I studied Erika's Princess demeanor, hoping to emulate her on today's ride. She instructed me on how to secure my tiara to my helmet: a few zip ties would help it stay in place between the air vents. Greg listened intently, as well, in case he needed to don his own version of princely headgear.
Once we allowed the Halloween Freak Show on Bikes to pass in front of us on the trail, we were off and headed up to the Woodinville-Duvall Road. For the first time in a long time, I was not near the front of the group, so I had no chance of going off the front on the climb. In fact, I was hanging (some might call it slumming) toward the back so that I could maintain the speed of those around me and not get myself into "climb" mode and see my tiara blow off my helmet in the first 5 miles. And, although I did get ahead of the Princess, it is my understanding that she warms up slowly.
At the regroup by the White Horse, we split into two groups and I stayed in the 2nd group. Off we went, up and down the rollers, "whee!". I noticed a shadow behind me and saw it was the Wobbler so I slowed down, pretending to adjust my tiara, and she passed on by and out of Wobbler danger range. A small group of us formed, led by another princess (apparently) who kept the pace quite tame, nearly all the way to Snohomish. With about 2 miles to go, her suitor took over and increased the pace, leaving me the choice of striving (not befitting of a princess) or gapping back. Needless to say, I gapped. Bob Miller joined in after leaving his station as corner and filled in the gap so I could have the proper escort into town.
We discussed our options for the next stretch of road to Monroe. Bill was taking the main group up into the hilly country above town for thrills and fall colors and I was taking my royal entourage via the valley floor. It was assumed the Princess would join us, seeking an easier route. Whether it was because she is directionally challenged, confused or just wanted to stretch out her now-warmed-up legs, we didn't know but she decided at the last minute to stay with Bill. My tiara now felt like it was a permanent fixture atop my helmet, like the jaguar on a Jag, only slower. The Old Snohomish-Monroe Road was gentle, quiet and had great views, allowing us (me, Marie, Sylvia & Kent) to just ride. Spinning solid circles, slipping silently from Snohomish.
We rolled into the Monroe Starbucks just a moment before the Rabbits and managed to get in line before they nibbled away all the goodies. Dottie, propelled into another (faster) dimension with Orin on the tandem, mentioned something about a Death Threat Hill they had summitted. Death Hill or no, the Rabbits didn't look too worse for wear, an amazing feat considering they were eschewing most of their gears as of late. Marie, Sylvia, Kent and I left some crumbs for the Laughers and continued on with our princessing. We did some nice pacelining on the road south and then it was time for the climb up Woodinville-Duvall from the other side. We stripped down, me being careful not to disrupt my tiara and headed up the hill. Once on the climb, I became the Ptitsa yet again, chasing the Young Gun up the hill. And again, I passed him and managed to grab the tiara with my right hand as it fell from my helmet, right after I upshifted. Great catch! Oh, I mean...Bad Princess!
For penitence, I had to take photos of my escorts and the fall colors. Later on, up past somewhere-or-other (is this lost sense of direction a side-effect of being a princess?), we all stopped on the road for more photo opps and to enjoy the midday sun. We rolled on, over hill and dale, or something like that, until the terrain started to look very familiar. Good thing Kent was there to guide us back.
Ouch! The pointy ends of my tiara were poking me in the head and, befitting for a princess and her escorts, we rolled down the hill and through the green light back to Red Hook.