Tour De Fat 2002 Seattle

It all happened Saturday, Aug 25. Here's how things went for me, my son Tim, and his cousin Steve:

What a beautiful day we had for the Tour De Fat, put on by the New Belgium Brewing Co! Sunny, but not too hot, a few clouds to break up the blue sky. My nephew Steven brought his bike over and we drove to get my son Tim, and the three of us arrived at the starting line just a few minutes after 9AM.

We were going to ride the 45 mile course together. We started off at a good pace, led by Steve who has great legs and started moving past one group of riders after another. The pace was a little grueling for me, and Tim was stuck on a beater MTB borrowed from a friend, and wasn't doing much better than I.

About a mile along, we witnessed a collision. Two fellows had these very-low-rider 'bents, and were cruising at 18-22 mi UPhill even, and as one was passing another rider, the other rider spotted a garage sale and just veered right into the path of the oncoming 'bent. The bent moved left, but not fast enough to avoid getting bumped. I was past them by this point, but don't believe anyone was hurt, it was all going pretty slow by that point. Lesson: watch out for the other guy in heavy traffic!!

After another mile or two, Steve was leading a pack of riders down a steep hill about 50 yds in front of me and Tim, and all of a sudden I see a red arrow turning right; they totally missed the turn and were now 100 yds ahead and gaining speed. We took the turn and didn't see Steve 'till the finish line. Our pace slowed to a manageable 13.5 mph avg. as we wound through the Seattle neighborhoods. Traffic was light, and the route was very well marked. I guess late August is the time for garage sales in Seattle, we must have passed 20 of them.

We had to walk our bikes through the Chittenden Locks. Tim was using his bike like a scooter, with one foot on the down pedal, pushing with his other foot. A park ranger yelled at him to "walk your bike, sir", which Tim did after getting another warning. By this time, we were 25 yards past the ranger. Within 10 feet, he started doing it again, and sure enough the ranger started loudly warning him to STOP RIGHT now or risk arrest. I told Tim to stop,which he did (reluctantly). The ranger came up and demaded ID, which Tim did not have with him. After lecturing us for a few mintes, he gave Tim a choice: wait right here until the police can come and identify him, or WALK his bike. We chose walking the bike -- the thing were were, in fact doing, when he decided to make a federal case of it. Ah well.

The ride through north seattle near Northgate was a part of town I'd never been in before, but I really enjoyed Discovery park and the views to the west across Elliot bay and Puget Sound. As we were climbing up the hill to Discovery park, Tim said "my rear der is not working right, we need to tighten it up." Some riders graciously stopped and lent us their hex wrench and we got that fixed, but the rearder still wouldn't shift. Closer examination showed that the cable housing was split open and accordioning so there was no pressure on the derailleur. I took a plastic tire-iron and a tie-wrap and splinted it together, enough so we could shift into one gear of our choice. The cable was bent and wouldn't shift up or down on its own. So Tim had a three speed bike for the rest of the ride! He did OK on uphills but was spinning over 100 rpm on the downhills if he chose to pedal. He did a lot of coasting downhill from that point. Stopped in sunny Myrtle Edwards park for a Powerbar break, then through downtown, up Dearborn, over the I-90 bike tunnel and then up Lk Wash blvd. The park bordering the lake is beautiful, all woodsy and natural. We wound through the Arboretum (my first time) and then, with just 2 mi to go, my rear tire starts going soft. I tried to coax it along, but I lost my cornering and had to stop and put in a new tube at the junction with the Burke-gilman trail. 10 min later, we're on our way, and finished the 45 mi. in 3 hr 20 min of biking time, more like 4 hr. with breakdowns and stops.

At the finish, we met up with Steve, who had been there for a half hour. We concluded that he had passed us when we popped into Greg's Greenlake Cycle to check out the bike Tim wanted to buy. The music started, the cruiser "slow rides" were under way, so we found a table, got some pizza and brew, and then headed home. It was a great ride on a gorgeous day, and I look forward to doing it next year.