Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Four Leaf Clovers and Fellowship

On Saturday, March 17, we celebrated St. Patrick's Day with a ride starting in Arlington known as the McClinchy Mile. Nobody is really sure how long a McClinchy Mile is, but if it's anything close to a statute mile, then we rode 47 of 'em.

The thing I liked most about this ride--and any of the rides our group does together--is the fellowship. On this particular ride, we enjoyed great conversation with a few new folks: Rick S., Kristine V., and Milan. We also had some of the regulars: Bryant, Kristin, Gary, Jay, John H. and myself. The weather was a bit cyclical (dry, wet, dry, wet, and then very wet), but during the dry periods and even during some of the rain, we had a chance to visit on the bike and really engage in interesting topics ranging from Southeast Asia (John H. spent a portion of his childhood) to how small Rick's saddle is. We always discuss which rides we plan to do this year, how our training has been so far, and what bikes we're currently longing for. But, since this is a Christian shared-interest small group, our interests that we share go well beyond just cycling.

Those shared interests center on Christ and His purposes both in our lives locally and across the globe. Several of us have a heart for foreign missions, so our conversations will drift toward upcoming missions trips (Bryant and Gary both will be in Manila, Philippines at the end of this month). Or, we may talk about a recent sermon at Eastside Foursquare Church. But, best of all, we just talk with each other, encouraging, listening, lifting up, and building up one another. "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." - 1 Thessalonians 5:11.

So, as we dried off and climbed back into our van with the heater blazing for the return trip back to Bothell, I silently thanked the Lord for good friends who not only enjoyed the same activity with me, but far more importantly, enjoyed a passionate life serving and following the same Lord with me. That's true fellowship. Don't you agree?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Heading to Expo with an Empty Backpack

If you're going to ride your bike to Bike Expo (and why would you drive... it's called "BIKE" EXPO, for crying out loud), you have to plan ahead. And to plan ahead, you must have a means to bring home your loot, swag, goodies, and other assorted cycling paraphernalia. That's why I wore an empty backpack on Saturday's ride from Eastside Foursquare Church to Warren G. Magnuson Park where Cascade Bicycle Club's 2007 Bike Expo was held. And what a wise decision that was.

Five of us gathered around 9 a.m. at EFC--Bryant, Warren, Jim, Kristin, and myself. We were ever so pleased to see Kristin again after her 5 month missions stint in Uganda, Africa. She hadn't been on a bike in as many months, yet was able to stay upright and in forward motion quite well. We all pedaled the ever-so-familiar route along the Burke-Gilman to Magnuson Park, avoiding tree roots bursting through the asphalt and keeping a wary eye open for gestapo bike cops hovering near a never-ending series of Lake Forest Park trail stop signs.

At the Expo, we received our swag-collector-kit (the big blue Group Health bag) and begin our search. I enjoy picking up brochures, fliers, and maps for out of the area rides that I might like to try. Never mind that my cycling calendar is beyond full. There's still another ride out there to try. Like the Ellensburg Manastash Metric for instance. (wait a minute while I figure out what a "manastash" is... oh, there it is. A ridge in Eastern WA near Ellensburg.) Warren's object of his lust was the Orbea ONIX TDI. We thought it would be fun for him to buy it at the Expo and then try to get both bikes home. They had to wipe the Orbea down after Warren stood near it, what with the drool and all.

The big news is that Bryant and I paid our deposit for Cascade's RAW: Ride Around Washington. Six days and 450 miles of cycling fun from Raymond to Walla Walla, WA along the Columbia River from August 4-10. Consider me fully stoked. Bryant is most likely still scratching his head wondering what he signed up for and trying to explain it to Patty, his longsuffering wife.

We also enjoyed bumping into Mike L. at the International Christian Cycling Club booth. We spent a month with him last summer riding the 3-day Courage Classic. I enjoy the ICCC booth not only because of the opportunity to chat with fellow Christian cyclists, but also because Mike hands out free Hammer gels. Thanks Mike!

After a couple of hours filling our bags, seeing riders like Ryan Leech do amazing things on a bike, and watching Warren and Jim down a nice, gooey burger, we decided to head out. I filled my backpack with all the goodies. Bryant ditched most of his swag. And Warren and Kristin rented space in Jim's backpack for the return ride for their loot. Since we had only accomplished ten short miles, we tacked on another 18 by returning to the Eastside and taking in the hills of Holmes Point/Juanita Drive loop. We finished just minutes after the rain started falling and the Pineapple Express hit town. So, no new bikes purchased, but a fun experience with cycling friends nonetheless. And a bag of cycling doodads to sort through on my kitchen table.

Distance: 27.63
Time: 2:06:57
Avg: 13.0
Max: 35.4
Temp: 50F

Monday, March 5, 2007

Heavy Rain Cancels

This Saturday marked our first ride of the season for our Eastside Foursquare Church Cycling Club. As always, I email out our ride information the week before listing the ride description, distance, where to meet, other details about the terrain and pace, and typically end with the phrase, "Heavy rain cancels." In Seattle, it's common knowledge that it's going to rain in the spring. (It's also going to rain in the summer, fall, and winter, too, but that's beside the point.) Therefore, we road riders plan to get a little wet on these early spring rides. But, we draw the line at "heavy rain." That kind of rain, that'll cancel our ride!

But why? Why cancel a ride based on the quantity and velocity of precipitation? What I discovered this past weekend is just exactly how wet you can get in "non-heavy rain."

We left Eastside shortly after 9 a.m. in a light sprinkle. Jim, Bryant, Bob T, myself, and a newbie, Larry, joined the ride. Our route took us southeast through Kirkland to the valley where we found the Sammamish River Trail to Marymoor Park. We followed Lake Sammamish Parkway counterclockwise around the lake, stopping at our usual Tully's in Issaquah. We had a 20 minute unplanned break while we introduced Larry to the nuances of tire changing and prepared riding. His circa 1982 Peugeot was riding on original equipment and we think those wheels last got new tires sometime during the Reagan Administration. In addition to giving him his shopping list for the week (tube, pump, flat repair kit, etc.), we also shared with him the tradition of buying dinner for the guy who loans you a new tube. (Don't think he bought it.)

From there, the rain and water splashing from passing traffic intensified. We were "heavy rain wet" on a "non-heavy rain" ride. Once we returned to Marymoor Park. the rain abated and we had a nice ten remaining miles back to EFC. So, the question still lingers. Why does heavy rain cancel? What are your thoughts?

Distance: 42.80
Time: 3:02:50
Avg: 14.0
Max: 28.7
Temp: 49F