summertime … and the livin’ is busy

Wow – busy weekend. 

Friday, my dad and I went to see Ken Griffey Jr.’s return to Seattle, as the Reds demolished the Mariners 16-1.  The pregame stuff was nice, but the game itself was the ugliest I’ve seen.

Yesterday was Kayla’s tenth birthday.  In just six years, she’ll be eligible to drive (eeek!).  We had a nice, low key day.  She and I went over to the nearby state park, and did a 5k together and enjoyed a pancake breakfast.  Evening saw us heading out for a nice Italian dinner, followed by cake and stories.

I got up early this morning to join my teammates doing the Mountains to Sound Relay.  That’s a 100 mile relay from Snoqualmie Pass, up in the Cascade Mountains over to Golden Gardens Park on the shores of Puget Sound in Seattle.  It includes a 23 mile mountain bike ride, 42 mile road bike ride, 12 miles of kayaking, a half marathon, and then a glory run of 10K.  I only knew the team captain (we’d run together), so I’d looked forward to the dual adventures of the event, and getting to know everyone.

As it turned out, I bailed on the team right after doing my part (the mountain bike ride).  So much for my team spirit.  Lots going on around home though, so it couldn’t be helped.

As predicted, the race was an adventure.  At least the part I was present for was anyway.  We met at our team captain’s house early on the morning of the event.  Due to a last minute change of plans, we were 40 minutes later than planned in leaving.  So, after several wrong turns (hard to do that on such a direct route), almost losing my bike (oops – didn’t strap it in properly), and barreling up I90 at 80 mph (thanks Moin!), we arrived at the start with five minutes to spare.  That was just enough time to pee and line up.

The route was all downhill, along the Iron Horse Trail, from Hyak to Rattlesnake Lake.  It was a steady 1-2% grade and not very technical at all.  One twist was a 2 mile trip through a very dark, damp, and crowded railroad tunnel.  Picture several hundred overcaffeinated mountain bikers hurtling through the dark at 20+ mph, all shouting "on your left" at once.  Nope – not dull at all.

After coming back out into the light, I settled into a pace group of about 20 bikes.  Not having been part of any bike events to speak of, I didn’t quite have the pace group etiquette down.  The person in front of me seemed to go a little too slow for me, but after running to the front a couple of times and burning through my legs, I decided a little too slow was better than a little too fast.

The course featured a couple of old trestle bridges.  These guys were a couple of hundred feet up, with nice high fences on each side, but that same rock they put under railroad tracks.  It was like riding on a bunch of golf balls, except they were a lot more jagged, and shot up from the rear wheel of the guy in front of you. 

As we approached the first one, someone shouted out "BRIDGE!!!".  I thought "wow – that’s unusual, are they going to give a shout out to all of the geographic features of the course?".  As we hit the aforementioned rocks, I understood why the bridge warranted a shout-out.  It was impossible to control the bike at high speed, so I slowed down (as everyone else did), but managed to stay on the bike as we crossed.

We almost stacked up on the second bridge.  The guy in front of me fishtailed wildly, and then wiped out.  I managed to hit my brakes and avoid him, but not the curses of the guy directly behind me who didn’t anticipate the sudden change in speed.

Other than those little bits of excitement, and getting covered head to toe in mud, it was fairly uneventful.

I finished 9th (of nearly 40) in our division, keeping a pace of over 20 mph.  That’s pretty good, and I should be content with that.  But being a type A person, I complained bitterly under my breath that I would have placed third in a masters division.  That’s what I get for racing with the younger folks.  Great fun, in any case.

Kris and the girls met me at the transition.  Then we drove to Seattle to pick up my car.  Then the girls and I headed to Whidbey Island for an outing with the baseball team.  It’s always a great time riding the ferry, even when the weather’s a bit dodgy.  We picked up lunch stuff and went out to Double Bluff Beach.  The original plan was to run around in the tidepools, but it was too windy and cold for that.  Instead we played around in some driftwood forts for a while.

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Then we studied some things that washed up from the sound.

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When the second wave of rain began, we drove over to the South Whidbey Community Park, where we picnicked and played games.  Check Rachel’s touchdown run out!

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Everyone ran around and enjoyed the sunshine.

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Later – some pirates showed up too.

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After running around a lot, we braved the ferry line for the trip back to the mainland.  It wasn’t too bad, and most of the team was on the same ferry as we were.

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The girls liked watching the ferry depart the dock at Clinton.  It was pretty cool watching the car ramp go up, and the ship push off through the pilons.

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We caravanned to a school in Mulkiteo and let the kids run a bit before grabbing some dinner.  Finally got home at around 8:30 – a very long day!  Also incredibly fun.

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