The mini tour!
Ok, so the 15-mile Magnolia Loop ride was by no means an “epic tour”, but I was desperate to get on the bike. Going on an overnight trip seemed possible a week ago, but then life happened, and it was just not a good idea. While in the process of moving, we are temporarily missing a few small (but key) pieces of equipment. That did not seem too hard to overcome, but priorities shifted to visit a family member. As an added bonus, my car was stolen last week, which zapped most of my remaining sanity.
Overnight tour – Canceled. That’s ok. That is all in the spirit of touring. Expect the unexpected. What exactly is the definition of bicycle touring anyway? Wikipedia defines it as “self-contained cycling trips for pleasure, adventure and autonomy rather than sport, commuting or exercise”. I agree with what it is, but not with what it isn’t. Obviously you will get exercise, and it’s totally possible to morph your exercise or commute into a tour. I would define bike touring more by the pace of the trip. I don’t mean the speed of your bicycle, I mean the mood of the whole experience. Let me use Sunday’s trip to explain:
The goal was to go on a bike ride Sunday morning and be home before kickoff of the Seahawks game at 1:30. John and I could easily knock out a 15 mile bike ride in about an hour, but we usually do those types of rides on our own, on our own schedules. When we ride together, we try to find ways to ride together. So I picked a route with low traffic, nice views, and a couple things to look at on the way. The plan was to head west on the Ship Canal Trail, around Magnolia bluff, through Discovery Park, across the Ballard Locks, north on 8th (so we could avoid Fremont Hill for a day) and stop for a pint before we get home.
Probably the most unexpected thing we encountered was the Susan G. Komen 3-Day walking the opposite direction along Magnolia Bluff. Hundreds of men and women were walking for a breast cancer event. They were all dressed up, there were even more cars dressed up, and everybody was talking, dancing, cheering, waving, and all sorts of positive energy was flowing through Magnolia. The unpredictable vehicle traffic was a little tough, and the pace slowed down considerably, I felt like we were riding backwards through a parade, but it was very cool and inspiring to witness this. What a surprise to run into this scene! It doesn’t look that busy in this photo, but it got pretty intense with support vehicles shortly after I snapped it.
Because of that commotion, I missed the turn into Discovery Park so we headed to the Locks. It was actually less crowded than I expected, but still busy. One must be patient at the Locks! Bicyclists dismount and walk through the whole park because it is an Army Corps of Engineers facility and that’s the rule. There are a few narrow walkways as you cross the dam and the locks, and even walking the bike single file can be tight if people are coming the other way, which they always are. Families usually inch along because there are so many interesting things to stare at. There were a lot of cool boats this trip, and I think it might have been the first time I had seen both the small and large lock being utilized simultaneously. The salmon were jumping everywhere, and I had to stop and gawk for a bit too.
Two mini adventures complete, time to grab a beer and watch some football. Wait, another surprise. We got heckled for riding our bikes in the car lane, which is completely legal (and the only option on this particular road). Someone cussed, we cussed back, many cars on that stretch behaved questionably. OMG let’s get off the road and into a pub! Next surprise: we walked right into a baby shower that was taking up the whole bar. That is a thing? Seems like a good idea to me.
My mini tour didn’t disappoint in the excitement department. Sure, it took almost 3 hours (including the beer stop), but still covered some miles, we still worked up a sweat. Every ride is technically a training ride. The goal is to be comfortable doing longer distances and carrying more supplies. You just never know what will happen, and an important component of bike touring is patience and adapting to unexpected surprises. If you’ve planned your tour properly, the unexpected shouldn’t ruin your trip. I could even get philosophical and make some sort of analogy about how we didn’t let last week’s surprises ruin our weekend. We still found a way to work in what we love to do together. It’s not always perfect, but if you can just roll with it, you will still have fun.