Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Floating into Vang Vieng

is what we did today. After riding about 50k, we hopped into river kayaks and meandered down the gentle river for a couple of hours, arriving just before 5 pm. It was fun, even when the Japanese tourists in another boat overturned our kayak, putting Dan and me into the river. Ooopsie. Today is the first day in four days that I feel normal, at about 80 percent for riding strength. What a relief! What fun to enjoy eating again! I celebrated with a chocolatey pancake thingie covered in condensed milk.

To backtrack, we rode out of Luang Prabang on the 29th and had a hard day's ride with two large mountain passes with many ripply hills in between. About 50 miles total, over 6000 feet of climbing, including a 15 and 25 k climb and comparably long descents. I was still feeling rather poorly, but did the ride, going unbelievably slowly. It was so gorgeous, photos to come. One of the most lovely days of riding I've done in a long time. We spent the night at Kiu Kachan, a truck stop town on top of the mountain. The views were amazing, but the facilitieswere a bit limited. My tummy troubles reactivated during the night and I did not enjoy leaving the room with a flashlight to use shared rural toilets!!! Multiple times! Ughhhh!

The next day was another hard day and I was not in a happy place. I did most of the ride, but skipped one of the climbs, electing to ride in our truck and nap instead. I did make the most of the super long descents, which had frequent patches of unpaved road which were fun to hammer through on the mountain bike.

OK, must get ready for our New Year's eve dinner. Ben our guide has procured lao lao (rice liquor homebrew) mixed with goat's blood for the festivities. Not sure I'll try this one, but I am hoping Sue will! Dan is still feeling the effects of his cold and may stay in for the night. I'll be having an early night as well!

Happy New Years! And I will post again, probably in a couple of days from Vientiane.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Cycling in Laos, wow!

We are in Luang Prabang, the Loas historic capital, a world heritage site, extremely quaint and the first time we've seen significant numbers of European and American tourists since entering Laos 5 days ago. I am uploading some photos taken each day. In sum, we crossed into Laos on small boats, had a wonderful slow boat trip from Chaing Khong to Pakbeng, rode about 50 miles to a small village, Ban Faen, about 60 miles to Oudomxay , another 60 in the rain (including a 18 mile descent in clouds, brrrr) to Pakmong, then another 60 to Luang Prabang, which I skipped since I have food poisoning, instead riding in a "taxi", actually a small truck, where I sat up near the stick shift crammed in with the driver and another sick trip mate (with about 10 additional passengers behind in the truck bed). More on food poisoning in a bit.

Riding in Laos is an incredible way to see the countryside. The rural villagers are incredibly friendly, and little kids line the street yelling ("sabaidee!") and demanding high-fives as we ride through the villages. I've tried to capture this on a video with limited success. It is simply extraordinary to ride into a town and be greeted by screaming children! Wow!

Not to mention that the village life is conducted largely in their yards or under their stilted houses. Limited electricity, reserved only for the nights, means that folks are outside their homes during daylight. So it's a bit like riding through their living room. Folks are eating, cutting/braiding hair, bathing and working-- threshing, weaving, chopping wood, preparing food, spinning, basket weaving and the like. We even had a couple of rest stops inside Hmong village houses (memories of west Philadelphia, of all things, where significant numbers of Hmong refugees were resettled in the late 70s).

So, the food poisoning. Pretty mild as these things go, but enough to get me off of the bike and into a taxi for the 100 k to Luang Prabang). This took over three hours due to poor road conditions -- k after k of single lane mud, there were some incredible truck truck passes, sliding tractor trailers passing within a foot of our small truck, passing kids, dogs, motor bikes and the like. Driving within the lane is optional, and the driver tended to stay right in the middle unless passing or yielding to larger oncoming traffic. I was cracking up the driver when I involuntarily gasped at several near misses (mostly animals, sometimes motorbikes).

I feel a lot better today, though still not eating much, and I plan to ride tomorrow, but may not make it through the entire day which features a 3000 foot vertical climb at the end of nearly 50 miles of hilly riding. Dan has a mild cold, and is quite fatigued but has been riding. Quite a lot of the group has caught this cold, one guy opting to fly out early today rather than continue.

OK, here are some photos. The computer is slow so I've only uploaded a couple of shots.

Map of our trip, prepared by Peter.


Our first rest stop in Thailand was at a gorgeous temple complex up on a hill over looking the river. there were dozens of these statues, and several wat as well.



Dan and Sue on the prow of the boat. The pilot of the boat let us sit out there, even though it is apparently less than legal. It was a terrific view! The slow boat was really scenic, and we passed numerous villages, observing fishing, farming, washing and other village activities on the shore. I spent most of the 7 hour trip looking at the view.


Kids running to see us in Ban Faen. Our tour company has provided charitable support to this village,including aid in building the school structure in the rear of the photo. We were treated to some Lao dancing by adorable little girls and given flowers.


Kids at the school.

Young monks cycling. The monk on the right was leaping aside to avoid getting hit by oncoming traffic, but the the left hand monk hung in for the photos. They spoke decent English and we chatted a bit.

Getting warm during a long rest stop in the rain. We had quite a wait for the slower riders and for our support truck, so joined these villagers around their fire. Peter in our group helped saw some wood.

Bamboo bridge across one of the two rivers that surround Luang Prabang. It seemed terribly fragile and I tried to keep my feet over the supporting bamboo bits.

Dan in the day market. He bought a big bag of what he thought was persimmons (orange things) but turned out to be something inedible and hard that is meant to use to brew a medicinal tonic. As he was crunching into the first one, a women advised us that they were inedible. ooop!

OK, must have dinner. next post possibly in Vientiane.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mekong river boat trip

We crossed into Lao on small boats (1 just for the bikes!) and
transferred to the "slow boat" for a seven hour ride down the river.
The bikes are on top (pictured)!

Cycling to the Laos border

I just wrote a long post which vaporized. No energy to repeat that so
this will be short. We are in Chiang Khong across the border with
Laos (pictured, Laos is, as seen from our hotel room). We'll cross
into Laos tomorrow and take a boat ride down the Mekong.
First full day of riding today. It was fun, hot, mostly gentle
rolling with a couple of short steep hills. Traffic was limited to
mostly motorbikes with smiling people shouting hello to the riders.
More detail from Internet cafe, probably in two days.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cycling in Chiang Rae

We traveled from Bangkok to Chiang Rae in northern Thailand this morning, about a 90 minute
flight. After lunch, which included some yummy gelatinous desserts, we picked up the bikes. Sue and I elected to rent mountain bikes which were deemed by the tour group to be more suitable for rough roads in Laos. Dan brought along his Ritchey breakaway road bike.

After a bike fit mini-drama, with Sue's first bike being teensy and some fit tweaking for me, we set off on a little ride. Once again, we gravitated to the food (local market, pictured), tasting tamarinds, sticky rice prepared in sugar cane leaves, and gawking at the insects and larvae (pictured, lower). After a visit to a local temple, we managed to get totally lost as it was getting dark. We asked for directions a couple of times (Dan cleverly showed photos of our destination to bridge the language barrier) and made it back ok. A fun shake-down ride! Ok, time to eat roasted chestnuts from the market.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Wat Arun

Temple of the dawn. It's by the river and you are allowed to climb up two of the staircases. The steps are super tall and very narrow and I felt a bit of vertigo especially on the way down. I can't imagine getting up on the stairs without the assistance of the railing, which is a modern addition. The details on the carving are incredible. And we had a decent view over the river and the smoggy skyline.

Bangkok

Well I just noticed that I have a data signal so here's a quick update. We've been in Bangkok for about three day and it's been a frenzy of fantastic street food dining. The vendors are incredible, preparing full meals at tiny tables right on the street or grungy alleys. Can't say enough about how phenomenal the eating is.

We've also done some exploring, along with Sue who also arrived on Thursday. Friday was a veritable templefest- Wat Pho, Wat Aran, and the royal palace (photo is from one of the dozens of structures in the palace). We could climb up Wat Aran which was wildly exciting! Bad photo from this in the next post. We recovered from temple overload by riding river ferries and taking a dragon boat ride in the canals.

Saturday we went to the incredible Chatachak market- 8000+ vendors in an outdoor market selling anything and everything. Plus thousands and thousands of shoppers. Really cool and I wish I had a photo of some of the stalls to share. Then to Lampini Park where we found an international street performance festival attended mostly by locals. Today, we join the bike tour and fly off to northern Thailand to start riding towards Laos. More later if I have internet access.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Taipei

We made it on our flight despite some excitement on tuesday when I
realized at three pm that our flight was that night, not Wednesday
night! D'oh!
The flight was otherwise uneventful and we are laying over here en
route to Bangkok. More interesting photos to come

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This and that II

A blog update in two parts:
Cyclocross
The cross season was really fun and way too short, especially because I missed a ton of the early races because I was sick. I ended up doing 5 races- 3 super prestige and 2 of the Livermore series.

Livermore cyclocross-- love that series! Photo: flickr.com/photos/liveplayride

One theme this season-- no man's land. I'd end up riding essentially alone after about the first lap, stronger women ahead and out of sight and folks I passed behind me, often out of sight as well. I often found myself really holding back after the first lap, just maintaining my position relative to the riders who were behind. Not really pushing as hard as I could push for sure. Actually smiling for the photographers (see above).

Coyote Point

I tried something different at the last BASP race at Coyote Point- pushed hard in the first lap to stay with riders who were going pretty hard, and rode much of the race with folks in view (ahead or behind) to keep me motivated. I went a lot harder and was really happy with the race.

Overall, I had a good time, overcame some of my pre-race apprehension (last year I dreaded racing, though loved it once I got going. This year, I looked forward to racing much more) and generally had greater confidence. Technical stuff seemed easier and my mounts/dismounts were smoother, though I was still covered with mystery bruises after every race from smashing into the bike while racing. Things to do differently next year-- more intensity training prior to the season for sure. I'll need all the help I can get in the Bs (or possibly masters) next year.

Riding generally
This was a strange year for me, with shifting plans and goals. I started the year with a road race, felt it went rather poorly and launched on an organized training program, my first ever in my life. While I enjoyed this a LOT (I love having a plan, and especially loved weight lifting), I really really missed my long and/or fast group rides with friends (which didn't fit well in the training plan, or were not so much fun due to tired legs from the training plan, etc). I also didn't start mountain biking. Generally, failed miserably to balance the training and the fun part of riding. And I didn't do any racing all summer long, which sort of negated the hard work I had been doing. All in all, a little unsatisfying and I hope to do a bit of thinking about my goals and plans next year before embarking on a similar training effort. For now, I'm planning to do some of the early birds and start mountain biking in January. And yes, probably some weight lifting as well because I really love it. And more riding with friends this year for sure.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

This and that


I've received a complaint from my blog readership (n=1?) that an update is long overdue. I've got one coming, but in the meantime, please amuse yourself with this photo (credit: Dan, of course. Who else would photoshop a face and a quad???).


Monday, October 13, 2008

WOLH view

This was pointed out to me on a recent WOLH climb. It's pretty well hidden and I couldn't find it again last week when I rode up again.

first cross race- ouch!


I went out for my first cross race this year- and my first race in ten months. Lone photo above, and for that I am glad because it was not a great race, mechanically and riding-wise. No intensity for many months = painful cross race. I actually threw up (just a little) and cramped during the third lap, despite a slow and steady pace. In lap 4, I started feeling a little better, but then dropped my chain twice and flatted near the log barriers.
It was my first time at Livermore, and the course was great for a shakedown ride-- flat, pretty fast and not very technical. Despite the pain, it felt good to be out there and my position looks good in the photo (always important :) ). Next up, McLaren Park. Lots of stuff to work on. I am already nervous.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bridge fog


Bridge fog and me
Originally uploaded by NadiaMac

Taken at Chrissy Field in the marina. The fog was lying heavily on the bay, filling the space between the water and the bridge roadway, but the area was otherwise bright and sunny. It looked really cool and made for a nice backdrop for the chi running clinic I attended at sf presidio sportsbasement.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Omnivore's Hundred

This caught my eye on a food-oriented blog. It's a list of 100 items that the blog author thinks any food-oriented person should eat at least once. I like to think I eat a broad range of cuisine (though hampered a bit in the last couple of years by my largely veggie diet), so let's see how I do:

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred (ref: http://www.verygoodtaste.co.uk/ )
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten (regular bold is not showing up, so I am making the font larger for the items I've eaten).
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating (I am bracketing [[ ]] because I can't figure out how to strikeout text).
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at http://www.verygoodtaste.co.uk/ linking to your results.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4.
Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9.
Borscht
10.
Baba ghanoush
11.
Calamari
12.
Pho
13.
PB&J sandwich
14.
Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart

16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21.
Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23.
Foie gras
24.
Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29.
Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted
lassi
34.
Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float

[[36. Cognac with a fat cigar ]]
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39.
Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat

42. Whole insects (no, though a kid I was babysitting once tried to make me eat live ants, and provided a demonstration. He was kind of disturbed Update: had some in Laos--some sort of cricket. Tasty, texture like greasy minilobsters, but that was also due to the saucing)
43. Phaal (possible that I've had this, but can't confirm. It sounds good!0
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu (note, would need to trust my chef!)
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51.
Prickly pear
52.
Umeboshi (ed: looked it up, and I have had this. Mmmm, love fermented/pickled things)
53. Abalone
54.
Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal (only under duress!)
56. Spaetzle (ed: looked this up, and I have had it)
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59.
Poutine
60.
Carob chips
61.
S’mores
62.
Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin (oddly, the link is to wikipedia's page on geophagy, the practice of eating chalk or dirt)
64. Currywurst
65. Durian (update: had durian candy in Laos. Does that count?  Wasn't very strong, so probably should not count)
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
(all of the above!)
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70.
Chitterlings, or andouillette
71.
Gazpacho
72. Caviar and
blini
73. Louche absinthe (would try only a little sip)
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill (no, though I was once offered a laboratory bunny carcass to try. I declined)
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79.
Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82.
Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85.
Kobe beef
86. Hare
87.
Goulash
88.
Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92.
Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa (update: have since had Harissa, but not rose harissa)
94. Catfish
95.
Mole poblano
96. Bagel and
lox
97.
Lobster Thermidor
98.
Polenta
99.
Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Eaten-- 63/100 Update: 64/100
Not eaten-- 37/100 Updated: 36/100
Will not eat under any circumstances-- 1 (cognac and cigar. I can't imagine ever smoking a cigar, ever)

Huh, I've got some work to do here (and part of the project will include looking up the unknown items on the list!)
2011 update: slightly disappointed to find that I've added just one item since 2008.  Oh well...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

cross

I've finally dusted off the cross bike and gotten out for a ride. Yay! I took the day off of work on Friday and rode up to the inn near the Mt Tam summit. It was not a challenging ride, as I took tame fireroads that I could likely clear on a road bike. But, a nice chance to check out the new crank and new bike fit and to start getting the feel of riding on dirt again. It was fun, except that I got a saddle sore from the new saddle position. Owie. Tweaking is in order.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I feel old

Just picked up my first pair of reading glasses, for use when working on the computer at work. Another one of those rites of passage, I suppose. Sigh

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

a couple more trip pictures

Amazing cliff near Medicine Lake in the Jasper area. Taken on our shakedown ride (that's me at the front).

The best black bear photo ever, taken at a scary-close range

Giant glacier shot- that's me riding in the front (barely visible)


Me and Sue in front of giant glacier (Athabasca glacier in the Columbia icefield). I've known Sue for about 32 years. Wow, that's a long time!
Bill and Sue's most gorgeous picture from Glacier Nat'l park area (Bill is pictured). Not sure if this is in Canada or Montana as I didn't go on this part of the trip. This photo is really incredible- love the little lakes.

The Going To The Sun Road in Glacier, or as Sue put it, the "Going To The Sun Road should be renamed Going To The Snow/Sleet/Wind/Rain/Hail Stinging Your Cheeks/36 Degrees In August/Sun My Ass Road". The road looks really epic, but I am not so sorry I missed the climb, at least on this particular day.

Pictures borrowed with thanks from Sue and Bill's photoset.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Icefields Parkway/Golden triangle cycling trip photos up!

see here for more trip photos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/nadiamac/sets/72157606798390249/

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sinclair pass and Banff farewell


This view is near the top of Sinclair pass, the sufferfest climb out of Radium Hot Springs on highway 93 (two days ago). While it was modest by norcal standards- about 1800 vertical feet in 11 k- it included several 8 and 10 % portions and this was a slow grind with the 50 pound-plus bike. The view at the top looked out over the Kooteney valley and was quite gorgeous. The trees are dying from a beetle infestation which turns the trees a red-brown color, and thus the mountains have bands of red dying pine trees amid the green living trees. It was striking, but I am not sure you can see it in the picture.

I said farewell to Sue and Bill this morning in Banff. They are riding south to head into Glacier National Park, ultimately ending up in Montana in a couple of weeks. Wow! I am sad to be ending the trip but am looking forward to going home to hang out with Dan and the kitties.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Banff!



I am here.

The ride into Banff from Marble Canyon campground was one of the easiest of the trip, or perhaps I am finally used to riding with a 50 pound load? The day started with an easy ~600 foot climb up Vermillion Pass (crossing the continental divide), then a sweet descent. I saw two flocks of mountain goats near the bottom of the descent. They were clambering around on a rocky slope which overlooked a river. Then it was easy pedaling to the junction with highway 1A.

After a stop at Castle Mountain to refuel (chocolate! PB&J!), and at Johnson Canyon to hike out to the lower falls and back, I sped onto Banff, making good time on the gentle grades despite the heat. HW 1A is a pretty road and has relatively light traffic (and no big trucks). I passed yet another black bear eating berries and then a pair of bighorn sheep! I made it to Banff pretty early in the day and trudged up the hill to Tunnel Mountain campground, passing some hoodoos on the way up. About 45 miles for the day.

I set up camp, showered and chatted with other cycle tourists in the campground, then Sue and Bill called and I went down to Banff to meet them for dinner in town. Our last meal together as I am flying out tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bugaboo

We are in lovely Redstreak campground in Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia, after a wonderful 67 mile ride from Golden. After two cold rainy days, the warm sunny weather today was very welcome. We rode between mountain ranges in the Columbia valley. The river and associated wetlands were visible much of the day and we saw lots of birds including big ospreys. The gentle grades and limited traffic permitted the fastest pace of our tour so far. It almost felt like normal riding!
We stopped at a beekeepers (Beeland, pictured below) across from the above-pictured view of the Bugaboo mountains and ski area.

He gave us a tour of his production facility and we tasted honeys and petted his three kitties. After lunch on his porch (honey! preserves!), we rolled on to Radium Hot Springs where we will hit the hot springs after setting up camp.
To recap the last couple of days: after a morning un-loaded ride up to Moraine Lake, we rode from Lake Louise to Kicking Horse campground (18 miles), in rain on the Transcanada highway. My glasses inconveniently broke on the mountain pass and I had to mend them with electrical tape so I could descend in the driving rain. Sue and Bill had duct tape and I improved the repair job at the campground when they arrived. Amazing stuff, duct tape is.
After a cold rainy night, we rode on to Golden (45 miles) in cold, drizzling rain, with a long stop in the cute Victorian railroad town of Field where we loitered for quite some time in a warm cafe. I had hot chocolate flavored with cardamom. Mmm! We indulged on a motel room in Golden (actually fairly seedy) and woke up nice and dry for today's ride.
Next up-- two days of riding to Banff. I must confess that I am dreading the climbing a bit. We've lost quite a lot of altitude over the last three days and will need to hump back up. Most of the climbing will occur tomorrow as we climb Sinclair Pass first thing in the morning, then gradually climb for about 40 more miles to Marble Canyon Campground.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

We are off

Here's where we are going-- the Golden Triangle route. Sue is showing our current location. No
email until thursday or so

Columbia Icefield and Athabasca Glacier


This is the big glacier of the trip, which we hit midway on day 2 of riding. It was fairly spectacular! You can take a bus onto the glacier, but we declined choosing to have an enormous early lunch at the cafeteria in the visitor centre instead. Then we rode onward, happy to leave the crowds behind.

Beauty Creek hostel

Ok, here is the view for real. The water is actually the Athabasca river. I didn't locate the creek itself.

Lake Louise

We rolled into Lake Louise yesterday just in time to dive into our tents and wait out a huge thunderstorm. The storm knocked out the power and is rumored to have triggered a mudslide that closed the road we were planning on taking to Golden.
We've ridden about 140 miles (in doses of 54, 54, and 36 miles) and have completed the spectacular icefields parkway.
This photo is the view from the Beauty Creek hostel, where we stayed for our first night on the icefields parkway. (oops, posted the view of Athabasca Falls. Will post hostel view next). The hostel was charming- no running water and gas lanterns and a shower created by Roger the hostel manager hoisting warm water to the roof and gravity doing its thing. Roger also makes pancakes and we had six different varieties for breakfast.
Which was an awesome start to the day, and we really needed it because we started out with a 1500 foot climb to the first big mountain pass, which included 1.8 miles of steepness. By steepness, I mean an 8-10% average grade with two rumored 12% sections. I practically died with the load and my modest cogs, but pedaled through it at about 45 rpm.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

On the road, kinda

We rode our fully loaded bikes approximately 5 miles out of Jasper (pictured above) to a campground today. We will begin our ride down the Icefields Parkway tomorrow, riding for 3 days or so to Lake Louise. We'll camp or hostel along the way. The days are relatively short, miles-wise, to leave time to stop for the sights along the way or hike when we reach our campsite. I'm pretty happy that the days are short, to be honest, because I am seriously lacking in the gear department. I have a standard triple with a 27 cog in the rear, but was dangerously close to using the granny on the gentle uphill to our campground. I estimate that my bike is about 70 pounds when loaded with gear, food and water. I have a feeling that some grinding is in my future!
I took a nap rather than hiking today, so no grand panoramas were viewed today. I'm shopping now (wine and other necessities have been procured. Wine is not something I thought we'd be carrying on a bike trip but I defer to Sue and Bill's expertise in this regard!). Sue and Bill hiked to the top of one of the local peaks, also served by a gondola.
I'll post again in a couple if days when we have cell coverage again.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

End of day photo

Liked this one better than the one in the earlier post.

Jasper riding and we saw bears!!


We did a ride today. Yeah, we rode up winding mountain roads, past an incredibly scenic mountain lake, and even stopped for a hike along a nifty ravine carved by the river. But most importantly, we saw mama bear and two fuzzy cubs eating berries by the road!!!!! I was wildly excited, never having seen black bears before. Bill suggested that he should test out the bear spray on the cubs, but we restrained him (jk).
We ended up with about 45 miles riding, 45 minutes of gentle hiking. I felt somewhat crappy on the bike, still getting used to the feel of my old bike (left new wunderbike at home). The seat was too low, which didn't help. I'll get used to it soon.

Tomorow, we move to a campground, still in Jasper. Hiking is on the
agenda.

Sue and Bill and luggage


Sue was very eager to get a picture of all of our gear. Bill not so much :). (picture borrowed from Sue's nifty photoset from the trip). I was too tired to read the informational blurb on Jasper's totem pole, so no historical tidbits to share on that.

Today we are off to a test ride (no load), after going to a bike shop to get Sue's wheel trued. It's bright and sunny this morning. I can't wait to ride after two transit days!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Jasper

We arrived in Jasper via greyhound, along with our copious gear. Pretty! I saw wild animals out of the bus window including mountain goats clambering on a cliff.
We are assembling the bikes now. Mine seems to have survived the trip largely intact.
We will cycle the Icefields Parkway from Jasper to Banff starting in the next day or so. We will likely continue on from Lake Louise through the Golden Triangle: Lake Louise to Golden on the transcanada highway, Golden to Radium Hot Springs on HW 95 and Radium Hot Springs to Banff on HW 93 and HW 1A.

Edmonton sky

Saturday, August 2, 2008

new tent

The furries enjoyed playing inside of the new tent. I put it away when Nadia started pouncing on Mac from the outside of the tent.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Return to Markleeville or Tour of the California Alps part II


This weekend we went back up to the Sierra. I took Dan to his race early Saturday morning and headed off on the bike to climb Carson Pass, the final pass of the death ride route. The climb is in three parts over about 14 miles. First a climb up to Pickett's junction from Woodford. Next, a very gradual grade winding through a mountain meadow. Finally, the 1500 foot climb up to the summit of the pass. None of this is particularly steep except for a bit in the last mile or so.

I had a most enjoyable climb! Car traffic was minimal due to my early start and the air was quite clear despite the forest fires in the area. I reached Pickett's junction and pedaled through the meadow enjoying the view (pictured above).

The steeper bit started next, and my pace slowed due to the grade, a moderate headwind and the effects of altitude on my heart rate. I stopped to admire the view of a mountain lake, then made my way to the top. There I hung out a bit, chatting with a college student who was riding from Indiana to SF. He had climbed the pass in a 38-21 gear, towing a 40 lb loaded trailer. Oh, to be young again...

Then the descent. I hit 54 mph on the upper region, aided by a tailwind. And maintained a fairly fast pace back to Diamond Valley, where I hung around the race and tried to hand up water bottles to guys in Dan's club. After the race, we headed back to Markleeville for ice cream, a visit to the hot springs and some lolling around the river by our campsite. Nice!

We woke up Sunday to dense smoke, apparently from the fire near Yosemite. We decided to ride to Minden taking backroads, about a 25 mile trip each way. As we climbed up gorgeous Airport Rd, we wondered why this hadn't been included in the road race. The answer was provided when the road turned to dirt! It seemed quite rideable so we proceeded, winding past another pretty lake and up and down some short climbs. The surface was pretty firm, though there was severe washboarding on some of the descents. Made me excited for cross season! The scenery was gorgeous and it always feels adventuresome to ride on dirt on the road bike!






























We hit pavement again on Diamond Valley Road, and rode for a few miles to the next turn onto Mud Road. Where was the road??? It turned out to be little more than a dirt cowpath, or at least that's how it seemed to me as I was a bit hot and thirsty at that point. So I vetoed further progress on dirt and we decided to turn back to Markleeville. We rode back on the reverse of the Diamond Valley course. There was a stiff headwind and the smoke was very smelly. I was becoming tired and at the edge of a grumpy bonk. After crawling up the hill to Turtle Rock (at least I was crawling. Dan was gliding as usual, damn him), we descended into Markleeville. There I recovered my good mood after a drink and snack and some time resting on the porch of the general store.