We set the tone for 2018 with a bike ride on January 1. Judy made a resolution for us to ride every month in 2018, which we are happy to report that we have kept. This year, Judy rode over 640 miles (1043 km), and Larye rode over 750 miles (1221 km).
“Wait,” you say, “don’t you guys ride a tandem?” Yes, we do, but Larye decided he wanted to try for a birthday ride this year, in honor of his 75th. Judy says she’s not old enough to ride that far, so Larye had to train for a solo ride. In the end, time just caught up with us, so Larye compromised with a 75 kilometer ride.
Larye’s solo rides, 3 on the old Specialized commuter, and ending with a 76 km (47-mile) Idaho loop on the “Lean Green Machine,” the Bike Friday in single-bike mode.
In order to satisfy our goal, we took the bike with us in the van on our Southwest tour in February, riding in Albuquerque, Yuma, Seal Beach, and Huntington Beach. We offset the fuel bill for the van with a few nights camping along the way and staying with relatives. The budget cutting plan was lost when our van, with the bike inside, was impounded in Anaheim because the parking permit got covered up on the dash. After retrieving the vehicles for a fee equal to our fuel bill to get home, we dispelled our rage by riding down one of the concrete-lined river channels in the L.A. basin. We quickly realized we didn’t have any problems, as we passed many homeless camps along the way.
Our van travels took us across what we have called the Southern Exclusion Zone in New Mexico, Arizona, and California. We got mistaken for coyotes when our bike, with helmets hanging from the handlebars, looked to the border patrol like a van full of illegal immigrants. We passed a total of five border patrol checkpoints in our travels, at three of which we had to show papers to remain in the United States, though we never left the country at the other points.*
The primary reason for our winter travels, of course, was to visit relatives, which we did. But, as our family grows and scatters, it wasn’t possible to schedule time for all, because of their work and travel schedules. We did get to meet the newer members, though.
Since we planned to stay near home most of the rest of the year, we broke tradition and signed up for several organized bike rides: the “Your Canyon For A Day” ride through the Yakima River Canyon to benefit Crimestoppers, which was great fun; the “Tour de Mason Lake” in Shelton, benefiting the Karen Hilburn Cancer Fund (about which, more later); and, “Ride the Willapa,” an overnight ride to benefit trail improvements on the Willapa Hills Trail, a 60-mile-long state park, mostly gravel trail between Chehalis and Raymond.
Although we thought about riding the 50-km circuit on the TdML this year, we again opted for the 35-km, fortunately turning around at the break stop, as the frame broke on our Bike Friday tandem on the way back, 10 km from the finish line. We were scheduled to head for Montana the next day, so, after hitching a ride to retrieve our van, we swapped bikes at home, once again taking our ancient but reliable Santana.
Although the Bike Friday eventually got repaired, Judy decided it had run its course, and we rode the now 32-year-old Santana the rest of the year. Larye later converted the repaired Bike Friday to single-bike mode.
A snapshot of the last rides of the Mean Green Machine (as a tandem). January-June 2018
We had intended to use the Santana for the Ride the Willapa gravel ride, anyway, having made a practice run earlier in the year on the Friday, realizing it still wasn’t very good on gravel. And, since it was a supported tour, we ended up camping in our tent for the overnight.
Arriving late at the campground, we got a site with a slight slope, having to periodically crawl back up from the bottom of the sleeping bag a few times during the night. And, of course, abandon vegetarianism for the day, as rural Washington doesn’t serve our kind, either in town or in camp. The cover picture was taken when we stopped for ice cream at the Doty, WA General Store a few miles from camp.
In July, we made an impromptu tour of the Olympic Peninsula while the city repaved our street . We camped four nights and rode near camp three days. We were pleased to find that seniors pay only $10 to camp in national park campgrounds.
As usual during the prime touring season, we hosted bicycle tourists from early spring through late summer. Guests came from Brazil, the U.K, Germany, New Zealand, and Spain as well as around the U.S., and in a range of ages from early 20s to mid-70s.
On a quick trip to Montana in June, we attended a national aviation fly-in, visited friends and relatives, and rode our bike. We made a quick no-bike trip to Idaho to attend a wine festival with relatives. Another Idaho trip in September gave Larye a chance to ride his 75-km metric-age while Judy and friend Char went thrift shopping.
After two years of living with our fold-up sleeping platform in the van, we remodeled with a telescoping design with foam cushions that transformed into a sofa for more comfortable camp seating than sitting in the front seats. We also insulated and covered the rear side windows to cut down on drafts from the windows and keep the bike from hitting the glass.
Our bike rides continued into the fall, with an excursion to the San Juan Islands. We decided the hills on Orcas were too steep to ride, so we hiked mountain trails instead. On the way home, we camped overnight on Lopez to ride the flattest routes in the archipelago, We topped off the season with chilly short rides in Shelton and on the trails in Olympia, where we started the year.
The second half of the year, we rode our old Santana tandem.
So it goes. Obviously, we remain reasonably healthy for old folks entering their fourth quarter-century. We attend yoga sessions when we can, and Larye even led a couple of sessions this spring when all the other regular leaders were out of town. Our bicycle excursions tend to be a little shorter than in days gone by, and our daily driving distances likewise get shorter.
We missed a lot of weaving guild meetings this year, but are still active and plan to do more fiber projects in the coming year. Judy sold a number of items at the fall show and sale.
We’re encouraging relatives to visit us next: Matt and Darice did visit from Wisconsin, (Matt twice, briefly). We have a couple of ambitious road trips planned for 2019 that don’t pass by too many relatives, so that will be the only way we will see many this year. We have also made contact with long-lost cousins in the last few years, on Judy’s side of the family, and went on a camping trip with some over Memorial Day, and have others on our list for 2019.
We enjoy visiting with and entertaining bicycle tourists, but too many in one week does tire us, and, though we count the hosting cost as entertainment expense, it does add up. Prices keep going up, but social security payments remain pegged to the price of cat food, so we realize we have to keep cutting corners somewhere as our retirement savings dwindle.
We lost a cousin this year, too young, and some friends, one tragically, one unexpectedly, so we plan ahead but realistically live one day at a time. The goal is to get very, very old, very, very slowly, or, as the late George H. W. Bush used to say, “… to die young as late as possible.”
We wish all a happy holiday season and joy in the year ahead.
Judy & Larye
* Little-known fact (except for those who live there): ICE patrols cover a 160-km zone within the borders of the U.S., with right of search and seizure of suspected undocumented persons. There are 33 permanent checkpoints, most on the southern land border, but also some on the northern border, primarily in the east.