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)
- Yellow carrots
- Broccoli Raab
- Snow Peas
- Rainier Cherries
- Red leave lettuce
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!
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
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.
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!!!!
Posted on December 5, 2011
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.