Apr 23 2011

Ride Report: Tulip Pedal Ride, April 16

For the Tulip Pedal Ride, we thought we would post a few short stories from the riders.

From Doug:

Hi – I really enjoyed riding last Saturday during the 30th annual Tulip Pedal ride in Skagit County.  The relatively flat ride did host some challenges in a mechanical break down, cold breezy headwind, getting lost, and instead of asking “what hill” the question was “your what hurts?”

I think we all still had fun.  We got to see some tulips and daffodils while building up some miles.  We got to ride with others who we normally would not get a chance to be with.  We even had time afterwards to eat at the La Conner’s Seafood and Prime Rib restaurant.

Improvement – the biggest factor that could have made the ride even better was time.  More time to talk, more time to see, more time to eat, more time to ride, more sun, more time… , but I’ll take what He gave us last Saturday because it was a blessing to ride with some friends even though the journey seemed all too short.

From Steve

My stoker and I arrived at La Conner High School about an hour or so behind the main group of other tandem and single riders. It was the first ride for both of us on our new Bike Friday Family Tandem Traveler. If you haven’t seen a Bike Friday, they’re designed to travel around the world – check them out. It took us a while to put it together, fiddling around with the cables. But we finally got on the tandem at about 10:40am or so. Having no map, we rode west on Chilberg Rd. waving to fellow cyclists and making some adjustments along the way. I turned on a rear flasher which was quickly covered up with mud. We then turned north along Best Rd. and saw some daffodils and finally some tulips – this was after all, the Tulip Festival ride!

We  turned west onto McLean Rd. and saw more tulips – finally getting beyond yellow and seeing some reds. The weather was cool and a little wet. We got a few sprinkles but nothing to really worry about. We then passed the Rozengaarde Display Garden heading south on Beaver Marsh Rd. I have to say, if you want a flat ride, this is it. Literally no hills but since this was our first big tandem ride, I was definitely not looking for them. We made our way back heading west on Calhoun Rd. and back into La Conner. A total of about 12 miles. We then rode our tandem into downtown La Conner – what a delight not having to haggle for parking.

We stopped at Legends – a small Native-American owned salmon bar where I got a salmon sandwich and my stoker picked up some oysters in butter sauce. We enjoyed dining inside a small heated  room which held five tables. It was very pleasant and enjoyable – the waitress, herself a rider told us about another route going from the refinery into Anacortes. She said it went over a really neat bridge – something to investigate at some later date. After lunch, we met up with the main group, got a little lost trying to find a good place to eat, but finally found one  and enjoyed desert.

From William

It was a dark and stormy night morning. From Bellevue the dark thunder clouds were forming and as Esther and I drove up to La Conner, the rain started to pour down. Hmmm… I’m not sure that we should be riding in this weather as this was Esther’s first ride of the season — not a very auspicious beginning. It continued to rain but as we turned off the exit to La Conner, the rain slowed, then stopped.

As we pulled into the parking lot and prepared the tandem, the other riders in the group started to assemble. It was starting to look up! We eventually rolled out and started the 20 mile loop — the nice cold, windy, cloudy, sprinkly 20 mile loop. Doesn’t sound so nice you might be thinking but we were there with friends and family, and especially because Esther was with me on the tandem! Speaking of tandems, there were 5 of them — Esther and me, Doug and Lori, Kary and Gail, Ed and Phoebe, and Steve and Miranda. Not a bad showing at all.

Some of the tulips were out, but really there were only a few fields that were easily accessible by the road. Nothetheless, they were quite colorful. A friend of mine came up to ride with us and I was telling him about all the food that we will eat — unfortunately we took a wrong turn and ended up making too many loops — and missed the restuarant that we were going to stop at. We nonetheless later enjoyed a meal at La Conner and had a time to chat and talk to each other.


Please see the link at the bottom for a movie and pictures.

I woke up early on Saturday ready to ride on the tandem bike at the Tulip Ride up in LaConner.  It sounded like there would be a few other tandem bikes, and I would get the opportunity to ride with Phebe, a member of Club Dred whom I’d never met.  I’d heard she was a marathon runner, new to cycling, but on her first ride she was strong enough to ride out to Snoqualmie Falls and back.  Doug and Lori were nice enough to take my tandem up with them in their van–thanks again Pangs!

So, I drove into the condo complex to pick up Phebe, and parked at what I thought was the right building.  I called the number I had via email, and she said that she was watching for me, but didn’t see anyone in front of the building.  So, I got out of the car, and out she came from a door at the far end of the building in running shoes with a backpack.  Phebe said ‘Hi, are you Ed?’ with a little bit of surprise in her voice.  I said I was, and opened the door for her to get in.  She asked if I was related to the Ambo who leads Worship at LCC.  I proudly said, ‘Why yes!  That’s Steven, my son!’  And Phebe said ‘Oh, I thought he would be driving me up for the Tulip Ride.  Now it makes sense.  He looked a little young to be a Doctor.’  Haha!  I had to laugh at the identity mistake.  Maybe I can get Steven to ride Captain, while Phebe is riding stoker on the STP.   Sorry to disappoint you that morning Phebe!

Anyway, the ride was really cold, but it was fun to see the tulips, and talk and laugh with the other riders.   Phebe was a pleasure to ride and talk with, and I look forward to more rides together in the future.


Above is the link to pictures and a movie of everyone except the Kato’s, since we never ran into them on the road!

From Kary

When we woke up the roads were wet and the dark ominous clouds loomed overhead. The weather forecast for the day was cold temperatures, breezy, and occasional showers. We left Bellevue with cautious optimism, knowing we needed the saddle time and the Tulip ride offered an opportunity to meet new riders and participate in a ride we’ve never participated in.

As we headed up 405 and I-5, we saw the Doug and Lori fly past us north of Arlington. I had set my cruise at 70mph… so you can ask Doug how fast they was going. As we exited I-5, we noticed a familiar black BMW behind us with a bike rack on top…it was William and Esther. As we pulled into the La ConnerMiddle School parking lot, I got a call from Ed Ambo who was already at the registration area getting signed in. As Gail and I unloaded our tandem, Doug and Lori pulls in, apparently they got off on the wrong exit and had to back track around to the school which was a precursor to how the ride will go (read on). Eventually, more & more riders showed up. In all, there was William and Esther on their tandem, Doug and Lori on their tandem, Ed and Phebe on Ed’s tandem, Abishaw, Renee, and Gail and I on our tandem.

The plan was to ride the 20 mile route so we headed out eastward out of La Conner following the blue arrows, there were also yellow and green arrows designating the 40 and 60 mile routes. We set an early pace of about 12 -13 mph. The breezy conditions in the Skagit valley made it somewhat challenging. What normally would have been a leisurely ride ended up more like a moderate pace. The rural scenery was beautiful with lots of tulip fields, cow pastures, and farm houses. The first stop we made (about 7 miles in to the ride) was at Fire Station 3 where trail mix, dry fruit, and juice was provided. While we were there we noticed Doug’s front chain was loose, luckily there was a bike maintenance booth there to support bikers needing mechanical assistance.

As we continued on, the clouds appeared to be thinning but the threat of showers still remained. We passed a number of tulip fields offering a full range of different foliage colors… red, pink, orange, yellow. Many of the flowers where not quite at full bloom yet, probably due to the usually cold early spring we’ve had. I would guess about another 2 weeks before everything would be in full bloom. There were so many fields along the route that they all started looking alike.

The blue arrows that we were following, I was told, were new for this year but I personally found then a little confusing at times and hard to see. We also appeared to crisscross and backtrack at times with other riders along the route which was interesting and different. About at the 12 mile mark we found ourselves still heading north (away from La Conner) and found ourselves at the intersection of a busy freeway with no other riders around us. Checking the map, we realized we were off the designated route. We decided to ride along the freeway hoping to turn back at an intersection that we saw at a distance. To our surprise and to our disappointment, the intersection we saw was a 3 way intersection that didn’t allow us to turn off the freeway to get back on the route, so we continued riding on the busing roadway hoping the next intersection wasn’t too far. Riding along a freeway is quite dangerous with a lot of cars speeding by and a lot of debris along the side. After riding a mile to two we were glad to be able to get off the freeway and back on the country roads.

Now we had to figure out where we were and how to get back on the bike route. After several miles and turns we managed to see the familiar blue arrows and other riders. As we followed the route, the scenery became familiar again, very familiar…we realized we’ve back tracked to a point we rode earlier in the ride. No problem, as long we were headed in the right direction we were all content. Things we good again until Doug and Lori’s tandem threw a chain, this was the same chain that was adjusted earlier…hmm, so much for free maintenance. By this time we’ve rode about 20 miles (the original plan was to ride a total of 20 miles) and we were not even close to the finish line.

We took what we thought was a shortcut back to La Conner Middle school and encounter some pretty stiff headwinds. At this point we lost Ed and Phoebe, some of the riders went back looking for our lost comrades. After about 15 minutes we decided to write them off as MIA and to continue on (so much for no one gets left behind). To our surprise, when we made it to the finish line and into the parking lot, Club Ed was waiting for us. Apparently, he found a shortcut and we took the long route. All in all everyone had a great time riding and fellowship. Total mileage was about 30 miles instead of 20.


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