– Ben Martens

Tulip Ride 2008

For the past four years, a large group made up of mostly Microsofties has made a ride up through the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. This was the first year that I was able to join them for the tulip ride, although I have joined them on various other rides to Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens.

The ride was originally scheduled for last weekend, but it was postponed due to the snow. This weekend the weather was around 70 and the sun was out for most of the day. Beautiful!

It was also my first long ride with a rider on the back. Rachel joined me and was a great passenger for the whole ride. I was a bit worried about how we would fare on a ride that long, but having her on the back was not any more uncomfortable than normal. That being said, spending that much time on a bike definitely leaves you sore.

My wardrobe choice was horrendous. I saw the 70 degree forecast and left home with a t-shirt, a linerless motorcycle jacket and jeans. BRR. I failed to remember that the day started out around 40 degrees. It was so cold that I couldn't stop shivering while we were riding. Thankfully Matt was well-dressed and let me borrow his long sleeved shirt. That, combined with the warming trend of the day, eventually got me warm enough to really enjoy the ride.

You can look at the actual route map, but I'll summarize. We started out in Redmond and made the boring trek up I-405 and I-5 to the Tulalip Casino. We hung around there and picked up some more riders. From then on it was two lane roads into the tulip fields. We stopped to snap some pictures but ended up leaving quickly when a cop started writing parking tickets. We regrouped in La Conner at Palmer's restaurant for lunch. Simeon, Matt, Laura, Rachel and I decided to leave the group at this point and headed out on our own. We drop around to the top of Whidbey Island and stopped to look around the bridge at Deception Pass. From there we headed down Hwy 20 to the Clinton-Mukilteo ferry. The ferry dropped us off just north of Lynnwood, and from there we went out separate ways home.

The number of bikes in our group rose and fell throughout the day, but it topped out at 40 bikes! Riding in a pack that big really turns some heads. I was trying to figure out how long our pack was stretched out on a 40mph road and my best guess is about 3/4 of a mile.

Photos are posted in my photo gallery. If you want to see even more, you can check out the photos on flickr. They include a bunch of photos from other riders in the group. A couple of my favorite photos are included at the bottom of this post.

Thanks to Jeff Henshaw for organizing all of this. He took a little video which shows all of our bikes parked at Tulalip and a sea plane taking off while we ate lunch in La Conner. Jeff usually organizes a couple of ridges throughout the summer and I'll be eagerly awaiting the next one!

[UPDATE] I forgot to mention that I paid over $4/gallon for gas on this trip. It's the first time that has ever happened. Granted, it was premium gas for the motorcycle, but how much longer will it be before regular unleaded is over $4 too?

[UPDATE] It appears that also forgot to post a link to my own photo gallery. It contains my favorite shots from the ride in case you aren't interested in looking through 100+ photos on flickr.