Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Funny Thing Happened...

Lewis River Falls
A funny thing happened on my way down to Hood River, Oregon last week. I went for a bike ride along the way. No, that's not the funny part; I'll get to that in a bit. I had found a route on Ride with GPS that followed the Lewis River from Battle Ground, then went up the hill to Yacolt and some very remote areas, looping back to the start. Then I searched for a place to have something to eat and change my clothes before and after. The spot was called Old Town Battle Grounds, a Stumptown – serving coffee shop inside a converted church – perfect for a Sunday rider who worships good coffee and bicycles.

After fueling up and changing into my pink jersey, I set out to the first section along the river. I was on the river side of the road, following the Lewis River eastward, feeling like a salmon swimming upstream. I was one woman on a bicycle in the midst of hundreds of cars – that is, hundreds of courteous drivers and one jerk. The jerk was in a big red truck, most likely American-made and had a noisy engine. Unlike everyone who passed by easily and quickly, this guy (I'm assuming) roared by and then had his truck "fart" thick black smoke in my general direction. I had to laugh (yes, this is the funny thing) just thinking of what his dashboard might look like. I pictured a button that read, "Cyclist" that he pushed when passing a lowlife two-wheeler like me to let me know who was boss. He passed by me soon enough and after the smoke cleared, I kept on my route, enjoying the rollercoaster-like hills up and down and around we go, through beautiful countryside.

As often happens when I am following a cue sheet created by someone else, I begin to feel like I can trust the author who had, up to that point, steered me in the right direction. But when I turned right into a church parking lot with signs saying "No Outlet", I was a little skeptical. At the far end of the lot was a locked car-sized gate, but to the right of it was an unlocked person-sized gate. How I love secret passageways! An entry into another world, an exclusive path just for me. On the other side of the gate was a neighborhood and some kids on bikes who looked like they might be hoodlums and perhaps were going to give me a hard time for entering their private world. I soon realized that I had nothing to fear, as these kids looked up at me like an apparition had just materialized. They each had a "Where did you come from?" kind of a look on their faces as they waved and said hello. I responded in kind as if my presence there were just an everyday occurrence and kept on rolling down the street.

I continued on the rollercoaster back toward town, noting that there was a lot of car traffic on just about every road. The cue sheet told me to go to Parkway which evoked images of the Parkways I have known: Bronx River Parkway, Saw Mill Parkway, etc. Though they are park-like with an abundance of trees, they are not a place for a bicycle. But once again, I trusted my cue sheet and turned down Parkway to find that it was a 25 mph-posted street with no cars on it.

I ended the ride much like I had started it; I headed for the coffee shop to change and grab a bit to eat. But this time, the smile on my face was from the accumulated experiences and scenery gained on the route.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Bike and Bus Ride

biking on the bus

I love an adventure and two modes I use for exploring is bicycle and bus. I set off from North Seattle on my bike heading north and east on a route I found using google (who would have ever thought it would come to this – computers telling us where to go). I rode through Hamlin Park which I had heard of but had never been to. It was beautiful forest and the park road becomes a paved trail at the eastern end. Well, it may be paved, but it is full of bumps and lumps, narrowing as it goes. I managed to get out of there just as I was thinking it wasn't such a good idea after all. But then came the descent toward Lake Washington and the smile came back to my face.

I continued along the lake, then turned north on a route toward Mill Creek that I had only just learned earlier in the week on a Cascade ride. Of course, I added a scenic interlude to make things more interesting, but soon was rolling into Main Street Mill Creek. Somehow, I resisted stopping at Spotted Cow Coffee, the best coffee north of Seattle, instead continuing east. It was a consolation gift to be on the smooth, low-traffic roads of Mill Creek that encircle the golf club.

Next, I worked my way down toward Broadway to head south. On the way, I was honked at (what year is this – I thought drivers got over that in the 90s) and passed very closely. I kept my hands and fingers to myself, but made a mental note to change the route to avoid that section. When I got to Broadway, there was construction to repair the road surface which meant that the surface was currently far from ideal. However, because of the work, traffic was stopped some distance behind me and so I had the road to myself. I rode up to a flagger while the traffic ahead of me was stopped and he reported that I was the nth cyclist he'd seen that day. He asked me how far I had ridden and when I told him (at that point it was 30), he confessed that he had a strong desire to ride more but for now he would have to be happy with rides with his kids on bmx bikes. I was sent on my way with wishes for a safe ride, which would come in handy in not too long.
Doggy Haven Resort

It was on Paradise Lake Road, normally a serene rolling road in the country that I redeemed those good wishes. All of them. I may have used them for double their face value. While it may be a lightly traveled road on the weekend, during the week it was transformed into a terrifying torrent of trucks. Between the good wishes and my pink jersey which screams "I'm a Girl!", I was somehow granted safe passage, making it to Bear Creek Road without a scratch, though definitely shaken.

Luckily, the worst of the ride was over and then the only worry was finding my way to downtown Redmond. My cue sheet told me to turn on an avenue that didn't seem to exist. Yes, I still use cue sheets. Normally, in this part of the cycling universe, I am with a group known as Goosebumps which has very skilled leaders who know all the secret passageways, allowing me to just follow along blindly. Maybe I have been a bit too blind because I went through Tuscany (neighborhood with huge homes, manicured lawns and 2-car garages), came out the other end at The Hedges (even larger homes with 3 or 4-car garages) and knew I was in the wrong place. I consulted my phone's map and headed back, still with no conclusion. Just as I thought I would never get out of that suburban maze, I decided to go for it and roll down a trail in the forest. Voila! I had escaped to ride in the country once more and was on my way, making it to Redmond's quaint downtown in no time.
secret passageway

I rolled up to the Transit station, checked the schedule and saw that I had about ten minutes until my coach came. Yes, a fancy coach; the eastside gets a better transit option with cush seats for a cyclist's tush, luggage rack and even overhead reading lights. Not bad for paying a mere $3.00. In no time, I had loaded my bike and was enjoying another kind of ride.