My blog readers who have been following along since the genesis of my blog may recall that Alex is not a new character in my life. Refer to the Stomping On My Old Grounds post to get the low-down on Alex. Make sure you read the entire post, because Alex is mentioned numerous times.
The main update in Alex's life since the aforementioned post is that Alex is no longer working. He left his job at the end of last year. Like me, he's also doing the semi-retirement thing. His transition to awesomeness enables Alex the flexibility to join along on a two-month bike trip.
Alex is a dear friend of mine. Not only have we seen each other evolve through the last eight years, but we've also done a heck of a lot together. We've gone backpacking. And snowshoeing. And kayaking. And sailing. We climbed Mt St Helens. And we rode the famed Seattle-to-Portland ride.
|Me and Alex snowshoeing at Snoqualmie Pass.|
|Alex and me kayaking on Lake Washington.|
What's really cool beans is that Alex was responsible for introducing me to bike touring. Without Alex's introduction, I probably wouldn't be touring today.
Back in 2007, Alex proposed that we take a self-contained bike trip to Lopez Island. That sounded sorta fun. So we threw our bikes and gear in the car, and we drove the 80 miles to Anacortes, where the ferry would take us to Lopez Island.
When we arrived at the ferry terminal in Anacortes, we took the bikes off the car, mounted the panniers, and then rolled the bikes onto the ferry. When we arrived at the Lopez Island ferry terminal 50 minutes later, we rode the 1.2 miles up the steep hill and down the other side to Odlin County Park, where we would camp for the night. The next day, we rode the 1.2 miles back to the ferry and then drove home.
Yup, that was the extent of my first self-supported tour. It was a whopping 2.4 miles (roundtrip) of carrying gear.
|Alex, resting after our 1.2 mile ride from the ferry to the campground.|
While Alex has done the Lopez Island "tour" a few times, he had never carried his gear further than 2.4 miles. Yet, he has always wanted to bike across the country. When I proposed that Alex join me for the Sierra-Cascades ride, he was all on-board. This was his opportunity to ride a cross-country trip.
So, while Alex introduced me to bike touring, I will be introducing Alex to BIKE TOURING.
We both agreed that an overnight ride was in order for testing our gear. So, two weeks ago, Alex and I hopped on our bikes and rode over to Scenic Beach State Park, which is located on the east side of the Hood Canal.
The first day of the ride, we road a very hilly and tiring round-about route to Scenic Beach. Both Alex and I were exhausted at the end of the day. The second day was shorter, and our faith in our abilities was restored.
Aside from the overnight trip to Scenic Beach, neither Alex nor I have done much in terms of "training" for the Sierra-Cascades ride. We're both going to train as we go. I have the benefit of having done long-distance tours before; Alex has no such benefit. I'm not sure whether Alex truly comprehends that he signed up for a fairly demanding tour. But Alex is a rockstar. And so I'm sure he'll do just fine.
I am ecstatic that Alex is an experienced bike mechanic. You're familiar with the saying that as long as you pack your raincoat, then it won't rain. Well, the same applies for bike issues; as long as you have a bike mechanic on your trip roster, there will be no mechanical breakdowns.
|Alex overhauls the bearings on my rear hub.|
|The Cutter-Upper Man happily fulfills his cutter-upper responsibilities.|
In addition to being the Cutter-Upper Man, Alex will also serve as the Condiment-Fetching Man.
On our ferry ride home from Scenic Beach, we pulled out some veggie burgers and buns from our panniers. As the Condiment-Fetching Man, Alex was responsible for adding some color to our plain black bean burgers. Alex stepped up to the plate and successfully fulfilled his mission. He proudly ignored the sign posted just above the condiments, which read: "Please respect the fact that the galley service is a privately owned company and all condiments and utensils are for the use of our galley customers only."
|Alex disguises himself as a galley customer.|
|Look at the color on those veggie burgers!|
Nice job, Alex. You'll be a swell addition to Team Sierra-Cascades.
May the touring bug bite you nice and hard, Alex. I'm very much looking forward to riding with you!