Chick-Fil-Line

  • Saturday 5/16/2015
  • 30 Total Miles

Another beautiful spring Saturday in Seattle. Where to this time? A Chick-Fil-A just opened in Lynnwood, so how about some nuggets for lunch? Chick-Fil-A has only recently made its way to Seattle, and this particular location had been open for a week. People camped out and everything. Sounds like a good reason to go check it out. Plus, we identified 2 breweries along the route to try out.

First, pick up the Interurban Trail at Fremont and 110th. There is a parking lot if you don’t have out-the-door access.

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The trail is usually not very crowded, but this seemed pretty empty for a nice weekend. DSCN0307

The Interurban Trail follows the route of the old Interurban Rail Line. This cute park in Lake Ballinger pays tribute to the an old rail stop.

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The Interurban is mostly separated trail, but there are a few well-signed sections along roads. Once you get toward Lynnwood, you will pass some furniture stores near Alderwood Mall. Then you will get to this section that parallels I-5.DSCN0316

Turn right at this overpass to get to Poplar Way, which takes you straight to Chick-Fil-A.DSCN0315

We were greeted by a line wrapped around the building.DSCN0311

The drive thru required extra traffic control as it wound its way through the Lowe’s parking lot.DSCN0313

The wait wasn’t actually that long, and the nuggets and waffle fries lived up to expectations.

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We immediately headed back south in search of Big E’s Ales. This place was great! DSCN0320

The beer was great! The atmosphere was great! It was conveniently a block off the trail. We had already eaten, but the food looked great too. We will be back soon!IMG_0055_2

Time to head south back toward home. Look at this well-decorated trail!DSCN0321

Look at this cool nest. Is it for an eagle or an osprey?DSCN0317

Back in Phinney Ridge, we stopped by Lantern Brewing. I had heard about this but hadn’t checked it out yet. We were really impressed with the bike parking. Usually we have to lock our bikes to a fence, but this brewery had a whole bike corral.DSCN0325

We walked inside, the atmosphere was cool, but then we saw the board. It’s a Belgian style brewery! Like, I wasn’t sure how to pronounce what I was ordering. Bummer! This place had so much potential, but it’s just not our style. Just look at our forced smiles.

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Oh well. At least Big E’s was a good find. We can’t really get greedy and expect 2 new awesome breweries in one day. We finished out this fun day with a big fat steak on the grill. DSCN0331

I would ride to Chick-Fil-A again. The route was easy enough to maybe go early and stop for breakfast. What I would really like to do is ride north on the interurban beyond Big E’s for whatever the day’s distance goal was and stop back at Big E’s for lunch. I think this will happen before the end of the summer.

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Port Orchard Loop

  • May 9, 2015
  • 66 total miles
  • 48 total miles of cycling

It was a warm sunny Saturday, and we needed a destination. Where do I go for inspiration? The Washington beer map. I checked for a brewery across the Sound, and selected Slaughter County Brewing Company. They describe themselves as a Pirate-themed Irish pub, serve pizza, and I noticed a friend of mine recently checked in on Facebook, and I trust her beer judgement.

Seattle to Fauntleroy Ferry

The plan was to leave North Seattle by 10 in order to minimize having to ride through crowds in Alki. We got off to a late start, for no reason other than it was a Saturday. The Elliot Bay Trail was pretty empty and a great mellow start to the morning.

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Getting from downtown to West Seattle was rough. There is so much construction, and we were early enough that there wasn’t much bike traffic to follow. The actual roads were not so bad, but there was not enough signage to figure out where to go. We definitely lost some time stopping to wonder what to do a few times, but we eventually made it to the Spokane Street Swing Bridge, just in time for it to open. DSCN0229

This set us back almost half an hour, but at least it was interesting to two industry lovers like us. The bridge swings open to a 45 degree angle to clear the shipping channel, and according to this wikipedia article, it is the only bridge of its type in the world. DSCN0232

The barge that came through was interesting too. It was stacked full of miscellaneous stuff, including that tractor near the front.

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Finally we made it over the bridge to Alki. There was a little construction detour onto the main road, at which point a boat shaped car full of pirates passed us! Yes, you read that right. Pirates on a parade float type of vehicle were going the other way, carrying on and yelled “on your left” to us in pirate language. You don’t get to experience things like that in a closed up car! By now the Alki Trail was getting pretty busy on this warm sunny Saturday. Our plan to stop at Starbucks for breakfast technically worked out, but it wasn’t as relaxing as originally expected.

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The ride from Alki to the Fauntleroy ferry was beautiful and uneventful. The ferry traffic was bad! For cars, that is. We got right on. Something was wrong with the beer taps though. We ordered what we were told was a Budweiser, even though the handle looked like something fancy. The beer tasted so bad, neither John nor I finished our cup. If you know us, you know that beer has to be pretty gross to be left unfinished.DSCN0239

Southworth to Port Orchard

The ferry from Fauntleroy to Vashon and then to Southworth is so confusing. John could not stop asking questions about how the ferry could make three stops, and what directions the cars will face. Luckily, local ferry riders just love to educate you on how it works.

If you want to ride this loop, do not type in your destination to Google Maps for a route because you will miss the best part! Once you get off the ferry, after the grocery store and post office, turn right onto SE Cherry St and head to this little coffee shack.

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On the other side of the coffee shack, there is a gravel footpath. Walk your bike (or ride if you do not fear flat tires) down this path to SE Cornell Rd.

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Come out the other side, and ride on a deserted paved waterfront road.DSCN0242

You will hug the water for almost the remainder of the whole trip!DSCN0244

It is beautiful and mellow and flat and fun.

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There is a camel

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Lots of time for selfies

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The traffic is scarce enough to attempt action selfies

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Approaching Port Orchard, there are great views of the Olympics across the Sinclair Inlet. I had to look that up on a map. DSCN0265

We rolled into Slaughter County Brewing Company right around 1 pm.

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Shockingly, it was dead! I don’t get it. It was a beautiful afternoon. A brewery with an outside patio overlooking the water. Where was everybody? This guy got it. A beer, an iPod, and a waterfront view.

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Getting Home from Port Orchard

We headed from Port Orchard toward Bremerton to catch the ferry back to Seattle. We kept going down Bay Street toward Gorst to get on State Route 3. The locals tried to tell us it wasn’t safe, but we have done it before, and it was quite comfortable on a bike. When you get to the intersection of SR 3, there is a little bike route sign to go up this path instead of an onramp. Don’t miss it! DSCN0281

The cars on SR 3 are moving fast, but the shoulder is ginormous.DSCN0284

You’re getting close when you pass the aircraft carriers.DSCN0294

The ferry was packed because there was a Mariners game that evening. But we were on bikes, so we got right on, duh!DSCN0298

After a Red Hook and a Snickers, all that was left were the 8 miles back to the house.

The day took longer than expected, thanks to a late start and a few delays on the road. But it was so worth it. It was a great day to be outside and get moving. I highly recommend this route!

Mercer Island Loop and GoPro Practice

This weekend’s challenge was to take the 2-year-old GoPro Hero 3 out on its first journey. My sister gave me this really cool gift way back then, and I feel like I have a lot of really good excuses as to why it is just now seeing the world: no computer, no SD card, no bikes, no snow, etc. But now it is time!

I proposed a loop around Mercer Island for a few reasons. I thought it would be interesting scenery for the GoPro. I knew John would love the rolling hills of Mercer Island on his single speed. And I figured we could stop at the Roanoke Inn for lunch 2/3 of the way i, because stopping to enjoy something not near home feels more like a “tour” than a training ride.

The trip took us from Fremont, through Montlake, across the I-90 bridge, counter-clockwise around Mercer Island, and back. About 35 miles. I HATE riding through Montlake, which is why I’ve never taken John here before, but I’m afraid he might be hooked now.

But first, setting up the GoPro….

This took a few hours Saturday morning. Stupid things like finding a charging cable and getting the SD card out of the plastic take extra long on Saturday mornings. John ordered a handlebar mount earlier this year. It comes with a lot of different pieces to create options for your setup. At first it seems cool that you can set it up however you like. But what actually happens is that you need those pieces to find the only way the camera will mount to your exact handlebards and coordinate with any other accessories you have up there. John had to move his headlight.

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Phew! It can attach to a bike now! But can we figure out what to do with it? Our plan was to use time lapse mode to take photos at a defined interval during the ride. We picked 5 seconds and tried it out. We even uploaded them to the computer just to make sure it was really working, and it was! Here is our first video, complete with genuine confused faces and a kitty cat tail.

Off we go! There are 1363 photos of the 113-minute trip from home to the Roanoke Inn. The battery lasted that whole way, but it died during lunch. The battery wasn’t fully charged, so I’m not ready to report on battery life.
We took turns impatiently using iMovie to turn our time-lapse photos into a movie. What we made was a movie that is probably boring to everyone but us. You don’t see any scenery. Even going over the floating bridge wasn’t as interesting looking as I hoped. Time lapse really wasn’t made for this purpose (i.e. a moving camera). I did learn how to add some text to try to jazz up the boring parts.

What should I do next time? Just wait and start recording a video during interesting parts? How do I determine what is interesting before it happens? One thing that is really convenient is that you can still use it as a traditional camera. So unlike the camera that is often in my jersey pocket, there is one right there if something weird happens. Also now John and I each have a camera in case he sees something interesting while I’m still a few miles back.

Next time: Maybe we can take a video getting on and off the ferry. A video arriving into a campground and capturing people’s impressed faces would be cool. I suppose I could take a few short videos like that and combine them into 1 movie with a background song. Would anyone watch that?

Question: What software do you use to edit your GoPro media?

New Year New Gear

Time to try out some new toys! The holiday season brought some new gear into our lives. John got a new front rack and some new shoes. I got a new camera for documenting our adventures! And now to document the Magnolia Loop….AGAIN!

I promise I won’t recap every training ride. There is definitely a benefit to repeating the same routes often. It was 40 degrees on Saturday, so we needed something short and easy (mentally easy). Here we are in cold weather gear. No need for fancy high tech clothes. Just pull up your socks and get out there!

Keeping the shins warm

Keeping the shins warm

My new camera is waterproof and shockproof. I don’t have to worry about dropping it during action shots, and it should be able to withstand the rain. The old standard Coolpix got waterlogged after a rainy hike, and ever since then the lens would fog up frequently.

Not only is the camera shockproof, but it came with a strap that is long enough to wear around my neck. On this trip, I wore it the whole way. It was a shorter trip and I had a collared fleece on. No way would I attempt that for a long hot ride. But if we are in a scenic area, I can have the camera at the ready. You don’t even want to know the maneuvers I have tried to in the past to hold onto bike and camera.

Action shot down the Ship Canal Trail

Action shot down the Ship Canal Trail

Check out John’s newly installed front rack. He picked out the Salsa Down Under specifically for its low profile, and it just wasn’t fitting right. You know John…..it’s not about the ounces, it’s about being the most bad-ass single-speed tourer ever. He already is, but I guess there is always room for improvement. In case you ever try to install your own rack, this took about 4 trips to the hardware store for various bolts and spacers. It took a lot of patience and repeated attempts to get everything to line up properly. The finished product looks great!

Lookin good!

Lookin good!

Nothing new on the Salsa for now, although I did get some larger panniers so I can carry almost twice as much volume now. My bike has been sadly underutilized so far.

It was a beautiful afternoon for a ride. We played with some new toys. We didn’t let the cold scare us. We are still trying to figure out a winter season tour. The sunset is still before 5:00 pm for most of January, which really limits riding time.

Made it to Discovery Park this time

Made it to Discovery Park this time

Not enough daylight to wait for drawbridges!

Not enough daylight to wait for drawbridges!

Magnolia Mini Tour

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.

Great day for a ride with a view

Great day for a ride with a view

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.

Breast Cancer Walkers

Breast Cancer Walkers

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.

BIg sail boat in the lock

BIg sail boat in the lock

Another cool looking boat in the lock

Another cool looking boat in the lock

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.

Lots of choices at Park Pub

Lots of choices at Park Pub

Bikes on a proper date at a proper bike rack

Bikes on a proper date at a proper bike rack

My grillmaster

My grillmaster

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.

Chilly Hood Canal Day Trip

About a month ago, I went on a trip to get back in the saddle after replacing the stolen bikes. This past Saturday I went on a trip to get back in the saddle after a month off from moving. Hopefully Saturday’s trip is the start of a string of winter cycling adventures. For the exact same reasons that the last destination was Amercian Brewing Company, the current destination was Hood Canal Brewery. Of course my initial reaction was this is boring, but I understood why it was the right call. I also thought there would be no material for a blog post because it’s yet another trip across the Edmonds-Kingston ferry. However, I will take this opportunity to describe the steps to putting together a bike tour, regardless of how long or short or old or new the journey is.

Route Finding

Researching and choosing a route is so fun. You can make up as many hypothetical bike tours as you want. About half of all conversations between me and my husband are about all our future trips, from how to safely get to South Seattle to spending a week biking down the Oregon Coast.

I love exploring new routes, and I am known to groan about repeating routes even once. Whether I’m cycling, hiking, and pretty much any style trip, I feel like “but I’ve already done that, I want to do something new!” My husband enjoys repeating routes in order to gain familiarity and comfort. Both philosophies are valuable, and we both understand where the other is coming from, but we are definitely forced to compromise when it comes to trip planning of all sorts.
This weekend was not a time to take on a new challenge. We both felt out of practice, and we needed to go somewhere we were familiar with the route. As I’ve mentioned before, knowing where you are going speeds things up considerably. My husband suggested Hood Canal Brewery. The route was familiar, but the destination was new. It was a good compromise because of course we needed familiarity, but we got to go on a daytrip, instead of riding bikes for the sake of riding.

Waiting for ferry in Edmonds

Waiting for ferry in Edmonds – Mt Baker is above my right shoulder

Gear Up

Some road cyclists doing a long training ride can get away without some essentials. Even though our trip was a modest 35 miles of cycling, we would be a long ways from home and help. After the flat on the Hood Canal Bridge in July, we learned a valuable lesson about pumps. If we carry so much gear, why bother with the CO2 cartridge when we have plenty of room for a pump? So now we travel with this Topeak Road Morph. It might take a little time to pump, but there is less of a chance of operator error if you’re tired and rushed and frustrated.

And since we are packing a whole pump along with our other flat supplies, let’s just throw it in a pannier along with a fleece vest, extra shirt, and the growlette. We almost used a backpack, and then duh, we carry panniers all the time, why would this trip be any different?

November in Washington means colder temperatures and earlier sunsets. Front and rear lights are important, but reliable front and rear lights are more important. We opted for the less bright red blinkies because the rechargeable Serfas Thunderbolt has not been long lasting lately. That’s no good. It’s also the season for full-fingered gloves. John got this snazzy new pair last week. He got to utilize a key feature within the first block of our ride. Can you guess what that feature is?

Gloves / Communication Tools

Gloves / Communication Tools

 

Make a Plan

Isn’t finding a route the same as making a plan? Not to me. The route is the basis for the trip, but the plan is how to make it actually happen. We knew our route and destination, but the plan includes things like deciding what time to leave, coordinating meals and snacks, determining if there is any additional gear required.

For this trip, we were limited by daylight. Sunset was at 4:45. We decided to leave at 10:00 to allow for 2 hours to get there, an hour or so to hang out, and 2 hours to get back home. We really need to get into the habit of not assuming the ferries will be on schedule. 2 hours assumed we wouldn’t wait long for the next ferry boarding and that things would be generally on schedule. We had delays on both ferries this trip. This added about an hour of travel time to the trip, which meant we didn’t get home until after sunset, which was darker and colder than we had prepared for.

I am extremely food-driven. I have a hard time functioning without fueling up first. John is more of a food-replacer, but I am a food-spender. This can be tricky because we plan around my food needs; however it still takes compromise because there is no reason to force John to eat more than he wants or take an unnecessarily long break. For this trip we checked the brewery website and determined they didn’t serve lunch, so we packed some sandwiches. For just a few minutes of preparation time at home, we avoided spending extra time and energy to figure out what to do on the road. We’ve been burned by this enough times already. The sandwiches were not exciting, but they were way better than dealing with Hangry Reba.

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No blog post would be complete without describing how we had to chain our bikes to a fence. We brought the thick cable and documented the situation.

Hood Canal Brewery Fence

Hood Canal Brewery Fence

It was a great trip. We experienced beautiful weather, we took in beautiful views, we visited a new brewery, and we got back out on our bikes together. It’s our favorite kind of date.

American Brewing Company Repeat

July 2014. My husband and I were on a bike touring high. We felt in peak shape, ready for adventure, and noting areas for improvement. Five short days after our awesome Deception Pass trip, our beloved bikes were stolen. I headed downstairs to the secure condominium garage where we had 5 bikes locked in various ways to each other and a rack. The first thing I noticed was that John’s brand new custom Gunnar was gone, and I ran upstairs to tell him. I didn’t even notice at first that my Salsa frame was still locked to the rack with no wheels. All that remained were the Salsa frame and the Surly single speed mountain bike. Both new touring bikes were gone (or unusable), and both of our former touring bikes were also gone!
We followed all the procedures to report to theft to the police and our insurance company. It all went about as smoothly as it could because we had receipts for all the bikes, and we knew the exact make and model of all the attached accessories. Even though it went well, it still takes a while to process, as well as special order the new items. My Salsa Vaya was stock, which would have been easier to replace, but special ordering the missing parts took a few weeks. The Gunnar obviously was going to take a month to build, even though our bike shop was nice enough to persuade Gunnar to put John’s order at the front of the queue.

1.5 out of 5 bikes remained

1.5 out of 5 bikes remained

The thieves took our stuff, but it felt like our summer was stolen from us too. We were so excited and had big plans. We have a long mental list of campgrounds and routes we are itching to try out. We have a wish list of gear to use on long and short trips. Knowing we would eventually have replacement bikes, it was a battle to stay positive, stay in shape, and be patient until the next tour. It wasn’t easy.

Tried storing bikes in the living room for a few weeks

September 13, 2004, over 2 full months later, we were ready to get back on the road. Before this excursion, I rode my bike to work a few times, and John had 2 after-work rides. We had talked about going to Belfair State Park, the location of our first bike camping adventure, because it was a fairly easy route with many towns and facilities on most of the route. Since we are in the process of moving (kicked into high gear after the theft), we decided it was just not going to happen this weekend. A day trip to the brewery was much more reasonable goal.
Plans to bike to Red Hook evolved into plans to American Brewing for the exact reasons mentioned in this blog post from June. Red Hook involves the Burke-Gilman, which is an amazing regional trail, but not a good place for a grumpy bike touring couple to be on a beautiful Saturday afternoon while University of Washington is in session. The ride to Edmonds did not disappoint.

Modest sign outside American Brewing

Modest sign outside American Brewing

It wasn’t perfect. My knee was sore for some unknown reason. I felt really frustrated that I was not in as good of shape for riding as I remembered being in July. But it was just what we needed to get back out there. After a few schooners, and a refill of that growlette we got last time, we headed back to Seattle. The 25-mile ride took a few hours in total, including the pit stop, and it was a great way to spend a warm sunny afternoon. And most of all, we felt like we were back to our normal selves. Maybe Belfair will be in the cards next weekend.

Speaking of security……I am shocked how many breweries we have visited that do not have any bike parking. To me, this is as easy as a metal bar, but maybe it is more complicated than I think. I like to take photos like these not just to call out places that need bike parking, but also to document how the bikes were parked in case the unthinkable were to happen when we are inside. American at least had a chain link fence. We are getting experienced at locking up to whatever we can find.

No bike parking

Here's an old one where we had to use a mailbox

Here’s an old one where we had to use a mailbox

I apologize for not filling this blog with countless bike adventures like I originally planned, but they will come. We are even more determined to figure out how to bike tour year round, and I suspect with that will come some interesting stories. I cannot wait to tell you about it!