Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hey Mambo!

Running a bit late, with a ferry to catch, I picked up Wayne Methner at his house in Lake Forest Park on Sunday morning for the drive to the ferry at Mukilteo. Arriving at the ferry dock at the last minute, we see a great sight - we're among 20 SIR members waiting to board the boat. Earlier in the week, Peter McKay and I had decided to ride the 250km Whidbey Mambo permanent, named for the Mambo Italiano Cafe - the nice restaurant at the northern point of the route in Bellingham. We let word out on the SIR mailing list and e-mails streamed in from riders interested in joining us.

Sixteen riders would ride the permanent. Erik Andersen, recovering from a nasty recent crash, came out to test his fitness before next month's PBP. Two of SIR's four PBP-bound tandem teams were present - Elaine & Don Jameson and Ann & Jim Jensen. Riders eagerly sought their wheels all day, with mega-mileage man Rick Blacker being the most successful. Michael Norman showed up on the correct day this time (in the fall, we rode a Sunday permanent for which he showed up on Saturday). Galvin Chow worried during the week about the possible fast pace of the ride, but had no trouble at all other than an early-ride flat. Frequent SIR riders and volunteers Shane Balkovetz, Peter Beeson, Bob Brudvik, Ray McFall, Peter McKay, Albert Meerscheidt, and Mike Richeson rounded out the permanent group. In addition, Jan Acuff, Ken Krichman, Pete Liekkio, and Wayne Methner came to ride the hills of Whidbey Island, but not the whole permanent.

Physically, I had a tough ride, starting with a "rookie" mistake of not eating or drinking at all on the way to the first control in Coupeville, while riding hard. I never really dug myself all the way out of that hole. At one point, I observed to Peter Beeson, "You know how some days are better than others? Well, this is one of the 'others' for me."

Nonetheless, the Mambo was a treat. Friends waited for me to catch up along the way. With most of the group PBP-bound, conversations readily turned to our plans for next month. The ride north up Whidbey Island was fast, aided by tailwinds and pleasant temperatures. Scenic highlights included Deception Pass at the north end of the island and Chuckanut Drive along the water into Bellingham. The friendly folks at the Mambo Italiano Cafe tolerated sixteen sweaty, hungry cyclists and served us wonderful food. Equally scenic on the return, Chuckanut drive provided the treat of a Kent Peterson sighting. Kent was on his way to Bellingham on leg two of his around the state bicycle odyssey for the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.

In a stroke of unexpected good fortune, the winds shifted over lunch and our expected headwind turned to a somewhat inconsistent tailwind, but a tailwind nonetheless. Blew us right to a huckleberry ice cream stop in Conway. Fifteen of the last 20 miles of the ride in from Arlington have little to recommend them, all the worse this time for a detour onto I-5 because of a bridge closure. But after a nice stretch from Everett back to Mukilteo with great Puget Sound views, we regrouped at the finish for beer and food at the Diamond Knot Brewery. The tandem led group were in at 5:40PM (11:10 ride time) and the rest of us arrived at 6:00PM (11:30 ride time).

Tailwinds, good friends, a great lunch, beautiful scenery, and beer at the finish. As Rosemary Clooney would say - 'Ats nice!

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