What I meant to be doing this week was doing a long, hard ride in Washington state (3.75 days, 770 miles). But my crash on the 1st and subsequent slow healing took care of that. It’s hardly the next-best or next-worst thing, but the organizers of the ride, the Cascade 1200, have a pretty neat blog going that really gives a good feel for what it’s like out there (and what it’s like out there is: hilly, very hot, and dry. “Very hot” and “dry” aren’t words we normally associate with Washington, which has a pretty solidly entrenched reputation as cool and rainy. But two-thirds of the state lie east of the Cascades, a range that effectively wrings out storms blowing in from the Pacific and Gulf of Alaska; as in California and Oregon, the mountains wall out cool marine air from reaching the interior, so the summers are hot and dry (and maybe a little more so than usual right now with a high-pressure system keeping rain out of the entire Pacific Northwest).
Saturday, when I thought I’d be up near Seattle, riding down the western flank of the Cascades, I was up in the Napa Valley with my friend Pete, doing a short ride. The main event of the day occurred after we got off the bikes, though. Pete and his 6-year-old son, Niko, built a wood-fired stove in their backyard for pizza and bread-baking. A pretty amazing father-son project, the result is absolutely gorgeous. The only question was: Would it work? On Saturday, we dismantled and burned about half of an old oak wine barrel in getting the thing good and hot (nothing’s more fun than an outdoor fire, especially if you can keep it under an acre). Then Niko and Pete made some personal-size pizzas. Then we ate and ate and ate. (Pete blogged the event, complete with pictures).