So, here I find myself riding RSVP for the 7th time. Through a series of things, I was riding solo. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I do prefer the company of people I know.
Sent out an email foraging for a place to sleep the night before. Everyone came through (thank you all!), and I chose to stay with Ross, because he was also riding. Plus I'd get to see the killer view of the Sound from his house.
Icky long drive, with a pause in Centralia for dinner. Upon arrival, we visited while Ross organized medical supplies for the ride. I asked Ross which was the best way to the start (UW this year due to the Burke-Gilman construction detour). The best way was to follow him, so that's what I did.
After I had gotten relatively organized at the start (Ross had gone off to find his posse), and was standing around, a woman came by and admired Sweetpea, and we got to chatting and eventually I introduced myself. Except I only got to my first name and she filled in the rest :-) it was Joan O., a fellow denizen of the Google Rivendell group. Of course, neither of us were riding our Rivs for this ride. She came all the way from the East Coast and was on her Bike Friday.
And so, off to the ride. They did promise a bit of a climb right at first, and there it was, but it didn't last very long. I will say that I much prefer riding on the surface streets to the Burke-Gilman Trail. At least at that hour of the morning.
It was cooler than I thought it might be, but I was sufficiently prepared. And very misty. I ran ALL my lights until later in the afternoon. Saw a few other Rando bikes (and Randonneurs!), but not ones that were known to me.
So, wandering north, eventually picking up the BG Trail, up the Woodinville Hill, surfing the rollers on the other side, dropping into Snohomish (one of my favorite bits, breaking out of the edge cities), on to the Centennial Trail and... "Hey Sweetpea!" It was Ross and his friends. So I got to meet Rick and Diana S, and some others. I was introduced as "Lynne who rode that 600k, she's a randonneur." So, of course, the standard "you people are crazy", followed by the "you must be pretty tough." Mind you, Rick was having knee surgery on Monday and had just done RAMROD on that disintegrating knee. I think he wins the crazy contest. We rode on to Arlington together, then they split off to avoid the nasty hill climb, and I went off to find some food. Headed right to the Mirkwood Cafe. It was 10:40am; they weren't yet open. Coasted back though the main drag looking for something else. Didn't want the Bluebird Cafe. Not that anything is wrong with it, but my stomach was wanting something else. The Thai restaurant was open, and I inhaled a bowl of green curry with tofu and a glass of Thai iced tea.
Quick stops at the water stop and the Mt Vernon stop - ate. left. did not sit down.
We were detoured in Burlington past the WalMart and other big box stores. A car ahead of me (we were on a nice wide shoulder) had stopped to let the cyclist ahead of me go straight, the car behind it stopped, the car towing a trailer even with me... didn't. Slamming of brakes, watching the front end of the car turning my way... crunch into the stopped car. We stealthily proceeded on, and stuck together as a group until we got out of Burlington!
No headwinds to speak of across the Skagit flats. A rider was wondering where we were headed; I pointed at the headlands away in the distance.
We did the whole way to the former Bow Hill store (now a deli) on Chuckanut Drive. Evil, evil rumble strips, partway into the shoulder. Evil.
A rider at the store was admiring my bike. " With that steel frame, generator hub and fenders, it gives it a nice Rando look" Duh. Out of my mouth: "thank you. That's because it is a Rando bike".
Chuckanut Drive along Samish Bay was gorgeous as usual. Stopped at a pullout, where the awesome Scott offered to take a picture of me for evidence of participation. It seemed shorter this year. Got to the Famous Lemonade Stand. Michaiah has an apprentice now, her younger sister.
Into Bellingham proper, and UP Ferry St - 15%, Rode the whole way up, yay me!
Hoofed it into town to Boundary Bay - joined a table in the tap room. Turned out to be sitting with a Timbers Army member, so dinner table conversation was assured. He likes Kenny Cooper, go figure. So, after a yummy dinner and bottle of Spire apple cide, it took only 37 minutes to walk BACK from the Boundary Bay Brewery to Buchanan Towers (quit whining Jason!)
On the road by 7, stopped for breakfast at Old Town Cafe, and finally underway at 7:45. Came upon Joan O, we rode together and visited until Lynden. She's retired and plans fun bike trips for herself and her friends. Very cool.
After Lynden, I rode to the border with a couple on a red Cannondale tandem. As the former ace stoker of Clifford, I had to visit :-) Their tandem is the Millenium Falcon. Love it.
At the border - "off with you now! have a nice ride!"
I was starting to get hungry again and the Fort Langley rest stop was getting close. Ate, applied sunscreen, departed. Rode out of town on their version of the Urban Growth Boundary - neighborhood on one side of the road, farms on the other side. It was humid heading over to the Golden Ears Bridge. As I am on the Fanno Creek Crossing committee, did some research on the incline on the twirly ramp up and the straight ramp down. 3% in both cases, and I could get going really fast just coasting down. Not good for small children. Maybe a surface crossing would be, on the whole, safer.
I love riding over the Golden Ears Bridge.
So, riding along through neighborhoods and edge cities, not checking the cue sheet much, spending more time in the big ring than I EVER have... And craving watermelon. Must be coming up on Rocky Point Park. Got there before they started rationing the watermelon, and ate four pieces. The woman slicing the watermelon and I got to talking. She goes to Portland to shop, and asked if I felt used. No, we like people to come and spend money. Walked over to the ice cream shop for an espresso flake waffle cone, and had to fend off many cyclists on the way back to my bike.
The Barnet Highway had a nice cooling breeze and felt much shorter and flatter this time. Up to the Frances-Union bike route. I was trailing a group of cyclists, and did not see who entered the roundabout first, but the motorist definitely misplaced his Canadian card, and got out of his car and started yelling. Quietly slithered by and distanced myself from that group!
More bike route, then Chinatown, Gastown, a blessedly less-trafficked part of downtown Vancouver, and done! Finished a little before 3, and, for the first time ever, the bike racks were not yet full!
Upstairs, got my finisher patch, and found myself in posession of a few more food and drink tickets. Got my burger and juice, and helped Ross hand out patches and one Ibuprofen packet per customer. You'd think folks would bring their OWN Ibuprofen.
More visiting, plotting a RAPSody meet-up, a beer, then off to the hostel. Had dinner with former coworker and now SFU grad student and friend Evan. We ate at Beaver and Mullet. The name alone made it enticing.
Waited for the bus with Rick and Diana. I finally said I'd cop to being tough, but not crazy.
Lots of knitting on the bus trip back, helped unload the bicycle trucks, and then drove home. I did stop in Centralia, where my chicken soup savior of the 600k was working. He remembered that night, too. I thanked him again :-)