Sunday, January 10, 2010

Six Degrees of Separation

It’s an interesting concept and one that I have seen demonstrated in a way that seems uncanny and almost unbelievable, trick photography becomes photoshop, and all that.

But I am now living proof that six degrees of separation is real. You may not be a believer. I offer this as proof. In fact perhaps it is the internet thing, or the fellowship of the spinning wheel, but for cyclists I think three degrees is the new six degrees of separation. Here’s the story:

Last week a note arrived in my inbox from Carl in New Mexico. Carl, a perfect stranger to me had this to say:

Greetings Paul,
I just called my friend Kole to get a lead for someone between Seattle and Portland. A friend of mine is riding south, he left Fairbanks Alaska in September, arrived Bellingham for Xmas and is now heading south looking for stopovers. Kole recommended you. You will most likely get a note from him, his name is Don Ross.

I am in Taos New Mexico

Carl R_____

Now it happens that Kole is a member of the Rando club I belong to. I know Kole by name and would probably recognize him, if he had on a helmet and brightly colored bike jersey. But walking down the street in regular clothes? Maybe, maybe not. It also must be said that I would be more likely to recognize Kole from the rear as he is a very fast randonneurs.

I responded saying We’d be happy to help and sent Carl my phone number. One never knows if these things will actually develop, and frankly; starting out on a bike from Fairbanks, heading south in October? Well I have to admit a certain degree of skepticism shrouded my belief.

Then Thursday night I got a phone call from Don. He was south of Seattle and headed our way. He said he figured he’d be in our area on Saturday. I said we would be glad to have him and to just call when he got closer.

Saturday was a great day, going against all weather forecasts. So great in fact that Mrs. C took charge early in the morning and said “get your bike clothes on we’re going for a ride!” I love it when she talks like that. So, in 20 minutes we were out the door and into a slight cloudy but rain free early Saturday morning ride. She was just looking for 10 miles out and back, but rather than the standard South Bank to the buffalo ranch and back she said “Lets ride up Garrard Creek a ways.” OK by me. Here is a funny little aside about riding around here . Say Garrard creek and what comes to mind? A nice little valley with a creek meandering between fields and woodlots, right? Well our Garrard creek gives you a little of that but what comes to mind for local riders at the mention of Garrard creek is a climb. Admittedly it is not Mt Ventoux, or Alpe Day Wheeze, but once you are a the top of Garrard creek, you know you’ve ridden ‘up’. Mrs C thought she’d turn around after an hour or 10 miles, whichever came first. I figured to do the loop, down the back side to manners, then Independence valley, past Swede Hall to Rochester and then the run home.

At the top we chatted and somehow Mrs C decided to go with me! This is bliss! A decent day, nice scenery, and a lovely ride companion to help the miles met away. She got more than she bargained for but it was a good thing. All tolled we got just over 50K in and were home before lunch, awesome!

I had planned to do a little mid winter pond clean up. I had the pond in good shape going into winter, but in ponds as in pick up trucks, winter has a way of making that shiny clean up job you did back in October look just a wee but shabby after 3 months of rain, snow, sleet, ice and road grit.

It was a little traumatic for the fish, they are particularly spooky in winter but once things were done and settled a bit I think they appreciated the improved water quality and the thorough cleaning helps a lot to avoid health care problems once it starts to warm up and they get active and back to feeding.  As I was puttering around the garden we got another call from Don. He was just outside Rainier, how far and where to our house?

After we talked a bit he got a better idea of what it would take to get to our place and I could tell that it was more than riding than he wanted to do. Still it was a good day to get miles under the tires so we settled on him riding to Tenino and then calling and I would go pick him up there. An hour or so later we got the call and I went out and retrieved him.  We got him back here, showered, fed started in on the laundry. It was obvious that he had spent a couple VERY wet nights on the road recently.

Don plans to wind up in Wa DC. I suggested there must be a left turn somewhere in his future. He thought about that for a minute and then said sure but that he is generally heading to San Francisco before he heads east.

It has been fascinating having Don here with us. Riding from Alaska south, starting out in October? You know that is story fodder. I kidded him, asking if he got his travel plans from a New Zealand website (it’s summer down there) he chuckled but then he’s from Fairbanks so I’m sure he is much better equipped (mentally and physically) than I would be for such an adventure.

Don is on a peace ride. If you want to know more check out his blog here. I feel good to be helping out but bad that there is not more that I can offer. Any of you legions of Codfish between were and SF, who would be interested in hosting a very humble and interesting house gust for an overnight stay feel free to get in touch and I’ll send the info along to Carl who will relay to Don. Don by the way is traveling without a cell phone! Imagine actually making your way without having constant, instantaneous electronic contact with the you nine billion planet mates of the world!

Tailwinds Don!

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