19 October 2008

Riding the Stillaguamish, Sauk and Skagit Rivers

October can be one of the most beautiful months of the year in the Northwest. This proved to be an outstanding weekend for cycling, as seven of us found out, taking on the nearly flat “Three Rivers Cruise” 200K RUSA permanent on the 18th. This was Chris Heg’s opportunity to get his 2nd 200K in towards his R-12 pursuit and Pam Creighton reluctantly let me twist her arm into coming out and stoking for me on tandem. The three of us were joined by Geoff Swarts, one of our local Permanents coordinators, Shan Perera, Mike Richeson and Thai Nguyen, all fantastic randonneurs and great guys to ride with.

We chose a little bit later start time, as it tends to be quite foggy and cool riding from Arlington to Darrington at this time of year, and we hoped for both a burning off of the fog early and an ability to finish by sunset. As we rode out of Arlington, it looked for a while like the 2nd hope might be more realistic than the 1st.

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It burned off pretty early, though, giving the valley a really nice crisp autumn feel.

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This is one of my favorite views. While the photo doesn't show it in all of its grandeur, I've always been amazed at the uplifted granite 'slabs' that make up the northeastern portion, wondering what it must have felt like on planet earth when that happened

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And no trip through this area is quite complete without a little view of Whitehorse Mountain:

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We stopped for some snacks in Darrington (gotta have them receipts, right?) and Mike, Geoff and Thai managed to stop moving long enuf for me to catch a quick shot:

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And in a rare moment, the team actually let Pam and I sit on for a few minutes at the BACK instead of pulling the whole freight train. Danged tandems, anyway:

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All of the fall foliage was simply spectacular, even if we didn't see as many eagles as I'd hoped:

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And then it was time to cross the Sauk River:

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By the time we made it to Marblemount, Pam was definitely ready to stop at The Eatery for a bit of soup and hot cup of tea.

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I had pie, too.

I thought Chris wanted to take my picture:

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How was I supposed to know he was trying to take a photograph of a TREE?????

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After a nice lunch, it was off to follow the Skagit River for a while:

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Over a couple of hills and through another little valley, we arrived in Concrete:

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where Shan had caught up to us and most of us stopped to either load up on water or get rid of some:

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And of course, once we were back on the road, where was the tandem? Yep, you guessed it, pulling all those singles AGAIN!!!

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But where was Chris? Pam and I "decided" to "slow down and wait for him". Yep, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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Due to some kind of misforune - or perhaps because the sun felt so good reflecting off the firestation, Thai and Shan were still at Day Creek when Pam and I arrived:

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Of course, by the time we got to the Day Creek Fire Station for our informational control where we had to count doors and find a well hidden church, Pam was ready for a little bit of a nap:

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And Chris arrived a few minutes later, having had his own little tire difficulties:

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And with another 35 miles to go, we all struck off for the finish line. Geoff and Mike were far off the front by then, Shan and Thai had taken off just before Chris arrived and we saw them parked at Clear Lake Store as we rolled through. After a quick 5-minute "butt break" at 5-Corners, Chris, Pam and I scooted out for the final 20, only to be turned around by the WSP due to a road closure, leading to a 3-mile backtrack and traversing of the west side of Clear Lake. We managed to pick Shan and Thai up again, and now it was starting to look like we were going to be really pushing it to finish before sunset, but with just a real quick, 3-minute "Mountain Dew Moment for Raleighdon" at the little mimi-mart at Lake McMurray, we were off for the final 10-mile push.

And as we dropped into the valley in Arlington, the shadows were long

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but we were within a couple miles, with just one little hill to go over to the finiah line. And as we crossed back over the Skagit River, with 1 mile to the finish line, the sun was just beginning to drop over the horizon

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We rolled to the finish line just as the last of the sun was setting on the day and I rolled the tandem to the front door of Haggen's

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When we got off, Pam said to me, "I'll walk back to the car". Her butt hurt. She wanted nothing more to do with that tandem (or probably me, for that matter).

And so came to close another beautiful and marvelous day, spent with good friends on a great ride route and I went home to yet another wonderful bowl of hot soup and cornbread, of course this time cooked by my loving and supportive MimiTabby:

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Photo Credits: Pam took all the lovely scenery shots, I took the people shots. The photo of Mimi was taken in Sorrento on one of our honeymoons.

7 comments:

Shan said...

It was definitely a fabulous Oct day for a bike ride. Thanks for spearheading the effort Don.

BTW: Next time you're in Sorrento, you must have dinner at Il Buco (http://www.ilbucoristorante.it). Highly, highly recommended!!

Pansy Palmetto said...

Now that is One Gorgeous Bird of Paradise. I ain't talking about the leafy green shrub either. Mimi, that is a truly wonderful picture of you. I think it's Self Portrait time for you. Lord knows you have done more than enough portraits of that goofy Raleighdon.

Pansy Palmetto said...

Well, I left a comment earlier but SOMEHOW it got deleted or never made it under the radar. I said:

That is one beautiful Bird of Paradise photo and I ain't talking about the green shrub trying to stab Mimi in the neck. Mimi....I say it's time for you to do a Self Portrait. That is a lovely photo of you.

And, a "little bird" told Pansy that Pam was wearing some mimitabby clothes? If so, they better not have gotten all scuffed from Pam rolling around on the sidewalk catching a quick nap! hahaha!

Tip To The Wise: Do NOT ride on a tandem with that Weasel Don. He is cheap and will not invest $20 lousy bucks in a gel pad for the stoker. And then he complains that they are not good enough riders when they black out from the agony of riding with him. Well, actually even people on their OWN bikes riding NEAR Don generally black out from the agony of riding with him.

Pansy Palmetto I mean "Anonymous" said...

OH! Exccuuuuuseee MEEEEEEEeeeee!!! I see that the "blog owner" must APPROVE comments to his boring little blog. Gag and Retch!

So, here's some MORE for you to "APPROVE", Mr. Not-An-Author-Just-Another-Narcissistic-Blogger-Wannabe:

Pansy thinks THIS about THAT: [expletives all over the place; obscene gestures; foulest of language].

Sincerely,
Miss Pure Pansy

MimiTabby said...

Dear Pansy,
I hate to have to do this, but I must inform you that Pam was NOT wearing any of my clothing. She was just borrowing my bike. Raleighdon had my raincoat just in CASE it rained, but thankfully it never did.

jobob said...

Very nice photos!

North Florida Randonneurs said...

Those are some great photos. There is nothing like that out here among the palm trees and sandy beaches.

It must be about time for me to visit my brother in Astoria again.