A challenging 3 days of riding!

So Tuesday last was our final day to wake up in Walla Walla. It’s a good thing it was, as the smoke got 3 – 4 times worse than it had been the whole time we were there. Overnight the smoke gods descended on the town! It was bad enough that I made us drive the half mile to breakfast instead of letting Michelle walk in that crap. Little did we know how bad it was…

Folks, this in no exaggeration, it is roughly 275 miles or so from Walla Walla to our front door. Not once, in the entire time we were driving, were we smoke free. In the Trip-cities we were covered in the smoke from the Eagle Creek fire in the Columbia Gorge (started by a jackass kid who through fireworks into tinder dry forests)

Closer to Yakima and Ellensberg, it was the huge lightning caused fire near Cle Elum. Then over the pass and all the way home was the Norse Peak and Jolly Mountain fires. Hell, it was raining ash at our house earlier in the day… Later I will do a post on forest fires, but right now its just sad.

Needless to say, I did NOT ride the bike Tuesday.  Just too much smoke!

Wednesday, though, it was a bit lighter, and for a brief time I could actually see REAL clouds. not just smoke.

So, after dinner, when it started to get below 85 degrees, I drove the bike down to the Burke Gilman trail and took an evening ride. The smoke was still NOT good

But I was tired of NOT riding! I decided to do a quick 30 mile out and back to Marymoor park and Sammamish lake. The ride out was uneventful, and at 16 miles I hit my turn around point. Just getting these miles in made me smile.

But as you can see, the gray smoke was all over the lake!

I did miscalculate a bit though, The sun went down faster than I planned, Now riding in the dark on the trail is no big deal, but as you can see in my picture above, I was wearing sunglasses. Soon, even though there were clouds of bugs to ride through, I had to ride without glasses.

With dark though, it did get cooler, and it was still bright enough to spot this guy.

Even more fun though, just as I was getting ready to leave after this photo, two HUGE salmon fought their way loudly through a shallow area of the Sammamish River! If I hadn’t gone out I woulda missed it! Well worth the trip!

Thursday, we were still off work, so I decided to do one more ride, traveling over the I 90 bridge and then back to the Burke Gilman. The smoke had lightened some, but as you can see, it was still gray all over.

Plus, as if we needed MORE smoke in the air, I spotted this plume as well.

I think this was a house or building fire, and it was put out quickly. I never heard what or where it was, but I hope all were ok!

It was a good ride, and another good Blue Heron day! I spotted these two along the trail.

I was a happy boy after these two rides. I was damn tired of the smoke, but at least I got out there. Then, miracles of miracles, it rained some yesterday! The smoke cleared!! It was time for a longer ride! So I set the alarm for 6 AM! I went down to get Michelle Starbucks and myself a Breakfast sandwich, and I was ready to go!

Now, with the smoke gone, it had chilled off. Not cold mind you, but cold enough that I decided to put the sleeves on my vest (they zip off) for the early part of the ride. (I tell you this as it soon becomes important!)

Well, the sleeves kept me warm on the 4 mile downhill to the trail, but as I expected, soon thereafter, it was time to take it off. If you refer back to the picture of my bike above, you will see I have a rack on the bike. On this rack are 2 bungee cords. All summer long, when it was time to shuck a layer, I would bungee the vest to the rack. This worked for 100s of miles!

Today, I neglected to take into account there were sleeves! Three miles later, suddenly my back wheel locked up! I was able to stop, but I didn’t get both feet unclipped from the pedals in time. So, as you riders well know, I turtled! Yep, tipped right over! Luckily I was still on the trail and hit the grass.

Once I extricated myself from the bike (NOT easy as I landed on my right side with the right foot still clipped in!) and explained to the nice lady walker that I was perfectly ok, I looked at the bike.

Yep, a sleeve had come loose from the bungee, fallen into the wheel, and gotten ALL wrapped up!! And let me tell you it was wrapped up TIGHT! I was hoping I could save it, but then I noticed the zipper pull on the ground. Yeah the jacket was toast!

After 10 minutes, I got it unwound, and found it was shredded. I tossed it in the nearest garbage can…

BUT, the smoke was still gone, the bike still worked perfectly, and it was warm enough not to need the coat. NO WAY was I letting this stop me! I cranked out 65 blue sky and sunshine miles today! No blue herons (but I did see 2 kingfishers) and, in fact, I was enjoying the ride so much, I flat forgot to take ANY other photos than the one of the bike!

Boys and girls, sometimes riding a bike is magically easy. I love and cherish those days. But a true cyclist (and I consider myself such) loves the ride on good days and bad! Wind, rain, hills, and yes smoke, can be overcome. A mechanical issue like this could have pissed me off and ended my ride. But I had the know how to fix it and the luck that there was no permanent damage. I ended up enjoying the hell out of the ride today!

Of course, now I have to go shopping….

Like the wind!

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4 Responses to A challenging 3 days of riding!

  1. Oh, oh, oh. Is it time to use REI credits?

  2. sarburch says:

    The smoke has been crazy bad. Glad you were able to get some riding in. As for the jacket, you’re lucky no bones were broken, and no derailleurs or brakes either. Yeah you for riding. You, my friend, are awesome. 😀

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