Monday, August 27, 2012

RSVP 2012 - Day 1

Its been a while since I wanted to do the RSVP ride. RSVP stands for Ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party! Its a scenic bike ride through 188 miles of scenic Pacific Northwest back roads. After having done STP twice, I felt ready for the more challenging ride :-)

This ride had only about 1500 bikers and I felt the smaller crowd at the start line itself - no long lines anywhere (compared to STP which has 10,000 bikers) and not much fan-fare either. After checking in our bags for night in the Western Washington University truck, picking up our RSVP gift, we were on the road at morning 6:25am!

The first 12miles was on the flat Burke Gilman trail, beside Lake Washington. As the first rays of the sun fell on Lake Washington, everything around lit up in the golden hue. Srijan, Aravind, Gunny and I chatted while we biked at a leisurely pace. We stopped at Log Boom park (mile 9.6) to use the restrooms but they were locked! The bushes beside the lake came to our rescue and that's were we bikers relieved ourselves:-)

Very soon I came to the first big hill on Woodinville. The up-hill didn't seem bad at all - small wonder, because I was fresh with loads of energy! Once that hill was done, the down hill was a pleasant surprise. The entire Snohomish valley suddenly opened up in front with acres of farmland bathed in the morning sun. I simply  loved whizzing down that hill :-) After a brief stop at the Snohomish downtown/bakery, we were on to the Centennial trail.

Soon I reached the first food stop at mile 36. Food options were Dave's killer bread with PBJ, bagel, bars, chips, plums, grapes, oranges and delicious muffins. I stuffed myself and my bag too, since there were only 2 official food stops along the route. The easiest 1/3rd of first day ride was done. I applied tons of sunscreen and was up on the bike again.

The ride through the Centennial trail was a breeze, with a cool breeze blowing literally. The trail goes beside state highway 9 and is nicely shaded in the trees for long stretches. The heat and the next big hill arrived almost together around 11:30pm after taking the right turn on to Lake Cavanaugh Rd. Today there was a heat wave warning with temperatures in the 90s. Keeping the motivation, beating the heat, and staying hydrated, I climbed the hill. I was so glad to see  the next water and port-o-pottie stop at mile 63! I doused my head completely with cold water and it worked wonders in giving me a boost for the next stretch.

The next part of the ride was on highway 9. Mt Baker showed up on right in all its magesty. I still look at it in awe and some disbelieve that I was on its peak 2 years ago. Many bikers stopped and took pictures, and I stopped and admired its beauty.

I reached the Mt Vernon food stop at mile 75 around 1:00pm. The heat was scorching to say the least. The others were already resting under the trees. I dropped my bike, had good lunch with Dave's killer bread and fruits, and laid down for an hour long nap! The sleep really helped in beating the heat :-)

The valley before the Chuckanut hill felt long, especially since we were biking when the sun was in its peak fury. Chuckanut hill is the last major hill of day 1. I was looking forward to because that stretch was under the shade of trees. The view on this drive is amazing, the entire Puget Sound opens up in the West while the road curves and climbs through several view points. However, this hill keeps going on and on, rolling down hills and more up hills. There was a lemonade stand on top of the last hill, and they had placed "think pink" signs for a couple of miles leading to the stand.

I reached Western Washington University, Bellingham, (where we'd spend the night) before 5pm. WWU is one of the major mid-route halts for many bikers and I really liked their dorm facilities. After showering, we took the bus to Bellingham downtown for dinner before retiring for the night. I was glad that the first day of RSVP, inspite of the hills and the heat wave warnings, wasn't that bad after all!

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