Monday, August 25, 2008

Ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party!

I think this was my 5th year doing this ride. It is still lots of fun!

Little Pink Bear celebrates another successful RSVP

Cecil was going to ride, along with Jason and me, but she had an unfortunate encounter with Delta Airlines, and ran out of vacation, so could not join us :-( We were planning to spend Thursday night at her brother's, and he would have let us stay anyway, but out of the blue, friend Claire offered up her house, even though she and her husband were not doing the ride this year either :-(

On the plus side, Richard and Nance, and Bill A were doing the ride; maybe we'd see them.

Delightful evening with Claire and David, once Rose got through that there was going to be company and She Hadn't Been Told ("ok, Rose, let's have a do-over on this conversation").

Hostess with the mostest

Up early (Claire: "I'm not going to make you breakfast, but here are eggs and such. Help yourselves"); Claire joined us for breakfast conversation.

Farewells all around (ok, to Claire, everyone else was still asleep), then off to Magnuson Park. I know how to get there from Claire's pretty much by heart now, but we still just follow the other cars with bicycles on them. Picked up our swag (passport holder this year), jerseys, t-shirts, etc, dumped out bags in the proper pile, and "hey, Jason, let's take the tandem for a loop around the parking lot to make sure everything is set properly and the computer is working". And a good thing we did - my seat needed arrangement and my computer was, as usual, not registering - it gets bashed around getting in and out of the van.

Start line, Friday morning

Off onto the Burke-Gilman, where Jason revealed that he would try to not stress out the stoker this year. We went less fast, stopped at stops, and didn't try to bomb down the trail passing everyone. It worked somewhat - the trail has lots of root bumps and is very claustrophobic, especially when I can't see what is in front of me. Once it opened up, I relaxed.

The route changed through Woodinville - we went through a nice park with amenities and then came in at the bottom of the Woodinville Hill - more trail, less road.

park in Woodinville

Fun on the rollers after the summit, through some outer crowdedness (I don't know what that one road is where it gets narrow and there is a lot of traffic, but the drivers are reasonably patient), then onto Springhetti Rd and swooping down into Snohomish.

In the center of the lane, signaling a left turn to get to the Buzz Inn at the airport. "CAR BACK!" "we are turning" "CAR BACK!!!" "we are turning". They all finally got it.

The $2.99 breakfast is the best deal ever. We ate out on the patio, with all the other cyclists. Nice morning!

Airport scenes from the Buzz Inn

Then through Snohomish and onto the Centennial Trail, with the Bollards of Death. We dismounted and walked them all this year.

Centennial Trail

Jason demonstating the technique for the Bollards of Death

Into Lake Stevens to catch the last seconds of the rest stop (gosh, were we THAT slow?) then headed off to Arlington, where lunch awaited at the Blue Bird Cafe. Yes, creatures of habit, that's us.

Off again, but to the wonderful surprise of new pavement and shoulders! Nice! The route changed this year, rather than heading for Lake McMurray, we turned off Hwy 9 onto Finn Settlement Rd, bypassing the lake and store. A climb, but not a bad one. It was getting warm; we started seeing cyclists sitting under trees and any other available shade. We just kept drinking and pedaling.

Mt Baker in the background, heading into Mt Vernon

Then into Mt Vernon and the rest stop. Melon! Cookies! Water! Shade for Jason to crash under! A nifty Rivendell Atlantis visiting the mechanic, too.

Jason at the Mt Vernon rest stop

A new route out of Burlington, this time to the west of town. It had good parts and slightly trafficked parts, but in general, a plus. After crossing Sam Bell Rd, we were pretty much back on the old route, but much less riding through the flats with the accompanying headwind. Jason had to stop and eat RIGHT THEN, so we pulled over for a brief stop.

Farm, Skagit flats

What I looked at all day

Another stop at the defunct Bow Store, where the WWU cyclists were providing Gatorade. There I encountered the Rivendell Atlantis and rider, and we chatted. At which point, a wonderful person came up and asked: "Are you the famous Lynne Fitz....". Uhhhhhhh. How did he know? The Team Bag Balm jersey and the Riv conversation. So, like, yes, my day was made! Thank you Fred and Ellen! And thank you Robert (rider of the Atlantis).

The perfectly-appointed Rivendell Atlantis

Fred and Ellen

You've got to understand. My own family does not read this blog, except my wonderful uncle in New Jersey, who also rides. It is entirely his fault that I ride, too. So, kind readers, I appreciate each and every one of you!

Right. Back to the narrative. Up and onto the most scenic part of the ride, Chuckanut Drive. It did not seem at all difficult this year.

We stopped at the pull-outs and took pictures, then headed on, looking for the lemonade stand signs. I was starting to worry, because they weren't there, but then I finally saw one.

Samish Bay

Train running along Samish Bay

Up the last climb to the Pink Lemonade Stand, with the best pink lemonade ever. Yum.

Ah!  Pink lemonade stand ahead!

Micaiah dispensing the famous best ever pink lemonade

Then a screaming descent into Fairhaven and navigating through Bellingham. We were staying at the north end of the WWU campus this year - my room was in Rebecca's old dorm. However, I misremembered which street to go up, and we attempted Liberty which is whacking steep (can you say walk?). Found a kind person and asked directions, and were soon back on the way.

Lynne, are you sure we go this way?

There was a nice Rivendell Bleriot (brand new) parked by the door - it belonged to Andy. Nice bike!

Andy shows off his BRAND NEW Bleriot

Checked in, shower, then a considerably shorter hike than last year to the Boundary Bay Brewery. Other than they left us sitting in the beer garden for 1.5 hours after leaving the impression on both of us that they'd get us when our table was ready, it was tasty. But a pint of beer in a slightly-dehydrated Lynne... Oh, way too much. I won't go there next year.

Up the next morning, ate some substantial snacks, then headed off to Lynden. Again, the route varied from last year - rather than heading out on Hannegan Road, we followed Aldritch Road for most of it, ending up on Hannegan Rd, and into Lynden.

Early morning field of haybales

Substantial breakfast at the Dutch Mother's, where we saw Nance, but not Richard. He had to be there somewhere, but we did not see him.

Outside the Dutch Mother in Lynden, day 2

Then, north the border (with a camera-shy immigration agent), and a nice stretch of more rural riding. Jason: "looks just like NW Washington". Me: "no it doesn't. No election signs!" Then into Fort Langley and off to the Albion Ferry, where there was a long wait. I think there will be a bridge in the next year or so, which, while taking away the fun ferry ride, will also remove the long wait for the fun ferry ride.

Waiting for the Albion Ferry

Into Maple Ridge, where we hit a bump and dropped the transfer chain. That was exciting. Reinstalled it and proceeded on to the food stop, where I ate my entire day's fruit portions (mmm. plums.), some cookies and other snacks. Jason foraged for some Coke and we drank that too. Many cyclists under trees - it was warming up again.

Rest stop in Maple Ridge, day 2

Through Maple Ridge, onto 128th Way. This year we were bound and determined to take the Dyke Trail, and avoid Dewdney Trunk Rd (two lanes, no shoulder, fast traffic, really big trucks). The trail entrance was subtle, but we found it. 6.5 miles on a crushed gravel trail along the Pitt River. Nice, nice, nice, nice, nice. Jason had to work a little harder on the gravel, but it was a beautiful, peaceful option.

Pitt River Dyke Trail

Pitt River Dyke Trail

We rejoined the route at the Pitt River Bridge, then headed in through suburbs and busy roads to Port Moody. Port Moody scares me. Busy, crowded streets. Plus I'm at the low point of the day by then. More cyclists under trees, not knowing that the Port Moody fountains and ice cream await! Even better, watermelon! I was eating it as fast as the kind volunteer was slicing it. Then a walk to fountains and some yummy mint ice cream. My spirits lifted. We did a bit of sitting in the shade ourselves, then headed out.

Point Moody Water Park

Except the front shifter didn't work... Back to the rest stop, which had a real mechanic. (Jason needed some convincing that there was a real mechanic a few blocks back) His diagnosis was that we would not have our big chainring, but everything else should work. Well, if you have to not have a chainring, that's one you could live without.

Up onto the Barnet Highway for 5 miles of freeway shoulder riding, except it really isn't that bad. Nice views of the sulfur piles at the port, and the Burrard Inlet. We stood on some of the climbs, impressing the heck out of the cyclists sitting in the shade (this is a theme). We finally said we'd been dropped on our heads as children and didn't know any better. Seriously, I don't know about Jason, but the heat was not bothering me much at all.

Up on Hastings and onto the Frances-Union bike trail. Many of the stop signs have been replaced with roundabouts. Nice.

There was that climb up to the corner with the Star Market - very steep. We just bailed and ground it out, singing the Wicked Witch of the West song the whole way. By this point we'd collected a few riders who realized that we knew which way to go (1 Vanilla, 1 Davidson). By the time we got to Vancouver proper, I had the map out and was calling the turns, with a collection of cyclists in our wake. Through downtown, up Cardero, right on Comox. Done.


Parked the bike and went up to the party. Got our burgers and beverage, and we were found by Bill, who we did not see the entire ride. He was starting and finishing later in the day than we were, I think.

Look, its Bill!

Saw Fred and Ellen, too :-) Then celebratory picture of Little Pink Bear, and off to the hotel, where showers and then dinner awaited. Sushi at a close-by sushi place, watching the Olympics coverage (Canadian coverage; wish there had been sound).

Waiting for the bus the next morning, I sat down and started knitting... and had spectators. We talked about knitting (they knit), and how the one woman's mother is teaching her, but in Chinese. Which will make it interesting when she's trying to communicate at the yarn store. Jason was talking to a woman behind me, who turned out to be Leslie from Alaska who rode the SIR 200k in March with Duane on the tandem. Small world. We got into line together and talked randonneuring for awhile. She's just moved to Seattle, so I'll probably see her on some brevets. She knits, too, and checked out my Interweave Favorite Socks book on the bus.

Zipped through Immigration, which is what happens when we buy extra food to compensate for the 3 hour wait. I'm not sure they even looked AT my passport. They looked to see if I had a US passport, but that was it.

Beat the bikes back by just over an hour. As the car keys were on the bike, we took our books and knitting and luggage and sat in one of the few shady spots and waited. There was a truck with bike RACKS, then finally a truck with BICYCLES. Tandems are loaded last and off first, so Clifford was shortly in our possession.

Off to find some food, then an uneventful drive home. Much knitting accomplished :-)

Many, many more pictures here


Anonymous said...

Well, since you brought up the subject of your fan base...

I will say that this is a great blog. I'm always thrilled to see a new post show up on my RSS list.

The only riding I have time for is my bike commute. On the weekends, I'm home with my wife and young kids (3 1/2 and 2 months). I ride vicariously through your ride reports, and love your writing and your descriptions.

Thanks for brightening my day on a regular basis.

-Todd Waddell
Milwaukie, OR

Paul Whitney said...

What Todd said - and I like the pictures.

beth h said...

I LOVE your blog. Keep writing please.

It sounds like you had a fabulous time. I wish I had the time and strength to do the kind of rides you do, but I am happy to ride period. Your blog is a celebration of riding. Bravo!

Cecil Anne said...

You get fans - I get stalkers. No fair.

Fred Hanson said...

Great travelogue, Lynne!
Thank you for the fine description and fun photos.
I'm honored to appear here.