Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How Basil Beats the Heat

Our weather has been slightly odd lately.

On Saturday, while Troubadour was teaching, we saw temperatures in the low 90's F. Sunday brought rain, hail, thunder and lightning, and temperatures in the mid 60's F.

I did manage to ride to coffee on Saturday, but we didn't go out Sunday on the bikes. We decided we didn't want to be moving targets in a lightning storm.  It was a good day to watch movies and clean out the spare room.

Monday, our weather turned warm again, and yesterday our high was 98˚F (36.6˚C).  Luckily our house stays fairly cool.  It was only 85˚ in here when we went to bed.

I worry about poor furry little Basil, but he manages to stay cool by laying under the ceiling fan in the living room or hanging out on the floor in the kitchen by his food bowl.

(Basil and his favorite hot weather position)
We have a three-day weekend coming up and temperatures are supposed to be down to 85˚ F (29˚C), perfect to get out on two wheels.

- Au Revoir

"Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it." - Russell Baker

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Long Weekend Quandary - What to do....

Last weekend was a three day holiday weekend.  Friday was the 4th of July, Independence Day, and Troubadour finally had a free weekend with no Team Oregon classes scheduled.

The hardest part was deciding on what to do. Because his free time is limited due to his teaching schedule, I asked Troubadour to pick the weekend activities.  He indicated he wanted to be able to stay in shorts and comfy summer gear all weekend without having to put on hot riding gear.   Considering the long weekend is usually a party weekend with way too many drunk drivers on the roads, we typically stay off the motorcycles anyway.  

It is all about minimizing risk.  We minimize risk in our choice of helmet, gear, extra training, and to us one more way to minimize risk is to assess when to stay off the roads.

So, with motorcycles off the agenda that left hiking and bicycling.  How to get both into the weekend.....


Friday we woke entirely too early - before 5 am and decided after a pot of coffee and a light breakfast to go for a walk/hike in Bald Hill Park; just a short walk from the house.  The sun was up, there was a light breeze, the birds were singing, and it wasn't too busy yet.

( A Lazuli Bunting in Bald Hill Park)

(Two silly birds in Bald Hill Park)
We returned home from our 4.5 mile walk, had an early lunch and decided to try out the new Hollywood bike rack for the car by taking the bikes to the McDonald/Dunn Forest areas and ride one of the multi-use trails.  The McDonald and Dunn Forests encompass 11,250 acres and are managed by the Oregon State University Forestry program.  There are quite a few service roads and multi-use paths and trails.  Some are fairly wide and smooth for vehicles.  This part of their research forest stretches from the Lewisburg Saddle on Sulphur Springs Road over to Peavy Arboretum off Highway 99W to the east.

It is a short drive into north Corvallis/Lewisburg and we were actually surprised at how many other cars were at the gate.  We ended up parking on the side of the road, but at least it was in the shade.

(Trusty Subaru at the Lewisburg Saddle)
We chose the Vineyard Mountain Traverse, a "7.5 mile loop through old growth stands of evergreens; physically and technically easy."

It started with a long downhill grade and wound through the forest and up along a ridge.  

We passed a little lake and watched the salamanders come up for air.  It looked to be an old quarry with it's high bluffs.

There were some interpretive signs along the way explaining some of the forestry practices.

More climbing......

We did have some great views of the other ridge lines while up top.

(And another descent....)

(side road leading into some of the other research areas)

Soon we came to the half way point.  An intersection of 3 access roads. We headed up this one, west  towards the car.....

(Even the wildflowers came out to play)
We survived and made it back to the parking lot.  Loaded up the bikes and went home to make homemade potato salad and veggie dogs for dinner.  That evening was spent trying to calm Basil because of the fireworks and trying not to fall asleep on the sofa by 8 pm, we finally went to bed about 10ish.


We were up by 6 am Saturday to relax and enjoy the morning.  Before we headed to coffee Troubadour noticed his rear bicycle tire had gone flat.  That explains why it fell off its perch in the middle of the night and crashed to the floor taking my bike with it.  A rude awakening it was.

We drove to coffee and headed downtown afterwards in search of a patch kit, bike pump, and spare tube. Our local bicycle shop was closed for the holiday weekend so we ended up driving to REI in Salem.

Mount Jefferson was in full view on the way to Salem.  Mount Jefferson is the second highest peak in the Cascade Mountain range and is a stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc.  It is 105 miles east of Corvallis and is one of the hardest volcanoes to reach in Oregon.

(Mount Jefferson viewed looking east from the Independence Highway)

We arrived home about 6 pm and had leftovers for dinner.  Not an exciting day, but definitely relaxing. We also made plans for Sunday.


The weather forecast for Sunday was a high of 93˚F (33.8˚C) in the valley. For us that meant - what can we do at the coast where we'd be guaranteed at least a 20 degree drop in temperature.

We consulted the Kissing the Trail book Saturday night and discovered the Siltcoos Trailhead, where there is a 4 mile single track intermediate mountain bike trail just south of Florence (95 miles southwest of home).  Intermediate is one rank above beginner in the book.  It sounded good, but I'd never done any kind of single track before so I was a little apprehensive.

We had breakfast, puttered a bit, loaded the bikes, packed some snacks and set off.

It took a bit to find where to pay our $5 parking fee.  The Siltcoos National Forest has a few parks and trailheads in and around Siltcoos Lake as does Lane County and the State Park system and each one is different.  They cost different amounts and you pay different entities.

We parked at the trailhead and there was only one other vehicle.  We unloaded the bikes, strapped on the helmets and gloves and looked at the uphill climb.  At least that meant it was downhill to the car on the return trip.  Rather than take the book with us I took a photograph of the trail map in case we needed to consult it on the fly.

(Siltcoos mountain bike/hiking trail photo from book)

(Photo from Trailhead - notice how it says on the bottom left, "rated more difficult")

(A fairly wide trail with lots of tree roots to start off)

(The trail narrowed to wind through the old growth trees)

Some areas of the trail were against a bank on one side and steep drop off on the other, and in other areas we seemed to zoom through a rolling valley floor.

We eventually came to the primitive camping spots at the half way point.  These campsites can either be accessed by boat or by hiking/bicycling.  They even have a "vault" toilet.  An outhouse by any other name .......

Some of the campsites had picnic tables.

(Troubadour - never let fear and common sense stand in your way)

(More of the trail)

(A view of Siltcoos Lake from one of the primitive campsites)

From the campsites we kept following the trail.  We took a 0.4 mile detour down over fallen logs and through a blackberry thicket to another group of campsites.  Then it was a 0.4 ascent to get back to the main trail.  The trail wound up then down and after a fairly rapid descent we rode across a boardwalk only to be stopped by stairs.

(Yes, we had to go up and around the stairs)

(Looking back from the bottom of the stairs)

(View from the top of the stairs)
I believe it was while pushing my bike up the path around the stairs huffing and puffing that I said: "Buy a mountain bike they said, it'll be fun they said." After the stairs it was a fairly long climb before we hit a rapid descent to the trailhead.  No more picture stops.  I was certainly glad to be back to the trailhead and off the bike.  Sure I could have ridden more..... downhill.

It was a great ride and I am sure we will do it again.  It sure was different from the ride on Friday.

And just in case you are interested.  I found a video on YouTube where someone recorded part of their ride on this trail.  Here it is:

At the trailhead, we had a snack of trail-mix (what else) then loaded up the car and headed north to Florence.  We stopped for petrol at Fred Meyer and I went inside for some bananas and cherries.  We feasted on fruit on the way home.  You know you're vegan when fruit for dinner hits the spot.

It was 69˚F (20.5˚C) on the coast and by the time we got home to the valley at 6pm the temperature had returned to 91˚F (32.7˚C).


1 - Flat tires
2 - Bikes fallen over in the house
4.5 - Miles hiked/walked
7.5 - Miles of forestry roads ridden in Corvallis
4 - Miles of single track ridden in Florence
2-3 - Bruises and Scratches:  a few on the shins and damn those blackberry vines
0 - Sore bodies:  surprisingly neither of us were sore after all that riding
Amount of fun:  Can't be measured

I was surprised at how much my motorcycle skills came into play on the single track.  Not just picking my lines along the trail and avoiding obstacles, but looking through a turn too.  Troubadour said that this track was actually tighter than the single track dual sporting they do at Huckleberry so now I am really looking forward to my first off-road adventure there.

*     *     *     *     *

I work Friday morning this week and hubby teaches on Saturday.  That leaves Sunday as our only day to play.  So far the forecast is for 96˚F (35.5˚C) temps in the valley.  Not sure what we'll do to duck the heat.  It does make us long for a return of the temperatures in the 80's, and just where did the rain go?

Don't get me wrong, we are not complaining about the heat.  After the cold winter we had, our friends joke that the first one to complain about the heat gets a punch in the throat.  Not it!

- Au Revoir

" Courage is doing what you're afraid to do.  There can be no courage unless you're scared." - Edward Vernon Rickenbacker

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Last Saturday - First Day of Summer

Last Saturday, June 21st, was the first day of summer here in the Northern Hemisphere.

How should one celebrate I pondered. Well, since Troubadour was teaching another Team Oregon class, I decided the first thing to do was ride to coffee.

Seven bikes made an appearance.  Only one non-rider attended, but he was in his swanky blue Lotus heading to a car show in Grand Ronde, so he was forgiven.

(Triumphs always seem to outnumber the others)
I arrived home from coffee just before noon and by then the temperature warmed up considerably. It went from a cool 54˚F (12˚C) ride to coffee, to a toasty 75˚F (23.8˚C) ride home.

Now, since it was the first day of summer and I really didn't have any other plans, I decided to give Max his annual bath.  Yes, I said annual.  I thought it was a good time to rid him of the winter road grime and protective layer of insect carcasses and bug splatter.

Turns out he shines up pretty nice.

(Max, all shiny and clean - for now)

I used Ice carwash by Turtle wax and a microfiber cloth and toothbrush to clean the grime off, then dried it with another microfiber cloth.

(Photo by Motorcycle Superstore)
The pièce de résistance was using Troubadour's super duper clear coat in a can.  A year or two ago he discovered Maxima SC1 Silicone Detailer, "New bike in a can" and man is it nice stuff.  Spray it on, wait 30 seconds, buff to a shine.

It can be used on plastic, fiberglass, and painted surfaces.  I made sure to stay away from the seat, don't want that too slippery.

If you've never used it, you might want to give it a try.  It contains silicone (just as the name suggests) and "prevents mud and dirt from adhering to plastic" and "leaves a dry film to protect against the elements."  So far Troubadour has had no issues when used on his bikes so I thought I'd give it a try.

I liked how it made the hand guards look new as well as the black plastic turn signal housings and the black plastic on the radiator guards.  +1 and recommended.

Now....... just to find time to get out and ride and see how much dirt and/or bugs stick to the bike. Challenge accepted.

- Au Revoir

" In winter I get up at night, and dress by yellow candlelight.  In summer quite the other way, I have to go to bed by day." - Robert Louis Stevenson

Friday, June 20, 2014

Kissing the Trail

As you probably know from reading Troubadour's blog post, we bought new bicycles last Saturday. While he went for the full-on Trek X-Caliber 6 mountain bike, I opted for the hybrid Trek Verve 3 with 29 inch wheels (and 24 gears).  

While the tires aren't as aggressive as mountain bike tires, it does ride very smooth with very little effort.  Something I can actually ride to work easily enough once I find a messenger bag or back pack.  When test riding bikes, I found the traditional mountain bike leaned forward a little too much on my wrists.  The grips and shifters on this model suited me perfectly with a more upright position.  I opted for a step through model so that I can ride it work and not worry about whether or not I can wear a dress that day.

Saturday afternoon we drove to REI in Salem and poked around for a few farkles.  Troubadour needed a water bottle holder and something to hold the light on his bike.  I happened to find a book called Kissing the Trail, that we also purchased.  It is a resource book for single track mountain bike trails in the Northwest and Central Oregon areas.  More than 70 trails are listed by difficulty and location.  Should provide days and months of fun, once we get a bike rack for the car that is.

Sunday, under ominous skies and spitting rain, we took the bikes out for the first time.  (Not counting Troubadour and Polar Bear riding them home from the shop. - Thank you for riding Andy!)

We cut through the tree farm into Grand Oaks and then through the chain link fence and over to Bald Hill Park.  While we didn't do the switchbacks to the top like Troubadour did a few days later we did some time on gravel and dirt track before looping back around to the paved path.  Within 10 minutes of being out the sun came out and decided to end its game of hide and seek with the clouds.

(Troubadour on a Trek)

(Trobairitz on a Trek)

Since the sun was nice and toasty and we hadn't had enough riding time yet, we circled back to the house, picked up a few dollars, and rode downtown for coffee.  We sat outside and enjoyed the sunshine.  After coffee we took a longer way back to the house.  Beginning at Front Street (First Street) in downtown Corvallis there is a paved multi-use path that winds East along/near Philomath Boulevard  all the way to Philomath I believe.

At one point we rode under a railroad trestle.

Further East the path runs through a park where we stopped for a few photographs.

Down from the park a little bit, I stopped by a row of flowers for a few glamour shots trying to hide/disguise the hideous yellow flowers on the frame of my silver bike.  Why manufacturers think women need flowers on anything is beyond me.  I don't see beer cans and lawn mowers depicted on the men's bikes. :-)

(This picture makes the tires look a lot skinnier than they really are)
It was a great day out on the bikes.  We covered about 10 miles or so and I am looking forward to our next ride.  The hard part is that we now have one more hobby/sport to try and fit into the schedule.  Let's see - gardening, yard work, mountain biking, motorcycling, hiking, canoeing, camping...... luckily a few of those can be combined in a weekend trip.

- Au Revoir

"After your first day of cycling one dream is inevitable.  A memory of motion lingers in the muscles of your legs, and round and round they seem to go.  You ride through Dreamland on wonderful dream bicycles that change and grow." - H.G. Wells