(Beard groomers needed! Volunteer now!)
You may recall that last year I wrote up a little preview post in which I scouted one of the more succulent sections of the course. Well, this year Transportation Alternatives is offering a $5 discount to readers of this blog, and all you have to do to get it is enter the following code when you register:
Here's that code again, in case it wasn't clear:
Hey, I wanted to use "SCRANTACULAR," but they wouldn't let me, go figure--though incidentally if you use that code over at Nashbar they'll add an extra 25% to the price of your order.
Anyway, don't say I never gave you anything, because I pretty much just handed you five bucks. Better still, you get the discount even if you're not a TransAlt member, though you might as well become one because they do good work.
I should also add that this year the Century starts and finishes at Pier 97 on the West Side off the Hudson River Greenway, so as I understand it there will be pre-and post-ride activities and stuff like that. And here are the routes:
Though only the 100-miler takes in the mighty peaks of the Northwest Bronx:
100 mile -- The Imperial Century
The full 100 mile tour is for experienced cyclists only. 100 mile riders continue on into eastern Queens, along the waterfront on Little Neck Bay and under the Throgs Neck Bridge, before looping back to Astoria Park and continuing into the Bronx. This part of the ride is hilly and the most challenging. The route then winds down into northern Manhattan and historic Harlem. The route begins at Pier 97 at 6 am. You should expect to finish between 12 pm and 6 pm.
See that? I live where it's hilly and the most challenging! That's why I moved up here to the New York City Alps, so I could train at altitude. (Well, that and I was evicted from my previous home in Brooklyn to make way for an artisanal pickling operation.)
Moving on, as a blogger I have a pathological need to share with you the excruciating minutiae of every leg of my recent book-flogging trip, and when I left you yesterday we were at Union Station in Portland, Oregon, USA and bound for Seattle:
I think the first time I traveled between Portland and Seattle I took a plane, and then someone in a grubby cycling cap explained to me how silly that was when I could just take a train instead. He was absolutely right. While the flight itself is short you've got to get yourself to and from the airport on either end, not to mention suffer the many indignities of air travel, plus pack and unpack your bike if you've got one. Meanwhile, not only is the Amtrak Cascades train convenient, but it also offers roll-on bike service:
And after rolling my bike onto the train I rolled myself onto it as well:
Where I settled into my sumptuous seat:
Until hunger set in and I shuffled on over to the café car, which is where I was, eating disgusting microwaved train food, when we rolled into Kelso:
Now if you were at one of my recent talks you've already heard this anecdote, but if you weren't I'll tell you that as we pulled into the station I noticed a man on the platform carrying a large plastic sack in his teeth. He then set the sack down and began sharpening an axe:
You'll notice he was also equipped with a saw for some reason.
All of this struck me as odd, but I was reluctant to apply my urbane sensibilities to the local populace. After all, this was the Pacific Northwest, and perhaps sharpening an axe on a stair railing is as normal as sitting down for a shoe shine in Grand Central. However, I highly doubted that throwing an axe was typical, and that's precisely what he did next:
He also appeared to be somewhat addled, which concerned me because: a) people were now getting off the train; and b) while he had already hurled the axe he was still armed with the saw:
At this point I figured I'd seen something so I should now say something, so I told the conductor there was a guy outside with an axe. She sort of gasped in horror, and then simply walked away.
Satisfied that I'd now discharged my responsibilities, I left the man with his plastic bag full of dirty laundry and/or body parts and returned to my seat for the rest of the ride. Then, upon arriving in Seattle, I headed straight for the ferry to Bainbridge Island to visit the good people at Classic Cycle:
Rest assured I'm going to tell you all about my trip to Classic Cycle.
Just not today.
After my visit, I re-boated and headed back into Seattle:
See my bike case? I should point out that it has backpack straps, so I threw my regular luggage in there and carried everything on the bike that way, which may sound convenient but is in fact incredibly awkward and painful.
By the time I arrived back in Seattle the local bike commuters were queuing up for the ferry trip home:
Whereas I took to the downtown bike lanes because I had an appointment to keep:
Before heading to Seattle I'd received an email from someone at a tech company asking me if I'd come speak at their offices before my signing at the University Book Store. Here's a paraphrased version of our exchange:
TECH COMPANY PERSON: Hey, I see you're coming to Seattle. Any interest in coming to our office to speak to us first?
ME: I really don't see why you can't lift your asses out of your ergonomic chairs and just come to my signing instead.
TECH COMPANY PERSON: Well, we plan to order some books.
ME: So what time should I be there?
It was a short ride from the ferry to the tech company's downtown offices, where I took advantage of the building's bike parking:
The company was called Avvo, and when I asked what they did it turned out they're sort of like Uber but for lawyers, so I explained to them that their name sounded too much like Aviato and that they should change it to Luber.
They seemed nonplussed, in the informal sense of the word:
Indeed, between the conductor and the techies it would appear that the entire region was united in its complete indifference to anything I had to say.
Nevertheless, once that was out of the way they lowered a big screen from the ceiling and I fired up my PowerPoint and launched into my book-selling spiel. Many of the people assembled had no idea who I was, so I explained I was the greatest living cycling writer in the world, because it would have been disingenuous of me to lie. Everyone seemed to have a good time, though admittedly the bar for entertainment is pretty low in an office setting when it's between listening to some bike doofus while drinking beer and actually doing some work.
Once that was finished and they signed over the stock options I'd insisted upon, I head north and over the bridge to the University District:
I should point out that my helmet was buried deep inside my luggage and there was no way I was going to bother digging it out, which meant I traversed much of the city in flagrant violation of its draconian bicycle helmet laws.
Fortunately I was not cited, so in your face, suckers.
After dumping my unwieldy bike case full of crap at the hotel I headed over to the University Book Store for my signing, though I kind of wished I had done it at Edge of the Circle Books instead:
I would gladly summon the dark power of nature and spirits in order to make my book a commercial success. I'd even sell my soul to Satan himself, seen here in the window:
Come on, tell me that's not Satan:
Anyway, the signing went quite well, even without Satan's help (unless he did help after all and I'm now in his service forevermore), though I admit as an adult on the wrong side of 40 I was less than enchanted with the neighborhood. See, after giving so freely of myself I like to unwind with a nice meal and a cocktail in an atmospheric restaurant and then stick the publisher with the bill. However, this being the University District, it was all cheap eats for students and freaks playing harps:
So after wandering around in the rain for awhile until I was famished I settled on some Thai joint and burned the crap out of my mouth on some chicken satay.
It still hurts.
Stay tuned for the dramatic conclusion of my trip, which will feature more quills than the Constitutional Convention:
And before I go, here's a video for your forensic analysis:
I'm not sure if that's a clipless pedal mishap or some other kind of drivetrain malfunction, but maybe it had something to do with the driver's musical tastes.