Sunday, April 21, 2013

Training Ride: Swakane Canyon to Nahahum Canyon

So I thought I would post some photos of a fun training ride that we do on occasion.  We ride from our home town of Cashmere down to Monitor, then over to Wenatchee.  From there it is a short jaunt on the highway to Rocky Reach Dam.  Just after that you hang a left and head uphill on a lovely gravel/dirt road.

I did not take any photos of the boring paved sections, but they are quite pretty zipping up and down some gently rolling hills through the orchards.  I do recommend stopping at the Stutzman Ranch in the summer for a fresh nectarine when they are in season.  I would not recommend getting any fresh eggs as they will probably be scrambled before you make it up the Swakane.

The Swakane canyon is approximately 8.5 miles of uphill with 2200 feet of climbing.  Late spring and early summer are ideal times to ride this canyon.  Later it is likely to be pretty hot and the road will be more loose and dusty.  You might encounter a rattlesnake or two.  Right now they are mostly dormant.

The road opens up at the top late March through early April.  You might want to be prepared for a bit of snow in March.

If you are adventurous you can hang a right approximately 3.3 miles from the highway and ride up the closed to car traffic NFD 5215 road and make a nice alternate ride to the top.  Here is a link to a website with a description of that ride.

I stayed on the main road and headed up.  The canyon starts out with a plowed field on the left and on the right flowers and sage brush on the high hills climbing to the ridges. This weekend the arrow leaf balsam root were in full bloom and the lupines are coming out. Eventually you get to the public lands and a wildlife area, with no farming on either side of the road.

If you are lucky and do the ride midweek you may encounter deer, and possibly bighorn sheep that live in the area.  Of course there are cougars etc. as well,  I have never seen them but I am sure they have seen me.

Arrow Leaf Balsam Root
The wildlife viewing opportunities are a bit limited on the weekends due to various and assorted 2nd amendment enthusiasts and the like who enjoy shooting their high-powered rifles at targets.   Most are very friendly and responsible shooting at targets well off the roadway.  I did run across a family of morons this afternoon who were shooting their paintball rifle across the road.  They stopped when they saw me.  I thought of some choice words but refrained as I saw they had consumed a quantity of fermented beverages and did not think it wise to upset them.  I rather like the color of my bike and don't want a new paint job.  Not mention paintballs sting when they hit.

The farther up the canyon you travel the fewer people you will see.  Toward the top are a series of beaver ponds and marshy areas that are quite pretty and I saw several mating pairs of ducks.

The top of the canyon is more treed.  You can continue on the road, or as I did head up on a short single track section through a meadow.  At the top of the single track you can zip along another forest service road and come out at the top of Nahahum Canyon.
View of Nahahum 

Nahahum is a beautiful ride in itself.  The top affords views of Cashmere and beyond.  From here many opportunities for extending the ride exist by heading northwestward.  You can ride the ridges and drop down in to Leavenworth or Entiat.  Keep going and eventually you will end up at the SugarLoaf lookout.  A great all day ride for later in the summer.
SugarLoaf Lookout

I coasted down Nahahum back to Cashmere,  The top mile or two of the canyon are dirt and can be muddy or washed out in early spring, and loose later on.   The bottom of the canyon is an easy coast down a smooth paved road with lots of fun curves through some ranches and rural homes.  Even on fat tires I averaged about 30 mph.

Once you get to the bottom of the canyon take a right and ride to the 2nd exit to Cashmere at Aplets way.  Just across the bridge are two great choices for post ride recovery food and drink.  Milepost 111 Brewery and Country Boys BBQ
Entiat Ridge Views

Here is a link to a map of the ride.  Have fun!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Orchard Bar Review

Here in the great metropolis of Cashmere, Wa, the geographic center of Washington state,we are surrounded by fantastic biking country.  From the Devil's Gulch single track trail

to the lovely climb up Chumstick Mountain.

Endless miles of gravel grinding and single track can make you hungry!  Fortunately we have a solution.  Liberty Orchards is located here in Cashmere.  They make many tasty delights such as the famous Aplets and Cotlets, but their newest (and best, in my opinion) product is their Orchard Bar.

Orchard Bars are (according to the label) Vegan, Dairy Free, Non GMO, Contain Natural Ingredients,  Low Sodium, Rich in Antioxidants (Vit C&E) and have Heart Healthy Nuts and are A Good Source of Protein.

Some of these claims are a bit thin.  Especially the protein.   Only 5 gm per bar.  I find that to be an advantage when riding or running as high protein bars seem to sit like a lump in my stomach.  The vitamins C&E are added as preservatives, but they are there 20% of the RDA per bar.

I do not think the bars are designed to be for super serious athletes in the way that a lot of the gels etc are, they don't really have much in the way of electrolytes or make any claims about improving your recovery etc.

In terms of actual composition the bars are a pectin candy base, a bit like Clif Shot Blocks, with some add ins including the following:  nuts (varies by flavor), seeds (flax and sunflower), and soy protein nuggets (I think these are the same as those in Luna Bars).  The gel is a bit softer than shot blocks and so easier to chew and less sticking to the teeth.

 Orchard Bars come in a variety of flavors.  I think my favorite flavor is Pineapple Macadamia Nut, but as you can see from the photo there are quite a few so you will probably be able to find one that suits your taste.  Although I would recommend steering clear of the Peanut Butter and Grape Jelly.  Yuk.  Tastes like a nasty gooey sandwich from your lunch box in elementary school.  If you had some slightly warm milk in a thermos you could re-live that wonderful afternoon nausea of 2nd grade.   As you can tell I am not nostalgic for PB&J.  If you are, go for it.

Around here the bars cost $1.79 apiece, on Amazon they are a bit more at $2.30 per bar.  That is a bit steep I think.   Pricing is in line with bars like Clif or Luna, but my main biking food is the Nature Valley Sweet and Salty Nut bars.   I am hoping that by eating these I will get faster... Mathew Lee ate the cashew flavor in the TD movie.  I am still eating only the peanut ones, but someday hope to be cashew worthy. But that is a whole other story.   The Nature Valley Bars are much less expensive, about 45 cents per bar on Amazon.  However, one does need variety and sometimes I like to splurge on an Orchard Bar. You can pick Orchard Bars up on here

The bottom line is that Orchard Bars are really delicious.  They seem to be easy to digest and eat on the bike or run.  I don't think that they contain all the balanced electrolytes etc, that products designed for athletes contain, and are a bit pricy, but they will keep you from bonking, and you will be supporting a small business here in Cashmere.  They fueled us up to make it to this beautiful vista outside of town.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Trailside Derailleur Hanger Replacement

We had a rough weekend of riding.  Compared to the beautiful sunny weather we had a few weeks ago, things have turned downright nasty.  It is snowing hard on the Cascade crest, and here just to the east things are stormy and cold.

We did manage to get out on some rides and I made it up a hill that was very challenging.  Lots of ruts, and I really am liking the big 29er tires even going up the steep stuff

While out on a ride this weekend Josh hit a stick:

that became entangled somehow and it ripped off his derailleur hanger.

Neither one of us had ever had this problem before, but in reading various blogs, we had heard that this does happen occasionally to divide racers, most commonly from mud.  One in particular had to buy a new frame.  Unfortunately the bike was one without a replaceable hanger.

In looking at bikes I had taken this into consideration.  The Jamis Dragon is a beautiful Reynolds 853 steel bike that I was very tempted to get.  The derailleur hanger on the Jamis is not replaceable.  Theoretically you could bend back the non-replaceable hanger, but if it is too bent it might just break.  Or it could be torn completely off.  Not to mention I don't want to be in the middle of nowhere trying to bend a piece of steel with a multitool.

Luckily Josh has the Salsa Fargo steel frame bike that has a replaceable hanger, and I had a replacement hanger in my kit.  If you do not have a replaceable hanger and it is torn off, or you do not carry a replacement hanger you can buy a temporary emergency one called The Gimp.  Available on Adventure Cycling's Cyclosource store.  I have never tried this gadget, but one review on Cyclosource says it works.  If you used The Gimp you would have to re-set your limit screws and fully adjust your shifting as it mounts outboard of the dropout and is held in place by your wheel skewer.  I think the best scenario is to have a replaceable hanger and carry a spare with you.

I took some photos of the repair operation, and tried to learn how to do it myself.

First step is to assess the damage.  Be sure the scene is safe, no bears nearby...  Yell for help, check your cell phone.. you can curse a bit if you have no service and then get down to work.   Fortunately Josh's spokes and actual vintage derailleur were intact.

Next step is to gently untangle the mess and remove the wheel without causing further damage.

Get out your multitool.   We have a Crank Brothers Multi 17 that seems to have just about all we need for trailside repair when coupled with a Leatherman Squirt PS 4.

On Josh's bike the screws holding in the hanger accept a tiny #2 allen fitting.  You need to fully clean out the screw heads or they will be easily rounded out and then you will be screwed.  We ended up using the knife tip on the Leatherman for this job.  Wet pine needles were not effective.

Once the old broken hanger is removed,

put the new one in.

Reattach your derailleur, keeping your fingers crossed that it is not bent and mangled as well.

Put your wheel on and adjust shifting.  One important piece is to shift the bike into the large cog in the rear.  Be sure that your derailleur is not bent and in risk of hitting the spokes and that your chain does not derail into the spokes.  Adjust the limit screw if need be.  It may be necessary to lock out your large cog if the derailleur cage is severely bent.

Again we were lucky and no severe bending had occurred and so away we went...

Things worked out well, with a bit of preparation, and luck and having the right tools (including a bike mechanic).  It was like Christmas in April.  We even found the tree!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Review of the Day: Hoo Ha Ride Glide by Reflect Sports

Hoo Ha Ride Glide by Reflect Sports.

 USD $21.95 for an 8 oz tube on the reflectsports web site.

Also available on Amazon

For $ 18.75 as of today.

Here is their product pitch, copied and pasted from their website:

 The original skin and chamois cream formulated by women for women. Protects your most girlied parts from infection, chafing, friction burns, irritation, inflammation and saddle sores.  Provides healing and a lasting cool feeling so you enjoy the ride.  Do apply to your nooks and crannies.  Do apply to your chamois.  Do apply to other skin areas where exercise chafing occurs.  Enriched with barley extract, lavender, eucalyptus leaf, tea tree and peppermint oils.  

I have used this for about a year now.  On various rides and also on two bike tours.  I think it works very well overall and would recommend it to both women and men.

The cream does have the above mentioned herbal extracts.  It also contains various standard body care chemicals such as Cetearyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Disodium EDTA and others.  I do not see a Not Tested On Animals symbol either. (EDIT:  Thanks to an astute commenter this statement was found on Reflect Sports Website,  Safe and Healthy : no parabens, fragrance, or animal byproducts/testing.  So if you are looking for a purely natural, cruelty free product this is not it.   No animal testing!)

It is a fairly thin cream, I did find that there is a bit of gritty stuff in it, I feel it on my fingers but it smooths out when applying the cream.  I never notice it when riding.  I am not sure if it is the tube I have or if that is part of the product.  Once on it is on it is smooth sailing so to speak for about 3 hours.  I have not tried putting more on mid-ride yet, somehow it is too yucky to think of stopping by the side of the road to re-apply to my "nooks and crannies".  

I did get one saddle sore on a ride, but I do think that was a function of having a heavy backpack, riding mostly uphill for about 6 hours in 90 degree weather.  I was also recovering from a summer cold so I did not get out of the saddle as much as I should have.  I don't think there is a lube in the world that would have prevented that sore.  However the Ride Glide felt soothing and made the next day's ride tolerable even with the sore.  

The  peppermint gives you a refreshing feeling especially when you stand up to cruise downhill.  Nice on a hot day, but a bit weird and chilly when it is cold out.  I did find that it also has a soothing and cooling effect on sunburns, and the fact that it comes in a tube rather than a tub allows me to use it without worries of spreading fecal coliforms over my burned arms and legs.  

It seems to wash out of chamois quite well and I do not notice any residue or smell on my bike shorts. 

Josh has tried it out and even though it is formulated for women it seems to work for men too.  

All in all, I think this is a great product, and has prevented chafing and irritation on many a ride.  


When we moved into our house in 2005 there were various things that needed fixing, changing etc.  Two updates I was sure would be done within the first year.  One is the blue and yellow tile print carpet in the dining area that makes me feel quite off kilter after just one glass of wine, not to mention two glasses..

The other required change being the reddish brown baby poop color mini blinds in the living room.

Yet here we are eight years later and both are still here.  And why?  Well, I could say that the mini blinds are of very good quality, and the carpet keeps me from overindulging, but that is not the case.

The real reason these lovely items still grace our home is bicycling.

About the same time we moved into our home I happened to read an article in an old copy Outside magazine while waiting somewhere,  probably at the doctors office.  The article was by a woman who flies to New Zealand alone to tour the south island alone.  After that I was hooked on bike touring.  I imagined myself headed out alone, camping, biking, exploring.
Every ride I went on was "training for New Zealand" I rode my old Specialized Stump Jumper as fast as I could.  I took my Trek 830, circa 1994, on "road rides"  Finally I decided I had to get a new bike.  I looked and looked.  Most bikes were too big, others too expensive.  Finally I found the Salsa Vaya.  The wheels even came in a 26 inch option.  I could stand over the thing.  It had disc brakes, brazons, touring geometry it was a beautiful upside brown, not baby poop brown.  Blinds could wait.  I wanted to go bike touring.

When I got the bike we discovered the clearance was such it would accept 2.1 inch MTB tires with fenders.  Yay!  now I could go bike touring on gravel roads.

Josh was naturally jealous... but too tall for the Vaya with 26 inch wheels, if he got one he'd have to use skinnier tires.  Sometimes being short pays off!  He found the Fargo, worked a bit of overtime and he had his bike.  In geeky Lord of the Rings terms.. "One bike to rule them all."  Josh said he would not need another bike his entire lifetime.

 We discovered the Adventure Cycling Association.. We spent our 10th anniversary on a bike tour.

Then we heard about the Tour Divide.  We went and rode a section.

We watched the movie, we read blogs.  Josh said he wanted to race.  I thought about sitting home and watching his spot move down the computer screen.  I thought about touring it behind him.  Then I decided I wanted to race too... Why not?  No entry fee, no prizes, just touring fast.

But there was a problem.   I was already at a big disadvantage.  I am slow.  My only athletic ability being that I can go slow for a really long time. I began to think of another bike, and the ugly carpet... We were saving up to replace it.  Hmm.  Priorities.  Experience of a lifetime, vs new flooring... I could just ride the Vaya..  I was not going to be fast anyway and would a different bike make that much of a difference.  But I was jealous of the frame bags, and the MTB geometry.  I was afraid my panniers and rear rack would rattle apart before New Mexico, and they are heavy.

I am not a cyclocross racer I told myself  I need the mountain bike to avoid having to push my bike all the way to New Mexico.  I need to be able to carry more water.

 I need the advantage of a light weight MTB so I can put more stuff on the bike.  I am a knitter, I carry lots of stuff, I might want to knit along the way as I usually do for my mental health.  I knit a hat on our last tour...

And lots of stuff on your back leads to sores on your nether regions, so I needed a mountain bike that I could fit out with spiffy bags instead of carrying a huge backpack.

So, I got a new bike.  A titanium Fargo,  I decided I can live with the carpet.  Its not so bad.

I realized  drips of chain lube and mud do not show on super ugly tile printed carpet.

The beauty of my new bike and the amazing experience of bike touring and racing makes up for the flooring.