Folks, this has been one hell of a long year. Due to work and a fluke in our planning, Michelle and I have not had more than one day off since our trip to Cannon Beach in April. For the record, that is ENTIRELY too long!!
So, with our Labor Weekend trip to Walla Walla in the offing, she and I have been counting down the days! Finally, Thursday rolled around, and we loaded up the rental vehicle for a trip east! Continue reading “WSU Gnome Rides Again!”→
I am pretty sure I have let y’all know that I am NOT great at planning days off. Over the years, I morphed into the guy who would come into work on Tuesday, look at the forecast as decide Thursday was the perfect day to go hiking or cycling! (There were some years where every Thursday afternoon was a 3 hour, USELESS meeting of us supervisors. So even if the weather wasn’t perfect, I would still take the day off.)
For most of the last 25 years I have worked at the Mighty P. It is a personal lines insurance (meaning we have car, house and boat insurance for people) company that writes policies in Washington and Oregon.
I am also a science geek, I think anything mother nature can do is simply amazing. So, when you combine science geek and insurance nerd, the news that a potentially historic storm was bearing down on us peaks my interest! Continue reading “The Storm that wasn’t!”→
OK, as much as I hate to admit it, a man can’t ride a bike 24 hrs a day EVERY day. There has to be more to life. As you may, or may not have noticed, aside from cycling, one of the other things I really enjoy doing is wine tasting. Being 12.5 miles (as the bike flies) from Woodinville, WA, the wine tasting capital of Western Washington makes this easy.
Michelle and I found them about 5 years ago, the first day they opened a tasting room in Woodinville. We had been in another winery, and they told us “Hey, this place just opened, go check them out!”
We did, and ended up tasting the best damn red wine EVER! BFM (forgive me, but its a merlot based wine called Blow your Fucking Mind (take a sip and you will understand why)) Stained Tooth Syrah, Cab Franc and Malbec, just to name a few, You also have to love a wine named after a prostitute! Squirrel Toothed Alice (Google her)
She and I have had many a good night together!
Michelle and I left there the first time packing toothbrushes and members of the wine club, Stained Tooth Society.
Now, the wine itself would be enough to make us come back, but more importantly, the ladies who work their make us feel like family. Jill, Colleen, Veronica, Heather, and Michelle. Anytime I show up there on my bike they are happy to see me, let me fill my water bottle, let me taste one or all, and make me feel like family. My kid brother showed up, mentioned my name, and was able to taste for free. I was family, so he was family!
My favorite story of Dusted Valley was that they were banned from Alabama because of their label
Someone in that state thought he saw a nipple! I think someone finally tasted the wine and decide either A) there is no nipple, or B) the wine is too good so i don’t care! Either way, its allowed in Alabama.
I learned about 3 years ago that DV members can volunteer to work the big release weekends. My main job is working the supply closet. After everyone tastes, they come up and make their selections. My job is to pull the orders. I fly! I pack the cases, carry the wine to cars for little old ladies, occasionally pour wine for people and “other duties as assigned!”
The best part. I get paid in wine. Yep, for 5 hours of work, i get 3 bottles of my favorite wines! Rachis Syrah, BFM, or others that are available! Last night was the volunteer night, to come in, taste the new offerings early, and review the jobs for the volunteers. It’s fun, no crowds, and we can retaste anything. I could give the talk myself easily, but I am happy to show up for the wine.
So, I am set up to work at the end of the month, get the free wine, and spend time with (aside from my wife) my favorite group of ladies. If you ever see Dusted Valley in the store, or you ever get to Woodinville or Walla Walla, mention my name and try it out, you will NOT be disappointed. AND if you get to the Woodinville tasting room on April 27, ask for me!
OK, I admit, I will work my ass off for good wine!
I have an old friend of mine, named Steve, who is one of my staunchest supporters in whatever endeavor I choose to go on each year. He is the first to like my statuses when I work out, and to give me a boost when I feel like I am sucking big time in my training. Everyone should have a Steve in their corner.
That being said, Steve is also the classic example of my post here today. There is no way in HELL I would ever get him to do the things I do. I see them as fun and adventure, he sees pain and discomfort!
Nothing demonstrates this more than my trip to Alaska! A few years ago, I had the opportunity to take a skiplane to Denali base camp for a week-long Glacier-Mountaineering trip. It was beyond cool and I learned a lot! When I got back to work, I was telling the group about it, and I mentioned the “poop pot”
Yep a small barrel with a styrofoam rim (surprisingly comfortable I might add) for pooping. A way to keep the glacier clean and pristine. “I’m out!” was the last I heard from Steve on that matter! To me, it was no big deal. Climbing mountains there are many things you have to do differently (google “blue bagging” if you are curious!) so this was actually a better alternative than I was used to.
This isn’t the only thing that makes people shake their heads in dismay. This same trip, I had a 40 lb pack and had to drag a sled with at least that same amount of weight.
I knew this was the plan, so I trained, just as I do now, for months in advance. To others this seemed like the Bataan Death March, pure hell on Earth. I loved every minute of it! And my reward? Made it to the top of Control Tower
And sipped wine while waiting for my plane!
Let’s take it closer to home. We have a close friend who thinks it is entirely too dangerous to ride on the road with traffic. “You ride there?? Doesn’t the traffic scare you??” Another warned me to not ride on Hwy 2 up to Stevens Pass. “I’ll follow you with my flashers on if you want! It’s too dangerous!” No worries at all. I rode it no worries at all. I just stay vigilant and watch behind me when the road narrows. the reward?
I made it to the top of Stevens Pass! Hell Yeah! This helped me finish the High Pass challenge!
Let’s go a step farther back. Wine. I will admit, back in the college days I drank Cello Lambrusco (picture alcohol infused Kool Aid). My gorgeous wife Michelle has worked hard over the years to get me to develop a pallet for red wine.
But we have friends who will only drink white wine! I now prefer reds (Can’t go Wrong with Dusted Valley or Ross Andrew wineries by the way!) , but there are many whites I like as well. Finding new wineries and new wines is an adventure on its own. In fact next month, Michelle and I are going to the Mecca of wineries in Washington State, Walla Walla for a weekend of tasting! Limiting yourself to only one or the other deprives you of so many good experiences.
I guess what I am trying to say here is this. There may be something that you’ve decided to do. A run, hike, climb or ride, and other people will tell you that you are nuts! Its dangerous. Why would you want to do that?? I am saying ignore them. Hell, you only live once! You can either give it your all and cross the finish line
Drink Excellent wine
Climb a mountain
Run a river
Or you can listen to others and not try anything! Like I said at the beginning, my buddy Steve, I firmly believe, thinks I am certifiably nuts sometimes. But there is no better supporter of any and all my adventures. Grab your dreams, work for your goals, who cares if friends and family tell you they’d be miserable if they even thought about trying it. If you believe you can do it, if you get off your ass and try, if you give it all you got, then chances are, you are going to make it!
There is an old saying, if March comes in like a lamb, it goes out like a lion, or the exact opposite, in like a lion out like a lamb. This of course means whatever weather you get at the beginning of the month, you will get the opposite at the end. Well March got confused here in the northwest. It came in sunny, and today it ended sunny and close to (if not AT) 70! Of course in the middle it snowed, but we will try to forget that!
This was a great biking month, I have kept my trend of improving the number of miles every month, and ended March with 323 miles! I was worried that I had somehow slacked off some, but I did the math twice!
Yesterday was Easter, and both of our sons were up for the weekend. My gorgeous wife made an excellent frittata with roasted taters for Easter Brunch. It was a good day. The boys had to leave early to have Easter dinner with their mom, which meant only one thing for me: time to sneak in a longer ride! The weather was perfect, and I again was able to ride without a coat!
I debated on what route to take. I have a new one around Lake Washington I want to try, but I’d rather do that when I can do an early start and figure it out. I decided it was time for my tried and true 40 mile loop! Since I was leaving at 2, this would get me home around 5, it has great training hills, good views and, except for a short stretch, minimal traffic. Even the stretch with traffic has a bike lane. Perfect.
The route goes north from my house in Mountlake Terrace, along the Interurban trail to Everett. Then west to Snohomish, South to Woodinville and then east to home. In addition to the hills, I like it for other reasons as well. It takes me through rural farm country with the occasional animal watching me pass
He seemed less than impressed though….
Since the route takes me through Woodinville, the wine capitol of Western Washington, I was able to make a stop at our favorite winery, Dusted Valley.
They let me refill the water bottles, use the restroom, take a quick taste or the Ramblin Rose and BFM (you’ll have to ask them what BFM stands for after you taste it, trust me it fits!). And I was able to buy a bottle for later on 🙂 (Cinsault this time!)
Finally it was on to the Burke Gilman trail to head home. This is seriously a multi-use trail and you NEVER know what you will see on here. I ride it a lot but this is the first time I saw something like this
Everyone and everything was out enjoying the sun! Well worth the 42 miles! and sure beats having to dress like this (just 2 Sundays ago!)
Highlights for April? The bike rack is on my wife’s car, and we commuted to work together this morning, but I am cycling home! Thursday, if the weather holds, I will bike commute both ways, and Sunday next, my first 100 route of the new year! Feeling good people! I also find out about the RAMROD next week, so keep the good thoughts coming!
Anyone out there remember that great George Thorogood song “I Drink Alone!” Google it if you haven’t heard it! I love it.
Now I do not make a habit of going to bars and drinking alone (though do NOT get me wrong, in my younger days….). I’ve already said on the trip along the OR coast I stopped for a beer (or two) and a burger at Rogue Ales. However, I DO ride alone. (da dadada da, all by myself, da dadada da…. sorry told you it was a great song!)
This, like most other things with biking, is up to each person’s personal preference. Solo rider vs. Group rider. Neither way is better or worse, it’s up to you.
So why do i ride alone?
Well first off, my friends think I am nuts. They see me posting about 100+ mile rides, or riding in 30 degree weather, riding to the top of a mountain pass, or getting snowed on in the Chilly Hilly, and they see no sane reason anyone would think about, let alone actually DO these things. My buddy Dave has offered to tag along on his motorcycle, but other than that….
I am also not wanting to be the cause of ruining someone’s ride or having mine ruined by someone else. If I crash and burn, get a flat, or had too much Squirrel Tooth Alice (one of my favorite Dusted Valley wines) the night before, it only messes with my ride. I would either have to leave a group (and there is always that nice person who says, “Oh I will hang with you, no biggie.” ) Or make everyone wait for me to change the tire.
conversely, if I am on a ride I have been looking forward to, or its the big ride of the year I don’t want anyone else’s bike issues to mess up my ride. Selfish? Maybe, but it’s how I feel. Now to redeem myself a bit, I am the first person to ask anyone on the side of the road if they need anything, I have helped change flats for beginners, and helped moms when their kids have gotten the pants caught in the chain. We riders help each other out.
Also I can stop and start any darn time I want to! I remember my first STP. I was coming up to the Vader food stop. I was low on water and REALLY wanted a cookie (well 5). So I stopped. As I got there, I could hear a large group behind me. “Food Stop! Anyone want to stop” “I will if you want to” “Well only if you want to” “We could go on to the next one” …. and this went on and on…. I became a devoted solo biker at that point!
Let’s not forget picture-taking! I like to stop at a moments notice to snap a few, one person takes up a WHOLE lot less space on a shoulder. PLus, this could become annoying after a while. SERIOUSLY, how many pictures of eagles do you need??? (Well lots, actually 🙂 )
Finally there is speed and endurance differences. I know my pace, I know that I can average 13+ MPH for hours! I get there when I get there. I am GREAT on hills and let gravity take me like the wind on the other side! Not everyone is like that. On the other hand, people pass me like the wind on the flats. I would slow them down. I could probably find someone who rides like I do, but that just seems like a WHOLE lotta work.
Plus it would be RUDE to wear ear buds and ignore your group.
I also ride in large support rides. 10000 of my best friends and I did the STP last year. In these rides you are always with people. Quick conversations or thumbs up, a “GO COUGS!” when I wear my favorite jersey. Its fun!
But to be fair, I know there are advantages to riding with people.
Misery loves company, so it could make hard rides easier
Sharing gear and repair tools, meaning you carry less
Being challenged by the other person, you both improve
Someone to take your picture
Someone to stop the bleeding in case of a crash
Someone to point and laugh at the crash (oh wait this may not be a good thing!)
So bottom line, pick what works best for you! Or do both, depending on the ride or the day. I love my solo adventures. When I succeed, I did it on my own, and I have the additional perk of a gorgeous wife who is either at the finish line on big rides, or at home on training rides, with whatever I need to recover from the day.
The key, as always, is just get your butt in the saddle and get out there!