I was very fortunate to get to do a trail run at Deception Pass State Park. What a beautiful place it is! My adventure included all of the things that make trail running awesome for me...single track trails, roots, rocks, amazing views, water all around, only slight weather variations, challenging climbs, and close enough to civilization to be able to do it solo. My friend had to cancel due to an injury - so I ventured out on my own to preview some of the 25k course we will be doing next month.
The entire 25k route consists of 6 "lollipops" which all connect throughout the park. I started with lollipop #2 and was surprised to see the roots and rocks on this trail which is so close to the West beach and the bridge - accessible by lots of people. I could see the bridge in the distance, and of course the trail climbed up towards the bridge.
The next 2 lollipops took me to Lottie Bay (lots of elevation) and to Lighthouse point. In my past visits, I had never been out to Lighthouse Point and was excited to check it out.
The next lollipop took me out to Rosario Head, again a place I had never been. It felt like this trail went straight up and had a fun loop at the end with a surprise wood carving.
My last lollipop was going to be the hardest - I had heard about this climb that happens near the end of the 25k, so I had to run it (or walk it). I ran back over the bridge and had to hold on to my hat this time - as the wind had really picked up, then I went to the Goose Rock Perimeter trail.
The Goose Rock area delivered as promised - a steep climb that seemed to last forever on tired legs (mile 10 at this point)! But then back under the bridge and back to the starting point for an amazing adventure! Only one wrong turn that was easily corrected, 11 miles, and 2000 feet of elevation! I am excited for my 25k next month - bring on the trails!
Why would I want to ride RAMROD? (Ride Around Mt Rainer in One Day) Well... I have asked myself this numerous times. it all starts back to my earlier days of riding and I would hear about RAMROD and envisioned that ride was only for "the big boys" and very strong riders. I had ridden other local organized longer rides such as Seattle to Portland (STP), Ride Seattle to Vancouver and Party (RSVP) and Courage Classic fund raiser (3 mountain passes over 3 days) but didn't think RAMROD would be something I could ever do. I had no idea what it was like, I just imagined it was super hard, continuous climbing, and way out of my league. And just filed that away in my mind as "something I would never be able to do"
Fast forward many years later, perhaps some wiser years later, as I returned to cycling after having my son, I saw others training for RAMROD, and others telling me they had ridden it. Other women just like me! This intrigued me...Hmmmm..if they can ride it, maybe I can too. So I moved it to the "maybe someday" category.
Last year, several of my triathlete friends trained for RAMROD and my schedule would not allow it due to my training for mountain bike racing and triathlons, but I watched them train, and succeed in riding it! I was so excited for them and I decided to go for it this year! I volunteered to help with RAMROD last year so I could bypass the lottery process for 2016. My friend, Holly, got in through the lottery process for her 2nd year of riding it, and now we get to train and ride it together! How cool is that?!
So now the work begins...lots of "time in the saddle" and hills to be ridden. We resumed our weekly hill rides from last year, and we both wanted to start riding the RAMROD Training Series (RTS) through the Redmond Cycling Club. We hoped to join those rides as much as possible and riding lots of hills to get ready. I am so grateful for the routes that Per Sunde, from the Redmond Cycling club, put together every week.
Early on, we ventured out on one of the RTS courses with another friend, Janis, armed with 3 navigation tools; a GPS app, a Garmin, and a cue sheet. We followed the 80 mile course that they had ridden the previous weekend, with only a few minor errors in direction. Yay for us!
At the next attempt at joining an RTS ride on a Saturday morning with heavy rain, something in my gut told me not to ride that day for safety reasons, and I chose to listen...and Holly supported my inner gut feeling...so what does that mean???
5 hours on the trainer for both of us!!! Uuughhh...that was excruciating...Please oh please weather Gods...allow us to ride future RTS rides out on the road...I never want to do that again!
Finally, my first century of the year on Memorial Day...cool weather in the morning and 70s by the end of the day for the
7 Hills of Kirkland century ride. I was a bit nervous about riding 100 miles, since it had been so long since I had ridden that many miles, with 14 hills included. But all went well, one hill at a time, one rest stop at a time, and the 3 of us riding together actually had fun! Riding this distance that day instilled the confidence in me that I can actually do the RAMROD ride...the only variable will be the heat in July...that could be a challenge for me.
July rolls around...and it has been a temperate month so far as the weather goes. 3 more century rides now completed, and one very hard "EDGE" ride - of which had to be reduced to 50 miles, due to some lingering chest and rib discomfort from my triathlon mountain bike crash the week before, and Holly's knee was bothering her. Thankfully the doctor in Canada, my acupuncturist, and rest, has put this Humpty Dumpty back together again.
Finally...one week to go...the weather is slowly warming up in the coming week of the "Big Day." I am actually getting excited about the ride, rather than nervous about the elevation and heat...I watched a video about the creation of the ride and this got me very fired up for all the beautiful scenery out there. Here is the link to the historical video of the ride: https://vimeo.com/134535786
RIDE DAY IS HERE! We arrive at the start location at 4am to make sure to get onsite parking - as parking was extremely limited. We got a spot, grabbed a light snack, geared up, and were ready to roll by 4:50 am with lights on our bikes and started in the dark.
The first 60 miles are uneventful, we see the sunrise, the course is well marked, our bodies feel good, and the first 2 rest stops have yummy food and services. Many riders are complimenting Holly on her jersey and we see this rider "wearing" a butterfly on her back and I asked to take her photo, as Holly and I both love butterflies.
Then the "adventure" begins to unfold. We climb to Inspiration Point, our first "big" climb inside Mount Rainer National Park, and luckily this first climb was early in the day and mostly in the shade. Holly then had a mechanical issue with her brake lever, that needed to be fixed by a mechanic. We made it up to to the next rest stop (78 Miles) and the mobile bike mechanic, Andy with Velofix, graciously fixed it . www.vewww.velofix.com/locations/seattle/lofix,com There was some confusion as to where we would hook up with the mechanic so this caused quite a delay and waiting for us at that rest stop.
Then we were off again. A fun and beautiful descent then took us to the 4th rest stop and one of the volunteers gave us some ice from his own personal ice chest for our "tube socks" that we wore under our jerseys. They weren't supplying any ice just yet, but it was getting warmer. All the volunteers were so helpful and kind!
Another fun and curvy descent, and then we were climbing again to Box Canyon Summit. We then were greeted by the most amazing cooler filled with ice that I had ever seen! We loaded up on ice and began the next big climb to Cayuse Pass.
This was slow going, reflected heat from the ground was reaching 97 degrees and it was a slog to get halfway up to the rest stop for more ice and water. We finally made it up the 4 miles to the rest stop and I was getting overheated. There was no shade at the rest stop and I found the only shady seat inside the van door opening and started to try to cool down. Then I heard the question from one of the volunteers "would anyone like a ride to the top?" I didn't realize that was even an option...and without hesitation, I jumped at the chance. Holly was agreeable and "Vince" loaded our bikes and drove us the final hot and steep 4 miles to the top of Cayuse Pass. We slowed to check on several riders along the way. There were many getting shuttled to the top that day.
At the top of Cayuse Pass, we then prepared for the fun descent down to the famous "Deli stop" where they have real food and soft drinks for everyone. (116 miles). We still had about 38 miles to ride.
After getting some food, we were ready for the final leg of our journey, and get to the finish. The last section is slightly downhill, however with a headwind, and we were moving along well. We saw an elk and deer, and about 15 miles from the finish, Holly got a flat tire. We pulled over to take care of it, and at that moment, an "unofficial" volunteer "Doug" asked if we needed help and we welcomed the help to change her tire, as we were pretty tired by then (135 miles). He changed the tire for us and we started to push the pace towards the finish since it was getting late with all the delays.
On our way home, we saw an ambulance and fire truck rushing somewhere. As we turned onto Mountain Mud road (the last turnoff to the finish), we came upon an accident involving 2 other RAMROD riders, one of whom was Holly's friend. A motorcycle rider had been doing a wheelie and lost control and his motorcycle slid out and took down 2 cyclists. The motorcycle rider was badly scraped up and injured and Holly's friend hurt her hand and her bike was ruined. We stopped to visit briefly and wish them well.
The final country roads seemed endless as we made our way back to the start, and we were greeted by volunteers and got an ice cream bar. 150 miles, 9000 feet of elevation, and 11.5 hours ride time -it was quite the adventure!!
Wellington (north island) is our last stop on our journey. We flew a short 35 minutes from the south island and landed in Wellington (north island) and were picked up by my friend Pallas, who lives here. How wonderful to be picked up, eat a lovely dinner at her home and stay with her...and to re-connect after many years.
We got a driving tour around Wellington, visited the Te Papa National museum, ate at a tugboat cafe, and rode a cable car to dinner.
Our final day in New Zealand....we took a ferry across the harbor to get out on the water, had a nice lunch on the wharf, and then to the airport...we have a very long flight ahead of us...but what a wonderful experience this has been...wow! The most beautiful place I have ever visited!
Day 6...We made our way north to the city of Blemhem and walked to 4 of the many wineries to taste the local New Zealand wines.
Day 7. We drive through Nelson to Kaiteriteri where Chip's adventure race starts and to meet up with the other athletes. Lots of packing and planning happening for their 7 days of kayaking, hiking, and mountain biking. These athletes are amazing!
Day 8.... Diane and I went mountain biking at the local mountain bike park in Kaiteriteri... We found most of the climbs and some of the fun downhill trails too!
Day 4...,.We took a beautiful train ride from Christchurch west towards the middle of the island to Arthur's Pass. Gorgeous scenery along the way with views of the winding and "braided" river and huge mountains.
We did 2 hikes at Arthur's Pass. One to Devil's Punchbowl Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. Both were forested trails, or "tracks" as they call them in NZ. And then rode the train back.
After a full day, we walked around Christchurch that evening. The main city center is still struggling to rebuild after their earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. Their historic Christchurch Cathedral was badly damaged and slowly being repaired. Many large buildings are covered in scaffolding or just sitting empty with boarded up street level windows and entry ways.
Day 5... We continued our trip north towards the coastal town of Kaikoura. A mix of rural farmland, hilly and lush countryside, small coastal towns, and sections of the rocky eastern coastline.,, and very curvy and winding roads!
We took a coastal walk in Kaikoura, starting high on the ridge, then making our way down a steep (and a bit scary) embankment to walk back along the shore.. There were seals laying out on the rocks. That evening...We came in third place in a trivia contest at a local pub and got some good sightseeing suggestions from a woman who was from that area.
Our 2nd day in Queenstown started with breakfast at a local cafe, and " the couch" was the only seating available when we arrived. This turned out to be a comfy couch next to a fireplace.
Next up, was our shuttled mountain bike ride. Diane and I rented bikes and Chip brought his bike with him, in his awesome bike box. There were 5 of us on this ride and our driver took us to the top of the "Rude rock" trail.
The mountain bike trails were amazing! A smooth and flowy trail to start, then a longer trail with some fun features and 2 creek crossings. The final trail was "fast and rowdy with rock drops" according to Chip. We had a "bonus" adventure during the shuttle back to the bike shop... Being driven back on very narrow and winding dirt roads...on the side of a cliff.
Sadly, one of our 5 riders fell at the beginning of the very first trail and gingerly walked his way down the trail and had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance.
After a very fun afternoon of mountain biking, we met up with one of Chip's teammates for dinner, who lives in Queenstown.
Day 3... We are headed north today towards the city of Christchurch... And along the way, we stopped to watch some bungy jumpers!
The next amazing site was Lake Pukaki... And what do you do when you see a lake like this? You jump in!!
After several hours of driving on curvy and winding roads, seeing huge herds of sheep everywhere, and lots of rural landscape...we arrived in Christchurch this evening.
We arrived! My friends, Chip and Diane and I arrived safely, after 16 hours of flight time, 24 hours total travel time, and many less-than-desirable airport meals. However, this place is already amazing... And we just got here! Chip has a 7 day adventure race with his team of 4, and the three of us are exploring the south island until race day. And I get to re-connect with a friend and former roommate from my Florida days who actually lives here now.
The next order of business was to get "our heads around" the fact that they drive on the left side of the road here and the driver side of the car is on the right.
We got to eat lunch at a beautiful lakeside restaurant, ride the gondola up for the views, and take a Luge ride!
Tomorrow we rent mountain bikes! Can't wait!
I did it! My first half marathon!! I chose this half marathon in Maple Ridge, BC because the timing worked well with my upcoming trip to New Zealand. This course was half road and half trail. To start the weekend out - we ate at a local Italian restaurant where I had my pre-race pasta meal Saturday evening with Kelsey and Ian -and they gave each of us ladies a carnation after dinner. How sweet is that?
For the start of the race... the weather was temperate with only light sprinkles throughout, as I started on the road section to the Golden Ears bridge. This was the first out and back section and it was definitely a lot steeper on foot than the previous night when we drove over it!
After the bridge section, came my favorite section, the trees! This was a sweet section of trail with trees all around.
Then came the very long, and never ending gravel section - this led to the final turnaround - which seemed to take forever! The last 3-4 miles of this race were the longest!
And then..the sweetest sight of all - the FINISH!!! 13.1 miles! Woot Woot!
I had the opportunity to run the Lime Kiln Trail today, near Granite Falls. What a treat that trail was! It was suggested by my coach, and trail runner extraordinaire, Jessica Kelly. From the description I read online - it didn't sound all that exciting but I was willing to give it a shot. Despite the pouring rain and later morning start, me and my "10 Essentials" which I now call my "10 pounds of Essentials" took off for the hour long drive to the trail head. When I got there, I had to start with running 2 miles on the road to get a total of 9 miles in today as training for my upcoming half marathon - so I begrudgingly ran my 2 miles of road.
Then I entered the trail and the fun began! It was so empowering to be there solo and have the freedom to run without feeling too much fear for my safety. The trail was non technical and not much elevation but had fun things to see around every twist. There were several log bridges of different shapes and sizes, and several tree "obstacles" throughout the 7 mile out and back trail.
I came across the historic Lime Kiln rather unexpectedly, and then was hesitant to continue through the mucky mud to get to the "extra" loop I was supposed to do at the end of the trail.
But I persevered, and I am so glad that I did! There was a huge rushing waterfall on the Stillaguamish River and a rather primitive little loop that was well worth the effort! It was a blast - I would love to run that again in the summer! How empowering this run was for me - feeling well prepared if anything went wrong and so much freedom to explore the beauty of our area.
I have had some very unique requests for Biker Chick Jewelry...and I just love it! One of my most challenging requests was to make a heart shaped pendant. I met this fun loving and adorable woman rider, Leslie, at the recent Stinky Spoke charity ride. We got to visit for awhile as she was hanging out near my display, which was close to one of the few outdoor heaters. It was a cold and rainy day! Her request of making a shape like this was challenging because the chain links are very floppy until they are secured in place and it took a few days..uh weeks... for me to figure out how to proceed. What I ended up doing was gluing one junction per day, starting with the tightest angled joint at the bottom,then the top, and then the sides...and here it is! Leslie is fond of hearts as you can see her very unique heart shaped tattoo she has on her shoulder as a tribute to some hard life events she endured.
Another unique request was from my dear friend, Theresa. She has several sentimental stones that she wanted to have put on a Biker Chick necklace so I made an "interchangeable" necklace for her - so she can change them out whenever she feels like it.