Five DSSFers headed to the Northwest to join Different Spokes Seattle on the R.S.V.P., Michael C. and his boyfriend, Jim, Michael S., Patrick, Bill as personal DSSF SAG driver and myself. Michael and Jim flew up, and the rest of us traveled together by car, over 2 days. Day one for us started in Hollister, on to the City to pick-up both Patrick and Michael, and then we headed for Medford. Patrick had made I-5 Survival kits complete with water and snacks. We made it to Redding where Bill had already staked out lunch at an In-N-Out. From there, we continued north on into Oregon. We reached Medford and turned on to Crater Lake Highway, and a little over an hour later, we arrived at Crater Lake National Park. Neither Bill, Patrick or Michael had ever been, so the first glimpse of the lake is kind of like the first time seeing the Grand Canyon, the beautiful blue water against the crater, and the clear blue sky we had that day.
Our second day was a shorter mileage day, and we made it to Seattle shortly after 4pm, and we quickly headed back out to the Capitol Hill area to have dinner before going to the meet ‘n greet mixer put together by Different Spokes Seattle, and walked several blocks to Crave, one of the restaurants recommended by DS/S for dinner.
The starting point for RSVP! was Warren G. Magnussen Park, at the old San Point Naval Naval Station near Lake Washington. We headed out shortly before 7am. The route left the park and immediately got on the Burke-Gilman Trail, a rather bumpy (from tree roots) multi-use path (with a couple of walkers, unhappy with the large volume of cyclist using the path that early in the morning. It was a bit unsafe, many riders not calling out as they passed. The path took us around Lake Washington for about 10 miles thru Kenmore and Bothell. In Woodinville was the first climb of the day, not much by Bay Area standards.
We then passed thru Clearview and on into Snohomish where we caught up with the DS/S gang, and Bill, at the Snohomish Bakery & Cafe. From there we continued on the Centennial Trail, that leaves the city of Snohomish and travels north through farmland, wetlands, and fields to Lake Stevens. The main draw back to this trail (vs. the road), is that each intersection has these large barriers that you had to slow way down and carefully weave around, or if possible, go around the sides.
At Lake Stevens we opted to skip the mini-stop provided by the town and continue on to Arlington, at mile 53 where we were meeting up with Bill for lunch. We had fabulous panini sandwiches at a place called Little Italy. Leaving Arlington, we got on Highway 9 and the only real stretch of extremely busy road, with very little shoulder.
Bill later said it was quite un-nerving in the car following the cyclists, as some of the cars really wanted to get past him and drive fast. He followed the road for a while before changing the setting on the GPS to start using highways to get him back to I-5 and on to Bellingham, since we had not planned any more re-groupings with him.
The next stop was at the Lake McMurray Store at mile 64, just long enough to use the porta-potty, and then continuing on Highway 9 we circled the lake taking us through Bryant, around Lake McMurray and then around Day Lake as we headed north to Mt. Vernon to the Centennial Elementary School food stop/social, the only official Cascade Bicycle Club stop for the day.
Leaving Mt. Vernon, we crossed the Skagit River and headed on to the Skagit Flats to Burlington. Next stop was the Bow Country Store at mile 91, we regrouped and continue on together. We turned on to Chuckanut Drive or Highway 11 taking us to Samish Bay. This took us to the the last climb of the day, ending at the Pink Lemonade Stand at mile 102!
Three miles to go, Michael turned of 1/2 mile to head up to Western Washington University, where he was staying at the dorm, and I headed on to the route end at the Days Inn. Patrick had already met up with his sister, and they were chatting with Bill when I pulled in a few minutes later.
Dinner that evening was at Patrick’s sister and brother-in-laws. We sat out on the patio overlooking the fields having our appetizers (Scot’s homemade cheese, wonderful) followed by a fabulous pasta dinner with pesto, stuffed zucchini and squash, tomato and mozzarella salad, and a trifle for dessert. What wonderful end to a long (but relatively easy) days ride!
We started Day 2 at about 6:40am at the Days Inn. The weather was a bit grayer then on Friday, and the chance for showers was higher. On the way to Lynden, we were passed by 4 gals riding in a loose paceline. But instead of pulling away from us, it seemed to me that they slowed down. And after following them for a mile, Michael and I passed them and left them behind. I commented to Michael about that later, and he had felt the same way. Kind of like the driver of the car who passes you and then annoyingly slows down.
In Lynden, there was quite a crowd outside Dutch Mothers, which apparently puts on a great breakfast buffet for RSVP riders, and so we walked down the road a bit and came upon Lynden Dutch Bakery, where we got some incredible pastries and a coffee. They were also kind enough to allow us to use their employee restroom also.
From Lynden, it was only 6 miles to the Aldergrove Border crossing to Canada. At the end of Double Ditch Road, we turn left on to East Boundary Road, aptly named, as the only thing separating the US from Canada is a ditch (of course!) Kind of surreal, the route sheet made mention of not crossing the ditch to Canada, bringing visions of Canadian marshals leaping out of the grass, should one of us make a break for it.
The actual border crossing was quite easy, we rode up individually, they had a special lane open for cyclists. I handed her my passport, she asked where I was from, I replied “Hollister” later thinking that was kind of dumb, would she have any idea where that was? I probably should have just replied California, but she let me thru anyway.
Our next regroup point with Bill was at Fort Langley. Just outside of town was a notation on the route sheet page that at mile 37.7 of the [WORST R/R TRACKS ON RSVP]. WALK BIKES ACROSS TRACKS. As I approached the track, I noted that it was slightly diagonal to the road, but appeared to have recently been redone. It that was a bad track crossing, it certainly wasn’t the worst on the ride.
We regrouped with Bill briefly at Fort Langley and chatted for a few minutes, before heading on to catch the Albion Ferry across the Fraser River. Again, cyclists were directed to line up on our own, and it appeared to when we got on the ferry that they allowed more cyclists than autos. And the line for cars was already fairly long when we pulled up. It was a very short ride across the river and we were on our way again.
At mile 46 was the official Cascade Bicycle Club food stop for the day, complete with a farmers market. Nice choice of fresh fruits and snack bars, similar to yesterdays official food/social stop.
Day 2 featured much heavier traffic. Leaving Maple Ridge, todays first busy route section was on Dewdney Trunk Road. Then we were on Lougheed Highway 7 to Port Coquitlam where we crossed over the Coquitlam River. Port Moody was the next stop at the Rocky Point Park mini-stop was at mile 58, with just 18 more miles to Vancouver and then PARTY! 🙂
Right back onto a highway, Highway 7A or the Barnet Highway, on the left side was the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area and on the right side was the Inner and Central Harbors. At mile 70.2, according to the route sheet, we entered Vancouver and we in the distance you could see downtown. Eventually we made it to Chinatown and things got quite busy on the road, between sharing the road (or not) and construction.
I was quite glad to get past that section and into Gastown and our destination, the Coast Plaza Hotel, where the P in RSVP was in full swing. We caught up with the DS/S gang there; Tim, Greg and Bill who was joined by his partner Don. Each rider had alread received a ticket good for either the meal or a beverage, I opted for the meal. The entire patio area off of the ballroom upstairs was filled with RSVP riders and friends.
We met Bill & Don, and was joined shortly by Tim. Michael called and reported that Jim was hit by a car in Chinatown on the ride into Vancouver. Jim was apparently okay, having been taken to the hospital to be checked out. Reports were that the bike was not in good shape, one wheel at a minimum was no good. Michael also said that at the scene a “witness” claimed that Jim pulled out in front of the car that hit him. He was hit from behind! Hello!! Anyway, Michael was giving Michael C and Jim some support and would be bit late meeting us, so we agreed to keep in touch by phone if we moved.
The Zin Restaurant & Lounge was quite nice, the bartender made some fabulous cosmopolitans. Diner was at O’Doul’s Restaurant & Bar at the Listel Hotel, By the time we were finished though, I was tired and very ready for bed. Goodbyes were said to the DS/S guys, we sure enjoyed their hospitality in Seattle, doing the ride, and our night out in Vancouver, lot’s of laughs and a great time!