Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all who follow my bike ramblings! I managed to get in a Christmas morning ride with a few friends.
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!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Braver Than the Elements Ride, and a Moon Cycle Ride

It's December, and that means braving the elements, and riding to see Christmas lights. Actually, those were two separate rides. 

First, was the Rapha sponsored Braver Than the Elements Ride. Jean and I headed to Seattle for the women-only ride. This was one of several happening all over the country. The ride started at Cascade Bicycle Studio, a bike shop (and the only Washington dealer of Rapha apparel) in the Fremont District. We arrived much earlier than we thought we would, and no one was there. It was raining, so we just waited in the car. Bit by bit, women started arriving. The bike shop opened, and we all gathered inside to sign waivers, and find out what the plan was. Some gals were buying rain jackets and embrocation to help them stay warm and dry. Jean and I, being very used to riding in the "elements", were well prepared. As were our bikes. Jean was riding her cross bike, and I was on Star, my rain bike. Both our bikes have full fenders and long buddy flaps. With the exception of Mindy, the ride leader, we were the only ones with buddy flaps. Several had fenders, but without the long flap in the back, your "buddy" behind you is not really protected from the spray. Some gals didn't have fenders at all. Yikes! We tried to stay away from them!

Twenty of us headed out into the rain. We rode north, up and out of Fremont. Our turn around point was a cafe in Edmonds. For a good chunk of the ride, we were on the Interurban Bike Route, including a nice bike path. After getting off the path, we had to negotiate some busy streets, and then the hilly portion of the ride. We regrouped frequently, as there were several levels of riders from Cat 3 racers to a gal on a flat bar commuter carrying a pannier.

All 20 of us descended on an already crowded cafe (but, they knew we were coming). I had hot chocolate and a cookie. By the time we were ready to leave, some were not looking forward to going back out into the rain, knowing we would be cold because we were all wet. But, hey, this was called the Braver Than the Elements Ride! And, we had a big hill to go up (several, actually), so everyone would warm up quickly. As we were about ready to leave the parking lot of the cafe, one gal realized she had a flat. Emily (a Cat 3 racer) had the tire changed for the gal pretty quickly, but we were all still cold and ready to get going. Sure enough, no one was complaining about being cold once we were heading up the first hill (except for some cold hands).

We pretty much returned the way we had come. The last couple of miles were mostly downhill. We were going pretty slow (not sure why), but we eventually made it back to the start. We all received Braver Than the Elements patches for our effort. The ride was only 28 miles, but it was still fun to ride with and meet some new gals. Of course, they were all Seattle gals. I think Jean and I were the bravest of all, coming all the way from Olympia (so, okay, we drove to Seattle, but we still had to get up earlier than any of them)!

Ride the Night to Christmas Lights

Today was the Winter Solstice, and a group called Moon Cycle (they apparently ride once a month on the full moon) planned a ride to see the Christmas lights at Ken Lake. None of my Oly Chick posse were able to go, but I decided to go anyway. It wasn't raining, and the temperature was warm. Besides, after just 28 miles yesterday, and only a 5 mile walk/run today, I needed to burn more calories. 

We met at 5:00 at the Tivoli fountain at the Capitol campus (I rode Stella). Eight and a half of us showed up (the half was the little 4 1/2 year old son of one of the women). A few had decorated their bikes with LED battery operated Christmas lights. This was definately a group of commuter cyclists. Not a clipless pedal in sight (except for me), and only one other bike with drop bars. But, great headlights and tail flashers!

 No one seemed to know the exact plan to get to Ken Lake (a neighborhood on the Westside). Well, of course, I knew how to get there. They seemed to prefer I lead the way. Well, alright, that's fine with me! 

We worked our way at a leisurely pace to the Westside. We arrived at the Ken Lake neighborhood, and started our ride around the loop. Years ago, when my boys were little, we drove there to see the lights. I remembered there being several houses with fairly extravagant light displays. Now, there seems to be only one that is over the top. Oh, there were several houses with lights, but nothing huge. The one house is quite worth the trip though. The light display is set to music. The program is about 10 minutes long before it starts over. They accept canned food donations for the Food Bank. After the whole program ran through, the guy who owns the place took our picture in front of the lights.
I'm fourth from the right.

We rode back through town, dropping people as we went. There were a couple going to a cafe/bar, but I opted to head for home. It was a nice 25 mile ride at a very leisurely average of 10.8mph. It was fun, though, and I may consider doing more of these Moon Cycle rides!

The best thing of all? From here on out, the days will be getting longer!