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Coffee crew brews friendship through cycling
It all started with a cup of joe.
For the past couple of years, Auburn residents Denny Gilbert, 67, Bill Hibray, 70, and Tom Hunter, 61, have been meeting daily at the Starbucks Coffee at Fred Meyer.
In addition to their 6 a.m. coffee, the trio has also bonded over a love of cycling.
“Bill and I rode the STP a year ago and decided we didn’t want to do it again this year,” Gilbert said. “Tom rode it a couple of years ago. We just decided this year we just wanted to do a high-mileage ride.”
Enter Stacy Scott, 56, a pastor at the Neighborhood Chapel in Auburn and an avid cyclist, who stopped regularly at the coffee shop.
“I must have met you guys on a day I was riding,” Scott said. “I came in here and had my riding clothes so we connected and started talking. That must have been about a year and a half ago.”
Initially, Scott said he invited Hibray, Hunter and Gilbert along on a cycling trip through Washington, Idaho and Montana he had planned for last August.
“They were unable to go,” Scott said. “But I went out and made the trip and just kept the connection here. Then one day Tom approached me and asked if I would be interested in a trip across the state of Washington.”
“This was just something on the (bucket) list that I wanted to do,” Hunter said.
“The second Tom asked me, right there on the spot, I said yes,” Scott said.
Soon the foursome set about training and planning for a June bike ride that would take them across Washington State, west to east, from Aberdeen on the coast to Lewiston, Idaho.
“The whole idea was to go from tidewater to the Idaho border,” Hunter said.
After months of training, riding together two to three times a week, the group set off on the 440-mile trek.
“It took about seven and a half days,” Hunter said. “We averaged 65 miles a day about. We had one day at 70 and one at 49.”
The route took the group over several mountain passes, including White Pass, with Hunter’s wife, Jan, providing support by towing a trailer with spare parts, food for the trip, plastic totes filled with personal belongings and, most important, spare bikes.
“I had to use that,” Hibray said. “My cluster went out at Naches, so I had to ride the spare bike.”
Aside from the minor mishap, three flat tires and a bit of inclement weather, the trip was incident free, according to Scott.
“I think we only had two days of sunshine,” he said.
One of those days was the trek from Naches to Sunnyside, which Scott and Hunter call the best day of the trip.
“Overall, the day from Naches to Sunnyside, including the stop at Starbucks in Yakima, that was a good day,” Scott said. “We probably had our best weather that day. It really was a pleasurable, scenic ride.”
“We had the wind to our back and made our best time” Hunter said. “We were averaging 16 to 17 miles per hour that day.”
Although the physical challenge of the ride is part of the reason the group set out, Scott says there is a more to it than just the ride.
“These trips are more than just riding a bike,” Scott said. “They are one of the most pleasurable times. You get to these small towns...and you get to see so many things and meet people.
“It’s the relationship, I didn’t even know these guys a year and a half ago, and now we have connection,” he continued. “It’s something that you have to earn, you don’t just decide to become friends at this level. When you share the road, it just happens.”
“It was a fun week, really,” Gilbert said.