After an absolutely fantastic autumn of riding around the roads of Whistler this past October, I headed out of town the morning of the first big snow (Nov.2). As part of my preparations of the 2012 season, I've been training consistently since September knowing that I'll need to take a break in December for some minor surgery. Instead of staying abroad as I did in 2011 when I called Portland, Oregon home, I decided to travel around in short bursts this off season in pursuit of drier roads.
First stop: Kamloops. Actually traveling by Greyhound works pretty well and I found that if you decide well in advance, the tickets are very reasonable. Convincing the bus driver that your bike box is a massage table or a tradeshow apparatus (to save on the flat rate bike fee) is of course more difficult. The first two weeks of November where a little chilly, but nothing much worst that the coolest days of October (usually around 3-10'C). However with a few days of 11'C and sun, while the coast suffered from high winds and 50mm of rain, I knew that my gamble of heading north - but inland - worked out well. I was hosted by my friends Paul and Kristine who own the Spoke'n Motion Bike Shop
, a fixture in town for over 25 years! Paul joined me for a bunch of rides over my twelve day stay, highlighted by the Pritchard - Paul Lake climb which covered 1800 vertical feet over a gravel surface lasting 40minutes, plowing up a hillside of golden brown ranch lands under a crisp blue ceiling of autumn. Awesome!
Next time you are in Kamloops, find this road!
Next I was off to Seattle to catch up with Hagens Berman elite team rider in 2012
Colin Gibson. After a day or so, we took to the road as the wet winds of Seattle were getting cold and Walla Walla beckoned. First off was the Little Italy ride to Starbuck. This was one of the rides that the vets at Whitman College always talked about and as student never had enough time to complete. The whole loop is 100 miles and takes riders from the wheat fields, to the 'moonscape' of Leon's Ferry Road, out to the Snake River and almost to Palouse Falls before finishing the ride along the final road stage of the Tour of Walla Walla. To compliment the epic factor, we got snow along Smith Springs (a climb) and a decent headwind on the way home! Super rad day! We also incorporated some real snow riding with a gravel ride along Clodius and Scenic Loop the following day. If you haven't had a chance to ride Walla Walla gravel between August and January...YOU HAVEN'T LIVED!
After two extremely windy days earlier in the week, with gusts of 70-80 kph, Thursday morning was pristine. 8-14 degrees throughout the day, essentially no wind, a bunch of new roads with Watson Loop and Plucker Road..all in all...pretty wicked. The dry roads make the long base rides much more managable as I'm targeting consistently highly volumes this offseason. With a greater focus of a higher cadence and thus slower average speeds, no rain also makes the days much more pleasant.
I've got 2 more weeks of this type of longer distance training before a break in December and I have some big gravel plans for Helix, Barber grade and hopefully Tiger Canyon if the snow level goes up. If you want to ride in nice weather, get out here!
In pursuit of new roads...