Thursday, January 29, 2009

Attitude adjustment

Grumped around for a few days this week. Thought I was getting sick. Found the cure today. Leschi-North Bend Permanent 341. Mist to start. Nice day followed. Coffee everywhere! Geoff was patient company (and gave me a GPS tutorial).

Life is good.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Randos in the Mist

Despite the heavy fog, a band of five randos was observed Thursday in the chilly wilds of King and Snohomish counties. Although each had a distinct "personality," all seemed to share a common purpose. The band included Lumbering Oaf, Chattering Hummingbird, Cheerful Doctor, Whiny but Happy, and the Grand Old One.

Wandering Habits. The randos range wide, but return at the end of the day to where they started. This band covered 209 kilometers, but began and ended at the same location.

Collection Behavior. The randos appear obsessed with collecting slips of paper at various stopping points. It can only be surmised that this band uses these scraps as a means of describing their travels to others of their species.

Feeding Patterns. An eclectic diet characterizes this group. Consumption of everything from plant products to meat products to barely identifiable synthetics was observed. Caffeine-based liquids appear to be a critical component of the randos' diet, especially that of Lumbering Oaf.

Avian Interaction. Although apparently uninterested in birds as prey, the randos would stop in their tracks to observe the local avian population. In particular, sightings of red-tailed hawks and bald eagles appeared quite distracting to the randos.

Temperature Adaptation. Clad in layers of wool and unnatural fibers, the band appeared almost, but not completely, adapted to temperatures that varied only from -2 to +2 degrees centigrade. Grunts were exchanged that appeared to signify complaints on this score.

Communication Patterns. Generalizations are difficult here. At one extreme, Chattering Hummingbird and Cheerful Doctor communicated freely and apparently quite happily. At the other extreme, Grand Old One and Lumbering Oaf appeared to issue only occasional grumpy grunts.

End-of-Day Gathering. After nearly twelve and a half hours of wandering, the band gathered, apparently to discuss how wonderful they were. A few partook of fermented beverages, which apparently enhanced and encouraged this discussion.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Not As Planned

Had a wonderful 100km ride today. Unfortunately, I had embarked on a 200km permanent. Fourteen riders showed up in Arlington for the Three Rivers Cruise. A bad accident on I-5 delayed a number of riders, but soon we all had coffee and were ready to roll. With temperatures near freezing and a bit of frost on the pavement in the parking lot, Rick Blacker opted to pass on the ride. He sustained a broken hip a few years back after a slip on ice and had no desire to repeat the experience.

So the other thirteen of us - Amy Pieper, Bill Dussler, Bob Brudvik, Charlie White, Eric Vigoren, Martin Knowes, Ole Mikkelson, Peter Beeson, Ralph Nussbaum, Robin Pieper, Thai Nguyen, Wayne Methner, me - headed off. The roads and the skies were clear and the riding was terrific - fast pacelines and good conversation. We saw quite a few bald eagles along the Skagit River and stopped in Marblemount for a nice lunch.

At 100km near Rockport on the way back, I decide to shift to small chainring on my compact for the first time this day. I wrap my chain into multi-pretzels in my front derailleur. About the time I figure out it's not an easy fix, I look up to tell my riding buddies, but I see the last of them disappear into the distance. After much time invested in useless futzing, I end up having to break the chain to fix it. In mid-repair, Peter shows up. I was thrilled that someone had come back. We rode a little ways and then I discover that if I shift back to the large chainring, my crank rubs on the front derailleur. So back to the small.

Given my notorious lack of leg speed, I spin out on this at a low speed. Peter is patient, and we make it to Concrete and turn onto S Skagit road. Happy sight: Robin, Charlie, Bob, and Eric are there waiting. After a few miles of my pathetic spinning they stop me and figure out a way to get the big gear working again.

A couple miles farther, we encounter ice on the road, a bit of a surprise, because the sign in Concrete had said 50 degrees. But all climate is local, I guess. In the shadow of the mountain along the river, a film of ice covered the road.

In front of me, Eric and Robin go down. I try to avoid Robin and I go down. Bob tries to avoid me and he goes down. Charlie goes down. Five bikes and riders skidding down the road on their sides. Peter, at the front, manages to stay upright. Batters, bruises, cuts, and scrapes, but no major injuries are immediately apparent. We walk for a while. We hurt. We try riding. Not a good idea. We walk some more. Finally we flag down a pickup, with a friendly, albeit puzzled, local at the wheel.

We put six bikes and three riders in the bed (along with the guy's scrap wood) and three riders in the cab. He takes us to Day Creek fire station and then alerts Wayne, Amy, and Bill at the church, who come back to meet us. Bill has also gone down and is not happy about it. Ralph and Thai, who have both tumbled more than once, have hitched a ride and are on their way back to Arlington. The gang of six is already DQ. Wayne, Amy, and Bill are actually still in it - having reached Day Creek with a combination of walking and riding - but decide to abandon. Soon SIRs Dave and Nina Johnson show up (called by Charlie). They start ferrying riders and bikes to Clear Creek (nearest tavern!). They take some riders and bikes back to Arlington. Thai comes up to Clear Creek and takes more riders and bikes back to Arlington. Ralph comes all the way to Day Creek and takes Peter and me and a few bikes back to Arlington.

Back at the start, we regroup and see Ole and Martin, who have finished the permanent under their own steam. Impressive.

I have raspberry on hip and mini-raspberries on shoulder and lower leg. Other than that, fine. The other fallen riders have similar aches and pains and some shredded clothing. If that's still the assessment in the morning, we'll consider ourselves lucky.

It was a lovely 100k. The rest - ugh.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


With all the rain and flooding around here, I should not have been surprised to find that the river Lethe had apparently overflowed as well. The forgetfulness washed over riders at the first Ralph & Carol training ride last Saturday. One showed up without helmet. No problem, I have one in the shop. Another showed up with no helmet - no problem - and no shoes - problem. As for me, I forgot that I can ride with Bob, Robin, and Wayne only when there are no hills.

Yesterday, in search of a permanent on roads not washed out, I joined Matt Newlin, Geoff Swarts, Vincent Mouneke, Ralph & Carol Nussbaum, and Sue Matthews on the Hood Canal 2.0 permanent. Lethe's floodwaters nearly thwarted me, however. On the way to the ferry in the morning, I was dropping Chris off at the airport. Nearly to the airport, she asks if I'm going straight to the ferry after the airport. "Yes," I reply. "Well, where's your bike?" Oops.

Rescued by my son, who meets me with my bike, I make the ferry in time. Flummoxed, however, by the events, I forget to have coffee at the start, an oversight helpfully documented for posterity by Geoff. Espresso in Port Gamble and again in Chimacum proved restorative (and perhaps predictive of today's headline: "Midlife Coffee And Tea Drinking May Protect Against Late-life Dementia").

I may have forgotten my bike, but I do remember a wonderful ride around the canal, with good company and decent weather. I remember a great breakfast burrito at the Common Grounds Cafe in Chimacum. I remember a glorious descent off Walker Pass into sunshine and tailwind. I remember that a nice couple purchased and reopened the coffee shop in Hoodsport. I remember the good cheer and strong pulls of Vincent and Matt. I remember celebrating the finish with good beer in Bremerton. Thanks, Mnemosyne.