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in which I blather on about something


Last ride 2015

Friday, January 1st, 2016

NYE 2015 Ride - Mount Rainier at Magic Hour
  Pictures from a ride with Shawn “Urban Adventure League” Granton on a clear, sunny and cold New Years Eve. We did a South Seattle ride through West Seattle, Burien, White Center, South Park, Georgetown, Sodo and for myself Beacon Hill while Shawn ended in the ID. Beautiful, clear and cold with stunning views of the Cascades, Olympics and Mount Rainier.  More pictures can be viewed over on Flickr: NYE 2015  
NYE 2015 Ride - Bicycles and Mountain

A Winter Picnic

Saturday, February 28th, 2015
A Winter Picnic - Space Needle and FerryCascades, Space Needle, Seattle across the sound

Way back on the 8th, in this abnormally warm February, I took advantage of a Sunday afternoon to ride to West Seattle for a picnic. Not much of note to really report on the ride – it was all pretty familiar territory I’ve ridden (and written about) before. But I did end up riding behind the Macrina Bakery and was drawn in by the smell of fresh baked bread and thus acquired a baguette. Later on in West Seattle I rode up a super steep winding hill up the shopping area where i went to a Metropolitan Market. There I got some nice soft cheeses and a bit of noodle salad. I descended back to where I had climbed up on an even stepper road down. Possible the longest, steepest climb I’ve experienced in the city proper. I rode around Alki, whose trail was packed with Seattle-ites enjoying the warm winter weather, until I was to Lincoln Park. There I secured a picnic table and boiled water for tea and ate my lunch. I continued through the park and across West Seattle until I was down by the Duwamish from whence I made my way back to Beacon Hill via Georgetown. Here are a few pictures from this enjoyable Sunday afternoon. As always all my pictures can be found on Flickr: A Winter Picnic photoset.

A Winter Picnic - Crossing the West Seattle BridgeCrossing the Duwamish on the West Seattle Bridge


A Winter Picnic - Seattle from the Space Needle to the Columbia Tower
 Seattle from the Space Needle to the Columbia Tower


A Winter Picnic - Atlantis, tree, soundAtlantis, tree, sound


A Winter Picnic - Picnic lunch (food and drink)Picnic Lunch


A Winter Picnic - On the beachOn the beach at Lincoln Park


A Winter Picnic - Olympic Mountains across the water with container ship
 Olympic Mountains across the water with container ship

Winter Solstice 2014

Friday, December 26th, 2014

Winter Solstice Ride 2014 - Clouding up over the Sound

 Winter Solstice on Puget Sound

I was inclined to take a ride in the short amount of sunlight available on the Winter Solstice and thought I’d head to the beach at West Seattle and bile up some coffee.  I loaded up my trusty Atlantis with my camp stove, alcohol, some coffee (also tea, in case I decided I was done with coffee for the day by the time I pulled over), put on my winter ride togs and set off just a bit before noon.  I decided that I should get lunch in West Seattle before any other activities so I took the most direct route there. I exited Beacon Hill on Columbia which is pretty much a direct I-5 and West Seattle Bridge entrance.  I thought there was an exit that wouldn’t put me on either of those highways but as I descended past the point of no return I became less sure.  I decided to just press on figuring I could get off the first exit on the West Seattle Bridge if I had to. It being Sunday, noon-ish, there wasn’t a lot of traffic which made these decisions easier.  I always think one needs to take a certain amount of chances when on is riding, especially on routes.  This one worked out okay as before I was on the West Seattle Bridge proper I was able to exit onto Spokane Street.  From there it was a straight shot (with a short jaunt around a stationary train blocking the way) to the Alki Trail.

Winter Solstice Ride 2014 - Atlantis in front of West Seattle's most distinctive building

 Atlantis in front of West Seattle’s most distinctive building


Winter Solstice Ride 2014 - Lunch at Zeeks PizzaOver the Duwamish and onto another trail to Avalon and then the long slow climb up to downtown West Seattle. I rode down California street, past the Sunday Farmers Market, to where it intersects with Fauntlaroy where I stopped at Zeeks Pizza for lunch.  While I’m mostly a Neapolitan Pizza kind of guy Zeeks makes this Thai Pizza, that barely counts as a pizza, but I find myself needing to have every so often.  Being out of their delivery radius in my current dwelling this seemed like a good opportunity to avail myself of this fine item.  The Thai “pizza” is a pizza crust with peanut sauce, cheese and then Thai approrpriate veggies: broccoli, red onions, green peppers, bean sprouts, julienned carrots, cilantro and so on.  Such a great thing. Since pizza – even if it’s basically Thai-fusion flatbread – requires beer so I paired it with a Reubens Brews Roasted Rye IPA, which had distinctive rye notes and was appropriately winterly robust.

I didn’t linger overly long at Zeeks and was soon enough back on the road and heading down Fauntleroy toward Lincoln Park where I’d initially thought I’d get back on the Alki Trail and find a beach to bile up my coffee. But it was only a mile or two away from where I’d just had lunch so I thought I’d keep heading south on the coast and stop at a convenient park when I felt moved for coffee. I passed the ferry terminal and then there was a pretty good climb up from sea-level. Trying to stay on the coast I stair stepped through little residential streets until I was on Marine Drive.  There were plenty of big houses on the bluffs above the water but not much by way of parks or access to the beach. But it was nice riding with the occasional great views of the sound.  At one point way up ahead I could see a point sticking way out into the sound. It looked too far away to ride to on this short day, but I filed it away for future explorations.

The road curved inland to make it’s way around a cove and I noticed that I was on a route used for some bicycle ride with an ‘R’ symbol in it’s Dan Henry’s. As I’ve related many times in these pages, following random Dan Henry’s is a favorite pastime of mine so once again I set off on unknown routes.  I was in suburbia now with the occasional busier arterial, but clearly this route was working it’s way toward that point I saw. There was several good climbs on this route but it flattened out as I came into Burien.  Old Town Burien, which I can’t ever recall having visited, looks pretty nice. A brewpub of the Elliot Bay Brewery, numerous good looking coffee shops, several books and a big brand of the Seattle Public Library all along the main drag.  I kept following the Dan Henry’s even though the sun was waning and it had really clouded up from the days earlier partial cloudiness.  I even felt a few drops of rain.

Winter Solstice Ride 2014 - Dwindling sun over the sound on this, the shortest day of the year

 Dwindling sun over the sound on this, the shortest day of the year

The Dan Henry’s led me into the woods and down a real steep winding road, that I was hoping I wouldn’t have to climb out of.  It opened up, right at sea level on the sound. I rounded that point I saw earlier and snapped the above pictures.  Wind was blowing from the south, it was pretty cloudy now and much cooler.  But I’d soon heat up as I climbed back up to Burien. Thankfully it wasn’t a there-and-back and the road and the Dan Henry’s hugged the water before climbing back up.  At last I reached a point where the marked route was heading back down to the water and further south where I felt I had to start making my way back home. I pulled up Google Maps and found that I could return to 4th Ave which I’d ridden into Burien and follow it almost all the way up the Duwamish Valley.  So this I did.

4th went up and down and there was definitely some traffic on this route but it had either bicycle lanes, or a mostly empty parking strip most of the way, so on a Sunday afternoon it was fine enough.  It more or less ended at Westcrest Park where you could either head east into South Park or West into White Center.  I rode through the park on dirt trails – which was good fun – and then through residential neighborhoods until I dove down into the valley and onto the Duwamish Trail.  From there it was an easy jaunt over the 1st Ave Bridge and into Georgetown.  Pretty deep into dusk now, I made my way toward I-5 where I had previously scouted a signed bicycle route up to Beacon Hill.  This worked out well and I soon crossed I-5 and was up onto the Beacon Hill Greenway.  I made it back to my pad right as the sun was sinking below the horizon, lighting up the clouds a dark orange.

This rather aimless route turned out to be really great, with certainly a few sections I would tweak for a longer ride. Those Dan Henry’s I was following I ended up seeing again when I was on the Duwamish Trail. I figure that route followed to coast perhaps as far as Dash Point State Park and then cut east to the Green River Trail where it would eventually connect with the Duwamish Trail where I encounter those symbols. That would be a pretty great ride and I want to get back out there and do the whole thing. But that would certainly require more daylight than I allowed on this day, but could very well be a good winter ride.

I put the route up on to RideWithGPS as you can see below. My odo stated 31.1 miles for the ride and the below route is as well, so I think I recalled the route pretty well.

Beacon Hill/West Seattle Ramble

A Quick(beam) Update

Friday, December 19th, 2014
 Quickbeam on Beacon Hill

As the days get shorter and the temperatures lower I’ve found that I’ve been enjoying taking little short rides on my Quickbeam. I’m generally more of long exploratory ramble kind of guy, but I often set out late as the mood strikes.  In the winter that leads to my riding being a lot more utility based, or the occasional pre-planned more “epic” outing.  But since I’ve moved to the Beacon Hill neighborhood in South Seattle, I find short rambles in this still fairly new to me region to be a nice way to squeeze some riding into the minimal daylight.

The City in late autumn

The city as seen from Jefferson Park on Beacon Hill

Riding around Seattle, which is plenty hilly, on the Quickbeam I found doable but wasn’t loving it. So last spring right before I set out on tour I converted it to a three speed. I had a wheel built with a Sturmey-Archer S3x fixed three speed hub, to which I put on a freewheel cog. Then it was simply a matter of running cable up to a bar end shifter. I did take some care with this, using nice brackets where I could as this is a “permanent” change as far as I’m concerned.  With the tour looming I abandoned the project, nearly complete but needing a lot of fine tuning.  Well I’ve mostly got it dialed in now and I really love it as a three-speed.  It’s still a bit of effort to get up some hills and of course some of the steepest require the “fourth gear” (i.e. pushing) but that’s all part of the charm.  The Albatross bars have taking some getting used to, but I love just rambling around the neighborhood, perched up high checking things out.  Perfect right for running errands, or like on this day, just head out for a couple of hours in the dwindling late autumn sun.

QuickbeamAnother side of the 'beam


420/Easter Ramble

Friday, April 25th, 2014

4-20 Easter Ride - Atlantis at the Locks

Atlantis at the Ballard Locks

It’s rare that these two significant holidays occur on the same day but instead of celebrating either I went for a rambling ride along Seattle waterways. The weekend had been rather grey and rainy and Sunday was expected to be similar but with that spring like character of occasional sun breaks. I’d been hankering for a ride as I’d spent the last weekend (which, of course, had been the nicest of the year to date) sick and was still feeling a bit weak and tired from that. When I got out of doors it was warmer than expected and while grey it was those high thin clouds the sun burned through.

4-20 Easter Ride - Looking west

On the Seattle Waterfront looking West

I rode through the ID and down to the Seattle Waterfront. The waterfront is under a huge amount of development with the former viaduct being torn down, a tunnel built under, the seawall being replaced and a park built downtown. Considering it’s a massive tourist zone makes for fairly chaotic riding. I stuck with riding on Alaskan Way except for a few bits where I was directed onto new Bicycle/Walkways.  It being Sunday morning and Easter/420 it wasn’t all that bad. So I headed to Elliot Bay Trail at the entrance by the Olympic Sculpture Park.

4-20 Easter Ride - rocks

Seaside rocks on the Seattle Waterfront

I’ve ridden this trail many times but this time as I neared the end, where I was going to begin a loop around Magnolia, I decided to do a clockwise loop instead of the usual anti-clockwise.  So I hung a left on a spur on the trail and noted that it had an extension to Smith Cove Park. Well I’ve never ridden this section before! This turned out to be a fairly short stretch (less than a mile for sure) that wended around the rail yard on the east and a bluff on the right to this little park tucked in-between the industrial waterfront and a marina. I hung out at the park for a bit taking photos, reading and relaxing. The little park was empty when I arrived but three other bicyclers arrived whilst I was there.

4-20 Easter Ride - Atlantis at Smith Cove

Atlantis at Smith Cove

Feeling slightly well when autumn comes

Not yet disappeared
like a dewdrop
on a blade of grass,
I am still in this floating world,
moon in the morning.

4-20 Easter Ride - The tide is out

The tide is out

From Smith Cove Park, I rode down to the marina which also had a little park there and then I rode back on the Elliot Bay Trail spur and then took the exit for a clockwise loop around Magnolia. This begins with a nice climb up that bluff I’d just been under and then it was gentle ups and downs most of the way around to Discovery Park.

4-20 Easter Ride - Lighthouse side view

Lighthouse at Discovery Park

I rode through Discovery Park and then made my way down to the Lighthouse. This is down a narrow, steep road which always promises a nice slog up from the shore. Down at the beach there was more people than I’d seen so far, but the holidays I think kept it from being too packed. I spent a good bit of time on the shore, enjoying the pleasant weather and being on the water. I walked around the lighthouse and then sat on a log and read and watched for a spell.

4-20 Easter Ride - mud

The beach

If I had known
how sorrowful this world is,
I would have become
grass or a tree
in a deep mountain!

4-20 Easter Ride - Ballard Locks

Balard Locks

I made my way up the steep hill back into the park and rode some of the parks trail and closed roads to the northeast entrance from which it was a quick jog through the neighborhoods and along the Ship Canal to the Ballard Locks. You have to walk your bicycle across the locks and on summer days the narrow walkways can be tough to get through – especially if there are people pushing bicycles through both ways. Today though, once again, it wasn’t too crowded even though now the clouds had burned off and it was sunny and warm.

4-20 Easter Ride - Ballard Locks spillway

Ballard Locks spillway

I lingered going through the locks, stopping at each of the sections to look into the water or take some pictures. But soon enough I pushed my bicycle through the park and reaching NW 54th Street I saddled up and begin to ride toward home. I cut though the industrial bits of Ballard to the Burke Gillman Trail, which was as busy as ever on a nice weekend day. I rode the trail into the U-District and there dropped off it and stuck with streets that were on the Ship Canal to the Montlake Bridge. I then followed the Lake Washington Loop along Lake Washington until I rode up the hill to the I-90 Trail which I rode to the ID and then it was back home.

Check out all the pictures I’ve posted from this ride: 420/Easter Ride.
The poetry of Ryōkan is from Sky Above, Great Wind, translated Kazuaki Tanahashi

A Quick (beam) Update

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014
A Sunday Ramble - Quickbeam
 A Quickbeam in the grass, alas

It’s been some time since I’ve done much riding on the Quickbeam. The winter months were much more suited toward the Atlantis what with it’s generator light, fat durable tires and ability to carry multiple extra layers of clothes.  Also while I’ve done the commute on the Quickbeam, climbing Capitol Hill isn’t really a good time on the single speed. Doable, but not going to make my top ten rides.  Also I feel I gave the drop bars a shot and while they were fine they didn’t blow my skirt up.  After ages of hearing Albatross handlebars talked up I decided that I was going to switch the ‘beam over to them.  I’d gotten the h’bars, stem, grips, brakes from Riv months ago and was just slacking on doing the work.  Well last weekend I finally did it.

A Sunday Ramble - Quickbeam in front of pool
 Quickbeam at Volunteer Park

Along with the the Handlebar changes I also put on a Nitto R-12 saddlebag support which you can sort of see in the above photo. You can see a bit of the rubber coated clamps on the frame and a bit of the stainless steel hoop. Follow the link if you want to see what this actually looks like.  I have to say it does the job – the pictured saddlebag was brushing the fender when I loaded it up and clearly it is kept away from that now.  After putting on these items, adjusting the brakes I headed out for a test ride.

A Sunday Ramble - Glorious cherry tree
 Glorious cherry tree

I road across Capitol Hill, to Volunteer Park which I rambled around taking pictures. I started off with the bars quite high on the ‘beam and stopped to adjust them several times. I’ll probably lower them a bit more and maybe experiment with the angle on them. I have to say the Albatross bars and the super upright position took some getting used to. I already prefer it to the drops I had on there, but so far mustache bars remain my favorite. I’ll give the Alba’s a good long shot though and see if I can’t get the perfect rambling bicycle going.

A Sunday Ramble - Carved whale fin sculpture with Quickbeam
Carved whale fin sculpture with Quickbeam

It really was a nice sunny, warm sunday afternoon, nice enough that after rambling around the park, I went out for Gellato. Then I headed back toward my apartment with a stop at a little (unnamed afaik) corner park near the Capitol Hill Juvenile Detention Center. At this park, which seems to be mostly a dog walkers park, there is the pictured carved whale fin sculpture rising out of the ground like an Orca just below the ocean surface. I live just a few blocks from here and as it was already cooling down as the sun sank below the cityscape I returned home.

More pictures from today’s ramble: A Sunday Ramble
More pictures of my Quickbeam: Quickbeam Set

Riding the Interurban

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Riding the Interurban - Public Art

Watch out for that train!

It’s been a rainy week in Seattle (and all around the PNW), with strong wind, sleet and even wet snow on a few days.  And it was just starting to seem like spring was around the corner. Of course it is, less than two weeks away, and this wetter chillier weather isn’t stopping the plants from sprouting and the trees from budding. It’s typical Western Washington March weather really.  We can get into periods like this throughout March and April with it just slowly warming up.  Anyway I was working on this post during some serious periods of rain today when I looked out the window and saw blue sky. I hurriedly changed into my cycling togs and set out for a bit of a rid. It was rather windy, but there was blue sky and sun and not even quite as cold as I was expecting. It wouldn’t last though and the last 3-4 miles were in a torrential downpour with serious gusting winds.  Still pretty fun and nice to be back on the bicycle even for just a 10 mile jaunt.

Waiting for the Interurban

Since moving into the city I’ve found myself often riding on the southern end of the Interurban North trail.  The northern end  I’ve often ridden as I had a loop I’d do from Woodiniville toward Everett and then south on the Interurban to Shoreline and back toward Woodinville. Every so often I’d ride it all the way into Seattle and then make my way on city streets to Greenwood where my sister lived or further on into Fremont or Ballard.  Roughly the route I took on these city streets has been signed as part of the Interurban North and bits of it where they can has been made into a dedicated rail-trail. When I need to head from the city toward Woodinville (where I have some stuff in storage) I’ll often take the Interurban to Shoreline and cut over and I’ve found this an enjoyable route. I’ve long meant to do a post talking about the history of the Interuban beyond as a rail trail and this rainy week is a good opportunity to do so.


Riding the Interurban

Electric interurban railways played a major part in defining early twentieth century transportation routes and growth patterns in King County. Early roads were primitive and before the development of the first inter-city rail service in 1899, most shippers and commuters on Puget Sound relied on water transport and “Mosquito Fleet” steamers for mobility. By 1912, private interurban lines connected Tacoma, Seattle, and Everett, but modern highways would soon offer fatal competition. Seattle-Tacoma service ended in 1928 with the opening of Highway 99, and Seattle-Everett service ended 11 years later (Seattle ripped up its streetcar lines in 1941). After the rejection of previous rail rapid transit proposals, regional voters approved a Sound Transit system in 1996. In September 2000, Sound Transit inaugurated commuter rail service between Seattle and Tacoma. (1)

The above single paragraph summary, from HistoryLink.org, of the history of commuter transit in the Puget Sound also nicely illustrates the short-sided thinking of the the age of oil.  For the last hundred odd years cheap energy has allowed massive changes in how human societies have operated and no-where has this been more dramatic then here in the United States. By the early 20th century in here in the Puget Sound we had a pollution free transit system that utilized hydro-electric power (which is not without its issues, but carbon emissions is not one of them) with city-wide trolleys and interurban networks that connected the major cities. The rise of the automobile and the shift of our society toward individual personal transportation among all the other devastation this led to (suburbia, strip malls, massive highway systems, an automobile focused culture, etc) rapidly ended both the trolley networks and the interurbans.  One hundred years later we are attempting to recreate this public network (now called light rail) at massive cost and dogged at every step by vicious struggle with those invested in the existing car culture.

An old passenger car in a farmers field on Fidalgo Island

This shift has occurred because the era of cheap energy is coming to a close.  During this era we have cast away a vast amount of resources and set ourselves up to be massively impacted by the change. Fully exploring the decline of cheap energy is beyond the scope of this post but for some good straightforward reading on the topic read this post: Oil Demand Shift. For a more numbers orientated perspective that deals with some of the outcomes check out this post: Peak Oil Perspective. So now we have here in the Puget Sound a very late effort to replicate the network of the Interurban and citywide transit. With our hilly terrain, many lakes and the Puget Sound itself this presents many challenges but also makes it more necessary. Bicycling is of course a primary way of getting around for myself but public transit is a major component as well. Sound Transit has now added a heavy rail commuter line that basically replicates the Interurban. Not quite like a bus or light rail in that it only runs during commute times but at least city connections have been made. Likewise its light rail network runs from downtown Seattle to SeaTac (the airport) and is being extended to the University District to the north, Federal Way to the South and across Lake Washington to Bellevue.  While way behind fellow West Coast cities of Portland, San Francisco, Vancouver et al along with a well used bus system it seems like we are finally heading toward a region-wide system. A return to the past as it were.


The start of the Interurban

Riding the Interurban - A Signed route at first

The right of way of the Interurban has thankfully not been lost: along with the rail it has always been a corridor used by Seattle City Light to run power lines into the city (and previously power the trains).  The land beneath these lines was a candidate for rail-trailing and it has been over many years turned into a 29 mile route that includes paved trail and signed route through neighborhoods and city streets. During that brief window of sun today I set out into the city to find the start of the Interurban North. I rode along Lake Union until I intersected it on Dexter and then rode south until I encountered the Interurban End sign. Crossing the street was the above sign and I rode up a few blocks without seeing anymore so I guess the start of the route goes unremarked. From here the route heads north on Dexter all the way to the Fremont bridge, which crosses and then heads up Fremont Way to Phinney Ridge, skirting Greenlake then mostly staying west of I-99/Aurora all the way through Shoreline (for a whole map of the route check out this great pdf).


Riding the Interurban - A signed route in these North Seattle Neighborhoods

After the city streets the first part of the interurban is all nice neighborhood riding

Riding the Interurban - Nice signage Aurora is a major route north, though it itself is overshadowed by I-5 to the east.  99 more or less killed the Interurban Railway back in the day and while one can ride on it (and sort of have to at times depending where you are going) it never is a good time.  The Interurban route is a nice alternative and shows off these northern Seattle neighborhoods nicely. Eventually there begin a few sections of separated trail and once the city of Shoreline is reached it is more on trail then not. There are always bits and pieces of trail connected by streets on this route and really adds to its character. A lot of riders complain about finding their way on the trail and getting lost, but I always found that part of its charm. I really have never gotten that lost on it at all though the first few times I rode it I often inadvertently skipped sections and I though it ended a mile or so before it really does.


Riding the Interurban - One of the newer bits

Park at the start of the Shoreline section

The trail has taken years (decades even) to get to where it is now and it is always been worked on. I encountered a new section in progress that bypass some street riding in Shoreline just a week or two ago.  The first part of the actual rail-trail to be built was the  Northern Shoreline to Everett sections and the South Shoreline to Seattle bits are newer and have a lot more surface street sections.  This new bit connects these older and newer sections better then the surface street option and it is nice to see. Another part of this new construction was to pave what was basically an a dirt surfaced alleyway and to repave a narrow, beat-down road that bordered Lake Ballinger with a demarcated bicycle path. Both of these I always used to take but it’s a lot easier and nicer now.


Riding the Interurban - New section in progress

New section in progress

Riding the Interurban - Interurban markers After this new chunk you get onto the start of the old Interurban which is a lot more trail based but still of course has it’s share of surface street riding. One thing that is notable about the Interurban is the amount of infrastructure it has. It has more overpasses, underpasses, parks and signage then any rail trail in the Seattle area. A lot of the latest construction has been overpasses that cross Aurora and I-5 and bypass around parking lots and malls.  The trail lives up to its name in that you encounter two major cities, Seattle and Everett and ride through outskirts of numerous smaller cities: Shoreline, Edmonds,  Montlake as well as several Seattle neighborhoods: Fremont, Phinney Ridege and Greenwood. There are several suburban lakes that you pass by that the motorist may never know lies on the route: Bitter Lake, Echo Lake, Lake Ballinger and Hall Lake.



A section in the woods, but it's just east of I-5

The route eventually cross Interstate 5 and after wandering through some interstitial boundary woods it returns to the separated trail which features some the longest straightest sections along the freeway. At times it pops into the trees that border the interstate and one surface street section seems to be almost rural land. It is always interstitial though, the route is almost always in-between a major road and and urban area that is just a ways from it.  Toward the end, in Everett, though the route is now west of the 5 to the east it descends into valley land and if you can get over there and get out of the suburbs you truly can do some rural riding. But at the same time you can continue into Everett and by heading north and a bit west end up downtown in one of the larger cities in Washington State.


Riding the Interurban - Interurban Park

Not quite the end of the Interurban, but nearly.

In the end the Interurban returns to how it begins: more surface streets connect short cantons of path.  These are the suburbs of Everett and in the end you either ride into that city, cross over the Five and head into Snoqualmie Valley or turn around and ride back.  I’ve never seen the trail as busy as the Burke-Gilman Trail but it gets used by commuters, dog walkers, cyclists and other recreational users.  It has a different character then most regional trails and it used differently. It requires more attention and navigation then some and that seems to keep the racer cyclists down. Its urban character is certainly different and far different then the ruler straight, flat Interurban South that goes through mostly light industrial. It’s history and preservation of this once vital transportation route has always fascinated me.


Riding the Interurban - nice day

Fantastic winter riding

I tend to use the regional trails as connectors – I prefer to ride on the streets and find the trails often too crowded or too flat or otherwise not interesting. There are sections of streets you want to skip and they come into their own then and of course riding on them on the way back from a long tiring ride is often a better choice (or at night in some places). But the interurban, with its length, its mix of trail and surface streets and its unique character has made it a trail I tend to ride a bit more early in the season. Since moving to Seattle the signed route has been more utilitarian but on a beautiful late February day I rode nearly the whole thing and enjoyed it as ever. Since I’ve ridden on this numerous times this year, I’ve included pictures in the set from several different rides (including today even) but mostly I picked from that unseasonably sunny and warm day.

Check out more pictures in my Riding the Interurban photoset on Flickr

Further Reading
(1) Interurban Rail Transit in King County and the Puget Sound Region on HistoryLink.org
(2) Interurban article on WikiPedia
(3) Puget Sound Electric Railway article on WikiPedia
(4) Interurban North page at the City of Lynnwood site
(5)  Interurban page on King County website
(6) City of Shoreline’s Interurban Page
(7) Interurban Trail page on Wikipedia
(8) Interurban Map (pdf)

Slow Start

Thursday, January 26th, 2012


My Atlantis in Seattle's Olympic Sculpture Garden.

Been a slow start to 2012, what with holiday travel and then a solid week of snow and ice upon my return.  But things have been picking up this week which has had some sunny (though cold) days.  Of course I’m not a fair weather rider at all (I do skip out on the ice though); it was quite windy and rainy during an evening ride I took last night. I’m definitely feeling the lack of riding and the fifty mile or so I’ve ridden this week has been welcome, though I was feeling that lack of fitness.  It’s harder to keep up the recreational riding in the winter but luckily I do have a number of activities that keep me riding.  But rec rides are certainly taken when in the mood.  On a beautiful crisp day earlier this week, I checked out the new chunk of the Ship Canal Trail, which makes it pretty straightforward riding from my place to the downtown Seattle waterfront. With a couple of more sunny days forecasted this week I’m definitely going to be getting out again.


What’s really on my mind now though is touring.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who dreams of warm sunny days, riding through new scenic lands in the winter months.  It’s a good time to sort through old photos and to plan for upcoming trips. This is what I’m doing right now, plans for a 2012 tour and finally getting the photos from my 2011 tour posted.  Look for a post soon with updates to my 2011 tour entries feature the new photos. If you want to see them as they come in, keep an eye on my Flickr photo stream.

Solstice Eve (Last Ride)

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Last Ride 2011 - 1

Today, the shortest day of the year, is also the last day I’ll be riding in 2011.  Tomorrow I set off to visit family for the holidays and won’t return until 2012.   Once a week I ride (mostly; I’ve taken the bus a couple of times) over to Bellevue, which is just across Lake Washington, to have lunch with an old friend. Due to not being able to ride on the 520 bridge I have to take the much less direct route riding to the I-90 Bridge.  This makes for a nice bracing ~15 mile ride, along Lake Washington, then on the floating bridges, followed by a route across Mercer Island and finally through downtown Bellevue.  It’s made for a nice weekly ride through in this period of unemployment where I don’t have the daily commute to keep me riding.

Last Ride 2011 - 3

Anyway that’s it for the year. It’s been a roller coaster ride this year: serious overwork in the early months, jury duty, moving out of the house I’ve lived in for years, loss of my job of 12 years, spending a month with friends and on the road, moved into Seattle and on and on.  But overall I’d say this has been a pretty decent year for riding, though it started off pretty weak due to that excess of work early in the year. But I ended up doing a good tour, rode some new routes, rode a bunch of old favorites and on moving into Seattle a lot more urban and a lot more utility rides.  I ended up riding 3358 miles (5404 km) on my Atlantis this year (with some unknown amount on my Safari before I sold it), which puts it as about an average year for me.  But considering what a topsy turvy year it has been that’s not so bad.

Last Ride 2011 - 2

So here’s to the returning of the light and even more riding next year.

Last flight of the Atlantis

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Atlantis on launch pad

Space Shuttle Atlantis on the launch pad before its final flight.

I was 8 years old when the first shuttle flight in 1981 occurred and space was still huge for us kids.  The space race wasn’t like it was in 1969 but the shuttle was kind of the end of that era – the last real big development. It was supposed to be the beginning of just being able to fly into space like on an airplane flight.  I was quite into astronomy and the idea of being an astronaut was highly compelling.  I always loved that one of the shuttles was named Atlantis – so strange they seem to always use names that evoke patriotism or American Exceptionalism (Challenger, Freedom, Opportunity, Discovery, etc). Atlantis was of course an island country that was destroyed for invoking the wrath of the gods.  It does of course have a sense of discovery, the unknown but also seems like a warning against hubris and overreach. Likewise with my Rivendell Atlantis, I’ve always liked that dual notion of exploration but within seemingly some limits.  Again a rather strange name for a touring bicycle, where dreams are part of the marketing.

Atlantis Headbadge Of course as Wikipedia tells us the shuttle was named after the RV Atlantis,  which a two-masted sailing ship that operated as the primary research vessel for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution from 1930 to 1966. Considering the headbadge on Riv’s Atlantis that is likely the inspiration as well. But considering that Riv founder Grant Peterson would be about the prime age for the space race I wouldn’t be surprised if referencing the shuttle was part of the package. I at least like to think of the space shuttle Atlantis when I think of my Atlantis.  And so it is today, that the thirty year shuttle program winds down with the final flight of the Atlantis.  There is great video and lots of fantastic photos over at NASA’s site, but I love that photo I put at the top of the entry. America in many ways seems in decline and the final flight of the shuttle program seems like another sign of the times.  Farewell old friend, I’ll think of you when I’m next on my Atlantis.