06 December 2009

Scio Frozen Bridges

Well, seems there’s been a lot of carpin' 'bout the frigid air (and I ain't talkin' 'bout the one in yer kitchen) so I might as well talk about yesterday's little fiasco. Mind you, this ride was MY IDEA, so I can't complain.

I decided I wanted to go to Oregon in December and do a permanent with one of our new board members, but when I emailed Cecil Anne, she couldn't ride on Saturday, but could on Sunday. Well, doing a ride of 125 or so miles on Sunday is tough enough for me, but having to do a 4 hour drive back from Portland to Seattle in heavy Sunday nite going home traffic is pretty much unthinkable, so I organized one of Susan France's routes, the Scio Covered Bridges. I've wanted to do it for a while, and thought this would be a good chance. Relatively flat, not up into the higher hills so if there's cold rain and snow in the foothills, I'll probably be okay.

So Greg Sneed told me in late Oct. he wanted to go for his R-12. November we did 3-Rivers Cruise. He was signed on for this one, as was Ron Himschoot and John Vincent. Two Oregon Randonneurs, Sam Huffman and Bill Alsup signed on as well. Bill needed a ride in December to make his 2nd consecutive R-12. Sam hasn't ridden anything long since May, but is strong and young.

Then the weather forecasts started to bear watching. Dropping temps, threats of snow, freezing fog and wind. First Greg bailed. Then Ron. I told 'em I'm probably better prepared than some guys since I now have studded tires. So I loaded both bikes in the truck and headed off to Portland late Friday afternoon. 31 degrees when I got to Wilsonville about 9:00 pm. 27 degrees when I woke up, and freezing fog. Still dark, but there's a sheen of frost on the pavement. Susan had granted me permission to delay the start a couple hours if I needed to, so we decided to roll out at 8:30. As we went out to start getting ready, John says to me, "Boothby, there is ice forming ON my tires - just since we've been here. I'm packing for home.' Now we are 3.


Sam, Bill and I started out and rode the first mile along I-5 on frosty pavement. When we got off the highway and started down the back roads, I said, "Boys, I'm not doing this." Sam 'llowed as how he was with me. Bill? Well, he decided to soldier on.


As Sam and I got off the northbound freeway, I decided I'd go get my ice bike and do a short ride anyway. Maybe go along the course down to Silverton and back - that's about 40 or so miles. Once I had those studded tires under me, I felt pretty doggone good. No slip slidin' and very comfortable with that magic red saddle on it. The sun had come out around Wilsonville,


but as I got south a little ways, the fog settled in again, and there was a bunch of ice pretty much everywhere.



All the fog and ice made for some really spectacular sightseeing, though my teeth were chattering pretty good for a bit in the below-freezing temps.


OK, to make matters worse, when I changed bikes, I forgot to move my Spiz and Cytomax bottles from Katrina over to Iris, and just outside of the first little town, I reached down to grab a drink and my water bottle was EMPTY! So I stopped in Barlow at the little mini-mart and grabbed a cup of coffee. Hot and fresh, but too hot to drink, so I put a little ice in it. Then a little more, and drank a nice warm coffee. Before leaving, I topped it off with iced coffee which tasted great for the next several miles. Still had ice in the bottla 2 hours later.


And I found these beautiful black horses standing in the snow white fog. Very mysterious scene, with them emitting clouds of steamy breath and steam rising from their wet coats. I'm convinced they are responsible for all the fog.


And the huge Oregon Live Oaks were pretty awesome looking, too.


I overtook Bill in Silverton, and he convinced me (took a lot, right?) to ride on with him. And from there on, no clouds or fog


This is the Scio COVERED BRIDGES permanent:

The first of the three is just before coming into Scio


They do love their High School Football team here, too:


Scio beat Kennedy 14-7 to take the championship - this game was in progress as we rode through.


Bill dropped his camera and broke it right by that first bridge, so stopped at the Scio Market and bought a very patriotic adorned instant camera he was very pleased with


After a snack, it was off to the Hoffman Bridge


And then into beautiful downtown Crabtree, Population about 250 maybe, but our brevet card has a secret control here and we weren't sure if we were supposed to count the doors or the reindeer, so we counted both


After a bit of wandering about, we finally got to Gilkey Bridge



The temperature had jumped up to about 40 degrees in mid-afternoon, and we now had another 35 miles to go to get into Salem. We picked up the pace a little, trying to make it through Salem before dark. At least we arrived before Sunset, in time to take our pictures at the Capitol (where I was sworn into the USMC on 6/12/69)


OK, I aplogize for you having to turn your monitor on its side to see this one.


And now with 40 miles to go, the sun is down, the night air is chilling rapidly and we're ready to roll out. The Salvation Army bellringer must have told us 20 times to be careful. She told me the story of her brother getting hit by a car 3 times.


And at 8:10 pm, after 11 hours and 40 minutes, one false start, one bike change, no serious missed directions and a whole lot of hot coffee along the way, Bill Alsup finished his R-24

R-24 in the books

and Raleighdon the insane was there to witness it.

Now for the post script.

I went back to the hotel and got in the shower. I had stopped and picked up a chicken teriyaki to go and was really hungry, but wanted to get under a nice hot shower first. So I did. Now, normally, I'm a 3-minute shower guy. But I didn't want to get out. But I wanted to eat. But I didn't want to get cold again. I was seriously conflicted - probably a bit tired, too. I finally had to turn the water up so hot I couldn't stand it in order to force myself to get out. Hotels never run out of hot water. After eating a little bit, I crawled into bed still chilled. I pulled on clean wool base shirt and a clean pair of wool knickers and kneesocks. I was still chilled. I pulled the bedspread back up and started to get warm. Then I started to get leg cramps, and twitches. So I got up, drank a bottle of water with NUUN. Then ate a banana, took 2 advil and got back in bed. 10 minutes later, still having small cramps. Drank a bottle of warm cytomax. Crawled back in bed and finished watching Santa Clause 3 on Disney and everything got better. I think I was a little dehydrated and electrolyte deficient, but mostly, think I just had trouble getting my core temp balanced.

But at the end of the day, I'm now at R-6 and don't have to worry about getting anything else til January.

09 November 2009

Rest In Peace, Earl C.

On November 8, 1984 I was transferred into the drug and alcohol treatment facility on the 7th floor of Cabrini Hospital. I had been in the hospital for 4 days and it was obvious to pretty much everyone around me that I had a pretty substantial drinking and drug problem. That first night, after dinner, we were told we had to go to the dining room for a Narcotics Anonymous presentation. I didn’t want to go, but had to. That night, a guy came into the treatment center and talked about having been on death row in Huntsville and how he’d gotten a second lease on life, managing to get off of death row and eventually out of prison. He had been free for about 7 years and drug free for a little over 6. He spent his time going into treatment centers and prisons, carrying a message of recovery.

When I left the treatment center a couple weeks ago with a group to go to an "outside meeting", Earl was the first one who reached out to me, welcomed me to the meeting and actually remembered my name. As I got more involved in NA over the next few years, Earl and I got to know each other a little bit, and I even had a chance to go to Walla Walla with him one time where we took meetings to minimum security, and then to the maximum security inmates. Earl was able to relate to these men in a way few can.

Earl was a remarkable man, who always encouraged newcomers to recovery, always demonstrated a love for others who were trying to make meaningful change in their lives and always modeling total dedication to the 12-step way of life. He said things like “Just pick a birthday and keep it.” And he did. For 31 years.

Friday evening, November 7th, almost exactly 25 years to the day after I met Earl, this wonderful man and good friend passed away. Attending the weekly meeting of Friday Night Alive in the South King County area of NA, Earl was asked to speak. He went to the podium and shared with the group about recovery. Then he sat down again. A few minutes later, Earl suffered a massive heart attack and left the group.

While we never like losing our friends, our mentors, our leaders, it seems like this is a good passing for Earl. Sitting in a group of people he loved and who loved him. Doing the thing he loved most in life. He lived a good life and will be sorely missed.

Rest, my friend. You earned it.

23 September 2009

Autumn is Here

So last night I'm riding home from work. I tell Mimi I want to ride long since I didn't get much of a ride in before work, and I'm heading out to the Duwamish, where I'm gonna ride down through Renton and back up along the lake. Everything is really lovely this week with temps in the mid-70's to mid-80's predicted all week. I have Mimi's new Pentax camera with me since I wore mine out (over 10,000 photos they all seem to quit functioning for some reason). I turn onto Spokane St. heading toward the bridge and hear a train coming. Not a problem since they are on tracks I don't have to cross and have their own bridge. I see a nice break in traffic that allows me to hop across 4 lanes of roadway onto the bike path/sidewalk going onto the swing bridge. I hear the bells start to ring, and think to myself they're gonna lower the train bridge. It is always up and I would really like to capture a shot of it down for a change, especially with Mt. Rainier so big and bright today with the winds we've been having to blow the smog away. Gorgeous afternoon!!! I start up the bridge and see the train approaching, but the bridge isn't moving. The bells keep ringing their warning, but no action yet. Then I see the sand barges. I think to myself that I should really stop and get a shot of this, as it is really beautiful out this afternoon. I generally will take 4 to 6 shots to make sure I have one I really like. I get almost to the top of the bridge and stop. Grab the camera and zoom in to get a good shot of the barges and mountain, since the train bridge isn't dropping (it's a single leaf drawspan) and had taken my first photo when I hear a voice on the loudspeaker. I don't think much of it, thinking it is coming from one of the boats below me. I'm getting ready to take another photo when I hear it again, only this time it sounds a bit irritated. Still don't give it much thought, but then I hear it again, "The bridge is preparing to open. The guy down there on the bridge with the bike needs to keep moving!!!!" OH, they're talking to ME! It's MY bridge that is getting ready to move, not the train bridge. I look behind me and the gate is closed. Oh, they're waiting for me to get off the Spokane St. Bridge (a double leaf "swing bridge") so they can open it for some big ship to go through. NOW I GET IT! So I carefully place my camera back into my jersey pocket, hitch up my shorts so they won't get caught on the saddle, straddle the top tube, click in, and ride off, waving merrily (with ALL of my fingers extended) to the bridge tender and ride off down the other side of the bridge. As soon as I was "almost" safely out of the way, he triggered the button to close the gate, and continued on with his work. I, of course, continued on down the exit from the bridge, turned sharp left onto West Marginal Way and went merrily along my way, satisfied with just one beautiful shot of the mountain.

Later, as I rolled into Renton, I turned off Grady Way onto the bike path by the Waste Water Treatment Plant and was greeted by yet another pretty scene, as the sun was now low in the sky, giving off a wonderful golden glow to everything. I remembered Machka's "First Day of Spring" post earlier, so stopped to grab yet another pretty shot of the LAST DAY OF SUMMER-2009!

Though this week is supposed to be in the 80's it won't be long now before we are pulling on all the layers of wool, booties, rain jackets, ear warmers, long gloves with wool fingerless 'overgloves' and heading out looking like Ralphie's little brother in his snowsuit in that wonderful Christmas movie. For now, however, I'm sure digging the first day of autumn that more resembles mid-July except for the shortness of the daylight hours.


07 August 2009


So, I head to Elliott Bay Bikes. It's Friday. Reed always works on Friday. This pleases me. Reed looks at it. He's in the middle of a full driveline overhaul for a guy with a sleek ti Davidson. The guy is waiting, and Reed's about an hour away from done. This doesn't please me so much. Do I want to leave it and come back? Well, not really, since I'm supposed to leave early for Eastern Washington. Taking pity on me (not to mention I have spent a lot of money over the past three years in their shop) he says, ok (without even grumbling too much) and slaps it up into the stand. Looks it over. So there's a slight chance it'll break in the straightening. Slight? I'll take my chances. If it breaks, we'll have to order a new one. Don't have one in stock. OK, so I'm still willing to take that chance. It might break while you're riding, even if we're successful. OK. I can live with that risk.

Bill (Davidson) comes in. Reed gives the hanger to Bill, who ambles off to the back, saying this is easy. No problem.

Bill comes back a couple minutes later. Straight as an arrow.

Reed installs. Then he gets a long handled thingamajig with a spike hanging out the end. I assume he's gonna bash me over the head for being such a bonehead. Nope. He puts it to the hanger, adjusts the pin and does some arcane incantations over it at the top of the rim. then he spins it to the bottom. Gives me some explanation about how it has to be exactly straight to shift properly. Looks over some of the frame parts (used to work for Raleigh and likes to check known places for frame failure) and declares the frame to be in good shape. Then he uses those massive arm muscles of a bicyclist and just barely puts pressure on the hanger. SNAP.

This is a family friendly post. What's said in the bike shop, stays in the bike shop.

Reed heads over to the shelf. Just in case. Pulls out a couple of boxes with little baggies of mysteriously shaped doo-dads and lots of loose parts. Paws through them. Nope. Nope. Naw, that one won't work. Yep. It's a winner. Found one. Installed it.

Less than 30 minutes start to finish. $30.65 (plus a little tip for my mechanic without the boss in the room) and I'm down the road. Reed returns to the "other" job.

Life is good.

Life is better on a bike.

Life is even better on a bike that works.

And life is REALLY good when you work close to a bike shop!


DON'T FALL DOWN. Isn't that rule #1?

This week, they are doing a re-paving of the Duwamish Trail. In order to do this, they've had to close the trail and divert commute traffic out onto a very busy West Marginal Way. None of us wants to get turned into cream of wheat by a cement truck, garbage truck or tour bus, so SDOT has very generously provided a full northbound lane with a barrel divider line for the entire length of the repairs. About 2/3 of the way through, there is a place where there is an entry driveway to a shipping container/chassis yard. If you use the driveway entrance and then cross over a gravel area and some RR tracks, you can get back onto the trail at that point - though there is really NO REASON to do so, unless you want to check out the "tent city" set up by Port of Seattle for some of the homeless folks here. Which is what I wanted to do. When I was by there last week, they'd set up this tent city but with absolutely no bathroom facilities and I wanted to see if they'd ever added some sanitation to this place or if people were still just expected to go in the woods (like in the downtown Seattle parks).

So at the last minute, I made my turn, thought I had a good enuf angle to get over the curb cut, but didn't factor in the fact there was a big batch of oily greasy mess and my front wheel slid down off the curb cut, sending me to the ground. Hit on my right side, getting a slight scrape on the knee, a little brusing on my right hip and sore shoulder. Never hit my head.

After getting up and dusting myself off, assuring myself the bike was okay, I took off. When I went to shift down to the middle chain ring though, the rear derailleur started rubbing lightly on the spokes. Seems I've bent the detachable aluminum derailleur hanger on my Raleigh Competition. Outta here in a few minutes to take it to EBB and see if they can straighten it for me.

So, remind me, what was that number one rule?

oh yeah. DON'T FALL DOWN!!!!

Ride Safe
Have Fun
Finish With A Smile

24 July 2009

Dumpster Diving at the Essential Bakery

Yesterday was my second consecutive "extended commute". Wednesday I did a 51 mile commute on tandem of which about 30 of it was solo, but yesterday Mimi and I had a date. I had to pick up storage locker keys for RAMROD organizing stuff, and was going to meet VP Mike "somewhere on the trail" with both of us leaving respective starting points at about 4:30. Mimi met me in downtown. We were going to ride together, but we needed to be back up to Beacon Hill in time to pick up our farm share. We wanted to meet the kids for dinner, too, and Tom & Megan had to be outta there by not later than about 6:45 since they were going to a Gilbert & Sullivan show. Timing was sorta tight, but not too. We rode out along the Burke Gilman Trail and I told Mimi at 5:00, "ok, now in the next 5-10 minutes we should be meeting up with Mike (she'd been worried about timing since we needed to be at the restaurant by 6). At 5:08, I'm looking up the trail and VOILA!!! There he is. Got the keys, chatted a few minutes and headed back toward Blue C Sushi in Fremont. Stopped along the way to pick a few blackberries (still not real ripe, but tasty nonetheless - Mimi says they'll be ripe on full moon). So, we're riding back toward the restaurant, and I have an idea, since we're about 15 minutes early. Riding home from Bike Expo back in February or March, I'd met a guy on the trail and started chatting with him. I was supposed to peel off and head south, but we were having a great time getting to know each other, so I figured I'd ride into Fremont and then cut south through downtown and home, only a couple extra miles. As we neared the Essential Bakery, he says to me, "Hey, I've got to stop at the bakery and grab a loaf of bread." Well, I thought that was a great idea. They make wonderful artisan loaves and it's one of my favorite bakeries in town. So I figured I'd get a loaf too, since we always can use some. Well, instead of going into the bakery, the guy pulls into the back parking lot. Rides up to a dumpster, lifts the lid and pulls out a beautiful loaf of bread. These aren't filthy yucky dumpsters. They're "clean", and absolutely chock full of beautiful loaves of bread in bags. Essential Bakery absolutely will not sell day old bread. I'm not sure why they simply throw it away, but they do. Apparently the college kids have known about this for a long time. Well, I grabbed a loaf and took it home. Mimi was THRILLED. She loves bargains.

That's the set up. Here's the photos:

Dumpster diving at Essential Bakery #1

and notice the beautiful jersey this girl is wearing. She designed the logo herself. They're for sale through the Team Estrogen website

Dumpster diving at Essential Bakery #2


IMG_9255Dumpster diving at Essential Bakery #3

......and now you know..............

.............the rest of the story.

02 July 2009

Death Ride - I'm READY

It's been a while since I posted here. Seems like life's been pretty busy in June, what with trying to get ready to go to California for the toughest physical challenge I've ever tackled - well, except for Marine Corps Boot camp back in the summer of '69. A few weeks ago, I headed over to Orondo and did three repeats of Orondo Grade, stopping in Waterville at the Coyote Pass Cafe for refreshments after each climb. They really do make the absolute best bread pudding I've ever eaten, and their coffee is thick, rich and fresh. Who could ask for more. Then, two weeks ago, Mimi and I tackled the Tour de Blast. She did the 55 mile route up to Elk Rock and back and I did the full 85 miles up to Johnson Ridge. That gave me a pretty good feeling as I pushed my heavy Davidson up the mountains. Last weekend, it was off to Mazama with Redmond Cycling Club for about 12,000' of climbing spread over two beautiful days in bright sunny weather. So now, with a mere 10 days to go, I'm ready to go. Over 6,200 miles and almost 285,000' of vertical in 6 months of intense training. If that doesn't prepare me, there is nothing that will. So here's a little poem I wrote this morning, thinking of all the friends I've made in the cycling community who have either done or are doing this ride.

miles and smiles and added climbs
make for the sweetest and best of times.
Tomorrow I leave for Cali for nee eye AAAA
The state where I spent my very first day.

So many long months of training my legs
tree stumps replaced those toothpicky pegs
and now it is south to partake of this ride
but if I fall short, at least I'll have tried.

I've just nine more days to taper my training
The hours til Death Ride are rapidly waning.
I'm feeling the pressure, but know in my heart
That I'll be there early for a five o'clock start.

In jersey resplendent of Marine Corps Pride
I'll shoot out the gate for this Most Awesome Ride
Hoping that all of the rest of you folks
Have a really great time and don't break any spokes.

Ride hard and ride fast and climb strong to the crest
Then repeat this five times 'fore you lay down to rest
Enjoy the descents, but use care as you go
We want you back home in one piece, dontcha know.

Remember to bring plenty of sunblock and gu
keep well hydrated and get food in ya, too.
We'll see you all soon down south in the sun
best luck and good fortune fellow riders, each one.



15 May 2009


Imagine riding your bike to work every day, surrounded by hundreds of other cyclists. Imagine cars being so used to seeing a lot of bicycles that we have become just another part of the transportation fabric in our society. Imagine people being patient and tolerant of each other and recognizing that we're all just trying to get to work efficiently, safely and ready to do a good job for our employers.

May is National Bike Month. All month I've been part of the Group Health Bike To Work Challenge, hosted by Cascade Bike Club. Of course part of the purpose is to get people on their bikes more for commuting to work. But it is so much more than that. It's also about increasing community awareness. If only we could get people out of their cars one day every week, imagine how much more visible we would be to the motorists. Imagine if we did this twice a week. I've done it 84 days so far this year, and driven only once, feeling cheated out of my morning routine.

This year for the Bike to Work challenge, I've got to be part of Team Carpe Velo, a 10-person team of which 2 of us have ridden our bikes to work every day, riding this week in some pretty wet conditions to do it. So we have Bike to work Month, Bike to Work WEEK and now, today is Bike To Work DAY. And the cyclists were out in force.

Mimi and I started out together and rode up to Columbia Way so she could get counted. Then we rode down to Boeing and I headed north. I ran into my team captain, Mike McCormick:

Mike - Spokane St. Bridge

We both ride this same route almost every day, but have never crossed paths before, so this was pretty special for both of us. After we got our picture taken together

Team Carpe Velo - 100%'ers

we hung around for a bit, had some coffee, enjoyed all the support out there, wondering why people do this just one day, one week or one month out of the year.

Interesting Table - Part 1

Interesting Table - Part II

Great Bike - Needs Cup Holder

Nice Rack

But soon, it was time to ride off to our respective offices, Mike heading south, me heading north into downtown. But not before loading some goodies into the panniers.

Mike on his way

Typically, I see 2 or 3 bikes coming south as I'm heading north. In May, I usually see 10 or so, and this week because of the rain, the number has been down. This morning, I counted 34 bikes coming at me before I got to the bridge. Once I got there, with bikes heading in from West Seattle and heading out of downtown towards West Seattle, I saw over a hundred bikes on the road. The woman counting bikes coming out of West Seattle was up to 233 when I arrived and it was early yet.

Imagine how differently cars might see us if there were these numbers EVERY DAY!!!


14 May 2009


It was raining a little bit yesterday morning, enough so that we had our raincoats, pants and booties on, but not so much I felt like I needed my helmet cover. By the time I left work yesterday evening, it was raining hard and I really needed full battle gear, but as I rode south, I was grinnin' ear to ear, realizing I really do love days like that, and chatting with another cyclist heading out of downtown, we remarked how nice it is to be able to smile through the raindrops.

This morning was a little different story. Yes, I do love being able to smile, but when I got up, it was one of those "saturating mist" rains we have in Seattle that is interspersed with periods of heavy rain. You walk outside and are instantly drenched. I hinted to Mimi that she may not be too excited about being out in it today. She was putting on her bike shoes and rain pants, but she is so easily talked out of it in inclement conditions, it took not much time for her to get changed out of rain gear. I, on the other hand, am not to be deterred this month. Only 2 guys on our 10-man Carpe Velo commute challenge team still have perfect records, me one of them and the team captain the other. I can't blink. So I put on all the plasticized anti-wetness armour and headed out. As I left, I remarked to Mimi that this is the first day all year I've really thought to myself that it would be a really good day to take off and ride the bus. Of course, as it always seems to be, I'm only really miserable for the first couple of minutes while in the process of getting soaked. I equate it to jumping in a cold lake. Once I get used to the cold water, I'm fine, but it does take a moment to adapt. As the #36 passed me going along Beacon Avenue, spraying me with buckets of cold, gritty, muck, I laughed, thinking that I could actually be nice and warm, reading a book and relaxing. Instead, I am being that little boy who doesn't have enough sense to come in out of the rain, out there in my rain coat and galoshes, stomping in mud puddles, seeing how big of a splash I can make. This just reinforces my age old belief that youth may be fleeting, but immaturity can last a lifetime.

I got to work about as wet as I could ever be, and found I don't have a spare set of socks in my desk as I thought I did, but at least my wet socks are wool so my feet won't be cold and wet all day, just wet. It's supposed to improve as the day goes by - well, we'll see.

05 May 2009

Only The Hardcore

This morning's commute warrants at least a mention. It's been raining pretty hard overnight, and when I got up to read for an hour at 2:20, the wind was howling through the trees and the wind chimes were really singing. By 3:30 it had calmed down, I turned the light off and went back to sleep til 5:15 and when I woke up, the wind had picked up again, it was still coming down pretty good, but I decided to go for it anyway. With full rain gear (Showers Pass jacket, rain pants, helmet cover, Potenza booties and winter gloves), I set off. I usually count bikes coming at me in the morning, and typically see 3 or 4 most of the year, but from mid April through the end of May, I usually see anywhere from 15 - 20. That doesn't include the flotilla of bikes coming off the ferry. This morning, I counted a total of TWO bikes, and when I got to the ferry, instead of the massive herd, I saw maybe a half dozen bikes moving south.

Only the hardest core of the hard core were out there this morning, braving the elements. I guess I must have become one. My wife called me a "goof". I'm not sure, but I think she meant it in a good way.

In the Starbux downstairs, people were talking about how miserable it was. I had a grin from ear to ear, and had to explain to one guy that I'm just a little kid who liked to play in mudpuddles and never really grew up.

When I grow up, I think I want to be a little kid.

22 April 2009

Workingman's 100K Ride

I love to ride my bike to work. Some weeks, I like to go out with the bike club and do our 15 - 25 mile Tuesday evening "mudflaps" ride, then ride home. But yesterday's commute turned out to be a very interesting 100K ride for me. I all started with a nice sunrise as I was coming along the Duwamish, and I was impressed by how far the sun has moved north in the past 3 weeks. I took this same photo just before leaving for California at the end of March, and the sun rose south of the control tower.

Swing Bridge - Spokane Street, Seattle 4-21-09

After crossing over the bridge, I always get this great view of the Seattle skyline from Harbor Island. Its different every day:

Harbor Island and Seattle Skyline

After work, it was in the lower 70's and I'd been planning to do a 100k ride, with some good climbs out by Issaquah. It is just marvelous crossing Lake Washington when the weather is nice. With Mt. Rainier to the south and Mt. Baker to the north, the snowcapped Cascades to the east and the smell of the Great Northwest Springtime heavy in the air, nothing can be finer.

I-90 Eastbound (4-21-09)

Mt. Rainier from I-90 (4-21-09)

After climbing the 2-mile 10% grade of Lakemont Blvd and descending back to Newport Way, I headed through Issaquah and out toward Maple Valley, where one of my favorite local barns was really pretty in the early evening sun.

Maxwell Road Barn (4-21-09)

And then, I got onto the Cedar River Trail for a really fast return into Renton with the sun blinding me as I approached the end of the trail.

Sunset on Cedar River Trail (4-21-09)

Soon, however, it had dipped below the tree line, and the temperature went from 73 degrees to 63 degrees very rapidly.

Sunset (2)

As the sun was close to setting, I cruised north along the southwest edge of Lake Washington, taking in the late evening aromas of lawns being mowed, somebody's meat on the grill, enjoying a light breeze coming off the lake and the evening birds singing their praises to a wonderful day.

The day ended exactly as it had begun, with the sun in my eyes, only slowly sinking over the horizon as I rolled up the hill to home. I finished the day with just over 64 miles, and slept like a baby last night. Is it any wonder I love riding a bike to work?

17 April 2009

Glad To Be Alive

I'm really glad I'm alive today. I had a near miss this week (my first 'true' near miss of 2009) when I was on my way home from work. Having bike commuted over 60 times this year, I suppose that's not too bad, and maybe not even as many close calls as I used to have driving to Lynnwood and back every day in my big, boxy cars.

Beacon Ave. S. runs north-south. Single lane each way with on-street parking and sharrows. Major bus line and the only major arterial on Beacon Hill. From Columbia Way to south of Cloverdale (4 mile stretch) there is a greenway down the middle of the street with a multi-use path, and good sidewalks on both sides of the street.

(photo-October, 2008)

Typically, I stay on the street until I cross through the intersection at Myrtle (.9 miles from home) and then I take the MUP for about 6 blocks before turning left at the most convenient (as dictated by traffic flow of the moment) side street and then go down the one block to 37th S, which takes me into my garage. The 'game' is to beat both the 4:33 "32" and the 4:40 "36" to Beacon & Myrtle when I'm coming home over the hill like this.

On this particular day, I'd beat both of them. I was relaxed and pulled up onto the MUP, and was cruising merrily along. The 32 passed me, driver waved at me (I know most of them and with the exception of one guy who insists on honking - like I can't hear there's a bus behind me - they're all really really friendly and careful of me) and then had to make a stop at Holden. Cars were behind him. The stop is in such a place by Aloha Market that the tail end of the bus is sticking out into traffic and cars can't get around. There's a white SUV behind him. I am approaching the intersection. I'm doing about 15 or so. I check the SUV. No turn signal. I slow a little, but not much since the bus is stopped, the SUV is not turning and no oncoming traffic. At the last moment, the SUV changes his mind and decides to turn left, never seeing me or thinking I'm going to stop. He pulls a way too fast left turn and I had to lock up the brakes, enter a controlled skid spinning my bike almost 180 degrees as I turned to the left, barely averting T-boning the left front fender of this bozo. Without allowing enough room for him to go around me either left or right, I turn completely to where I'm facing him, and confronted him. He was at first apologetic, knowing he had screwed up. I was prepared to accept that, then he said, "I thought 'you guys' were supposed to be on the street, not on the sidewalk". At that point, I was less than generous in my response to him.

If we're on the MUP which goes thru, we're supposed to be on the street. If we're on the sidewalk, we're supposed to be on the street or the bike path. If we're on the street, we're supposed to be on the sidewalk or the bike path. No matter where we are, we're not where we're supposed to be when they almost kill us.

And then they wonder why we're angry.

I'm glad today because I'm sitting up and taking nourishment for another day.

Ride Safely and Stay Alert
Have Fun
Get To The Finish Line With a SMILE.

12 April 2009

Cheeseburger - Hold The Cheese


I’ve anxiously been awaiting this past weekend for some time now. One of my favorite rides is the Oregon Randonneurs’ “3-Capes 300” from Forest Grove to Tillamook, Pacific City and then back, going through some wonderfully quiet and scenic country, gorgeous ocean views, quiet and lightly traveled river roads and sleepy little Oregon towns. I’ve done the ride once before and had originally planned to do it with Don Jameson on tandem, until Elaine put her foot down and said “Absolutely Not!” She wasn’t about to let us boys go out to play in the rain without getting in on the fun.

So I chased them around all day, laughing, joking, trying to hang onto their rear wheel as much as I could.

On the Road

Uniform of the Day

There was a pretty happy lot of us who sorta played tag team from the start out to Tillamook, and it felt good after the first 60 miles to take a bit of a breather, catch a bite to eat and swap stories.

Open Control

Susan Grabs a Bite

Doug Pulls off a layer

Ron Pauses for a Bite

Nobody was quite sure how Dierdra got so muddy, since all of us had good mudflaps.

Dierdra Got a Bit Muddy

After a bit of a rest, we all headed off on the 3 Capes Scenic Route over the hills and through the woods of Cape Meares, Cape Kiwanda and Cape Lookout.

Tillmaook Bay

Over the shoulder again

Coastal Scene

Old Piers

When we’d start up the climbs, I’d end up taking off a bit, as Don and Elaine’s tandem just can’t get up the hills quite as fast as my single,

Starting up Cape Meares

but I’d wait at the top until I’d see them coming, and then take off again, in hopes of catching onto their wheel as we rocketed down the other side.

I’d never gotten to ride with Dierdra before, and she showed me what a tough climber she was, as well.

Dierdra Climbs

As we would get to the top of each of the hills, we were treated to spectacular ocean views to the north and south like this one from Cape Meares.

Looking North From Cape Meares

The hills were a bit tough, but the salt air, birds singing, daffodils in bloom and good company made it all roll by far too fast.



Having grown up (or at least gotten older) on the Oregon Coast for several years, I have seen the ocean at its best and its worst. I found myself quite amused by this house built right on the cliff, wanting to make sure I got a good photo of it before Mother Nature has her way with it


As we got near the summit of Cape Lookout, it got a bit foggy, and the air was thick with the coastal forest aromas that I remember from playing in the woods as a kid.



Finally, we rolled into Pacific City with almost 100 miles in, and ready for some lunch. As we came down the hill into town, Don asked me what I wanted to do there. I told him I’d prefer to get enough calories in us to make it over the Little Nestucca and then have a lunch stop in Grande Ronde where it won’t be as busy. He said that was fine, but Elaine had other ideas, and in retrospect, both Don and I were really glad that one Elaine had better sense than two Dons. She decided on a little coffee shop, and after I saw the sign advertising one of my favorite meals not just once, but on both sides of the entry, I was ready to eat. Of course, all the easter decorations made it just that much better.


When we got inside, we found the decorations were just as prolific there as on the exterior.


Heck, there was even an easter bunny door knob cover. Not sure how Peter Cottontail feels about having his head squeezed constantly like that, and found myself wondering later if they have a Santa Clause door knob cover, too.



Elaine wanted a bowl of clam chowder and a burger. That sounded pretty good, but I was contemplating that Chicken Fried Steak with hash browns and eggs. I like to order this at Denny’s by asking for the Arterial Slam. They never seem to get the joke. They had just sold the last of their claim chowder but had some beef noodle soup, so Elaine opted for that. Good Choice! Knowing I have to climb up to Sawgrass Summit at the top of the Little Nestucca climb, I figured I probably should stay away from the CFS, and now have a great reason to go back. Don, not wanting to have to make a decision, ordered exactly the same thing as Elaine. I figured it’s a tandem thing. As the ‘reserve’ stoker, I figured I’d best follow suit, so when the waitress asked for my order, I told her I’d have a cheeseburger, but hold the cheese.

We got our cups of soup, really in a cup. And it was soooooooo good. A bit on the salty side, but on a cold and misty day on the Oregon Coast, with a hundred miles to go, it really was the ideal food.

Then out come the burgers. Old fashioned is their advertisement and I wasn’t disappointed. Nice, greasy burger with lots of grilled onions just exactly as I like it. This was a 3-napkin lunch! I was about halfway through my burger when the waitress (who I think is co-owner) came out and in a total deadpan and serious voice asked me, “Sir, I just have one question I’d like to ask you.”

Well, we’re the only cyclists in there, and I figured she was going to ask me the usual, where are you headed, where did you ride from, something like that.

“Shoot,” I said.

“Well,” she said and opened her hand. “How long do I have to hold the cheese?”

This was so much like something my little sister or I would have done in our parents’ restaurant in Cannon Beach, I felt totally at home surrounded by these ladies who truly love what they do in life, love to feed people, love to decorate their little cafĂ© and love to bring joy to those around them.

All too soon, however, it was time to get back on the bikes. And so we departed my favorite new diner, with a vow to return.


By now, the wind had picked up and the fine mist was hitting us full in the face as we headed south out of town. It was time to get away from the coast and head inland, as this stuff looked like it was settling in. As we turned up the Little Nestucca River, we picked up a little bit of a tailwind push and I was treated to the luscious aroma of the skunk cabbage, the river, the alder forests and the dampness of the lowland forests of the Oregon coast, fully aware that I probably wouldn’t be back for another year, so drinking it all in as much as I could.


And it was so nice to see all the Trilliums in bloom, as well.


This year, I even managed to capture a picture of this boat I remembered from the last time I was by here.


After making it to the top of the climb, we came into Grande Ronde and I was really glad we’d listened to Elaine (at least one of us had some sense). The little deli was out of food, and their porta-john kinda said it all.


I was impressed with the fact that the city library is housed inside the local bank.


After a quick stop to refill water bottles, we were on our way toward Willamina…..


….. and into Sheridan where Don took on some extra nourishment while I took pictures.



Don wasn’t as impressed as I was that I could find Bridge Street (where the bridge is).


The rain clouds were starting to unload on the hills to the south and west, and I knew we needed to get a move on.


I got a bit concerned when I saw Doug and Susan hanging around the cemetery on the way out of Sheridan.


But now we were back up into the valley, with its rolling green hills and farms. Beautiful scenery and gentle rolling hills were to be the order of business for the rest of the ride.




And when we made our last stop in Dayton, it was obvious to me that there had been a few randonneurs pass this way throughout the afternoon.


And when we arrived at this pond going along on Spring Hill Road, with about 15 miles to go, I knew we were almost to the finish. This is one of my favorite places, as it is almost always near the beginning or end of a ride, so the lighting along this stretch is always beautiful when I ride through. Though not visible in the photo, a Bald Eagle sat on a post out in the middle, waiting for a quick meal, I suppose.


Don, Elaine and I rode across the finish line at 8:28 pm, smiles on our faces and tuckered out from a long day in the saddle.

Special thanks to Cecilanne and Lynne for organizing this wonderful ride.

Oh, and dear waitress, you can put the cheese down now.