Friday, September 30, 2016

Closing out the Season

Mangs are normal people, too, and they have other things going on in their lives aside from cycling.  So as summer closes in September, so do the flurry of cycling related activities for most Mangs and Alings.  This month, the team participated in only 2 major rides - the Whistler Gran Fondo in Canada and Cascade Bicycle Club's Kitsap Classic.  The requisite weekend training rides were still there but as the season moves towards the Fall, you notice a drastic reduction in ride participation, specially as the weather gets nastier.

Mangs who did the Fondo literally
crossed the finish line together.
The 2016 RBC Whistler Gran Fondo saw by far the biggest number of Mangs participating this year.  The ride is an 80+ mile, 6,500 foot elevation gain ride from the city of Vancouver, BC to the Whistler Olympic Village resort at the foot of the Whistler/Blackcomb mountains.  The more "fit" riders have the option of doing the "Forte", which adds 2,400 feet of climbing over 9 miles making it a total ride of over 108 miles.   The course is memorable.  Riders cycle around Stanley Park, cross the Lion's Gate Bridge just as the sun rises in the east, climb for the first 8 miles through a closed off Highway 1 (freeway) and do a rolling ride all the way to Squamish, BC on the Sea to Sky Highway on a dedicated lane. So cyclists do not have to stop fat intersections or at traffic lights.  They only stop at rest stops.  The view over that section of the course is incomparable and the support from the community and organizers is top notch.  The major climbs start from there, for the next 30 miles, though nothing like climbing a mountain.
Most of the team posed on stage after the ride - not in this pic are Alex, Eric, Ron and Rene who were unavailable at the time of the picture.
Whistler Village itself is not really at the top of a mountain, so the ride to the finish is mostly rolling hills, with a few 500+ foot climbs.  Nevertheless, the Mang train that started out together eventually stretched out to several groups with riders seeking to stay with at least 1 Mang.  The faster riders who did the additional Forte climb actually finished before the riders who just did the Fondo.  The bulk of the Fondo riders finished together with just a few riders struggling to finish by closing time.  All in all, everyone did very well and everyone had fun - even the lone Mang who rode in to close the ride.  Here's a video summary from this author's viewpoint:

The Mangs who did the Kitsap
Classic Ride
Cascade Bicycle Club concludes its summer riding season with the Kitsap Classic - a 58 mile rolling hills ride through the Kitsap Peninsula, starting from Edmonds, looping through the northern tip of the island in Hansville and along the outer edges through Port Gamble, Poulsbo, and back to the Clinton ferry dock.  True to form, Mangs once again represented fun at the event, although not with the usual numbers.  Reports from the riders indicate that there was a lot of laughter and speeding as Mangs chose to have fun with members of other cycling teams. 

Once again, another year of cycling (at least the official events) has ended for the Mangs and Alings.  Cycling continues to permeate our conversations and it continues to be the main activity that brings us together.  These non-riding days also tend to be project days when guys ask for something shiny and new for Christmas and they show up the next year with new bikes. Friendships have also developed through the years and so Mangs continue to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and the holidays well into the Fall and Winter Seasons.  And don't count out the Team Mang Putik riders - our mountain biking brothers, who continue to ride in the raid and mud.  We'll do whatever we can to stay fit during the rainy months but be sure to watch out for us next year as the season starts - the first ride is the Stinky Spoke in January.  We may even be sporting a new look!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Mid Summer fun with the Mangs

The middle of summer, August, is a series of opportunities for cyclists to get out there and strut their stuff.  After RAMROD, every other ride after the end of July is all out fun.  The team took every weekend as an opportunity to do just that.

Starting off at the University Village Starbucks
R.S.B.P. (Ride from Seattle to Bellingham and Pasundo).
This is a new tradition that the Mangs are starting the first week of August.  Several Mangs have done the official Cascade ride, the RSVP (Ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party), several times and were looking for ways to save money.  So it was suggested that we ride from University Village to Bellingham for 100 miles and have our wives pick us up there.  Fortunately, a couple of our Alings chose to provide support instead.  Some Alings drove straight to Bellingham to pickup their spouses.  Some of us extended our hangout fun into the Amtrak rails - commuting from Bellingham back to Seattle on the same day.  
Our support crew - we couldn't get this done without them!
On a cloudy and cool day, the first part of the ride was all fun as we made our way to Snohomish and made our first stop at the Bakery.  From there, the Centennial trail provided ample opportunities to do our usual pacelining and at some point, someone started picking up speed.  The ride towards Arlington was averaging 23 - 26 mph and those who weren't paying attention quickly got dropped. Our support crew happily met us and fed us at the Arlington rest stop.  
Climbing followed afterwards and the team was split into several groups working together.  A flat forced a regroup at the intersection of Lake Cavanaugh Road just before heading into Mount Vernon.  That
Here's the group, posing at the end of the ride at Fairhaven
Park in Bellingham, 103 miles from the start
descent provided multiple opportunities to speed down the hills as Mang after Mang kept attacking - downhill - forcing each of us to top speeds of 40+!  25 miles from Bellingham, at the Walmart parking lot in Mt Vernon, we stopped to have a delicious lunch of chicken adobo and rice.
From there, it was just a relaxed ride towards Chuckanut drive - except for the fact that after the picture taking, everyone pretty much went on their own attack pace to the finish line.  We were all done before 3 and spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out in the Fairhaven neighborhood.  A few drinks at a local brewery while waiting for the commuters to get on the trains and we were done for another fun day.

R.S.V.P. (Ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party)
Our RSVP regulars at the
Party portion of the RSVP
Some Mangs routinely sign up for every major Cascade ride and so the same was true for this year.  The regulars - Ferdie, Rudy and Roland (joined by Blake), once again lit up the roads with some of our Trangko friends on the same roads as the last weekend's ride plus the second 100 mile trip from Bellingham to Vancouver.  Partying at West Coast Plaza in downtown Vancouver quickly followed.  Congrats to all of them on another double century in their pockets!

Ride up to Artist Point, Mount Baker
Another developing Mang tradition is the ride from Maple Falls to Artist Point - an up and down ride, 31 miles per trip with 26 of those miles being a slow steady climb up to 5,000 feet above sea level.  Artist Point is at the end of
Highway 542 with gorgeous views and spectacular hiking trails at the top.
The town of Glacier, 7 miles from the starting line, is the
official start of the climbing efforts for this ride
Eight Mangs took up the challenge this year and were met with perfect climbing weather - not too hot, not too cold. Aling Arlene and Emily provided support. They were able to do some minor hiking and were able to take some majestic pictures.  But by the time the Mangs got to the top, the clouds had swept in, not just blocking the views, but dropping temperatures to uncomfortable levels.  We had a quick lunch at the viewpoint parking lot and and snapped pictures on some snow caps. The 3 mile ride down the rocky part of the mountain was truly memorable as every single one of us froze our butts off in the cold temperatures for those few minutes of descending and navigating zigzag-cliff-on-the-side roads.  For 23 miles of descent into forest covered roads, we all carefully navigated our way down the mountain and then worked together in a 6 person paceline for the last 10 miles of rollers back to the start.  Once again, another memorable ride for the Mangs and the last training ride for our Whistler trip in September.

Then there are the training rides, the hiking trips, the parties and all manner of get togethers for Mangs and Alings, making the most of the good weather we've been having this summer.  If you didn't play outside this month, then you missed out.  September's supposed to be spectacular, too!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

My RAMROD Moment

(Unlike previous entries that sound like news articles, this entry is my own reflection on this event)
So I finally did it - this epic ride that everyone talks about. 10,000 feet of climbing over the course of 152 miles.  There's also the dreaded Cayuse Pass portion of which everyone says is the killer.   Well, this ride lived up to the hype.
Some of the Mangs at the start of the Ride
The RAMROD (Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day) wasn't really on my radar.  Unlike many cyclists, I don't sit around dreaming of one day accomplishing it.  I'm the type of cyclist who enjoys any old ride but I don't want to suffer too much to have fun.  Sure, I'll do a hard hill, but 3 passes, the last one in sweltering heat?  I don't think so.  This year, though, mainly due to peer pressure, I decided to do it anyway.  I figure, with how fast we did the STP and how I did pretty okay on that ride, I should be able to finish it at least with a relaxed pace.  So hesitantly, I showed up at Enumclaw on Thursday, the 28th.

Last stop before the entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park
The first third of the ride was already exhausting - going through cold fields in the fog and trying to keep up with some of our strong riders was already work enough.  After Eatonville, I was still feeling okay, but decided to hold back and hang with Mang Aldwin, who was taking it pretty easy.  So we got to the next rest stop within decent time as our other team mates waited for us.  We all left that stop at the same time and started up the climb to Mount Rainier together.  Up until Longmire, we were all still one long group, with Mang Ferdie leading the charge.  Eventually, the stronger riders advanced further and Mang Chris and Ken even caught up with us (they had started late).  As we got closer to the top, I had already given up in my head - reasoning to myself that I would catch a ride at the top of Inspiration Point.  I even stopped to take pictures at Narada Falls.  Mang Aldwin, though, stayed with me, and kept encouraging me to keep going. We waited for each other and slowly made it to the top of the first climb (Inspiration Point).  At this point, it didn't make sense to stop because this was the beginning of a long downhill ride.  So I figured, what the hell...let's ride it downhill.  I'll catch a ride at the bottom.
Me, Aldwin, Cris and John
Might as well get a solo shot on the way up, right?

That downhill run ended up at a break and I was able to collect enough energy (in my head) to make it up to the next climb up from Box Canyon.  As I passed the time check, the volunteer mentioned, "6 miles of downhill coming up..."  so I figured, I might as well do this.

With some more Mangs at the top of Inspiration Point

By the time we came down that pass, only 1 climb was left - 9 miles on Highway 123 towards Cayuse Pass. So I figured - I might as well do this, I made it this far. Mang Boni, Raf, Aldwin and Allan were there, too, and we all agreed to work together.    So the slow climb at 4 - 5 mph started with the temperatures in the low 90's.  Halfway up, those temps reached as high as 102 on my Garmin and we had resorted to climbing from 1 shade to the next to lower our body temperatures intermittently. This Thursday just happened to be heat wave day (of all the days it could hit).  My head was spinning by this time and I could feel my body warming up every time we moved out of the shade. About 5 miles from the top, Mang Boni and Mang Raf had taken off leaving me, Allan and Aldwin to fend for ourselves.

A mile after the last break, I was done.  I told Aldwin just before the tunnel (about 3 miles from the top) that I was getting a ride. I wasn't having fun anymore.  So Aldwin and Allan continued to the top without me.  From the top of the pass, where highway 123 meets up with Highway 410, we all met up, and rode together to the last rest stop at the Rainier park gates where Mang Raf was waiting for us.  The four of us worked together to make it back to Enumclaw and finish around 7:15 - so the gates didn't close on us.

Finished around 7:15 with these guys!
Overall, the experience was truly memorable.  I finished the RAMROD with some assist, as others did on that last climb.  But I'll always wonder what would have happened if I pushed myself just a little bit more over that last 2.5 to 3 miles.  What you read about in those articles about pro cyclists is true - on race day, they've all trained hard and trained around the same amount.  On the day itself, it comes down to who has the legs and more importantly, who has the will to finish.  On RAMROD day, I think I had the legs..but I didn't have the will - I was just trying to get through the ride and I wasn't willing to work any more than I had already done.  I suppose I enjoyed the ride - the views and those downhill runs were experiences to remember.  And as with all rides, just being around the Mangs is fun enough.  The climbs were unforgettable, too - I had moments where I felt least before that last climb.  But climbing Cayuse Pass in 100 degree weather just wasn't my cup of tea.  Not doing 100% of the ride on my own...hmmm.  There's a bit of regret in there pushing me to think of signing up for next year to address that unfinished business.  I don't regret it as much (or maybe I'm just sourgraping). I'm just glad I did 99% of it.

I guess I'll wait and see how I feel next year when people start talking about it again.  Maybe I'll have an itch to finish that 1%.   Until then, I'll just consider myself a RAMROd rider.