Play ball!

The Assembly of the State of Wisconsin has passed a bill proclaiming that “No sporting event may be held in a venue the construction of which was financed at least in part from moneys contributed by a state agency or local governmental unit unless the event is preceded by the playing or singing of the national anthem.” (AB 226, 2021)

The bill does not define “sporting event”. If I take a Frisbee to the park and toss it with a friend, is that a “sporting event”? How about a pick-up softball game? A kids’ soccer game?

A park is, by definition, “a venue …financed…by a state agency or local governmental unit” (unless a National Park). Therefore, it appears that any sporting event in a park must be accompanied by the National Anthem – if this bill passes the Senate and is signed by the Governor. Understand that this is a state that failed to pass any legislation establishing safety regulations related to COVID-19.

I, for one, am fully prepared to sing the National Anthem when I throw a stick for Bailey to fetch. If I don’t feel like singing, I have it ready on my phone.

I’m going to define this trip as a “Sporting Event”. In several weeks we will pass through Wisconsin and we will ride in “a venue…financed…by a state agency or local government unit”. Just in case I forget then, here is the National Anthem to kick off Cycle America 2022!

I think I’ll propose that this be the legally-required version (Ha! And you thought it was going to be Hendrix, but in MA that might be illegal.)

In Massachusetts, you must sing it correctly. To sing the anthem “other than as a whole and separate composition or number, without embellishment or addition in the way of national or other melodies” is a crime. (General Laws, Part IV, Title I, Chapter 264, Section 9.) Having heard some renditions before sporting events, I might be inclined to agree.

Day 1 Everett to Skykomish 76 miles, 3517 feet of climbing for 680 feet of net elevation gain.

Don’t expect these data every day. I set my altimeter according to Google at our start point. I believe there was a misplaced decimal point, as we were 160 feet below sea level when we reached Puget Sound.

Cold! Wet! Death-defying busy highway! Drawbridges without shoulders! And that was all in the first five miles.

We rode west (West!?) for the first 16 miles for the obligatory dip-the-rear-tire-in-the-Pacific-Ocean photo op – our first scenic detour. We didn’t actually make progress toward Boston for the first 30 miles. It’s a good thing crossing the continent is mostly incidental to having a good time.

Sealed with wax, it will be merged with the Atlantic in 9 weeks.

To yesterday’s list we add France and British Columbia to the homes of our riders. It rained a bit overnight so we packed up wet. My neighbor carefully dried her tent, then went inside for something. When she came back out, it was raining. Breakfast was forgettable – hash browns that had been rehydrated and heated. “Hash whites” would be more accurate. Coffee was ½ hour late and pale brown water. It looked like the water of Castle Rock Lake but lacked the flavor. It ruined perfectly good water. Thanks to my former co-workers for the shot of espresso at “Proper Joe”, a coffee shop at mile 30. The town of Snohomish seemed like a pleasant place if it weren’t cold and wet. My former co-workers will keep me in espresso and beer as I cross the continent. Thanks again! And feel free to comment below. Just don’t give me too much work news – remember the “former” that goes before co-worker.

I probably wrote of Skykomish’s history as a Superfund site last time, so go back to June 17, 2018 to read that story.

The rain stopped after a few hours and we had a cool and cloudy day. Arriving at camp, I dried out and pitched the tent, cleaned and lubed the bike, then took a shower. As they say, take care of the horse first.

After going back and forth a few times I decided not to bring a sleeping bag since I was usually too warm four years ago. Too warm has not been an issue. I need to sleep in more clothes tonight.

As usual out west, the most beautiful views were in places that it was barely safe to look – no way could I stop for a picture. Tomorrow we go up and over Stevens Pass.

Lush – that’s what you get when it rains all the time
The Cascades, shrouded in fog.

Stevens Pass – over the Cascades

An even earlier start today. Up at 5:15 to pack up soaking wet tents. Breakfast at the same restaurant where we had dinner last night.

We left town and immediately headed towards Stevens Pass. At 5 miles I said to myself, “mountain? That ain’t no mountain!“ At 10 miles I said to myself,

“now that’s a mountain!”At 15 miles I passed an overheated car drawing water from a waterfall to cool it down.That made me feel better. I realized that I’m stronger than a PT Cruiser.

At the summit I was happy to start heading down, even though it was going to be chilly.

Like yesterday, most of the most picturesque spots were in places where there was no way I would get off my bike or even reach for a camera. Most of those pictures will have to stay in my head.

There were a few opportunities to pull off for some sightseeing. I walked over Deception Falls on a vertigo-inducing steel mesh bridge.

  1. I stopped at an interpretive center where there was an old red caboose on display. I took a picture in honor of the world’s greatest Daycare center.

At the end of the descent there was a rest area offering free coffee, ostensibly to keep drivers from falling asleep. Falling asleep wasn’t the issue, but the caffeine was just the fuel I needed to make it to the lunch stop.

After lunch we rode through Leavenworth (not the penitentiary, but a German tourist town.) There was an accordion player in the town square. I stopped to listen to a waltz and a polka. A few miles out of town I got another rest break when I got a flat tire.

After fixing the flat I followed one of our mechanics (who also gets to ride) up Deadman Hill, said to be a favorite of local cyclists. Each evening we get a detailed briefing of the next day’s ride. Our guide neglected to mention that it is actually two hills. He grinned slyly when I pointed that out at the end of the day.

After ~70 miles yesterday and ~80 miles today, we up the ante to >100 miles tomorrow.

P

Day one is in the books!

Our day started at 5:45. Stuff in the trucks by 6:15, breakfast at 6:30, then on the road. We rode to a park and boat landing in beautiful Mukilteo to dip our rear tires in the Pacific, per tradition. Per my own brand-new tradition, I scooped up a vial of Pacific Ocean and sealed it with candle wax. I plan to break the seal and pour it into the Atlantic in 9 weeks.

Fifteen miles later we were back where we started, proving this is the scenic, not the fast, route. Greg told us last night the route used to be >5000 miles; they’ve shortened it.

We rode gorgeous back roads in perfect weather until our lunch stop, which came at 10 for me and I was hungry!

At 10:30 we rolled through the town of Startup. While I thought this was where all of the Silicon Valley start-ups originated, it turned out to be where we start up the mountains to Stevens Pass.

We rode US Highway 2. For you young whippersnappers, before the advent of the Interstate, this was the main northern east-west route across the US. I-94 replaced it. US-2 is a two lane road and the shoulders disappear at every bridge. Cars whiz by at 60 mph, with the guard rail right at the white line in places.

I paced myself for the first half of the day, to be sure I didn’t head out too fast in my excitement. That stretch of 2 gave me little choice. I made anaerobic sprints across the bridges. A short tunnel (with no shoulder) came with no traffic behind me, so that went well.

Skykomish

We are now in the town of Skykomish. We’re told the entire town is a Superfund site. This is where the Burlington Northern trains stop to take on extra locomotives to get them over the pass. Apparently they dumped and/or leaked excess diesel fuel into the ground here for many years and if you dug a hole it would fill with diesel. Greg says every building in town (except the high school where we’re staying) was moved, the top 30 feet of soil removed and replaced, and the buildings put back. A pumping system was installed under the school to clean it out. The field where my tent is pitched is supposed to be new fill.

Today’s mileage & finishing time.

Tomorrow morning we go up and over Stevens Pass. Short and steep, then a long downhill.

Addendum: I went for a walk, found “The Whistling Post”, and had a beer. I met these folks and promised they would appear here if they let me take their picture. They, in turn, will follow this blog. They tell me we’ll climb 3100 feet in our first 19 miles tomorrow.

The consensus from the people I met was that we were nuts to ride the stretch we did today.

Monday morning: