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 was 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)