2003 RSVP (post ride ramblings)

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William Higley

RSVP 2003

The 2003 RSVP was my first year making the ride on a recumbent. I had some misgivings about the ride
due to relief of the ride. No extreme hills other than "The Wall", but a fair number of hills that
tend to wear on you. The profile can be seen at http://www.cascade.org/EandR/RSVP_Ride_Info_Desc.cfm

DAY 1 The first day was fairly pleasant with overcast skies and moderate temperatures. The route
takes you out of Seattle along a bicycle trail to the outlying countryside. Once you are out of the
"Big" City you have an opportunity to see some pleasant countryside for the first 50 miles. Nothing
fantastic but enjoyable to ride along and make new friends.

The second 50 miles of the first day offers a more scenic view with back roads around lakes, wooded
countryside, and some gorgeous views of Puget Sound from Chuckanut Drive. The first day concludes n

During the first day I had an opportunity to chat with half a dozen recumbent riders. Most of them
were new to recumbents but were having a wonderful time. Almost all of them had taken up riding
recumbents because recumbents allowed them to ride at length in comfort. This was stated by nearly
all of them. They ranged in age from early 20's to mid 50's. The highlight of my first day was when
I was heading up a modest hill and passed a paceline of uprights. The comments I heard as I went by
were things like " I thought those things were slow on the hills" and "Well I guess except for that
one". ( I just had to push myself past them at least once so I knew I could do it.)

DAY 2 The second day started out looking very threatening. Dark ominous clouds to the South but with
breaks to the North. I hoped the front would have move from East to West but my hopes did not come
true. About 30 miles out of Bellingham we crossed into Canada. The countryside had changed to a more
open farmland with rolling hills. These hills did not seem to bother me as much as those of the
previous day. It was during this stretch that I had the opportunity to view a cyclist wearing shorts
that had a see through butt panel in the back. (It definitely was not a Kodak moment).

Shortly after we crossed into Canada is a hill they call "The Wall". I had bad memories of barely
being able to make this hill the previous two years on my road bike and was concerned how I would
fair on my recumbent. As it turns out it was no steeper and less than half the length of some of the
hills I had trained on.

About the time I had got past the wall the skies opened up and I got rained on for the next 45
miles. It varied in intensity but did not let up until I was a few miles from the end. I don't think
I saw any pacelines once the rains started. Most of the bikes were throwing water for 10 to 15 feet
behind them.

Even though the weather was not cooperative it was still a fun ride. The temperatures were moderate
so I faired OK. (Although at some point I really need to quit wearing cotton shirts on these rides.)
The scenery in Canada was quite nice. We passed through several towns, rode through some farmland,
crossed the Frasier River on a ferry, and had a wonderful view of a long inlet as we closed in on

The route through downtown Vancouver took us through a very active Chinese community. It was quite
interesting. Then the route went down to the waterfront and into a park. From there we went back
into town and the end of our ride. There were hundreds of us that squished our way through the hotel
and hooked up with the party at the finish line. I met my wife, had a couple of beers, and chatted
with some of the journey's acquaintances.

Final Thoughts This was my third RSVP and I enjoyed the ride much more than I would have guessed.
Riding the recumbent is a far more relaxed way to travel. The view from a recumbent is superior to
the view from a road bike. I have now ridden portions of this ride in 95-degree heat into a headwind
down chipsealed roads and through heavy rains. I guess I prefer the rain to the heat. The heat
leaves you feeling burned out while the rain is somewhat refreshing. (Although 4 hours of refreshing
is a little much.)

This ride although similar in length to the STP is much more relaxed. In the STP you have a circus
like mentality. The STP has 7000+ riders taking part in one of the bigger cycling events. The hoopla
that goes with it is entertaining in it's own right. If you like the circus you will love the STP.

The RSVP is far more laid back. Total riders for the RSVP are usually around
700. The routes have less vehicular travel and you find yourself on stretches of road where you are
the only cyclist you see. I tend to think the scenery is superior to that of the STP.

I look forward to what next year may bring.

William L. Higley, Sr. Vision R-50
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