Saturday, July 28, 2012

My Olympic Moment

Last night I watched the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. This was a good ceremony. First the theatrics show with some British wit and humor thrown in. The parade of the athletes always amazes me. I am happy for the athletes to obtain their goals. It must be very exciting to walk into the stadium. But the torch arriving and lighting the Olympic cauldron gets my attention. After being lit in Greece, the flame made it's way across oceans and around the British Isles before arriving at the stadium. The journeys of the torch are what brings back memories for me.

In 1996, the Olympics were held at Atlanta Georgia. Since the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, the torch has been carried from Greece and through the host country. For 1996, a 84 day tour of the United States after arriving in Los Angeles, the site of the 1984 Olympic Games. The route was designed to encompass most of the areas of our vast country. One loop of the relay actually passed through Bremerton.

The torch relay also planned for many modes of transportation to carry the torch: runners, boats, trains, horse riders and bicycles. I was a member of the United States Cycling Federation(USCF). They were responsible for assigning the cyclists to carry the torch.

So what was my Olympic moment?

I applied and was accepted to escort the torch from Lacey Wa to the outskirts of Tacoma in Lakewood. A distance of about 25 miles. This was Day 11 of the torch relay. It was a fun experience. We were escorted by a large contingent of vehicles. The state of Georgia supplied a lot of the BMW motorcycles and law enforcement vehicles. Georgia state troopers were part of the escorting personnel. We rode right up Interstate 5 and through part of Fort Lewis. The soldiers were hanging out their barracks window cheering us. I would have liked to have carried the torch( the carriers got to buy the torch), but I will always remember this. And I have some cool mementos to help me remember.

Some Factoids about the torch and it's travels:

People are concerned about the torch going out. Our relay team carried a "mother flame" in a miners lamp as a precaution. In fact the torch I escorted blew out and had to be relit before the flame was passed.

After we passed the flame to runners, they took the torch through Tacoma and passed the flame to some cyclists to carry across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to Gig Harbor. It was a windy, stormy day. The cyclist torch bearer was pushed across the lane by the wind and hit an expansion joint in the roadway. The shock broke his rear wheel and also dislodged the torch from the bicycles rack. The torch hit the bridge deck and broke in pieces. It made national news and I believe the cyclist was invited to the Jay Leno show.

The Olympic Committee was hoping to get a picture of the torch while it was carried across the Warren Avenue bridge with the Olympic Mountains in the background, Kind of an "Olympics meets Olympics" photo op. But it was too cloudy to see the mountains.

The Olympic Committee was also upset that so many businesses in the Pacific Northwest used "Olympic" as part of their business name. The Olympic Committee threatened to sue the businesses if they did not change their names as the "Olympic" name was licensed to the International Olympic Committee. Many wondered if the Olympic Mountains would need to be renamed as well...

 Here is the acceptance letter. It listed me as an alternate, but evidently things changed and I got a call from the organizer telling me that I was accepted as an alternate.
 They gave use shorts, jersey, helmet, water bottle and since it had been raining, a jacket. I still have all this gear.
 The relay had bicycles for our use. Unfortunately we could not keep them! We had to supply our own pedals. That is not unusual in the cycling world, we all have our preferences in shoes and pedals.
Waiting for the torch to arrive.  The guy on the left got to carry the torch. I cannot remember his name.
 Waiting for the torch to arrive.
 The torch has arrived, the flame passed, the new torch loaded and we are ready to go!
 Cruising down the outside lane of I5. Since I was the escort, I was the one exposed to the traffic in the next lane. Or maybe the expendable person in case of attacks by some crazy individual.
 The entourage extended for a long ways. The motorcycle police were in the lead. The police cars were troopers from Georgia. The RV carried dignitaries and officials. We were behind the truck behind the RV and behind us were more cars and motorcycles. Most of the vehicles and the motorcycles were BMW's, there was a factory in Georgia.
 This truck was just ahead of us with the cameras in our face the entire time.
 Later in the day, a cyclist arrived in Bremerton with the torch and passed it off to a runner.
The last person to carry the torch in Bremerton was a disabled athlete. Here the torch lit a cauldron on the ferry and made its way to Seattle.
The cauldron arrives in Seattle.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Whidbey Island Race Week Bicycle Ride...?

This week was the annual Whidbey Island Race Week(WIRW) at Oak Harbor. This is a gathering of over 100 sailboats and crews that spend five days of intense racing in the waters of Penn Cove and Saratoga Passage and five (or more) days of intense partying. Also known as "adult summer camp", it is one of the few "race weeks" in the country that is actually a week long.

But I did not race in the WIRW. I elected to sit this one out this year. I did come up with an idea to ride the bicycle to Oak Harbor to kibitz with people I knew and possibly get good pictures of boats racing close by the Coupeville Dock. Unfortunately I did not think up the plan until late in the week when the weather was starting to turn nasty.

A few weeks ago I thought I could drive a car or ride the motorcycle to Oak Harbor. But while on a local ride Thursday, I thought: "Why not drive the truck to Port Townsend, park in the Park and Ride, board the ferry to Coupeville and ride the bicycle to Oak Harbor. After all, it is only 14.5 miles from the Coupeville ferry dock to Oak Harbor. It sounded like a good plan.

But Thursday night, the weather started changing. Thunderstorms rolled in from the south. The forecast for Friday was for 50% chance of rain in the morning. Sure enough, by the time I got to Port Townsend it was raining and it only got more intense as I rode to Oak Harbor.

On the ferry, I put on my shoe covers and rain jacket. The ride to Oak Harbor seemed difficult. The rain was coming down hard and I saw some lightning while underway, When I got to the maina, it started raining harder. I talked to friends at the marina, took some photos and after about two hours I started getting cold so I started riding back to catch the ferry.

It seemed like the rain was abating, but it increased once I was back on the road. I rode through the town of Coupeville and walked out onto the dock. The return ride seemed easier. I must have been warmed up better. When I finally got to the ferry, the rain stopped.

It was a fun ride even with the rain. The total  distance was 32 miles, all of it in the rain. I was cold when I stopped and was soaked through. I tend to plan events without regards to the weather and then work around whatever the conditions are. I have good clothing for inclement weather, but I still get wet. I was also optimistic that it would not rain that hard.

Here is a link to more info on WIRW: Whidbey Island Race Week

 Thunderbirds were sailing their World Championship. There were 16 boats and one team from Australia.
 The transient moorage was filled with boats.
 A tradition at WIRW is when Gremlins rename boats on Thursday night. This used to be "Delirium".
More boats at the transient moorage.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Vancouver Island Circumnavigation 1984

This is old stuff! In 1984, I sailed solo around Vancouver Island in 4-1/2 weeks. I took lots of slides that have set neglected for years. Last winter, I scanned the slides and put them in a movie format. I have been downloading some of my movies to YouTube, but they set a 15 minute limit on my downloads. Last week, YouTube must have decided I that I am a respectable person and have allowed me to download larger videos. So I finally was able to down load this video for all to see. I have another video of a 1988 cruise to the Queen Charlotte Islands and again around Vancouver Island. I need to confirm that it is a format that can be downloaded and then interested people can view it.

In 1984, I sailed around Vancouver Island. From Bremerton the total distance was just over 800 nautical miles. In that day, this was considered a extreme voyage. We did not have affordable or available electronic navigation aids. GPS had not even been invented! The most sophisticated device I had onboard was a radio direction finder(RDF), it was of limited use on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Fog? I navigated by dead reckoning.

I left Bremerton in the middle of June and worked my way north and west to the north end of the island. After getting caught in a storm off Cape Scott and blowing out a sail, I retreated to remote Bull Harbor for a couple of days to repair damage.

After setting out again, I worked down the coast. Many cool adventures occurred in some remote areas of the pacific northwest. Highlights? Probably Hot Springs Cove was certainly one of the most memorable stops as was the several days spent in Barkley Sound. I can not imagine traveling down this coast without making many stops.

After this trip, I returned in 1988. That trip was much longer as I sailed first to the Queen Charlotte Islands before sailing overnight to the west coast of Vancouver Island. Then again in 2011, I again sailed around Vancouver Island. This was a race though and we did not stop on the west coast.

Strange Day Jammin Gears at Ricochet-Mountain Bike Ride at Newberry Hill Heritage Park

Monday I went to Newberry Hill Heritage Park for some mountain bike riding. This is a  newer 1082 acre park west of Bremerton and between Newberry Hill Road and Seabeck Highway. This is really an old clear cut that has regrown. The county recently acquired the property from the state and is planning for future development. Currently the area is crisscrossed with old roads and trails that were developed by the local mountain bike community. Most of the roads and trails are multi-purpose, non-motorized use trails. Some are marked "no horses" and some accesses to wetlands are marked "hikers only". But this acreage has long been used for off road activity. In the early 70's, I rode motorcycles here. It had not been long since it was logged and you could see across the area from the higher points. In the 80's, I rode mountain bikes here and discovered more trails than I used when I rode motorcycles. After I moved in 1990, it was no longer close to my home, so I never went back until this week.

There are several accesses into the trail system, but I chose the road into Klahowya Secondary School. This is a allowed parking area as long as you stay outside the schools gate. The trails are all named, so after consulting with my map, I started heading south on Deer Fern. After crossing Old Loop, I headed down Bird Meadow and Wildlife until I reached the southern side of Old Loop. These trails were all flat, smooth, fast trails.

The southern end of the park has three loops that are rough singletrack tracks named Ricochet, Gear Jammer and Strange Days. I intended to ride all three. Ricochet was across the road from where Wildlife ended, so it was the first logical choice. I started down the trail and soon found that it was a tight challenging course with some ups and downs. About halfway around the loop, I was grinding up a short steep section when MY CHAIN BROKE! I have not had this happen in many years and this is a newer chain so it was a surprise. Well, no problem, I carry tools including a chain tool for pushing the rivets in and out of the chain. So I started digging into my seat bag and sure enough, the first tool was the chain tool. Great! But wait! It was missing the pin for pushing the rivets. So I carefully unloaded the contents of the bag and in the very bottom I found the missing pin. Whew! I quickly reassembled the chain and continued the ride. I deferred riding Gear Jammer and Strange Days.

I continued south on Old Loop  until I reached a kiosk near the southern park entrance. I reversed my route and rode east and north on Old Loop, turned right on Rhodie Hill, right again on Salal to Whisper Ridge. This area I recognized from my earlier days riding here. It has really changed with a forest replacing the old clear cut.

I continued west on Rhodie Hill, to Old Loop, right on Deer Fern and back to where I parked the truck.

This was a fun day of riding. I intend to go back soon.

Newberry Hill Heritage Park Trail Map

Onboard video of my ride.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Brownsville Race-It's Lonely At The Front

Saturday was the last race of the seven race West Sound Sailing Association(WSSA) series. This race was at Brownsville and listed as the "Brownsville Race", no invitational or benefit or any other catchy phrase. This race starts at Brownsville, goes to a temporary mark at University Point, north to Mark "6 at Pt Bolin and then return to Brownsville. At Brownsville, the fleet is to continue for a second lap to University Pt, Battle Pt and again to Brownsville where lap three begins. Lap three is the same as lap one. This course provides many ways to shorten the course in time for the post race party.

The forecast was for winds from the south to 10 knots in the morning nd dropping to 2-6 from the SW in the afternoon. Rain was also predicted. At least that was how I read it.

At the start, we had gusts to 12 knots. We got a good start on the boat(breakwater) end on time in clear air. "Karma" (Dash 34) started closer to the pin end and was ahead but to leeward of us. On the first leg, we slowly worked upwind of "Karma" and started overtaking them. At the first tack, we were ahead of them. It was one port tack that took us to the mark where we rounded, set the spinnaker and headed toward the Bainbridge Island shore.

We worked north along the shore in favorable current and rounded Battle Pt with the two bird boats, "Falcon"(Cal 9.2) and "Swan"(Thunderbird) just ahead of us. We soon passed them and continued on along the Bainbridge Island shore between Battle Pt and Arrow Pt. The current in Agate Pass was flooding and after some previous night studying of the current charts, I decided to stay toward the right side of the pass. This move seemed to pay off and after the final jibe, we easily made the mark against the current. Some boats behind jibed earlier than us and struggled to make the mark. "Dulcinea" (J105) rounded behind us. They went farther upstream than we did and came into the mark on a much hotter angle.

Now came the first substantial beat. The wind was fairly steady at about six knots. I looked forward to the beat. This is where we have to make time on the slower rating boats. We are one of the faster rating boats and we need to stay way ahead to save our time. This is when it gets lonely at the front. There are no boats to watch for trends and we have to make all our decisions by ourselves. Sometimes I think it was more fun when I sailed slower boats because there was usually boats ahead to indicate what was going on ahead.

We had one long beat nearly to Brownsville, when right on que, we got a large header coming out of Burke Bay. We sailed into the header, tacked and easily cleared the line. Boats behind us that tacked early did not benefit from the header. We were nearly six minutes ahead of "Dulcinea".

We continued on towards University PT. But, the boats behind were getting stronger puffs and were lifted on the now SW wind. They started closing on us. The wind was flukey near the mark and we had to take a couple of extra tacks. We still rounded first, but a larger faster boat had closed up to us as did "Dulcinea". We set the spinnaker and looked for the fast lane. This time the wind appeared light toward the right, so we jibed toward the left. We sailed away from the larger boat and jibed back to stay between "Dulcinea" and the Battle Pt mark. The wind filled behined and brought "Dulcinea" closer. We rounded the mark ahead of them and started the beat to Brownsville. We gained some on "Dulcinea" and when we crossed the finish line, the RC finished the race. We were only about 1.75 minutes ahead of "Dulcinea', not enough to correct on them.

We ended up second in class and second overall with "Dulcinea" first in class and overall. When the series scores were added up, we were tied with "Dulcinea" for the WSSA series, both of us with 13 points. In the tiebreaking process, we were the overall series winner. This is the seventh time I have won this series since it started in 1978. I have raced every series and learned from many of the sailors who I have raced against. Many of them no longer race. Hopefully, some newer sailors like one of the "Young Guns" will step up and win this series in the near future.

For this race, thanks to my crew of Walter, Kathleen, Dave and Tim for working hard and staying focused. Also thanks to other crew of Jim, Tom and Michael who raced on other races in the series.

Results for this race can be found here: Brownsville Race Results And overall WSSA series results can be found here: WSSA Overall Series Results

Post race party and burger fry at the Brownsville Marina picnic area.

The "Young Guns" discussing the events of the day.

This is the West Sound Sailing Association "Sailor Of The Year" trophy. My name is on here(or will be on here after engraving) seven times since 1978.

This is our track for the day. The red track is the first lap and the green track is the second lap,

A short video during the run on the first lap.