Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Coloradoans Finish the Cascade 1200!

Results just in: all four of our local riding colleagues have finished the Cascade 1200. Congratulations to Bob Bruce, Tim "Foon" Feldman, Vernon Smith, and to Irene Takahashi on her first 1200k!


P.S. Val and Robin Phelps (pictured below) finished their second Cascade, and send their greetings as RMCC members (now from afar) who would like to be included in this illustrious group.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Sunny, Summery Cascade 2008!

In June, 2008, I had the great pleasure to ride the 3rd Cascade 1200. The inaugural 2005 edition had offered some showers and cool climbs through the national forest. But 2006 had been toasty, ironically after a spring too snowy to use the Forest Service road. This edition looked like a repeat of '06. All that raingear and other people's fenders apparently worked to ward off the raindrops.

(Click any of these photos to enlarge, except for some reason the first three.)

Imagine a civilized post-dawn 1200k start - at 6am - what were they thinking?? Ken Bonner (with triangle) ready for more ultra-miles. In the distance, SIR president Mark Thomas snaps photos:

Quiet country roads start out the course. "Volcano Escape Route" signs raise out-of-state eyebrows:

Snowcapped volcanic peaks loom like ice cream cones behind the verdant pastoral hills:

... and just when you think you might need something - such as on the 20-mile climb up White Pass - a SIR Oasis appears around the corner, with casually clad helpful staff ready to hand you a drink, watermelon, or ice sock:

White Pass, the first big climb, rewarded with some cool breezes up top and nice vistas:

Even the painted snowflakes on the ski area sign felt cool and refreshing:

Descending to Clear Lake reveals a scenic setting:

... and a serene lake as evening gathers:

Control official offers the essentials: analgesics and photo-documentation:

Rider still trying to look fresh!

The Naches overnight control is abuzz with staff and riders:

Day 2 starts off with a climb up the Chinook Pass Road to the Lodgepole control, past many a flowering verge:

The descent east progresses from deep woods and cool temps ...

... to more arid, open country ...

... more and more open with fewer and fewer trees ...

... finally giving way to pivot irrigated fields on the broad eastern plains:

But even out here, tall trees offer some shady avenues.

Isabelle Drake is making the most of the open country on the way to Quincy.

Day 3 starts out with some river miles, followed by a climb up to Dry Falls.

... and a snack opportunity complete with SIR coffee and bagels at the Dry Falls rest area.

Next a climb to a high plateau - a sea of wheat dotted with large rust-colored boulders, a soothing landscape that could make one drowsy after the snack at Dry Falls.

It's really wide-open high plateau in which any Last Chance rider would feel at home.

Lone structures evoke the solitude of pioneer times on the vast plains.

We descend across a dry wash with typical western styling ...

... and climb out against the rockface.

In the middle of this prairie, at a simple crossroads (where we remember to turn right) stands the Farmer grange and welcome SIR control, with sandwiches, fruits, and cold drinks in the middle of nowhere!

Time passes. It is now late in the afternoon after what seems the toughest climb of the route: Loup Loup. Stiff grades in the heat of the afternoon. This mild scene at the summit is a welcome punctuation point to a real workout ... complete with a false summit midway up.

Final light falls, graced by clouds once part of a thunderstorm on the valley up to Mazama Ranch.

Day 4 begins with the de rigeuer Mazama rancher breakfast, and then a "late" (6am) departure for most riders, followed by a cool climb to Washington Pass, the highest point on the route, and certainly the most alpine!

The pass itself (where Tom and I decide on a photo op) is reminiscent of the French/Swiss alps:

Washington Pass is higher than Boulder, CO by a few feet, but with lots more wilderness!

A slight dip and short climb brings us to neighboring Rainy Pass, today quite unrainy.

Lots of sublime views at this altitude!

After a prolonged descent on the North Cascade Highway, a succession of scenic, jade-green reservoirs.

Waterfalls along the roadside generate pockets of chilly air to cool the passing cyclist!

And amidst all this sun and just-post-solstice daylight, a snowcave for whatever creature may abide there.

The route becomes calmer, including this flat, shaded stretch right at naptime in the afternoon.

The stream next to the road is running high with runoff and/or rain, a Northwest staple.

And one glimpses views, now from the west, of the range we have crossed, if we can get a peek through all that great foliage lining the roadways.

It's a fine final few miles on wooded country roads which bring us suddenly to the start/finish in Monroe, and cyclists (Tom and I) clearly elated with the experience ... still doing our best to look fresh.

The finish line meal is actually a hearty breakfast the next morning. Erstwhile Colorado randonneurs Val and Robin Phelps seemed pleased with the experience ... or the hearty breakfast ... or maybe both!

And I guess it's now ok to don the event jersey, each curve in that red graph replete with good times and trying ones, but most of all a rewarding experience.

- john lee

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Snowy Accent on the Eve of Summer!

Last Saturday at 4am I had the pleasure of sending off three dozen avid cyclists on the 400km brevet, then heading off on a shorter foray into the mountains. Dawn promises a fine, sunny day, with some cheerful semilenticular clouds dotting the foothills:

After hefty snows and deep snowpack, the sudden warmth has sent Lefthand Creek and others churning:
At the top of Super-James, a scenic view of the Indian Peaks:

Brainard Lake still has some ice floating on it, and it's still pretty quiet there, as "winter conditions" preclude hiking on the snowpacked trails:

But they've plowed the main road, providing a nice place to lean your bike:

At the base of the Brainard Lake road, whom to encounter but cheery Vernon Smith and Catherine Shenk at the Millsite Inn 400k checkpoint! While taking a break, Vernon was called into service to help the Millsite staff move a pool table.

Most of the way up Lefthand Canyon, Brent and Beth Myers are taking it easy (if that's not a contradiction in terms climbing Lefthand) on their way to a successful 400k finish:

... while KC Heck pauses briefly at one of the new, paved cyclist turnouts in the canyon:

Lots of smiles to go around both in the snowy realms and on the 400k, as attested by Steve Le Goff, Michelle Grainger, and Catherine:

Now that summer is evidently with us, enjoy!