Sunday, April 30, 2017

2017 Tour De Lopez

I went to bed Friday evening thinking that it was only about a 10% chance I would get to do the ride on Saturday.  I didn't even bother to set an alarm to get the really early ferry's.  Despite stretching and using heat strips my back was still very tight on Thursday and Friday and I realized no bendy no ridey.  I had been advised by a friend who teaches dance on getting the heat strips and when I went to the store to get some where were they?


Yes of course put the remedy for people with sore tight backs on the lowest possible shelf.

Anyway I woke up Saturday and I still had back soreness but wait a second it seems like its not as tight? could it be....I grabbed the Handsome Devil which was handy and tentatively raised my leg as if to throw it over the top tube..yes! I was bendy enough to ride.  Despite my pessimism the night before I had prepped all my stuff and I knew there was a mid morning ferry I could catch and I had plenty of time for the 90 minute drive the ferry terminal.

waiting on the 10:35 sailing
Traffic was fairly light leaving Seattle just before 8 am and I got up to Annacortes in plenty of time to park get my ticket and wait with the other bicyclists for the mid morning sailing.  As I was to realize later, I  left the map of the ride safely on my car seat..D'oh.

Lopez landing
Lopez Island welcomes cyclists with a nice long uphill slog which by some miracle I was able to ride all the way up.  I was also reminded that training on smooth flat bike trails is not the same as riding chip seal roads in the real world, but I was doing it! I was doing a ride I had been planning for since February:

  • Sign up for the ride you have been thinking about for a decade - Check
  • Build up 30 year-old touring bike to ride the event - Check
  • Do enough training to do the ride without passing out - Check
  • Have troublesome lower back loosen enough to throw a leg over a top tube - Check
  • Cycle down the back roads of a lovely Island in Puget sound - CHECK!
I have been going to the Sister Island of Orcas for about 30 years and have been to the biggest Island in the chain, San Juan, a handful of times but this was my first experience with Lopez and it is deserving of its reputation as a bike friendly place, quiet roads, no brutal hills (that I encountered) and lovely scenery, both pastoral

 And seaside

And the ride organizers did a great job, I found the course - my abbreviated version anyway - well marked and the set up in town for the included BBQ was very nice.  A big field for bike parking

Food tents

Live music from a quintet (drum set, congas, two guitars and a xylophone)

I opted for a brat

And a local beer

 I ended up doing almost exactly 20km on this ride and did some walking especially at the end on the long hill just before the downhill back to the ferry landing, and my granny gear definitely got a work out.  I think that with not too much more fitness and saddle miles the longer rides on the Island would be very doable.  I might just have to come back.

I was fortunate that I was only sprinkled on a few times during my ride as it rained steadily from late afternoon into evening.  As I waited on the ferry home I was treated to a nice selection of bagpipe tunes as the ferry landing operator practiced in her down time.  I also had a very nice conversation with a brother and sister of my age group who were riding Rivendells - A Rambouillet and a large Atlantis - he was about 6'5".

I got a number of nice compliments about the Passage during the day which was gratifying, including a funny comment from a nice young lady who it turned out worked at REI who was next to me as all the cyclists waited to load on the return ferry.  She pointed at my shifters and said "hey his flipper-doodles are there" I replied that yes my shifters were on the um down tube, where they had been on most bikes from about 1930 to the late 70s -which got some smiles from the over 50 crowd.  She had a nice Salsa Vaya and we talked about our REI experience as we waited to load.  All in all a very good day and one I was grateful to have experienced, I am paying for it today as I sit here with another heat strip on my back but I am glad things worked out for yesterday.

As I waited with the rest of the cyclists at the back of the ferry for the cars to exit I took one last look at the sound and Islands and then we got the call to exit.  Definitely a day to Ride and Smile and someday I will go back and Repeat.


  1. Oooh, glad your back felt well enough for the ride. I cycled on Lopez as part of 10 day tour and loved the island. Don't ask how long ago that adventure was...

    1. Thanks Annie, it is a lovely place isn't it.

  2. I am also glad your back cooperated so you could finish the checklist. I like to participate in the one day "t-shirt rides". You would have to be a real grouch to not find a good time to be had. Looks like you did. Bikes, brats, beer. all a formula for a good day. Had to laugh about the "flipper-doodles"

    1. Thanks Jim I was relieved to be able to ride on the event day, and agreed you would really have to go out of your way NOT to have fun. The flipper doodle comment cracked me up too at first it didn't register what she was talking about but once I did I had to laugh.