rsvp (ride from seattle to vancouver and party)

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It’s a two-day 200-mile bicycle ride sponsored by the Cascade Bicycle Club. Liz and I took it on.

Highlights from Day 1

Just north of Seattle, near Woodinville, there is a mighty hill. One portion reaches a 7.3% grade according to the gps map provided. Oof. There were between 3,500 and 3,900 feet of elevation gained that day.

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7.3% grade

Centennial Trail

Centennial Trail

At Arlington we reached the blissfully flat Centennial Trail, though we were completely soaked with rain on this portion of the ride.

Somewhere that day, two adult deer and one fawn crossed a road in front of us. They approached a fairly high fence, paused, and became amazingly airborne; folded their legs and sailed over the barrier like brown paper airplanes and vanished.

Bicyclist fun: Once I made a right turn onto a road and immediately stopped my bike because I was unsure if the turn was correct. A group of a six or eight riders came up from behind and followed me around the turn, assuming that I was on the right path. By the time I figured out that this was the wrong way, my followers had disappeared in the distance and there was nothing I could do for them.

South of Bellingham is the lovely Chuckanut Drive. A more beautiful stretch of road cannot be found. It climbs up along the coast through dense trees and offers fantastic views of Samish Bay and Lummi Island. Too bad there was little room for cyclists on the shoulder. I tried to stay on the right edge of the road as I ground up the hills while cars rumbled past, It was nerve-wracking.

On this stretch I passed one cyclist lying in a ditch with several people gathered to help him. Don’t know what happened. The danger-miles stretched on, and at one point I told Liz, “You know, this a simultaneously a beautiful road and a never-ending uphill cycling nightmare.” She quickly agreed.

Much later we finally rolled down and out of Chuckanut and into Bellingham. 104 miles that day. Hotel. Ice was applied to knees. Mediocre Thai food ordered.

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Knee therapy

Highlights from Day 2

The bike club provides food, water, and repairs at intervals each day. A major food stop was in Lynden, Washington, a town that likes Dutch windmills. That’s where I met two dogs riding along with us.

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Canine travelers

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Two riders contemplate the remaining miles

We passed through Langley, British Columbia and stopped for a hearty lunch of energy bars in Derby Reach Regional Park.

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Langley

Outside of Vancouver we circled up a long spiral ramp to reach the deck of the immense Golden Ears bridge, which got us over the Fraser River.

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Golden Ears

There was a food stop at a park (Port Moody, I think). A band played in the park down by the inner reaches of Vancouver Harbor. Then we rode the shoulder of Barnett Highway, which might as well have been an interstate – cars and trucks whipping by at highway speeds. That was unnerving. We next cruised through multiple suburban neighborhoods and arrived at the Vancouver city limit – still 8-10 miles from the finish.

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The end of pedaling is in sight

Finally winding our way into downtown, we snaked along Sunset Beach Park, dodging pedestrians, skaters, and kids on tricycles. Turning off the beach and into the city, the end of the line was near. We don’t need no stinkin’ finisher’s badge, but here it is.

It is finished.

It is finished.

what’s a few miles between friends?

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So I’ve been bicycling my butt off to get ready for the RVSP (Ride from Seattle to Vancouver & Party), which is just two weeks away. The ride was supposed to be 106 miles the first day and 82 miles the second day.

Recently the organizers sent an update email. After the big cheery RVSP banner, the mail had one article about documentation at the Canadian border and another about a new route due to road construction at the border.

New route, eh? I looked closer, and down in the second paragraph it says, “The new route will add 17 miles to your Day 2 ride …” Dang! If I survived the first day, I was counting on:

  1. A miracle wind at my back to push me the rest of the way to B.C.
  2. A bite by a radioactive spider that would give me the proportional strength of cycling spider.
  3. A geological transformation that makes the landscape all downhill from Bellingham to Vancouver.

These events aren’t likely, and now there are 17 more miles. The organizers should not have stuck this news in the latter part of an email like an after-thought. Also, I should be in better shape.

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