A Bike Ride with Governor Inslee

Inclement Weather

The invite came from High Performance Cycling teammate Ed Zuckerman, whose day job is with the League of Conservation Voters.

I actually had something “better” planned for day of the proposed ride, but my wife set me straight: “Will you ever get an opportunity to ride with the governor again?”

Unlikely.

I confirmed.

Planning emails went back and forth. The governor proposed a route. I made a counter-proposal that everyone eventually agreed would work: rolling terrain in the Cascade foothills.

The weather forecast promised to be “classic” Pacific Northwest: cool and misty. Which meant that to participate I’d would have to violate my “wet pavement rule.” Yes, this is an oxymoron for a cyclist in the PNW. It’s not the riding in the rain as much as I hate a dirty bike.

Governor Inslee in a breakaway move ahead of Ed Zuckerman and Ron Sher.
Governor Inslee in a breakaway move ahead of Ed Zuckerman and Ron Sher.

Then, since it was going to be drippy, a key detail: Would the governor be brewing mochas at the mid-way snack stop?

During the drive to the start, Ed briefed me on his long relationship with Governor Inslee. They had known one another since the late 1980s as a result of Ed’s environmental policy work, and they have been frequent cycling partners ever since.

The other member of the crew was Ron Sher, who introduces himself as an “urban acupuncturist.” Ron and I had met several times as a result of his work with the Cascade Bicycle Club where he played a major role in establishing the new Cascade Bicycling Center, which is named after him.

While we waited for everyone to assemble, Ron and I excitedly shared stories and ideas about place and community. Ron’s latest project is converting the Seward Park PCC into a “third place.”

In his 70s, Ron is the kind of person who inspires me. Retirement doesn’t make sense to Ron: he’s energetically applying his life experience to make things happen, and is a positive force in the Seattle community. Not only that, Governor Inslee was inspired by Ron’s cycling chops: “I hope I can ride that well when I’m his age!”

At the ride start, Governor Inslee and his wife Trudi immediately stepped forward to announce: “we stopped at Costco on the way over and bought the best hot cocoa we could find!”

Yes, it was going to be a good day on the bike. Especially the part involving hot cocoa.

Before we clipped in, there was the brief obligatory discussion about our bikes. Need to know: The governor rides a Specialized Roubaix, which he emphasized his dad proudly gave to him after he was elected.

On the road, we mostly cycled two abreast. Governor Inslee stayed in the front almost all the way to the turn-around point, while the rest of us rotated back and forth, chatting about community, place, bicycle policy, and cycling gear. During my rotations to the front the governor made earnest attempts to engage me in conversation and debate about bicycle policy, but alas my passion for the bike is focused on fitness and fun. It was clear he wanted feedback he could implement in Olympia to develop balanced transportation solutions. I wished I had more to offer.

Ed Zuckerman and Governor Inslee ride ahead of Ron Sher.
Ed Zuckerman and Governor Inslee ride ahead of Ron Sher.

At the halfway point we sipped hot cocoa under a convenience store awning while the rain picked up, and the temperature fell. Despite the hot cocoa stop, we all started to get the shivers on the return trip, and we had to stop to change into dry gloves and jerseys.

The wet and chill in the final miles did not dampen the governor’s enthusiasm: “What a fantastic day for a bike ride!” which, it seems to me, is the kind of temperament needed to work through onerous political processes in Olympia.

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