Chelan Century 2017

A couple weeks ago, Dad and I rode the Chelan Century. Several of our friends have spoken glowingly about it, with special emphasis on the grueling 5-mile climb called McNeil Canyon, so this year I decided to give the ride a shot and I dragged Dad along, because if I’m going to suffer, he might as well too. We do our suffering together, darn it!

Anyway, the reason it took us so long to get around to doing this ride is because we both had to take time off work to drive over there the night before. It’s in Chelan, which, with good traffic takes about 3 hours to drive from my house. With real traffic, however, we’re looking at 3.5 to 4 hours, or on Sunday afternoon, up to 7 or 8 hours. So basically you have to stay at least one night, the night before the ride; and you might want to stay the night after the ride, if you’re totally pooped.

We learned quickly that reserving rooms in January for a late-June ride wasn’t on the ball enough. We ended up paying over $300 a night, with a two-night minimum, since it’s also the peak of the season, even though we weren’t sure we wanted to stay two nights. And the room we got was one bed with a fold-out hide-a-bed (I can attest to the inadequacy of the mattress in that department–or at least all my bruises can!), right on the water–theoretically wonderful, but not actually ideal for sleeping while everyone else was up playing in the late sunshine.

In any case, we drove over to Chelan and arrived late afternoon, and it was beautiful.

Chelan - Afternoon View

We got our numbers and free swag (coffee, which I brought to work and left in the kitchen, and which vanished almost instantly) at the Chamber of Commerce.
Chelan - No Cleats

I bought a couple things (a ton of ear plugs, since I forgot mine and they don’t come in small numbers, and a book for Benji) and then we went to dinner with our biking buddy John and his family at this restaurant that had really beautiful views.
Chelan - Restaurant View 1

Chelan - Restaurant View 2

The beautiful views theme continued in the evening and the next morning before we left.
Chelan - Evening View

Chelan - Morning View

Early in the ride Dad got a flat tire, but he got it changed quickly and we got more nice views while we waited.
Chelan - Ride View 1

So we rode along and I was really careful about pacing myself, because I knew this big climb was coming about halfway through the ride. It also was getting warmer and warmer, so Dad and I both made sure to drink a ton. We rode with our biking buddy John Jester, who has gotten super strong this year but still patiently waits for us at the top and bottom of hills.

It was a relief to finally get to McNeil and ride that big hill, because at least then it was done!
Chelan - Top of McNeil Canyon
I had kind of hoped to get the fastest time on that climb, either of women on that ride or of all time; but neither happened. I was satisfied with my effort — about 51 minutes — and that’s good enough. Some time I may want to go out and ride around there on my own, and try to hit that hill harder and faster, but for a mid-century ride where I had to save my legs for another 50 miles and 4,000 feet of climbing, it was decent.

The ride was split into three loops, each 35 to 40 miles long, each starting and ending at a park in downtown Chelan. This works OK, and I was fine with coming back to the cooler area around the lake each time.
Chelan - End of Loop 2
That’s John’s red bike. He likes red vehicles.

So then it was another 30-odd miles, and the temperature kept going up, until I saw 102 F on my bike computer (John’s said 99.8, but I’m going with mine). It felt like getting cooked. I was really very ready to be done; John rode away from us at the end but Dad and I stayed together and slogged through the last 10 or 15 miles, drinking a ton of water and stopping at every water stop along the way. It was HOT, and the pleasant mid-70s temperatures on our previous rides hadn’t prepared us for being SO DARN HOT.

We finished: 102 miles and about 9500′ of climbing. There were two bonus climbs that we skipped, thank goodness; I don’t know that my legs had another 1000′ of climbing in them. This is us together at the end: John on the left, me, and Dad. It’s a representative, if not overly flattering, photo of how it felt at the end of the ride.
Chelan - Finished!

Chelan Stuff

Dad and I showered and rested in our room, but ended up deciding to drive back home that night. So we did. It took, as anticipated, about 3.5 hours, after which I really didn’t want to drive anymore.

Would I Do It Again?

There were some great aspects to the ride. I liked riding somewhere new, with roads I haven’t seen a zillion times. I liked the seriously long climbs that take more than 5 or 10 minutes to get up. I liked the views and the lack of traffic and stoplights. I liked the support, which was phenomenal.

But.

The ride was expensive, not only in money (although if you add up the registration fee, all the driving-related expenses, the food [no free food at the end! I had to pay $5 for a sandwich!], the room, etc., it would certainly come out as one of the spendiest of my recent rides) but in time and in family resources. While I was gone, Ian spent all Friday evening and all of Saturday with Benji.  I had to take time off work. I was away from my family for an overnight, just doing a play thing.

The ride also felt brutal in a way that I didn’t enjoy. I like hard rides–very hard ones. RAMROD isn’t for wimps, nor is Passport2Pain, and yet I’ve done the former twice and the latter three times (and I’m signed up for a fourth). But between the extreme amount of climbing–nearly as much as RAMROD–and the extreme temperature, it just felt deeply miserable by the end. I guess what I’m saying is that it felt extreme for no particular reason, whereas something like RAMROD has a fabulous reason: Mt. Rainier. Or P2P: Get passport stamps, see beautiful views.

This, by the way, is why something like the Death Ride doesn’t appeal to me at all. I’m not interested in doing rides where people regularly die; I just want to push myself and have fun.

It’s also difficult to be well trained for a ride with almost 10,000 feet of climbing by the end of June, when serious ride training doesn’t start until March or April. This year it was later than that, with all the terrible weather we had. That’s really my issue, not theirs, of course.

Anyway, overall, I am very glad I did the ride. However, I don’t think I will feel a need to add this to my (very short) list of annual rides.

Love, for Preschoolers

The other day I was reading 1 Corinthians 13 for my Bible study. I realized this could work really well from a preschooler’s perspective, so I decided to write it. If you haven’t read 1 Corinthians 13, read it here first so you know why this parody is amusing. (I also referred to this alternative, more literal, translation.)

Without further ado, here’s the famous chapter on love, from a preschooler’s perspective.

THE WAY OF LOVE

If I always use please and thank you, but don’t love, I might as well be throwing a tantrum.

If I can explain and understand feelings so I always think of others first, and if I am willing to share even my most precious toy, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give all my fishy crackers to kids who are hungry and even don’t complain when I get a consequence for something I didn’t do, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. No matter how well I use my words, how often I put others first, or who I play nicely with, it’s all pointless without love.

Loves tries its best to do its best.
Love shares.
Love doesn’t whine for candy at the store.
Love doesn’t boast about how it’s the best,
Doesn’t yell to get attention,
Doesn’t demand the first turn,
Doesn’t get frustrated and throw things,
Doesn’t remember when things weren’t fair,
Doesn’t laugh when other kids get owwies,
Enjoys telling true things,
Tolerates playing with littler kids,
Trusts that Mommy and Daddy will come back,
Keeps looking forward to free play
Even while sitting still and listening at circle time.

Love gives it two good tries. Schedules and plans will finish; play-doh will dry out; grownups will run out of explanations. Right now you can read a few words, but the words you can read don’t tell the whole story. But when you learn to read all the way, you’ll be able to understand chapter books.

When you were a little baby, you couldn’t read and follow Lego instructions to build cool vehicles; you just wanted to eat the little pieces. When you got bigger, you quit trying to eat the pieces and built vehicles from your imagination.

Now it’s like a bad computer phone call, with pixels instead of faces. But it won’t be long before we can actually be in person. We’ll see not only our family’s faces, but be able to get hugs and kisses and play with them.

But for right now, until then, we have three things to help us be more kind and patient: Playing, snacking, and napping. And the best of the three is napping.

A Girl in a Man’s World

I just read How the Bicycle Paved the Way for Women’s Rights, which is what got me thinking about being a woman in a man’s world. (Funny thing about the article: It basically devolved into a discussion of newspaper coverage of women’s cycling fashion from the turn of the century. What the heck?) I found it interesting to learn that my hobby played a role in women’s rights:

The bicycle took “old-fashioned, slow-going notions of the gentler sex,” as The Courier (Nebraska) reported in 1895, and replaced them with “some new woman, mounted on her steed of steel.”

I’ve always gotten along with guys; I don’t consider myself a radical feminist or anything. I’m a (fairly) wealthy white woman, and I do not consider myself underprivileged or victim of prejudice. But more and more, I’ve been thinking about what my life looks like and how it’s determined by these cultural norms outside of my control.

I’ve always gotten along with guys, and that’s good, because…

  • At the technical school where Ian and I went to college, there were more boys named Matt than girls in Ian’s class. But in my classes, which focused on biology and writing, there were more women.
  • My occupation, in the software business, once again surrounds me with dudes. But in my department, there’s a pretty equal split of men and women (although it’s two male managers in a team of six, hmm).
  • In my chosen hobby, there are way, way fewer women than men. Statistics on this are difficult to find and tend to conflict, but at the level I prefer to ride (as fast as possible, with as few stops as necessary), men comprise the vast majority.

(Sorry, I’m afraid I may use more bullets even in my everyday writing since I started technical writing full time. They’re just so darn efficient!)

One of the things I’ve learned, spending most of my free time and work time with guys, is to push for my view. I’ve always been loud and willing to express my opinions, to put it nicely. At the same time, I’ve learned that guys respect me and listen to me based on two things: How firmly I’m willing to speak; and whether I can actually put my money where my mouth is.

For example, when I’m biking with a group of guys, we often call out hazards or alerts to each other. If I call out, “Steep hill, gear down!” at the beginning of the ride, the guys will hear me (I am loud) but it’s not until I’ve beaten most of them up the hill that I earn their respect. The next hill, if I suggest to gear down, they’re more likely to listen. There’s not a lot of negotiation or worrying about feelings, and they aren’t likely to be miffed that I beat them up the hill. More likely, they’ll work harder trying to catch me, and I’ll work harder trying to stay ahead.

At the same time, I’ve gotten many comments along the lines of, “You’re pretty fast for a girl,” as well as more overtly sexist ones: “Is this where the fastest housewives are?” and “If I was younger I’d want to marry you because you’re so fast.” DUDES. Would you ever, ever, ever in a million years say that to another guy? Harmless flirting with The One Girl isn’t harmless.

No, this isn’t the vast majority of guys I ride with. Most of them are great guys who want to know how fast my legs are, not what they look like. They treat me exactly the way they’d treat another guy, I think; that’s fair, and all I ask.

All I ask is the opportunity to earn respect, whatever environment I’m in — work or play; to show what I’m capable of and be judged on my abilities. Which is really all any of us could hope for, I suppose.

I’ve actually got a lot more to say about this, and about what I’ve learned being a cyclist in a driver’s world (can anyone say “discrimination”?), but unfortunately I’m out of time for now. Hopefully you won’t have to wait two weeks for my next installment.

Saturdays

Well, I’m realizing it’s been several weeks since I said anything here. I’d love to say that’s because we’ve had a bunch of super exciting weeks and I have lots of amazing stories to share.

In fact, on Memorial Day weekend, we went with Dad to the LeMay Car Museum, where we had a delightful time. I didn’t get to try the race car driving simulator, although it looked really cool; but, in the family area, we did enjoy the pinewood derby car racing and the giant United States map with roads and tiny cars, and holes that Benji could pop out of like a gopher.

LeMay Car Museum: Derby 2

LeMay Car Museum: Derby 1

LeMay Car Museum: US Map 1

LeMay Car Museum: US Map 2

LeMay Car Museum: Driving a Car

That Monday, Memorial Day, Dad and I rode the 7 Hills of Kirkland Century, which I believe was our first full century of the year.

This hasn’t been my best season for training and fitness; between being sick, the nasty weather, and starting commuting, I’m a month later starting century rides than usual, and I’m slower than previous seasons. It’s just been tough coming back from everything, and I am still figuring out how much commuting works for me to get in riding but not get overtrained or too tired. Last year I was able to steadily pull at 20 to 21 mph for long periods, and this year, that’s a real effort.

Yesterday we did our second big organized ride of the year, the Flying Wheels Summer Century.

Thanks to large groups including people substantially stronger and fitter than myself, I was able to ride pretty fast on these rides. But it wasn’t so much my fitness as my ability to just wheelsuck guys who can ride 23 mph for 50 or 60 miles at a stretch.

In any case, even if my legs aren’t as fast as I’d like, I’ve gotten to spend some beautiful days outside with good friends, and for that I’m profoundly grateful. As usual, I have to acknowledge the loving sacrifice Ian makes every Saturday when I’m gone for half (or more) of the day on what may be the least time-efficient athletic activity ever.

Here’s what my Saturday looked like yesterday:

  • 4:10 am – Get up, eat breakfast, get ready for bike ride.
  • 5:00 am – Ride to meet Dad; ride together to the start of Flying Wheels.
  • 6:30 am – Our group is together, so we start riding Flying Wheels. Ride the ride, a total of 5:05 moving time plus about 45 minutes of stops for water, food, and restrooms.
  • 12:30 pm – Finish the ride and eat free ice cream while chatting with many other bike friends I didn’t ride with but saw at various points in the ride.
  • 1:00 pm – Ride home very, very slowly with Dad and a couple friends.
  • 1:45 pm – Eat enormous bagel sandwich (also very slowly), take shower, lay down and rest.
  • 3:30 pm – Benji is up from “nap” — it’s time to get going again!
  • 4:00 pm – Drive with Benji to Redmond to meet in-laws. Walk to Benji’s “favorite” hair cut place (a Great Clips, sigh) and wait for a million years while an entire enormous Indian family all get their hair cut first. While waiting, go for a walk with Papa Gary and have an adventure.
  • 5:30 pm – Finally done getting hair cut. We won’t quibble about how even it is. Give big tip for the hassle of Benji squirming around all over the place. Walk to Anderson Park for a little time in the sandbox.
  • 6:00 pm – Drive home and administer snack along the way. Get home, Ian feeds Benji a burrito (after pasta, Benji’s favorite food) while I did something that I’ve forgotten. I think it must’ve been wash dishes and prep cookie materials.
  • 6:40 pm – Start bedtime routine.
  • 7:20 pm – Benji is “down” (in fact, he went to sleep faster than usual, probably thanks to taking a walk in the afternoon) so we eat whatever dinner we can scrounge.
  • 7:30 pm – Bake cookies for church tomorrow (while listening to a podcast about scientology, which is fascinating).
  • 8:40 pm – Finish cookies, go to bed exhausted.

I was all excited to sleep until 6:30, which is when Benji’s allowed to wake us up on weekends… but my body decided that since I woke up at 4:10 yesterday morning, I probably wanted to keep waking up around then. So I woke up at 4:30 am. Oh well. I sleep a lot less in the summer and a lot more in the winter anyway, I assume thanks to the extreme differences in amount of daylight.

Anyway, that’s not a totally unusual Saturday. After riding 100+ miles, I’m the “go” parent in the afternoon. We’ll always do something — get together with friends, go to a park, play in the back yard. Sometimes we’ll have people coming over for dinner in the evening, which means I’m also tidying the house and prepping and cooking dinner, and then spending the time with friends later into the evening.

Compare this to Dad’s normal recovery routine: Eat a big meal; take a soaky bath; take a long nap; wake up, do some quiet activities, and then go to bed again.

No wonder I need a nap on Sunday afternoons!

OH! Last thing: Our “waiting for the hair cut” adventure. We walked with Papa Gary on a little path that goes through the woods behind the shopping center, and we found some old train tracks.

Saturday Afternoon Adventures: Benji's Photo
(Benji took this picture himself)

There was a creek (Bear Creek? I think?) with a tiny train trestle and a tiny barge in the stream. It had a sign, not pictured, that said it was a salmon research vessel. Huh.
Saturday Afternoon Adventures: Salmon Research Barge
We played Pooh Sticks on the trestle for a while, although I felt rather nervous that there were no railings or anything to keep Someone from falling over.

Saturday Afternoon Adventures: Secret Train Tracks

Saturday Afternoon Adventures: Anderson Park

Birthday Love

Yesterday I got a year older.

Actually, Benji asked me a real poser about that: “How do you get older?” I said, “One day at a time.” While I thought that was a pretty good answer, Benji didn’t really buy it. After that I ran out of answers, since “It just happens over time” also didn’t satisfy.

I had a nice birthday. Benji had the idea of making vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting and strawberries on top for me; he also wanted to go to the toy store and help Ian pick out a present for me. They did both those things, which was very sweet. The present was, perhaps not surprisingly, a 3-in-1 Lego vehicle set — the exact thing Benji would want! But in fact it does give me a wonderful present: peace and quiet while Benji “helps” build the set.

One of my coworkers made sweet biscuits and brought them in with strawberries and whipped cream to make strawberry shortcake for my birthday, which was also very kind and thoughtful. In the afternoon, I got to ride home with a biking buddy who works in Fremont, which was especially nice because we had a vigorous headwind.

And I got to have a nice hour-long chat with Colleen, who also sent me an adorable picture of Lumpy the Dragon for my birthday:
Lumpy

All in all, a nice quiet birthday. We’ll get together with my parents over the weekend and use the excuse of my recent birthday to eat tasty treats. I’m also using the excuse of my birthday to take Friday off and have a 4-day weekend. The weather has (mostly) turned nice, and things are looking summery, which bodes well for the 7 Hills of Kirkland ride we plan to do on Memorial Day.

Looking Summery

We made a water slide in our back yard over the weekend.

Summer Fun 1

Summer Fun 2

Summer Fun 3

Summer Fun 4

Summer Fun 5

It’s been about 9 or 10 months since we were able to play in water without getting hypothermia.

And, our lupines are doing fabulously — including a couple of genetic oddities.
IMG_20170522_192854

IMG_20170522_192936
It feels so bizarre to have bare legs and arms out in the outside (or at all, for that matter) — and, naturally, I got my first sunburn on Saturday because I forgot about the existence of sunscreen. I remember now.