Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Renton Culture

We persuaded our friends Anne & Will to make the trek north from Montesano to join us for Renton's version of culture. After dinner at home we headed down the hill and across town to Carco Theater and Valley Community Players' production of Funny Money. The venue is great and the play was good - I was disappointed to see so many empty seats but the playbill announced it was their 44th season so it seems they are on firm footing (no thanks to the Piepers I might add). We were all up past our bed time and had to forgo chocolate and tea before heading off to bed. Now that is serious! Next morning after breakfast we once again hit the town of Renton for a visit to the Renton History Museum. A short car tour of our latest development, The Landing, and then off to West Seattle for lunch with our friends Christine and David and their girls Marissa and Erica. A great way to spend a stormy and cold weekend.

Friday, 18 April 2008

When Banking Was Fun

I had lunch yesterday with 2 of my former US Bank comrades. It was great to see them, have some laughs, and get caught up with what they are doing and try to trace the routes of various former co-workers. It really reminded me of the many years in my banking career when I really had it good - fun challenging jobs, great bosses, outrageous co-workers, and a bit of zaniness every day. Okay, well zaniness as defined by a banker (switching debits and credits around, making a photocopy of your elbow - you know, stuff like that - pure LUNACY!). I think the pinnacle was when these 2 ladies, Colleen McEvoy and DeAnna Poling were on the same team with me under the erstwhile leadership of Bob Pfau. Most team meetings broke up with us in tears from laughing at Gary's extremely non-PC ad-libs. If that atmosphere and ability to actually do my job the way I thought it should be done still existed I'd probably still be there. Since that time I've moved on to whatever the heck it is I do now, DeAnna is forging ahead to world domination at Key Bank and Colleen does her best to keep John P and Tom G in line in the Media/Telecommunications finance world - not an easy trick when she doesn't usually arrive in the office til about noon...

Monday, 14 April 2008

Amy & Her Boys part III

Really I thought this was only going to be a 2 part gig but lo and behold it happened again! How lucky can a girl get? After the road clean up a few of us went out for lunch where Mark began hounding me about being in his Fleche team (a 24 hour team bike event with a lot of fun and funky rules brought to us by our friends in France). The only reason I think he wants me to do these things is that, in one of the longest standing incidences of sexism, females garner more points for a club than do males in the same event. Mark is a little competitive and wants SIR always at the top of the list. Long range weather forecasts were daunting and the memory of my dismal performance during the 12 hour event was fresh in my mind so I put him off. Later in the week I agreed to transport overnight bags for Robin's team to the end point in Port Townsend and the weather was looking more agreeable - in fact Saturday was looking to be the first day of the year over 70 degrees! I started thinking "heck, if I'm going to be heading to Port Townsend anyway I guess I may as well get in on the act" so I emailed Mark seeing if he still had room on his team (teams are limited to 5 "machines", no matter how many riders are on each "machine"). His team was full but he didn't let that get in the way as he quickly called Greg Cox to see if he'd be up for riding tandem with me. All this was happening behind my back but Greg was willing and he is a very strong rider and experienced tandem captain. All systems go! Greg and I talked and agreed to use my tandem. I asked if he wanted to provide his own saddle but he assured me anything would be fine - famous last words eh Greg? Robin and I got the tandem set up for a night ride and Robin adjusted the shifting a bit so it was running like a champ.

Friday morning I took Robin to the train station since his team was starting in Kelso at 10am. I gathered everyone's overnight bags and headed back home to get my own things together. Mark picked me up at 1pm and Rick met up with us at my house too. Got the tandem loaded and off to pick up Greg at work. We got to the ferry terminal in plenty of time to stroll down the street and take advantage of the Starbucks gift cards Rick had received for his birthday. Of our 2 other team mates, Tom was driving himself and Jon lives in Port Townsend and would meet us at our starting point in Port Hadlock. We grabbed dinner at Scampi and Halibuts, handed the car keys over to Carrie and Laura and got on the road at 7pm.

The gang on the road:

As Greg wa
s willing to captain I had set up the bike to put him on front first with the idea being we'd switch at some point later in the ride. We cruised over the Hood Canal Bridge, through Bremerton and Belfair (with a couple mechanicals for Mark and Tom) and then made the challenging climb up to Mason Lake and Greg's cabin where we could rest for an hour or so and enjoy Mary's fresh blueberry muffins, yum! We set off again about 2am and it was COLD!!! We were all piling on as many clothes as we had with us and Greg added the timeless accessory of baggies over his socks to keep his feet warm. Next we hit Shelton and then a fairly long stretch to Montesano just as the sun was coming up.

Rick and Tom arriving in Montesano- here comes the sun!

Greg did a great job
with the tandem and the team kind of yo-yo'd and did very little riding all together. Breakfast at the Beehive set us up for the next run to Matlock and then Hoodsport and everyone's favorite Hood Canal coffee shop. I was still wearing my coat but finally was able to shed it as we left Hoodsport. We also decided to switch captain and stoker duties here. By this time Greg was definitely feeling the folly of letting me chose his saddle for him! The more familiar Brooks saddle on the back was a bit better but I'm afraid his butt was already too far gone for much comfort.

The boys in Hoodsport (Mark is happy, Greg is sleepy, and all get caffeine!)

The lumpy bits between Hoodsport and Brinnon have never been my friend but, mysteriously, even though I am out of shape, they weren't quite as nasty as usual. I must remember to attach that Greg motor more often! In addition to Greg's great skills on the bike and his strength he also provided nearly non-stop entertainment in the form of bad jokes, political commentary and discussion, and general silliness. Even when he claimed to be sleepy the banter continued which was much appreciated and made the time pass quickly and the hard parts much easier. We had times throughout the ride of being with any combination of team mates and enjoying talking with them or commiserating about the cold, our tiredness, sore butts, or whatever. The climb up Walker Pass went fairly well and the descent was terrific. At Quilcene we hooked up with Mark for a bit and it finally got warm enough I removed my leg warmers. Yikes!

The team regrouped at our 22 hour checkpoint and hung out on Fat Smitty's display clearly marked with numerous signs telling us to keep off. Of course we sprawled all over it and I wish I'd gotten a photo! We were there for nearly an hour before we were within 2 hours of our official finish time and could carry on. Getting back on the bike was tough - muscles and joints had stiffened and Greg's butt was in a sorry state. I thought we pretty much had it made despite the fact that our route had us coming into town via Cape George Road. I've ridden that road before and knew it was an unrelenting series of climbs but memory failed me in terms of how hard it really was. Greg and I huffed, puffed, and groaned our way up all of them in the lowest available gear. I was sure we'd have to walk at some point but somehow Greg always found a reserve of power to keep us going.

We arrived at Jon's house to collect the car and on the way to our lodgings at Fort Worden we came upon Robin and his team walking to town. After more than 8 hours after their ride they were looking pretty chipper and refreshed. We all got cleaned up and joined them for dinner in town. Eyes at the table were beginning to droop before long so back to Fort Worden for bed. A fabulous brunch on Sunday along with hearing the stories of the other teams topped off the weekend.

Team Circling the Hood (l to r: Jon, Mark, Amy, Greg, Tom, Rick)

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Sometimes it IS easy being green

Several years ago a friend gave me an idea for water saving that I just finally put into practice in February. Keep a bucket in your shower to collect the water that is otherwise wasted while it is warming up. Remove it from the shower and keep it by the toilet to use for flushing. This is so amazingly simple and effective. Even though I often shower at my club rather than at home it still amounts to at least one flush saved per day and more on the weekends. Try it!

Monday, 7 April 2008

Working on the Chain Gang

Last year I convinced SIR to do adopt a road through King County and we got a section along East Lake Sammamish Parkway. The first clean up came last fall when I just happened to be out of the country and I got no end of grief about it so I had to make sure that this time around I was on hand.

Sunday was our big day on the road and 9 other great folks joined me to pick up cigarette butts, kiddie wading pools, unidentified chunks of rubber and plastic, and being a popular cycling route a couple of inner tubes and empty gel packs. It only rained once for a short time while we were out and a few of us got together after for some beers and great mexican food so altogether a stellar day.

Here are Mark, Kristie, and Robin with the official sign indicating we have arrived in the world of road cleanup:

Friday, 4 April 2008

Amy and her boys - parts I and II

Two recent bike outings put me in the company of my hubby and some other wonderful male friends. Although I sometimes lament the dearth of females in many of my activities there are advantages to hanging out with the boys.

Part I: On March 22 I joined Robin, Mark, Peter, and Bob for a 12-hour team event with SIR and ORR called a Dart. We started early catching the 6am ferry from Seattle to Bremerton but it was more leisurely than it sounds. First, the ferry was late so we sampled the culinary delights of the McDonald's (while waiting for Robin who had to hustle back to the house to get the car key I'd left behind - doh!), relaxed on the ferry eating the Irish soda bread I'd baked (and Peter napped), then stopped for coffee at Starbuck's just a block up from the ferry on the Bremerton side. We did finally get rolling and enjoyed a lovely route, dry weather, quiet roads, and good company. I especially appreciated the efforts of my friends in pulling me along and keeping my spirits up when my strength was failing. To add to all that I must share one of the biggest advantages of all to riding with boys:

nice butts in spandex! One is missing - he is too shy...

We ended the day in Centralia at McMeniman's Olympic Club where we met up with other teams enjoying the same event - all riding different routes.

Part II: The next Sunday (March 30) Robin and I rode to Tom Baker's house for his usual weekend ride. The day was dry and cold but not bad by the recent weather standards so I was surprised that it was only 5 of us - me, Robin, Tom, and 2 Johns. Once again I took up the rear guard position as we set off for a South Lake Washington loop with Mercer Island. Although a much shorter ride than the Dart it was at a much higher intensity with me doing all I could do to hang on to the back of the group. Once we hit the hills on Mercer Island I was off the back like I was shot from a cannon. Tom and later Robin slowed to let me catch up and then Robin pulled us back up to the 2 Johns who were probably struggling to stay warm riding at such a slow pace. I was sweating and panting (and it wasn't JUST the nice butts in spandex). Always nice to ride the island and especially with some strong steady riders to pull you along. The boys were all ready to take on another loop when we reached the east side of the island but I called it a day and rode home alone at a very sedate but happy pace.

Riding in heat and sunshine still seems a distant dream here in the Seattle area this year but hope springs eternal!