Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Daffodils and Dessert

Some cycling events are all about the ride--you look forward to the scenery, the route, the small towns, or the terrain. And then some cycling events are all about the finish line dessert. The Daffodil Classic was just such a ride.

Today's ride began in Orting, known most recently for a potentially sabotaged city water supply that was deemed safe just days before the ride. For the geographically challenged, Orting is southeast of Puyallup and Sumner and lies in the quiet foothills of Mount Rainier. On a clear day, the views of Rainier from this growing town are breathtaking. On a day like today, the views are best described like this..."Well, Mount Rainier is somewhere around there." So, the clouds and gray skies ruled out that this would be a scenic ride.

The rain came and went and came back again for the first two-thirds of our route. Oh, the route... actually the route was pleasant enough with plenty of rollers, valleys, and winding backroads. However, this ride wouldn't be about the route for two primary reasons.

1) Darn Henrys. If you're a cyclist, you're thinking I just printed a typo. A "Dan Henry" is a symbol painted on the roadway indicating where a cyclist should turn or go straight. A "Darn Henry" (revised slightly for a family audience) is what we got. These were painted in the smallest possible size and painted exactly 6 inches before the turn. This created a riding experience something like this: "We're riding along... riding along... nice horses... nice barn.... TURN RIGHT!!!!!!!!!!! NOW!!!!!!!"

2) Chip and Seal: Cobblestone's evil cousin. About 90% of our road surface was chip and seal, which is about one step above gravel. This gave us a perpetual full body massage as we bounced along the teeth-chattering route.

I suppose the ride might be noted for the small towns. Eatonville is a handsome little community. As we passed the Assembly of God church just letting out, it made me wonder what it would be like to pastor in a community where you likely did know everyone who lived there. And I suppose the ride might be memorable for the terrain. Sweeping valley descents, nice long climbs, shady forests, and up-and-down rollers made this ride an occasional thrill. But if it's thrills we're going to talk about, then I have to mention Warren.

Cary, Bryant, Kristin, and I all had a sizable laugh--in fact we were in stitches--at what happened to Warren on this ride. When the sun began peeking through a little hole in the clouds, Warren was really ripping up this ride. Among this crowd of cyclists, he was really sticking out in front. I admire him for his boldness and transparency. He's a bigger man than me!

So, while this ride wasn't about the scenery, the route, the small towns, or the terrain, it was certainly about the friendship (and getting to know some friends better in a most unexpected way), but it was all about the dessert. At the conclusion of our 62 miles, was a well-earned strawberry spongecake dessert that went from my dish to my tummy almost as fast as Bryant descended that last hill.

Yes, this ride was all about the dessert--not the best dessert ever, nor even the best dessert this week, but it was a well-deserved dessert and well-earned dessert and sometimes that's what a ride is all about.

Dist: 62.93
Time: 4:11:37
Avg: 14.9
Max: 37.1

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Eastside Office

This is a bit of an "off-topic" post, but for those of you who enjoy The Office on NBC and know a few of our Eastside Foursquare Church staff, you might be entertained by our in-house version of the show... "The Eastside Office." The episode comes in two parts, so be sure to watch Part Two upon the conclusion. Enjoy.

And here is PART TWO...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Following the Red Brick Road

This weekend's ride began at Eastside Foursquare Church amid gray skies, but relatively little precipitation. Johnny D. and Bob T. showed up for the departure as we dropped down to the Sammamish River Trail. We dodged a plethora of "Team in Training" runners as we headed to 124th and climbed over the hill to Avondale and continued east toward W. Snoqualmie Valley Rd.

Before we made the turn north to Old Woodinville-Duvall Rd., Bob T. had determined in his heart one of two things: 1) he knew exactly where he was going 2) he had no idea where he was going, but he was in front and was making great time. We made the turn without him, left him a voicemail with his correct route, and then reminded him when we saw him again: "If you think you're a leader, look behind you. If there's no one following you, you're just taking a walk!"

Jay B. joined us as we turned south along W. Snoq. Valley Rd. toward Redmond. The weather was improving and this was my first time this year riding out near the Duvall/Carnation valley. Lush green pastures and old, rustic barns makes this area one of my favorites for late spring and early summer rides. I'll be back out here again.

After climbing up Ames Lake-Carnation Rd. and dropping onto Rt. 202, we picked up our pace toward the featured stretch of road for this route: The Red Brick Road. This historical road contains the longest stretch of exposed historic red brick highway in King County.

As the sun made its appearance and we experienced the bone-jarring vibrations of the bricks beneath us, I explained my reason for choosing this route. Sunday marks the return of the Paris-Roubaix spring classic road race over the muddy cobbled roads of France. This was our meager way to experience what more than a hundred professional cyclists will endure as they ride over 21 sections of "pave"--cobblestones--in typically horrible early spring weather. If the road conditions and teeth-rattling pave don't take you out, then one of the frequent crashes will.

As we concluded our ride upon red brick, I was pleased to hear from my companions that not only had they never ridden that stretch before, they had no idea it was there. I suppose next to the ride itself, what I enjoy most is sharing a new experience, landmark, or route with my fellow riders. We may not be in Paris, but some days it's easy to imagine.

What are your favorite little-known routes you've shared with others?

Dist: 45.14
Time: 3:10:15
Avg: 14.2
Max: 36.3

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mercer Island: Clockwise or Counter-Clockwise?

This past weekend's ride through Bellevue, across I-90, and then around Mercer Island elicited a rather interesting question. "Do you ride around Mercer Island in a CLOCKWISE direction or COUNTER-CLOCKWISE direction?"

After some brief conversation, we chose to ride clockwise. But during our ride, a few of us explored the philosophical implications of clockwise or counter-clockwise riding.

This was the Saturday morning before Easter. In Pastor Jim Hayford's previous evening's Good Friday message, he included a reference to a quote by an old cowboy, "I've seen plenty of people die and they die pretty much the same way they lived." Pastor Jim elaborated on the quote that people can die afraid, alone, angry, or confident, peaceful, expectant. For those of us in Christ, we die confident, peaceful, and expectant.

This made a few of us apply this same line of thinking toward cycling. You pretty much RIDE the same way you LIVE. Do you live clockwise or counter-clockwise?

For those who ride counter-clockwise, perhaps they are contrarian, rebellious individuals who like to fly in the face of societal norms and accepted rules of behavior. Perhaps they have some deep-seated, repressed emotions that are desperately seeking release and are played out in a "against-the-flow" bicycle ride. Additionally, on Mercer Island, the counter-clockwise direction is largely downhill. These counter-clockwise riders look for the easy way out. They are softies seeking comfort and leisure.

On the flip side (literally), those who ride clockwise, are rational, well-behaved, law-abiding and responsible citizens. These are the kind of people you smile at when they ride by. They don't mind a challenge and would gladly ride uphill, grinning all the way. They are the kind of people you'd introduce your sister to, or maybe your mother, and invite over for a slice of Boston cream pie.

So what kind of rider are you? Whether it's a ride around Mercer Island or the ride of Life, are you a respectable clockwise rider or a trouble-making, rebellious counter-clockwise rider?

(For the record, myself, Jim N., John B., Cary B., are all clockwise riders. We suspect Warren L. is a counter-clockwise rider.)

Dist: 40.22
Time: 2:59:29
Avg: 13.4
Max: 35.0