stp: part 2

Ok, so aside from the charitable/good works/Lori’s a noble person business, this is what really happened last weekend when we all decided to ride our bikes too far:

Friday, July 13th 2012-
I guess more reasonable people than me actually read the email notices we’d been getting from the Cascade Bicycle Club regarding all things STP; how to prepare, when to collect your check-in materials, the fact that you could have your bike and helmet numbers sent to you ahead of time, etc.  Well,  I didn’t really bother to do that and as a result needed to be in Seattle at REI downtown on Friday night by 7pm.  This wouldn’t have been much of an issue except that Alissa and I had to get to Seattle by way of Kennewick so we could pick up our chauffer, my Mom.

Whatever.  We got out of town by noon, to Tri-Cities by 2:00, were fed and watered by 2:30 and on our way to Seattle.  Traffic in Seattle caused a small panic in the back of my head but that was a waste of energy because we totally made it to REI with ten minutes to spare and even ran into some of our teammates while checking in.  Plus, due to traffic, we got a lesson on entropy and how everything tends toward chaos, or something like that.  Science.  I was totally listening except not really because I was busy dwelling on how hungry I was, when we’d get to the hotel to take naps, and whether or not Alissa was serious about  how she would be crying by that time the next day from sitting in a saddle for 130+ miles.

After dinner at Buca di Beppo, we checked into our hotel in Bellevue around 9:30, had minor issues trying to navigate the parking garage, but eventually made it to our room.  I’m pretty sure I feel asleep right away but I get the impression that Alissa just sat there waiting for dawn to come.

Saturday, July 14th 2012: STP Day One –
About the time fun people with interesting lives were going to bed from Friday night’s escapades, we were getting up to start our day.  The plan was to meet our team at the U-Village Starbucks at 5am.  Unfortunately for us in Bellevue, the 520 bridge was closed so it took us a bit longer to drive down to I-90 and back up to the U-District.  We totally beat Lori there, and there was no way things would get started without her so we were good to go.

After coffee and bagels, Mom snapped a picture of us while we were still friends just in case things didn’t turn out so well at the end of our 130 mile day.  Oh no wait, at that point we still thought it was 137 miles.  I wouldn’t want to minimize anyone’s sufferings from that day.  Here’s us being real cute before any saddle sores happened:

Right after this shot, we rode .75miles to the starting line and stood there waiting about ten minutes before they let us go.  While we waited to get going, the starting line marshalls asked Lori what our group was all about, and I’m still really glad they picked her because I would’ve been all, “Uhh, we’re from Spokane and we like healthcare and people getting it.”  Which I’m sure would’ve added huge amounts of credibility to the way people from Spokane are already perceived by West-siders. At 7am they let us loose and our trek began.

The first 20 or so miles through and out of Seattle were great!  Around mile seven some guy rode by, turned to look back at me and said, “Ariel?!”  Umm, no sir but it’s nice to see you too.  At mile 23 we made it to our first free food stop, hosted by the Renton REI.  Free Odwalla’s!  Also, I saw Andrew Isaacson at that stop, which was obviously the last time I’d see him on this whole trip due to the fact that he’s too fast to keep up with.  It was pretty overcast most of the time, but not raining and for that I am very thankful still.  Since we had more than a century left in front of us, Alissa and I pounded our Odwallas, bagels, and bananas and immediately got back on the road.

My general plan for this entire ride was to sit right behind Alissa the whole way and pray for no flats and/or tears.  Also to use her for drafting purposes so I didn’t have to do any work.  My beautiful plan sort of failed though because somewhere around our halfway mark, I got a flat front tire and in the time it took us to fix it we got passed by a bunch of people we had just spent an hour passing before.  Ugh.

Now it’s been too long and I don’t really remember what happened after the flat.  We rode on a trail for a while, and stopped at a gas station for snacks.  At that gas station I got to talk to this guy who was riding a tandem with his seven year old son.  SEVEN. YEARS. OLD.  The kid was totally decked out in cycling gear too.  Amazing.

After this pit stop I figured it’d be easy riding for the rest of the day.  WRONG.  About the time I was ready to take a nap, Alissa decided it was time to ride like a bat out of hell and I seriously struggled to keep up for a while there!  After every downhill I’d have to work hard to catch up, weave in and out of less intense people, and try not to get hit by any cars.  I am proud to say that I did not cause any traffic accidents that day.  Eventually we got to Centralia and could take a break.

Centralia marked the official half-way point and looked like Tent City, but our group had another 30+ miles to go before our stopping point just after Vader.  Yes.  There is a town in Washington called Vader and I really, really hope their high school mascot wears a black cape and carries a red lightsaber.   And walks around telling everyone he’s their father.

By the time we passed Centralia it was about 2:30pm, and the weather was awesome.  Also, the field had thinned out significantly since most people were camping out in Centralia for the night (I like saying Centralia, it sounds like something from a Graeme Base book).  At this point we started to slow down but that was mostly because of rolling hills.  In the last town before our stop, Spanaway I think it was, there was a fairly serious hill out of town.  I forgot to downshift and wobbled at bit at the top but totally saved it, plus no one saw it happen so I count that as a win.

After that last hill we still thought there were 10 or so miles to go, but thankfully we started seeing PACT Project signs much sooner and found Lori’s family waiting for us at the bottom of the long driveway hill.  With our bikes loaded into the trailer, we got a ride from Lori’s cousin through the rainforest to Edward Cullen’s house.  For real, they might be vampires.  Or maybe they just live near vampires.  Anyway, we were the second to arrive but Jeff had left again in a truck to go pick up lost PACT members.

After getting all cleaned up and while waiting for the others to arrive, Alissa collapsed in the grass behind the house.  Then one of Lori’s little cousins came running by and asked what was wrong with her.  I laughed, because I’m such a nice friend.  And I’m re-telling what happened because I’m an extra nice friend.  I considered waiting for everyone else to show up before starting dinner, but as soon as we were told it was ready I forgot all about everyone else and stuffed my face instead.  SO HUNGRY.  That was probably one of the best dinners of my life.

I don’t really remember what happened after eating.  Probably visited with some people, and I remember Becky telling me she’d be addressing me as “27” from that point on, then I ate seven cookies, but mostly I just remember crawling into my sleeping bag and then all the sudden it was 6:00am.  Booo.  Breakfast was excellent, however, and almost made up for the fact that I had to be awake.  I found some coffee, and that made the number two happen so I was totally ready to go after that.

Sunday, July 14th 2012-
We all got a ride back down the longest driveway ever to the road where STP-ers from Centralia were already on the move.  Getting back in the saddle that second day wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great either.  I suppose you could say that things were “sensitive” at that point.  Whatever, it was only a 74 mile day and compared to the previous day, that should be a piece of cake.

My two favorite parts of the second day’s ride were the bridges.  The first one led us from Washington to Oregon, here’s a super amazing photo –

Once we were in Oregon, we rode through some small town and just before the free food stop I whipped my head around cause for sure I thought I smelled Shelby there, but no, we were just passing a Dutch Brothers.  At the free food stop I got this really excellent picture that I think totally captured the essence –

After the Town of Porta-Potties we weren’t too far from Portland, in fact I didn’t even realize we were in Portland until we crossed that last giant bridge.  What’s it called?  Not sure.  I tried to get a video of both of us crossing the bridge but mostly failed.

In Portland it sort of felt like the end would never come.  As soon as we’d get going and clipped in, we’d hit another red light and have to wait, then get going only to hit yet another red light!  Just before the last turn, a guy in a smiley face jersey warned us that there was a pretty steep uphill just before the finish so we’d want to make sure we were in the right gear beforehand.  I’m pretty sure I saw minor panic cross Alissa’s face.  Nine hundred stop lights, and one short uphill later, we finally made it to the home stretch.  Here’s some photo evidence, my favorite part is the guy with the smiley face jersey –

We made it through the finish chute, found some PACT people, plus my Mom, and a lady handing out full-body wipes.  Lord bless her.  Here’s a shot of us still being friends even after riding 204 miles together –

The ride back was mostly uneventful except for changing in the Wendy’s bathroom in Gresham, waiting ten years for gas in Umatilla, and walking in on my Dad and sister having their own Lady Gaga dance party in Kennewick.  Pee break at home, quick stop at Starbucks, and back on the road to Spokane.  Totally made it home by 9:30pm.

Good trip, I’d do it again.  2014, Aunt Keen? (Ha! Rhyme!)

stp: part 1

What. A. Ride.

So, this last weekend I was all, “Hey Alissa, wanna go ride bikes?” And she was all, “Ok yeah sure, where?”  And I was all, “Idk, like maybe from Seattle to Portland?”  And she was all like, “Uh, that sounds kind of short but whatever, I’ll go on that tiny ride with you since I don’t have anything better to do.”  Then we got on our bikes to ride 204 miles or until we got bored, whichever came first.  204 miles came first.

Really though, the story goes like this:

Sometime last year when Alissa was getting ready to climb that small hill called Mt. Adams, we went on a practice hike with this crazy lady named Lori who was planning to climb the mountain too.  She had a bell on her backpack.  We hiked around for a few hours and it turns out that even though she’s crazy, Lori is pretty cool.  She’s probably one of the most positive and engaging people I’ve ever met.  Not too long before our hike she’d been dealing with some pretty serious back problems.  By “pretty serious back problems” I mean that she couldn’t walk or stand up straight for about a year and a half.  The back problems persisted for so long because Lori didn’t have health insurance, and didn’t qualify for any state or federal help with medical bills.  Rough.

By the time we went on our hike, Lori was all fixed up because of Project Access.  Project Access is a sort of network of doctors and hospitals in Spokane County that donate their time and resources to help people in the same sitch as Lori.  Quite a few people fall into that gap where they’re working full time, but maybe their jobs don’t provide insurance or they just don’t qualify for one reason or another.  Whatever.  Project Access exists in Spokane County to help those people.  Lori found out about PA and with their help she got in to see a doctor, found out she had two ruptured discs in her lower back, then got some free surgery at Inland Neurosurgery and Spine from a doc who volunteers for Project Access.  Now she can stand upright, and walk around and everything!  Last summer she finished her master’s degree at Gonzaga, and with Alissa she climbed Mt. Adams.  Pretty fantastic, I guess.

A few months later, sometime last December, Lori got it in her head to start a group that fundraises for Project Access.  I don’t know, maybe she thought it’d be a good idea to give back to the peeps who had helped her out so much.  That would make sense to me, except I’m more of a taker than a giver.  Anyway, Lori decided to start this non-profit fundraising group called The PACT Project.  PACT stands for Project Access Cycling Team.  I’m not sure exactly how often Lori had ridden a bike before she started this group, but whatever, she did it anyway and that December she got some people together to make this non-profit happen.  Lori decided that PACT’s first team event would be the Seattle to Portland Classic, a 204 mile ride from the University of Washington in Seattle, to Holladay Park in Portland, Oregon.

I don’t care what Alissa says to the contrary, sometime around December when Lori had announced this audacious goal, Alissa emailed me and said, “If I’m going to be a part of this group you’re going to have to support me by participating.”  I mean, I had just told Alissa what my new year’s resolutions for 2012 were, and riding the STP was one of them, but that is beside the point.  I guess the real point is that Lori had asked Alissa to be part of PACT, then I got an invite since I’m cool too, and at that point we were pretty much committed.

All through the winter and spring time this year, PACT’s leadership spent an incredible amount of time organizing and planning fundraisers which they pulled off with success and were able to raise just over eight thousand dollars in support for Project Access.  And just because this first ride is over doesn’t mean that PACT is.  I’m pretty sure Lori is just nuts enough to keep this going for years to come.  Which makes sense because we have official jerseys now, can’t just wear those things once.  We’re lifetime members for life.



I’ve already told this story a million times but forgot to post it and really, the internet needs to know about this one.

A couple weekends ago on Saturday morning around 7:00am, Staci and I went for what I hope is our last outdoor ride this season.  It was cold.  Not just regular cold, but like feet-swelling-in-the-shower-after cold.

We rode down to the Fish Lake trail and freezingly made our way over I-90.  Just after the bridge I could see something obstructing the trail ahead.  We got closer and saw that it was two people, a man and a woman (I think), two bikes, an overturned bike trailer, and what appeared to be an entire tree laying across the path but was completely burned, charred, and still smoking.

Neither of the people blocking the path noticed us, even when we were just feet away from them.  The dude was talking animatedly about what happens when you’re on different types of drugs and the woman was standing there catatonic, swaying slightly back and forth.  It was sad.

I looked and Staci (we’re still riding our bikes) and she said to just keep going.  So I did.  Right over the burning coals.  As I was crossing and praying my tires would hold up so we wouldn’t be stuck in the middle of nowhere with these people, the man’s dog started chasing me!  Not in a growly way, it was more of a “please get me away from these people and lets play” kind of chase.

That’s when the dude finally noticed us.  I watched him look up after Staci rode over the smoking log coals and he yelled to us, “SORRY YA’LL!  DON’T MIND US!  WE’RE JUST BUSY DROPPIN’ ACID OVER HERE!”

I immediately turned my head to hide my laughter because it really wasn’t funny at all, the whole situation was just creepy and sad.  But that’s when things got awesome.

Staci’s immediate response to the guy?  “Oh.  Well, BE CAREFUL!!”

I’m still laughing about it.  Be careful.  HA!  The rest of the ride was freezing and not nearly as entertaining as the first two miles had been.  We did see one runner and tried to warn him about the trail block ahead but apparently he had already witnessed this acid-dropping duo and wasn’t concerned about it.  Maybe we should’ve told him to be careful.  Also, HOW LONG had they been there that this runner guy had already seen them that morning?  Like I said, it was sad.  But maybe their activities kept them warm that night.  I don’t know.

The moral of my story is:  Staci is awesome.


crazy old lady drivers!

I’m not dead, so I suppose that’s good.  And it turns out that helmets really do work!

I hate to admit it, but I think I’ve finally found something wrong with old people.  They’re bad drivers.  Stereotyping isn’t great, so maybe it’s just this one lady who is to blame.  Riding home on my usual route tonight, some old lady slammed on her brakes and threw her car in reverse right in front of me.  Thankfully I’m paranoid and was paying attention so I didn’t actually run into her, but the sudden stop and clip in shoes/pedals mean I didn’t land so gracefully.  Also, the fact that she continued to reverse once I was on the ground was mildly heart stopping.

I am also thankful for the fact that there was a crowd of witnesses in front of the Spokane Club.  Awkward.

Just now inspected my wounds.  Blood everywhere.  I’d post a picture but Keri Barker would gross out and Mom might make me text her before every single ride.  No way, guy.

best song ever

I sat down at my computer after a half-weekend in Davenport (hooray!) and this little diddy was waiting on my facebook page.  From Rob.

REALLY WISH it would just post to this page.  Can’t figure out how to make it happen.  Computer fail.  Or more like, user fail.

When did my Dad become a recording artist?  I should get his autograph before he’s too big for this town.

things i find inspiring

1.  Amy Poehler.

2.  This blog post, click hereRight hereStill here.

3.  Riding bikes.  Actually, that might be more of a PER-spiring, instead of IN-spiring.  Whatevs.

4.  Nice weather.

5.  Harry Potter.

6.  Moms.

7.  Three-legged animals that are supposed to be four-legged animals.

8.  Good attitudes.

9.  All movies and books.  Ever.  Harry Potter.

10.  Misinforming optimism for the sake of motivation.  So pretty much anything Staci ever says to me.  I’m not complaining, I’m just stating a fact.


50+ miles and all I have are burning quads and this video to show for it.

my greatest fear

There are only two people in the world who currently know my greatest fear.  Now there will be six.  Seven, counting my one anonymous reader.

My greatest fear is… the geese.

I think it all stems from one moment in my childhood two years ago when I was taking a pleasant walk through Riverfront Park with my friend Alicia and we were accosted by 12 to 15 large geese.  Never mind that I had just tried to chase one away from some popcorn I dropped (thirty-five second rule!  I was checking texts on my phone, couldn’t be bothered to pick it up right away).  Those birds are a menace to society.  If the angry lady in To Kill a Mockingbird who yells at Scout and Jem as they walk by her house was a bird, she’d be a goose.  Only without the redemptive willpower.  Unless you count defending their own feces they leave on trails as willpower.  I don’t.

Anyway, on the Fourth of July I was riding solo and this is what it looked like.  I had to confront my worst fear all aloney on my owney:


ONE WAS SHAKING HIS HEAD AT ME!  You can’t tell because the video quality is less than excellent due to the overwhelming fear causing my hands to shake.  Also, I was on my bike… I’m not Wonder Woman.

Ok so then yesterday Staci and I went for a longer-ish ride before work and swimming lessons (swimming lessons not for me, although I should look into that sometime soon).  I have a tendency to not pay attention to anything whenever Staci’s around for running or riding because I’m 99% sure she’s got things under control.  If we pass people out exercising she’ll say hi or good morning, then ten minutes later I’ll come pedaling by and stare with dead eyes and try to make some sort of friendly gesture that usually ends with me trying not to fall face first off the bike.  The funny part is that the near falls are not due to lack of balance, I’m just trying to get someone… ANYONE to feel sorry for me so I think about crashing just so I can take a break and catch my breath.

Yesterday we ended up in a different town, and that was only HALF.WAY.  I think the disbelief and fatigue is evident in my voice.