She showed up right around 7am, so we'd get there in plenty of time for the 10am start. Then she went back home to get something she'd forgotten (15-20 min round trip), and I loaded the car. I knew we'd still get there in plenty of time for the 10am start. We arrived at 9:27am, lots of time to change shoes, decide I didn't need to wear any more than I wore last weekend (starting temperature 33 degrees), and faff around some more. And watch Albert assemble his S&S-coupled Co Motion tandem. That's how you put a tandem in a Camaro. :-)
In all we were me, Susan, Paul, Albert, Allison, and Alan. Off to Harry's Market for starting receipts, and then away we went. It was cold, and it took about 15 minutes for my hands to join the rest of me. We headed east-ish, to Rochester, Grand Mound and Centralia. Somewhere around Grand Mound I realized I had ridden here before - the Capital Cycling Club (Olympia) used run the Two County Double Metric Century out here, and over some of the same roads.
We needed a stop in Centralia, and after some discussion (Texaco or Starbucks?), stopped at Starbucks. And who should be there but John V! We had hoped he'd be riding, but this was the next best thing. A cheese danish and a Pumpkin Spice Latte (mostly into my thermal jug) later, off again, through Chehalis and another 10 or so miles to the turnaround at Mary's Corner. Pretty farm country, but looking kind of bleak in the cold and clouds. The last couple miles to Mary's Corner were uphill, and with a
And Paul arrived, got some snacks, and we all set out again. I had been wearing lightweight long finger gloves. The downhill and cold proved too much for them; I stopped to pull on the lobster claws. Still not wearing a jacket :-) We did have a lovely tailwind and it blew me all the way back to Chehalis. It blew almost everyone else back faster. Oh well.
The ride through Chehalis was interesting. My bike computer display completely checked out, and none of the streets I was riding on (which seemed to be the correct ones) matched the street names on the cue sheet. Right around Market and Cascade, the road went onto Cascade... Ack. I turned left onto Washington, and it eventually dumped me onto National, which is where I was supposed to end up. Paul is going to revisit the cue sheet.
Then things got bouncy. And flat. Rear tire flat. Pulled over into a handy parking lot, such that Paul would see me when he rode by. It being cold and rather damp (aggressive mist for the past 4 or so miles, not that I'd know, because my bike computer was sulking), I elected to just swap out the tube AND tire. All good, until I went to get the spare tire on. I'd forgotten how very tight those Michelins are on the Aerohead rims. Fortunately Paul came along, and we managed to wrestle the tire back on. A woman exiting the parking lot asked if we were ok. Yes, just finishing up, having great fun here. She said we should be careful, because we could get very cold standing around. Yes, I've heard that :-)
Given my lack of navigational cues, I figured I'd stick with Paul through Centralia. Pulled ahead on Hwy 99, eventually made the turn onto Old Hwy 9 (navigation was easier at this point), and thought I saw Paul's headlight behind me. It was a bicycle headlight. Actually several of them - Albert, Allison, Susan and Alan had stopped at the Starbucks again for hot drinks. Paul came up shortly thereafter, and we continued on the last 10-ish miles. The stretch on Hwy 12 and Elma Gate Road had beautiful views to the west (sun getting very low) and north (misty hills).
Into Harry's Market again. The cashier: "you all need the receipts, right?". She even called out to Paul as he was leaving - "you forgot your receipt!" From there we all coasted back to Paul's (about a mile), and feasted on cheese and crackers, pasta with sundried tomatoes and walnuts, fruit, various hot beverages, Susan's pumpkin muffins, and the promised Pain au Chocolat. All very wonderful, followed by an equally wonderful hot shower. Thank you!
Brief pause in Centralia on the way back. Of course, at the Chevron, and my favorite night cashier was working. We exchanged greetings.
Turned on the radio to keep us both awake. The station I listen to usually plays music from my HS/University years, but it was House of Hair hour, so Susan got to sing along; I didn't know any of them!
The route itself was 68 miles, total for the day 70 miles. Riding average 13.89mph. It did not get above 37 degrees; avg temp was 34.9.