Wednesday, August 26, 2015

So Far, So Good

Friday last week we drove to Bridgeport Village to pick up the Cannondale bicycle and return the Novara.  We also loaded Troubadour's Trek on the car thinking to stop for a shake down ride on our way home.

The return/purchase process at REI was super easy and we were out the door within minutes.  I tested the bike in the parking lot for a few minutes just to make sure things seemed okay.

(image from interweb)
We decided since it was just after noon we'd have a bite to eat. We locked the bikes to the rack and removed the seats.  Best not to make it any easier for any potential thieves.

We walked across the way to Native Foods Cafe where we dined on an avocado crunch wrap and blueberry lemonade for me, and nachos and watermelon fresco for Troubadour. Sorry, no pictures. Too hungry and when a place is busy I always feel a little odd or self conscious taking pictures of my food.

We walked back over to REI to get the car and decided to wander the store a bit to let lunch digest. I wanted to look for some comfy pants for riding.  The shorts I'd chosen for the day were not comfortable at all, and were riding up in places they shouldn't.  I found a pair of Columbia capri pants, paid entirely too much, and changed in the car.  Ahhhh, so much better.  Stretchy pants are my friend.

Originally we were going to stop by Hagg Lake, but opted to head south and west of Salem instead.  It was just after 2 pm, and the last thing we wanted to do was be anywhere near the Portland Metro area late on a Friday.

We turned west off of I-5 at the Brooks exit north of Salem. We stopped at a small park to use the facilities on the way and I used the break to take a quick picture of the bikes on the car.

(Bikes loaded on the trusty Subaru)
We then arrived at the Wheatland Ferry and crossed over the river.  The ferry can hold 9 cars and runs 363 days a year.  A few miles and a left turn to head south on Highway 221 and we arrived at Spring Valley State Park.  Only one other vehicle was there.  We unloaded the bikes and Troubadour proceeded to change over my seat to my preferred cushier one.  He also installed my water bottle cage, camera holder on the bars, and the tail bag.  We opted to change out the grips later at home rather than trail-side.  

(Spring Valley State Park)
A few tootles around the parking lot and some seat adjustments (had to raise it) and we were ready.

We rode a few feet to one trail that led to the Willamette River.  Doesn't that look like the perfect swimming hole?

(Willamette River - looking North - downstream)

(Willamette River looking South - upstream)
Here is a picture of the bike at the entrance of a main trail.  We lifted the bikes over the cable that is used to keep motorized vehicles out.  

(Cannondale Tango 5, magnesium white/sparkle silver)
The Perimeter Trail (1.1 miles) circled around the perimeter of a grass field and a single track TCC Trail (0.5 miles) was found part way around and encompassed two loops.

Before we knew it we were back out at the grass field.  We rode the perimeter back to the trail head, checked the map and went on to the next trail across the way - the Upper Spring Valley Trail (0.7 miles).  We stopped part way on this trail and I took another few pics.

(And sparkle silver it is)
Again it seemed the trail quickly looped around to the beginning.  Two more trails to go.  This time we rode up the paved access road almost to the highway and turned left onto the Rook Trail (0.8 miles).  A lot of roots and twists and turns but good fun.  At one point a log was down across the road and we hefted the bikes over.  Good thing the Cannondale is light.

(After surmounting the obstacle)

(Trail 3 and still smiling, that is a good sign)
This trail was a little longer but did pop us out at the road a little closer to the trail head.  We pedaled back up the access road (yes it was uphill) to the start of trail #4.  The Generator Trail (0.4 miles) was a one-way trail rated a bit more difficult.  We didn't stop along the way for pictures.  It was a fast paced single track with some big whoop-a-dee-dos.  Probably the biggest ones I've ridden over. Not huge, but if someone was going fast enough I am sure they'd catch air.

Ta-da, back at the trail head we arrived.  We rode a total of 3.5 miles (5.63km) of trails.  We took a quick break and loaded up the bikes.  We were going to go dip our toes in the swimming hole, but someone else had arrived and headed down there.  We didn't want to disturb him.  We headed for home and arrived just after 6 pm.  It was a good day and so far I am very pleased with the bike.

The bike seems quick to maneuver around trees and in the switchbacks.  I don't have to have the seat maxed out at height, and I didn't hit my knee on the front tire once.

I am looking forward to getting out on it again.  Troubadour has even switched out my grips for me already.  Thank you Troubadour.

- Au Revoir

" I thought of that while riding my bicycle." - Albert Einstein on the Theory of Relativity

Thursday, August 20, 2015

What am I doing out of the kitchen?

"What am I doing out of the kitchen?"  Words spoken by me to Troubadour on our way out of a bicycle shop in Beaverton last Sunday.

As some of you may know from previous posts I have been having issues with my current Novara Madrona mountain bike.  I purchased it from REI last October in a medium frame size with 29 inch tires.  When riding downhill on the trails I manage to rub my knees on the front tire if I happen to come off the seat a bit on corners.  Not good.

After our ride to Siltcoos Lake with PolarBear and family, Troubadour and Polar Bear compared my bike with Troubadour's Trek X-Caliber.  What they found was that the crank for the pedals was several inches closer to the front tire on my bike.  Not ideal when my legs are longer.

(My current Novara Madrona 29er)
One of the benefits of purchasing a bike from REI is that you have a 1-year satisfaction guarantee. I can return or exchange it within 365 days if I am not happy with it.  Skinned knees do not make me happy.

Since that day we have been to three different bicycle shops here in Corvallis.  One shop had 2 ladies mountain bikes in small frames; the second shop only had 1 ladies mountain bike in a small frame; the third shop had 2 ladies mountain bikes one in a small frame and one in a medium frame.

We were told repeatedly that they are between model years so stock was low and that they didn't normally carry many women's mountain bikes anyway.

We've also been to a few different REI stores.  At one time the store at Bridgeport Village had a Cannondale Tango 6 in a tall.  I liked it and it seemed to fit, but it was black with bright pink accents. I am not a fan of bright pink, so we looked some more.

Sunday we decided to head up to REI again.  Troubadour has been thinking of some trekking poles for hiking and we were going to look at bicycles once again.

It was nearing lunch time so we went directly to Veggie Grill in Beaverton.  An all vegan restaurant chain we hadn't been to for a while.  Every time we go I order the same thing though, the Buffalo Bomber sandwich.  Troubadour ordered the Bali Bliss sandwich.  Yumm.  Sorry no pictures, too hungry.  You can take a peek at their menu HERE.

On our way to Veggie Grill we passed two bicycle shops that were open on Sundays.  We made a mental note to stop by after lunch.

The first one was The Bike Gallery.  Now, a name like Bike Gallery should have been our first clue.  Many bikes on display, cool funky building, etc.  We located the mountain bike section and noticed they only had one ladies hard tail mountain bike on display (Cannondale) and you guessed it, it was not a tall.  A salesman came over to see if he could assist us.  When Troubadour mentioned we were looking for a ladies hardtail mountain bike in a tall frame with hydraulic disk brakes he immediately told us he didn't have any in stock.  He went on to inform us that "Portland isn't big into mountain biking" and "they don't have a big request for women's bikes" and "only 3 out of the last 20 bikes they sold were women's".

He then proceeded to tell us that they were a chain of several stores in the area and we were welcome to go online and check out their stock and what they had in their warehouse and that they could always bring one in from another store or the warehouse for us.

Wait, did he just ask me to do his job for him and look it up online?

Yeah he did.  

We shook our heads in disbelief and on the way out the door is when I mentioned to Troubadour, "what the hell am I doing out of the kitchen anyway?"

After being told that women don't really ride mountain bikes and banging my head against the wall in so many stores it was just what came to mind.  There are jokes out there where the punchline is "I don't know, but what was she doing out of the kitchen?"  Playing on the old joke....

Q:  Why are wedding dresses white?

A:  So they match the appliances

We stopped at one more bike shop before going to REI and that was Santiam Bicycle.  They had one women's mountain bike in stock that was not a tall, but of course they could order something for us.  At least the salesman didn't tell us there wasn't a need for women's mountain bikes, just that they were between model years. He did say he could order anything in the catalogue.  Well if you could order it, don't you think you might want to keep a few in stock during peak season?

Feeling dejected and dragging my feet, we got back in the car and headed to REI in Bridgeport Village.  While they did have one women's Cannondale bicycle in a tall, it was not a mountain bike. A very nice gentleman was assisting us and volunteered to look up the Tango models in their computer to see if they had any in their warehouse, which they could receive rather quickly.  He looked and they had several Cannondale Tango 5's in a tall frame with 27.5" tires.  I ordered it in Magnesium White/Sparkle Silver.  Really?  Do you think they call the silver on a men's bike sparkle silver?  I checked -  men get Gloss White and Berzerker Green.  Sigh.  We get sparkly and they get to go berserk?  Double sigh.

Why did I decide to just order it?  Well, I was tired of looking.  I was tired of being told women don't ride mountain bikes. I was tired of being told they were between model years. I  was tired of people telling me they could order it. I was tired of driving from store to store trying to shop not only local, but just in the same damn state. Frankly, I'd had about enough.  I don't usually enjoy shopping to begin with and this was just frustrating.

If it comes in and I don't like it for whatever reason, I don't have to take it and we can return my current Novara at the same time.  Not only do I have this guarantee from REI, but the price was less than MSRP, and we get 10% back in dividends.  Not too bad.

(Cannondale Tango 5 - photo from Cannondale website)
WE received an email yesterday morning that the bike is already at the store and assembled.  Now to take the grips and aftermarket seat off the Novara and return it to stock.  We'll pick up the new bike tomorrow (I managed to score the day off since the boss is heading out on the ocean fishing).

We are also thinking of what trails we might be able to ride in that area since we've not been up there with the bicycles before.  Henry Hagg Lake Trail looks interesting.  LINK

Then on Sunday we head to Coos Bay to visit family for the day.  It is about a 2 hour ride/drive. As long as we don't have too much to take with us (food stuff and toys for the nephew) we'll ride down on the motorcycles.  Fingers crossed.

Stay tuned for an update next week.

- Au Revoir

"Beware the fury of a patient man." - John Dryden, Absolam and Achitophel (1680)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Big NW = Big Disappointment

Well, for us it was a disappointment.  While the day started out great, Saturday coffee with RichardM and Bridget in attendance, then lunch at Native Foods at Bridgeport village, the show was disappointing.  We definitely were not the target demographic.

There were several hundred cars in the parking lot, most we'd classify as super tuners.  You know, the ones that sound like pissed off bumble bees.  And as far as the vendors went, as long as you owned a BRZ or wanted your vehicle lowered they had a deal for you.  If you owned a Forester, they didn't want to talk to you, let alone assist you in purchasing anything from their company.

The doors opened at 11 am for the general public.  We'd purchased tickets online which would give us a goodie bag each, raffle tickets, and also a t-shirt for Troubadour.  We arrived just after 1 pm when temperatures had soared to a lovely 103˚F (39.44˚C)  can you sense the heat in the following pictures?

Troubadour actually took a panoramic picture of all the cars with the Olympus camera, but for some reason I can't get it to download.  So, here are a few regular shots of the event I took with the Canon.

(Big NW - Portland International Raceway - PIR)

(Big NW - Portland International Raceway - PIR)

(Big NW - Portland International Raceway - PIR)
We wandered over to the info table to pick up our goodie bags, then took them back to the car.  We could not have parked further away from the vendors, but we did find shade.  We decided to have a look at the vendor booths.  One was selling this drift-trike.

(Drift Trike for sale)
We wandered a little further down to the car show area and I saw this pretty cool Subaru on display.

(Cool old Subaru)
As Troubadour walked the line of vendors trying to get someone to talk to him I walked through some of the general parking lot to see what everyone was driving.  I was looking for something a little different, a little out of the ordinary.

(I thought the blue accents on this car were interesting)

(Someone brought a Datsun to a Subaru party)

(I thought this color combination horrendous, but it is eye catching)

(Oh look, someone rode their R1 to the Subaru party - good job)
The vibe we got from the event was more of a Paul Walker memorial.  If you don't know who Paul Walker is, he was an American actor who starred in the Fast and the Furious movie franchise before his untimely death in a car accident two years ago.

The car below even had a tribute on the lower left corner of the door.  It was a vinyl sticker of Paul's signature and a quote form one of the movies.  Again, I think this shows the target age of the attendees.

(Interesting color combination - I like the roof rack)
We waited until all the raffles had been called (you had to be present to win - we got skunked) then joined the mass exodus out of PIR.  We stopped at Starbucks in Bridgeport Village for a nice iced beverage and carried on towards home.  The sun was peeking though some interesting clouds.  The color is skewed a bit, as I took the pictures through the tinted windows.

(Interesting skies to the west of I-5)

(ooooh, aaaaaaah)
Once we got home we put some veggies burgers on the grill and spread out our haul from the goodie bags.  Anyone need a cheap water bottle, cheap sunglasses or a 2015 Subaru calendar just let me know.  Ill send them your way.  Sorry, we already ate the chips.

(Goodie bags and Troubadour's shirt)
At the end of August there is another Subaru event, this one in Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.  We briefly thought of going as the target demographic seems to be a bit older, but once bitten twice shy.  We decided against it.

- Au Revoir

" The first sign of maturity is the discovery that the volume knob also turns to the left." - Jerry M. Wright

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Alive and Kicking......

It has been a few weeks since I've posted so I thought it best to put up a little something.

We are still alive and kicking, although with today's high temperature forecast to be 106˚F (41.1˚C) we are doing a lot less kicking.

Right now it is too damn hot to do much of anything.

We had plans to load up the bikes for an overnight trip to the south coast one Saturday morning. The plan was to meet RichardM at Saturday morning coffee then escort him part way south to show him some great back roads to keep him off I-5 as long as possible on his trek south. Unfortunately as we were loading the bikes Troubadour's phone rang and it was a Team Oregon instructor looking for someone to cover a class in Salem.  The scheduled instructor had cracked ribs and could not do.  Troubadour to the rescue.  Teaching on asphalt in 100 degree heat was not fun, but he made it through.

He was out of the house within 10 minutes of getting the call, so I spent the next little bit puttering and putting things away.  I decided that since we weren't going away, I'd best go get groceries.  Sorry we didn't get to ride with you Richard.

Right now, the forests in Oregon are so tinder dry that we are hesitant of dual sport riding on the gravel roads through the forestry land.  Fire restrictions are in effect.  We are restricted to gravel roads only and every vehicle must carry with them the following:

1.  One gallon of water or one 2.5 pound or larger fire extinguisher;
2.  One axe;
3.  And one shovel with a minimum 8 inch blade.

Just doesn't seem worth it to load the little bikes down and head of for a few hours packing the extras.

We have managed to book a week off in September.  Maybe the weather will have cooled off enough by then we can get out and do something.  We are thinking a bike trip will be in order. Right now we are kicking around ideas and are pondering a ride up to the Olympic Peninsula and along Highway 101 all the way around the Peninsula.  While we aren't fans of Highway 101 traffic, it isn't as bad on the Peninsula.  Still just an idea.

We have managed to get out on the bicycles a few times.  Nothing exciting, just riding downtown for lunch.  One evening when it cooled off we went for an 8 mile (12.8 km) walk.  Another evening it was a 2 mile (3.21 km) round trip walk to buy an avocado for my breakfast the next day.  Sure we could have taken the car, but we can always use more exercise.

This weekend we are attending Big Northwest at Portland International Raceway. It is a large Subaru rally, our first time attending.  It should be fun.  Well except for the 100˚ temperatures.  Plenty of water, sunscreen, and a hat will be the order of the day.  It is a one-day event and we'll be taking the camera with us.  I should have another post up next week with some interesting pictures.

I hope everyone else's temperatures are a little closer to average for their location and you've been able to get out on some great rides.  I have been keeping up on blog reading and it looks like everyone is still having fun.

I leave you with a favorite hot weather song.  "Too Darn Hot" by Stacey Kent.  Click on the name of the song to take you to YouTube.  If you aren't familiar with her music I recommend you have a listen to this song and others.  To me, her best album is 2003's The Boy Next Door.

UPDATE:  It is 3:30 pm Thursday and it is 103˚F (39.44˚C) out back in the shade and this is a picture of the thermometer out front on the sunny side of the house.  It is under the roof overhand just outside our front door 119.7˚F  (48.72˚C).  It should be another hour or two before we hit the hottest part of the day.  Did I mention we don't have A/C in the house?

(Outside our front door - July 30, 2015, Corvallis, Oregon)
- Au Revoir

" Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the blue sky, is by no means  a waste of time." - John Lubbock "Recreation"  The Use of Life (1894)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Kissing the Trail Revisited

Last year on the July 4th long weekend Troubadour and I went on a mountain bike ride at Siltcoos Lake just south of Florence on the Oregon Coast.  I blogged about it here:  LINK. You'll need to scroll down the post to the Sunday ride.

With the weather in the Willamette Valley breaking records and coastal weather a good 30˚ cooler, we thought it was a good time to ride it again.

Misery loves company so Polar Bear, his Wife Sweet Pea, and the Polar Cub came along.  Well technically we went along with them since Polar Bear drove.

They picked us just before 10 am on Friday.  We loaded our bikes onto the trailer and headed Southwest to the Coast.

(The PolarCub and the bikes on the trailer - the neighbor's house doesn't make a good backdrop)
We arrived at the trailhead around noon.  Had a picnic lunch and set off on the trail after a few practice laps around the parking lot.

The last time we rode it I was on my hybrid bike so I was quite curious to see how I'd do on the mountain bike. (It was easier and less work overall)

We set off in a row; Troubadour in the lead, then me, the Cub, Polar Bear, and Sweet Pea. Unfortunately Sweet Pea was on a bike unfamiliar to her and wasn't having any fun.  She decided to push the bike the entire way.  The trailhead sign said 4 miles but the app on her and Polar Bear's phones said 7 miles.  Such a trooper for pushing it the whole way rather than taking the bike back and hiking it.

(Siltcoos Trail, Florence,OR)

(Troubadour having fun with the PolarCub about a sticker on his helmet)

(Group photo - PolarCub, Polar Bear, Sweet Pea, and Troubadour)

(Going up......)

(My ride - might soon be traded for a different one)

(Stopping to wait for the crew- photo by Troubadour)

(C'est moi - Photo by Troubadour)

(Time for hydration - photo by Troubadour)

(PolarCub taking a break)

(Sunshine through the trees)

(A view of Siltcoos Lake taken from one of the hike/bike/boat in campsites)

(Troubadour taking a rest)

(Troubadour at play)
While the cub didn't appreciate the tree roots sticking up across the trail and the many hills, he gave it a 3 out of 5 starts when all was said and done.  Not sure if he'd be willing to do it again, but I know we would.

By the numbers:

5  -  The number of riders/bikes
8  -  The number of mosquito bites I got
0  -  The number of mosquito bites Troubadour received.  WTF?
1  -  The number of times I jammed my knee into my front tire
4  -  The number of miles claimed on the trailhead sign
7  -  The number of miles of trail according to Polar Bear and Sweet Pea's phone apps
2  -  The number of peanut butter sammiches hubby and I consumed prior to riding (1 each)
4  -  The number of Starbucks Frappuccinos bought in Florence on the way home
5  -  The number of people who slept really well Friday night.

Thank you for driving Andy!

- Au Revoir

" We are each the star in our own situation comedy, and, with luck, the screwball friend in somebody else's." - Robert Brault

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Summertime Doldrums

(image from inter web)
Dictionaries define doldrums as "a period of inactivity or stagnation".  That seems to sum up our last few weeks. Not much has been going on.  Oregon weather turned hot and dry early this year.  Monday was the first full day of summer and we've officially had the driest June on record.  We've had more than a few days with temperatures in the 90's (32˚C).  This coming weekend our weather is forecast to be 100˚F (37.7˚C).  20 of our 36 counties on Oregon have now declared drought emergencies.  Read about it at this LINK. And now they have issued an "excessive heat warning" for this weekend.  Highs in Medford (Southern Oregon) set to reach 108˚ (42.2˚C).  Read about it HERE.

It has been three weeks since I've posted and for that I apologize.  
(Image from interweb)
Not much moto-related to report.  Hubby was nice and changed the oil in Max last weekend and cleaned/lubed the chain.  I am so lucky spoiled.  Now I just need to give the bike a bath.  We've managed one or two bicycle rides but no fun trails or pictures.  It is allergy season here in the Willamette Valley. While Troubadour does not suffer from seasonal allergies they are a trial for me this time of year.  Sneezing in my full face helmet is not fun.  Another few weeks and they will be over when they cut down the grass fields.  The very high/extreme level for grass pollen in the air is 200.  Last week we were over three times that amount.  What is higher than extreme?  Here is a LINK to a local news channel with a story on how Oregon is the worst state in the USA for allergies. At least it has dropped to the high level now.

One thing that has kept us amused, yet frustrated us at the same time, is the family of gray foxes that have decided to live under our back deck.  Momma fox, daddy fox and three little pups.  

They are pretty bold and have even approached the patio door.  While we'd been leaving the patio door open for basil to come in and out, we now have to make sure to leave it closed or else one of the rambunctious pups would come inside exploring.  Here are a few pictures.

(Momma Fox)

(Momma fox and two pups)

(The whole fox family)

(Fox pups on the deck)

(They are so cute)
We have a shrub/flower bed beside our deck and the pups have made it their playground.  They've managed to flatten my pansy flowers, broken the new goats beard shrub that was still in the pot, and broken a hydrangea.  They are venturing further into the yard now as well, climbing the Red Bud Forest Pansy and flattening the Gaura flowers below.  Ahhh, so cute, yet so destructive.  We are hoping at some point they will move on.  We thought the momma fox had the pups weaned as they were bringing them squirrels and mice to eat, but she was nursing them again yesterday morning.

(Pups at play)

(They have adopted Basil's outside water bowl)

(Notice the pups destroying the hydrangea in the shrub bed)

(They are into everything)

(And yes, they can climb trees)

(Did I mention they were into everything?)
And when we say they moved in, here is a picture of the Momma fox all comfy on the "wipe your paws" mat right outside the patio door relaxing on the step like a dog.

(Momma fox relaxing in the shade)
Basil is not amused.  He spends most of him time inside now or sneaking out the front to avoid the foxes out back. This look will tell you exactly what he thinks of them.

(Basil cat is not amused)
At one point a week or so ago Basil was outside patrolling the perimeter when he saw the Daddy fox on a woodpile out back behind the yard.  They faced off for quite a while before the fox moved on for a bit.  The camera was on full zoom so picture quality suffered.

(Basil and the fox)
Oh and in answer to Dar's question on Facebook "what does the fox say?"  She sounds like a cross between a seal and a dog.  It is an odd hoarse bark.

Troubadour was teaching Team Oregon last weekend and teaches again this weekend.  He'll be sure to drink lots of water standing on hot asphalt all day in 100 degree temps.  At least he won't be on a bike with a helmet on like the students.  The following weekend is our July 4th Independence Day long weekend.  While we'd love to be out on the bikes, we try to avoid highways during holidays since it seems to be a big weekend for drinking and driving and a lot of yahoos are on the roads too.  Hopefully we can get in a short gravel ride as long as we are back to protect Basil from the big bad fireworks on the 4th.  We usually have to turn a movie up pretty loud to drown them out while he hides in the closet or under the bed.  Poor kitty.

Hope everyone else is getting out and riding lots.

 - Au Revoir

"One's life must seem extremely flat, with nothing whatsoever to grumble at." - Anthony J. d'Angelo, The College Blue Book