I started peddling from the parking lot towards Renton, Washington, and about 15 miles into riding I realized that I didn't fill my water bottle. I'm thirsty and I'm starting to get tired. My mind started playing all sorts of tricks. I started talking to myself about quitting, and I could feel my energy slipping away. Out of nowhere a person weighing about 300 pounds passed me with pink tooling flying in the breeze. It turned out to be the first inspirational moment I needed to keep going.
REI at Kent, Washington
I finally pull into the REI parking lot in Kent, Washington. ACDC's Thunderstruck greets me and the other riders as we pull in. There's people everywhere and two lines of "blue rooms" waiting us. There's PB&J bagels, bananas and all sorts of energy bars to ease the hnger.
I grab some snacks and drop them in my bike jersey pocket and fill up my water bottle. I jump on my bike and start heading towards Puyallup.We ride along the highway in Kent towards Auburn and Sumner on the way to our next stop before the big climb after the Puyallup stop.
The next stop is nothing like our last one at REI. It's basically a few tents and a water stop. I'm only here for a few minutes and I head back out.
The Big Hill
I'm peddling and shifting like a madman going up the hill. Now, you have to remember that I didn't have hardly any riding experience at this point. It's a few years later that I understand the concept of choosing a gear and then riding it up the hill. Nevertheless, I make it up the hill! I recall that there's a gas station mini-mart at the top where a lot of people where resting. I joined them. A few minutes later, I started down the back roads toward Spanaway and lunch.
We stop at Spanaway High School for lunch. I'm starving and I chow down. I'm probobly there fore about 15 minutes and feel the need for some more chamois butter. I join 30-40 people at the first aid tent, squirt the chamois butter in my hand, and rub it down under. This experience reminds me of skiing in the 70's when I was in the parking lot full of people who didn't know each other stripping and changing from street clothes to ski clothes or vice versa. No one cares.
The Road to Centralia
It's an easy peddle from Spanaway to Centralia. The Road has very little vehicle traffic and everyone is in great spirits. It was about 70 degrees outside with slightly overcast skies. Over the next few hours it's an incredible experience, and I'm starting to enjoy the ride.
I see some flashing lights ahead and slowly pedal up to them. It was a weird accident where one of the bike riders rear ended a slow moving car and injured themselves. Unfortunately, the person had to be taken to the hospital. It brought reality into the challenges and dangers of bike riding.
Another hour or so I pull into Centralia where my beautiful wife Mackie is waiting for me! Along with a sea of tents. I've never seen so many tents in one place. There's almost no room to hardly walk between them. It was an incredible sight.
We head over to our truck where we're camping out tonight at the college, and I get some clean clothes and flip flops and head to the gym showers. I'm not sure a shower ever felt so good. Next stop is some all-you-can eat spaghetti - it filled the void. We walked around and talked for awhile, and I decided that I was still hungry. We headed for second dinner at the local A&W restaurant. And, now it's time for bed. Tomorrow, it's on the road to Portland.