27 September 2008

Welcome to Autumn in the Northwest

#25 (24 Sept 2008) (and #5 for the month of September!!!)

M: 152.1
T: 9:30 (on the button)
TT: 15:15 (approximately)
AV: 16.01
E: 4,701' (of mostly rollers)

RUSA Permanent #84 - South Hood Canal; with Mark Thomas, Jon Muellner and Steve Davis. Total Time for the official distance of 133.5 miles was 9:56 for Mark and I, the other guys were about 20 minutes or so behind us. Rode to the start and back home, even though Mark offered me a ride home in a nice warm car and the offer was mighty tempting.

This ride started with a 4:15 alarm, followed by almost burning the house down (trying to see if I could duplicate Pansy's stupid kitchen tricks)by turning the wrong burner on. After a nice breakfast of oatmeal, loaded Katrina and out the door at about 05:20 for a sprint to the ferry. Mark met me and we met the other two at Starbucks on the Bremerton side and took off at 07:30, riding out of Bremerton, picking up the Old Belfair Hiway then thru Union, Potlatch and stopping for coffee and pastries at Hoodsport Coffee Company (a must stop if you go).

Jon and Mark in Hoodsport

Boothby Needs Coffee

Mark told me they had really good ice cream, but I had to earn it first, which meant riding the rolling hills to Brinnon and back. GREAT IMPROVEMNTS on this stretch as DOT has just laid new asphalt and widened the shoulders a little bit. Quick stop in Brinnon to refill water bottles, have a quick fueling up and I noticed we were at 66.6 miles (the exact distance, I noted, of Pansy's "big" ride the other day - and we were only halfway there). It had started to rain by this time, and we were getting pretty well drenched, but at least it was warm. Mark and I started to really pull away from Steve and Jon and arrived back in Hoodsport about 15 minutes ahead of them, me being strongly motivated by Mark mentioning how good a warmed up apple danish topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream would be right about now - 10 miles out - my pace increased by a good 2 mph!!! Gotta say, it was scrumptious, along with the mocha. The rain let up for a little bit, but continued off and on into Belair again, and then as we were climbing the last hill by Gorst, it really started to pour, and what a lovely deluge. I'd kept telling Mark I thought the sky was starting to blue up a bit and he called me delusional. By the time we hit Hwy 16 coming into Bremerton, we were nearly drowned. I got a great second wind and was hitting 24 - 26 mph coming down the stretch, til I realized I was dropping my partner, and slowed down. Turning the corner onto Burwell, we just had that one last hill - 10% for about 3 blocks, then a coast to the finish.

Boothby at the Finish

I'll Have a Triple Shot Please!

After coffee and a donut, the other guys showed up and we stopped for sausages and fries, then hit the 6:40 ferry, arriving back in Seattle right at 7:45 and home by 8:35. A fantastic day playing in the rain with the guys.

15 September 2008

When The Moon Kisses The Olympics - THAT'S AMORE!!!

This was one of those mornings that anyone familiar with the Pacific Northwest and its penchant for dark, dreary days has firmly planted in their memory banks. We draw on them from time to time to remind us why we stay here.

Leaving the house, I could see the brilliant blue orb of a moon through the trees. I pointed it out to Mimi as we kissed goodbye, me pushing my bike out the door, she getting prepared to leave by car. It was still dark as I rode out, but there was a blood red glow on the eastern horizon as I rounded the corner by Wing Luke School, heading north.

By the time I got to East Marginal Way, the sky was starting to lighten, and the moon was beginning to pick up the early morning reflections. There was very little traffic this morning and even riding my "long route" I still managed to make it to the LaFarge Plant right at 6:30, in time for the morning whistle. Life is good, I thought to myself.

Crossing back over the Duwamish at Spokane, there was a single bike in front of me casting a dark shadow at the top of the bridge with the tender's tower showing as a huge black behemoth in comparison. I had ridden hard and fast to make the 6:30 whistle, but now I was in full relaxed mode and once again headed north along the waterfront, enjoying the changing colors of the eastern horizons and the downtown Seattle skyline. By the time I got to the ferry terminal, I had decided to stay on the waterfront, debating whether to go straight to the office or not. But as I rode along, I could now see the majestic Olympics across the sound, the ferry coming across the glass like water and with the gull's songs and salty air to help me feel like a part of a fantastic moment in time, my decision was made for me. Riding through the Sculpture Park and into Myrtle Edwards Park, I noticed that "The Father" was showing in the fountain, with "The Son" hidden.

As I rode north, I thought to myself that those riders coming the other direction were missing perhaps the most splendid moonset we have witnessed this year, with the big full moon hangning lazily above the black outline of the mountains and a rose pink haze across the entire area. Then the Olympics started to show the first signs of the sun peeking out for the day, and in that moment, I turned for just a moment to realize my fellow bike commuters weren't missing anything as they were riding to the south with a view of the sunrise beginning to highlight a glorious Mt. Rainier.

I rode on northward past the grain terminal, and watched as the moon gently kissed the Olympics and began to sink slowly beyond the jagged ridge of mountains that shelter us from the raging storms that batter the northwest coast. It all seemed so gentle and quiet. The homeless man who always sits on that same bench just before the turn glanced up and made eye contact with me, and we seemed to share just a moment of grace, each with our own experiences, our own burdens, but for just this one moment, a shared understanding of our planet for what it truly is. His eyes seemed bright today, and unafraid for just a moment.

I made the bend east before turning around and as I almost sadly turned back south, knowing that I was now truly on my way to the office, I saw the utter brilliance of Mt. Rainier, glowing with the luminescence of a fire opal, rising grandly to the southeast, truly the gem of our beautiful region. I was totally overwhelmed with the grandeur of this marvelous little place in which I am allowed to take my few breaths, and reminded once again of just how much I have to be grateful for today.

Then, as is the case every morning, I had to eventually make that decision about which street I would attack the climb up to Belltown, choosing Cedar today, both for the challenge of the 2-block, 12% climb and the prayerful laps around the Chief Seattle statue by the 5-Point. And as I turned south onto Fifth Avenue, I was greeted by yet another marvel. Fresh Asphalt along the entire section of this street had been laid over the weekend, all the parking meters were still hooded so I didn't have to negotiate around parked cars, and I was able to finish the morning's 17 mile commute without a care in the world.

Life is, indeed, beautiful.