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.