One of the few complaints I have about the Raleigh One Way I inherited is that the stock bars are 1) way too narrow 2) are somehow shaped too much and too little like track bars at the same time. Raleigh somehow managed to create the world’s least comfortable road bar on the market. After a couple of years riding the bike stock, I found that the only comfortable position on those bars were found when I rode no handed. But, I suffered because I liked the way Raleigh built the bike to look like a classic, and I wanted to preserve the aesthetics.
Then I took a spin on an actual classic touring bike that was built in the same decade that I was born in (I won’t say which decade, but let’s just say that it was post hippie pre-yuppie). The bars on the old bike had these weird looking humps and flares instead of traditional flat bar tops. My brain told me these were just some useless old technology that has since gone the way of friction shifters, cotter pinned cranks and unsealed hubs.
Once I placed my grubby hands atop the foam covered weirdo bars, I was convinced that not everything from the ’70’s was total crap. In fact, I was now convinced that the ’70’s were THE absolute end-all-be-all shit. In fact, I’m listening to Barry Gibb and his brothers as I type this article from the back seat of an orange Pinto. According to the Gibb clan I should be dancin’.
But gangsters don’t dance, we boogie.
The design basics of the Nitto Randonneur bars harken back to the days when Tour riders swigged wine from bota bags and rode fixed gears. The tops of the bars feature a small flat area that sweeps up before sweeping down and out into a pair of generous drops, all of which somehow create perfectly comfortable hand positions no matter where your hands are placed. Case in point, I’ve never been able to comfortably ride in the drops of any bars on any bike I’ve ever owned for more than a few minutes. But I can ride for hours at a time in the drops of the Nitto Rando bars. Added bonus, the flared drops of the bars offer generous amounts of leverage for when you want to emulate your favorite Tour doper and climb or sprint from the drops. Nitto’s trademark quality produces a handlebar that is stiff and strong (I unfortunately put the bike down on the Nitto’s maiden voyage, so I can confidently say that these things are tough) for years of comfort for your Palmela Handersons.
At around $50 a set, the Nitto Rando bars are a wallet friendly upgrade for anyone who wants to be comfortable on long rides…or short rides. They’d probably work well for medium distance rides, too.
For those of you not familiar with ‘cross racing, Ryan described it best as “combining the worst elements of bike riding and long distance running into one sport.” Admittedly, CX racing is, by nature, a sufferfest. You ride what equates to a road bike equipped with knobby tires over courses that may contain some or all of the following:
5) Barriers that require riders to shoulder their bikes and run with them.
In fact, race organizers have been working with the CIA and Area 51 to ensure that the worst weather of the year occurs between September and late November requiring CX races to take place in ankle deep mud and freezing rain and Category 5 hurricanes. While the racing may be miserable, watching your friends suffer before or after your race, brings miles of smiles.
The Seattle area has two CX racing series: MFG and Cross Revolution–neither of which are UCI sanctioned. Even though non-sanctioned racing can be frustrating to aspiring pros who are chasing points, removing the UCI licensing rules and requirements opens the door to anybody that wants to come out and play in the mud on whatever bike they want or can afford.
I’m pushing 40. I sit behind a desk 5 days a week and I’m lucky to get in an hour of riding a day Monday thru Friday. My training regimen consists of riding my bike for 6-8 hours a day on Saturday and Sunday, followed by large plates of food smothered in gravy and hot sauce.
That said, I could probably take racing more seriously, but that would take all the fun out of it. While I know many a racer who has thousands of dollars in their CX race bike, why spend all that money on something that you’re just going to destroy over the course of a race season? Cross racing ruins shiny paint jobs, makes derailleurs surrender their powers (they are a French invention, after all), and turns wheels into tacos for lunch.
For a weekend warrior like me, I just can’t justify literally throwing away thousands of dollars for the sake of entertainment….unless porn stars are involved, then it’s anybody’s guess. In all honesty, I’ve seen people on cobbled together mismatched rides decimate riders atop full carbon unobtanium steeds many, many times.
After watching my friends race for a couple of seasons, I decided to try this thing called cyclocross myself. Being a man of modest means, I found a budget ride at big box bike store Nashbar for about $400. I figured if I didn’t like racing cross, or if I wasn’t any good, I could always turn the bike into a commuter.
As it turns out, I LOVE racing cross…although, I’m still not any fucking good at it. I raced the bike mostly stock, save for the pedals and a secondhand saddle (thanks, Rob!) for 2 seasons. Realizing that the bike was pretty much useless going into the 3rd season, I decided a rebuild was in order. I knew I wanted to upgrade the brakes and I also wanted to go single speed for added simplicity and drivetrain strength. As a beer gutted man who hovers around 180-190, when mud and hills are added to the mix, things like spokes and chains and things begin to break.
Using the power of the internet, I found clearance parts, NOS pieces from a few years prior, and rebuilt the race bike for just a few hundy. I also scoured the used parts bins at the local non-profit bike shop. Most of those hundies are wrapped up in my Vuelta wheels. They are handbuilt, but I suspect that they are built by the same kid who builds electronics at the Foxconn facilities. I’ve created these fantastic infograms below showing how I pulled off such a feat.
So now, when I finish at the back of the pack, rather than people saying, “That guy sucks AND he has a $5000 race bike. What a dick!”, people say, “Wow, that guy sucks but he’s on a shitty beater bike. Dick.”
I sometimes need to remind myself that I work with as many hours in a day as Beyoncé does.
This blog takes a back seat to many things in my life. Things like working to pay the rent and buy bike parts, beer drinking and sometimes even riding my bike. That’s just how the cookie crumbles.
I get emails sometimes. Sometimes they’re about products or events or questions about this or that. Since I’ve been stoker on the tandem for a little while, I’m going to run through a few of the things that came across my desk. This is a video heavy post- one that has things to do with bikes, beer, dad bods and some good ol’ fashioned death metal.
First I’d like to share this- this beautiful trailer that Iggy put up on Facebook and I didn’t see until the wife showed it to me. It looks like an art movie- which might be better than most bike movies. Some of it has subtitles, so it means you’ll get smarter by watching it as well. And it has bmx riding.
Many of us have a simple bike that we use to get around town. A townie, commuter, grocery getter, bar bike, cruiser- it can go by many names, but the goal is usually a bike that fits in a niche that our others don’t. Well the folks at Speedvagen (Vanilla Bicycles) have made what they dub the “Urban Racer” and it is supposed to fill a void that no others can.
For the starting price of $4895 you can get your own in a couple months too.
Yeah. You read that right. Four thousand eight hundred and ninety five US dollars.
I’m sure it’s a fun bike. Like any bike is fun. Just for a frame of reference, you can also get this 1976 Corvette Stingray in Portland (where the Urban Racer is handmade) for less. $395 less. That $395 could then be put into some sweet airbrushing on the hood, some cocaine or maybe even a leather jacket from the mall.
Don’t get me wrong. I love skidding as much as the next guy, but I can do that on just about any bike. As far as utility goes, this bike doesn’t do it. As far as an “urban racer” goes, this a near $5k alley cat bike seems about as useful as tits on a bull.
But people will buy it. And that’s great, I guess.
Other perks of the urban racer include:
- Handmade in Portland
- Pictures took by a famous red head (not Shawn White)
- Chain guard
- Coaster brake
- 650b wheels
I want to get behind this bike- really I do. I just can’t. I can’t afford to. I’ve built coaster brake bikes from my parts bin and used shit I found used for about a hundred bucks. And they were fun as hell. Sometimes a bike like this helps me put it into perspective.
Do I need a $5000 bike with 2 speeds and “shredability?” No.
Does this bike suck? I highly doubt it. Vanilla and Speedvagen aren’t new to building bikes- they make beautiful works of art. And this may be just that. Art. A price tag for a collector.
Though it may be fun to ride- this go around I’m going to vote: Corvette. And you can drive it home- because your Speedvagen will take a couple months to be completed.
I’m usually not a fan of photochromic lenses. Don’t know what photochromic technology is? Well, in theory it’s awesome- the lenses darken with the increase of light- allowing for use in a wider range of light conditions. Great huh? In reality you can end up looking like, well… a crappy photo of Adam Levine taken from the Internet.
That said- I’m a man of function. I wear sweatpants at work. I sometimes wear socks and flip-flops (to be fair- this is mainly out of laziness, or to disgust my better half- but I have been known to do it.) When Ryders Eyewear reached out asking if I’d be interested in trying out their new line of glasses that sported hydrophobic, anti-fog & photochromic technologies- I had no qualms with volunteering.
As a cyclist and commercial fisherman with eyes that are light sensitive, I often find my eyewear subpar. Typically the biggest issue comes from the fogging of the lens. Living in Alaska and Seattle before that, I am all too familiar with humid environments- and when doing anything athletic my glasses fog up. When riding, the issue is when I stop on the trail or at a light. When I get going again the lenses usually clear, but not always. When fishing- I’ve got rubber rain gear on head to toe, hood up and can be busting my ass in this sweatsuit for hours on end. I literally clean and coat my lenses with FogX every hour when seining. Why not skip the shades when fishing you ask? Well- When a 15 pound jelly fish falls from the block onto your head- it’s 10ft tentacles draping across your face- eye protection will save your sight. If you’ve never had jellyfish in the eye- don’t try it. It may make you cry. You may become disoriented. You will not be comfortable and you may lose your ability to focus on the task at hand which is namely- to fish.
3 pairs arrived, all with microfiber bags and zippered cases. I received the Caliber, and two pairs of the Thorns.
I’ve been wearing them quite a bit since I received them- swapping out the pairs under different conditions and mood. I think my excitement for them has sold about half a dozen pairs to friends that have similar issues with optics.
So here’s the four F’s:
Function: These glasses have been on point. The anti-fog coating has proven very effective. I wore them on a 14hr slog through muskeg and tidal sloughs- sweating like a pig, and they fogged up only once. I feel confident that any other pair of glasses would have been thrown in the pack within the first hour because I wouldn’t have been able to keep the lenses clear. I think I’m an extreme case when it comes to sweating- so most of y’all will be just fine.
The lenses aren’t really dark to start. The Thorn has a yellow, the Caliber a brown- both good for low light conditions. They enhance vision in low light and darken enough when the sun is out to help. On full sun days a darker lens would be nice, but for much of the riding around here, especially in and out of the trees and cover- I find it better to err on the side of a lighter lens. If you’ve ever ridden from an open meadow into a brushed in trail- it can be difficult for the eyes to adjust.
I haven’t been able to really see a dramatic difference in the hydophopic fronts of the lens. In a light mist, water will get on the lens, and when I run them under the faucet along with a pair of my other glasses I don’t see much of a difference.
Fit: The Thorns are a bit snug for my cranium. If they were pants for the head- the Caliber would be more for the plus sized noggin- the Thorn for the hipster dome. Head shape will make a difference, but the Thorn temples pinch a little bit just above the ear. The temples extend higher and beyond the ear a little bit- which can contact a ball cap if I’m wearing one, sometimes dislodging the glasses. The Calibers are more comfortable in my opinion- the temples sliding comfortably over the ears. On the other hand, I prefer the nose pads on the Thorn.
Fashion: Here I’ll remind you that I wear sweat pants and socks with my flip-flops. Of the three pairs, I prefer the black Thorns with the yellow lenses. The style looks like they’ve been designed by people that ride mountain bikes. They’ll go well with a pickup truck and your downhill bike hanging off the tailgate. Though the white Thorns feel better in low light (maybe something with the orange rim that brightens up the view,) I feel like they could come with a discount code for a wake board or a dinner date with Guy Fieri.
The Caliber is semi-frameless which I’m not a huge fan of but they are comfortable. The lack of a lower frame leaves a little more room for air flow, which helps fog avoidance. To some- they won’t buy the glasses because it won’t match their fixed gear. That’s fine. They can stick to their Oakleys.
As far as any pair of performance eyewear I’ve used, these Ryders glasses have been my favorite. Hands down. Optically, they are clear. They are lightweight. The yellow and brown tints are useful in low lighting and the color change darkens well enough for partly cloudy days. They darken and lighten in a reasonable amount of time. Whatever black magic is used to keep the fog at bay- I’m for it.
Though the style doesn’t suit me to a tee- it’s something I’m happy to overlook because of the other features.
All that- and I’m giving a pair away. Yep. Over on the Instagram page. All you have to do is:
- Follow @GOMEANSGO and @RYDERSEYEWEAR on Instagram.
- Like the Ryders Eyewear Giveaway post.
- Tag a friend that would be jealous if you won.
That’s it. Winner announced 6/10. I’ll also dig around and put together a few more goodies for the lucky winner.
So get on your bikes and ride.
It’s that time of year again. When the girls come out to rip up the streets of Seattle in Menstrual Monday’s “Girls of Summer” all female alleycat race.
This no rules race around the Emerald city is open to women of all ages and skill levels whether this is your first alleycat race or your 40th.
Sat. June, 13. $5 registration 2PM. Racing starts at 3PM.
I’d been looking at this loop for a while now- Eyak River, down and around Pt Whitshed and back to Hartney Bay. It would be a fun little pedal/paddle trip. A quick day trip. 28 miles or so…
My wife, ever supportive yet always the realist- asked me how long it was going to take me. “Six hours, maybe eight.” I said.
She smiled. That smile she gives me when I tell her I’m just going to have one more beer at the bar. The smile that says: “I know you think that’s the case, but I know you and you’re full of shit.”
As it is most of the time- she was right.
Even though it’s just out my back door, I knew that chances were slim to none that I would see anyone for the day- so safety was a concern. Packing in the off chance that I’d have to bivy in the rainforest was necessary.
My pack list:
- Lunch: a couple granola bars, some dates, coffee in a thermos, a salmon sandwich, and a can of salmon in case I needed more. I had some GU Brew in my water bottle, and some IPA poured into a VAPR bottle that fit smartly into my water bladder (which had ice water in it to keep it cold.)
- iPhone to use my GaiaGPS app
- DeLorme InReach Explorer
- Packraft and paddle packed into my Blackburn handlebar harness
- PFD strapped to my backpack when not in use
- First Aid kit. with emergency blanket
- pack raft repair kit
- Tool kit, pump, Leatherman
- Bear spray (I opted for spray over gun because of weight.)
- Long underwear top and bottom and spare socks
I wore my brand new Louis Garneau techfit shirt and shorts, my sock guy socks, crappy sneakers, OR Helium jacket, and my light fishing shell pants. I wore my Hodala vest that was made by Doom and some smartwool arm warmers. A cycling cap and a stocking cap to keep my thoughts warm. Light GIRO gloves. I also brought along the new Ryders THORN sunglasses I’m trying out.
Wifey dropped me off at the trailhead on her way to work and I got started. Though I’ve lived here for near 10 of the last 15 years, I’ve never hiked the Eyak River Trail. I tried riding down it, figuring it would be quicker than paddling. I made it a couple hundred yards and gave up. It sucked. Up and down through roots and boulders- if that’s what it was going to be like- I was better off in the boat. I will walk or ride it in the future- but I’m thinking that that it’ll be like just about every other USFS trail in the area in that it was built to say “Fuck you” to mountain bikers. I got my raft together and then enjoyed a leisurely float down Eyak. Listening to birds and watching the sand tumble down in the current. It was quite peaceful.
Then came Mountain Slough. Years ago- I traveled a similar route in a canoe. But we couldn’t find Mountain Slough- so we took Eyak River all the way to salt water and paddled the coast. This time, through the miracle of GPS and some local knowledge, I found it. Though it isn’t much of a slough now, after the 1964 earthquake that raised the elevation in the area by six feet. A big sand bar marks where it used to be. I got into pedal mode.
In pedal mode, with 4” tires, I was able to navigate the sandy slough, through some of the veiny iron rich water deposits twisting and turning as sloughs often do. The brush above the slough became too thick to navigate, and the water too deep to ride through effectively so I resigned to staying afloat until Crystal Falls.
Back to paddle mode. The tide was going out, but I was high enough that the area isn’t affected tidally-much. Bike strapped up with the wheel and pedal off, I headed down stream… a very short distance. The water got to be about ankle deep- and my boat just wasn’t cutting it. Sloughs are a fickle lover. One stretch can be water head high. Turn the corner and it’s nothing but a puddle. More than once I was baffled as to where in the shit the water went. For the next few miles I clamored in and out of my raft- paddling or pulling. At about this point- 2 1/2 hours into the trip, I realize it was going to take me more than 6 hours.
I skipped the cutoff to explore Crystal Falls, an old abandoned cannery just off of Mountain Slough, as I was beginning to realize I needed to get my hustle on to make the tide. With big tides in this area and the best riding to be done at low water- sometimes you gotta beat feet to make it. I decided I’d take the straight shot across the intertidal area to Pt Whished.
This is where I started to question what in the hell I was thinking to start such a trip.
The muskeg and meadows and mud that I’ve seen from the air quite a bit looked far different up close. The muskeg in this area is in fact small little sloughs with mountains of grass between. It’s the equivalent of trying to ride over 6-12” curbs placed in no order, but between 10-20” apart. Soggy ground with slippery mud in-between. The “meadows” are water soaked bogs, often with tall grass and brush growing 2-4’ high, making riding impossible and pushing the bike very difficult. The mud is soft and gooey- like a greasy turd. Break through the surface of the gray slime and you get the black anaerobic compost of millions of years of decaying life.
Multiple times I sunk balls deep in a sinkhole and found myself staying afloat by using my bike as a snowshoe. At one point I was making headway riding in the refried beans-like mud. A low spot in the mud was ahead and I figured I could just hop my front wheel over it and keep going.
I hit the ground in an instant. Shit. My shoulder was about three inches in the mud, cheek to the slop. What was that sound? Did I just break my collarbone? Did my carbon fiber frame or fork just snap? Should I move? I slowly righted myself. I felt whole. I picked my bike up. Bike was good. The Blackburn handlebar roll carrying my raft however, didn’t make it. The bracket- which felt a little chintzy, has a little zip tie thingy to keep it in place and the thing snapped. Thankfully it didn’t fall into the tire and it still works, but it doesn’t stay quite in the right place.
About this time, I figured out that a certain point I got sand on my shirt or my backpack. This came to light as I was pushing my bike through 4” of mud. An uncomfortable sensation, sort of an itch- sort of a scratch. I lifted my shirt to find sand. I lowered my chamois to find…. sand. I don’t know if you’ve ever had sand in your chamois- but sand is what they make sandpaper from and riding on 60 grit isn’t something that I’m fond of. Thankfully much of the terrain was unrideable, so I only had to walk in my sandy chamois.
All this, 6 hours in, and I’m not even at my halfway mark. Shit. The first thoughts of where I might sleep for the night crossed my mind. My phone was near dead because the GPS app eats batteries like Garfield eats lasagna (mmmm…. lasagna) and for whatever reason, my Satellite txt unit, though it sat on the charger all night- didn’t take a charge. Though I knew where I was at- my concern was for communication with the wife that gets nervous if/when a situation like this arises. What should I do? What CAN I do. I looked around. Camping in 3” of water isn’t a good idea. I have weather on my side- I’m not broken and I know where I’m going.
So I took that to heart. That’s what I did. Pt. Whitshed was right there. I mean- I could almost touch it- 5 miles away. So I slogged along- stopping for water here and there, hopping some small sloughs, fording others.
I was stalked by two moose that were hanging back around 50 yards. After researching back in town I have learned that when they pull their ears back, raise the hair on their hump and lick their lips- you should get the fuck out of there. I wish I had read that before I left. Thankfully I didn’t have to use my tiny can of bear spray- as I don’t even know how effective it is on moose. But seriously- I’m more scared of moose in the woods than bears. I doubt I’ll leave my sidearm at home when I’m this area next time.
I got to the bay just to the east of Sunny Bay. I don’t know the name of it. It was 4:30. I’d transitioned from push/pedal to paddle 4 times now as I approached the biggest slough yet. About 10’ wide, it was a murky glacial blue that I couldn’t see a bottom in. That was it. Whitshed was close enough- My riding was minimal up this point and I’d been out 9 hours already. 9 fucking hours and I was half way. Man do I have a way of putting the “what the fuck was I thinking?” into Advewhat the fuck was I thinkingnture.
On the water, I was bucking the tide a little bit- but making ground. my legs were tired, as was my wind- turns out working on fishing boats and doing construction for the past 6 months hasn’t helped my cycling at all.
I paddled around Pt Whitshed, tide almost high- then around Wireless Point, then Big Pt. Then Gravel Pt. and into Hartney Bay. The tide just began to turn and I touched down at Hartney. I drug my boat up the beach and took everything down. Txt’d the wife (on the DeLorme as the phone was dead) that I was riding home, and got on the road. Pavement never felt so good under tire as those last 5 miles home. With no pasty mud holding me back- trying to glue me to the landscape- I felt like I was flying along.
I got home and the wife met me at the door with a warm hug, a cold beer and a hot meal. Some guys have all the luck.
All this and I realized a couple things:
- Sometimes it feels good to hurt bad.
- The people that lived here and traveled this area- even 50 years ago, were tough sumbitches. Way tougher than me.
- Bicycles are the cyclist’s selfies.
- For being as pessimistic as I am, I’m overly optimistic about how much time it will take me to do something.
- Bring snacks.
- Take pictures.
- Even if you don’t enjoy the whole ride, you’ll enjoy the story.
- When in heavy moose country- bring a sidearm.
Will I do the trip again? Yes and no. If I do the same route- I’ll skip the bike. I may try and ride the Eyak River trail- as much as is rideable. I want to explore Crystal Falls- maybe overnight there.
I’m really loving my packraft. I enjoy making loops out of trips because out-and-backs are for suckers. I’m still working on my pack list. I felt fairly good about my preparedness minus the electronics which are not necessarily crucial- though do offer some safety especially the DeLorme satellite txt unit.
And some gear reviews:
I wore my Louis Garneau Techfit shorts and shirt under my shell as a base. The shirt was great- I didn’t use the back pocket- but the zipper didn’t chafe under my pack. I would prefer a snap to the Velcro closure on the shorts as I could feel the edge of the Velcro on my tender muffin top. A belt might have helped keep them up- they sagged a bit when soaked with silty water. The chamois fit well and was quite comfortable. I wore a size XL in both and like many cycling garments- I couldn’t go smaller. European cycling companies don’t care that Americans are getting fatter. They’ll call a spade a spade. That “extra-medium” you’ve been wearing… Yeah- get a large.
I also have been wearing the shit out of my Ryders sunglasses. I brought the Thorns out and they were great. The anti-fog feature works really well- though I did manage to fog them up. It was actually well beyond fog, more like water droplets- I’m a heavy sweater. One wipe down though and I was good to go. I feel confident in saying that most shades would have been worthless for much of the trip. The hydrophobic outside doesn’t seem that effective, but the photochromic lens- especially the yellow was great for a grey day. Looking at the frames, I was surprised to see that they are only UV400. That may have something to do with the other technologies- but if 100% UV protection is real important to you- it’s something you should know. The Thorns fit snugly- maybe even too snugly for my fat noggin. The pinch point is right above my ears. The Caliber model fits better, but I like the look and yellow tint (as opposed to brown) of the Thorn.
So that’s all that’s fit to print. And this is all being done on my phone- as I sit back on the boat on the Gulf of Alaska. Here’s to more bike rides and to moving forward. I hope my misadventures inspire you to push your limits, to explore the wilds around you and to breathe deep the fresh air that your lungs were built for.
Middle Fork Road just outside of North Bend, WA has been under construction in some form since dinosaurs roamed the earth. However, a series of small landslides washed out sizable sections of the road leading to some of the Seattle area’s best hiking and camping, rendering the road impassable to any motor vehicles short of Bigfoot V. While that sucks for those who insist on travelling by car, it’s a boon for those of us who don’t mind powering our own adventures.
I recently heard about Goldmyer Hot Springs, which is a 20 mile trek up what’s left of the Middle Fork Road to an old mining camp featuring a volcanic spring that spews hot water out of the side of a mountain like a college freshman who’s bonged one too many Peebers. At some point, someone decided to corral this spewing flow and create a couple of small jacuzzi tubs and a grotto carved into an old mine shaft…heh heh…shaft. Thus, creating the Goldmyer Hot Springs “resort.”
It is highly recommended that you call and make reservations at Goldmyer, as they only allow 20 people per day to pass through the area. There’s no just “popping in” to take a peek.
Entry to the hot springs is $15. Oddly, it’s only another $5 to spend the night in one of a handful of unique campsites. I’m bad at math, but I think there are roughly 10 sites to choose from, each with its own flavah. I chose site #1 because it was the easiest to access with my Spinnabago single speed cross bike towing a craigslist BOB trailer.
The ride up was the longest 20 miles of my life. Single speed cyclocross bike with a trailer meant walking and portaging sections I probably could have cleaned on a geared MTB. Live and learn, I guess. Most of the road is potholed gravel. Only a few sections are truly washed out, but probably doable on a more off-road oriented bicycle.
But not having to worry about a single car was peaceful and fantastic!
Once I got just a few miles away from the newly “improved” Mailbox Peak trailhead area, I only saw a couple of mountain bikers and one or two errant hikers the entire trip.
There is no water on the road up or at Goldmyer, so be sure to bring filtration equipment. I carry a Lifestraw with me and designate an old water bottle to crappy water duty so I don’t have to carry extra water with me all the time. Since this trip parallels the middle fork of the Snoqualmie river most of the way, stopping to refill on unfiltered water is never a problem. The river also cuts through the campgrounds at Goldmyer, so that’s handy, too. I also brought along a 96 oz Nalgene collapsible bottle to reduce the number of trips to the river once at camp.
When you “check in” with the caretakers at Goldmyer, you get your choice of a couple of sizes of bear canisters to choose from. I guess that’s what the extra 5 bucks is for. The campsites are first come first served. Since the road access is pretty much nonexistent, you should probably have your pick of the bunch. Each campsite has its own unique features, as well as a simple line and pulley system to hang your bear can. Most have old mining equipment biodegrading away, which I thought was pretty cool. The “resort” features the nicest outhouse I’ve ever seen. It’s clean and heated with gas (no pun intended). The caretakers provide TP, Glade poop smell camouflage spray and hand sanitizer.
Glass bottles and campfires are not allowed at Goldmyer. However, you can cook on a camp stove at your campsite. I brought along my trusty $30 Esbit solid fuel stove, which works great for solo trips. No alcohol or weed is allowed at the hot springs themselves, but you can drink at your campsite so long as things don’t get out of hand. Basically, don’t be a dick, and you should be fine.
Speaking of dicks, Goldmyer is classified as a “clothing optional” place of relaxation, so just be aware of that.
If you make a trip to Goldmyer and enjoy yourself so much that you want to stay, they are looking for caretakers for a 4 month summer stint. You are afforded a cool cabin to live in, complete with satellite TV and interwebs and a stipend to help pay for your real world bills.
I spend much of my off time volunteering with a local non-profit, working with people disabilities to help get them active in the outdoors. Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to be able to tag along for a ride with the Wounded Warrior Project down in Oregon in exchange for my homegrown “mechanical” skills.
We took a drive a 4 hour drive to scenic Hood River, which would serve as our basecamp for the weekend. While Hood River has long been known as a mecca for windsurfing and kite boarding, it’s also home to some fantastic mountain biking and road cycling.
Lots and lots of breweries. Of you like adult beverages, Hood River will not disappoint.
The Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail is an actual old highway that runs parallel to the current highway 84/ Oregon 30 along the banks of the mighty Columbia river like a watery Mason-Dixon line separating the states of Washington and Oregon so they don’t battle it out for Pacific NW supremacy. The complete route, which includes sections where you ride along the highway shoulder as well as fully protected sections, runs the distance between Troutdale and the Dalles. Total distance is just over 80 miles each way.
For this particular ride, we stuck to the sections of the trail that were fully protected, for safety sake.
The trail runs along a ridge line high above the current highway, so you get great views and very little road noise. 13 or so miles are completely closed to motorized vehicles, giving riders a chance to ride at their own pace and stop when they want for photos.
Along the way are numerous parks to rest or camp at, as well as plenty of things to see. The Bonneville Dam is on the route, as is the Bridge of the Gods and one of the PCT trail heads (for you “Wild” enthusiasts).
Even though over 300,000 people a day use this trail, the path never seemed congested, and is very family friendly. The parking at the trailheads, however, paint a different picture, so get there early.
I’m planning a trip for later in the summer where I can experience the 160 mile out and back in its entirety, so stay tuned. I’m just waiting for my brother to get settled into his new place in the Portland area, so I don’t have to pay for parking!