Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Have you ever made a snap decision about something that was incredibly important in your life, just to spend the next week regretting your choice and wishing fervently that you could go back and choose a different path? I certainly have.

But last weekend's decision was not one of those. Instead -- and I hate to admit it -- the week after that decision was absolutely liberating for me.

It's perverse, but when you're training for a big ride you often have to not ride, either because you're saving your legs for something to come or too stove up from something that's done. It was pure joy to be able to slip out a couple of times this week to ride with some friends whom I have been forced to neglect of late. I was even able to bike in and out to work on Friday, making up for having missed Nashville's official Bike-to-Work Day.

Over Memorial Day weekend -- when I had originally planned to do another 600K in Kentucky -- I rode every day with RandoGirl. We never went over 50 miles, stayed on quiet and fairly flat roads near our home, and stopped whenever we wanted and for as long as we wanted.

I was riding for fun. No goal. No holding back. Nothing to test or strengthen or challenge, and nothing to prove.

Christmas in May.

And then I had to ruin it all by making plans.

Well, that's not really true. The plans that I made were actually fun plans, for a trip that I am now calling ...

The Not A Brevet Tour

Since I had already asked for the week off from work and had booked flights and a hotel room with Jeff Bauer, I decided that it would not be fair of me to abandon him the week of the Cascade 1200K. Instead, I'm going to travel with him out to Seattle ... and then ditch him for five days, riding a fun tour close to the coast while he suffers for almost 800 miles of mountains and desert in central Washington.

We are flying out on Thursday, and have a room booked at a hotel in Monroe close to the start of the Cascade 1200K. We are shipping our bikes directly to the hotel, so hopefully we can assemble them and get everything working that afternoon. Friday, Jeff will need to go to bike inspection and stuff, while I will begin my trip by riding to Bellingham.

At 85 miles, this may seem like a long touring day, but I'm "credit-card camping" this time. Thus I am not carrying a tent, sleeping bag, cooking gear ... basically, all of the stuff that you need to tote in order to be comfortable in the middle of a state park all night. I'm also bringing minimal clothing, since I should be able to wash my cycling clothes at the end of every day. I'm almost tempted to ride my randonneuring bike, but I want to carry my iPad and some other amenities that would just fit easier on my touring bike, Sparkletini.

Saturday, Jeff will start the Cascade 1200K while I take a short ride up to Vancouver. If the border crossing doesn't take long I should be able to spend some time looking around the city. I've got a room booked at a hostel for the night.

Sunday, I'll go from the hostel up to the very start of the Adventure Cycling Pacific Coast route, most of which I followed on my tour last year. Doing this stretch will "close the loop" for me as I head back to Bellingham.

Still on the Adventure Cycling route on Monday, I stay close to the water as I ride by Anacortes and down to the ferry over to Port Townsend. Once off the boat there, I've booked a room at an old hotel that looks like it could be fun.

Jeff will probably be finishing the Cascade 1200K late Tuesday, and we're flying back on Wednesday. That's why I have to ride 100 miles on this day -- the first 53 being a particularly hilly section to Bremerton, from which I first began the Adventure Cycling route last August. Once the loop is closed there, I will catch the ferry into downtown Seattle, and ride another 47 miles back to Monroe. With any luck, I will get to the hotel early enough that I can ride over to the final control and cheer the riders as they come in.

It won't be as challenging as a 1200K, of course. I won't feel the clean dry heat as I descend down into miles of flat desert, climb the long twisty baked passes of the Cascades, watch the sun rise from a hard hard saddle after chilly pre-dawn quasi-delirious pain-wracked hours of spinning ... basically, most of the things that I had been preparing for during the past few months.

But I can adjust to that.

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