September 29-31 2011 Trip: Skagit County — Part 2

After a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast of instant oatmeal, My Patient Love and I set out to ride to Samish Island. Our goal was a 32 mile loop from our campground at Bay View park, up to Samish Island and back down through the farmland away from the coast. Unfortunately, that’s not quite what happened.

First off, we had to repair my fender/rack attachment on The Raleigh. Once we got that fixed, things seemed to be going well. We rode the first six or seven miles through a lovely countryside of orchards and fading fall fields.

Don’t you just want to hop the fence and grab an apple off that last tree? So red! So tempting! So sinful!

The weather was hardly ideal: gray, overcast skies and low light. It was muggy enough to keep us from getting cold, but it wasn’t exactly a sun-kissed farmland extravaganza.

Mount Baker, which is apparently taking lessons from Mount Rainier, teased us through the clouds.

Never you mind, Mountain. I still see you:

The layers of misty light gave the landscape an almost Japanese quality, like the prints of a shrouded Mount Fuji and surrounding farms from the 19th Century. It was quite beautiful, in its own way, but hard to capture with a camera. Cameras like light, you know.

Still, there were moments when I was reminded of Ireland, with its water-soaked vistas. There was, after all, a reason I picked this area for our trip: it’s known for its beauty.

As is, of course, The Raleigh. Though unlike the rural landscape, The Raleigh generally looks better in photos than in real life, where it’s a bit of a beater (character, of course, character). In fact, for the first time on this trip, after we realized The Shogun’s pedal had been hitting The Raleigh’s top tube the entire drive, creating a lovely bare spot near the lower cable guide, I thought: “Someday, I might need to restore this bike.” Really, there will probably come a day when the paint is just too beat up. I’m not there yet, but I could actually foresee a time when that would be true. At the very least, the old workhorse could use some matching touch-up paint before rust sets in. Sigh. Anyone got any sparkly brown paint?

Speaking of The Shogun… I noticed that The Blue Bike’s Rider was having trouble finding the ideal gear on that ancient friction shifter. I kept calling: “You’re not quite in gear” to him, which I realize now was probably intensely annoying, as it turns out that the derailleur was shot and wouldn’t actually stay in gear. But My Stoic Gentleman pedaled on at this point, without letting on to me that the bike was, you know… broken.

The bike was also… too small. You see, My Man is very tall. He’s got the arms of an ape, I swear. They’re too long! The bike’s stand-over was okay, but he quickly informed me that he “felt cramped” in the drops. Now, keep in mind that I was mostly directly behind or in front of him. From the back, he looked okay. So at first, I dismissed this and thought: we’ll just raise the seat a tiny bit more. He’s just not used to road bikes. He’s imagining this.

Uh, no:

The dang thing looks like a clown bike. His leg extension is workable, though not perfect. But his upper body? Ridiculously tiny bike, giant armed man. So… well… what to do? How will I find a bike that’s built for him? He’s probably a 56cm x 60cm! That’s crazy. He’s riding a 54cm x 56cm with a 120mm stem and he looks like he’s on my Raleigh, he’s so upright. Seats can be raised, yes. But 120mm stems are about the limit of what I can do here. The bike is just too small.

Arggh! Still, I rode in ignorant bliss of this problem for the first 10 miles or so. Look at him here:

See? Deceptive from behind. This bike looks on the small side, but not ridiculously small. The man has the longest torso on earth. I should have realized, since his inseam is only one inch longer than mine, but he’s nearly eight inches taller, that we would have an issue. At any rate, I rode on obliviously, and enjoyed more scenery as we neared Samish Island.

The funny thing is… it doesn’t appear to be an actual island. I crossed no bridge. Generally, I feel that bridges are what defines islands that one can bike to, but I guess I’m wrong. We puzzled over this truth.

Really, that’s not a bridge. That’s part of a landmass. Perhaps a map would help?

I know I shouldn’t be encouraging others to check out My Partner’s butt, but seriously: that stand-over looks fine, doesn’t it? Ape arms. I love him, but it’s true. Anyway, the map did not help us understand the island that wasn’t an island. I kept saying: “Did you see the ‘island’ part of this? Where did it happen? Did I miss it?”

Not that it wasn’t beautiful.

Samish Island was so small, that truthfully, we were done in moment. We stopped to reconnoiter with the map near a sign that made me laugh. Usually, really photoshopped signs don’t do it for me, but I liked this one.

After a chuckle, we headed back the way we’d come. The wind was really picking up and the clouds were definitely threatening rain.

I call this: Pointy Mystery Island.

It was around this point that we realized My Laconic Guy’s bike would no longer shift through most of its gears. And besides, as he admitted, his butt hurt on the cheap saddle. I felt pretty good, but after all, this was about both of us having fun.

We made it back to the campground, and decided we were DONE for the day. Instead of riding, we drove out to lovely Whidbey Island, which is nearby, to take a drive across my favorite bridge at Deception Pass.

But more on that in a moment. First, we headed down to my favorite little Whidbey Island town, Coupeville, which is famous (at least to me) for it’s festivals. I’ve been to a berry fesitval, a water festival, and some other sort of festival that I can’t remember anymore. They like them some festivals, and I would too if I lived in Coupeville, because it’s a cutely festive little waterfront town that hasn’t yet been overrun by artsy ladies in boiled wool jackets.

It still has a pleasantly rinky-dink feel.

We headed out to check out the old pier:

On the way, we met Captain Jack:

Of course, I was immediately reminded of this ride, in Bothel.

What I enjoyed most about the pier, besides the shop that sold more windsocks than I ever knew existed, was the exceedingly nice and somewhat desperate nature of the bathroom signage in ladies room:

That’s a lot of pleading.

Back on main street, we located a local ice cream shop, where I had the best mint ice cream I’ve ever had. It actually tasted like fresh mint leaves and chocolate. We stopped nearby to eat it, and I spotted this fellow out on the railing.

I do love a kingfisher!

My Gentle Fellow enjoyed his ice cream, and frankly, was having much more fun now that we were off the bikes:

He’s still not 100% comfy with posing for me, as this slightly forced smile shows. But he’s tolerant, and he’s trying. The funny thing is, after four years together, I still think he’s the cutest guy around. I don’t pretend to be blind: there are many hot men in the universe, after all. But I just think mine’s the most wonderful, the most handsome, the most kind, and the least talkative. I can only guarantee that the last one would strike other people as true.

After our treat, we drove back out to Deception Pass and got out to enjoy a jaunt out onto the bridge. The sunset views were spectacular.

Back at the camp ground a few minutes later, we headed down to the beach to capture that last bit of sun and the eerie glittering lights of the oil refinery across the bay.

After that, it was more hot cocoa and off to bed. In the morning, I insisted on one last short ride…

First, I wanted to photograph the little wetlands we’d blitzed by the day before, but the light left them less spectacular than I remembered.

The Raleigh looked pretty next to them, though.

Finally, both days I had driven by these enormous… well… SPOOLS. I know they’re used in boat building, but they reminded me of the spools my grandmother let me play with as a kid. So I made The Shogun Riding Man toodle down the road with me to photograph The Raleigh with GIANT SPOOLS! Bet you didn’t see that one coming, huh?

And together:

With a boat:

And so ended our brief foray into Skagit County. It was lovely, and fun even when things didn’t go perfectly as planned.

Besides, all that time riding behind the Man on the Tiny Bike got me thinking…

What if I took The Shogun, and put upright bars on it?

And a rear 5-Speed Sturmey-Archer Hub?

And a front dyno hub?

And a Brooks?

And rode it myself, as I always intended!!

All I have to do is sell The Viva (ehem) and then I can get started. The left over cash will go toward finding The Man I Love a Bike that Fits Him.

Brilliant!

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14 Responses to September 29-31 2011 Trip: Skagit County — Part 2

  1. Auchen Crow says:

    Breathtaking scenery! What a wonderful place to cycle!

    Don’t worry about the scrape from the pedal on your Raleigh’s top tube. When you are old and gray, you’ll look at this faithful bike, replete with scrapes and scratches from ten thousand days, and remember this one fondly.

  2. rideblog says:

    What a lovely way to look at it, Auchen! Much better than my mental fussing.

  3. Sue says:

    What a beautiful cycling adventure with your Man :). I love mint chocolate chip Icecream and I agree the Raleigh is extremely photogenic. I ended up selling mine (slightly too big for me), but miss its photogenic qualities. Good luck to you and the Man in finding a new bike for him.

  4. rideblog says:

    Thanks, Sue. I won’t try to find him a new one until I sell my Viva, so he’s stuck with this one or his crappy cheap mountain bike for a while :).

  5. Steve says:

    I only recently found your lovely blog a few days ago,and just now finished reading all of it. I love your writing style,humor,and being a lover of all bikes-but ESPECIALLY classics and 3 speeds (though sadly not owning one…weird),definately the bike pics!

    I’d love to go on a mini0holiday with my wife (or wife and kids) like this one…if only I could get to to ride a bike (she’s NEVER ridden at 39…).

    Anyways,you now have 13 loyal readers :p

  6. rideblog says:

    Yea Steve! Welcome!

    3-Speeds are the best, I must admit, and a really cute one with a basket and lessons from someone patient with no expectations might just get your wife out there! At the very least, you clearly need one yourself!

  7. Steve says:

    Thanks :)

    Well,I patiently taught her to drive just 5-6 years ago,LOL,and biking is definately more fun. I’ve started a blog recently as well (I had one for a few years…it’s still there…but was having issues with blogger.com),please check it out and let me know what you think :) I’m not too sure I’m happy with weebly.com’s free site either,I may move here (wordpress.com),as I really like the layout of your blog (as well as a few other bike blogs here). Here’s the addy…

    http://www.mybikeblog.weebly.com

    I even mentioned yours earlier today,LOL!

  8. rideblog says:

    Your blog looks great, Steve. I do find WordPress ridiculously easy to use and very well-supported. It’s also free, which I like!

    The entries with your son are adorable. Just curious: if you have disability insurance, do you worry about them questioning your ability to ride a bike? I’ve always wondered how that would work with rideblog, were my disease to progress to a more debilitating state.

  9. Steve says:

    Thanks for the kind words! :)

    Yes,actually,I do worry about it…lots. It’s a LONG story on the whole Disability\SSI thing,much longer than I should take up here.

    Basically,I was a long haul (cross country) truck driver after a 3 year Army tour (’91-94…I’m about your age,BTW). In 2001 a trainee\co-driver fell asleep behind the wheel as I slept in the bunk,going well above the posted 75MPH speed limit. Not realising it (and not having been informed by the local-to-there hospital I went to after the accident),I had broken C2 and C4,suffered trauma-related (from the wreck) scoliosis between the cervical area and mid back with minor damage to the lower lumbar region,disintigrated several discs and those vertibrea,the ones around them,were fused perminently. A month later,I returned to work.

    Fast forward to 2007,I gave up long haul (both due to pain of 20 hours per day bouncing in the truck,and wanting to be home with my wife and kids),and began having more and more issues\pain with these injuries,and due to that,accepting lesser and lesser jobs locally,until finally in December 2008,I worked my last day,and finally took the long-said advice of the Wife,family and my trusted doctor-and applied for SSI\Disablilty (SSDI) benefits,those being the ones that are witheld from all of our taxed income on payday (point being,I’d paid into those same benefits since I had my first job at 15 years old…)

    It took a skilled lawyer,25 months,and going through many denials to gain approval,while my family suffered financially (we still don’t earn combined near what I earned alone before the accident). I had an SSI “Occupational Specialist”,in court\hearing tell the judge “there is no type of gainful employment he can do with enough consistancy or regulatiry that he could support himself or his family”,and was STILL turned down (3rd out of 8-10 denials before finally gaining approval).

    I have spells,where I can ride lots,and spells where I can barely walk,so I try to capitalize on the spells I’m able to ride…but every time I pedal (whether down the street or down a trail) anywhere,it’s always in my mind “What if the wrong person sees me and we lose my benefits? What if I can’t go back into the workforce and support my family? What if…”.

    I won’t get into the politics of the whole thing,as I tend to get…flustered (ask the Wife ;) :p ). I could give you LOTS of information on that subject (via email or such,I don’t want to hijack your blog,which I greatly enjoy reading).

  10. Steve says:

    BTW,after this service provider change we’re making over the next week is finished,I believe I will try WordPress out,I really like the layout and such of here and a few others I’ve found and follow :)

  11. rideblog says:

    Thanks, Steve. That’s exactly what I figured it would be like. I certainly know what you mean about good spells and taking advantage of them. I hope it all works out!

  12. Steve says:

    It will,it always does,LOL! Sorry I just saw this. We got the new i-net provider this morning,and apparently our bought-used PC doesn’t want to play with it (I’m at the public library now),so IDK when I’ll get to start up my own here (wordpress.com),or update mine on Weebly with any pics,LOL!

  13. rideblog says:

    Working with any PC without tech support is a nightmare! I use my work computer, which means I’m totally spoiled.

  14. disabledcyclist says:

    LOL,I hear you! :)

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