I’ve been out of town so much this month… my bike mileage is way, way off.
However, work convention and Suth’n family reunions are done. I’m back, and on the bike. Today’s commute was sweet for all the reasons along that reasoning, but even sweeter as it was gorgeously sunny on the ride home today. In the morning it was darn brisk and started raining at one point, but I’ll take the afternoon.
With nice summer-like weather in Seattle, however, there is a price. And that price is all the freaks come out on the old Burke Gilman. Suddenly the area seems overrun with geezers flying along on their OCLV Treks wearing no helmet in favor of a head/sweat band and RayBans, thinking they’re all Bernard Hinault an’ such, all brittle bones and ego, taking affront at anyone who would dare pass them, spinning their pale legs in their ancient Sidis on their ancient Bianchi just as fast as they can, holding their breath the whole time. I think it’s kind of cute!
Here’s a nice picture of the ’57 Chevy my dad is restoring in Tenn-uh-see:
...but the levy was dry
The lad has a bottomless pit of PTO hours, so he went to Tennessee, though for some inexplicable reason he did not go to Dollywood. Turns out the timing of this solitude was pretty perfect, as it was a super draining week and by the end of Friday, I was so peopled out that I could barely string a sentence together. Since stringing sentences together is how I make a living, this was a problem, and I knew the only solution was a long ride to recharge. I chose the Lake Washington Loop so I wouldn’t have to worry about navigating, and also because I knew the poor bike-deprived lad would get jealous if I went somewhere new and exciting. But I decided to make this ride seem new and exciting by stopping to explore some of the spots we usually buzz right by. Like that little waterfront park in Mercer Island:
Which I now know has a public bathroom. This is really good information to have, as this is the 20-ish mile mark from our house. After that I went through the Mercer Slough. There are so many pretty spots in and around this city, and I think this section of the Slough is one of the prettiest. All the weathered wood, and the explosion of GREEN that seems on the verge of overtaking everything. There’s this one section where the boardwalk curves one way and the overpass curves another, and that combination of curves is so visually perfect it shocks me every time. Usually I fly through here, but this time I stopped and sat on one of those weathered benches:
See those berries growing in the background? They were delicious, even though they were growing in the shadow of the freeway:
So I sat and ate some berries, took in all the green and listened to the birds, and a steady stream of cyclists blew by at top speed, and it started to feel like the whole world was fast-forwarding and I was moving in slow motion, and it felt really really good. I could have stayed there all day. I don’t know, maybe I did? Eventually I got going again and made my way to the Sammamish River Trail. There was some kind of kayak race going on, so I hung out under an overpass for awhile to watch:
As you can see from the picture, the racing action was kinda slow. But the scenery was lovely, until I turned around and saw this troubling piece of propaganda:
lousy Canadian vandals!
I, for one, am sick to death of this incessant sunshine. Can’t take the heat. Blazing skies, 70 degrees, fragrant spring breezes… I mean summer breezes. I’ve had enough! Bring back the Autumnal drizzle, anything but this unbearable hotness of being.
Joking aside – today rocked. Sunshine in the morning, sunshine in the evening, sunshine in my vitamins?!?! Well, at least Vitamin D. SurlyLady rode her Jamis in. Did I happen to mention it weighs half what the Trucker does? She pulled her startled antelope trick on me both on the in- and e-gress routes today and it was all I could do to keep my panniered personage up. But the good news, training and fitness wise, is that I was able to do so. I’m feeling pretty good.
That’s it. Not much to say other than today was one of those commute days where I just caught myself smiling every ten minutes or so, just for the sheer joy and enjoyment of the nice weather. Please oh please let summer be here o-fficialy!
It was cold and grey on the way in today, but then, yay, sort of brightened up on our ride home! And then, this:
It’s been awhile, but I think that’s sunshine! Which is very exciting! I don’t want to get my hopes up just yet, but maybe we’ll see some summer around here after all. This guy is very happy to hear it:
Oh, I forgot to mention, my new obsession. No, it’s not from Calvin Klein. Although, I do looooooove my new underwear. So does Cooper, the chewy/snapper pup.
Where was I?
Oh yes. My new obsession. The Tour Divide! This link takes you to the current leader board (they have GPS-tracking for all the racers, how cool is that?). I think there are three Seattle-area riders this year. I’m DEFINITELY gonna have to do this some year. If not next summer then the following.
2745 miles on dirt and gravel roads from Banff Alberta to Antelope Wells New Mexico.
Oh boy oh boy oh boy!
Surlylady has turned in her STP ticket. We both had to miss Flying Wheels (KonaLad and JamisLad went and had lovely times). I’ve barely done any training rides. For the life of me I can’t seem to get out there. I’ve been fiddling with all different kinds of bars, stems, seat adjustments, etc. Building up a new bike, still in nascent/skeletal format because I haven’t had time to spend on it. Had to go to Las Vegas for work (as part of the world’s 1346th oldest profession as I like to tell folks). I go to Tennessee for 6 days this week for a family reunion which, with my clan, means nearly a week of amazing barbecue and other delectables. I’m starting a new job-ish this Monday. My midriff hurts from a killer abdomen/core session at the gym the other day. My dogs won’t come near me because I stink. I can’t mow the yard well. I’m a terrible investor and have no idea how much money is in any of our accounts as I write this. I can’t seem to finish a book – well I did finish Bitter Seeds the other day, and am making good progress on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (airport spur-of-the-jacket-caught-my-eye-moment). (Speaking of Bitter Seeds there’s a jacket blurb along the lines of Alan Furst meets Alan Moore… and while it’s not quite that good (Furst is wonderful!) it is lots of fun and a nice page turner).
And yet with all of this I decided to shave my beard off today! Whoa nelly it’s a weird sensation. I’ve had that thing for, gosh… 15 years? Some of those gray hairs in my chin area had definitely reached tenure. And my face has changed it seems, or maybe the contrast is still so sharp I can’t tell what’s what.
But back on to bike news. The ‘Lady and I went out this morning with all intentions of putting in a century but alas it wasn’t to be. We turned around at Marymoor Park (were gonna reprise the Flying Wheels route) due to saddle issues (she’s trying out a new WTB Deva saddle). However! I do take heart because the Poprad was feeling pretty darn good. I put on those used Salsa Bell Lap bars a couple of weeks back and this was my first chance to check it out. I really like those bars. The 42cm width is so much better than the 44cm Bontragers they replace. I think I have a few tweaks to make to the brifters and I’m set for STP. The saddle-to-bar height differential, though still much worse than ideal, is still no worse than most bikers. In fact I’m sure most would laugh at my concerns. I’m going to just have to trust that Ibuprofen and determination will overcome neck pain, that and targeted work in the gym. Overall I’m so much more flexible than I used to be – there was a time when I could barely ride on a road bike. Given that, I’m definitely more limber in leaning over.
So, equipment list is just about set: same bike with the same saddle, seatpost, tires and tubes (literally) and even original Bontrager stem (kind of funny with all the twiddling I been doing) from last year’s STP. New wheelset and bars. Kinda funny how things come full circle. I’ll even carry the same Carradice bag as last year, as it’ll have enough room for the essentials but doesn’t weigh that much. As for conditioning, I just have to hope it’s truly mostly mental at this point and that I’m in good enough shape to get through it. I will plan on a long-ish century-ish ride about two weeks out from STP before tapering.
On the Vaya front, my new plan is to focus on getting it built up in time for the High Pass Challenge and RAPsody.
And also… for the upcoming SurlyLad Invitational Gravel Grinder, set for early October-ish!
If you’re heading down the Burke anytime soon, beware the dive-bombing crows by Matthews Beach. They must have a nest nearby—they were out for biker blood today!