Sunday, February 8, 2009


The sign said "Road Closed Ahead." A more informative version might have said "Road Completely Gone Ahead." But then we might have turned back. Or not. After all, some willing suspension of common sense seems to be a prerequisite for randonneuring.

Maybe there will be a ridiculous little muddy catwalk above the gash in the ground that used to be the road. Sure, that's good enough. After all, three riders started an hour and a half before we did, and we haven't seen them come back. John Kramer snapped a picture of me pushing my bike along. I think you can see my discomfort even from behind.

Fourteen miles of gravel and two missing sections of road led us into and out of the town of Brooklyn. "Why go to Brooklyn?," asked the friendly guy we met at the first control. "Why?" is always a challenge for me, but I ventured a guess. "Because there's a tavern there?" Looking a bit disappointed to be the bearer of bad news, he let us know that it was not the original one - "the one with the urinal all the way around the inside wall." Not at all sure that this loss was bad news and not really planning to stop there anyway, we had pressed on.

After the gravel, we had lunch and hosed down our bikes in Raymond, before returning on relatively tame, yet oddly puncture-inducing, pavement to the Lacey start. A great day on the new Lacey-Raymond-Lacey permanent for Bob Brudvik, John Kramer Peter McKay, Vincent Muoneke, Ian Shopland, David Rowe, Geoff Swarts, and me.

See Geoff's story here.
See John's pictures here.
Peter posted some pics on FB here.
See Paul Johnson's (one of the earlier group) story here.
See David's pictures here.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Out of the woodwork

Mother Nature decided to slip a 60 degree sunny day into the midst of a Pacific Northwest February. Like a light coming on in a dark city kitchen, the sun shone on randos scurrying everywhere. Thirteen of us met for a ride of Permanent 401 - Leschi-Auburn-Redmond-Leschi. Dominique Blachon (sporting his soon to be famous (on RoadBikeRider) GPS setup), Steve Davis, Frank Kaplan, Martin Knowles, Vincent Muoneke, Thai Nguyen, Carol and Ralph Nussbaum, Amy Pieper, Mike Richeson, Kristie Salinger, Andy Speier, and I would be the beneficiaries of the glorious day.

My fourth ride with my new GPS started inauspiciously. I left my cue sheet on the printer at home. Rather than worry about it, I figured the GPS and the large crowd would keep me on track. I got caught flat-footed at the start, filing paperwork away in my car, and the crowd was gone. I realized, as I headed off alone, that I had no idea where the route went. South yes, but up and over I-90 or down to Renton? I just didn't remember. By the time I figured out how to zoom out on the GPS and get an idea of the route, the other riders were long gone.

As consolation, the pre-dawn sky put on an incredible color show, reflected in the waters of Lake Washington. My camera was not with me, but my photographic skills would probably not have captured the beauty anyhow. The Kodachrome of my memory ("gives us those nice bright colors") will just have to do. If I would be spending the day riding by myself, a gorgeous day would make it just fine.

A couple miles down the road, I ride past a cyclist staring at her bike. Stranded cyclists usually get a "you ok?" and almost not enough pause to hear the answer. This cyclist, however, looked truly baffled, so I stopped. A bag strap had found its way into her chain and cassette and turned into macramé. After a bit of fussing, I saw that the wheel would have to come out. I suggested that she release the brake. Blank stare. "I ride my bike, but I don't know anything about it." That sounds really odd from a cyclist, although it's true of most car drivers. Maybe the planet would be better off if it were the other way around.

Another rider stopped to offer welcome assistance. I looked up and saw that it was Dominique, who was catching up after a late arrival at the start. Even better, although a GPS user, he had a cue sheet! We made quick work of getting our commuter friend back on her way and started off.

A few miles later, in Renton, Dominique and I spot bikes and riders outside the cupcake & coffee shop. The last late-arriving rider had been located by phone, and all were waiting for her (and for us). Soon we were all caffeinated and reunited. We were also joined for a bit by fellow SIR member Urs Koenig, off for a training ride for his RAAM adventure this summer.

Although this permanent route leaves a bit to be desired in the lunch stop and coffee break areas, the company and the weather made for a great day on the bike. Two wonderful rides in the first four days of February. Not your typical Northwest winter experience, but I'll make do somehow!

Dominique had his camera out all day. See the pics here and here.

Monday, February 2, 2009

100km. Beer. Repeat.

Talked long-time riding buddy Peter McKay into riding a permanent yesterday. We joined up with Jack Brace, Tom Norwood, Ryan Schmid, and Andy Speier to ride the Whidbey-La Conner permanent.

We had a brisk but happily dry day as we zipped up Whidbey Island in the tow of Ryan's monstrous draft. It was a great day for a bike ride and the start, for me, of a new R-12 quest. The newly Reverend Jack is moving to Pennsylvania next week, so it was great to get another ride with him.

After a latte in Coupeville, we headed up across my favorite Washington bridge over Deception Pass and past my favorite wheel-sucker road sign (Pull & Be Damned Rd) to the half-way point at La Conner, where we stopped at the La Conner Brewing Company for lunch. A pint of their brown ale made the perfect accompaniment for the thai chicken soup / sandwich combination.

Gentle riding from La Conner to Snohomish took us to the base of the "wall-climb" into Everett and the rollers to Mukilteo. Our reward: pizza and brews at the Diamond Knot brewpub at the finish. Their Steamer Glide Stout provided all the carb replenishment that I could want. Other patrons were watching some sort of football game, but we had our own super day to celebrate.