Words by ambassador Delia Massey. Photos by Delia Massey and Mallory Noweles.

The wind and snow whipped around us outside a Starbucks in Snoqualmie, Washington, and our group of 11 looked around at each other and giggled nervously. Some people had hardtail mountain bikes, others had gravel-specific bikes, but I felt confident that my Super Jake was the right choice. We all half-jokingly discussed our options for bailing out on the 50-mile gravel ride ahead of us, but when my friend Mal said “let’s go!” we all got on our bikes and rolled out in a group of high-vis spandex and blinky lights. Shredsgiving 2019 had begun, despite the foulest weather we had ever encountered. Almost every year for the past few years, my friends have organized this soul-crushing winter gravel ride in the name of “fun”, which goes up and around the tallest mountains just east of Seattle. It’s one of those experiences where the group suffering brings everyone closer together…and isn’t that what the holidays are all about?
Some of this year’s highlights included: 

  • The first snack stop, which was hidden in my friend’s Subaru in the Tiger Mountain parking lot, and consisted of a smorgasbord of pumpkin pie, cheese, and crackers, hot cider spiked with whiskey, Rainier, and Oreos, among other things. 
  • Retrieving a backpack of snacks and beer hidden in the woods just where a Department of Fish and Wildlife officer happened to be posted up on some doubletrack looking for people who might be breaking the law. We had to assure him we were just a bunch of hungry cyclists who needed our snacks, and that there was nothing illicit about our concealed stash. The officer was very nice about the whole thing, and I think he just thought our lycra-clad group was funny and maybe a bit insane.
  • Riding through fresh snow near the top of Raging River to finish out our total elevation gain of almost 6,000 feet, and then getting to do an epic descent down the logging road past bemused mountain bikers.
  • Taking a shortcut through the casino parking lot a few miles from the finish, which ended in a locked chain-link fence that blocked our exit out to the road. Everyone was cold and tired and unwilling to ride back up the hill we came down, so the only logical choice was to hop the fence. As we started passing bikes up and over the fence, a casino security van slowly rolled towards us, and we began throwing ourselves and our bikes over the fence as fast as we could. We escaped without any confrontation and made it back to our cars in the rain as it started to get dark.