Since getting back on our NEW tandem the end of March to test Sheila’s new hip, we’ve gradually ramped up our riding in preparation for a week long tandem bike tour in mid-October. We’ll be doing Bryce/Zion in Southern Utah. Given that the last couple of seasons have been unexpectedly cut short we’re definitely making up for lost time. It’s fun to get back out to many of our favorite spots. This post documents this season’s rides to date, using what we’ve posted on Facebook in Sheila’s voice. The benefit is that our non-FB friends can see it and we’ve preserved these memories.

Getting back in the saddle

We started with a 4 mile ride along Lake Washington, flat and little traffic. Then we did a 6 mile ride to Lowe’s in traffic with hills. The we decided to try going to see friends in west Seattle. It’s only 9 miles each way and we took a long visit break the times we did that. There is a learning curve to riding an e-assist. That first trip lead us up a very steep hill and since Sheila was still not supposed to be pushing at all and Spencer didn’t realize yet that the assist can only add to what we’re doing, it was nearly disastrous. Now we know that shifting the gears is still necessary and you cannot rely on the assist alone!

April 17: We have been blessed with phenomenal weather to ramp up our first cycling season on our new electric assist tandem with my newly replaced hip! In the last 6 days we’ve been out 5 times! We’re 2 miles shy of breaking 100 on the new bike. We’ve visited friends in West Seattle twice, taken the 520 bridge to the Eastside and returned via I90. Today we visited parks crowded with sun-starved urbanites. We went down to Myrtle Edwards Park, over to Magnolia where the shot below was taken, Discovery Park, the Ballard Locks (closed to visitors), the Arboretum, and our own Interlaken Park. So wonderful to be back to riding and a sense of normalcy.

April 21: Drove the tandem up to Mt. Vernon for a lovely 25 mile ride through the tulips. It’s been a decade since we’ve been to the Skagit Flats and we forgot that it’s constantly windy there. But with the incredible weather, the views of Mt. Baker and the gorgeous tulip fields who could complain?! Not even too crowded.

May 22: “It’s not a very pretty picture”, yet it shows another view of the city we inhabit. This is the Green River. It twists and winds until it gets to Elliot Bay. This used to drain Lake Washington until the people who “Built” Seattle decided to change the course of all things, including hills and rivers. Yet it provides a lovely shaded place to ride on a relatively cool, cloudy day. You also can’t see the cottonwood fluff which was everywhere. Rode almost 30 miles today, longest for Sheila’s new hip. Her old hip thought it was nothing.

May 30: On the road again. Turned a lovely 34 miles today. Visited some spots we haven’t seen since 2001. Dionisia Chan can you recognize where we were? Sun, rivers, trees, and hills. Answer: Hierman wildlife preserve on Connelly Road.

June 3: Continuing to carefully ramp up my cycling efforts. Last weekend we did 24 and 34 miles. The PT wants me to start low each week and alternate riding days with walking days. So this week we did 15 miles on Tuesday and 20 today. Saturday we’ll go 35-40. Today was a two bridge day but only a one mountain day. Mt Baker to the north was behind clouds. We crossed the 520 floating bridge on the way out, rode through Bellevue and came back on the I-90 bridge. Normally we never stop on the bridges but we locked up the chain so while Spencer was fixing that I snapped these two shots. The far away one is the 520 bridge so you get a feel for where we came from. Then I turned 180 degrees and you can see Mt. Rainer on the horizon past the cars. It was a lovely day for a ride. It continues to be our “happy place” and we’re both getting more used to the electric assist. And I’m starting to be able to add some human power too!

June 5; We drove out to Auburn and rode 35 miles to Ravensdale, Black Diamond Bakery (yum) and Flaming Geyser. It was SO incredibly windy that we stopped to take a quick video to show you. Intense. But fun too. We didn’t get rained on!

June 8: We rode over the I90 bridge to Factoria to pick up our supply of Great Harvest bread. We have a large freezer used mostly for bread, blueberries and cherries. It was a lovely 20 mile ride. Perfect for the first ride of the week and plenty of sunshine.

June 17: My healing is progressing nicely. We’ve hit 500+ miles on the new tandem AND on my new hip since April 1. I took my first 10K steps walk with Spencer on Sunday and again on Monday. That was my daily norm pre-op. And we now have the confidence I’ll be able to do the tour we had hoped to do this fall. We just snagged the last spot! Excited and feeling optimistic.

June 20: We’re on our first big outing since Covid. We drove down to Portland to do some riding, family visits and Spencer is doing some Camp UKANDU stuff. The weather has been sunny and warm and all the mountains have been out. Yesterday we did a Ride Around Clark County (34 miles) and today Andrew took us on one of his favorite rides up to Council Crest and the Washington Park Rose Garden. You can see Mt. Saint Helene’s with Mt. Rainier off behind it to the left. And if you look closely you can see Mt. Hood beyond the Rose Garden. We climbed almost 2000 ft in 30 miles. It was the most challenging ride so far on my new hip. We actually tapped out the battery today, though we’d chosen not to charge it last night. So those two rides together used it up.

June 26: Yesterday we did a little 25 mile ride with Mary Tedd & Rob (plus 10 more miles to connect with them). We started early to “beat the heat”, got to see their new hybrid van tricked out for their tandem, and enjoyed a great visit over Veggie Grill lunch at U Village. Their new gravel tandem was having some tire inflation issues necessitating a few stops for refilling. Great view of Mt. Rainier on the UW Campus.

July 7: We’ve been riding a fair amount lately. We’ve already got 800+ miles on the new bike. A couple of days ago we did our first 50 mile ride, around Lake Washington. Today we drove up to Mukilteo and took Tess on her first ferry ride! We only did 35 miles but they were hilly with nearly 3000 ft of elevation gain. We must’ve seen a dozen sets of these road work signs around Whidbey Island. It was a lovely day albeit overcast and cool. The clouds parted and the sun warmed us in the last half hour of the ride.

July 9: Today we rode down to the Bainbridge Island ferry and did a sweet 35 mile ride with a ton of steep hills to climb, gaining 2800′. It was about the same distance and climbing as on Whidbey but we used about half as much of Tess’s battery power. Today we tested out a new suspension seat-post as the old one was no longer doing its job. It was easy to install and made a big difference in the bump factor sitting on the back wheel. Saw this fun Tour d’France sculpture along Pleasant Beach.

July 13: Another beautiful day for riding. We set out over the 520 bike trail to Marymoor Park where Spencer took his shoes off and tried out the Reflexology Path. Pretty cool. Sections with different size rocks with appropriate instructions. Then we set off for Factoria to pickup some Great Harvest Bread. We were riding along West Lake Sammamish which has lovely views when we came to a road closed detour. Hmmm….took us up a very long and steep (24% grade) hill. Not nice. But we made it home via I90 trail and we’re tired puppies. Spencer figured out that the sound I was hearing was the tire rubbing on the fender. It turns out most of the spokes were loose! Yikes! Off to REI to get it fixed. Today’s ride was 35 miles and we broke 900 on the bike and my new hip. There should not be so many issues with a new bike. 

July 16: Quite an exciting and unusual ride today. We set out around 10:30 and drove to Rattlesnake Lake. We parked and rode 21 miles uphill on a rail trail which is 2-3% on GRAVEL! The last 2 miles were through an unlit tunnel that took us to Hyak in Eastern Washington. It was an unusually cool day, the tunnel was not only dark but cold and damp. Coming back down our speed was roughly double what it was on the climb. We averaged 12 MPH RT. The downhill Spencer worked to keep us at or under 20 MPH as the gravel was rough at that speed plus we now had the wind-chill also. There was an event going on called the Yeti 100 Trail Run. Based in Virginia they had about 39 folks from all over the country participating. Some were doing 100KM but many were doing 100 Miles! They had to complete in 30 hours. Crazy. we enjoyed cheering the walkers and runners on as they went by. We visited with the rest stop folks to learn about the event. We saw a lot of folks rock climbing. We rode over many railroad trellises. We ran into Nancy and Glen Erickson of Erickson Tandems and had a lovely catch-up visit. We’d toured with their company in France in 2006. Then we helped a Dad and his son with tools they needed to change their flat. When we finished, the bike and everything on it was covered in a fine dust. Spencer calls this ride the Filthy Forty.

July 18: Today was a gorgeous day. We drove down to Orting and did a version of the Daffodil Classic. Unfortunately the cue sheet we downloaded was inaccurate. Fortunately Spencer is a master navigator. We ended up with 41 miles and seemed to be in the presence of Mt. Rainier most of the day. When we arrived she had a skirt of clouds. We cooled our feet in Lake Tapps, so refreshing. We enjoyed cleaning off the dust and dirt on our shoes from the “dirty 40” two days ago on the John Wayne Ironhorse Trail. Departing the lake we captured another view of Mt. Rainier with the lake peeking through. As we returned to the car the mountain was in all her glory. We stopped and got an RVer to take our photo with Tess.

WooHoo…We’ve reached 1000 miles on Tess and my new hip. Watch for a week’s worth of reports from Central Oregon next up.

Central Oregon Getaway