Coyote Wall and easyClimb

After buying the Surly Pugsley, I was so eager to get out on some singletrack. My two buddies, Brad and Ken, piled into the car one early morning to try our bikes at a route along Coyote Wall. It’s over on the Washington side of the Columbia River near Hood River. A wide-open trail that is always facing the river, lacking of trees until you get near the top, and has some of the most “gnarly” descents I’ve ever faced.

The spirit of mountain biking was reawakened by this day-trip.


More photos on my Flickr Stream.

On our way back from Coyote Wall, we also made a quick stop at a trail in Cascade Locks called “easyCLIMB“. This trail is maintained by the Cascade Locks International Mountain Bikers.

Permanent 2239 – ROCK CREEK – APIARY – TIMBER

After last month’s dismal failure to ride a 200k route, I vowed to ride the Grando a challenging 200k permanent route that would challenge my legs and mental resolve.

This route was it.

Owned by the renowened Susan Otcenas, of Small Engine, Big Tank, it will take you over the foothills and rack up some vertical feet while piling on the miles.

I started at 6:30 outside the Cornelious Pass Arco Station on a very chilly and dark Sunday morning with a headwind gusting up to 25mph expected for at least half the route. Within a couple of miles, the sun gave the sky a new amber hue to bring the day.

This was going to be a good day.

Only a couple of miles in and the cold was making hands feel stiff, my layers barely adequate, and my ears sting.

By the time I was merely 5 miles from the start, the sun had started too pop over the horizon and thaw the world around me. Only the shadows remained icy.

Chest ready to burst and warm up, I checked the elevation profile on the Ride with GPS app only to see that I was still less than halfway up the first “Big Hill”. This took a while, but thankfully the cars in this section were few.

After peaking over the range for the first time into a literal white-knuckled descent, an amazing view of the valley, Portland, and Mount Hood in the distance greeted me with blinding but absolutely lovely light.

So far, this is a good day.

Taking care to avoid some small ice patches on Rocky Point Road, I made it down to Highway 30 to head North to the next great uphill challenge on the Scappoose-Vernonia Highway. More climbing. More icy shadows. No jerks.

Another dozen miles or so later, I crossed the foothills for a fourth time and back onto Highway 30 and into St. Helens. Ah, sunshine, flattish roads, and a reprieve from going up.

I come to the realization that I’m nearing the first time cut-off of the route. I reached mile 40 in exactly 4 hours leaving me a scant 12 minutes of padding. So glad I didn’t have any flats so far.

Grabbing some soda to fill one of my bottles, I braced for the final ascent over the hills.

This time I finally shed the last of my “warm” layers to bask in some long-sleeve jersey sunshine. It wasn’t THAT warm, but it kept me quite comfortable.

At Mile 50, a nice long descent towards Vernonia allowed me to make up some time and get ahead of the clock.

“This was a good day.”

At 74 miles, Vernonia was the next control point. Black Bear Cafe was warm and welcoming as usual. A large cinnamon roll topped with frosting a large heap of butter went particularly well with my coffee break.

Timber Road was the next Big Challenge and the incline of the only asshole along the entire 125 miles. Huffing and puffing halfway up the ascent, a rather large red pickup tried to smoke me out with a “Rolling Coal”, but only succeeded in kicking up a racket and a bit of road dust.


STILL a good day.

Most of the roads were really quiet and nary a vehicle to pass me by.

I grew increasingly optimistic the ride would be complete before the sun hid itself in the West.

101.5 miles in, there was a tiny blip on the elevation profile. Something I never saw coming when I reviewed the route. Only a half mile long, and 256 feet upwards, it was the ONLY hill I’ve encountered in my miles that had forced me to shift into my easiest possible gearing. This tiny hill sapped the last of the sprint that I had left in my legs.

The final 23.5 miles were a relative dash to get to the finish. I had been texting with Audrey that I would be done just before sundown, but that ETA was constantly being pushed back as my legs were no longer the happy stumps from the start.

As the sky again turned amber-orange, my lights no longer sufficiently powered after being left on all day. I grew anxious to finish as quickly as possible, soreness be damned. No more food stops. No more futzing around. Every car that passed my left was cause to pull-over and wait for the road to clear.

My legs were no longer sore, they were hurting. My breath irregular to hold off the pain.

My phone was barely alive by the end with only 6% battery remaining, but enough to save my recorded ride. Audrey awaiting my arrival at the McDonalds parking lot.

So tired and quickly grown cold, I gorged myself upon 10 chicken nuggets and a chocolate milkshake the likes I had never seen.

My total ride time just shy of 12 hours.

Total spotted wildlife:

    • 1 Red-Tailed Hawk
    • 15 American Robins
    • 200+ empty beer cans
    • 2 White-tailed Deer
    • 10 Crows
    • 1 American Asshole
    • 12 Front-Yard Yappy Dogs
    • Infinite LBB (Little Brown Birds)
    • 10 Goats
    • 2 Cats
    • 2 Miniature Ponies
    • 6 Horses
    • 30+ ducks
    • 17 Geese

This was a good day.

Bike: Soma Grand Randonneur (Grando)
Tires: Compass Hetre 650bx42
GPS: Samsung Galaxy S3 using Ride with GPS app
Miles: 125.2
Total Ride Time: 11:53:58
Calories: Probably not enough
Flat Tires: 0
Mechanical Issues: 0

2014 Christmas Cards

I’m not much of a “Holiday¬†Guy”. But Something about getting back into watercolor painting, all the cards I’ve received this year, and some recent images of Grumpy Cat inspired me to send something special to my family and friends.



Inside each card, I took a couple of minutes to draw something different but relevant to the recipient.

Audrey, my partner in said crime, captured the deed in progress:

no-no-no-signingI tried to post this card on my Zazzle shop to make it available for order, but little did I realize that this was a violation of their license policy as I don’t own the rights to Grumpy Cat. I thought it was just a meme!

Overall, I think the card has been well received so I plan on doing something “fun” again for 2015.



Birkie 212km Group Permanent

Riding out with Theo, Susan, Chris, John, and Paul, we covered 132 miles or 212km over 12 hours. But 44 miles into the ride, I got a migraine so I had to sit around for an hour waiting for the naproxin, ibuprofen, and two cans of Red Bull to kick in. I eventually got back on the back and slowly made my way back to the group.

Although it was a relatively flat route, I just haven’t spent much time on the bike in general, nor have I done anything longer than 45 miles on the new bike. But the fit on the bike was about as perfect as could be.

Near the final few miles, my legs got crazy and somehow found some sprinting power. I ended up finishing before the group but only by a minute or so.

This was the inaugural ride of my Soma Grand Randonneur bike and it performed WONDERFUL.

Training to Beat the Blerch

If you don’t know about “The Oatmeal“. You should.

Audrey and I have signed up to run the Beat the Blerch Half-Marathon next month in Carnation, Washington. It’s going to be a hoot!

What is The Blerch? He’s my inner sloth. The demon on my back telling me to eat more pizza. Run tomorrow. I try not to listen to his siren song. I will beat him.

In preparation for the Half-Marathon, I finally upped my mileage and ran 7 miles. It wasn’t entirely pleasant, it definitely pushed me hard, but I did it without injuring myself.


Keep running.

Still Living Tiny

Audrey and I are still loving the tiny house life and have been blogging about it over at Trying on Tiny.

Although we’ve had to face a few challenges in the last 19 months of living in 160-square feet, we’ve pulled through all of them while still loving each other more than ever.

All my posts concerning the house on my personal blog have been moved over to our shared blog at Trying on Tiny. Any feedback, tips, and encouragement are greatly appreciated.

The Hunny House


SAR Training

After attending the Search and Rescue Conference (SARCon) last year, I made the decision to join the Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue team.

So far the training days have been a blast!

We built snow shelters at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood.



I got to participate in a mock-rescue on a very wet and snowy day.

Mock SAR Mission Walkout


I passed the fitness test and selection day activities with my 2014 cohort.

2014 CohortIt has been a bit challenging, but I’ve loved every minute of it.

More stories as training and OSSA Certification continues…