Monday, August 17, 2009

RSVP - 2009

A great two days of riding. Here are some of the highlights.

Stopped to take pictures of cows after Lynden, before the border. Soft shoulder and before I knew it, was headed down into the mud filled ditch. Caught my fall, soaked my arm, jacket and glove in muck, and amused the cows and several riders who at first were alarmed (is he still clipped in? Father of three drowns in ditch on RSVP!) and then laughed.
Day One started out inauspiciously. First, the Garmin didn’t hold a charge, so no electronic data, speed, map, elevation, etc. Second, clip needed adjustment right at the start as I couldn’t get foot in the pedal. Was this how it was going to be? So, commenced up the BGT with trepidation, but all well, including a relatively easy climb up the Woodinville Hill. Weather was autumn in Seattle, chilly, damp (rain shower just as I left the house @ 6:10 a.m.) But a south breeze, and tailwinds are good. Crossed into farmland, with cows, horses, llamas, goats, chicken squawks and made it to Snohomish, where I caught up with Shaun and Claudia, riding partners from last year.

For me the first 50 miles of this ride, to Arlington, are pretty easy, a few climbs but a great long descent into town. Marty caught up with us on the trail, peddling hard and setting a brisk pace. I insisted on lunch at the Blue Bird CafĂ©, remembering last year’s bonk on Lake Cavanaugh rode. That’s where Shaun’s stomach caught up with him, and we called for the sweep team. C and Max were coming up I-5, and picked him up, delivered him to Bellingham. Shaun was too sick to ride day two, and he took the train back to Seattle from there.

No bonk on Lake Cavanaugh Rd this year, but there was a shower, so picked up more road grime. And, there was no getting lost in the Skagit Delta this year, either. But, Chuckanut, with great views and hills to match those views, was still a bear. Stopped for a rest and a few pix, looked at the time and it was 6:00! Time to book it into B’ham, settle into the Rodeway Inn (Shaun described as a Motel 3), tacos rice and beans and then up the next a.m. @ 5:30 for Day 2!

The morning began with a meander through Lynden farmland to brunch at the Dutch Mother, where they hold an annual buffet for the RSVP’ers. Best meal on the trip! Eggs, potatoes, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy, fruit, mucho coffee, and up to the border, with a slight detour into the mud. Border crossing was more bureaucratic this year. Long line, showed passports, guard checked my name on list (you go by any other name, perhaps?), photo ops, then into Canada! Horse farms, berry farms, small orchards, organic farms, gentleman’s estates, and beautiful countryside.

Heading north, you hit the infamous Wall of Day Two, which, frankly, is less than old 70th Street in Seattle, and all that complaining about living on top of a hill turns into some gratification for the training. Last year, Albion Ferry, including a long wait in the sun and a guessing game of Will This Old Wreck Capsize on the Fraser? This year, new, ultra modern sleek and slick Golden Ears Bridge with wide bike lanes, spectacular views after more gorgeous country side! Much improved.

On to the rest stop, through the suburbs, and then crossing a scenic footbridge over a stream in Port Coquitlam. As I was riding with a small group over the bridge, we saw two brown bear cubs scamper across the trail! Some remarked at how wonderful and cute they were, until I pointed out that where there were cubs, there was also Mama Bear, and she was likely not to be either cute or cuddly! Stopped for lemonade right there, and the locals offered that bears were common along the stream, and they had to be careful with their garbage and other food in the area.

One more fluid exchange in Port Moody, in from East Van, through Chinatown, past the junkies on Hastings, Gastown tourists, and then up to the Coast Plaza for the reception and party. Well done, Cascade!

Oh yes, after a charge, the Garmin now worked, and here are the details of RSVP, Day Two.

My photos are here.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

RSVP Tune Up

Booked about 375 miles in the past month, and did a 40-mile RSVP tune-up on Seafair Sunday, around Boeing Field and back up via the Ballard Bridge and the BGT. Bleriot is riding quite nicely after a new cassette, chain and once over from Elliot Bay Bicycles. Plan is to back off the training, catch up on rest, and be ready in two weeks.

On the way back north, through Myrtle Edwards Park, I stopped at the fishing pier for fresh water, the view, and a chat with this guy who was trying his luck. "How's fishing?" I asked. Response, with a shake of the head, "Real good, for the fish!" Still, it was relatively cool, but no wind to stir up the water or blow away the haze in the distance.

It's been hot, record-breaking hot. The sort of heat wave and thick air that reminds me of So Cal smog, grey woolen blanket, humid oppression, you know, Raymond Chandler stuff. For all, it's been difficult to sleep, to stay focused, to keep on top of classes and to motivate students, much less keep up with the flow of all the other projects on the plate. Three weeks until the end of summer quarter, and I can't wait.

RSVP Tune-Up