Cycle Oregon - Past and Future?

Just a quick update...

You may have wondered what I have been doing over the last month? I know I have! 

Well, it all started with a snow storm...

Our house after the big dump, just before we got out the snow shovels. That's about 9" of snow in the grass.When it was all said and done we ended up with about 10" of snow, a little more than average. That was followed-up by an ice storm. The one-two punch of snow and ice literally shut down the area for a week starting on January 16th. Luckily our power outage only lasted for a single day but the end result was that my kids didn't go to school for a week. 

I took some time and started writing up my ride reports from Cycle Oregon 2011. Eventually I'll add reports from Cycle Oregon 2009 when I have the time.

In the mean time Cycle Oregon announced their route for 2012: Bly, Silver Lake, Ft. Klamath, Crater Lake, Prospect, Ashland, Mt. Ashland, and back to Bly. 

Cycle Oregon 2012 RouteThe route covers nearly 500 miles and 40,000 feet of climbing. They did indeed climb add the highest paved road in Oregon (Crater Lake) but they also added the second highest paved road, the Mt. Ashland Ski area access road. So on the 5th day of the ride they essentially do the Mt. Ashland Hill Climb.

I expected the route to sell out quickly but many people were not prepared for it to sell out in *gasp* 40 minutes! I predicted 20 hours but that wasn't even close. My plan from the beginning was to wait for the sellout and be the first to sign up for the wait list. This gives me more time to butter-up the wife and convince her that I need to go. If that doesn't work I have other plans.

So I have some work to do to prepare for whatever this summer ends up being. More to come...



Reflections on 2011

"So long 2011, don't let the door hit ya in the rear on the way out..." - My Sister, as posted to FB.

I'll get this out of the way quickly: as far as triathlon is concerned, 2011 sucked. Even though I crashed in 2010 it was still better than 2011. This year I only finished 1 race. Ugg. What made up for that? CYCLE OREGON 2011. Read on if you dare...

Biking info

Number of rides: 125

Miles biked: 1690.30 (nearly 500 was on Cycle Oregon)

Elevation gained: 108,485'

Total Saddle Time: 138:08:35 (hh:mm:ss)

Run info

Number of runs: 24

Miles: 91.91

Elevation gained: 8,274'

Total Run Time: 17:31:48  (hh:mm:ss)


Starting weight: 284.4

Ending weight: 288.4 (net change: +4.0 pounds)


Races/Events finished:

Beaver Lake Triathlon (Sprint)

Tour de Blast

Cycle Oregon 2011 - "Going Coastal"


Overview: (see the race reports for details)

"Be a man! Take some Pepto Bismol and ________!" (Fill in the blank with every event I missed last year)

No more excuses. This year was lame. Next year will be better.

At the Beaver Lake Tri I learned that my bike training was terrible. I did PR on the swim but came no where close on my bike/run goals. 

On the Tour de Blast I learned that the best weather preparation in the world only works if you actually bring your bad weather clothing on the ride. I won't be making that mistake again. Otherwise it would have been an EPIC bad-weather ride.

Cycle Oregon 2011 once again proved that my bike training this year was poor but that is the only thing bad I have to say about that ride. It was amazing in almost every way. I am waiting with baited-breath for the 2012 kick-off Party where I will finally decide whether or not I'm going to kill myself to get there in 2012.

Lessons learned:

  1. I need to find a new way to deal with illnesses and still train. More to come...
  2. Focus earlier in the year on distance running and cardio volume.
  3. My best and more consistent results are still from bike commuting, which I try to do 3-5x per week during the spring/summer and early fall months.


Cycle Oregon 2011 Summary

Cycle Oregon Week Route MapI will be posting full reports for each day of Cycle Oregon later (yes, all 7 days). Why 7 reports? Because my father would kill me if I don't, that's why. }B^)

My special Cycle Oregon page is not up!


Wow, what a ride! While not as scenic as CO2009, where we climbed 4 mountain passes, it's hard to beat the Oregon Coast. Day 1 was short while Day 2 was long and actually pretty difficult. Days 2-5 were very scenic while Day 6 was a leg-burner. Day 7 was a nice wrap-up through areas around Roseburg where I lived during my High School days. In terms of effort I was surprised at the level of effort required on days that I thought would be quite easy.

Daily Ride Details

Here are the official online maps and my Garmin GPS details for each day:

Rural views along Elkhead Road

Day 1: Route map GPS Track Ride Report






Smith RiverDay 2:

Route map

GPS Track

Ride Report



Cape Arago State ParkDay 3:

Route map

GPS Track

Ride Report



Capa Blanco LighthouseDay 4:

Route map

GPS Track

Ride Report




  Wigwam burner, Myrtle Point OR

Day 5:

Route map

GPS Track

Ride Report




Stairway to Heaven!Day 6:

Route map

GPS Track

Ride Report



Covered Bridge, Riddle, ORDay 7:

Route map

GPS Track

Ride Report




As of October 1st all pictures from the ride are on my Flickr website.

Ride Highlights

  1. No mechanical issues! No flats, no broken spokes, nothing! Can't ask for anything more in that category.
  2. No health issues or injuries.
  3. Great scenery: wonderful views of rural Oregon, the Oregon coast, and coastal mountain ranges.
  4. Great people: can't say enough about the fun, friendly riders and volunteers on this ride. They continue to be one of the best parts of the trip.
  5. Wonderful weather - only had 1 morning on the coast that was cool with heavy mist (i.e. not quite rain). The rest of the time was warm and sunny, which is unusual for the coast.

Ride Lowlights

  1. Lack of training - Just as in CO2009 I did not train nearly enough: not enough miles and not enough seat-time. Will I ever learn my lesson?
  2. My Camera - once again my Sony DSC-S730 camera has fallen below my performance expectations. I plan to make a purchase before my next major tour/ride/campout to avoid these issues. Several key shots that I wanted did not come out as expected.
  3. Shoe issues - I need new in-soles in my bike shoes. The current ones did not provide enough cushioning on the vast amounts of chip-seal we experienced.


I am now Cycle Oregon +15 days and recovery is now complete, even though my bag is still not 100% unpacked. I was hobbling around only for 1 day with most soreness completely gone by day 3. On the Friday after returning I took a ride into Seattle for a work event(aka the annual stress test of the cell towers around Safeco Field) and ended up doing just about 50 miles. Wow, my legs were rebelling. If they could speak they would be saying, "I thought we were done with this?"

Next year?

Will I be doing Cycle Oregon in the future? Absolutely, but perhaps not next year. Taking 8 days away from my family is a hard sell initially and then hard on everyone involved (i.e. my wife).

On the night of Day 6 every year they give a hint about the next year's ride. This is what I wrote down on my phone as Jonathan Nicholas was speaking to the crowd. Accuracy is not 100%, so take that into account-

"Seed of a clue: That hill we climbed yesterday was too short. One day next year we are going to climb higher, longer, without backtracking, than we ever have."

2012 will be the 25th anniversary of the Cycle Oregon week ride. I'm sure they have an EPIC ride planned. I'm just not sure my family is ready for me to do it again.


Cycle Oregon Countdown: 2 Days To Go!

Packed and ready!2 days to go until Cycle Oregon 2011!

What did I just type? 2 days left? AAHHH!! Panic time! Well, not quite but time is very short. This is where I will probably spend the least amount of time sleeping. Why won't that be tomorrow night? Well, because tonight is my last night at home before I drive down to Sutherlin, Oregon and begin my adventure. That's right, Cycle Oregon Day 0 starts tomorrow at approximately 10 am.

Tonight I will spend several hours laying awake in bed running through my packing list and memories of the 2009 ride thinking about all the things I may have forgotten. How many times will I get out of bed to check my bag to make sure _____ (fill in the blank) is still in the bag? My prediction is 2. Any odds on 3 or more?

The entire drive from Sammamish, Washington to Sutherlin, Oregon is about 357 miles which I should be able to cover in just about 6 hours. Leaving at 10 am will put me there around 4 pm, assuming I don't stop to do any shopping along the way, which I most likely will do.

Several people have asked me if I will be using my blog or social media on this ride and the answer is a resounding, "YES!" And so I present...

Top 5 Ways to Follow Me on Cycle Oregon 2011

  1. this website) - You can do the direct link or use the RSS feed. If you are reading this then you know where to find me. I will be posting regular updates, possibly every day but at least 2-3 times during the week. After the ride I will post a full-write up. But first I will need have some time to sort through all the pictures and collect my thoughts.
  2. Facebook - You can Like me on Facebook or even read the RSS feed. I will be sending out brief updates throughout the week, most likely several times a day.
  3. Twitter: @normalguytri - This will be almost a full duplication of what's on Facebook since the two are linked.
  4. Flickr - I will periodically be posting pictures taken from my phone on a Flickr Set I created for this ride.
  5. Google+ - Just look for Lee Donnahoo on Google+. Not sure I will update it much but maybe I'll post there a couple of times.

Of course all this assumes that I have the right cord for my phone to recharge it along the way. Or maybe I'll use the Blogmobile. I considered buying a Spot or the Garmin GTU 10 to automatically broadcast my location but I couldn't justify the cost. The ability to have a website with your current coordinates is very attractive, especially with the Spot where you don't need cell service to use it, but with a ride like Cycle Oregon they have you covered in emergencies. For future hikes or unsupported rides it may help to ease some minds (i.e. my wife's) but that decision will not be made today.



Cycle Oregon Countdown: 10 days to go!

10 days to go until Cycle Oregon 2011!

I have a countdown on my door at work which reminds me every time I walk into my office.

Today, while parusing the Cycle Oregon Forum on my lunch break, I decided to come up with...

The Top 10 best songs for cycling to be played from a SAG wagon. OK, it started as 10 and grew to 15 before I was finished. And then 20 when I added the hill climbing songs.

Disclaimer: I don't wear headphones when I ride and neither should you. I do wear them when I am inside, on my trainer, and looking at the 4 walls of my family room on cold, wet, and icy winter days.

So what's a SAG wagon? Well, on Cycle Oregon they look something like this...

  Cycle Oregon 2009 SAG Wagons at Glendale, OR  According to Wikipedia, which is never wrong, a SAG wagon is a vehicle that follows riders on a race or recreational ride to pick up riders who are unable to complete the event. Why "SAG?" It's supposed to be short for riders who are "sagging behind". They usually have a driver and a radio operator and carry supplies for the riders.

On Cycle Oregon they have loud speakers mounted on the roofs which they use to play motivational music for the riders. SAG wagons are basically party wagons. The CO SAG drivers/volunteers usually have a theme for their crew such as pirates, cowboys, race car drivers, etc.

On the Cycle Oregon forum they asked what type of music they should play? Such is the genesis of my list.

The Top 15 Songs to be Played by SAG Wagons on Cycle Oregon 2011...

  1. Bicycle Race - Queen: This absolutely must be in every cycling play list. It's the law. Don't bother looking it up because you will find it on every law book, article, or court judgement regarding cycling play lists.
  2. Cool, Clear Water - Marty Robbins: I know what you are thinking. No, I haven't lost it. They should play this on long, hot climbs. Trust me on this one.
  3. Bad Motor Scooter - Montrose: It's about getting out and riding. Need I say more? OK, it's about motorcycles, but so what? So is the next one...
  4. Slow Ride - Foghat: For when you need to slow down and chill.
  5. Runnin' Down a Dream - Tom Petty: Makes me want to ride fast every time I hear it.
  6. Danger Zone - Kenny Loggins: This one works best at the top of big hills just before you descend.
  7. I Was Made For Loving You - KISS: One of the worst songs KISS ever produced (come on, it's DISCO!) but it has a great driving beat and inane lyrics that make you want to run away. Or pedal really fast to get away from it. MAKE IT STOP! MAKE IT STOP!
  8. Radar Love - Golden Earring: Come on, it's half past 4 and I'm shifting gears! Doesn't that make you want to pick up the tempo?
  9. 1 Bourbon 1 Scotch 1 Beer - George Thorogood: I don't know why but I love to ride to this song.
  10. Jailbreak - Thin Lizzy: This song makes me want to ride. Not sure why.
  11. I Wanna be Sedated - The Ramones: Sometimes I feel like this during and especially after a long ride. Just put me in a pace line and shut off my brain while I try to beat this head wind...
  12. Immigrant Song - Led Zeppelin: Hard to beat this one. Hard driving, good lyrics, great song for riding.
  13. Riding the Storm Out - REO Speedwagon: For some reason this one really speaks to me and, no, it's not just because it has the word "riding" in the title. This song means road trip.
  14. Going the Distance - Cake: Are you going the distance? Are you going for speed? Hopefully my wife will not be in a time of need while I'm away experiencing the wonders of southern Oregon.

And finally, to be played in the last 10 miles of Day 7...

15. Take Me Home - Phil Collins: The ultimate "going home" song from an iconic singer.

Best Climbing songs-

  1. AC/DC - TNT: Any AC/DC song may fit the bill here, but this is the one I like the best.
  2. Mungo Jerry - Summertime: Good cadence and a happy message. Makes me want to dance! (Sorry for the bad audio on the video)
  3. American Woman - Lenny Kravitz: Not the original Guess Who song (which is a FAR better piece of music) but this cover does work really well in one scenario: it has a really slow beat which is great for climbing steep hills at a slow cadence. Like we did climbing up that Forest Service road out of Glendale, OR, on Day 5 of Cycle Oregon 2009.
  4. So Whatcha Want - Beastie Boys: Very funky beat that stays steady and keeps you moving. Can't ask for much more in a climbing song.
  5. Bad Horsie - Steve Vai: This is the "dark horse". OK, it's more like silver (watch the video). Probably one of the hardest driving bass lines of a rock song. Of course it also helps to tune your guitar down 2 full steps from E to C. Gives it that extra punch.

So there you have it. These are MY favorite riding songs, your mileage may vary. I took out the climbing songs and put them into their own category below because they are that cool.

Honorable mentions-

  1. I Predict A Riot - Kaiser Chiefs: Instead of this one I went with The Ramones.
  2. My Way - 7 Mary 3: Hard driving song. Also because 7 Mary 3 was the call sign of Ponch from Chips.
  3. Slow Ride - Kenny Wayne Shepherd: I have loved KWS's music since I first heard him back in '95 when he was just a teenager. Good song but it didn't make the cut.
  4. Fire - Jimi Hendrix: I loves me some Jimi but the beat is constant enough in this song.
  5. Momma I'm Comin' Home - Ozzy Osbourne: This one almost made the top 15 until I saw an even better "coming home" song in Phil Collins. Sorry Ozzy. You still ROCK!

 Counting down the days!


Cycle Oregon 2011 route announcement and sell out

For those who don't know, Cycle Oregon, or just CO for short, is one of the best supported touring rides in America, spanning 7 days and upwards of 450-500 miles of some of the best mountains, valleys, and countryside in one of the most beautiful states in the US. OK, I'm partial to it because I spent 10 years of my life living in various cities in this great state. Even 20 years later I find myself drawn back again and again to visit family and vacation in places that remind me of my home long ago.

2009 was my first Cycle Oregon experience (ride report in progress, to be published later this spring) and it was indeed life changing. Memories of that great week have been flooding my mind for the past couple of months. Every year on the last night of CO Jonathan Nicholas, one of the founders of CO, gives a hint for next year's ride which is a closely guarded secret until the route announcement, typically in early February the following year. The hint for CO2011 went something like this: 

"We are going to ride next year the finest 80 miles of paved road in Oregon that Cycle Oregon has never done. Go look at your maps and figure it out."

I wasn't there so this is a quote/paraphrase posted in the CO2010 forum. Over the coming weeks there were riddles and other hints about "heavenly" and "powers that be" as well as a statement that the overnight stops would be cities that have never host an overnight stop before, which eliminates a lots of cities. One night last month I was up late and decided to figure out where Jonathan could be referring. After some rudamentary statistical analysis I figured that the coast, central, and south-eastern areas of Oregon were ripe for the picking.

Another forum user came up with a better analysis: they put up a map and started putting in push pins in every city CO had ever visited and then started coloring in routes between cities. Their results:

"We think the southern Willamette Valley, the central coast range, south central coast and possibly the Roseburg area. Possible overnight spots are Philomath, Junction City, Waldport, Mapleton, Reedsport, Coquille, and Winston.... There is also the Powers to Glendale Bike Route."

Speculation and rumors were running high! OK, maybe they weren't actually but I was getting really excited. I didn't care what they were to announce, I was signing up!

On announcement day I was glued to my computer hitting refresh on the CO twitter feed, the CO website, and the CO Facebook page one after the other until FINALLY they updated the website with the route and a very interesting graphic...

Going Coastal! The route is to start in Sutherlin, just south of Oregon, meander out to the coastal towns of Reedsport, Coos Bay, and Bandon, and then loop back east to Powers, Riddle, returning to Sutherlin on day 7. This, like the route in 2009, was going through areas where I lived during my High School years in Roseburg, Oregon. Even though the ride difficulty and climbing elevation are not that high the scenery and experience will be well worth it.

My own "debate," if you can call it that, lasted all of 24 hours. I wrestled with the decision only because of the cost and week-long commitment of vacation time. I'm glad I didn't wait too long because the ride sold out in 36 hours. I hear their popular "tent and porter service," where they provide you a tent, set it up at each city, and move your luggage for you, sold out in a couple of hours.

Now the fun begins: training, training, training, and begging. Begging? Yes, begging. Begging friends, family, and anyone else I know to go with me. In '09 I did the ride essentially by myself. Yes, I made some friends and met up with some co-workers along the way, but I went there alone knowing nobody. One of my uncles originally agreed to do the ride with me but other priorities got in the way. This year one of my sisters was in the same position but, once again, the stars just didn't align. Several friends from work are either registered or on the waiting list so hopefully I'll know someone going in this time.

Maybe I can convince my wife to volunteer, who knows?