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Thursday, November 24, 2011


We are out of practice in celebrating this holiday after so long abroad, in fact the end of November snuck up on us when we weren't looking.  Some Seattle cyclists participate in an annual Thanksgiving day ride to raise money for Northwest Harvest. With fond memories of the London Christmas Day rides, we put it on our calendar.  While discussing when we should reassemble the tandem and take it on a shakedown cruise before the big day, it occurred to us that it was a little over a week away.  Yikes! 
The Saturday before Thanksgiving we put the bike together and after making sure the brakes worked, went flying down the hill. It was a bright, sunny, and cold as we headed for the farmer's market with only a vague idea of what we wanted. It's amazing what will fit in a large backpack and two saddlebags - potatoes, apples, beets, quince, several types of green food, smoked salmon, and a ten pound bag of organic potting soil, (for an oregano plant that was on its way from Cape Cod) with room to spare.  All systems were functioning perfectly and by gum, those eight extra gears sure make a difference on the hills.
We were pleasantly surprised that it (just) fit in the elevator. We used to have to keep it in its collapsed state for storage under the bed, and to get up and down in the tiny elevator at our previous residence.  Fine Sunday mornings often found us reassembling the bike in the lobby of the building, much to the amusement of our neighbours.  Now we can roll it out in a matter of minutes.

The forecast was rather grim: wind, rain, more rain and not very warm.  Flooding and mudslides were in the local news.  It should be just like Christmas in London we said as we dug out the waterproof booties in anticipation. We were up before the sun, breakfasted, swaddled in man made fabrics and out the door around 8 am. We pedalled off to parts of Seattle we'd never seen before.  Leschi was the starting point, and as we swooped down the long hill and pulled up next to the crowd of cyclists, I had the feeling of being distinctly underdressed.  No, we weren't cold, and no they weren't wearing formal wear, but I had an uneasy feeling as I eyeballed the expensive matching cycle clothes.  They went with the expensive ultra light bikes with skinny tires, unburdened by so much as a handlebar bag. Uh Oh.  The information on the ride said, 'Pace: Social'  and that the ride would keep together (instead of everyone going at their own speed). It was not an organised ride per se. There was no route sheet, and we only had a rough idea of where we were headed - a 25 mile loop around the bottom of Lake Washington and back via Mercer Island. 

So far, much like the London Christmas ride.  Except  in London, ostentatious cycles and athletic wear are generally absent. For example, a woman rode through the pouring rain one Christmas on a rented bike in a wool coat. At least we had our booties on, but the rest of our outfit was more sensible commuter than Lance Armstrong. We started out near the head of the pack of about 100,  only to be passed by every last one of them.  There are fast tandems out there, but ours is built for long leisurely rides, carrying a reasonable amount of luggage; not for speed.  We still have the bomb proof tires on it (for riding over London's shrapnel strewn roads) that have a fairly high degree of rolling resistance.  Their idea of a 'social pace' was about five miles an hour above our top cruising speed.  It wasn't long before they were out of sight. We compounded the problem at Seward Park when we zigged and the route zagged.  Deciding there wasn't much point to a 'social' ride when we'd been left behind without so much as a backward glance, we turned around and went the other way around Lake Washington until we were back in familiar territory. At that point the drizzle started and the wind picked up and we gladly pointed ourselves in the direction of home. Not long after we dried off the bike, tucked it into the cupboard under the stairs, and hung up the wet gear it started to rain heavily.  It was not our happiest cycling experience, but we saw some pretty back roads near the lake, contributed to a worthy cause, got some exercise and were in home with plenty of time to cook dinner.  
Blackened Tarte Tatin

We suffered from indecision about the menu. No turkey, no sweet potatoes,  and no pumpkin pie, but I absolutely had to have cranberry sauce (cranberries being extremely expensive and exotic in London, I really missed them).  Ours was a rather unorthodox meal:
Mackerel (from a Japanese supermarket)
Mashed potatoes with fresh horseradish
Cranberry sauce with orange and ginger
Creamed pearl onions and peas (pearl onions were also very rare in London)
Tarte Tatin (despite consulting several conflicting recipes it still turned out rather tasty, if a little blacker in places than is traditional).
When all else fails, consult the GPS

There are so many things to be thankful for:
After all the stress and upheaval of moving we're still glad we did it (and still speaking to each other).  I am also thankful for my family. I am lucky  to be related to such a kind, loving, and talented bunch of people. And then there are my friends, without whom life itself would be impossible. Chief among them is my beloved, the captain of a slow, but comfortable tandem.


  1. Glad to hear that the tandem is back on the road and no words like 'steep', 'climb' or 'gradient' were necessary to describe the excursion.
    But not so sure whether I wanted to be reminded of that 2512 ride with riders in the pub taking their shoes off and pouring the water out. The sight of that heavily loaded bike (mainly coat and a bit of girl) made me feel slightly better when starting the return trip. I wonder what the ride will be like this year, still pretty warm in London and dry but after three winters with snow ... Last year we detoured around the black ice in Battersea Park.