RAPSody is on the kinder, gentler parts of the Kitsap Peninsula, not like my last ride there.
Dinner at the Burgerville in Centralia on the way up, slept at the basic, yet adequate Days Inn in Tacoma. Breakfast was Nutella in a flatbread. Oh, so yummy and caloric. But I didn't get enough coffee.
Found Ross and Dianne (she dropped him off) at the start. Dumped my bag, visited with Gene from Tacoma (hi Gene!) and snagged a banana for later.
Nice surprise - Einar was riding! Einar is a former coworker and fellow Portland Velo member. We spent many years chatting outside the building while we stretched after our respective lunchtime running outings.
Ross and I headed over the bridge, through Gig Harbor, chatting and taking pictures.
I ate the banana about 15 miles into the ride. Then, after wandering around in the woods, with brief views of the Sound, we were back along the coast, and eventually into the first stop at Manchester. Mmm. Yogurt. Cookies.
Then off to Port Orchard , playing with the cameras, finding a Bactrian camel (!) riding up and over a spine, down to Victor and around to Allyn.
I remembered to eat something about an hour after Manchester, so no bonking this year. I may be a slow learner, but I get there.
Calzones, other snacks, the community band...
Visited with Dave E and Einar. Then off again to Shelton. This had the most deadly dull stretch of riding - 10+ miles with the sense of not getting anywhere. It was REALLY hot by now. The water stop was most welcome. Ross outed me to another rider (he had asked Ross if the dimples on my fenders made me go faster, like on a golf ball), so I got to explain randonneuring. I'll just call it recruiting, and I'll have to get better at it. For the record, it isn't the dimples on the fenders, it is Little Pink Bear that makes me go faster :-)
Then we finally arrived in Shelton, where I went off to score a wrestling mat to sleep on in the gym, and Ross got us root beer floats. He was trying to call Dianne, but she wasn't picking up (still on her hike). So we went around the back and got post-ride massages. My masseuse showed me some stuff to teach my riding partners to unkink my shoulders and neck. I will happily return the favor, as well :-)
Eric S showed up, and we visited for some time, then he was off to his hotel room.
Eventually Ross located someone to collect him (he was staying at a friend's home), Dianne called back, and all was good. I went off and took a very long shower, and then joined Einar and Dave for dinner. Some visiting after dinner, but I turned in early.
Set my alarm for 6am. Someone's alarm went off at 5am (what WERE they thinking?), so I was trying to sleep through a lot of packing up trying to be quiet rustling around. Finally gave it up just before 6am, and started rustling around myself. Got all packed up, dropped my bag on the truck, and enjoyed breakfast with Einar and some others before heading out at 7:20am
Ross and I had made plans to meet up at mile 9 at 8am. I was going to have to hustle. Through Shelton and up, passing many people. People in Ironman jerseys. People on carbon fiber bikes.
But yet, I got to the meetup point first :-)
There was a stretch of riding off and on Hwy 101. We stopped at Blue Heron Coffee, but the line was too long, so we elected to push on to the rest stop. Ross said they'd have coffee. The Ironman riders were admiring my bike. "Coolest bike on the ride." :-)
Off to the rest stop, where I got some more coffee and food. They had Nutella, too. By this point, my sports drink bottle was a mixture of Fruit Punch Gatorade, Tangerine-Ginger Nuun and Subtle Mandarin Orange HEED. Suprisingly tasty. I think the HEED gave it a slight Creamsicle overtone. So, not a long stop, and off we went through Olympia. Ross went to Evergreen; he's familiar with the area, and was being a great tourguide.
After Olympia, we eventually go onto the delight that is the Chehalis-Western Trail - a really long rail trail.
Last rest stop - much warmer than last year. More food was consumed.
North down to the Nisqually River (there is a good descent wasted), then up, riding around on busier roads. Skipped the mile on the I-5 shoulder by cutting through a neighborhood (very brief gravel portage), up a hill. Ross really didn't like that hill. I didn't think it was too bad. My bike computer read out 8%. His had 12% at times. Review of the data does show TEENY bits of 12%.
Ride along JBLM (formerly Fort Lewis and McChord AFB), then a climb up and then down (wheee!) into Steilacoom. Turned right, rode through town. Steilacoom is a cute little town. We were meant to ride through here last year, but were re-routed due to some big golf tournament. Ross called Dianne to give our estimated arrival (about 3pm) and ask for a Diet Coke. I held up a finger and that was amended to two Diet Cokes :-)
Pretty ride through town, some more winding around, and some incredibly evil RR tracks with a police car and a bunch of bicyclists standing around. We rode by, but I can't help but wonder if someone crashed. A bit further along, a cyclist came flying by at what must have been 30mph. Wow.
Got to the climb up from Steilacoom that everyone had been obsessing over. Again, no big deal. Passed many people, as, indeed, I did for much of this ride. The women were supportive - "You GO!". The guys... not so much. Possibly the combination of blatantly pink bicycle with full metal fenders, mudflaps, canvas luggage, and a little teddy bear... I would only have made it worse if I had been wearing a wool jersey (not this year).
The ride back from there to Tacoma Community College was shorter than I thought it would be. The hills, which Ross assured me that we climbed last year, seemed... rather less significant.
|Picture by Ross Carey|
We were aiming for Thai, but that one was closed. Following him around the strip mall parking lot, we found a Japanese restaurant, and elected to eat there. Bento with tempura, salad, sushi, gyoza and some hamachi (extra. worth it). Bliss. And a nice visit.
Uneventful drive home. Looking forward to next year!
Day 1: 87 miles, 13.84 mph avg, 4900 vertical feet
Day 2: 82 miles, 13.18 mph avg, 3850 vertical feet
Lots more pics here