My Mom and I had done 4 STP's and were looking forward to our first double century other than STP. The ride began in the early morning hours on Friday in Seattle. We experienced many challenges.
One of the first challenges on this ride was that the pedaling seemed much harder than we were expecting for the wind conditions. We came to the conclusion that we must have brought way to much stuff along and concluded that since my Grandmother lived near the route we would drop by and unload some stuff. We heaved and hoed until we arrived at my Grandmother's house about 3 hours from the start line. We discovered there that there was a real reason for our difficulties. It seems that our panniers on the rear of the bike had slid forward on the rack and had slid right into the brakes, pushing them on tightly, so for the past 18 miles riding was quite a challenge! We did unload some extra stuff and with the brake situation fixed, we were off shortly to continue on the ride.
We continued into Snohomish (about 8 miles further) and there noticed that there were men roofing a building who were wearing no shirts. These men also had a truck which was on a jack so the truck would be at the height of the roof. We hadn't ever seen a truck like this before and before long while I was pedaling along there came this "LOOK" from my Mom. As I turned to look a curb just jumped out in front of me! Honest, it did! We were only doing about 15 mph., but the impact was sufficient to damage the bike severely. Our front fork was bent so far back that I couldn't turn the wheel straight because it was about 5 inches further than it was supposed to be. The fork resembled an "S" shape! This challenge ended our riding for day one. We had my dad come and pick us up and transport us home while we set out to find a replacement fork.
next challenge we encountered was in locating a replacement front
fork for the tandem. Since this was an older bike such forks with
french sizing were not redily available. My Father looked around in
local shops for such a fork, but none were found. As we were driving
back home with our wounded bike, we passed a man who was riding from
South America to Alaska. He needed a place to stay for the night and
so he returned to our home with us. He pitched his tent in the yard
and then proceeded to offer to assist us in straightening out the
front fork since no replacement had been found. He was able to do
a wonderful job of hand straightening the fork and again the bike
was rideable. The next morning we left early to catch up with the
group in Bellingham, WA, but by the time we left this man had already
left our yard. He has never been heard from since.
The next problem we ran into was that when we arrived with our group in Bellingham we went to take the bike off the Yakima roof rack only to find out that the bike was taken along, but the front wheel was left behind. Needless to say, we were again left behind our group as we had no choice at this point to locate a bike shop (which didn't open till 10 am) and purchase a new front wheel. Thankfully, the shop we found did have a wheel sufficient to do the job and we were off and riding by about 10:30 am. It was a rather late start considering the rest of the group had left the area hours before.
The next challenge that we faced was the overnight accomodations in Vancouver, BC. Since we were running quite late the hotel we had reservations for had given up our room since it was past 6 pm. (We were only about 10 minutes late.) We begged them into giving us a room somewhere since we could not help the fact that we were late. The room that was given to us was on the fourth floor and we soon discovered that the tandem was too long in any direction to fit into the elevator. We had to carry the fully loaded bike up four flights of stairs after being totally wiped out from the 100 miles we had just ridden.
That night while we were in our room I awoke to hearing my Mother in the next bed sort of crying.. "My Sheep, My sheep!". I awoke her and asked what was wrong. She was relieved to find out she had been dreaming. She told me about her dream in which her sheep had followed her into the city of Vancouver and were wandering about in the streets. It was a terrible dream for her.
As we headed out from Vancouver, BC we knew that the day could be interesting, we just didn't know how interesting it would turn out to be. The plan was to get on the Twassen ferry and go from Schwartz Bay to just north of Sidney. (About 5 miles away.) We had planned to get off the ferry and ride to Sidney and catch another ferry that would take us to the Washington town of Anacortes. The Twassen ferry was quite large and the bikes had been loaded last. We knew that there was going to be a tight time schedule in getting off the first ferry and onto the second one so during the 30 minute trip we very carefully moved out bike to the front of the boat. This was really difficult as the cars were packed so tightly and the bike had wide rear stoker handlebars at that time. Just minutes before docking we had gotten through the tangle of vehicles on the boat. As soon as we could get off we did and rode just as fast as possible for five miles to the next ferry terminal. When we arrived at Sidney the ferry was docked and getting ready to leave. We tried to get throught the tangle of sidewalks that we were told to go through for pedestrians with a very long bike. We had to even push the bike through the small building for buying tickets at. As we got closer the employees of the terminal were telling us to hurry and that the boat was waiting for us. We ran just as fast as possible as to the best of our knowledge that was the only ship to leave from there that day. (The trip is a six hour trip.) We heard the boat blow its horn and just as we were approaching the ramp to get on the boat, it left. We were less than 10 feet away from the boat as it pulled out of its dock. We didn't know what to do since my Dad was waiting for us to come in to Anacortes in a few hours. There were no cell phones in those days and we had no means to tell him of our dilemma. Apparently he found out by asking lots of questions of the crew on his end that we were not on that boat. There was a second boat scheduled for much later that day, thankfully, and so we slept a long while on the grass while waiting for the boat to take us to the rest of the family. After many long hours we were able to catch the second ship and make the much awaited trip back to our home state. Whew! What a trip.
Since that fateful trip in 1988, my Mom has gone on to ride the RSVP and have many good memories to erase the ones from this trip. I have not had such an opportunity at this point it time. If you meet me and hear me make a comment about RSVP this is the trip I'm referring to. :)