Seattle to Portland - 2004

Charlie and Rose Ann with their tandem in Italy

Charlie and Rose Ann with their tandem and the staff at R+E Cycles

"You're a study in orange", a particularly poetic rider yelled as she passed our tandem on the way up a tough mile, a long hill. Scores of riders passed us on that and other hills during our 200 mile Seattle to Portland journey - the 25th Annual STP bike ride. As they passed, fellow riders commented on our color coordination&- "What's your favorite color?" they would ask. "Blue unless we're feeling orange," Rose Ann kidded back. "Orange is my favorite color," several bikers and onlookers alike let us know. "You match!" "Orange alert,!" "Do you have an orange crush on one another?" Orangeade in your water bottles?," "are you agent's orange?," "biking to the orange bowl?," "you're early for Halloween!" and commenting on our speed, "Clockwork orange?" they would proclaim, feeling creative. "go OSU (Oregon),"`" that's talking tigers,"" sock 'em Syracuse," "love those lions," "hook 'em horns," "go get 'em Grand Junction," "wow Woonsocket," "up with the Orioles," "Princeton pride!," "bobcats can't be beat!" - we were endorsed by various football, baseball and basketball fans, each thinking we were rooting for the home team.

That orange and black are team colors from Opelousas to Kalamazoo was not our reason for choosing bright naval orange for our bike, panniers, jerseys, helmets and socks along with black shoes, tires, seats, and accessories not available in orange. Our goal, before taking our new bike on a six week tour of Italy a couple of years ago, was high visibility. To be super sure people saw us, we custom designed receptacles holding four blinking tail and side lights and a special orange front bar accommodating two bright headlights. That fall, the only other people in Italy wearing our shade of orange were the road crews. While this made us persona non grata in the exclusive Loro Piana shop in Bologna, it did confirm our theory. Although one elderly gentleman of Lucca attempted it, no one ran into us! In Italy, many people thought we were from Holland. More than a few STP riders suggested the same. One smart ass asked if we rode with the Protestants in Northern Ireland. "No, we're Jewish" we told him, "these are our favorite kibbutz colors."

What goes up must go down and our bright orange Rodriquez was top of the tree downhill. Our momentum and high gearing are tough to top, even for the strongest single riders barreling down the hills. While we didn't hear many comments as we whizzed by at 35 or 40 miles an hour, our outfits and bike were a magnet at the rest stops along the way. We couldn't even relax and enjoy an organic orange without answering questions about our racy rig. At mile 25, the first rest stop, a Hispanic man asked to take a photo and inquired about who Rodriquez was. Most picture takers didn't even ask for permission. After we crossed the finish line in Portland, a grandma sat her year old granddaughter on the captain's saddle for a shot.

In the shadow of Mt. Rainier, we peddled 103 miles the first day. Appropriately, we spent our first night in Centralia, WA. In spite of all the rest stops and eats supplied by Whole Foods, by the time we arrived, we were famished. Fortunately we discovered La Tarasca, one of the best Mexican restaurants in the country.

On Sunday we biked through pastoral hills, beside cooling rivers, with views of ranches, farms and more mountains. Like big toys, mile long trains tooted their whistles as they traversed the terrain. As we soaked in the suns warmth and cool breeze, our pedaling slowed or speeded up to talk to fellow riders from Renton (WA) to Rehovot (Israel.) We were in no particular hurry as we passed through tiny towns like Napavine, Winlock and Vader. By noon, we joined a large group of bikers who were escorted across the Lewis and Clark Bridge crossing the mighty Columbia. Although we started in the front of the pack in Longview, WA , by the time we reached the bridges midpoint, about a mile up hill, we were trailing. Downhill we more than made up for it and reached our top speed (42.3 miles an hour) cruising into Oregon.

Fifty miles later, 22 of it uphill, we crossed the finish line in Portland. A shared microbrew and a sense of accomplishment were well deserved. As we biked to our hotel, the sun was setting, a handsome shade of orange.