June 4, 2016 – That was what Kirk asked me to do at one point yesterday “Do me a favour and leave your invisibility cloak at home.”
We went for a good long ride yesterday. We didn’t do the one stretch we’d set out to do, but it was still a good ride anyway.
My colleague at work is a distance cyclist, and by distance I mean “out for a little ride is 500 – 600km”. A couple of years ago we were comparing weekends and discovered we’d both been on the same stretch of road at the same time, we’d actually passed her on a backroad in Washington, and Kirk had noticed them because of the tandem they were riding. So now on sunny summer weekends we compare routes.
This weekend we were going to be on a common stretch of road, at least we thought we would be, but Kirk and I were doing a loop in the opposite direction since we had to stop in Blaine to pick up a couple of small parcels, so it wasn’t a given that we’d cross paths, given timing.
There is a little side route off one of my rides that goes through Silver Lake Recreational Area.
I’ve only done it once and this was part of her cycling route Saturday, so I thought we’d try to catch it on the way back up to Canada. In the end, we didn’t have the energy left and it was late in the day, her group would be long off that stretch by the time we got there, so we cut that section off.
Anyway, we cleared the border quickly, the Border Guard didn’t even ask us to remove our helmets, that was a nice change. And he was a chatty fellow. I sat behind as he and Kirk chatted away for minutes, apparently he was very interested in Kirk’s bike, knew someone who was selling one and wanted to know about it. By the time I got to the gate I received “Well Good MORNING young lady! The most important thing for you today is to keep that rubber side down! And this bike looks faster than his bike!” I replied that this bike may be faster, but this rider isn’t. He laughed and sent me on my way.
I love my Nexus card!
We made a quick stop to pick up our parcels, a small bag and a couple of irrigation timers, and headed off for the long way to Chuckanut Drive, with the usual rest stop along the Lummi reserve for the obligatory, “Oh look at my pretty bike against the backdrop of Mount Baker…” shot. 🙂
The ride was relatively uneventful to Fairhaven, we did some stretches that I haven’t ridden in a couple of years so it there was some effort in pulling directions from the sieve that is my brain. Coming into Fairhaven I looked up and saw a cloud with rainbow streaks through it. I’d seen one of these for the first time a couple of years ago on a ride and thought it was the polarizing film on my visor, but it turned out to be an atmospheric phenomenon (http://wp.me/phm71-4xm). It’s called a circumhorizontal arc and only occurs when the ice crystals in thin clouds are facing a certain way, and only when the sun is at a certain angle to hit those perfectly oriented crystals such that the whole thing acts like a prism.
The one we saw coming into Fairhaven wasn’t as bright as the one we saw previously, but it was still striking, though by the time we pulled into Fairhaven Park to try to get a photo, it had lost some of its beauty.
We pulled out Fairhaven Park and that was when my invisibility cloak self-engaged as a driver turned off a side road, without even stopping at the stop sign first, directly across me sending me onto the binders with my horn expressing my anger at the twit for what could have been a t-bone encounter if I’d been going just a bit faster and he just a bit slower.
Then, halfway through the ride down Chuckanut, a car parked on the right hand side of the narrow section of road where we were riding, suddenly shot out of his spot and pulled a U-turn across the double yellow line, and then stopped in the middle of the road to shuffle his way around. That was another fistful of brakes and a major headshake at the stupid move. He could have ended up being hit from both sides given that the corner he did it on was relatively blind coming the other direction. In what universe that was an appropriate move I don’t know.
Then we passed a sign that said “Watch for runners on road” and as we came around the corner, runners were running across the road and more brakes were to be grabbed.
All in all, Chuckanut was a little more of an obstacle course than usual.
Coming down from Chuckanut the wind knocked us around before we made the turn to Edison for lunch at the Longhorn Saloon, where we ordered our favourite chicken clubhouse sandwich and what was a much needed cold beverage (A Whistling Pig heff). And when the sandwich arrived, I reminded myself why we should share one rather than order one each!
And as we enjoyed our lunch another rainbow cloud appeared, with a contrail above it, causing Kirk to joke that the chem-trails were causing the rainbow clouds 😉
After our late lunch we backtracked up the road and took Colony Road across to Highway 9, rode up Hwy 9 to Kendall, and then up SR547 to the border.
But not without incident.
Along the way at least another 4 or 5 vehicle cut across me leading Kirk to make the comment at a rest break that I “should leave my invisibility cloak at home next time.” I really did lose track of how many driver cut across my path at uncomfortably close quarters. It was unusual in that respect, I usually say that I ride in the US because I don’t feel that drivers are out to kill me to the extent that they are in Canada. Today that just didn’t hold true.
As we stood by our bikes at the side of the road having a stretch, a large group of riders came down the road and passed us. They were a collection of every bike imaginable and looked to be having a great ride together. We exchanged waves as they passed. A couple of minutes later we pulled our helmets back on and got underway again, but just a short distance down the road on a corner that I usually like, we could see a car stopped and two people waving their arms at us.
We pulled up and stopped and just around the bend was the group that had just passed us and a big tour bike was dumped in the ditch with the rider laid out and another leaning over him.
We asked if there was anything we could do and the driver of the car said no, they just wanted us to slow and be careful on the corner to avoid another accident. With a dozen people there, there was nothing we could do so we rode by slowly and headed towards home. A few more minutes along the road and we came across a half dozen rider stopped at the side of the road looking back down the way we’d come. We pulled over and asked if they were part of a larger group, the answer was affirmative, so we let them know their group had been in an accident a couple of miles back. They thanked us and headed back down the way they’d come.
I don’t know what happened. Maybe the rider hit some sand of gravel on the corner – the roads still aren’t that clean down in that area and many of those corners always have some pea gravel on them. Maybe the rider didn’t assess the corner properly and went in too quickly, it’s a sharp corner, almost 90 degrees. Maybe the group was riding too closely together and someone bumped. But the end result wasn’t good and it’s terrible to see a rider laying in the ditch.
I hate group rides. I see riders too close together, ego and bravado get in the way of logic, riders push themselves beyond their comfort zones and can get into trouble. But the upside is that when there is a large group, there is lots of help.
We came down Kendall hill and into the dog leg section of the fields below and an emergency vehicle came flying at us…in my lane! Over as far as I could go without heading into the field, he shot by us. Followed shortly thereafter by a fire truck and an ambulance.
Crossing the border was pleasant again, the Canadian border guard had all sorts of questions about the gear I was wearing, the ride, the bike. Kirk got the same when he went through. He couldn’t have cared less about what we came back with, just wanted to talk bike stuff.
From the Sumas border crossing it’s usually a straight shot across to Lougheed and then home, except that halfway down Lougheed there were brake lights and cars being turned around. When something closes a major highway in both directions, it has to be bad. Looking later on, it was a pretty messy accident. I found this online when we got home.
I’d say that after the rider in the ditch and the closure of the highway, on our long detour around the closure, we rode thoughtfully.
Hot and sweaty when we got home, we looked at the odometers and ended up pulling a 370km day.
When the weather turns nice it’s great to get out, but it’s also the season for accidents.