Sunday, July 29, 2007


Saturday, the Mount Baker Highway opened all the way to Artist Point (elev. 5,100 feet), so I headed up from Glacier (elev. 900). Tons of cyclists on the road making their ways up and I passed by all of them and started to feel quite burly, speedy and Alberto Contador-ish. That is, until I realized that there was an organized ride today from Burlington to Mount Baker and back--150 miles. So whereas I started the final 10-mile climb with a mere 15 miles on my legs, they had about 65. But 15, 65, ... really, what's the difference?

Incredibly beautiful, as per usual. A stiff south wind which made last two miles up top feel even tougher. I wonder if the elevation gets to me there too. From the Austin Pass Visitors Center to the end, I always feel like I'm pedaling through glue.

Wasn't sure I'd be able to do it. I'd done way too much downhill running the week before and as of last Wednesday, I still could really walk down any kind of incline without my quads spasming out.

But back to how beautiful the road to Mount Baker is. It's like the tour stages in the Alps. I guess I can see why Bicycling magazine didn't list it as one of the top 100 climbs in the country. I'm sure there're 100 better than it.

Monday, July 16, 2007


Saturday was my longest bike ride ever--204.5 miles. Roughly from Seattle to Portland. Actually, exactly from Seattle to Portland because that's where the awesome Jim Robbins and I rode. Along with about 8,998 others. We were among some 2,000 who did it in one day; the rest rode both Saturday and Sunday.

It was long, yes; oddly, not terribly scenic with much of the 50-mile Oregon section qualifying as downright skanky-looking, and the food and drink never quite what we were looking for. (Jim's disgust with the Ultima replenishment drink was downright hilarious.) Still, it was an amazing experience and one I'm super glad I did.

My favorite part was the variety of other riders. From no-nonsense, ultra-serious, matching-jersey types to how shall I say, large-ish folks reclining in recumbents and who appeared to be going backwards on the Puyallup hill, to several dudes on single-speed beach cruiser bikes attempting to ride 200-plus miles in one day. I'd be hard pressed to ride the three miles to Fairhaven on one of those things. Our favorite was the 20-something kid riding a cruiser bike on which he'd installed aero bars. We even saw one guy trying to do STP on a skateboard.

Something we're curious about. On a particularly sketchy, high-traffic area, we saw EMT folks aiding a rider who was lying on the ground, face down and not moving at all. Something bad happened but we've not heard anything about it. Read in the paper today about one rider getting clipped by a driver just outside Portland. Eeek!

Stats: 11:36 of riding time; 17.7 mph. Woke up at 3:15 a.m. Riding (in Seattle) by 5:05 a.m.; finished (in Portland) at about 7:10 p.m. Back to Seattle and Jim's brother-in-law's place (we took a bus) at 12:15 a.m.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


What we done was goed campin' with the Robbins family, this time to Manning Park, in lower British Columbia. It was Independence Day, it was, and being how Belling ham on the 4th tends to sound like Baghdad, we opted to head north. Where there was nary a snap, crackle or a pop, and our campground boasted flush toilets and free hot showers. As I once saw Kirk Cameron say on TV in reference to the Ice Capades (I believe), "It just doesn't get any better than this."

So ... there's Jim on the top of Frosty Mountain, our objective on a truly spectacular alpine hike that ended up being about a mile north of the U.S.-Canada border. In fact every peak you can see in that south-looking pic is in the U.S. The summit is a hair under 8,000 feet and the total hike was about 16 miles. The photo below is the final 300- foot push to the summit.

Just below that is Deb and Emma Robbins set in artistic blur just behind some Western Pasque Flowers. Finally, Emma and Bake made some new friends while swimming in the icy waters of Lightning Lake--William and Paul from Ladner, B.C. (Remember the days when kids had names like William and Paul? And Mike? And Jennifer? And Deb? And Jim?)

This Saturday, Jim and I are set to tackle STP--Seattle to Portland in one day. Two hundred miles. My plan is to let Jim do all the work for the first 198 miles until we get to the base of the Col de Columbia River Bridge when I will take command, dance on the pedals in a most immodest fashion and bring glory to our team. I will wait til after we're finished to inform Jim that 1) it's not a race, and 2) we're not part of any team.

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

So we're off to Manning Provincial Park for a couple days, camping with the highly esteemed Robbins family. Or, as I like to say, Robbins 8th and Walnut, for those of you who have ever heard those radio ads on Philadelphia's WMMR or WYSP for some diamond place. Alas, I digress.
Above, the boy Baker is on the warning track at Seattle's Safeco Field. What a day a couple Sunday's ago! A free Raul Ibanez cap, some kind of family parade wherein we got to walk on the field, Ken Griffey Jr. hits two bombs, the Mariners pull off a suicide squeeze, and J.J. Putz comes in an closes it out. A great time.
Because of my high fear quotient, I've kind of backed off from the bike racing a tad. I'm still riding a lot and riding hard, doing the Donut Ride on Saturdays, but I'm taking my introduction to the sport a little more slowly. No criteriums. I'll try the Nooksack Omnium. Again, no criteriums. Mount Baker Hill Climb. Maybe the Crystal Mountain Time Trial if I don't head to Penticton, B.C., to sign up for Ironman Canada. No criteriums. (Did I mention that?) STP in couple weeks. Maybe this crazy ride from Burlington to Artist Point and back--150 miles with some 6,000 feet elevation gain. But I repeat, no criteriums.