Ride From Seattle to Vancouver BC & Party (RSVP)

“Into every life some rain must fall.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
And Me.

A few years ago my tri-training buddy and I decided to start looking for supported rides while we were getting ready for an Ironman. We thought that the group rides might be a safer way to get our miles in. Also, the food was usually good, porta potties were in abundance, and we didn’t have to think too much about the routes.

I signed up early this year for the RSVP, an annual event sponsored by the Cascade Bicycle Club. This ride starts bright and early at the University of Washington. The first day is a 106 mile trek to Bellingham. The second day covers 80 miles and crosses over into Canada, ending at the incredible David Lam Park in Vancouver, BC.

This is how the first day went. We woke up at 3:30 a.m. (meaning 2 am waiting for the alarm to go off) for a 6 a.m. start. Around mile 12 we watched a cyclist get hit by a car. Thankfully, there was a doctor and a nurse riding nearby. The rider was conscious and an ambulance was on the site within about 15 minutes. It sounded like a broken shoulder. Prayers to him and his family. This was terrifying. After pulling it together from witnessing the accident, it started raining at about mile 50.

I admit that I had to think through this one. The weather app said 10% chance of rain. In Oregon this is usually a sunny day with blue skies. I was not prepared for rain in the least and chilled to the bone on this 59 degree August day. As I was riding along, I started trying to distract myself by thinking of quotes or songs that involved rain;

“Raindrops keep falling on my head.”

“I am the rain king.”

“Rain rain go away. Come back another day.”

“I wanna know…have you ever seen the rain?”

In between my mental gymnastics, I wondered if my brakes would work if I had to stop quickly. Would my thin wheels slide out from underneath me on the wet pavement? Maybe I would start mountain biking again if I made it safely to the end of this one. I was not amused. Water soaked my socks and spewed up from the rear wheel in uncomfortable back of my shorts places. Cars sprayed cyclists with wet road soot everytime they passed. As the water dripped down my back, I wondered why I keep doing these things.

At the end of day 1, my friend’s amazing uncle took us to dinner. He graciously provided support for us on the first leg of this trip by transporting baggage, making dinner reservations and cheering us on. Such a relief to get a hot shower and a huge dinner with some great wine.

Day 2 was a different ball game altogether. A good night sleeping, a ton of food, and warmer weather changed everything. I was feeling better but still having some nagging thoughts about why I keep putting myself through these paces. Yesterday was intense and my butt did not feel good about my bike seat.

I had some time today to contemplate the reasons why I do endurance sports. Maybe it is for that reason. Because I have time to contemplate. I don’t think that’s it. I have a story to tell. No, but that’s cool. Comradery, adventure, staying in shape? I came up with “because I can.” That’s actually true. I do this because I can. I don’t always know that I can. There are a lot of times when I’m scared, tired or uncertain and I make it. I didn’t know that I could do a triathlon or ride my bike 180 miles in two days 5 years ago, but now that I have started I never want to stop.

David Lam Park, Vancouver BC


  1. If the weather forecast says that there is a chance of rain then it might rain.
  2. I do this because I can and it helps me believe that I can do more.
  3. Cold weather happens in August.
  4. The Canadian border is easily crossed on a bike and Canada is a beautiful bike-friendly place.
Chuckanut Bay WA

RSVP Cyclists Waiting to Cross the Canadian Border

Coeur d’Alene 70.3 Ironman Lessons Relearned

An update on the Coeur d’Alene 70.3 half-Ironman.

The day started early. Everyone had to be out of the transition area by 6 am. I heard a lot of talk about how cold the water would be and how intense the elevation is for the bike ride. I decided to purchase a new full Roka wetsuit that I had been eyeing for a while and happened to be on sale (killer deal…50% off!) at the Ironman Village. At the last minute, I decided to use the full wetsuit instead of my tried and true sleeveless.

The morning was beautiful and Lake Coeur d’Alene calm. Having just purchased my wetsuit, I had never used it prior to this 1.2 mile swim. The water was a balmy 64 degrees and felt warm enough for my sleeveless wetsuit. I was committed to the new Roka due to a hasty decision.

The event organizers did a fantastic job, beginning to end. The water start was self-seeded and rolling, paced at about every 5 seconds per small group. As mellow as mellow can be when you get in the water with about 2600 other people. Unfortunately, when I got into the water I quickly realized that my new wetsuit provided a lot of compression and I wasn’t accustomed. I began to panic and worry that I couldn’t breathe. Also, I had a zig-zagging dude backstroking across the lake from the buoys back to the support staff right in front of me every couple of minutes. I swam backstroke, treaded water, looked up at the sky, and tried to float on my back. It took me half of the swim to calm down and relax into my normal cadence.

The bike portion went off without a hitch and I had one of my better times. I met some fantastic people on the ride and affirmed that living at the base of a mountain has its advantages for training on hills. My only difficulty was eating. I found that the stress of the swim sent my stomach into knots and I was only able to eat one bite of a nutrition bar and none of my sandwich. I put the nutrition bar into the back pocket of my shorts for a later time. Fortunately, my Infinit nutrition drink seemed to do the trick for the 56 mile trek.

My plan was to swim and bike, then bail for the run due to a recovering knee injury. I felt so good after the bike that I decided to try one loop of the 2 loop route. Not so great for me, all of the nutrition that I had carefully put into my body for the few days before the race left my body in the transition area porta potty prior to the run. To make matters worse, I happened to choose a porta potty with no toilet paper. Not much to do at that point other than suck it up, pull up my big girl tri-shorts and attempt to locate a porta potty with some toilet paper. As I stood to do this, my protein bar hit the floor of the porta potty. I did not put it back in my pocket.

Leaving that transition area as my nastiest athlete self, I set out to run. The support on the run was phenomenal. Every mile an aid station appeared, bands played, neighbors came out to cheer and cool down athletes with sprinkler hoses. I decided to do the next loop to make the 13.1 miles and finish the race. Around 7 miles my patellofemoral issue reminded me that it was alive and kicking. I chose to partake in an endurance sport sin by consuming 400 mg of ibuprofen. Hopefully, I won’t be reporting any kidney problems on my next blog. I took extra precautions to stay cool (ice down the bra, water over the head, hit every sprinkler), hydrate, consumed BASE electrolyte salts, walked and chatted with lovely volunteers and other athletes.

Such a fun day!


  1. Don’t wear anything new the day of a race (relearned. Hopefully I will get this one someday).
  2. Move away quickly from people who swim in strange ways.
  3. Consider putting a few tissues in your hydration belt. Check the porta potties for toilet paper.
  4. Expect to get gross.
  5. Find a good hydration drink. It got me through this race!
  6. Swim in the lake the day before the event so that you can figure out for yourself what temperature the water will be. Don’t believe the hype.
  7. Talk to volunteers and other athletes. It makes the day even more memorable.
Coeur d’Alene half Ironman finisher