Back in 1980, Mt St Helens blew and blew big. This caused disruptions to many people in the state of Washington, as you might expect. One such disruption, was the cancellation of the Seattle to Portland ride. Roads were gone, or flooded, or buried in ash, or all three… NOT conducive to riding.
That year the RSVP was born: Ride from Seattle to Vancouver BC and Party! People enjoyed the ride so much it became an annual event. Friday morning, I started my second riding of this run….
I was a bit worried about this one. My training rides have not been as regular as I like, and in 2016, I had only one 100 mile day (May 1st). This ride is two days, the first is 100 miles from Seattle to Bellingham, then a shorter 85 mile day to Vancouver. Honestly, I hadn’t yet ridden 200 miles in a week, let alone 2 days.
But as we know, I am a cheap SOB. I paid for it, so I am riding! At 5:15, I had Michelle drop me off a mile from the starting line. Luckily I had read the fine print on the road directions the day before. They had moved the starting line to UW, 5 miles south of the previous start. Had I not found this, I would’ve been a very unhappy man!
However, as you can see, with the bike and I ready to roll, it was all smiles!
This was about 5:40. Technically the ride didn’t start till 6, but after watching the Cascade guys almost rupture themselves trying to get a generator started… I decided it was time to go. I was off!
I am glad I did. The ride goes along the Burke Gilman trail, which is my regular stomping grounds. Knowing this, I didn’t need to worry about following the spray painted apples that marked the route.
In the predawn, they would’ve been hard to spot! However, knowing the route allowed me to simply enjoy the ride and to spot the sunrise.
I knew it was going to get warm that day, but seeing this just set the tone for the day: It was going to be a good ride!
Early on it was great, the air was cool, there was a tail wind, and the first 15 miles or so flew by! There was a guy from California who glommed onto me early and wanted to chat, but the first steep climb out of Woodinville stopped the chatter. We needed the extra oxygen to breathe! I lost him at he first food stop.
As I said, I was feeling pretty good, tail wind, making good time, legs felt fresh, and then this guy passed me…
Older gentleman, sporting a vintage wool Cascade bike jersey, and passed me like I was standing still…
Luckily, I am used to being passed! And older farts than I am doing so don’t bother me in the least. I saluted him from behind and kept riding my ride. Life was good. I just grabbed another one of Michelle’s ride snacks
and munched my way along!
Back in 2009 I was not partial to this ride. I honestly don’t remember why, and I have refrained from reading the bike journal to find out. (I want to get this ride written up before I look into that last one). So far though, I was enjoying the heck out of it.
I can tell you that the early route has been vastly improved with the completion of the Centennial Trail in Snohomish county. We had no less than 2o miles of smooth riding with no traffic. Being a Friday, there were very few pedestrians as well. Quite often I found myself riding completely alone, enjoying nature, the birds and the fresh air. Plus, there was still a tail wind! I was approaching 40 miles or so and making great time!
Now back in 2009 it was raining during the ride, this meant some of the markings had washed out… One such was in Mt Vernon, and just happened to be a food stop. In that year, I followed other riders who seemed to know what they were doing… Bad mistake (you will learn in day two I did NOT learn my lesson (we bloggers call this foreshadowing…)) I was lost for quite a while back then until I spotted a herd of riders on an overpass. I was back on the route, but hungry…
This time I spotted the marking, and found the food stop! Chocolate chip cookies and Peanut Butter and Jelly!!! YUM!!! I sat in the shade, hydrated up, and ate my fill! I was MUCH happier this year!
However, it was to be short-lived… Soon after this food stop, the real heat of the day hit!
Editors note: OK, I know, 85 aint hot for many of you but for me it us HOT !
The winds also shifted, no matter which way the route took us, it seemed to be a head wind. Now some people had a plan to fight the sun
But winds were another story. Plus at this point the route seemed to just meander. Instead of heading due north it went every which way. Thinking now about it, I know they were just keeping us off the busy roads, but at the time I was getting cross.
I was hot, sticky, my water and powerade were warm and yucky, on flat roads I had to push hard to hit 10 mph, and I wasn’t having fun. I honestly considered making this a one day ride, and just drive to Vancouver the next day screw it! Even this didn’t boost me TOO much.
But then I can across a kid selling cold drinks! Iced cold Gatorade for $2! And free water! BOOM! Gave her $5 for the Gatorade, and drank a bunch of cold water. I had the eye of the tiger again! I was off!
And eventually (ok maybe 20 minutes later) I hit the last road, Chuckanut Dr! 15 miles of up and down (mostly UP!) along narrow, but gorgeous roads. Seven years ago, this damn near broke me on day one. I was NOT in climbing shape….
This year, I got the second wind on Chuckanut! I had driven over it a couple of weeks ago, and knew some its secrets. For example, the best views
And honestly, I sm a much more seasoned climber. There was more shade, no headwind, and I was a happy man!
All along this road, I kept hearing people talk about a legend, or possibly a mythical place ahead. At the top of the last climb of the day was an oasis, a lemonade stand. No matter how hot it was, the ambrosia was ice-cold. You just had to get there…
At the top of each climb I would look for it, and be disappointed. I would bomb down the hill knowing there was to be yet another climb. I started wondering if the stand was wishful thinking.
But then, on the 27th hard climb (ok maybe the 4th or 5th) I started seeing signs that seemed to be reading my mind
I started getting hopeful! Could this be it? Was this the last climb???
Sure as hell at the top, two angels appeared out of nowhere with the best damn COLDEST lemonade ever!
OMG! That tasted good! For a moment I started thinking that maybe I had died and gone to cycling heaven! But as I looked around, I came back to reality
But let me tell you, that big cup of cold goodness, coupled with the knowledge I was done climbing sending me bombing down the hill! (After I donated generously!) At the bottom was Michelle waving, she came a bit farther up the route to make sure I was ok with the heat. We met a couple of miles further down the road, and we loaded up the bike and headed for the hotel.
After a LONG shower, we were off to Boundary Bay brewing for my reward.
That and a big bowl of mac and cheese made me a very happy, and sleepy, man! After inhaling dinner, and savoring the beer (only one!) it was back to the hotel and bed. I was ready to ride another day!
Like the wind!
Editors note: Wanna see some of the fun? Watch this!