Getting Stronger

Been a good few months, I’ve been riding like mad and things are really coming together. On one of my favorite technical climbs today, I only dabbed a couple times and made it with no breaks.

The ride itself was a blast, it was a super foggy night ride with Mark R. we kept a good pace and wound up getting 9 miles in just about 2 hours. (For Red Hills 9 miles is a solid day. Enough chatter, here’s some pics.

Smashed Red Hills Today

I’ve been building up my endurance and strength lately so I figured I’d try to push my limits and see how far I could go at Red Hills. It didn’t quite work out that way though. It was such a great day I was a bit of a shutter bug, snapping a bunch of shots of the fog rolling in and the sunset… Eventually running out of daylight and having to skip out in the dark. Even so I cranked out a respectable 18 miles at Red Hills including a fair bit of old school trails which are much steeper and tougher. Very little duplicate trails and only crossed my path in one spot. Touched most every major trail out there including the grindy Parts of Red Hills road trail.
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Chasing Daylight at Red Hills

I had an Amazing Ride Today at Red Hills. I spent the last half of the ride fighting to urge to stop for photographs and the other half chasing the fading light and trying to get back to the car quick enough. The result was just an absolutely amazing sunset ride. Glad I got out there!

Wildlife Crossings

Recently there’s been an effort near Santa Cruz to add a wildlife crossing and protected adjacent property near highway 17. Often highways split animal ranges and cross areas with critical food and water sources which all animals need access to. These highway crossings are particularly important for species with large ranges like mountain lions but they help almost all species living near the highway. The Laurel curve crossing will increase wildlife mobility and decrease dangerous vehicle-animal collisions which kill animals, damage vehicles, and injure or even kill people.

For a good idea of how these work, here’s a video of which talks about the effects of a similar program in Wyoming which added 41 crossings on a section of highway which significantly reduced the amount of road kill and increases human safety in the region.

Post Ride Recovery Drink

My favorite post-ride recovery drink ->

2 shots worth of espresso strength coffee (I use the AeroPress).
2 scoops of chocolate whey protein powder. (or from Trader Joes)
About 4 ounces of whole milk.

Just add it all together and shake it up, keep it cold (not hard this time of year). It’s almost like thick mocha milk and slides right down. The whole milk and whey powder give your body plenty of fat and protein which it craves after a ride. In a pinch, it also serves as a decent breakfast drink. If you don’t like coffee, I’ve found orange juice mixed with vanilla whey protein powder works nearly as well, but the orange juice has simple sugars rather than fats.

Reboot

I changed the theme to a more modern/ iPhone friendly theme for the site. In addition to changing the theme, I’ve cleaned up a lot of broken links and just general cruft. Things are still under construction so expect to see more changes and a bit more active posting as I’ve been riding more lately.

2014 – Rebuilding

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Looking back at 2014, it was a good year for riding. Not my best ever, but the last couple years I’ve been off the bike a lot so I feel like I’m getting back into the swing of things. Compared to 2013, I rode 30 more days, 250 more miles, and was on the bike 33% longer. Total distance ridden in 2014 was over 1,587 miles (versus a bit of 1250 in 2013) including rides in California, Oregon, and Washington. Highlights included some amazing rides in Bend, a really fun day revisiting the Iron Horse trail and the 2+ mile Snoqualami tunnel with Fiona, and an amazing day climbing up Ape Canyon Trail to the Plains of Abraham on the back side of Mt. St Helens.

Not my strongest year ever, but a big step up after a couple years of slacking off. For 2015, I plan on riding even more and seeing more new amazing places.

Ape Canyon to The Plains of Abraham Epic

Quite simply, add this ride to your bucket list. The views are amazing and the riding is incredible. I rode this as an out-and-back, but you can also ride it as a big 26 mile loop connecting it to Windy Ridge. Either route is amazing and worth your time. This is a tough ride for beginners, but intermediate riders should be fine. It’s a bit out of the way (I’ll pop back with mapping or send me a message and I’ll hook you up), but well worth it.

I suggest doing this ride on on a weekday as it’s a popular destination, I encountered 15-20 people on a Friday morning/ afternoon in the off season and it’s certain to get busier during the summer and on weekends.

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Ape Canyon trail climbs up through a beautiful, lush forest only feet away from the blasted run-off field which is still recovering. The climb feels like a typical west coast forest trail except for the occasional glimpses of prior destruction. It’s only when you reach the top that you really appreciate the unique nature of this ride.

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As with many of the rides along the Columbia River Gorge, views are spectacular near the top. Mt. Adams is seen here off in the distance over the Clear Valley.

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This is the end of Ape Canyon trail and marks the beginning of the Plains of Abraham. The “Plains” are much more barren and feel more like a moonscape then a typical mountain bike ride. The trail flattens out a lot and the character of the trails is alien. Sharp broken up volcanic rocks and gravel and vegetation where it is is stunted.

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The trail continues well past the Plains of Abraham where you get to see some spectacular views of the blasted western slope of Mount St. Helens. This is the side of the mountain that exploded and basically turned into a semi-gelatinous blob of liquid earth.

You can continue beyond this point, eventually the trail becomes Windy Ridge trail and you take a separate Canyon downhill and back to the car. I was short on time and pretty tired so I returned across the Plains of Abraham and down Ape Canyon which is itself a pretty amazing downhill. This is a ride, or the full Windy Ridge Loop belongs on everyone’s bucket list, it has the perfect combination of uniqueness, challenge, and spectacular scenery that makes it one of my all-time-favorites.