Monday, September 28, 2015

The Grand Adventure Begins!

It is hard to believe that our departure is finally upon us! After months of planning, we will set off this morning to ride our custom tandem bicycle from Olympia, Washington to San Diego, California.

The past year has held much for Ian and I as we juggled multiple moves around Olympia, finishing a master's program (Sierra), starting new jobs (both), planning a wedding and packing up our lives. The next two months will encompass the longest time that Ian and I have spent together without work in the almost ten years we met, and will be a much-needed reset to allow us to return to Olympia in December.

Daisy, Daisy
We have spent the past few weeks making pile after pile to ensure that we have a manageable amount of equipment to balance comfort against weight. I'm sure no matter how well we do the first few days will feel like we are carrying a load as heavy as this one:
Wide load!

We have gone on several longer rides to get used to riding together, including my first 200 kilometer (125-mile) ride last weekend. We started in Kent, Washington with 35 other randonneurs for a Fall brevet with the Seattle International Randonneurs. The day dawned cloudy and cool, and stayed in the 60s - 70s all day - perfect riding weather. We road along quiet back roads surrounded by the Cascade foothills into Wilkeson, where the road turns uphill to follow the Carbon river up into Mount Rainier National Park. This was the part of the ride contains 15 miles of uphill to the turnaround point, and definitely made my heart pound on parts of it. 

We were joined on the ride by our good friend Corey and his girlfriend Stefanie, on their own tandem. Corey is the creative force behind our tandem with his frame shop Thompson Custom Bicycles, and we are so honored to have such a phenomenal machine for our great journey South. I love riding with them - everyone is so close together that we end up chatting and joking as we ride, making the miles fly by.
Tandem tandems
Many people have asked me what I will be most nervous/excited for while contemplating a trip of this magnitude. Beyond garden variety anxieties (what if I just don't like it? What if it rains all the time, etc...), there's not much that worries me. Ian and I have had independent bike tour experiences, and we both love the pace and difficulty of bike touring. Instead, I am filled with the overwhelming excitement of setting out on this grand adventure. I can't wait to sleep outside night after night, experience the coast at a slower bike touring pace, and living life without a strict deadline or schedule. Since this is our honeymoon, I anticipate there will be plenty of wine, some rest days and many delicious meals in the miles ahead.

We plan to be in San Diego, California to spend Thanksgiving with my family at the end of our tour, where Ian and I will likely eat one whole turkey apiece. Then, we fly to Hilo, Hawaii for ten days of beach bumming before we return to real life and work in Olympia on December 15th. 

We hope to update this blog as often as we can, internet and weather permitting!

- Sierra

From our test overnight to Rainbow Falls State Park

Snack stop on the test overnight 

100k ride with friends 
Descending the Carbon River Road during the Fall Populaire 200k

Lunch in Buckley WA during the 200k


  1. Nice! Can't wait to follow your progress along the way! I got a little nervous seeing your bike-riding selfies, but I guess Ian is steering, so it's all good. Take care and have a great time on your adventure!

  2. I will be following your adventure with positive hopes for you. Happy trails!

  3. I will be following your adventure with positive hopes for you. Happy trails!

  4. Godspeed! SO ENVIOUS of your big adventure!!! I'll be thinking of you every time I look out my corporate, office window. Hey, at least I have a window, right?!!? LOL Can't WAIT to see all the great pix along the way....

  5. Be very, very careful. Avoid, at nearly all costs, ALL the risk-taking of the previous generation! My love is with you, Aunt Rebeca

    1. There are plenty of new risks to be found I'm sure, but we'll be careful!

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  6. Hi Sierra and Ian--we're enjoying reading about your trek down the coast. What a wonderful experience for both of you. I hope you are blessed with good weather. We're looking forward to seeing you when you reach Calif. (Carlsbad). Have fun and ride safely. Ron