Follow along for a moment: If everything that Phillip said about bicycles was simultaneously transcribed and published, he would have tomes so numerous that even Marcel Proust would think it excessive. His love of bicycles overflows and he wistfully tells tales of favorite rides – along the banks of rice paddy fields in Korea on a rusty, old cruiser; up endlessly steep Austrian mountains on a trusty steel Peugeot; down the Pacific coast and into Mexico on a beloved blue Raleigh Grand Prix. But he is perhaps the most nostalgic for rides in Whatcom County where he grew up. So when the opportunity finally, finally came up for me to join him on his infamous “Pie Ride,” just days before we moved out of Washington state (forever?!), I threw my hands to the heavens, tears streaming down my face, and after the sobbing had subsided, I whispered “yes, I am ready.”
Okay, so we are both fairly dramatic about bicycles.
A country ride, how novel, I remember thinking. If the scars on my face and the missing part of my tooth are any indication that city riding isn’t ideal, I didn’t realize this until we packed up and pedaled out of Bellingham into “the county.” Phillip’s sister being in town and joining us was an added bonus!
So off we rode into the early morning fog, past the dreamiest of barns, the lushest of fields, the noisiest of cows. Farm dogs snapped at our heels, puddles were narrowly avoided, and wardrobes were swapped as storm clouds rolled in and heart rates rose – I think every single configuration of neon yellow reflective jacket and Paddington Bear-blue rain slicker was tested (Phil in yellow, his sister in blue; Sarah in blue, Phil in shirt sleeves; etc. in perpetuity).
But Phil called this a “Pie Ride” so where was the pie? In Lynden, of course, twenty miles north of B’ham. Once in town, we coasted down Front Street to the famous Dutch Bakery, hitched our bikes outside, and scurried in for warmth and treats. Lining the walls of the shop, boxes of pies towered a dozen high for the Christmastime rush, and we queued up for slices of our own. Bumbleberry, a mixture of berries for which the region is renowned, was generously dished up and we stuffed ourselves silly. Our blood sufficiently sugared, we saddled up again for the ride back home.
We had grown cold from sitting at the bakery for so long, and we tried to pick up our speed for the return, but by that time the light had changed, and we were seeing everything from a different angle and it was so beautiful that we had to stop for photos of highland cows basking in the golden hour, even as we cursed ourselves for not wearing thermal pants.
We lingered at this wooden tower for a spell; Phillip’s seen it countless times and is no less impressed by its construction and intrigued by its history – it looks like it is from another time and frankly, from another continent. We searched for clues, but with the wind picking up, we started on the final stretch to Bellingham. A truly spectacular ride, one that I would be happy to repeat!
The next morning we were treated again to pie, a lovely rum raisin and apple crafted by Phil’s sister, but this time we only needed to go as far as the kitchen, so it all averages out, I guess. Forty miles or a couple of steps, if it’s pie, I’ll take it!