Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bike to a Mountain; Bike to a Wedding

The last two weekends, Gene and I have built up a good track record for using our tandem as our primary form of transportation, even when it involves mountains and weddings.

The first weekend in July was the 12th annual Watershed Relay. It's this funky event put on by some friends where you race from the summit of Mt. Adams to Hood River. "Race" is a generous term; besides Gardner, the brainchild of this event, and Johnny, his adventurous roommate, everyone else is just psyched to make it through without too many sore muscles. There is no registration fee. There is no support crew, besides what you figure out for yourself. You just stash a whole bunch of gear in bushes along the way so that you can glissade, mountain bike, road bike, kayak, run, and paddle your way through the Mt. Adams watershed and across the Columbia river.

People typically drive up to the base of Mt. Adams. They then use their vehicle(s) to shuttle gear and people down the coarse. Gene and I wanted to try a new approach: using our bike. We started out in White Salmon and strapped our backpack on the back of the tandem.

It was a 5-hour ride up to the south summit parking lot. The last few miles were tough -- the mosquitoes were starting to come out, and the gravel road was really dusty. We asked ourselves, "Why are we doing it this way? Why are we biking when we could have easily carpooled?" We were heartened by the astonished looks of hikers (non-Watershed folks) passing us in their cars. They honked and gave us thumbs ups of encouragement. We also hoped they thought, "Hmmm... I wonder how I could bike up to the base of Mt. Adams for my next climb."

After dinner and a few hours of sleep, we awoke and climbed Mt. Adams in our bike clothes and shoes. (Shimano SPD clips act kind of like crampons, and bike gloves work surprisingly well to brace youself during the glissade downhill. But you can be sure, we got plenty of funny looks from people completely geared up with crampons and ice axes). We met up with the other Watershed folks in time for the 10am descent from the summit. After the descent, we did the single-track mountain bike portion on the tandem. Some friends took our backpack in their car, so we were a little more nimble. Even without a backpack, mountain biking on a tandem is burly. I was nervous a few times, but took deep breaths and put all my trust and confidence in Gene's bike handling abilities. He did great. Back on the road, with gravity and pavement on our side, we flew downhill back to White Salmon. Tired and slightly sore, we fell asleep before sunset. Next year we hope to do the entire Watershed Relay, from Portland, unsupported. We'll see. More pictures and descriptions are here.

Last weekend (July 11-12), we went to our friends' wedding. Scott and Katja were getting married on the flanks of Mt. St. Helens. Only 50 miles from Portland, we figured we'd make a bike trip out of it. Again, we could have easily carpooled with other friends from Portland, but we want to make a go of it. Sure, anything under five miles and 30 lbs of carrying is a done deal (it will be done on bicycle). But a wedding? 50 miles away? Let's try it.

We made it, and gladly pulled into the field where our friends had pitched their tents. We hopped into a bunkhouse for a stealth shower and cleaned up real nice! We perhaps didn't dance as hard as we might have if we had driven in a car, but it was still a good time.

Congratulations Scott and Katja! A little birdie told us you got a tandem as a wedding present, so we are looking forward to some double Dil- car-free adventures.

2 comments:

Alton said...

Great moment. I too have many pictures like this to be shared. I like Mountain Biking very much. Often use to go. That time I use to carry a Back Pack with me to have the stuffs in it. I bought that from Hydrapak, which is an online store.

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