Kitsap Color Classic (Raging Lunatics on Bikes Invade the Peninsula)

Since I had to miss Chilly Hilly, Flying Wheels and STP due to surgery recovery and only got to ride the last few miles of RAPSody, I was not about to miss an opportunity to spend some quality bike time with my biker scum crazy cylcist friends.

The Kitsap Color Classic was last Sunday, so I rushed around like mad that morning (after a 12 hour work day the day before) and got out the door 15 minutes later than I had planned, and crossed the Narrows Bridge into the hilly wilds of the Kitsap Peninsula.

My cycling buddy Bill who I haven’t seen in longer than I can remember also decided to join us and rode over on the Ferry from Edmonds where he spent the previous night.

This ride has two starts; one at the Edmonds Ferry dock and another in Kingston at the other end of the run. About 2/3 of our little group were coming over from the Seattle side, so we arranged a meeting place at a little crepe shop just up from the ferry dock on the Kingston side.

In addition to leaving the house way too late, I realized almost immediately upon crossing the bridge I hadn’t been paying attention to my fuel tank. With the red “check gauge” light glaring at me, daring me (“Do you feel lucky? DO YOU?) to go just one more exit for a better price/easier access, I finally pulled over in Silverdale.

Looking at the clock I realized I was going to be seriously late after having to stop for gas.

When I got back on the highway, I realized that I had absolutely no idea where the Kingston Ferry Terminal is, more or less the registration area/food stop which was two miles up the road.

I managed to take the correct exit and catch the left turn that took me towards Kingston/Port Gamble and away from the wrong ferry (seriously, this place is lousy with them)

Once I got close to Kingston, I could tell that the ferry had just unloaded as there was a stream of cyclists descending on the unwary inhabitants of this normally quiet area.

I noticed one particular rider, a hairy legged guy wearing a festive autumn inspired tutu… I knew Kevin had made it on the ferry. (he looks pretty manly in this thing if you ask me)


I found the crepe place easily, parked and walked across the street to see my friends gleefully stuffing their faces.

I hadn’t seen Julie in far too long and we stood in the middle of the street in a long embrace. Mind you, this embrace was quite interesting to behold as we were both wearing bike gear and brightly colored, sparkling tutus… I can hear the locals now, “Earl, just look at that shameful display… Those must be some of those heathen naked cyclists that hang out in Fremont.”

Since I was so late, I didn’t want to delay the group by ordering, so no crepes for me this trip. I got back in my truck and headed up to packet pickup. Due to barriers down near the ferry dock, I had to take a back road, got turned around and realized that I was hopelessly lost in Kitsap (as long as I didn’t hear banjos, I’d be OK)

I finally found my way to the registration tent and arrived about the time Bill did. He hadn’t seen me since I lost all the weight from the medical surgery stuff, so he looked at me and said, “You don’t have any boobs”.

“I never had boobs Bill, now I’m just skinny again and don’t have boobs.” What a gentleman eh?

Seriously… Who’s “the boob”? 😉


Of course, Leo made an equally appalling social faux paux and actually lifted my tutu… (I guess that’s the male version of a woman lifting a man’s kilt?)

What a scoundrel eh?


After the obligatory shenanigans at the start line, we (Leo, Julie, Bill, Eric, Paula, Ann, Mike, Lynn, John and myself) headed out on the Hainsville Loop. We were actually shooting for the longer and less painfully hilly Port Gamble loop but were so busy talking and laughing we missed the Dan Henry for that turnoff (this ride has three loops of varying degrees of quad destroying hills and mileages allowing you to customize your ride with any combination of loops).



The first couple of miles was a hill (there is no flat ground out there, it’s even worse than Tacoma in the hill department)

After some ups, downs, twists and turns, we made the descent into Hainsville… (and yes, the climb back up and out was a bitch)


We found a lovely little scenic view spot and pulled over (well, all except for bill who never slowed down at the base of the screaming hill and never knew we pulled over)

Mt Baker is in the background here somewhere, I suspect that Leo’s butt is blocking it. We look like we’re on a day pass from the asylum don’t we?


This particular shot has been described as “the worst super hero team photo ever” (Leo has been dubbed “Sani Can Man”)


Lynn didn’t have a tutu, but she was quite festive in her Irn Bru jersey (she’s from Scotland)


We started the long and ugly climb out of Hainsville after Leo finally yelled at us enough to quit with all the flitting around, socializing and picture taking. This is where I taught Ann the “bike butt dance” which is even better with a tutu to shake; she will have one on the next ride.

There were many more wonderful, scenic back roads and lots of laughter. The weather was absolutely perfect and we were talking about how days like this will be the memories we talk about later in life (you know… when Julie and I are crazy cat ladies knitting… Oh wait…)

Then the hills started back up in earnest.

Leo backtracked and yelled at us (as if he hadn’t been yelling at us to quit yacking, get in our big rings and ride like we meant it-I don’t think he knows what to do with himself when he’s not a ride ref) SHIFT DOWN INTO YOUR LOWEST GEAR!!! DO IT NOW!!!

I don’t see him get like that often, so I did it.

The hill did come up suddenly on a blind corner and is probably the equivalent of McCurthchen Hill on the Tour De Pierce and Daffodil Classic rides, but it was nowhere near the 22% grade we had been hearing about, nor the stair step half mile long 12-14% grade that has also been described.

I gave him “the look”. He said, “That was it.” I knew it wasn’t and told him (and everyone else so) and of course, I stayed on the small ring.

Another couple of miles down the road was another sharp turn away from the water, and there it was… The monster, 22% of evil, chain dropping, quad burning, vomit inducing hill from hell. I dropped down through the rest of my gears and dodged those who were wobbling , stopping and walking.

No way in hell was I giving Leo (who was now smirking like a lunatic) the satisfaction of “walking the dog” aka “the walk of shame”. I made it up that hill on pedal power (which can’t be said for a large number of people) just to spite him.

Leo and I have ridden together for years as Cascade volunteers (he as a ride ref, myself as a medical support rider and as a ride ref) on all the big rides, we’ve faced a lot of inclement conditions, interesting things, danger, injuries and bonks together and always have each others’ backs. We can say pretty much whatever we want to each other (harassing each other for over 100 miles at a time is “our thing”) but if someone else crosses the line with one of us, they have hell to pay from the other.

Why do I tell you this? Because after all of these years, and hundreds (no, at this point it’s into the thousands) of miles we’ve ridden together, this was the day that I finally dropped the F-bomb on him.

We re-grouped at the top of the hill and gave everyone a chance to catch up, catch their breath and drink water.

This hill may not look that bad on first glance, until you look again and realize that we were down by the water when we started the climb.


Once back at the food tent, some folks went back out to ride part of the Port Gamble loop and Bill, Lynn and I opted for food and beverage overlooking the water. As undertrained as I was this year, I wanted to finish the ride on a positive note, feeling good.

We ate at “The Filling Station”. Lynn and I had what can only be described as “food porn”. Roasted garlic and goat cheese with toasted baguette.


It was a lovely afternoon to sit on the deck (and it’s amazing how tiny the Space Needle is from there)


It was the perfect day, with the perfect (albeit batshit crazy) fiends….

The End 😉



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STP 2011 – 204 miles of undertrained fun with 10,000+ of my best friends

I spent the last weekend biking it 204 miles from Seattle WA to Portland OR with 10,000+ of my best friends riding the STP (Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic)

I brought along Roady the duck who I found in a ditch on the Flying Wheels Century last month. I decided to bring a duck call and Leo made one out of a squeaky toy that sounded more like duck farts than a duck call.

I already posted my ride ref report to the Cascade Bicycle Club message board, BikeTawk and the Ride Ref list, so this will be my personal report…

I’ll start out with the “short report” and then ramble 😉

short report

Was grossly under trained and had no business doing this ride…

Did it anyway because I missed last year due to broken foot/big toe and I was committed to be a ride referee…

The weather was perfect! A far cry from any of my previous STP experiences.

Humor goes a long way in gaining cooperation from riders as a ride ref…

Duck calls make people laugh…

As my friend Kevin said, this year should have been known as the Tour De Crash”…

Left sleeping bag at home, got very lucky and scored a real bed in Centrailia…

Mile 174 is my nemesis… this is where my mind and body break down…

Stopping to render mechanical/medical/traffic assistance, restarting and pedaling like heck to make up time over and over and over is way harder than just riding it…

Really enjoyed no escorted mob ride over the Lewis and Clark Bridge into Oregon; much more relaxing to make the descent in the bike lane not surrounded by riders of questionable judgment/experience…

Loved the new route over the St John’s Bridge in Portland…

Did manage food/beer at finish before boarding bus (big improvement over last time)…

Lost the bike truck lotto despite the rush to get bike on the most fully loaded truck, had to drive back to Seattle on Monday to get my bike…

Recovery takes longer when you’re not trained for distance…

Things I did well

Ate real food and ate it often (seriously why eat stuff I don’t like and don’t normally eat when pushing myself?)…

Rested and loaded up on nutritionally dense/high protein food before the event…

Although I tried to avoid “energy/race” food, I did have a couple packs of honey stinger chews (tastier/easier to get down than Cliff Shots) for dire moments when I really needed some quick carbs…

Drank bottled or filtered water, not nasty tasting hose water provide at rest stops (seriously, pay the $1 for a bottle of water that doesn’t smell funny); makes it easier to get down in the later stages, alternated with NUUN for electrolytes (never Gatorade or the like)…

Rode/Paced to my comfort level not against a speedometer/clock/ride partner…

Sunscreen application well timed; no burn at all…

Things I need to improve on

Did I mention I was grossly under trained? Longest ride in the last two years, 65 miles. Longest ride this year, 1 30-miler, a couple of 20-something milers-next year, do the mileage it will hurt less in the long run…

Waiting until the night before to pack/gear up lead to panic, sleep deprivation and forgetting my sleeping bag-next year, suck it up and do it early (maybe take that Friday off)…

Did not sleep enough before or during the event; I need more sleep to stay healthy…

Waited way too long (50 miles) for first application of chamois butter-next year apply at first rest stop… (why no Leo, your groin is not supposed to burn when you put it on…)

Tape my wrists if/when they start to hurt (of course, proper training might prevent that)…

Add extra meal between Riverside stop in Longview WA and St Helen’s OR to prevent physical and mental breakdown at mile 174…

Drink even more water, alternating with NUUN of course…

Take more pictures…

Save the money to get a motel room in Portland for Sunday night; it’s no fun to have to rush for the long bus slog back to Seattle; I want to enjoy the finish line festival/beer garden with my friends after the ride…

The long, boring, gritty details

I was up bright and early (4:30 AM) to pick Lynn up in Renton, stop at Starbucks and head to the start line.

I got a fruit and cheese plate to eat while waiting in line to get into the UW parking lot, but didn’t have to wait, so I stuffed it in my jersey pocket and off we went (after fussing with gear, ride ref supply pickup and a lot wait for the portapotties)

We stopped briefly at Seward Park so I could make a phone call, because along Lake Washington I realized I’d not packed my sleeping bag which was going to make for a very cold night of camping. Normally, I’d bypass that stop as it wastes more time than anything else.

Leo started a bit later and caught up to us after the hill climb out of Seward.

The REI rest stop is always lots of fun and we always stay too long. This is where I “should” have applied my first does of chamois butt’r and where I did eat my breakfast (which should have been a 2nd breakfast)

There were many ride ref duties attended to between Kent and Sumner; everything from flat tires, to falls to multi bike accidents.

We stopped at McDonald’s for “first lunch” I don’t normally eat there, but a burger and fries helped power us up the hill. I’m pretty surprised that Leo didn’t hurl his milkshake on the side of the road.

At the Spanaway stop, I snarfed down a chicken wrap and a jamba juice (2nd lunch) This is also where we discovered that the 50 mile mark is too long to wait for the first application of chamois butt’r. Leo came out from behind his hidey place and said, “Is this supposed to burn your groin when you put it on?” Uh… “No Leo, and I didn’t need to know that.” Yeah, my nether regions weren’t happy either…

Next was negotiating the always dicey Highway 507; lots of accidents, thankfully, none involving us, despite the idiot woman between Roy and McKenna that jumped out into traffic in front of a big red truck then screamed and almost took me out. Had I not been in a Ride Ref uniform, I’d have said more to her than, “You need to look before you pull out in traffic, and you need to call out when passing” after she said, “I’m going to get killed out here”.

It took every ounce of self control I had not to react when she got snotty with me. Hey, cool! Break the law, endanger yourself and others, and then cop an attitude on the person you almost knocked down an embankment. No Bueno!

I was still twitching by the time we got to the McKenna rest stop where we refilled our water bottles. We rode another couple blocks and got ice cream.

The Yelm-Tenino Trail was a relief as it got us off the carnage filled highway. Since they got rid of some of the worst roots (there are still a couple doozies) and pulled those darn posts out; it’s a lot safer than it used to be.

This is where I finally had some room to safely get down on my aerobars and kick it up a notch. It felt good to get into a different position..

After a break in Tenino, we rode those last long miles into Centralia. Last time we rode this, I bonked here, this time it was Leo. He responded well to my honey stinger chews (which saved me the next day) and we made decent time through the rollers and into town.

This is also where I picked up the “stealth drafter”.

Seriously dude, if you’re going to ride that close to me, you should buy me a drink or at least introduce yourself. Better yet, say “On your wheel” so I know not to stop or swerve suddenly and have you take us both out. Even better… offer to take a pull rather than having me pull you all those miles without reciprocating. I tried to shake this guy by slowing down, speeding up and glaring at him, but he was not getting off my tail. I guess the ride ref jerseys say “Take a free pull” on the back. I could smell beer garden so I wasn’t going to pull over.

Leo, Lynn and I agreed to proceed straight to be beer garden when we pulled into Centralia and we did, even bypassing the creamsciles. We ran into Kimiko, Harry, Damian, Mongo, Brian, my friend Dan from Seattle who just felt like stalking me that day and a host of other biker types where we enjoyed music, sunshine, pizza (first dinner) and free flowing beer. This was very welcome after 100 miles of stopping, riding hard to make up time, stopping, over and over and over again…

Running out of beer has been an issue in the past, but not this year. There was plenty of pizza and beer. The beers started magically appearing without us even getting in line. It was most definitely the royal treatment. We liked it.

On the way in, Rocky (the house with the mister set up out front) recognized (seriously, I can be picked out of a crowd of well over 10,000?) and yelled at me. I went over to ask if I could pay him and Patsy to use their shower as I wasn’t interested in a cold trailer shower. As it turns out, they hadn’t advertised any rooms because it had been a crazy year of traveling etc… so they invited Leo and I to stay in their spare rooms. Real shower, fabulous dinner of elk lasagna, organic salad from the garden and garlic bread with friends I hadn’t seen in two years, and a real bed. This was made of awesome. (Lynn’s husband had brought blankets for me so I was covered either way)

The next morning I shoveled down a bowel of cereal (1st breakfast) and headed out to Chehalis for the Soroptomists breakfast in the park, while Leo pedaled off to figure out where his stuff was. I had a lovely 2nd breakfast of eggs, sausage, pancakes and orange juice and headed out a bit of ahead of Leo to get up that darn hill to Napavine and because I was freezing.

I encountered a guy with a bent rim and another with a broken crank on the way up, but they had folks coming for them.

We regrouped in Winlock and headed off to Vader for an espresso break. (espresso line in Winlock was too long, Soroptomists breakfast served [gasp] Folders with powdered creamer)

It was pretty funny to watch the (very nice) folks who run the store trying to help us through the lines more quickly by offering a 2nd line for just plain coffee and or ringing up store items. Nope, we were all staying in the espresso line.

After the guy made several offers, I piped up with, “They did tell you we all rode from Seattle right? We are latte sucking stereotypes ;)”

We had some fun at Castle Rock. I was in the portapotty and Leo walked up and blew his little squeaky toy duck fart call. I responded with my real duck call form inside the porta potty. Dead silence from the crowds outside, then peals of laughter.

The ride to Riverside was non-eventful. I had a turkey sandwich, some fig newtons and fruit for (1st) lunch and then walked over to the taco stand for a couple of asada tacos… (2nd lunch) then we headed off for the dreaded mob ride across the Lewis and Clark Bridge into Oregon. I picked up another stealth drafter who was just someone who did not know better than to get too close and who crossed skewers with me, so I pulled over to let her go past.

But back to the bridge, they queue us up, then stop traffic and the fabulous Goldwing folks escort us over. This always makes me nervous as it’s a huge mob of people who are not used to riding in crowds and poorly secured water bottles and pumps fly off bikes on the downhill side when tires hit the expansion joints.

For some reason, we got lucky and they just waved a few of us over the bridge and we got to safely ride single file in the bike lane rather than wait for the road closure. MUCH BETTER. I also didn’t have to listen to Leo’s annual “We’re all gonna die” speech about how dangerous the mob bridge crossing is.

Highway 30 was highway 30 many many miles of long rolling hills, fast highway traffic, and unsafe passing. One set of women were riding two abreast taking up the entire very narrow bike lane on the most dangerous stretch causing riders who wanted to pass to hit a dangerous edge and go out into the single lane highway traffic. We asked them to please ride single file; they gave us a snotty look but complied (no duck call for you).

I always hit my mental and physical wall about mile 174 coming into Deer Island/St Helens Oregon and this year was no exception; it was even worse than normal because of not doing the distance, my wrists really hurt and my right knee was acting up.

We stopped at Burgerville in St Helens for chocolate milkshakes (fast calories and sugar that will stay down) and then began the last 30 mile slog up the rolling hills into Portland. My wrists were hurting, my butt was hurting and my knee was hurting. Leo could tell that I was in a bad way because I was super quiet; he made mention that he could tell I was in my own “personal hell” and let me just deal with it while being there for me. (I tease him a lot (well he is kind of a pain in the butt), but he is a good friend and a good ride partner)

He pulled up next to me (on the part of bike lane which was as wide as a lane and next two where the highway was two lanes) to tell me about something, when one of the gals we had talked to before rode past me and snarked about how we told her not to do that (uh yeah, on the dangerous part of the road where you were causing a problem…) I decided to just wish her a nice day. (once again, displaying remarkable restraint considering that at this point I was in what Penguins (my running group) like to call “the bite me zone”)

Just before the St John’s Bridge, I noticed yet another stealth drafter. I was about done with people I don’t know/trust riding inches off my back wheel, so I just pulled over. He pulled over with me; I took a drink of water, gave him “the look” and rode off without him on my tail.

Seriously 20-something dude…. you really need to be pulled by an out of shape woman who is nearly 50 years old?

The windy hill to get up to the St John’s bridge (a change from recent years’ routes into Portland) looked worse than it was, and in my opinion was a fabulous way into town with a stunning view of Mt Hood and the Columbia River (way better than the slog through the industrial zone). Of course the red lights when we got downtown were a pain, but I still think it was better…

By this time, my knee and wrists still hurt, but I could no longer feel my butt.

I was quite happy to cross the finish line. Kevin as there to greet us and take our photo (the duck too) I rushed to get my bike on the fullest truck (the full truck leaves first) so that it would be in Seattle when I got there, grabbed a Gyro and headed to the beer garden.

I got to visit with friends long enough to snarf down the food and one beer before it was time to get my luggage and get on the last bus. (next year, no rush, I’m staying the night in Portland)

Our bus driver went all road ragey in Seattle and almost caused a huge accident under the convention center on I-5 when he lost it and started to bully a little blue car (not once, but three times). Yes, I reported him to his company and Cascade; State Patrol wouldn’t take a report the next day.

My bike was not there (I lost the truck lotto and the other truck left first) so I had to go back up and bail flash of out “bike jail” the next day. At least I made an enjoyable trip out of it and took my friend Francine with me for lunch and a beer on the waterfront.

What a crazy thing to do (over and over again) I’m sore, tired and my cells are swimming in lactic acid.

I’m already planning next year.


Mood: Tired


Cycling around the 253

We got very lucky this weekend and had some breaks between torrential downpours, so it was time to get out on the bike for something other than a wet, soggy slog of a commute.

After a great Friday night at El Guadalajara unwinding with friends after a long work week, I hopped on my bike (sans rain pants, but they were in the panniers) Saturday morning and headed over to the Proctor Farmer’s Market for a cup of Feisty Gals Coffee and to visit with friends Janet and Daniel who also cycled over.

From Drop Box

It was the Jr Daffodil parade so it was really fun seeing the school bands and floats and it also made the market an even more busy/happening place than usual.

After visiting with lots of friends and vendors, we rode over to the Rosewood Cafe for an awesome lunch. We shared a warmed brie covered in a fabulous pecan balsamic/honey reduction served with apple slices and warm crusty bread; there was also roasted pepper soup, bruschetta and good microbrew.

Sunday also provided a rain free (albeit cold) opportunity to get outside and play. I brought my negleted road bike Flash up out of the basement and rode her figuring that I wasn’t going to need the disk brakes or ability to carry a change of clothing that I have with Xena the commuter bike. She has half fenders, so if it rained, I wouldn’t have a streak of mud up my backside. (a LiveJournal friend of mine in another state commented that he had never seen a bike with areobars AND fenders 😉

I rode over to the Narrows to meet my friend, stopped by to chat with another friend in the same neighborhood and headed over to Pt Defiance for a lovely ride through the old growth forest along Five Mile Drive.

After a stop to visit another friend, we rode down to the waterfront (always fun negotiating the Ruston tunnel on a bike) for a burger and a beer at the RAM.

Even on a cold cloudy day, Tacoma is a pretty awesome place to live.

From Drop Box

and the beer was good too 🙂

From Drop Box

Of course, the most “fun” part was climbing back up to the hill from sea level.

It doesn’t make sense, but for some reason, I think that Starr St has a gentler grade than McCarver, so we went that way. (the road bike doesn’t have the low gears that the commuter bike has)

That ride ended up being about 20 miles with around 1.100 feet of climbing.

Any spring weekend up here where you can get out on your bike both days is a good one.


Mood: Happy


Commuting by Bike and Train

In an effort to walk (or rather pedal) my talk I have chosen to leave my vehicle at home during the week and use my bicycle to get to and from the train station on a regular basis as opposed to just doing it during bike to work month as I have in previous years.

I have had more than a little bit of trepidation about getting down the highest part of the hilltop in Tacoma safely in the dark wee hours of the morning (lived in a different neighborhood last year) and hauling my out of shape butt back up in the afternoon (not to mention the extremely bicycle UNfreindly streets of Kent).

Here’s a video I made of my first ever bike-train-bike commute in 2008 (didn’t live up on the hilltop then so the Tacoma portion was much easier) *there will be a video of this commute if I can get a bit of extra time in the morning and some dry weather.

make with the clicky clicky to see the video (I do NOT miss those stairs)

After the successful test ride on the new bike in the pouring rain (thank goodness for disk brakes) to the farmer’s market on Saturday, I was confident that I’d be ready to give it a go on Tuesday morning (I don’t work on Mondays)

Between the time change and my nerves I barely got any sleep on Monday night. I was up well before the alarm went off and scrambled to get my gear on and get out the door (lunch and work clothing was already packed up and ready to go).

My neoprene bike shoe covers were the first “sticking point”. They’re very tight and next to impossible to get zipped up quickly. I tried every position imaginable to get leverage and at one point ended up on the floor.

I think I pulled a butt muscle.

Next was turning on the plethora of lights on the bike. Paranoid girl likes to be lit up like a Christmas tree when she rides.

My favorite lights are the spoke lights.

I made it out the door and down the front steps onto the wet, wild windy (and gritty, don’t forget the grit) streets of the hilltop and had Epic Fail My rear tire was flat and I could not be late that day, so I ended up driving.

That night, I pulled the rear wheel off (rear tire flats are great fun with a long derailleur and disk brakes which is why I didn’t think 5:15 AM in the rain while rushing to make a train would be the best time for my first attempt) and replaced the tube. I couldn’t find any glass or debris in the tire, nor a hole through the tire, but did discover that the tube had been kinked/folded over on its self inside the tire which if not the cause was not likely helpful.

After obsessively -compulsively- anal retentively checking and rechecking the tire pressure that night and the next morning, I was ready to try again.

I had gotten a bit more sleep than the night before (still nervous) and gearing up went smoothly, all except the stupid shoe covers. (again)

I think I re aggravated my pulled butt muscle.

I wound my way around the neighborhood, chose a route down S 15th, to Fawcett to 23rd recommended by a friend and fellow Tacoma Wheelman who has worked on the Tacoma Master Mobility Plan, Steven Garrett and made it down the dark, steep wet hill in one piece. (have I mentioned how much I love disk brakes?)

I pulled up to the train platform on the closest end as I was worried about time and wanted to be able to jump on the closest car if I had to, but wanted to get up to the front car as that makes my departure from Kent station easier. I swiped my Orca card (my jacket is just a bit too thick to leave it in the sleeve pocket darn it) and trotted up to the front car while pushing the bike. The conductor giggled and said, “No need to worry or run, we have two and a half minutes)

I made it in plenty of time, strapped my bike in and sat down to enjoy the ride to Kent. The train is SO much better than driving)

I have several “train buddies” who get on and off at different points on the route. ) One of my Cascade Bicycle Club friends Robert, gets on in Auburn, so we get to visit between there and Kent.

I got off the train, swiped my Orca card (have to remove it from the sleep pocket to make it work, grrrr…) turned my lights back on and proceeded to find the least life threatening way to my office.

I was greatly amused to see folks standing in line waiting for the DART in the cold and the wet (I sure don’t miss that)

Since you can’t make a left turn onto James Street from the station, I chose to ride on the deserted sidewalk on the side of the street I was on until I could hit 4th St to head North. I was doing well until my bike tried to go out from under me. You see, the sidewalks around Kent Station are quite ornamental and there is a wide gap almost exactly the width of a bicycle tire that runs its length. Wet tire, wide gap… great fun.

How embarrassing would that have been? Crashing on the sidewalk of all places?

Heading up 4th St made bit a bit nervous as there are no street lights at all and it’s pitch black, but the other alternative was the much busier West Valley Highway (oh hell no) or the Interurban Trail which I would never consider riding alone on in the dark through that part of town.

S 228th was the usual no sidewalk, no shoulder, no bike lane, impatient speeding driver gauntlet which I was glad to get on and off of as quickly as possible.
I managed to finish the 1st half of the commute unscathed.

One of the most challenging parts of this is no coffee until I get to work, and then a wait until the café opens.

After work, I did take the Interurban trail down to the station. During the day, I can see who and what is around me (and there are more legitimate trail users out), as opposed to in the dark when someone can see me and my blinky lights coming from a mile away and I can’t see them until they decide to knock me over and mug me.

This time, I chose the most Southern car so that I’d be closest to my direction of travel when I got off the train. (remove Orca card from sleep pocket, swipe, return to pocket… again…)

The route up the hill (after once again, removing my Orca card from my sleeve pocket to swipe it) I chose was suggested by another experienced and community minded Tacoma Wheelman, Carla Gramlich who suggested that I head around S Tacoma Way as it is a more gradual hill and has much less traffic than running the gauntlet downtown. It is blocked by construction, so I followed her advice and rode up Delin St just to the South, crossed the bridge over to S Tacoma Ave and headed up the hill.

The mistake that I made was exiting S Tacoma Way on Yakima Ave; as I turned the corner to head up 25th (a nice, wide, low traffic road) I was faced with one of many short steep hills from hell in Tacoma. I have to (with some shame) admit that I made it about ¾ of the way up and then put a foot down lest I go over from lack of momentum.

Holy crap, I am out of shape. I was hacking stuff up out of my lungs that I didn’t even know was there. Of course, a few more weeks of this and I’ll get back into shape real quick.

Today, I’ll continue up to J Street (as she advised) which will give me a more gradual hill on which to get to 25th St.

When I got home yesterday, hot, sweaty, gritty and tired, I found the opera gloves I ordered for the Royal Wedding Tea Party at Serenity Garden Design. I was pretty amused by the elegant satin gloves being held by the gritty cyclist.

Here’s a bike to work video I did in 2009 when I rode the entire distance from my home in the Stadium District to my office in Kent WA. (since it’s a two hour ride, I don’t do it on the morning end of the ride often) When the days get longer and I need longer training rides (and I’m in way better shape than I’m in now), I’ll ride all the way home at the end of the day instead of using the train.

I feel more energized when I get to work in the morning (despite the delayed caffeine gratification)

It’s taking 11-12 minutes in the morning to get to the train station (I have to use my brakes a lot going down the hills) and about 15 to get to work. Another 15 in the afternoon to get back to the train and a slower 20 minute slog up the hill.

This means that by just going to work, not only am I saving gas, reducing emissions and traffic congestion, but I’m getting an hour of exercise in each day.

I call that “winning” (please forgive the pop culture reference; I just couldn’t help myself 😉


Mood: Tired


How to be a Cascade Bicycle Club Ride Ref


Rule number #1 for ride reffing for Cascade Bicycle Club events

You ARE the “dancing bear”

people respond to humor.

We “encourage” safe and courteous riding by EXAMPLE. Don’t get “into it” with anyone, it’s not worth it; call the police, rat them out to CBC, but don’t be an asshole

TAKE the horn offered to you in training (take two if you can get away with it).

HONK the horn

HONK the horn as often as possible.

Coordinate obnoxious horn honking with a ride partner.

Tell bad jokes (best if at the expense of a CBC volunteer you’re riding with.)

Sing bad songs.

Military cadence….

“LEFT…. LEFT… Passing on your LEFT….”

“When you Ride the STP….”

Filk showtunes

“Stopping and going and going and stopping…”

When someone displays safe and courteous and safe riding. HONK YOUR HORN!!! Celebrate it! Call them out and THANK them!

Tell bad jokes

Harass your CBC volunteer ride partners…

overheard on the 2008 STP while leaving the REI rest stop..

[Leo – wearing a ride ref jersey] Hey, see that star of life on her jersey? That means she’s a professional proctologist in real life.

[Lisa, wearing medical jersey] Better than being an amateur procotologist like you are Leo…

[Rim Shot]

[Lisa, totally gloating over the perfectly timed BURN] Thank you folks, we’ll be here all weekend.

Stop for every flat tire, blown chain, blister, splinter, road rash, person sitting on the corner staring at map completely clueless as the where they are.

Be one of the last riders into Portland because you have stopped for every person who needed it (and some who didn’t), either in pouring rain or scorching heat, have no time for beer, haul butt to get your bike on the last truck and hop on the last bus without showering.

Love every minute of it.

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Mood: Amused



Sheesh, what a week (or so)

I’ve been working on this update for several days, running out of time at each attempt, and decided to use this morning’s break time to get it posted.

Oh, and if I owe you email or a phone call, sorry. I’m really behind on all correspondence.

Saturday was a fun ride with the Cascade Bicycle Club-We started out at the Red Hook Brewery in Woodinville, rode down the Sammamish River trail, around the lake and back to the brewery for lunch (and a beer or two) at Forecaster’s Pub

Red  Hook Lake Sammamish Ride

The ride was 35 miles and the group I was with averages about 15 mph.

After that, I headed over to the Y for a swim workout. I could barely feel my legs after a few rounds of dolphin kicking.

I killed my bike computer some time ago, and have been relying on my Garmin for bike data. Since I use it for multi-sport/triathlon, it’s a wrist model and it’s difficult to view my current speed. It also doesn’t stop the clock when I stop so my average speed doesn’t calculate correctly.

I sucked it up and bought a Sigma wireless bike computer. Since I’m going to be leading rides for Both Cascade and the Tacoma Wheelmen, I need to make sure that I’m riding the advertised pace of the ride and I need to be able to see that quickly. It will also be nice to know what my actual average is. This model is waterproof, so hopefully I won’t kill it as quickly as my previous one.

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AND, it’s wireless… which made it much easier to install

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On Sunday, I took a group out for the Tacoma Wheelmen. We started at the HUB which is only four blocks from my place and it’s happy hour all day on Sunday ($5 buffalo chicken pizza… YUM!)

In honor of my favorite ride start location, I work my favorite Cycles Gladiator Jersey. (I have a long sleeve one for winter and a sleeveless one for summer)

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This ride was 38 miles with about 1,900 feet of climbing. We made a loop around Pt Defiance, crossed the narrows bridge, rode the Cushman Powerline Trail all the way to the hilly end (several 8-10 percent grades) down to the Gig Harbor waterfront and up Soundview.

Speaking of Soundview. I am a DORK. The reason I had such trouble on the early season ride to Gig Harbor is that I’ve been using the wrong (very steep, it’s like climbing a wall) road to get out of town. I’ve been climbing up Pioneer instead of Soundview [slaps self on forehead]

This was a fun route and a good workout; I’ll definitely lead that trip again.

Happy Hour Sunday Ride

Monday was work, recovery and trying to shovel through the mess all over my apartment; it seems I’m only home long enough to dirty dishes, drop outdoor/bike gear all over the place and sleep. It’s not clean, but it’s not a health hazard any more. I’ll work on it a bit more tonight after spin class.

I did get some rest Sunday evening.

I was sitting on the couch, admiring my pedicure (Angie took a few of us out for a pedi party last week).

Then I noticed the shiny gold duck that Kelly sent me.

And since I’m never out of reach of a camera…

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Speaking of poultry…

My friend Sonia has been recovering from a procedure and is bored out of her skull.

She is amused by peeps, so I threw together a little YouTube video for her.

It took WAY longer than it should have because WINDOWS LIVE MOVIE MAKER SUCKS SUCKS SUCKS!!! I had to go to Windows Live because my new camera shoots .mov format (QuickTime, I HATE HATE HATE you too!) and the old, serviceable version of Windows Movie Maker doesn’t support that (or many other formats) So instead of just fixing a program that worked decently, they created a newer, crappier version.

Based on reviews and results from my friend Mark (waves to Tokyo where he’s visiting and it’s snowing) I uploaded Pinnacle Studio.

I think I’ll make a St Patty’s Day Dash video and use that for editing.

And with that, my break is over and I need to get back to work.


Mood: Tired


not so Chilly but still Hilly

Chilly Hilly was a BLAST this year.

Michale F and I arrived early because he needed to register; because of this, we got “Doris Day” parking on the Waterfront a bit South of the ferry dock.

There were a lot of people registered already and since the weather was sunny and spectacular (very unFebruary like) we knew that thousands of people who were waiting to see what the weather was going to do would be registering at the last minute. The final rider count was 6,028. Yikes!

The person on the loudspeaker kept saying, “plenty of time to catch the ferry”. I looked across the street and saw the loading area nearly full and barely got in the queue. This was when I realized that no matter how much I fantasize about a lovely island home on Vashon or another one of our beautiful islands, I’d want to shoot myself if I had to use a ferry to commute every day (maybe after I retire and just want to write and do photography)


I had a brief visit with fellow ride ref Michael Snyder at the registration area before I headed over.

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I discovered that I was only one row over from Allyson and Marizel, so I managed to squeeze over their direction and hang out with them while waiting to load.

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I was one of the last people to make it in the queue and as the boat pulled away from the dock, we saw that the queue was full again. A quick phone check of my facebook status replies showed that Michael didn’t quite make it and there is a cutoff on the number of cyclists, not due to space limitations (it was weird not to see the deck covered in bikes) but to the number of life jackets available on the ship (that’s the law)

I ran into lots of friends on the boat (hey, with well over 6,000 people on the ride, it’s impossible not to find people you know) and spent a lot of time answering text and voice mail messages of friends I was trying to connect up with.

There were more than a few jokes about being glad that our tsunami was the day before (our tsunami was inches rather than feet)

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I met Leo and my friend Bill on the Island side and waited until after the screaming hordes attacked the first hill to start our ride and ride ref duties. We figured that it would be helpful to sweep for those having mechanical problems or other issues (it was mentioned to me by a club member that they never see ride refs in the back of the pack) and that the slower riders might be more in need of support and learning about safe and courteous riding. The added bonus was that it was much less stressful than riding up the first hill in the middle of all the wobbles, stops and crashes (which there were plenty of refs already doing).

We honked our ride ref horns a LOT, made lots of bad jokes, sang silly songs, and made a huge deal out of thanking people engaging in safe and courteous riding behavior.

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We got a lot of thank yous for being out there and only a few dirty looks from people we asked nicely to “please remember to call “on your left” when passing”. (thinking to myself here… Uh, excuse me? You are the one breaking the rules of the ride you signed up for and agreed to abide by are breaking laws, endangering others and when I ask you nicely to remember to follow the rules/laws I’m the jerk? Whatever…)

I’d say my biggest frustration was riders for whom “CAR BACK” seemed to mean “ride three abreast, pass people and take up the entire lane so that cars need to cross the double yellow line (bonus for doing so on blind corners) to get around slower riders.” (there are always a few buttheads in every crowd)

I was riding up one of the big steep hills at the end (the first of the series just before the church with the water stop and blessings) and thanked a gentleman for saying “on your left” as he passed me (we believe in loudly thanking people for doing the right thing in order to encourage such behavior from all parties in the future). The woman I had passed a hundred yards or so back who was walking her bike up the hill (and yes, I said on your left when I passed her) starting yelling at me… “WHAT DID YOU MEAN BY THAT?” I don’t know how she could have thought I was talking to her, I was nowhere near her. (and how is “thank you” offensive?) At this point I was sucking wind and couldn’t have yelled back if I wanted to. Luckily, Leo was behind me and explained to her that I was thanking the gentleman who had just passed me courteously.

The positive interactions far outweighed the negative. Overall, I’d say that the riders this year were more courteous than last year which is surprising given the huge volume of riders.

Leo and I pulled into the finish line, chatted with friends, turned in our ride ref bibs and met Bill in the beer garden.

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I ran into Crystal, Michael F joined us and then we headed over to Docs Marina Grill (with a few detours around the ferry dock and other areas looking for the place because we just hadn’t ridden enough hills already) to meet Marizel, Allyson and others for beer, chowder and a bit of the USA/Canada hockey game. We were in there when team USA tied up the game in overtime. The place went NUTS!

Michael and I headed out to catch the 2:55 ferry. OMG, the lines (of cars and bikes) were the longest I’ve ever seen them. We weren’t convinced that we were going to make it on that boat, but we managed to get on just before the cutoff. It wouldn’t have been a crisis as the weather was lovely, but we were tired and didn’t feel like hanging out on line to wait for the next boat.

It was a lovely ride back.

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I ran into my friend Lynne in line so we got to hang out a bit.

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of course, we had to do the obligatory “Look at us on the boat with Seattle in the background picture”

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On a physical note, I felt MUCH better than last year (pretty easy to do)

I was in better shape, as I’ve been exercising more consistently. Last year I hadn’t eaten or slept for 3-days and had been very sick from the stress of my mother’s impending death, layoffs at work and some other things (not the least of which was the selfish jerk I was dating at the time who made everything more stressful).

I ended being SAGed off the course just after the rest stop because I was bonking (as it turned out, after I uploaded my Garmin data, I discovered that my heart rate had peaked at 215 and stayed there for over an hour)

That nasty hill just before the rest stop got me again this year; which was mostly due to lack of legs, my cardio-vascular system is in great shape. Perhaps I just psyched myself out.

When I saw Baker Hill, I almost died (I had been SAGed off the course before this point last year so it was the first time I’d seen it) and said to the guy next to me, “I see a walk in my immediate future” but I cruised up that sucker as well as those bad nasties at the end with no problem at all. (not saying I was fast, just saying I made it without stopping or walking)

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The weather was great, seeing so many friends was great; and the fact that we got beer at the beer garden before they ran out was great.

The rest of the pictures are available here:

Today, I’m resting in the morning, cleaning my filthy apartment, going grocery shopping, and running errands. Tonight, I’m doing masters swim and TWBC ride leader training.

Tomorrow I go back to work to rest.


Mood: Tired


Insane Bikers Invade Tacoma!

It was my Monday off and it wasn’t really raining, so I was able to join the Tacoma Wheelmen for Joyce’s Hale Hearty and Ready for Coffee ride.

I lost count of the ride participants at 30-something.

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Welcome to the dark side, we have COOKIES!

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Tacoma Wheelmen go crazy (in a good way) when it’s good not completely craptastic cycling weather. (which basically means, no ice, snow or relentless torrential downpours) I remember rides last year where we literally followed the de icing truck down the road in the North End and one when we all had snotcicles and our eyelashes froze on the way to Spanaway.

Here’s a photo of Steve taking a photo of the huge group at the Proctor Starbucks.

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We invaded the streets of North Tacoma and wound our way to Pt Defiance…

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Matt from the Harmon Bike Club was out for a solo ride and said that he saw a few bikers zip by and thought to himself “cool”, then more zipped by, and more… and more… and more…

He caught up with us in Pt Defiance. (where there were more COOKIES!)

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We cruised through the west end… (obligatory photo of Bill’s butt)

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and invaded our favorite espresso shop in University Place (inside and out)

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It was 26 glorious (almost dry, not quite warm) hilly miles. (well, 4.16 extra for me since I rode to the ride start from home)


Of course, on every hill I kept saying, “I am so NOT ready for Chilly Hilly”

More photos here…

I hope we have decent riding weather on Saturday!


Mood: Happy


Vashon Island!

I’ve lived here 11 years, and before today had not been on Vashon Island (OK, one quick trip by kayak and a quick landing on a beach).

Today, my dear friend Janet and I took a lovely bike ride around the island on a spectacularly beautiful autumn day.

We met at the Antique Sandwich (a mere 5.31 miles from my place by bike) for coffe, treats and to plan our adventure.

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We cycled down the road to the Pt Defiance ferry terminal to board the MV Rhododendron for a ride out to Tahlequah on Vashon Island. One of the many humorous bits of this trip was Janet pronouncing Tahlequah as Tequila.

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All of the routes on the island are rated “Moderate to Difficult” or “Difficult” This land was forged by fire and ice; volcanoes and glaciers. We don’t have flat ground. I knew that I wasn’t really in shape for this ride, but have been wanting to do it for two years and have had weather or health issues each time I planned it, and I wanted to do it with Janet. So I sucked it up, put on my “big girl bike shorts” and just did it.

We made a hard right when we got off the ferry instead of taking the main highway and hugged the East side of the island and Quartermaster Harbor. (because it just wasn’t difficult enough to take the main route)

One of the “attractions” on the East side is the stationary bicycles.

Since we hadn’t burned out our quads enough yet, we played on them for a bit…

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It was spectacular/awesome/amazing/totally worth the quad burn/wind sucking to be riding on that island on such a lovely day.

After riding up the East side and hugging the water, we stopped in town for lunch at “The Hardware Store” (a nice restaurant) and headed up the highway towards the North side ferry terminal.

We cut over on Cedearhurst Road (one of those “difficult” routes on the map) and made a stop at Fern Cove.

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We rose some more switchbacky hills out to the West side Highway Wax Orchard Road, and finally Vashon Highway back to the ferry terminal.

We made the 3:10 ferry back to Tacoma leaving us plenty of time to get ready for our work week.

Check out the hill we ride back up to get home (we both had more hills to get to our respective homes)

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It was an awesome day with a dear friend.

My Garmin shows that I rode 43 miles and climbed 6,088 feet. I wasn’t fast, (all except that 30 mph bit) but feel pretty good after the ride, so maybe I’m not in quite as bad a shape as I thought.

Here is the route we took today

You can view the popup map by clicking here

The rest of the pictures are available here

It was a GREAT day!