So for our second day in the saddle, and knowing that we had a bike locked up at the Pt. Defiance dock in north Tacoma, but knowing also that bike shops don't open before ten, we took a leisurely morning and had breakfast at Shari's. I'm not typically a fan of the place and the potato pancakes were pretty heavy on the potato, but if you get an omelet with pancakes and add the strawberry sauce and whipped cream as Claire did, you can pretty much forget about bicycling disasters and threatening rain.
Once the bike shop opens however, you must face reality, the reality of the bicycle, the reality of tools and weather, and hills, and scheduling your ride time around baby feeding and naps. The family bike tour is super fun and very bonding, but keeping Thorvald happy is of primary concern, enjoying the ride yourself secondary, and mileage goals come in somewhere around 7th, right after, heck, I can't even think of what fits in the middle but I sure know it's more important that mileage.
So Chip (my father in law) drives me to the bike shop where I pick up a chain tool (eureka!) a new chain, and come to think of it, nothing else, drives us back up to the dock, drops me off to fix my bike, and then I ride a more or less stripped down tandem from Point Defiance to Lakewood.
Now I have to say that Tacoma's idea of bike accomodations borders on the silly. Pearl St is beautiful and wide and flat and runs right down through Tacoma. Vassault Way or Narrows Way or Mildred Ave or whatever it happens to be at any given point is a hilly, chip sealed mess. Note to all road contractors: If you have to chip seal a road, you don't have to pour gravel on the shoulder/bike lane because that part doesn't wear out. Save your money, short the city a little bit, and only hit the lane. Everybody comes out ahead! Got that contractors? Good.
The hills are fun though and I much prefer them to most other bicycling difficulties because they get me out of the saddle, change up the gears a little (sometimes a lot) and provide me with short term goals. Just don't ride the Burma Road on Vashon without a chain tool. Mark my words.
I arrive in Lakewood, around 12:30 but not before the drag brake cable snaps and I have to replace the now missing bolt assembly (and I thought STI was high maintenance!) and get a new cable (back at the same bike shop; they were quite happy to see me again and see the rig. Bike shops take great interest in people doing things that bike shop employees dream of doing themselves) and put it all together and then ride home. I'm talking about you, adventure lovers!
We get loaded up and take off, deciding to skirt the hills for a while, and head through north Fort Lewis, I-5 for 2/3 of a mile, Nisqually and Pac Highway (old 99), and then up the hill to east Olympia where Claire's cousin Joe and family reside.
Joe works for Intel and has recently replaced his Lexus convertible with a white Ford Econoline with flame decals so we know that at 36, he is well past his midlife crisis and is embracing a new, more adventurous life. His wife Coriell has not been told that we are coming but we have a nice visit anyway. The kids are beautiful.
The ride into Olympia is a whole different cycling universe and is far and away better than anything I've seen in Seattle. Whereas Seattle has one real bike trail with stop signs all the time and political impasses keeping it from being finished, Olympia is in full bike path nirvana with interlocking trails that get out into and out of the city with complimentary bike pathed roads along the way. The signage is a little lacking but they really have it going on. We took wide street to the Chehalis Western Trail, which then intersected with the Olympia Woodland Trail, which then took us to a wide, pathed road, to another pathed road, to the Capitol. Don't tell me government can't get anything done!
We futzed around the Capitol and found a woman with a shiny Co-Motion who directed us out of town to the southwest toward Littlerock, and then found a biker going our way who works in fish biology for the state. I don't know why so many engineers and scientists ride bikes, but they are some of the nicest people we know (you know who you are) and we love riding with them. John Forrester has a convincing theory, but I think it's just because those types are deeper thinkers than the rest.
So we ride a very flat, very straight road down almost to Littlerock, turn right into the Delphi valley, and then visit with another of Claire's cousins and his family, wherein we also stay the night. They have a hot tub, lovely children, and being contractors, lots of fun machinery to talk about. This would be Jordan and Jill, and their three girls. Life is pretty great. We get in around 6:30
Thorvald up to this point has tried to time his naps perfectly to our riding time and thus took two 2 hour naps, covering our 4 hours of riding time. He's so understanding that way. What a nice boy. He's turning 1 this month too. Come to the party if you can.
The weather was a little odd. We got rained on twice but not convincingly. The strange part is that that a blue patch kind of followed us along the whole way. We would ride though areas that had just received a deluge of water and our bike is a dirty mess, but we had a great time and ducked inundation with the best of them. No real breakdowns today except that I had to true my rear wheel a little, oh and I fixed the chain at the beginning, and dealt with a broken cable and a bolt assembly. At least we didn't have to walk today.
Mileage: about 40 miles, broken up into two roughly equal sections, with a 13 mile pre-ride shakedown without the gear. Life is pretty cool. Don't wait for late summer for your bike rides. These are just the greatest.