Thanks for the ride Cindy, Jan, and Chris!
In Christmas letter fashion, here's my year in review (if you loathe Christmas letters, feel free to stop reading now).
I had a short racing season this year. I did just 8 races before leaving for Europe in May: one time trial, and 7 road races. I won the first road race in Sequim. It's only because most of the Cat 4 women don't ride much in the winter, or the newbies haven't figured it out yet. Basically, I seem to "peak" in the first race. From then on, it's all downhill (figuratively, of course--if it was really all downhill, I'd do great!).
I also experienced my first crash in a race. I was lucky as I ended up in the ditch and only received minor scratches and a whole lotta mud in my hair. My friend and teammate was not so lucky. She ended up on the pavement with a broken collarbone and thumb. The next week, I raced the same course again. I didn't think I was nervous, until I got dropped and felt such relief. I knew I wouldn't crash if I was by myself.
I left May 19th for my longest tour yet. I started in Mainz, Germany with my friend, Christian. We rode north, visiting Berlin, then family, and friends (especially Alex and Markus in Bremen) before crossing into Denmark. After a couple of short days in Denmark, we crossed into Sweden. We rode the coast to Norway. We were in Oslo for the Summer Solstice (a very big deal in Scandinavia). There were parties everywhere, and it was light until the early hours with the sun rising again by about 4:30am.
Christian stayed with me until we got to Bingen, Norway to visit his friend, Jon. Christian had to return home and go back to work. I continued on the North Sea Route up the coast of Norway to Stavanger where I flew to Aberdeen, Scotland. In Scotland, I explored the ruins of Dunnotter Castle, and had to walk my bike up the steepest, most desolate (except for sheep) road I have ever been on.
I ferried over to Northern Ireland, and worked my way into Ireland and over to Galway and the Atlantic. From there it was a straight ride across the middle of Ireland to Dublin. I had planned a day off in Dublin, but found no room at any inn (except the most expensive inn in Dublin). I stayed in the expensive room, but ferried the next day to Holyhead in Wales.
I followed National Cycle Route 5 up the coast, at one point, experiencing the most amazing tailwind ever! I crossed into England on a bike trail (there was even a sign). I met up with my friend Chris in Oxford. He gave me a local's tour of the town (the best kind of tour), where I saw the college used as Hogwarts in Harry Potter, and got to ride a double-decker bus! As I worked my way toward London, I spent a night in Slough with a great gal named Jane. She took me home when I couldn't find any place to camp in or around Windsor (doesn't Her Majesty want people camping around her castle?).
In London, I stayed at Crystal Palace Caravan Park about 7 miles from the center of London. I spent 3 nights there, and rode down into London for two very full days of sightseeing. When I left London for good, I somehow ended up going to Greenwich (south of where I needed to go) where I cycled up to the Observatory and the Prime Meridian.
I left England on a ferry from Harwich to Hook van Holland. In Hook van Holland I met Olga, a French gal on her first ever bike tour. We were going the same way toward Amsterdam, so we rode together on her last day. We finished at her friend's house in Haarlem where I was also invited to stay the night. Jonas and his parents were very nice!
Amsterdam, the next day, was not to be as there was a very bad storm that caused the storm drains to overflow and flood the streets with raw sewage. I reached the city sign for Amsterdam, and took a right heading back south without actually going into the city. Instead, I explored Rotterdam the next day, going through the Heinenoord Tunnel...twice. On my way across Holland back to Germany, I found the Hovenring elevated bicycle roundabout with a little help from Mariella and her cousin Daniella.
I left Holland at Venlo, returning to Germany where I met up with Christian near Düsseldorf for the last few days of riding the Rhein Radweg back to Mainz. I flew home on August 6th. I had spent 2 1/2 months cycling 3786 miles around Europe.
Super Biker Grandma!
September 3rd, my oldest son and my daughter-in-law had their first baby. My sweet sweet Grayson! I'm not being biased when I say he is the cutest baby on the planet!!! I love being a grandma, and try to get to Eugene as often as possible to get me some baby hugs! I will be in charge of all things bikey!
A New Girl in the Stable
After returning from Europe, I turned my sights to the next couple of tours. These will be dirt road tours. Joyride Bikes just happened to have the bike I wanted for them--a Surly ECR. "Mama Cass" is a mid-fat bike with 3" tires. I was fortunate to get to take her over to Twisp with my friends, Bill and Melody, to do some gravel/mountain biking. It was a blast!
So, that brings me back to today. I thank all of you for reading my blog. I wish you many adventures in your own lives in the coming New Year and beyond!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!