Let me start by stating I forgot my fricking camera. I know, I know - you're rolling your eyes, I'm rolling mine.....
Regardless, co-worker Dan and I depart my place about 6:30 AM for Port Townsend to catch the 8 AM ferry to Whidbey Island. After a very uneventful ferry ride we were off for Coupeville, WA.
At the elementary school we picked up our packets of schwag and rider numbers. The schwag bag included three bottles of drinkable stuff, one sampler sized bag of some sort of chips, stick-on hand warmer things, a spray bottle of some sort of shaving cream like pain relief, flyers for upcoming events, event socks (purple this year), a map of Whidbey Island bike friendly roads, and some sort of cream goop.
At about 9 AM the course was open and we were off. The thing starts at the elementary school and follows two miles of paved bike trail to the Kettles Trails and Ebey State Park. As we hit the singletrack proper I shed layer number one.
This year we rode the advanced (black) course. The trails started out tight and twisty. They had some lung testing climbs mixed with technical descents. At poker run card pick number one I drew a......two. Oh well.
We continued on the trail where it stayed much like it started, tight, twisty, reasonably hard climbs, and technical descents. Arriving at the "Clean the Kettles" section we paused to catch our breath along with several other riders.
"Clean the Kettles" is a reasonably steep, fairly long, with switchbacks mixed in, climb. If you "clean it" - no stopping for foot dabbing, you're in the running for a bowl of mussels afterwards at the festival in town.
After watching about a 50/50 success rate of the riders in front of me I thought, "Huh. It must be harder than it looks." I took off in my second to lowest gear keeping "Granny" in reserve just in case.
I don't know how to build the suspense in this recap in the quite unsuspenseful climb. I "cleaned the kettles." More on this later.
Before we knew it we were done and on the way back to Coupeville. I had crap for a poker hand but that's not why I was doing the ride. After a quick change of clothes we made our way downtown for some beer and mussels.
Supposedly those "cleaning the kettles" were to get a wrist band indicating as such so they could get their mussels afterwards. Co-worker Dan got his wrist band. The chick taking my picture at the top of the climb I think was the wrist band giver outer. She said nothing to me. Maybe they ran out. Anyway, nobody asked if we "cleaned the kettles" and so a bowl of free mussels was not in the mix.
Dan and I did each have a big bowl of mussels (at only $5 each!). Now, I hate oysters and had not had mussels right out of the shell before. I was apprehensive. However, they were quite tasty and something I'd do again.
Sort of related - for doing the mountain bike poker run we were entitled to a free beer from Flyers Brewery at the downtown shin-dig. Of the two beers available I went for the Barnstormer Brown Ale. Co-worker Dan went for the lighter Humbles Blonde Ale. He said it was good.
If/when co-worker Dan shoots some pictures my way (he took quite a few), I'll post them. Otherwise, just use your imagination. It was "epic."