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An excellent weekday evening ride, September 2002
(L-R) Craig, Mike, Lawrence, Dave & Jill's foot
September 2002
The wet pavement heralded the end of our perfect weather just in time for Sunday Morning's ride.  To the North a promising blue hole in the sky.  To the South a dark layer of clouds awaited.  We went South.
We didn't waste a lot of time warming up and got busy climbing early on.  Almost immediately I took the lead in the Lantern Rouge (LR) competition by getting dropped on the first climb.  As we rolled south the sky grew darker and we encountered our first and only rain on the ride around the Southern end of the island.
Once our route turned Northward the pavement began to dry.  The sun arrived on the climb up to the State Park where Gary & Tom seperated themselves from the group on a charge for "King of the Mountain" (KOM) points on the loop's most wicked climb.  I'm not sure who scored as I was busy extending my LR lead off the back.
I managed to stay in contact with the others by keeping the route vague enough they'd have to stop and wait regularly, which they did graciously.  At one such regrouping the guys were just finishing a game of monopoly when I arrived.  Timing is everything...
By the time we reached Utsalady I had almost an insurmountable lead in the LR competition.  Eric made on last attempt to overtake me in the LR competition by drifting into Gary's rear wheel while mesmerized by a dead porcupine laying in the street.  Somehow he managed to acrobatically stay upright and avoid certain roadside acupuncture therapy.
After the ride the awards were given out.
I don't know who won the KOM because I was miles back from where it happened.
A special Nobel prize for physics was awarded to Eric (aka "Dances with Porcupines") for proving that Newton's law of gravitation (all bodies and particles in the universe are subject to gravitation) does not always apply to someone wrestling with a bicycle.
The "If you can read this you're too close Eric" bumper sticker Award was given to Gary.
The "If you can read this, you're about to get dropped" bumper sticker award goes to Tom.
Rookie Ron gets the "It would be a good idea to carry and extra tube from now on" award for proclaiming he hasn't flatted (sorry for using the "f" word) ALL season.  Rookie mistake.  Just like in baseball one does not talk about a no-hitter while a guy is pitching one.
The "Best excuse for not being there" award was given to Dave for being the only one to not use the rain as part of his excuse for not being there.  (The question I have is would Dave have made it if Al Gore was the President? ;^)
October 1, 2002
We were blessed again with near perfect riding weather.  We decided to repeat the "To Hill and Back" route of the previous week.  With UCI points at stake we were joined by none other than Hein Verbruggen himself.  Apparently they don't trust me to award points anymore ...
We rolled out of Stanwood toward our goal working together well.  The pace was brisk but everyone seemed to have good legs.  Marcel (Marshall) and Gianni (Gary) did some monster pulls that put us ahead of schedule.  Thierry (Terry) and MOrio (Mo) kept our turns at the front short hoping to stay with Marcel and Gianni all the way to the base of Mont VonLittle (little mountain).
MOrio proved the strongest in the "Lantern Rouge" competition once again by getting dropped on the climb BEFORE the climb.  Earlier he had just managed to stay in contact on the Col de Overpass ...  Hein, thinking MOrio was taking unfair advantage of his LACK of climbing prowess neutralized the race to the entrance of Mont VonLittle.  Once there the race for UCI points was allowed to continue.
Joining Hein in the Officials car was Albert Einstein.  Al was shocked by Eric's defiance of Sir Isaac's laws on the last ride and was concerned that his work might not hold up under the scrutiny of this event.
Albert had nothing to worry about as this climb proved that Motion is indeed defined by a relative frame of reference.  The jet-lagged Marcel (his watch still set for French time) charged up the mountain a full 8 hours ahead of with Gianni and Thierry (who were still on local time).  From MOrio's relative perspective, sonic booms could be heard ascending the mountain.
When MOrio arrived at the top the others were finishing off a pizza while in a heated discussion with Hein about the "designated hitter" rule in baseball.  Apparently Hein is a good buddy of Bud Selig and is trying to convince him that modern technology is ruining the game of baseball.
On the descent down the mountain Marcel proved his descending prowess is equal to his climbing prowess.  He effortlessly carved through the corners putting a huge gap between himself and me before we had exited the parking lot.  In my desperation to keep him in sight I sprinted in my biggest gear.  The wind chill at such high speeds frosted the sweat on me.  The worst part was when my dragging tongue came in contact with the handlebar stem.  ia wa iff-i-ul oo ne-o-ee-ae ah ornas wif my ong suhh on thu sem (Translated "it was difficult to negotiate the corners with my tongue stuck on the stem).  At the bottom of the mountain with my LR lead firmly established Marcel was on his way back up concerned that I might miss the time cut.
We safely cruised back to Stanwood with just enough light to spare.
At the awards ceremony Marcel was awarded the King of the Mountain old MTB schrader valve tube, it's viability unknown, and 50,000 UCI points which can also be used as frequent flyer miles on participating airlines.
Gianni was awarded the Bar End Plug award for being the first non French speaking finisher at the top.  We did finally figure out that Gianni was NOT trying a new pick up line when he said "Boner Madam?" to the lady fans lining the ride route.  He was just trying to be friendly.
Thierry was awarded the piece of Rim Tape for sticking close to Gianni on the accent.
MOrio was docked 20,000 UCI points and must perform 25 "Hail Mary's" and 25 "Our Fathers" before being allowed to participate in the next UCI sanctioned event for endangering others on the descent.  To get even on UCI points MOrio must break away and win by two weeks at the next event.
Best "Excuse for NOT being there" award was given to Rookie "I haven't had a flat all year" Ron.  Apparently on his way to the ride all four tires on his car went flat...  Imagine that.
October 2002 Harder than Hill ride
Sunday Morning was officially the first "bootie" ride of the season.  Temperatures hovered in the low 40s, and we had fog at the lower elevations.  The pavement was mostly dry.  Raul "Chieppe" (Rookie Ron) was first (and only) to arrive.  He was groggy from only 2 hours of sleep the previous night and the demolition derby practice  required to escape his driveway on his way here...  (ED. note: My suggestion to everyone is don't park your car too close to Chieppe's if he's got someplace to go.  He might just get his "bubba" truck and push you out of the way).
Chieppe was pumped to do hills so hills we did.  On the first climb I managed to keep him in shouting distance by using my entire repertoire of "knock knock" jokes.
"Knock knock?" I'd gasp.
A distant "who's there?"
"Not Mo..."
Distant chuckle.
Just prior to the wicked Monticello ascent I told Chieppe that it was so steep that motorists would often lose the change from their pockets while driving it.  Like a bloodhound on a scent he scanned the pavement.  As I crested the hill Chieppe had just finished counting his money.
On the dreaded Maple Grove climb I told Chieppe about the "Lucky Store" where the last three big lotto winners had purchased their tickets.  Excited by this news he sprinted away and spent all $36 bucks he found on the climb up Monticello on Lotto tickets.  By the time I rolled by he was carefully tucking them into his jersey pocket.  He thanked me for the tip and said he'd buy me another bike if he wins...
We rolled toward Sunrise managing to avoid all of the kamikaze porcupines...  On the ascent I could see that the lack of sleep was catching up to the rookie.  I suggested he get a coffee at the Plaza.  I paid off the clerk to secretly replace his Folgers Crystals with warm milk.  Chieppe was too tired to notice and nearly passed out on the climb up Camano Hill.  Yet, as if on some kind of autopilot, he still managed to spin his way to the top ahead of the "field."
As we pulled into my driveway Chieppe was reinvigorated and suggested we do it again ...
I collapsed in the driveway from exhaustion but pretended I just wasn't able to clip out of my pedals.  Unfortunately for me I was right behind Chieppe's car, blocking his way out of the driveway.  When I heard him asking my neighbor to borrow his "bubba truck" I found the energy to drag myself out of the way...
On a historical note, the earliest inhabitants of Camano Island would gather each autumn (coincidentally around the peak of mushroom season) and do this very same ride.  The KOM winner would be blessed for a year without flats by the "Great White Porcupine" (a mythical albino beast said to possess great powers of under-inflation).
Wouldn't you know that Mr. "I haven't had a flat all year" would win and be assured of another year at full pressure?....  After he had amassed an insurmountable lead in the KOM points he jettisoned his pump and extra tube ...
33 miles, nearly vacant roads and mostly dry pavement... A near perfect autumn ride.  It took less than 2 1/2 hours and was a great work out.
Memorial Day 2003
We had some great riding weather yesterday.  I hope everyone got a chance to take advantage of it.  I was lucky enough to hook up with Craig, Jill, Eddy, Jason and Kim for a ride up to LaConner.
Unable to resist the temptation of drafting someone Six-Foot-Nine I set out Monday morning to join the *fellowship of the chainring* to get some "second breakfast."  My confidence to complete such a journey eroded early on when 5 miles into the ride I was reaching for the energy bars and trying to find a comfortable spot on my saddle.
The company of Arlington riders arrived in Stanwood right on schedule.  They had already ticked off 18 miles in under an hour and were cruising steadily in a fast moving brightly colored pace line.  It was good to see some familiar faces and it was the perfect distraction from the suffering I underwent on the ride to the rendezvous.
The flat roads and tailwinds to LaConner were a welcome respite from the rollers of Camano Island.  The traffic was light and the sun soon made the need for sleeves unnecessary.
After a welcome stop to replenish our energy stores in LaConner I suggested an alternative route to loop us home.  Perhaps it was the Oatmeal that made me so overconfident.  While flat, the extra mileage proved more challenging when we turned homeward into a steady headwind.  A reoccurring thought bounced around in my head, "What the hell were you thinking Mo?"
With teamwork that could rival Mario Cipollini's lead-out train we worked our way homeward.  I was grateful my riding mates were willing to ride "Gruppo Compatto" and not leave me to the wolves.  The last HUGE pull into Conway, Jill spun a 20+ mph gear while the rest of us sat sheltered on her wheel.
I could hear the voice of Phil Ligget commentating the action, "This is unbelievable.  This effort is reminiscent of Herra's performance in the tour last year.  My goodness Me!  If I were Johann Boyneel I'd get her under US Postal Service contract immediately!  Lance cannot afford to see her get picked up by a rival team."
And Bob roll chiming in, "Yes Phil, this is truly one of the best cycling performances we have seen this year.  Jill has spent a huge amount of time 'testa della corsa' and looks like she's on good form early in the season ...
Paul Sherwin adding, "You know there is a rumor circulating that she might just do some riding on the track.  With those skills I'm sure she'll be dropping the competition like a hot rock ...."
The leg into Stanwood went smoothly.  We said our good-byes and I made for home.  On the first climb onto the island I was passed by a tandem with fully loaded panniers.  I was barely able to say "hi" as they blew by me.  After a welcome descent I mashed my 39x23 up Sunrise road.  I plotted routes that contained the least amount of climbing as I struggled homeward.  I spotted  a guy going to get gas on his lawn tractor and drafted him as long as I could.  
On the final ascent home my legs rebelled.  The mutiny was averted long enough to get to the descent and I rolled home after using the last drop of gas in my tank.
That was as far as I could have possibly ridden.  The rest of the day I bargained with my lovely wife to assist me with normal everyday living.  "Honey, could you drag me into the house?"  And  "Would you mind bending the straw a little closer to my mouth ..."