Tour, honest.
Remember to shower and eat at the finish before you leave. That way you can drive home easily.
My two cents: Elevation gain for the ride between Toutle and the Coldwater visitors center and back is around 4800 feet as measured by my 8 year old Avocet 50 cyclometer on three TdB's, including the first.
At about 16 miles out from Toutle, you will begin a steady 5% climb for about eight miles on new road with a good shoulder. This hill is excellent training for Cycle Oregon. I would refer to it as a "Cycle Oregon hill". The ride between Haines and Halfway [CO 12] will have a hill like this starting at Richland. It is not particularly difficult, but it is a grind.
If you go up to the Johnston Ridge visitors center, the last mile or so is VERY STEEP. I have never measured it, but I would guess it is around 10%. Good road, but . . .
In August 1997, I took a visiting friend up to the ridge in my car. It was 85 degrees in Portland that day, and in the 30's at the Ridge. No matter how warm it is, carry a wind breaker jacket, leg warmers or tights, and maybe even full fingered gloves. The wind chill on the way down can be miserable, if not dangerous. If it is wet, it will be worse - much worse.
Also, the wind can be very unpredictable in that canyon and all the side canyons along the way. It is very difficult to anticipate which way the wind will hit you - and - trust me, there is nothing scarier than being blown around in car traffic.
As to downhill speed, use your own judgment according to what you are comfortable with. The main issue here is that the police WILL give out tickets to cyclists who exceed the speed limit.
TdB is a good, well supported ride, but it is not for the unwise or unprepared. Watch out for the weather.
On CO, the rider has even better support for high altitude wet, bad wind-chill situations. They are there to help, and are VERY sensitive to these conditions.
Can't help you with the comparison to CO, but it's very likely that if you're a happy camper after Tour de Blast, you'll also be one after any CO day. Tour de Blast gains 6,000 feet over about 83 or so miles which makes it tougher than RAMROD on an elevation per mile basis (though RAMROD at 154 miles is significantly more difficult, but you get the idea -- Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day).
The weather report is expected to be 75 to 80 degrees and sunny in Seattle this Saturday. So it could be jersey and shorts weather on the ride. However, the weather forecast was for somewhat sunny weather last year and it turned out to be a really cold ride with temps in the 40's or 50's – not fun on really long downhills. So basically, take your winter gear with you to the start, plan on starting with some warmer clothing such as a windbreaker, mid weight capilene shirt under your jersey, full fingered gloves, knee warmers, toe warmers (these things fit on the outside of your shoe and after using them through this last Seattle winter I'm tellin' ya they're great! If you can find them...). It could also be really cold and/or windy at the various high and exposed points - especially the midpoint of the ride.
Mt. St. Helens is one of those mountains that makes it's own weather, it can change within minutes, and it's often foggy - be prepared. With that said, it'll likely be a very nice day to make up for last year!
I did the short (to Coldwater ridge) route several times later last year (this is an excellent CO hill simulation ride) and the portion through Kid Valley was reduced to gravel due to construction. Its quite likely that this year that portion of the ride will be on nice and wide roadway just like the rest of the route.
The food stops are great, providing carbo rich snacks, but they really lack anything with protein in it. I suggest one brings a jerky stick or two (or some other protein rich item).
Don "cyclepath" Bolton
Well.. we did the Tour yesterday.. and the ride was as hard as expected.. But the weather was wonderful. And today we're quite recovered. The shower at the end was great. And even the spaghetti tasted good - and the ice cream, of course. My wife attributes our recovery to drinking a protein-rich smoothie right after the ride.
Interested in hearing other people's experiences.. There was a nasty accident caused by a gust of wind we hard - and saw the ambulances. We hope they recover quickly.
Also did the Tour yesterday, and the warnings from others prior to the ride were very helpful! I think I got lucky and made it to the top prior to the worst of the hurricane force winds, but almost got blown over while standing enjoying the view from Johnston Ridge. Anybody else have second thoughts after the drop from Coldwater Ridge looking up at riders basically directly over your head? Came very close to turning around, but after a quick snack... it was back on the road. It all paid off when I broke my Max. speed record on the descent!
I heard of 2 instances of the use of ambulances -- scary that wind was involved, hope everyone is okay.
All in all a very good ride, but perhaps next year I'll do a few longer rides before hand. The last 10 miles (while very flat) were painful... For me the climbing wasn't the hard part, but more the amount of time in the saddle. I can't say enough about how good that cold shower felt afterward! I talked to lots of people who were complaining of the lack of decent training weather -- but I think we were all just looking for excuses :o)
Thanks for all the warnings! By the way, the views on that ride are outstanding!!!!
The 3 R. Heath's all did the tour yesterday, too. Or, parts of it at least. This was the first time for all of us to do this ride. One of the nice features of this ride was due to the fact that it retraced its path on the way back, so you could decide to turn back at any point you wanted. We hadn't really planned to take advantage of that, but as it turned out, we needed to. At the first rest stop, Robbin decided to head back due to a sore foot that he didn't want to make worse, then at about mile 21, Roxie who had been feeling a bit under the weather, turned back as well. All three of us had done the full century "Reach the Beach," and the metric "Spring Century," so we felt pretty confident going into this ride, but sometimes it just doesn't work out.
That left only me (Bob) to push on. And push I did. The ride coordinators advised us to turn around if we hadn't reached Coldwater Creek by 1:30. Due to our late start I knew that was going to be pretty hard to accomplish. Right after I left Roxie at mile 21, I hit the first headwinds. But they only seemed to be really bad when I was approaching a sharp bend in the road. Once I would get around the bend, they seemed to let up until the next bend. Maybe they were just gusts that just happened to arrive when I was at the spot on the route, but I think maybe it had something to do with the geography of the terrain we were passing through.
I reached the first summit, at Elk Rock at about 1:20, with Coldwater Creek about 3, mostly downhill miles ahead of me. I could see the visitor center from the rest stop near Elk Rock, and it didn't look very far, and I was still feeling pretty good, so decided to go for it. All the way down though, I kept thinking, I'm really gonna hate riding back up this. I got there at about 1:45, took a picture and jumped back on my bike for the ride back. I was right about the ride back up to Elk Rock.
I knew I had climbed a long hill on the way up to Elk Rock, but couldn't seem to find the corresponding down hill on the way back. Eventually, I did get to it, but it didn't seem to be where I had left it, nor as long. The wind gusts were fighting me all the way back, and I really began to feel the effects of the heat. At about mile 60, about 8 miles from the finish, I got off my bike to loosen my shoes, and realized how wiped out I was. I sat for a while and rested by the side of the road before completing the ride.
I finally arrived back at the start at 4:26. I parked my bike and just sat on the ground by the car for about 15 minutes while trying to remember my name and where I was. Then Robbin came by and took care of my bike while I went in to eat.
That's only the second time in my bike riding career that I've bonked that badly. I had downed about five bottles of water during the ride, but I guess that just wasn't enough. When I got home, I weighed myself and saw that I was five pounds lighter than I had been in the morning, and that was after eating dinner, so clearly I had lost a lot of water.
Today though, I'm feeling fine again. I enjoyed the ride and was pleased that I was able to finish as much as I did. I've re-learned the lesson that I need to pay more attention to proper hydration, and perhaps eat more, too.
I didn't see any orange ribbons on the ride. From what I've read though, it looks like most of you did the Strawberry instead. I think we may join you next year. (But it would be fun to try and make it all the way to Johnson Ridge.)
Bob's experience in bonking and losing weight on the Tour De Blast is something I've heard of before, and experienced myself on, of all things, the descent from Bear Camp [CO7]. I was in good shape at the top, had lunch, and a longer than usual rest in a nice shady spot because the infamous tandem wreck, so I was feeling good starting out. By the time we got to the bottom and were at the series of rolling hills before Gold Beach, I was in the worst bonk of my life, and felt like I was going nuts, yet we'd scarcely had to pedal for miles. I rested the next rest stop, drank, and recovered enough to finish the day, although it wasn't much fun, and I was still tired for the final day of the ride.
I decided later it was a combination of the wind exacerbating the dry, oven-like heat of the downhill side; the conditions suck the moisture right out of a person, even though there's not much exertion going on, so in Bob's case, he had both those factors as well as having to ride hard. Might be something to keep in mind if we run into hot, windy weather on CO, and adjust fluid & electrolyte intake accordingly.
"BikerTeam" did the Tour also. Two of us went to the top, leaving the 1:30 turn around point at 1:15, slowly but surely we carried on, climbing up that grueling 9 miles at who knows what percent grade (I heard rumors of 10%) and finally made it to the top at 3 p.m. (I know that's DARN slow). No sag support by the time we made it to the top. We took a few quick pictures and then headed back down. I clocked myself at 39.5 mph (the fastest I’ve ever gone), but I am sure I saw others going down twice as fast. A tandem passed us at an incredible speed. At 6:45 p.m. I got a flat 8 miles from the end. By then, our other 2 riders were wondering where we were (dinner ended at 5) and they hopped in the car and picked us up as I struggled with my tire (OK so even though I have fixed a few, I couldn’t seem to muster the energy). Exhausted, we gladly accepted the ride and were driven back to the start point, having accomplished our goal of making Johnson Ridge. Showers all locked up, but a few dinners waiting in boxes for us outside of the building. We started at 8:30 a.m. and it took us a long time to do this ride (6.5 hours to the top, and 10.5 to do 76 miles total). I can only wonder what those who went to Johnson Ridge average speed must have been to make it back in time for showers and supper. I would be curious to know.
It was well worth the climb and lack of sag support towards the end of the day! It was a beautiful ride, sunny, and incredible views of the crater from the top.
Thanks to all of you who responded to my original email last week inquiring about this ride, all of the info you gave was very helpful.
I have been reading and enjoying this Forum for quite a while, but finally today I have something I would like to share.
Did the Tour de Blast also, and what a blast it was!!! Especially coasting down for who knows how many miles (was hoping to reach 50 mph, but the wind stopped me at 48...). That wind was wicked!!!
Thank you to all the people that warned us of what kind of ride it was! I think that prepared me mentally. I did struggle with the head wind on the flat part at the bottom of Johnston Ridge, more so than the hills. Started at 6:45 a.m. and it took me about 4.5 hrs to get to the Johnston Ridge Observatory (where I saw a great 15 min. show) and 2.5 hrs to get back to the showers and the spaghetti (I missed the ice cream). I did not see any ribbons either (I don't have one on my bike yet...) My last 5 miles were much easier once I joined a group of 4 riders that were gracious enough to allow me to join them. Great scenery, great weather, great food and great people to ride with!!!
I have to go back next year and see if I can hit 50 mph (speeding ticket or not).
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