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Almost epic muni ride



 
 
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  #1  
Old September 16th 03, 10:34 AM
john_childs
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Default Almost epic muni ride


For several years I have wanted to do an epic muni ride. However, I
have never been in good enough shape to actually do it. Until now.
Last Sunday I set out on my epic.

Epic means that itís a long ride with lots of climbing. People will
debate on what exactly constitutes an epic ride. I set my definition of
a muni epic at more than 20 miles and more than 5000 feet of climbing.

The ride I planned is called The Palisades Trail out near Mt. Rainier.
The route I took is detailed in a local guide book called 'Kissing The
Trail by John Zilly' (http://www.adventurepress.com/books.htm). The
ride also goes by several other names depending on who you talk to.
Itís also known as Noble Knob or Dalles Ridge. There are several
starting points and ending points. Not everyone does the same loop.
The route I took is detailed online he 'Noble Knob Ride Summary'
(http://www.geocities.com/lapiche2/nobleknob.html) Take a look at the
elevation profile. Espicially the first 5.2 miles.

The ride stats that John Zilly gives for Palisades is:
21.7 miles, loop
cumulative gain: 5,100 feet

There is also a similar ride called Ranger Creek:
18.1 miles, loop
cumulative gain: 4,100 feet

Both the Palisades ride and Ranger Creek ride are the same for the first
10 miles. At mile 10 the rides split. Go left for Ranger Creek and go
right for Palisades.

I think his elevation gain is under-reported because of the little
climbs along the trail. But from a macro view (ignoring the small
stuff) itís probably an accurate number.

The Ride:

The ride starts with a climb from hell up Forest Service Road 7174
(a.k.a. Corral Pass Road). The climb is 5.2 miles long and climbs from
an elevation of 3,100 feet to 5,700 feet. I'll save you the math,
that's 2600 vertical feet of torture. If you're so inclined, you can do
the math to figure out the average percent grade. The climb is a bit
steep and the road is a bit rough. The combination makes it very unfun.
The steepness is just beyond my ability to do a sustained climb without
blowing up and the legs turning to rubber. I desperately needed a
granny gear on my muni. I had to walk parts of the climb. I had to
walk more of the climb than I would have liked. It took me two hours to
finish that 5.2 mile death march. The bikes do it in around 1:40 using
their granny gear and the 2nd and 3rd largest cogs on the rear cluster.
The climb is a bitch. Mostly the grade is fairly constant. The grade
steepens in the switchback turns and there is a short flatish section.
But mostly the grade is constant. Next time I want to shuttle the
climb.

To top it off, my air seat went flat on me during the climb. I wasnít
sitting in the saddle much during the climb so it wasnít a big deal. I
also have foam on top of the inner tube so I still had some
cushioning.

At the top of the Corral Pass Road climb you rest. The legs are not
very happy. Youíll feel the effects of that climb in the legs for the
rest of the ride. I was too lazy to fix the air seat so I just pumped
it up and hoped that it would hold air for a little bit. I didnít want
to take the seat apart on the trail and patch the tube.

Here the single track begins. It starts out on a trail called Nobel
Knob. The trail climbs a little bit but the grade is easy (although the
legs are still not ready to give you full power after that Corral Pass
Road climb). The Nobel Knob trail offers some stunning views of Mt.
Rainier. See the picture listed in the Nobel Knob Ride Summary trail
log at mile 5.75 'here'
(http://www.geocities.com/lapiche2/nobleknob.html)
http://tinyurl.com/nimq. (yeah that second link directly to the jpg
isn't going to work because of geocities, but if you paste it into a
browser window that's already open to geocities.com you can get it to
work) That view makes the climb worthwhile. Mt. Rainier looks
different when you're up on a ridge looking at it across the valley.
There are a few bits of exposure on the trail where you donít want to be
doing a cliffside uni retrieval. So hang on to the muni when you UPD.

The air seat held air for a short bit, but I was soon riding with just
the foam for padding. I stilll didnít feel like taking the seat apart
on the trail so I just pumped it up again and left the tube unpatched.

The trail mostly follows the ridge. There are some downhill switchbacks
and a nice short rocky downhill bit. Your typical ridge trail stuff
Washington style. My legs were still feeling the effects of the death
march climb up Corral Pass Road so I tried to take it easy on the trail
so my legs would have some chance to recover.

After a little bit of a descent you end up at mile 10.6 which is the
decision point. Do I turn right to take the trail to Palisades or do I
turn left and take the shorter ride down Ranger Creek. So I had to make
a decision -- Am I a man or am I a wimp. Iím a wimp. I opted for the
shorter ride. That would make the trip less than epic, but the legs
were not feeling like doing any more climbing or any extra mileage.
Iíll have to save Palisades for another day.

Palisades would be a great ride with great views of Mt. Rainier from up
on the cliffs. The switchback turns on Palisades go right to the edge
of the cliff. See picture 'here' (http://tinyurl.com/nimr) If you
overshoot the switchback turn you better hope you can fly like Chris
LeFay. The views from up there would be worth it. Unfortunately I'm
not man enough to have experienced those views. There are no great
views on the Ranger Creek trail. The trail is all in the forest which
strategically shields any magnificent views of Mt. Rainier.

There is a very modest log cabin structure here with some nice large
logs to sit on. I finally decided that this would be a good point to
repair the air seat. I took the air seat apart and patched up the
little pinhole leak in the tube. Ah... The seat is much more
comfortable with air in it.

I also met up with several riders from the 'BBTC' (http://www.bbtc.org/)
at the cabin. The BBTC is the Seattle area mountain bike club I belong
to. There were a lot of BBTC riders on the trail that day because they
were showing two IMBA reps their favorite trails in the area.
Unfortunately I also got outed while I was waiting at the cabin. I put
my feet up on a log and someone noticed I was wearing Vans. He was
wondering who was wearing Vans and riding platform pedals because there
were Vans footprints going up Corral Pass Road.

The rest of the ride down Ranger Creek is all downhill. There are some
very tight switchbacks that drive the bikes nuts, but theyíre easy on a
unicycle. I made every switchback but one on the way down. That one
switchback was like a scree field with deep and loose fist size rocks.
No traction. You just go sliding. No way to stop to make the turn.

From the end of the Ranger Creek Trail it was a little over a mile along
a contour line trail back to the car. A little bit of short climbing,
but nothing too long.

The ride started at 10:15 AM and finished at 5:30 PM. I donít know how
much of that time was ride time and how much was rest time. I spent a
lot of time sitting, talking and patching my air seat at the cabin. I
also spent time elsewhere along the trail resting.

After the ride there was dinner at a pub with some of the BBTC folks and
the two IMBA reps. What a way to cap off the ride.

Next time Iím doing the Palisades Trail. I think it would be possible
to climb up the Ranger Creek Trail to the cabin where the Palisades
Trail starts. I think the climb up The Ranger Creek would be easier
than doing the Corral Pass Road climb. The climb would also be less
elevation and the total distance for the ride would also be less. Iíll
have to investigate that possibility. But then, that would make it less
than epic.

It was a great ride with some suffering thrown in to make it epic. If
we ever have a muni weekend here in Washington that trail will be on the
list for the expert ride. We could shuttle up Corral Pass Road and
avoid the nasty part of the ride and get to enjoy the good parts.

John "still need to do an epic" Childs


--
john_childs - Guinness Mojo

john_childs (at) hotmail (dot) com
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  #2  
Old September 16th 03, 02:45 PM
onefiftyfour
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Default Almost epic muni ride


Epic for me means I got lost for several hours. That doesn't happen
here in Austin. But I've had epic rides (on a bike) in Maryland and
Pennsylvania.

-Eric


--
onefiftyfour - Eric
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  #3  
Old September 16th 03, 04:41 PM
harper
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Default Almost epic muni ride


This is why the rest of us in the Seattle riding group spend so much
time on the trail looking at John's back fading into the distance. This
is also why we call him "JC". John offered to let the rest of us come on
this ride with him but we all scrambled quickly to find lawns to mow or
garages to paint.


--
harper - Old dog, no tricks

-Greg Harper

B L U E S H I F T

"I managed to get my missus riding a couple of yards before she got
pregnant with Jenny, but she hasn't tried riding since. " - Danny
Colyer

"Sa da tay! Sepotown!" - Pootie Tang


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  #4  
Old September 16th 03, 10:29 PM
gerblefranklin
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Default Almost epic muni ride


That's an incredible ride. You made downieville sound easy . If you
ever have your unicycle fall off one of the palisades cliffs, be sure to
snap a picture of the confused biker complaining about these raining
unicycles. Also, has anyone ever considered trying the San Francisco
classic? It's 108 miles for the bikers, throughout some of SF's most
brutal hills. I guess you'd need a multi-speed uni, so you could bomb
down the hills with ease then climb the steep ones without a dismount.
BTW, Nathan, were you riding the SF classic course? That race happened
on Sunday I think. Or, did you find another route. Hey, could you e-mail
me for your next non-coker muni ride? I'd
love to do some Santa Cruz trails on my 24x3.

Cheers!


--
gerblefranklin

If life had a meaning, would you want to know it?



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  #5  
Old September 16th 03, 11:06 PM
johnfoss
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Default Almost epic muni ride


Sounds like a great ride, John. I look forward to doing it at a future
MUni Weekend.

By your definition, I haven't done any epic rides either. But I've been
pretty happy with the ones I've done though. For me, I think a
definition of epic would have to be relative to the fitness and skill
level of the individual. For some, the Downieville Downhill could be an
epic (especially after two previous days of riding). But for someone
like Brett Bymaster, riding Downieville *UP* might not even count as
epic.

Using a fixed standard, once one gets to a certain fitness level, epic
rides wouldn't be that hard any more. I think the epic has to scale with
you.

Nathan and friends rode some variation of the 49-Mile Scenic Drive last
weekend. I was in Reno at the air races, so I had a valid excuse (no
garage painting).


--
johnfoss - Now riding to work

John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone
"jfoss" at "unicycling.com"
www.unicycling.com

"Where's my kids?" -- Amy Drummond
"Where's my unicycle?" -- Andy Cotter
spoken one right after the other, mostly to themselves, at NAUCC 2003

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  #6  
Old September 17th 03, 01:13 AM
showard
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Default Almost epic muni ride


John - Thanks for the writeup ... very good reading. Let us know about
that Seattle MUni weekend will you?

Steve Howard


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  #7  
Old September 17th 03, 08:40 AM
jagur
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Default Almost epic muni ride


john_childs wrote:
*

I finally decided that this would be a good point to repair the air
seat. I took the air seat apart and patched up the little pinhole
leak in the tube. Ah... The seat is much more comfortable with air in
it.

*

how long did that take? to me,beyond the physical is the most amazing
portion of the story.i carry the tools to do it but dread the time i
have to.this is also the reason i also use a layer of foam on top with
the air.lesser minds have said to just chuck it,not true!


--
jagur - Random Unicyclist

---------------------------------------------------
-searching for the real one wheel deal,the one that wont but will...
all i ask is one rotation,on this vision of singular creation...-[image:
http://newserver.unicyclist.com/gall...x_flipped.gif]
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  #8  
Old September 17th 03, 09:47 AM
john_childs
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Default Almost epic muni ride


jagur wrote:
*
how long did that take? to me,beyond the physical is the most amazing
portion of the story.i carry the tools to do it but dread the time i
have to.this is also the reason i also use a layer of foam on top with
the air.lesser minds have said to just chuck it,not true!
*


The air seat repair was actually quicker than I expected. It was nice
to do it at the cabin where I had a place to sit down and spread out my
tools. I didn't want to do it sitting on the trail in the dirt. The
part I was most worried about was finding the hole. I was worried that
it might be such a small hole I wouldn't be able to find it, and I
didn't have a tub of soapy water handy up there to make finding the leak
easier. Fortunately I was able to over-inflate the tube and quickly
find the leak.

I only took the rear bumper off and left the front bumper and seat cover
on. I pulled the air pillow out from the back. Patched the tube and
then slid the air pillow back in. It was quick. Less time that it
would have taken to repair a flat Gazz.

It wasn't perfect. The tube ended up with some lumps and folds that it
shouldn't have so the result wasn't perfect. But it was certainly good
enough. I'm going to rip the whole seat apart anyways now and put in a
new tube so I'll get it perfect then. The tube was quite chafed and
needs to be replaced.

There was tube dust (very much like eraser rubbings) all over in the air
pillow. The tube needs to be replaced. I'll have to put air seat tube
replacement on my annual uni maintenance schedule. It's better to
replace it before it gets in a condition where it gets worn spots from
chafing.

I only bring a pump, patch kit, spare 24x3 tube, and all the tools
necessary to tighten every nut and bolt when I go on long rides. For
short rides I just carry a few allen keys. For short rides I figure
that it would be easier to just walk back to the car than do a trailside
tire repair. Fortunately this qualified as a long ride so I brought my
tools. The only thing I didn't bring was a spare 16" tube for the air
seat.

What surprised me is that I didn't get angry when my seat went flat. I
can get angry at my uni when parts fail on me, especially on a ride that
I've dedicated the entire day too along with all the travel time. I was
actually so nonchalant about it that I didn't even bother to fix it
until 10 miles later. Weird.

I'm sure if Greg was there he'd have been egging me on to get me angry.


--
john_childs - Guinness Mojo

john_childs (at) hotmail (dot) com
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  #9  
Old September 17th 03, 07:43 PM
Nathan Hoover
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Default Almost epic muni ride

I finally decided that this would be a good point to repair the air
seat. I took the air seat apart and patched up the little pinhole
leak in the tube. Ah... The seat is much more comfortable with air in
it.

*

how long did that take? to me,beyond the physical is the most amazing
portion of the story.i carry the tools to do it but dread the time i
have to.this is also the reason i also use a layer of foam on top with
the air.lesser minds have said to just chuck it,not true!


Mine blew on Orizaba and I patched it at 15,300' in the hut. It doesn't take
long - no magic!

---Nathan


  #10  
Old September 26th 03, 10:07 AM
john_childs
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Default Almost epic muni ride


Mission accomplished -- sort of.

Because I wimped out and did not ride the Palisades trail two weeks ago
on my epic ride attempt, I went back today and rode Palisades. I didn't
follow the same route as I did two weeks ago. That route is too epic.
Instead I opted to climb up the Ranger Creek Trail. That made for about
2700 feet of climbing on single track over about 5.5 miles. There is
another 600 feet or so climbing along the Palisades trail. Climbing up
Ranger Creek is a lot more fun than climbing up Corral Pass Road.
You're in the trees and there are no cars passing you. I think I rode a
little less than half of the climb. The upper part of the climb was too
steep and rocky and rooty to climb up. And I was getting tired.

Ride stats:
about 15 to 16 miles
about 3300 feet climbing on single track
total time 6 hours

This ride involved quite a bit of hike-a-uni. Some trails are like
that. I hiked about half of the climb. I hiked sections of exposure on
the cliffs that I was not comfortable with. And there is a 1/2 mile to
3/4 mile long section at the end of the ride that is not rideable
(everyone hikes that section including the bikes). At least it's easier
to hike-a-uni than hike-a-bike.

I brought a camera along this time so there are some pictures in my
gallery:
http://www.unicyclist.com/gallery/john_childs
http://www.unicyclist.com/gallery/Palisades2003

Palisades is a challenging trail due to the climbing and the exposure.
There aren't very many sections where you can relax and just ride and
take it easy. The bikes have chewed up parts of the trail so there are
now ruts and stutter bumps (braking bumps) approaching some of the
switchbacks and other technical bits where the bikes have to put their
brakes on hard. Some of the braking bumps are deep enough to cause
pedal strikes on the sides of the hole. I was very tired at the end of
the ride. More tired than I was after the Ranger Creek ride two weeks
ago even though this ride was shorter and had less climbing. If I had
opted to ride Palisades two weeks ago the ride would have been truly
epic. I'm very glad now that I opted for the shorter ride two weeks ago
now that I know what I would have been in for.


--
john_childs - Guinness Mojo

john_childs (at) hotmail (dot) com
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