Thursday, November 10, 2011

Waiting For the Other Shoe to Drop

 It is now undeniably November here in the Pacific Northwest, and that means really crappy weather could descend at any given moment without having to make any excuses or apologies.  November, December too is crappy weather season here. 

So when locals see a forecast like this:

Partly cloudy, high of 50 degrees with less than 20% chance of rain 

we can’t help but think; “This looks like a great day for a bike ride.”  Partly cloudy, high of 59 degrees, and a 20% chance of rain?  Oh yeah, this is a bone fide nice day ….. for November. 

So on the SIR google group we find a veritable springtime bloom of invitations to join this or that permanent route.  You’d think it was April by the activity, further proof that this is indeed a nice day in the eyes of the pasty, washed out, local cycling community.  And so being the ‘well seasoned’ local randonneur that I am I made my excuses and took a day off work to bask in the glow, and to get another ‘P’ closer to the illusive P-12. (consistency trumps ability!) 

I picked the Chehalis - Tono route for a couple resons.  First it doesn’t require a lot of effort for me to ge to the start.  More and more I am liking less and less a long drive or ride to get to the start of an ‘event’.  I always think to myself “Look how much fine riding you are driving past to get to a place to ride!”  Plus, it starts at a Starbux which is a better start location than a pulp ill or slaughter house. 
(bacon havarti chibatta breakfast sandwich.  I took this pic because steam was rolling off this thing as I set it on the hood of the truck)
More seriously, it is mostly rural, within 20 minutes you are out of the bustling metropolis of Centralia and out in the country. 
That is unless you encounter a train.

It was a long damn train.
The Tono hills insure that you will have to work to get to the end, and though I climb like a rhino I know that hills have their purpose. 
Getting ready, imagine my glee as I opened the winter booties drawer, expecting to find a collection of worn, but not quite worn out booties, only to find ....
These beauties!  Last May I put in enough miles on the commute to work challenge that I got a 'prize'.  I was stunned and thrilled to get a nice pair of Showers Pass fleece booties, they even fit!  So I stuck them in the drawer, forgetting about them until last night.   SUH WEEET!
The 8:00 am start was slightly obnoxiously early, but an early start would mean an early finish and possibly some left over daylight afterward.  I noticed last night that it was stoned nighttime dark at 5:15pm!  This just seems wrong. 
The weather followed form however the over night low of 34  degrees caused me to think that early morning start was a classic case of over thinking a situation.  Was I likely to get busy and mow the lawn afterward? .... Right.  

But all the elements came together to deliver on the promise. 

Early did indeed result in almost no traffic. 

Cold resulted in encountering almost no other cyclists, and the wildlife had not been stirred up.  The ducks and geese were calm on the ponds, I passed a small herd of deer, they just stared and munched, unpreterbed and the birds of prey went about their business with workman like precision.

Gee, I wonder why they call it the Steamplant?
I saw this strange apparition a couple times.  A fog rainbow? 
I thought it might be an optical illusion, or the result of some interplay between my photogray, prescription trifocal glasses and the cold and foggy morning.  I was glad to see the camera picked it up when I got home.
Always nice to be able to stop by the local Koi shop when out for  a ride.

You do see 'interesting' things out in the sticks.
This nice looking Mote Carlo will get you over the jersey barrier in style, but man, that flat is going to be a bear to fix.  The fors ale sign said 'runs good'.  

And here is a little contest for the mycologically inclined:
Yummy, or yucky?  first one with the correct answer gets Satutday off.  Provide the common name and you get Sunday off too!  One entry per contestant please, these weekends off are getting harder to wangle, the job market being what it is.
For my part, I did what I do.  I huffed and chuffed, blew billows of steam from my soggy lungs, and revelled in the reality that in this place and time I can do this as a matter of course.  No lift tickets or greens fees, no permits or applications.  No military checkpoints, no militia or liberators carrying Kalashnikovs or M-16’s.  Just me and my round wheels rolling along making steady progress to get back to where I started.  The whole concept of going out for a bike ride is so abstract.  How can doing something with so little purpose be so satisfying?

Everything worked great, the legs, the bike, the infrastructure, the weather and my mind.  When I ride solo I talk to myself and think through the worlds problems as well as trying to figure why that one electrical cuircuit to the outlet out at the end of the driveway trips the breaker in the service entrance panel.

The big slosh will likely come along sooner or later.  This being a La Nina year, the big slosh may arrive in white flurries.  In these parts snow freaks most people but I’ll take it over extended torrential downpours any day.

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