Posts Tagged With: Bicycling

“YAY! You’re Halfway There!” The STP Bicycle Classic Stops in Centralia

Welcome to Centralia, Halfway Point for the STP!

Welcome to Centralia, Halfway Point for the STP!

Every year during the second weekend in July is the annual STP (Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic). Ten thousand riders start their trip in Seattle on Saturday morning. Some ride clear to Portland in one day, but most stop about halfway and finish the trip on Sunday.

Welcome to Centralia College, STP Riders!

Welcome to Centralia College, STP Riders!

Centralia is the halfway point. During this weekend the population and number of bicycles on the road explodes. For years I have always avoided leaving the house on this weekend in order to avoid the chaos, because years ago when I went to town it was very real chaos. It was stressful to drive through town and worry about grazing a rider.

STP Riders in Centralia

STP Riders in Centralia

But this year I decided to check it out. I went to Centralia College (where David and I work) about 10:30, not expecting much to be happening yet. Boy, was I wrong! Riders were coming in steadily and had been for a couple of hours. The college puts a lot of effort into welcoming the riders and providing all sorts of resources for them, encouraging them to camp on the grounds, eat, get a massage, and enjoy the beer garden. It has the energy and atmosphere of a fair!

STP One-Day Riders in Centralia

STP One-Day Riders in Centralia

Starting on the east end of campus was a blow-up arch, welcoming riders coming onto campus with people cheering them on and congratulating them on making it half way. As they proceed west down the “Aadland Esplanade” more people are cheering them, directing them to service, water, food, and handing out ice cream.

Riders weren't the only ones enjoying the ice cream being handed out

Riders weren’t the only ones enjoying the ice cream being handed out

There is a designated area for riders completing in one day. Food and port-a-potties are available for them. The rest of the site has vendors such as REI, bicycle parts folks, water and repair stations. There is a bicycle corral for riders to store their bikes in safety. This corral is overseen by the Centralia Police reserves.

Bike Corral at STP

Bike Corral at STP

The beer garden opened at 11:00 but I didn’t see anyone using it at that time. I assumed it would be much busier later in the evening. (Yes, it was – they apparently went through 20 kegs!)

Centralia College looks like a campground during STP

Centralia College looks like a campground during STP

One special booth that I had to visit was a dedication to a co-worker and friend, Jeanette Speigelberg,. She was the manager of the Children’s Lab School (day care) on campus. In June of this year, she passed away unexpectedly while training for the STP. Her friends and staff wanted to honor her by having a booth at the event. The college earns money for scholarships by hosting riders on campus, and Jeanette’s friends have started a scholarship in her name.

Tribute to Jeanette Spiegelberg

Tribute to Jeanette Spiegelberg

As I left campus, I intended to skirt the main roads in order to avoid the chaos I remembered from years ago. However, much has changed and I was very impressed! The road heading over the viaduct and leading south of town towards Chehalis is a two-lane one-way street. Orange cones blocked off the entire right-hand lane almost all the way into Chehalis. Instead of getting away from the riders, I decided to follow along in the other lane, knowing I wouldn’t have to worry about driving close to the riders. I finally turned off to head home, while the riders continued on south.

All ages and abilities can do the STP

All ages and abilities can do the STP

I see now why everyone gets so excited about the STP. It was the same energy and atmosphere as graduation day. In a sense, I imagine that it is like graduation day for those that have trained for so many months to prepare for this day – and they made it!

Little girl sprays STP riders to cool them off

Little girl sprays STP riders to cool them off

If you would like to be involved in the STP but don’t want to actually ride it, come on down to Centralia College next July and show your support by cheering on and welcoming the riders! Everyone really can be involved!

Spectators Needed! Enjoy the STP!

Spectators Needed! Enjoy the STP!

My friend and fellow Centralia College employee, Brenda, was in charge of making sure the Port-a-Potties stay clean and emptied. An important job with so many!

My friend and fellow Centralia College employee, Brenda, was in charge of making sure the Port-a-Potties stay clean and emptied. An important job with so many!

 

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Categories: Bicycle Trail, Outdoors, People, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What a Ride! Apple Capital Loop Trail, Wenatchee, Washington

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Entrance to trail at Wenatchee Confluence State Park

Wenatchee knows how to do a bike trail right. I’m new to bicycling. Well, new since I was a kid. I just bought my first bike with any kind of gears this past year so I’ve been trying to get out on it riding trails. I don’t want to do road biking because cars just make me too nervous. But trying to find good, long trails that are mostly easy enough for a beginner and a 50+ year old woman, but also a little challenging in spots to build strength and endurance, has been a little difficult. So I was thrilled when we discovered the Apple Capital Recreation Loop Trail in Wenatchee, Washington.

The trail is 10 miles long and loops from one side of the Columbia River to the other. It is the longest loop trail in Washington State. There are several access points and we chose the Wenatchee Confluence State Park to enter simply because that’s where we stumbled onto it. There is plenty of parking and you can enter the trail right there. It took us for a short ride with slight inclines and declines until we got to the bridge. Then it was enough of an incline that Josh and I had to walk our bikes up. David was impressive – he rode all the way up it and his bike is a cruiser – no gears!

While this bridge also carries car traffic, the bike trail is completely separated by a concrete wall so I felt very safe. Once on the other side of the Columbia River, you go a few miles along the river and behind some beautiful houses. There are several spots to pull over and look out over the river, some with benches to sit on. There are two access sites, one at 27th Street and one at 19th Street. The one at 19th has a restroom, water fountain, and even a place to put air in your bicycle tires.

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Water over trail

The inclines and declines on this part of the trail are perfect. Some places they are steep enough that going down them there is a 10mph sign. One small part even shows a 6% downgrade.

On the day we rode, the river was quite high and even went over parts of the trail. That was really fun as we were already pretty warm by then and the little bit of water cooled our feet.

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Old RR Bridge Part of Trail

About five miles down that side the trail then goes back over the Columbia River via an old railroad bridge, and is for bikes and pedestrians only – still no worry about cars. Going down the other side takes you into Wenatchee and along the riverfront. There are a lot of trailside rest areas, creative works of art, and colorful gardens.

A little further on you have the opportunity at Wenatchee Riverfront Park to take another bike/pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks and on Saturdays, stop at the farmers market. If you get to this spot after noon, take a break and stop in at the Saddle Rock Pub and Brewery. They have an impressive number of microbrews, a fabulous Chicken Caesar Ranch Wrap, and their own Wenatchee Pizza which has bacon and apple slices on it. A tasty alternative to the usual Hawaiian pizza.

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Bridge over the RR tracks from trail to Saddle Rock Pub and Brewery

Bike back over the bridge and ride through the Riverfront Park, which has more restrooms and water fountains. The trail then goes through Walla Walla Point Park, where there is a lot of activity going on such as sports fields, stand up paddle boarding, kayak rentals, etc.

Not too much farther until the trail enters the other side of the Wenatchee Confluence State Park, through the manicured lawns of the camping sites and soon back to the parking lot.

The ride took an hour and a half (not counting stopping for lunch). It was the perfect amount of time, a ride that was easy enough most of the time, yet challenging in spots, incomparable scenery, and safe from car traffic. The Apple Capitol Loop Trail is the perfect ride for beginner cyclists, young and old!

Map of the trail: http://www.chelanpud.org/documents/Apple_cap_Rec_loop_map.pdf

Categories: Bicycle Trail, Outdoors, Parks, Uncategorized, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bicycle Riding on the Pt. Townsend to Whidbey Island Ferry – Washington

Ferry

Ferry Kennewick

Having recently bought decent bicycles, one thing we have been talking about doing is taking our bikes on the ferry  system. So while vacationing in Port Townsend, Washington, we decided to start small and go on the Pt. Townsend to Whidbey Island ferry.

Nothing we do seems to be without adventure of some sort. We got up on an overcast Friday morning, checked the ferry website to make sure the ferry was operating on normal schedule. It was. Well, OK, the website just didn’t mention there was a problem. We took our car to the Safeway parking lot in town to park. We could have chosen to ride public transit down to the ferry dock but decided just to ride. When we got there we found out the ferry was broke down. They said it would be out the rest of the day and the next day was questionable.

Disappointed, we decided to ride around downtown Pt. Townsend. We had lunch at a little restaurant on the water and when we told the waitress about the ferry, she said, “Oh, yeah, that happens a lot.” Gulp – I’m not sure I want to go on a ferry that breaks down a lot! We continued riding, looking at the detailed architecture of the great old buildings, bought some delicious cupcakes at a little cupcake store, then rode up a hill to look out over the water. There we saw the ferry moving around so we went back down to check it out and it was fixed. David was excited to be able to go on it. I was still nervous that it would break down again. But of course, we bought our tickets.

Pt Townsend

Pt. Townsend

While waiting to get on, I went into the little building that amounts to a “terminal” and saw three young girls just staring at the vending machine. Turns out they had come over from Whidbey Island the day before, planning to spend just two hours there. Anyone remember Gilligan’s Island? Well, they decided to have dinner and by the time they were done, a storm had moved in, kicking up high winds, so the ferry was cancelled. Of course, they had to spend the night in Pt. Townsend. So the next morning they went to the terminal at 6:00am to catch the ferry back. Nope, by then it was broke down. This was now 3:00 in the afternoon. But the worst part? They had left their dogs in the car back on Whidbey. They ended up to be OK, but I’m sure there was a nice mess in the car and if it had been sunny and warm, that could have been disastrous for the poor dogs.

So now I’m really nervous, worried another storm will kick up and we’ll be stranded on Whidbey Island. David said, “Stop worrying, it’ll be fun!” I said, “If  we get stuck over there I am going to be sleeping in the softest motel bed you can afford.”

Sub

Submarine with escort ships

The time came to get on the ferry. We were able to just park our bikes at the front of the boat and head upstairs. It was a great, short 30-minute ride. It was a beautiful day, not too cold and we even got to see a nuclear submarine being escorted down to the Bremerton submarine base. It was interesting to watch several coast guard boats racing up to private boats and having them clear the way for the sub.

Getting off ferry

Ready to get off the ferry

We landed at Whidbey and took off on our bikes up the hill to Ft. Casey. We spent about two hours bicycling around the fort, checking out it and touring the lighthouse. Since it was getting to be late in the afternoon we decided that we better head on back just in case the weather picked up again.

Waiting in line for the ferry we started talking to another gentleman on a bike. It turns out he was from San Diego, had flown up to Bellingham and was riding all the way back to San Diego. He was riding alone and said this was the first time he had ever done anything like this. One of the most interesting things we do is just talk to people. I love learning their stories.

Ferry Bicycle Ramp2

Bicycle Ramp

Back on the ferry, this time the staff said we had to take our bikes upstairs where there are bicycle racks. You can see on the picture that there is a ramp, which works  fine for some people but I wasn’t strong enough to take my bike up myself, Josh had to help.

Ferry Bicycle Rack

Another smooth, short ride back and we were done. We rode back to our car, loaded the bikes on and headed back to our RV and slept in our own bed that night, much to my relief.

Us on Ferry

Nancy and David

Ultimately, the ride was fun, I loved taking the bikes and easily getting on and off the ferry. Eventually we would like to do more of it with the following cautions: NEVER leave animals behind and always be prepared to get stuck on the other side. Then just relax and enjoy!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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