Apr 26 2012

Snohomish Bakery Ride, April 21, 2012

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Potatoes au gratin are thinly sliced potatoes baked with cheese and cream. According to Livestrong.com, a 1-cup serving contains 313 calories, roughly half in carbs, and the other half in fat. I like mine prepared with Yukon Gold potatoes, and a mix of parmesan and gruyere cheese. Most of you who’ve taken Heather’s Eating for Endurance workshop will immediately recognize that this dish is an extraordinarily poor food choice for a pre-ride morning breakfast, since the high fat content will not easily digest.

But if you are like me, you will not even consider this. Rather, what will go through your mind is that you have only 15 minutes to get out the door, into the car, and to Marymoor Park if you want to make it in time, so therefore whatever can be eaten immediately is going to be breakfast. And that means leftover P.A.G. is going into the microwave for 45 seconds, then into my belly.

It was another flawless Saturday morning, and despite my lack of preparation I was looking forward to a beautiful ride. But no matter how much one prepares, one cannot escape the fact that on any given ride, stuff happens. The challenge is to avoid stuff, and minimize happens as much as possible. Stuff cannot be prevented. When it happens, you just go with it.

I have many personal examples of stuff happening.  Like the time where I arrived for a ride, only without my bike shoes. I ended up pushing tiny pedals in my sandals.  Another time, when preparing for a rainy day, the seam on my shoe cover blew out as I pulled it over my shoe. I had a very wet, cold foot that day. The most recent example was at the Black Diamond Bakery, when I was just about to spend some quality time with an almond danish, just before I was about to sit down and enjoy it, it was savagely flung across the room onto the floor (don’t worry, Doug.  I forgive you, just as Christ, out of merciful, loving, grace, has forgiven me). Though devastated, I managed to keep myself together, and soldier on…and eat my danish anyway (yum!)

The chaos at Marymoor park that morning was a perfect recipie for inducing stuff.  We were not the only ones thinking about riding that day.  Roughly a hundred others had the same idea. Apparently they were also on a schedule, since as we arrived, they left, en masse. But not everyone in that group arrived in time for the start. Confused, this poor, misguided latecomer approached us thinking we were his group. What happened is that someone was late, and also mistook us, Hiep, Bart, Heather, Rich, Grace, Doug, and me, for an organized group of riders who know what they’re doing.  Moroever, with that many riders, with very clearly wide range in riding experience, you just know stuff will happen.  I’d love to read that ride report.

We actually managed to get rolling ourselves.  Being a beautiful Saturday on the popular and crowded Sammamish River Trail, there was plenty of opportunity for stuff to happen. Fortunately nothing did during the stretch to Woodinville Park.  There, we rendezvoused with Eric and Kim, who are new to Lighthouse, as they recently relocated to Seattle from Portland.  Kary, William, and Ed would be delighted to know that Eric and Kim were sporting a blue Burley (if memory serves) tandem.  Today, they get to see Seattle on a clear, sunny day. And while we had the pleasure of meeting and riding with new friends, unfortunately Rich turned back, since his knees aren’t yet ready for a long ride. Get better soon, Rich!

From Woodinville Park, we turned north to hit a series of steady climbs up the Woodinville-Duvall road, which turns east until we topped out onto 156th. From there it was smooth sailing into Maltby. In Maltby, we couldn’t find Broadway Ave, the next road we wanted to turn down. No, we weren’t lost. We just couldn’t find our road. Turns out, this was because the only way to see it is to approach it from the other direction. Riding in our direction, the road is nearly a 170-degree right turn. We spent a good 10 – 15 minutes looking before we eventually found it.  Riding down Broadway, we quickly merged back onto our original road, meaning that the turn down Broadway was completely unnecessary. Oye. Stuff happens. We lived. We learned. And we moved on.

The stretch from Maltby to Snohomish was delightful, with the roadway framed with a pastoral backdrop, and, best of all, featured an awesome downhill section which ran for over a mile.  These are sections are where you drop into a tight, aero tuck, and let gravity do it’s work.  Bart was right behind me, and I glanced down at my computer to see that I shot past 30 mph.  At the bottom, Bart and I waited for the others to join.  Only, they didn’t join.  Instead, we were met by another group of riders.  “Um, are you guys with that other group?  Well, they took the turn off back there.”  Oh no!  The devilish excitement of the hill descent led us astray.  But I told myself when stuff happens, you don’t dwell on it.  Instead, you move on.  I was mentally calculating the climb back up the hill, when they continued:  “But don’t worry.  You can still hook up with them.  Just take this right, go all the way down to the next set of lights, and go right again.  The road will meet up there.”   Coolio.  There was an easy way.

We did meet up with the group again, for the final stretch into Snohomish.  If you’ve never been there, I recommend a visit.  Main Street is lined with antique shops and cafes.  The sidewalk was crowded with wandering visitors, drunk with sunshine and fresh air.  There’s even a public restroom right next to the scenic Snohomish river. We stopped in at the Grilla Bites café for our lunch.  I ordered the egg, feta, and spinach sandwich.  Should’ve had the oatmeal cookie too.  And the smoothies looked fantastic.  Next time.

All too soon, it was time to saddle up for the return ride.  It was at the top of the first climb, with Grace, Hiep, Eric, and Kim, when we figured out that stuff happened.  The rest of the group was at the bottom, fixing a flat.  We discussed turning back, so we could have the pleasure of added miles, and attacking this climb once again.  For Kim, this discussion meant that this wasn’t just stuff happening, with the flat tire, but instead double-stuff, because if we went back, she’d have to climb this hill, again, on a tandem.

Kim was making a point.  When stuff happens, it’s usually random, uncontrollable stuff, like the flat tire.  It is something unforeseen, and is actually core to the biking experience.  You may not like it, but when stuff happens, you knew that it would at some point or another.  In contrast, turning around to descend a hill that you just climbed on a heavy tandem bike is something that is consciously foreseen, and controllable.  You can choose not to do it.  However, this distinction misses the point.  Just as a flat tire is random, uncontrollable stuff that happens, and therefore a core biking experience, so too is making the decision to turn around and descend a hill you just climbed in order to regroup and help out with a flat tire, even if “help out” means standing on the side of the road and telling jokes.  Stuff happening includes purposeful, conscious decisions as much as it includes random, uncontrollable events.  Stuff happening is an integral part of biking.  If stuff isn’t happening, then you aren’t really, fully biking.

More stuff happened during the return.  Grace’s water bottle cage came off.  Fortunately she didn’t lose the bolts, and we were able to screw it back on.  Doug also had a flat tire.  Fortunately it was successfully repaired.  I didn’t know that Doug had a flat, and bombed down another hill.  While I didn’t miss the turn off, I was separated, again.  Fortunately we all re-grouped back at Woodinville Park (after a short stretch down the wrong road, which I quickly realized), where Erik and Kim turned off to head back home.

And from there, we too made our way back to Marymoor Park, hurrying along lest more stuff happens.  And while we say we don’t want it, the reality is, stuff is what makes a ride happen.  It gives us something to talk about, and memories and experiences to share.  Bring on the stuff.  I prefer it that way.

-FA(s)T Eddie au Gratin









1 comment

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  1. Tailwind

    Love all the “happenings” and “stuff” that was done on the ride! Thanks for the enjoyable write.

  1. Breakfast of Champions » Cycling Toward The Light

    [...] about Eddie’s potaoes au gratin as a good endurance food, why not hash browns potatoes too?  Having made them from fresh [...]

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