Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Click here for today's Seattle Times about the stunningly beautiful North Cascades Highway, particularly the stretch from Marblemount to Winthrop.
At the top is the wide, sweeping bend at Washington Pass, kind of the pivot point between Eastern and Western Washington. Just above is the aquamarine waters of Diablo Lake below Colonial Peak. Below is some sheriff dude in Winthrop. John Clark on a cell phone too.
(Anybody know if there's anything truth to the story that Ted Bundy, as the limo driver for Governer Stevens at the 1972 opening ceremonies, was the first person to drive across the North Cascades Highway? Seems sorta urban myth-ish.)
Looking forward to riding the highway on my bike, hopefully in the next month or so if the clavicle will allow it. Definitely one for my book.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Early Saturday, Scott Young and I headed down to Camano Island to ride the 40-mile island loop that pretty much traces the island's perimeter. (Does that make sense, or does it imply that we rode in the waters of Puget Sound surrounding the island?) Doing a bit of research for this road-biking book I'm working on.
Kind of a mellow-seeming artists' island, Camano has lots of fun roads with killer water views and leg-shredding rollers. Interesting road-side tchotchkes such as the wooden Sasquatch-mountain man dude at the top and the '50s sci-fi looking contraption that Scott's peering into below. Just above, Scott climbs the steep but short pitch out of Camano Island State Park. Whidbey Island in the background. 
Collarbone willing, I'm hoping to get out lots more in the coming weeks as I ride road routes throughout the state. Want to climb Mount Erie, ride to Sunrise at Mount Rainier, cross Washington Pass on Highway 20, and lots lots more.  

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Yesterday was seven weeks since clavicle surgery and after my 42-mile Colony Road ride astride the sleek, elegant Tarma Pro, I noticed that my scar looked a tad funky. Like reddish, hot spottish, and perhaps a little infected-looking. Me liked not that. Called my surgeon's office and luckily they were able to see me earlier this morning. Alas, nothing (prolly) to worry about. Possibly just the remains of a stitch that hasn't quite melted in. Gave me some antibiotics for whatever infection might be festering there and assured me that I didn't have to cut back on my activities or anything. Right on!

"You able to get out on your bike at all?" Dr. Bergman asked me.

"Actually, quite a lot," I answered somewhat sheepishly.

"Good, good, good," he said.

I repeat: Right on!

Last weekend it was 30 road miles on Friday, 40 road miles on Saturday, and two hours of mellow Interurban Trail mountain biking on Sunday. The back-to-back-to-back rides feel like they're bringing back but quick which I kinda need. I've just started working on a road biking book of Washington State and with my quick deadline, I need to get in a lot of road rides pretty quickly. 

I've been able to run (albeit very slowly) about four times in the last 10 days. It doesn't hurt my collarbone, but I've probably felt the repetitive arm swing motion of running (in my muscles) more than anything else since I upped my activity level about three weeks ago.

Book work and Bake being off from school means I haven't gone walking with Mellow Johnny Boy Clark for a while. But he came along last week when I drove to Winthrop for a Seattle Times story I wrote and that will be in next Thursday's paper and on the website. He took the above pic of me near Washington Pass below Liberty Bell.

We saw a lot of folks riding Highway 20 that day including Mitch and Ryan Kiesler, the below father and son duo. They'd started two days earlier in Anacortes and were taking the next 65 days to ride to Connecticut. Good for them! Mitch, the dad who will turn 50 during the ride, said his bike with all the gear they were carrying, weighed 70 pounds. Weight weenie that I am, that sounds absolutely frightening. Here's the blog they're keeping following their progress.   

And of course, here's some random stuff:
A cool waterfall near Washington Pass.

Mellow Johnny sans sling near Washington Pass.

Eleven-year-old Bake McQuaide in his improv class at the Upfront Theatre.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Today was the biggie: the six-week check-up to make sure the screws haven't popped out, the titanium plate hasn't split in two, or become twisted all a-catawampus. Also, to find out when I can run, ride a bike, lift weights, and to find out what things I shouldn't do.

All looks good, said my surgeon, Dr. Bergman of Bellingham's Pacific Rim. In the above x-rays (two separate views of the same clavicle), you can still see a crack and apparently that will be visible for some time, but everything is holding together well. He said I'm 50- to 70-percent healed which seems like a wide swath. I'm probably closer to 70 but he throws the 50 in there so I don't go overboard and start playing tackle football. I can run easily ("don't fall"), bike easily (again, "don't fall"), and lift weights, starting with 5 to 10 pounds, and working up to 25 pounds by the time I see him again at the 12-week mark in late July. He really wants me to work at getting my mobility back; he raised my injured arm almost straight over my head and while it didn't hurt at all, the idea of it just made me squeamish.

I, of course, immediately went to the Y where I ran (sorta) for the first time since late April. Felt great. I made it to a whopping 4.4 mph on the treadmil. But that's at a 6-percent incline; I figure the more uphill running I do at first, the less jarring it will be on my clavicle. So that's where I am. Pretty happy widdit.

Switching gears, yesterday I drove to Winthrop for an upcoming story I'm writing for the Seattle Times about Highway 20. John Clark went along for the ride. Here's a photo or two. 
Liberty Bell by Washington Pass
Waterfall near Washington Pass.
This is actually from last week on our hike up the Chinscraper above the Fragrance Lake Trail.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Click here for my Seattle Times story about the Fat Tire Bike Tour I enjoyed about six weeks ago in Paris.  Includes pretty cool video I shot while riding the Place de la Concorde, Tuileries Gardens and elsewhere.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010


So, five weeks out from surgery (sugary), not a whole lot new to report. It's six weeks that's the biggie--next Tuesday when I see my surgeon and he checks out the state of his handiwork, x-rays it, and hopefully gives me the OK to pop wheelies on my 29er down the mean streets of Bellingham. Shoulder feels great, I've had no real pain, and last weekend I went for a very mellow two-hour bike jaunt (flat pedals and jeans, pantlegs tucked in socks) down the Interurban to the spot where last November a tree fell upon us. But it didn't kill us, so it's a place of grace. I rubbed my collarbone on the fallen tree. Kind of for healing or positive juju or something.

As you might imagine, Mellow Johnny Boy and I talk about our surgically repaired and healing collarbones all the time. Because we're both filled with fears of things that could go wrong--our titanium collarbone plates will twist and snap, the screws loosen and fall out, we fall on that shoulder and we can't get up, etc.--it's not always a good thing. Lately, I could swear I feel an odd slant on my collarbone that I don't think was there a week or 10 days ago. Did part of the bone get yanked off the plate? I called my surgeon's office and described it to the nurse who told me I was being paranoid. There's no way it could come off, she said, and if it did, I'd be in a lot of pain. I'll guess I'll know more next Tuesday. For now, I keep fingering my scar and feeling the screwheads on the plate through my skin. (Meanwhile I read about Thor Hushovd who broke his collarbone in early May--probably about the same time I had surgery--and who is returning to racing this Sunday in the Tour de Suisse.)   

In other news, I started work on my sixth book and can proudly say that I'm two-75ths done. Feel free to pre-order now. 

Sunday, I have a story in the Seattle Times Travel section on biking in Paris. The website will have a cool video I shot of our tour group maneuvering our cruiser bikes through the Place de la Concorde. Pretty cool. I'll include the link on Sunday.

Appropo of nothing, the above photo is from a streetlight on the Champs Elysees. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


Here I am miming (somewhat) riding a bike. (One with really wide handlebars). The raised arm in the above photo is the collar bone I broke five weeks ago and underwent surgery on four weeks ago. The bone itself hasn't hurt for a while, though I've got stiffness from lack of use in that shoulder, and the idea of doing certain things--such as raising that arm above my head--makes me tentative more than any actual pain. 
I've started doing spin classes in the past week, continuing the long walks, and have done some easy easy strength training with 2- and 3-pound dumb bells. But I'm thinking that might be taking it too far right now. (What am I hoping to achieve?) So I'll back off on that at least until the six-week point, at which time I'm scheduled to see my surgeon again. 

I went for a very tame hourlong neighborhood and northside B'ham environs bike ride this past weekend. It felt super terrific and that night I read a story on about Christian Vande Velde who broke his collar bone (sixth collar bone break of his career) on May 10, had surgery a couple days later and was already up to five-hour rides. Here's  the story. 

Speaking of stories, the kooky one is that Fabian Cancellara used a motorized bike to win Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. There's even a video out that shows him shifting gears but that claims that he's actually pressing a button to turn on a motor. That's here. Personally, I don't believe it, but what I'm amazed at is that the people who are making these claims aren't also pointing to something that he actually did in each race--change bikes. At Roubaix, it was just after the Arenberg Forest when he cracked a wheel; not sure what the reason was at Flanders, but I do remember his flawless bike change when he lost no time at all. (Repeat and just to make myself clear, I think the story's BS. I'm just suprised that if they're going to make paranoid wackadoo claims, why didn't they grasp at every straw they could've?)  

Looking ahead to when I'll someday (theoretically, at least) be again able to run, the Orcas Island Triple Ripple Trail Festival sure looks fun. Essentially, a three-stage two-day running race in early October featuring a 4-mile flat run and 10K hill climb on Saturday, with a 30K trail run on Sunday. Seems like an incredibly fun (but oh-so-hard) event in one of my favorite places in the world!

Lastly and finally, check out the Summer 2010 issue of Adventures NW for, among the many great stories and photos, my piece about playdates featuring Barb Macklow and Vicki Griffiths.