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Week 3 of Our Organic Food Boxes

FINALLY – We Had Some Weather that Felt Like Summer!


Yesterday we finally had the third day in a row of sunny, warm weather here in Puget Sound. On Saturday Virginia and I rode the tandem down to Redmond, WA and back which is about a 25 mile bicycle ride. Yesterday we rode half way around Lake Washington which is probably a 35 mile loop. It was simply glorious weather to be out on the bike. It was sunny with hardly a breeze and the temperature hovered around 77 degrees. Perfect!!! And of course to top it all off, we received our 3rd organic food box yesterday which included some very nice goodies:

  • Apriums ( a cross between an apricot and a plum)
  • Rhubarb
  • Yellow carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli Raab
  • Snow Peas
  • Rainier Cherries
  • Red leave lettuce
  • Raspberries

As you can see the head of cauliflower is HUGE and the raspberries are gorgeous. We ate 1/2 of them after macerating them in some Grand Mariner with homemade shortbread and whipped cream. Yummy!

Yellow carrots, rhubarb, the apriums, broccoli Raab and red head lettuce……it all looks good!

Bicycling Across Washington State – Back in the Saddle Again!

Washington Isn’t a “Flat” State

As we were approaching the end of our cross-country tour we met a young man at a campsite in NY State who was just beginning his bicycle trip in the opposite direction. By that time we were quite used to the rigors of the road and we were slightly amused when he discovered we had come from WA State. He observed, “Washington is one of those ‘flat’ states!” Let me just say here and now that one of the most common conversations bicyclists have with people on the road is when well-meaning folks tell you that the road ahead “isn’t all that hilly!” HA! Sure, when you’re in a car there’s really no such thing as a hill, or steep grade or even mountain passes. The internal combustion engine pretty much neutralizes the need to worry about those pesky changes in altitude. BUT, when you’re on a tandem bicycle carrying about 100 lbs of gear, there is no such a thing as a flat anything (except the occasional flat tire!).

In this post I wanted to talk briefly about the first leg of our journey in terms of the actual physical challenges one faces on a bicycle tour that starts in Washington State. The bottom line is you need to be in pretty good physical condition because taking the North Cascade Highway across the state, you bicycle over four mountain passes. We knew this so, we began training in earnest several months before we started the tour. We were lucky in 1998 as the NW was experiencing one of the warmest and driest winters in many years. We were able to get out most evenings after work and do a 35 mile loop. We put a 70 lb piece of concrete in our BOB trailer and hauled it as many times as we could. By our start date on May 11, we were in pretty good shape.

Of course, there’s nothing like the real thing, so I thought you might enjoy seeing pictures of the mountain passes we went over:

Rainy Pass – May 14, 1998

Loup Loup Pass – May 16, 1998

Wauconda Pass – May 17, 1998

Sherman Pass – May 19, 1998

And then the Adventure Began………

Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.*

Our cross country adventure began 14 years ago today and as I reflect on that day I can remember the anxiety and exhilaration Virginia and I felt as we locked up our little house and realized that we weren’t coming back for almost 4 months! It was just us, our tandem bicycle and about 90lbs of gear. And think about this: we didn’t own a cell phone, we had no computer technology (except for our little bicycle odometer) and we didn’t have a digital camera or video camera. One thing we did have was a passion to hit the road and have a “real adventure.”

As you can see, our “rig” consisted of a custom-made Rodriguez tandem which was constructed by R+E Cycles in 1997. We were pulling a one-wheeled trailer called a BOB (beast of burden) and we carried all our gear in watertight saddlebags (panniers) manufactured by Ortlieb which is a German company that makes some of the best travel bags in the world. Our gear NEVER got wet during the trip in spite of the fact that we often found ourselves in some incredibly terrible weather conditions (more about that later). In fact, I believe our choice of panniers was critical in making our journey safe and comfortable. There’s nothing more miserable than being soaked to the bone and not having a dry change of clothing at the end of a long day in the saddle. In fact, it can be quite dangerous to be perpetually waterlogged on the road.

Once we mustered up our courage, we got on the road at about 11:00 and began our trip. We rode from Shoreline north along roads that we had ridden many times over the years so our first day was uneventful. We ended the day at around 7:00PM at the small logging community of Darrington. We had bicycled 75 miles! We ended the day by finding the nearby state campground, pitched our tent and had time to relax before turning in. We were both beat!

There are a couple of things I still laugh about when I think about our tour: I can’t begin to tell you how worried our families were about us doing this trip. Some of our bicycle friends understood what we were doing, but our parents and good friends wondered about our sanity. Then there was the idea that some people had that we should carry a gun because “you never know who you’re going to run into out there.” We never considered bringing a gun. If we did another tour tomorrow, we still wouldn’t bring one……it just doesn’t make sense. Oh, and you’re not going to believe this: Virginia and I had NEVER really gone camping together before this tour……….really. We practiced setting up the tent and did a lot of planning, but this tour was the first time I had done any camping since Boy Scouts (and that was back in the late 1970′s!!!! Virginia (my Jersey Girl) hardly knew what a tent was! Needless to say, we became real pros during this trip.

*Charles Dudley Warner

Across the U.S.A. on a Bicycle Built for Two!

Our Cross-Country Adventure Begins – May 11, 1998

Virgina and I purchased our first tandem bicycle (a Burley Bongo) in 1990 at R+E Cycles in Seattle, WA. Up until that year we fought a continuous battle with each other. We both loved to ride our bicycles, but whenever we rode together Mr. Testosterone (that would be me) was always pushing Miss “I’m-a-quality-of-life-cyclist” to go faster, push harder and for Christ’s sake…..”KEEP UP WITH ME!” As you can imagine, we would generally return from our rides together frustrated and angry because what should have been a lot of fun was turned into a competition by yours truly. I was a jerk!

But that all ended the day we marched into R+E Cycles which was and still is one of the most well-respected manufacturers and sellers of tandem bicycles in America. We saw that Burley Bongo tandem in the shop and we both knew that all of our he-gets-to-the-top-of-the-hill-before-me problems were over. From that day forward, when we go cycling we get everywhere at exactly the same time. Riding a tandem bicycle became one of the greatest joys in our lives. In fact, we love tandem cycling so much that beginning in the early 1990′s we began to plan what would be one of our greatest adventures and accomplishments: We decided to ride a tandem across the United States! 

After 7 years of planning and training and dreaming and contemplating our little expedition, on May 11, 1998 (it was Mother’s Day that year) with peonies blooming, a cool wind blowing and a cloudy sky threatening us, we embarked on a tour that would take us over 4500 miles across the United States on what is known in cycling circles as the Northern Tier Adventure Cycling route. The dark line on the map (above) shows the route we took.

Over the next several months, I’m going to revisit our adventure by going back over our pictures and journals which I’ll share here on my blog. After 14 years A LOT OF THINGS HAVE CHANGED in our lives and in the world. I thought it would be interesting and fun to go back and reflect on what was an amazing, and at times an incredibly intense bicycle tour. We had no idea what we were going to encounter which made the whole thing sort of scary. But that’s what a good adventure is all about isn’t it? I hope you decide to get in the saddle with us as we retrace our ride across this enormous country.


Our 1st Weekend of Tandem Bicycling in 2012

Time in the Saddle: My Butt Hurts!

Virginia and I had an opportunity to take the tandem out for a spin yesterday and today. This last week I had brought the tandem to R+E Cycle for a tune up so that we would be ready for this riding season and, fortunately, the weather cooperated and we were able to get out to test out all the new the new parts! On the other hand, I’m afraid neither Virginia or I were “tuned up” after a winter of boring work-outs in the gym. Our parts: arms, legs and butts need a tune-up! The picture is of yours truly at the University of Washington “Quad” where, every spring the cherry trees explode in a wonderful display of pink! I’m really looking forward to getting back on the tandem this year. Virginia and I have been tandem cycling since 1990 when we purchased a Burley Bongo. We had our current tandem custom-built at R+E Cycles in 1997 and since then we have ridden many thousands of miles. It’s one of the things that brings us real joy. Riding a tandem with a partner is an incredibly powerful experience. It’s certainly an apt metaphor for a great partnership which our marriage has been. So yesterday we rode out to Redmond Town Center (the home of Microsoft) which is about a 30 mile loop and today the ride was about 26 miles. Not a bad first weekend of cycling…..but boy does my butt hurt!!!!

Here’s to a “New Blog” and the Spirit of Adventure!

Why not start out my “new blog” with a picture of my beautiful wife, Virginia, and me from our 1998 cross-country tandem bicycle adventure! I intend to make this blog an exciting and stimulating adventure.