50/50 Staycation

Super busy week - in a good way - so not much blogging action. Time for a little catch up report on all the action...

First up, my little 50 for 50 Birthday Ride/Party shindig went down last Sunday. It all flowed as a good time with about 35 people showing up. Did some riding, ate a pile of pizza, cake and cookies. People rode one or two laps of the marked loop, or didn't ride at all and just hung out. Guests came and went between 10:00 AM 'till at least 6:00 PM, so a long fun day. Mixture of work related friends, neighbors, and old mountain bike pals came out to ride, eat and chat.

Initial plan was for me to ride 50 miles to celebrate 50 years. I wasn't sure if people would grind out the course on their own or form group rides. Group rides it was with various kids riding along as well. More of a social event then the endurance event. All good though and a great time.

Even so, I still rode about 30 dirt miles - plus a few road miles to and from the park. So, I'll call it 50 kilometers for 50 years. My wife Lori gets big kudos for driving the loaded car over, setting up, keeping things moving, greeting and entertaining folks not riding, or waiting to ride.

My old New Jersey pal Don flew in the day before and helped mark the course - plan was a 10 mile loop - at St Ed/Big Finn Hill. The loop wound being 9 miles - close enough. I marked most of it with spray chalk with mixed success. In the end, it didn't really matter, since we did several group rides anyway. I've known Don since high school with shared dirt motorcycle and mountain bike rides many years ago. It's been decades since we've ridden together, so extra cool that he flew out for this.

Some of the folks who joined in for the first lap. Official photo kicks it off. From left to right: Son Ian, neighbor Dave, work pals Jay and Brian, me, Elisa and Walt (husband/wife team and old BBTC pals), neighbor Rich (serious triathlete dude), Rich's son Duncan and my daughter Amy (who buzzed bikes around the picnic area).

Various milling about during the day. We lucked out with perfect weather.

Ian rides the course while I attempt to unstick head from tree.

Amy drinks up while Andrew contemplates the many prone bikes.

The cake is cut. Birthday was officially the week before - but hey - who's counting?

Back into the woods once again. Having a few kids along for the ride was fantastic.

Old mountain bike and motorcycle pal Nick towed his daughter Selah around on the trailer bike. They can cover some hairy terrain as a team.

Amy covered the ride home on her own - nice job. I look on as proud dad.

I'd declare the party as a success. I didn't know if 5 or 50 people would show up. Flattering to have 35 folks attend to ride and celebrate. I may put together something like this again, just for the fun of it. Most mentioned it an all around cool idea and they enjoyed it. Great to hear.

Old pal Don was scheduled to stay in the Seattle area for a few days, his first visit to the Pacific Northwest. I took a few vacation days to show him around. Day after the party, headed to Seattle for some touristy action. Pike Place Market, Monorail, and Space Needle visit.

Washington state law requires all visitors hit Pike Place Market and buy a coffee at the first Starbucks location. We've now fulfilled our official duty. To counteract total tourism schtick, we rented some kayaks did some urban kayaking earlier in the day.

Urban kayaking on Lake Union in Seattle. Pal Don is a big kayaking fan with multiple kayaks at home, along with much experience. This was Ian's first kayak paddle and he got a kick out of it.

Space Needle pierces the trees. It was a bit cloudy, but the views were still good from the top.

Here I attempt the unbolt the Space Needle. Next time I'll bring the right wrench.

With touristy festivities out of the way, time for more mountain biking. Work pal Brian was nice enough to loan his '90s vintage Gary Fisher to pal Don for the week. Brian is well over six feet tall - however - the Fisher turned out to be too small for 6' 5" Don. After a few last minute phone calls, scored a rental Turner Sultan from the fine folks at Mtnside Bikes in Issaquah. Extra large framed 29er with 5 inches of travel - dubbed the "Monster Truck" for the duration of the trip. It worked fantastic however.

First stop was Tiger Mountain. Don and the Monster Truck pause on the 2.5 mile climb up to the Preston Railroad Trail.

Yup, the fun lies ahead. Don't let the "Railroad Trail" description throw you. It's a downhill crazy train of rocky and rooted out singletrack. Been about two years since I've ridden it, much trail work completed during that time. Great job and still huge fun to descend.

Down we go, first through the upper smooth section. Smile on my face not visible.

Don pilots the Monster Truck down the Preston Railroad Trail. Smile on his face plenty visible.

Preston Railroad Trails cuts over to the Northwest Timber Trail. Ian checks out the view.

Flower shot on the Northwest Timber Trail.

After having a blast at Tiger Mountain, loaded up the car for a quick run to nearby Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park. We played around there for a few hours, showing Don the trails and stunts.

Don gives one of the Duthie skinnies a go. Go Don go.

After a full day of mountain bike thrills, hit Chipolte on the way home for burrito reloading. An all around fun day. So fun in fact, a quick phone call to Mtnside Bikes secured the Monster Truck for an additional day - with Skookum Flats now on the agenda.

Semi-early start towards Mount Rainer and the Skookum Flats trailhead the next morning. After a cruise around the Buck Creek area and a glimpse of the Sun Top Trail, we finally hit Skookum Flats - after an embarrassing navigational blunder - thinking blowdowns were blocking the trail.

Once we got rolling, all was good. Not just good, great in fact. It's been about 20 years since I've ridden Skookum Flats. It's chock full of Northwest goodness - awesome singletrack, tricky root sections, huge trees, waterfalls, and rushing river for scenery.

Before we, uh, found the correct Skookum Flats Trail, did a little cruising nearby. Nice scenery abounds. Ian raced here a few years ago, cool area. Speaking of cool, despite the way I'm dressed - it is in fact July. Welcome to the Pacific Northwest.

Finally on the Skookum Flats Trail. Don tests his helmet on one of the fallen twigs in the area.

Yeah, we have some big trees here.

Don mans the camera, while Ian and I take in the view. You don't wanna fall off that - trust me.

Northwest singletrack sweetness.

Trail side view. How do we stand it? Somehow we survive...

A great ride for all, no doubt. Ian and I plan to head back soon. Don however, will be back to cruising his New Jersey singletrack - which is not as bad as it sounds - New Jersey has some killer singletrack. I know, I grew up there and have sampled it.

Not a bad staycation in anyone's book. Lots of of family, friends, laughs, food, and a ton of riding. You can't beat that. I'm a lucky dude...