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

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Summer Vacation

(getting caught up here...) We spent a week at the Fitzsimmons family cottage outside Frankfort, Michigan. Not NEARLY enough time. We caught Fitz's youngest sister Lynn and her family for a couple of hours before they headed home. Fitz's brother Michael came up for a few days, plus his youngest son was already staying elsewhere in town. Sister Beth was there the whole time, with her family, and sister Sue came up with her husband, and two of their three children showed up for our last day and a half.

Rebecca joined us; Brian elected to stay home and work; he'll catch up the the Fitz side of the family at his cousin Joey's wedding next month, in St. Louis.

Highlights: I took Bleriot, of course. The first day I was loafing around, knitting, and realized that I had forgotten some knitting needles. This necessitated a trip to the yarn store in Beulah (26 miles round trip), but it was mostly on the Betsie Valley Trail, which I'll ride all day, every day. It is that pretty.

Betsie River right where it enters Betsie Bay

Bleriot rolled over 5000 miles during that errand.

Rebecca and I rode over to Elberta for the Farmer's Market, only to discover it was on Thursday, not Tuesday. We consoled ourselves with a trip the the smokehouse in Frankfort for some smoked whitefish. It started to rain. We got wet. Frankfort and the Congregational Summer Assembly being not a large place, of course we ran into no fewer than three folks that knew us (not relatives, I might add) and felt sorry for us. We rode home and enjoyed the whitefish :-)

Rode around Crystal Lake once. Fitz and Rebecca played golf several days. I went to the beach, swam the line (1/4 mile), then sat and visited and knitted. One day it was pretty choppy. I've got a high tolerance for chop, but this was just about over the edge.

We had a fire at the Pt Betsie lighthouse and made s'mores.
Rebecca, Bob F, and Sue at Point Betsie
Point Betsie Lighthouse
Lake Michigan at sunset

Then Fitz, Rebecca, and I took the bikes up to the Old Mission Peninsula north of Traverse City and did a 20+ mile ride there. Rebecca isn't a cyclist, but she wanted to come along, and was a really good sport about it. We stopped at Two Lads Winery and did a wine tasting (lots of wineries on the peninsula), and I amused myself by adding things to my Carradice Barley bag (fresh dill, bottle of wine, the lunch and snacks I was already carrying...) It was really pretty.

The Old Mission

Add in a bottle of wine

Fitz and Rebecca eating lunch outside the Old Mission Store

Water view, Old Mission Peninsula

Like I said, a week was not nearly long enough!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Learning new skills

Every knitting project I undertake has me learning new skills and techniques. When I started the Tradition sweater, I had to learn to knit with a strand of yarn in each hand, so I learned how to knit Continental (yarn carried in the left hand).


I quickly discovered that was MUCH faster for me than English style (yarn carried in the right hand), and set out learning how to purl Continental as well. Somehow, not so easy! It took several projects and much viewing of technique videos on But I have it now.

The Latvian Twist is a great starting edge for socks and mitts...

Canada socks are progressing

Somewhere along the line I learned that I was doing the SSK decrease wrong. I also learned I wasn't alone there :-) and I can now do it correctly.

Then I wanted to make a Mari cabled cardigan. The operative word here is "cable". I learned how to do cables knitting a pair of Conwy socks, then moved on to the cardigan, which is proceeding nicely. Somewhere in there I got tired of the cable needle, and learned how to do cabling involving swapping no more than 2 stitches without the cable needle.

Mari Button Up (Cabled Yoke) Cardigan back

Conwy Socks, finished

The Mari cardigan has a nifty cabled twist. I was wondering how it could go the other way. Turns out the socks I am currently knitting (Ann Budd's Diagonal Cross Rib Cable socks) have you twist one way for one sock and one way for the other. Lots of knitting through the back loop here (ick).

And let's not forget casting on. I know one cast-on - the long tail cast-on. I knew it for years before I knew what it was called (hint: learn the names of what you are doing; it will be easier to talk to other knitters when you don't have your yarn and needles handy to demonstrate). I know a couple others, but I don't use them. The Diagonal Cross Rib socks wanted the Old Norwegian (AKA Twisted German) Cast On. The directions in the book were not helpful. Off to Knitting They had a video clip, but glossed over the last, crucial bit. A bit of rummaging around took me to Knit Witch and Lucy Neatby, which clarified. Of course, as I cast on left-handed, I had to reverse it all in my head. Whew!

What's next? I want to learn how to knit lace!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Oregon Randonneurs RUSA 10 Anniversary Brevet Workers' Ride

Or, the Bridge of the Gods Ride Backwards, with some extra bits.

Went over to Cecil's house early on Sunday morning, knowing I'd have to be across the Hawthorne Bridge before it was closed for the Bridge Pedal. She was waiting for me outside. Pre-ride faffing (warm enough, no extra layers), and off to Wilshire Park.

We got there in good order (no traffic this early), with my light flicking on in the early morning dim.

Noted the time and started off. The ride does the "Bridge of the Gods Washougal River Road Option" backwards, with an out and back to the Stabler Store thrown in for distance.

We headed north to Marine Drive, then east, enjoying the early morning sunrise over the Columbia River. We hopped on the bike path whenever it was on the river side of the levee, better views!

Then under I-84, brief stop at McDonalds, up 257th and left through Troutdale and right onto the Historic Columbia River Highway. Worked our way on up to the top, then down to Crown Point, searching for a suitable info control question.

Then a fun descent ("Lynne, I'll see you at the bottom"- ZOOM) to Latourell Falls, where Cecil was indeed waiting and continuing on eastward. No traffic at all this early, and Multnomah Falls looked almost deserted. East, east, east, bearing right on the frontage rd (cleverly signed "Frontage Rd") through Dodson, past Yeon State Park and...onto the I-84 shoulder. Plenty wide, except for the two narrow bridges. You may want to check and see what is coming up behind you before you commit. A semi came up behind me ("oh f......") but it signaled and moved left. I waved.

Then off at Bonneville (you want to do this!), up to the campground and a left just before the road onto the bike path. Surprising uphill here. I've always done it the OTHER way, and didn't consider it much of a downhill.

Then down the stairs and off again. At the Hatchery (fish pens to the right), go left, past the motorized vehicle barriers to get on the path again. You'll eventually pop out in Cascade Locks. We stopped and ate our sandwiches (well, Cecil had a beat-up hard boiled egg and tofu); I bought a Yakima peach from the salmon and produce vendors.

Over Bridge of the Gods, NO TOLL FOR BICYCLES ANYMORE!

Then right. The terrain is rolling, the shoulder is narrow to almost non-existent. Stevenson looks like it has been spiffed up, minimarts and coffee shops are available here. A few more miles and you turn left on Wind River Rd, climbing to and through Carson. Past Carson the shoulder turns to soft gravel. You'll be climbing almost all the way to the Stabler Market; the last half mile is downhill. Not a steep climb, by any means, but it does go on. Check out the "Poaching Hotline" signs.

We had the delight of meeting a PCT through-hiker at the Stabler Market; he was picking up his package of goodies. He's doing it for his second year in a row ("I didn't learn"). We could appreciate his mindset :-)

They've got Payday bars, bananas and V-8, so I was set. There is a tame deer wandering around.

The temperature dropped 15 degrees between Cascade Locks and the store. Almost getting chilly.

The return to SR-14 is a kick - be sure to enjoy the ride!

Then right on SR-14. The shoulder is generally better west of the bridge. There is water and restrooms (flush) at Beacon Rock, food at the Skamania Store and then not a whole lot of anything for awhile. The terrain is gently rolling, then toward the end, a climb.

Krogstad Rd is where the climbing lane goes away. It has a sign, even though it does look like someone's driveway. Eventually it gets another lane and a yellow line down the middle. Still going up. At Canyon Creek you'll go up for another mile, to cross Salmon Falls Rd. Then down...

The Washougal River Mercantile (a control) is a great stop - bananas, V-8, etc. Again, all good for me, with the addition of half of another sandwich.

Then downhill on Washougal River Rd for a long stretch. Shoulders are pretty much non-existent, and there is noticeable traffic. The river is pretty in the sun.

Eventually you will arrive in Washougal, and make a right on Shepherd Rd. Much quieter! Then into Camas, popping out by the DQ and Burgerville, past the paper mill and onto 6th. 6th turns into 4 lanes; the left turn to stay onto 6th (there is a minimall at the corner) has a protected left turn lane.

Then a peaceful stretch all the way to Ellsworth; be sure to stay left when 164th forks off to the right from Evergreen Highway.

Cecil says Ellsworth is the steepest stretch on the ride; sure felt like I wanted a winch at that point. Then the left on 23rd, a left onto the bike path at the end of 23rd (or hit someone's gated entrance), and up onto the bridge. Downhill the whole way!

When the path comes to a "T", go right, then right onto Alderwood at the bottom. You'll get a peaceful ride south of the airport, then over Columbia into N Portland.

Side notes: my Chico Velo Wildflower Century jersey got two unsolicited "that's a beautiful jersey!" comments. Yes, it is. Worth driving to California and riding 100 miles in the 94 degree heat for :-) (also visiting with friends)

Cecil and I did a side trip to the New Seasons in N Portland because we were desperately wanting for calories. She shopped; I watched the bikes.

Cecil: "what do you want?" Me: "anything as long as it has no kelp or chlorophyll...."

A cyclist came by and fell over himself, he was so dazzled by the beauty of our bicycles.

A young boy came by, dropped his bike, went in and returned some cans, then came out and tried to bum 25 cents off me. I'm pretty sure he tries that one on lots of people. Ask enough people for a quarter, you know... (No, I didn't enable him)

Then off to Wilshire Park, ceremonial signing of the cards, and a leisurely 4.5 mile ride back to Cecil's. It was getting dim again; my light flicked back on.

Sorry, no pictures. You can look at Cecil's, though.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Now I've Been Tagged

(thanks Beth)

Q. If you could have any one — and only one — bike in the world, what would it be?
A. The one I don't have yet :-) Like my Bleriot only it would fit me better (shorter top tube) and have 130mm rear spacing so it would pack up a bit easier. And be some shade of pink. With S&S couplers, of course. Suitable for all the stuff I use Bleriot for. (why yes, I HAVE been thinking about this.)

Q. Do you already have that coveted dream bike? If so, is it everything you hoped it would be? If not, are you working toward getting it? If you’re not working toward getting it, why not?
A. almost. see above. Bleriot is a wonderful bike, until I try to ride it for 0ver 300km at a go. But I'm not quite ready to commit to a custom bike. Yet.

Q. If you had to choose one — and only one — bike route to do every day for the rest of your life, what would it be, and why?
A. not choosing. Any single route, no matter how much I love it today, would get boring after awhile.

Q. What kind of sick person would force another person to ride one and only one bike ride to to do for the rest of her/his life?
A. Someone who needs more fresh air and sunshine, and less computer time.

Q. Do you ride both road and mountain bikes? If both, which do you prefer and why? If only one or the other, why are you so narrowminded?
A. I have a mountain bike. It currently has no pedals, and I haven't ridden it in a couple of years. It went on vacation with me, before I got the Bleriot. I would ride it on the Banks-Vernonia trail, but that's about as adventurous as I get. I prefer road bike riding - "real" mountain biking scares the spit out of me.

Q. Have you ever ridden a recumbent? If so, why? If not, describe the circumstances under which you would ride a recumbent?
A. no. I suppose I'd ride a recumbent if circumstances were such that I couldn't ride a standard bike.

Q. Have you ever raced a triathlon? If so, have you also ever tried strangling yourself with dental floss?
A. Yes. Every year I do one. I got back into cycling by having this mid-life crisis to participate in a triathlon, and then realized that I was doing a lot of good bike riding for a 12-mile part of the whole race. I must say, though, you haven't asked if I stopped beating my children yet.

Q. Suppose you were forced to either give up ice cream or bicycles for the rest of your life. Which would you give up, and why?
A. I'd give up ice cream. However, this does not exclude frozen yogurt or popsicles.

Q. What is a question you think this questionnaire should have asked, but has not? Also, answer it. What size of shoes do you wear?
A. this questionnaire could have asked if one wore lycra, how could one justify NOT having a Brooks saddle, and carbon fiber, steel or aluminum. Yes. I have a Brooks. Also many Terrys. Steel x 3, Aluminum x 1. Shoes - women's 7. Kid's 4.5-5 (this means I can buy Keens at essentially half price :-) )

Q. You’re riding your bike in the wilderness (if you’re a roadie, you’re on a road, but otherwise the surroundings are quite wilderness-like) and you see a bear. The bear sees you. What do you do?
A. probably pedal as fast as I have in my entire life. My sister, on the other hand, would stop and take a picture.

Hmmm. Now tag 2 or 3 others. Jason, Uncle Arthur, Heidi, you are next!
(Cecil, Beth already tagged you...)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Team Qualcomm Rides the MS Bike Ride

Us at the Larwood Covered Bridge
(but Lynne, you don't WORK for Qualcomm!)

True. I am, however, married to the team captain. Plus I get more jerseys.

We were going to ride Saturday, and head off to vacation on a 12:30am red-eye to Detroit. Fitz gently suggested that I should perhaps not consider riding the century. As the ride was based in Sweet Home this year, we (all 4 team members) would drive down very early on Saturday, ride the 60 mile ride, enjoy the finish a bit and drive back.

I managed to get almost completely packed for vacation Friday afternoon, including dissassembling and packing Bleriot, and making a list of stuff that still needed to get packed. We loaded our bikes in the van the night before, and got our riding gear collected. We would, of course, wear our Team Qualcomm jerseys. I tossed stuff into my big red ride duffel and put it in the van.

Driving over to Jim's house, Fitz thought we should forage for coffee. Found a Starbuck's a few blocks east, got coffee... found Todd with more coffee, riding over to Jim's. Loaded Todd's bike, went and collected Jim, and headed south.

I got lots of knitting done on the drive.

The temperature did not go up much (low 50's). The conditions were gray/misty.

Jim is clearly ready

Arrived, parked, unloaded the bikes, and went to get our packets. As Team Qualcomm does such an outstanding fundraising job, all 4 of us were Top Fundraisers. The rest of the team will have their Top Fundraiser jerseys mailed, as they were out of their size. Being on the smaller side, I got mine right there. We get free registration AND VIP privileges for next year, too.

It was chilly. I had my armwarmers and knee warmers, but was worried about my hands. Aha! Rummaging in my bag produced the old grey wool gloves I wear on rando rides as a top layer! Whew!

Little Pink Bear is ready to go

Off we went, to the cheers and accompaniment of cowbells.

Ames Covered Bridge at the start

The route started out flat for a bit, then a climb out of Sweet Home with some more gentle climbs. Got to the first rest stop with no problems, had a nice snack, lost some of the extra clothing, and pressed on. As we were all riding as a group this year (last year everyone rode different routes and had differing agendas), I got to chat with Jim and Todd.



Arrived at our first covered bridge (well, ok, if you count the Ames Covered Bridge at the start, it was our second) of the day, and the only one on this route. Happily for me, it was the Larwood Covered Bridge, which was a new one. I've been to all the others.

Larwood Covered Bridge

A few pictures, then off to the rest stop, where the balance of the extra clothing was removed, sunscreen applied, food consumed, visitation with Bob H occurred (he's liking retirement), and we saw the first of The Two Rollerbladers. Back to the bridge for some Team Pictures.

Then, off to Crabtree, which I remembered as very small and, in January, very, very cold. Not today. And it is bigger than I thought. Nice pause at the rest stop, where we were offered Eggs on a Stick. Some discussion ensued as to whether we could do a Paula Deen on them, which would involve bourbon, breading, and deep-frying. Perhaps with a melted butter dip. And a nice alcoholic punch.

The Blue Train heading off to Crabtree

Jim on the way to Crabtree
Some of the 78 mile and 100 mile riders came in. They had stories of this road with amazingly steep rollers. :-) Cole School Road, naturally.

The scenery was Willamette Valley with haying done - lots of haybales and hay waiting to be bailed. I saw a deer hopping through a field at one point.


The Two Rollerbladers came in. They were from California (the deep tans should have been a giveaway), and were doing the 60 mile course. Whooo. They left the rest stop before we did, and we passed them a few miles out. Not that they were moving slowly.

Nor, at this point, were we. All other rides I have done in the Willamette Valley involve going south first, usually early, with perhaps a slight tailwind, then north in the afternoon, with the Headwind from Hell. This route went north, then west, then (hallelujah!) south! With the amazing wind. I had a wonderful time heading south to the next stop. So much so that I had to stop and wait for the other three after awhile. We passed by the outskirts of Lebanon. I recognized several of the roads from the fleche - we didn't ride on any of them, but crossed quite a few.

Last rest stop. More snacks. More eggs on a stick. Then back to the hilly part of the course, back to Sweet Home. Todd was on a mission (his mom was waiting at the finish line), so he took off. Fitz and I followed, with Jim in the back.

These folks rollerbladed the entire 60-mile route...

A brief period of indecision going through town (which way to we go HERE?), and then into the finish area (finish medals, more cowbells, Todd and his mom cheering).

Here we are!

Met Todd's mom. Put the bikes away. Asked the nice gentleman sitting outside his tent if I could use it as a changing room. Then we all went to get our free VIP massages (we all bought more minutes). Aaaaahhhhh. I was told the masseuse doing mine was digging his elbow into my back. Yeah, it felt something like that. Then substantial snacks, and we took everyone home.

All the pictures are here