07 May 2011

Lighthouse for the Blind bicycle tour

Sleep 6
Waking HR  
Body Weight  
Body Fat  
Breakfast 6:30 AM – cereal
8:30 AM – banana
Lunch 12:30 PM – 2 sandwiches, chips salsa, beer, 6 cookies, veggies, curry tofu salad, pasta
Dinner 7:00 PM – beer, curry tofu salad, 4 cookies, water
Workout Food water
Time of Day 10:30 AM
Workout Type tour guide
Weather mid 50, some wind, dry, partly sunny
Distance 11 miles
Time 1:15
Equipment Single Speed Bike
Clothing knee warmers, bib shorts, Craft long sleeve undershirt, heavy long sleeve jersey,j wind vest, Polypropylene gloves, cap

Time to reap what we sowed.

About 18 months ago Shelley and I donated a guided bike tour and catered lunch to the annual fundraiser auction at the Lighthouse for the Blind. It was a popular item and raised a fair bit of money so we were psyched to make it happen. Our original plan was to take folks up the Iron Horse trail and through the Snoqualmie train tunnel as that is an amazing experience few people have had a chance to enjoy. Unfortunately the tunnel got closed in the summer of 2009 due to water seepage and the danger of a cave-in so there is one more cool landmark that many people will never be able to enjoy now. :(

To further complicate things, the winners of the auction never contacted us until recently. It wasn't until well over one year after the auction that we finally heard from them and suddenly they wanted their tour.

Since the tunnel was off the table and since the weather is totally unpredictable this time of year and since they would never respond to Shelley's questions about how much cycling experience they had or how long they wanted to go Shelley chose what she wanted. Vashon Island. It was close, still somewhat 'exotic' and isolated and the route was not too long.

Friday Shelley went shopping, Saturday morning we met her friend Kylynn who had graciously offered to setup lunch for everyone and off we drove to meet our 'clients'.

Things got off to an inauspicious start when we hooked up with the buyers at the Fauntleroy ferry terminal. Their truck had died and from the sounds of it the electrical system was blitzed but jumper cables worked and so we parked, loaded the van with all the bikes and people and drove on the ferry.

And up the first hill once we landed on Vashon. Shelley and I did not want to subject anyone to that initial 'wall'.

At the top we pulled over at the local fire station and mounted up. This took a bit longer than planned as two of the bikes had not been ridden yet this year (flat tires) and another needed a bit of help with the toe clips and straps (they were metal and bent almost all the way shut). Another person had to be shown how to use her shift levers (borrowed bike).

As soon as we got on the road it was obvious that another bike was in trouble. Two of our guests had borrowed bikes and one guy was on this tiny mountain bike and the saddle was probably six inches too low. His shifters were also not very responsive and in the middle chainring his chain was jumping and sucking like mad.

After about four miles the daughter decided she didn't like her bike and so she switched rides with her mother. Her mother had a 'touring' bike and was now riding one of the borrowed mountain bikes. This meant now she did not know how to operate the shift levers and her daughter didn't have a super low gear. What came next? An incline. Except for one person everyone walked this.

I was riding on the front to begin with but after the bike swap I hung back. The chain suck on the borrowed MTB was getting so bad I finally asked him to pull over. Turns out the middle ring was bent! The derailleur cables were so gummed up it was difficult to cram the chain into the big ring but we managed to get it up there. Then I turned the barrel adjuster out all the way to keep it there.

We finally got rolling again – everyone else was way up the road at this point – the poor guy on the tiny bike got a flat. I figured no problem but then realized I had an old school Silca pump on my single speed so no can do with Schrader valves.


As luck would have it we had pulled over across the street from a family of hot rod enthusiasts. They were in the process of pushing one project car out of their garage and pushing another one in so in return for some manual labor they let us use their compressor. Nice. 15 minutes later we were on our way.

We got down to the water and found everyone waiting for us! Wow, how nice. So we rolled out together for that last part of the ride. And it was a beautiful part. Shelley had picked a fantastic road that wound down to the lighthouse and went past some pretty spectacular homes. There was one more hill (I think everyone walked) but then we rolled into the lunch stop.

And man was it amazing. Of course I didn't bring a camera (dumb!) but it was a full-on deli spread. Accordingly I stuffed my face and washed it down with a beer and cookies. Good times. Here we enjoyed the sun which had finally come out and the views and the beach. It was actually a banner day. We also got to chat with all the clients/guests and get to know them. These guys were all pretty damn fun.

I was kinda hoping some would want to ride back but should have known better. The hill on the return route was even harder and after walking some climbs on the way down to the beach I was not surprised when everyone opted to get in the van for the trip back to the ferry. Plus they had made short work of several beers and a couple of bottles of wine. :)

The Palouse Winery is at the top of hill above the ferry terminal so of course we pulled over to investigate. Turns out they have tastings every weekend and it's only $5! For that you get to sample about 6-8 wines and snack on complimentary fruit, crackers and cheese. And if you buy a bottle the tasting fee is applied towards your purchase. Nice. Our host was the most entertaining winery employee I have ever encountered. She was obviously very knowledgeable and also used terms like, "Hells to the no." Hilarious. I sat in the sun and petted this mini dog (of which the winery owners had at least three) while our guests sampled the good stuff. One client was so enthusiastic he grabbed a bottle and proceeded to pour himself an additional extremely generous 'taste' of his favorite. :)

During the ride our clients had asked us how we thought of this ride, how we knew about the Lighthouse charity, etc., etc. and one thing they asked was, "So is your cycling team covering the expenses of this trip?" Uh, no. "Did the Lighthouse reimburse you for this trip?" Nope. By the time we got back to Seattle it had sunk in that Shelley and I had paid for this and that it was not cheap. As we were saying our goodbyes one of them walks over and hands us one of the bottles they had purchased at the winery and delivers a very heartfelt thanks.

"It's been a slice."

In spite of the fact that I had no idea what this meant the gratitude was obvious and it was touching. Very appreciated.

Then Shelley and I finally got to head home, throw clothes in the laundry, put food in Tupperware and hit the showers followed by the the couch and then the bed. Never has 11 miles been so exhausting; being a tour guide is hard work.

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