Monday, September 13, 2010

My first Spokefest

After being too broke to afford the measly $12 entry fee last year, I was excited to get to participate in Spokefest this year. To top it off, I have a shiny new bike which I just love (and I really didn't love, more like loathed, my old bike because it was the same Walmart POS I had purchased when I was 15 and never, ever taken care of).
To make things even better, I have been riding regularly, so the idea of a 20+ mile ride culminating in a mile-long-climb didn't scare me to death.

I got my parents to watch my two year old, because not only did the idea of hauling a trailer around for 20 miles not sound particularly easy, my daughter can get out of the 5-point restraints. If she couldn't get out (perhaps if we used a lot of rope?) then she would just scream the whole time. And who wants to be towing a screaming child for 1/2 to 3/4 of the ride?

Thank goodness for grandparents.

And thank goodness for chickens in my back yard. A breakfast of fresh eggs was just the fuel I needed for the ride.

With the grandparents preoccupying the child, and eggs in my belly, we headed down to the park. Not a block from the house I noticed a strange sound with every revolution of my wheel. After hopping off and investigating, I discovered a large broken off thorn in my tire.


"I'm gonna leave it in. Maybe the air will stay that way??? ... Besides, I have my patch kit. It's almost 9:10," I said to my husband, "let's go."

I'm glad to say we made it to the park and checked in all in the nick of time. As I was walking back to the line-up area, the speaker started addressing the crowd. By the time I got in position for the classic 21 mile loop, they had started the national anthem. As it concluded, I looked down at my bike and discovered my rear tire was completely and utterly flat.


So... while 2000 people rolled out of downtown Spokane, I started patching my tire.
Fortunately, having a large thorn stuck in your tire makes it really easy to find the hole in your tube.
And hey, if I hadn't been stuck there late, I wouldn't have bumped in to Nate, whom came down to check out the booths but not to participate in the ride.

Finally, 20 minutes later, after washing my hands, we were off. It didn't take us long to catch up to the last of the group. About halfway up the hill on Riverside, on the way up to Government way, we encountered a family with a few five-or-six year old children, a woman hauling a trailer, and a few other adults.

We continued along, and passed a lot of people going up that nasty, nasty hill shortly after the route had entered Riverside State Park. What a killer hill!
Luckily, from there, it was pretty easy riding the rest of the way to the river crossing. Nevertheless, my husband and I were excited to see fruit and toilets at the musical refuel station. While I was there I took the liberty of entering the REI drawing, and won me a tube of chapstick on their wheel of "fortune."
I really hadn't paid attention to what the drawing was for, but I sure was excited about the chapstick: my lips had been dry since I had arrived at Riverfront Park!

After our little break, we headed out again. Of course, by this point most of everyone else had left as well, so we were still near the end of the pack.
But that's ok, it's not about going fast - as fun as that can be - it's about the beautiful ride! That river was so gorgeous, what a treat to have it in sight for nearly the entire ride!

The last half of the ride was great too. I wanted to speed on past a lot of people, but my husband was not up for the task. Having reduced his riding when he became a stay-at-home-dad, and being mounted upon a mountain bike, he was in no shape to keep up with me, so I stayed back with him. After all, it's all about the views, right?

Well, for the most part.
But when we got to doomsday hill (and oh had I been dreading that part), off I went! At a backbreaking 5 miles per hour, I cruised right up that hill!

Really, I did! All the way to the top!

Oh my god.
Did I really just make it all the way to the top?
Do you know that hill is 1 mile long?
And I thought my legs were on fire halfway through?
And I thought they might give out 3/4 of the way up?

I totally made it up that hill!

I am victorious!!!

My husband on the other hand, was pooped.

He walked up the last half.

It's ok honey, all the other people were pooped too.
Although both of us were most impressed by the man who had hauled both a trail-a-bike and a trailer up, and hadn't stopped the whole way. A-mazing!

After catching our breath, and listening to a man recount how he repaired the brake cable housing on his Magna bike with some popsicle sticks and duct tape, we headed out for the last leg of the ride.

That was so easy.
And so pretty. Some great views up there on Summit Blvd.

By this point in time, the crowd had thickened up quite a bit. I guess we gained a bit of ground as we powered up Doomsday. And so, we may have been the last to leave, but we weren't the last to cross that finish line and give Bill a high five.

As I got off my bike, I felt like I could have kept right on going. Maybe the 47 mile route is in my near future. (Because even if I come in last, it's all about the scenery, right?)

Thanks so much to all of the volunteers and sponsors who made this event happen. It was so much fun! And it was great to see some of the added safety features like police, first aid, and bike repair out there on the route with us. This event makes a ride like this possible for people who aren't comfortable going out on to the roads or riding long distances by themselves. And "everyone" really was there too. I was amazed at how many trailers and tag-alongs I saw. So many families riding all 21 miles - way to go!

I'll definitely be back next year!

Oh, by the way...
As if I hadn't had enough fun just getting out there and riding, I got a call this morning that I had won a raffle.

You know, that REI raffle that I hadn't really paid attention to.

What's a "flash pack?"

Oh. Huh. Pretty cool. :-)


Hank Greer said...

Bummer about the flat. May I suggest keeping an extra tube on hand, swapping that out and patching the other tube at your leisure? On the bright side, you didn't have to sweat the crowded start with people weaving all over the place. It was scary for the first few blocks.

Congrats on your track bag win. Now you can take up running, eh?

Rachel said...

Running... is that what it's for?
The REI website was making it sound like it was for hiking or something.

Looks cool though. Seems to have an area inside for a camelpak bladder, and lots of space for stuff.
My husband thinks he might use it, since he doesn't have any racks or panniers.

Luckily, patching the flat didn't take much more time than a new tube would have, since I knew exactly where the hole was and didn't even have to take the tube out of most of the tire.
Well, I suppose we had to wait for the rubber cement to dry a little.

jimmythefly said...

I've got one of those bags, and they're great for day hikes or to bring on extended backpacking trips where you want a small bag for side day trips/peaks/etc.

On mine some of the daisy chain webbing on the back has pulled its stitching, though. Otherwise it's great and carries well even when fully stuffed. I hate to sound like a commercial, but I've had other "day" bags, and this one really nailed it for me in terms of big/sturdy enough to use, but light enough that I don't mind bringing it along.

I've used it on bike camping trips too, where all my gear was on the bike, but for that last grocery stop or garage sale I just needed a bit more carrying capacity.