As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m doing the a ride to Vancouver with my cycling club this year. Well the ride is this Friday, August 15th, so this past weekend was the last weekend prior. I took this opportunity to get my bicycle ship shape and ready for the ride.
I had noticed the signs of a sidewall failure on my front tire so a couple of weeks back ordered a new pair. I’ve really liked the Panaracer Pasalas that I’ve used on the Atlantis since I’ve gotten it but there is not denying the large number of sidewall failures I and others have had. So I’ve decided to adopt a dual tire strategy where I’m going to use the Rivendell designed (though still Panaracer produced) Jack Brown tires for normal use and Schwalbe Marathon tires for touring use. The Jack Browns come in a lighter and heavier version of which I chose the later for the increased puncture resistance. They have a sweet checkered tread and a funky logo such as a tire named Jack Brown deserves. They fit a lot tighter on my rims and inflated to around 60psi have a nice rounded look. These tires at 33.33333 are the narrowest tires I’ve used since I was a teenager. When I installed my Silver Shifters earlier this year I also replaced the shifter cables. Well I cut the front cable a bit short and I paid the price for that – it had frayed and no was only a few strands short of breaking. So I replaced that as well doing a better job on the length this time. These being the major repairs I then adjusted my brakes to a nice level of stopping power and gave my drivetrain a complete cleaning from the cassette to the chain. A wipe down of the whole bicycle completed my working on the bicycle.
As always it took a bit longer then I had hoped and I needed to get in a decent ride to keep my fitness up. Also I needed lunch, so I set out as soon as I had cleaned up for my old friend the Celtic Bayou. As I crossed Rose Hill it began to rain on me in clearly some sort of cosmic vengeance for having so thoroughly cleaned my drive-train. But I have to say everything was so smooth and so quiet and the new tires felt great. The hugged the curves on the fast descent and seemed to have a bit less rolling resistance (though of course that’s nearly impossible to actually tell from a ride). It was mid afternoon on a cloudy/drizzly Saturday and the Celtic Bayou was packed. Ended up spending more time there then anticipated but I enjoyed my grilled cheese and a couple of beers. It rained pretty steadily most of the time I was there so it was nice timing all things considered. It was around 4:30 when I set out from there, planning to get a good 40-50 mile ride in.
I knew I didn’t have enough daylight for a truly adventurous ride but I also didn’t want to just do one of my typical routes. So I decided to do a semi urban ride putting together a number of area routes. I began by taking the Woodinville-Redmond road which while rather heavily trafficked has a good shoulder and rolling hills. As I neared the Hollywood Hills I passed NE 144th Street, a residential dead-end street that has about the steepest hill I’ve ever seen. I’ve passed this many times and on the spur of the moment I decided to ride up it for once. Not too long a hill, maybe a 1/3 of a mile, but it is about the steepest thing I’ve ridden up. My front wheel was often just about leaving the ground which I’ve noticed only happens when the slope is great then about 15%. It maintains its steepness for the duration too, only at the actual top does it slack of and have a flat round about. A fun little addition to what wouldn’t be a too hilly day of riding. From here I returned to the Redmond-Woodinville road now taking a part the skirts the traffic and rides through some light industrial areas.
I continue on these back roads ’til I get to Bothell and then wend my way through that little town (taking a nice long hill) then some unincorporated areas and finally I get onto the Bothell-Everett Highway. Pretty much as unpleasant as it sounds, but it has a good shoulder and is pretty flat. It began raining as I descended that hill in Bothell so at this juncture I was riding on a fairly busy road in a light rain. Just past Mill Creek one can turn off the highway go past a park and then intersect with the Interurban trail. This point is just past the mid-point of that trail and when I’ve done similar rides in the past I’ve ridden to the northern end of the trail before returning south. Not having much daylight left I forgo this option but I did go just enough north to check out the new overpass they have built for the trail. Previously you had to ride on the sidewalk over I-5 with entry and exit ramps everywhere and it was not a real good time. It still forces a bad sidewalk riding chunk but hopefully they’ll route it through a little cul-de-sac and eliminate that.
Entering the Interurban trail at this point you ride up a little residential street past one of the last drive-in movie theaters in the region. There was a couple of cars lined up, waiting to catch the double feature of Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Dark Night. There was a drive-in on Whidbey Island that used to be a favorite activity for me as a late teen. A couple of buddies and myself would borrow the ‘rents van and abuse various substances as we watched cheesy movies. Good times. I’m always happy to see this drive-in still hanging on. Past the drive-in the interurban runs straight with very gentle rolling hills. There was a stiff headwind at this point but the clouds were tearing away and it was the magic hour light-wise. Even with the headwind I made good time up the trail. The trail crosses from one side of the I-5 to the other three or four times over its length and I had do one of these at the Alderwood mall. From there the trail continues on through Montlake Terrance a finally coming to an end in Shoreline (though it is supposed to continue on nearly to Seattle). I bailed out at its old ending on the edge of Shoreline and took a route around a golf course and Ballinger Lake and then crossed the I-5 at a nice low traffic spot.
From there was was wandering downhill to Lake Forest Park and the Burke Gillman trail. As I rode up a short section of the BGT there was a fantastic double rainbow. Riding in the rain isn’t a preferred activity(especially after just cleaning the bicycle) but if you refuse to do so you deny yourself beautiful experiences like this. Additionally the smell of the road on a hot summer day just after the rain, the level of green on plants washed of their dust, and a general feeling of freshness all of these are glorious experiences lost on those who only ride in dry weather. Things are fairly automatic at this point – well trod roads for the last ten miles home. Of course Big Finn Hill is one of those well trod roads and it always is a bit of effort. Following that is a screaming descent into Juanita and then yet another climb up the again oft traveled Market Street. After that its the last mile home which I reached around 9:30 and another great day of bicycling comes to a close. I put in 55 miles total which isn’t too bad considering the late start and the weather conditions.
For all of my pictures from this ride, check out my flickr set: An August Evening Ride.