Before I went to bed, I secured the rain fly … but apparently not taut enough: the wind flapped it around most of the night. Initially I ignored the arrhythmic flapping with my iPod set to “mellow.” That worked fine as long a I was sleeping on my back. As soon as I turned to the side, I realized how painful ear buds could be. Suffice to say, I didn’t sleep soundly until just before it was time to get up.
The rain fly remained attached to the tent, but it was soaked. Instead of packing my stuff up right away, I held out hope that the rising sun would do… something… to make it less wet. I headed out for breakfast.
Rod and Dale, two members of the Green River Riders who also both speak reverently of John, were already in the serving line. Behind them was a deep-voiced, grizzly-looking cyclist making hilarious observations like:
If this was a Cascade Ride, you’d be limited to half a Clif Bar.
Lo, it was Leo “No Turn Left Unstoned” Stone, whom I’ve known from the sheer reputation (and the Cascade Forums). Today was going to be fun!
When I was done exploring the breakfast implementation of the knapsack problem, I joined them at the table. It’s a little hard eating when Leo’s around… because he’s a character. He also let us know that the first rest stop would be serving Breakfast: The Sequel. Good eating is a RAPSODY theme.
The sun was warming up the campsite nicely. I changed into my cycling stuff and started packing things in duffel bags. My sleeping bag had absorbed a lot of water, but as it’s from the pre-Cambrian era, and made from a magic material renowned for its ability to eventually air out, I wasn’t too worried. The rest of the tent was pretty wet. The best I could do was to shake out the big drops and carefully roll it back into its stuff-sack. (As soon as I got home, I set it up in the backyard to air out. By Wednesday, it was dry. Now I need to seam-seal.)
As prophesied by Leo, the Lacey Food Stop was well-stocked with a variety of delicious foods. My favorite: the handful of donut holes. I packed a sub-critical mass of blueberries into the yogurt and granola cups. Before leaving, I also grabbed a couple of fistfuls of pretzels to munch on the rest of the ride.
A lot of the photos I took Sunday — and haven’t uploaded — are variations of the theme: “look at the tree-lined road” or “check out this tree-lined hill” or “hey, it’s a tree-lined highway.” You really get spoiled riding out here.
They tried to keep us off the US 101 as much as practical. There’s an ample shoulder, so I didn’t think it was too bad. Later on, though, we’d be routed on a couple of miles of Interstate 5. I remembered this from Claire’s post. The couple of miles wasn’t too bad because the weigh station was closed, however I’m not sure I’d want to spend much more time on the freeway. It’s kind of the same thing with I-90 — I’ve taken it up to Snoqualmie Pass, but now that I know of alternate routes, I’ll ride those instead.
After a big cloverleaf into Dupont, we circled around Fort Lewis. This was the least scenic part of the route, and also the hardest because of the chip seal‘s uncanny ability to make a flat section of road feel like miserably slow.
The waterfront near Steilacoom was a nice change of venue from Fort Lewis. I enjoyed a cup of coffee while watching the planes fly in and out of Tacoma Narrows Airport.
Back on the road, I was going through a pretty series of streets in University Place when another cyclist did a full turn in a traffic circle. I briefly flirted with the idea of doing the same to be a smart-aleck. The guy, whose name I don’t remember, saw my rider bib and wanted to chat. He hoped to ride RAPSODY, but had to attend a wedding in the afternoon, so instead, he was out getting some miles in before going. We chatted for the next several miles about the various events we’ve done. This was a great way to pass the time.
The last few miles back to Tacoma Community College were an odd set of zigs and zags through not-so-good industrial areas and quiet residential neighborhoods.
Stats: 166.5 miles in 12:08 on the bike, 1:33 mulling around rest stops. Ascent depends on what you want to believe. The ride brochure said it’s about 9,000, split between both days. (Actually, day 1 was more/harder.) My GPS’ barometric altimeter (right) counted 6,330. When the same data was imported into Garmin’s crappy software, it says it’s 7,343. The online service, MotionBased, says it’s 8,750, though it has also credited me for mileage ridden on Hood Canal (aka “the ferry system”). SportTracks says 2,600 — which is clearly bogus. Given how noodly my legs felt during commuting this week, I’m inclined to go with the largest number. So there.
Summary: I’m glad I went — it is definitely a ride for riders run by riders. Great food, enthusiastic volunteers (except that cookie guy at the end who insisted on using tongs), and a delicious way to spend two days on a bike. If my schedule permits next year, I’d like to do it again, especially as they’ll be altering the route to exclude the ferry portion.