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NYE 2017

Saturday, January 13th, 2018
NYE 2017 Ride - NFE In Medina

NFE with Mt. Rainier in the distance

 

New Years Eve in Seattle was clear and cool and as I had returned just the day before from a week of visiting family I was itching for a ride. With the limited sunlight and not being able to start until after lunch time I knew I had to do something short and sweet.  A loop over the new trail over the new 520 Bridge and back on the “classic” I-90 trail was just the thing.

NYE 2017 Ride - Volunteer Park Conservatory

Volunteer Park Conservatory

I’d had lunch in Capitol Hill and then worked my way up to Volunteer Park.  A sunny Sunday is always a recipe for Seattle-ites getting out and there were plenty of people in the Park. Including the SCA engaging in some swordplay. From the park I worked my way to the Lake Washington Loop which now has an offshoot onto the 520 trail.

NYE 2017 Ride - Looking east alongside the bridge

Looking east alongside the bridge toward the Cascade Mountains

On this clear winter day the Olympic Mountains were prominent to the West and the Cascade’s standing tall to the West.  My beloved Mt. Baker was standing guard over the north end of Lake Washington and the always magnificent Mt. Rainier dominating the south end of the lake.  Views like this is why I love the PNW so much.

NYE 2017 Ride - Mount Baker across the lake

Mount Baker across Lake Washington

The new trail is really excellent and shows you want updated standards and regulations will bring. About twice as wide as the I-90 Trail, it easily accommodated both pedestrians and bicyclers heading both directions.  There are nice pullouts with benches to allow you to soak in the views to the north.  At the east end once you climb up off the floating segment is a nice new overlook mini-park.

NYE 2017 Ride - New Eastside overlook over 520 Bridge

New Eastside overlook over 520 Bridge

From the trail I made my way through Medina to old Bellevue and then hooked back on the Lake Washington Loop to the I-90 trail.  All familiar territory though I don’t get out to the Eastside like I once did. I stopped in Medina at the waterfront park near the city hall to take in the fantastic view of Mount Rainier.

NYE 2017 Ride - Mount Rainier from Medina

Mount Rainier from Medina

By the time I reached Mercer Island and was crossing the last stretch of bridge the sun was behind Beacon Hill and Mt. Rainier had the backlit carved appearance that was even more stunning. Too bad my camera was packed away at that point! But I wanted to get home before dark anyway so I pressed on making it in deep gloaming.  A really nice quick loop that adds a middle option to the previous North and South Lake Washington Loops. It’s about 23 miles total from Beacon Hill in the route I took, which on this day was just right.

Check out my NYE 2017 photo album on Flickr.

January Picnic

Sunday, January 31st, 2016
January Picnic - NFE at Colman Park

NFE at Colman Park

Sunday January 24th was a splendid winter day. The sun was out, chased around the sky by big fluffy cloud ridges. In the sun I was overdressed and hot but when the sun was behind a cloud it was definitely winter.

January Picnic - Bellevue across the lake and under the clouds

Bellevue across the lake and under the clouds

I wanted to outside, but I didn’t have much of a plan. I left around 11am so I knew that I’d been need lunch. I also wanted to get over to the Eastisde but I wasn’t sure where exactly over there.  Heading to the eastside means the Mountain to Sound Trail so I headed straight there.  At the Mount Baker Tunnel, my plans crystallized and I rode down to Leschi at picked up provisions at the Leschi Market.

January Picnic - Riding up from Lake Washington to the Mountains To Sound trail

Riding up from Lake Washington to the Mountains To Sound trail

I had to get back to the Mountain to Sound trail but I didn’t want to just backtrack. So I road along Lake Washington until I went under the I-90 Floating Bridges and then up the great winding road through Coleman Park. There is a huge P-Patch at Coleman Park and it is a testament to the warmth of this January that there was plenty of work going on there. Getting ready for spring.  This route takes you above the Mount Baker Tunnel and after a short stop for photos, I descended onto the bridge. 

January Picnic - A winter picnic

A Winter Picnic

January Picnic - Coffee Outside

It has become such a routine ride now: across the floating bridge, leave the trail and ride the perimeter road around Mercer Island. Then it’s the second floating bridge and you are on the Eastside. But today I stopped at Luther Burbank Park for a picnic lunch.  I rode down into the park on it’s dirt paths winding around the earthwork The Source to a picnic spot right on Lake Washington. It was warm enough here in the sunlight that I took off my sweater as I unpacked my picnic supplies.

I had planned on making coffee as well on this trip and I brought my Cafflano – an integrated burr grinder, drip filter and drinking vessel.  Instead of boiling my own water I brought a thermos of hot with me. I have to say this worked out well and I had the best cup of coffee I’ve maid out-of-doors.  Lunch was a baguette with smoked cheddar, avocado and an organic honey crisp apple.  Really enjoyable.   The park, like all of the parks I’d go by/through on this day, was quite active as us PNW’ers don’t pass up a warm winter Sunday to get out. Sitting here on the edge of the park I can see out to the Cascades which look tantalizing as if brushed with snow.  I began to feel the stirring in me, drawing me to the mountains.  But I couldn’t go them on this day.

River Snow
-Liu Tsung-yüan
 
A thousand parks: no more birds in flight.
Ten thousand paths: all trace of people gone.
 
In a lone boat, rain cloak and hat of reeds,
an old man’s fishing the cold river snow
 
Translated by David Hinton
from Mountain Home: The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China, p. 154

January Picnic - Seattle across Lake Washington

Seattle across Lake Washington

I’d decided now that I’d ride the north end of the Lake Washington Loop which provides for a nice ride along the lake with some hills and would take me through Bellevue, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, Kenmore and back into Seattle via the University of Washington. This is a familiar route, but I don’t do it so often these days. It was a great day for this ride and I did take a few jogs off the route for better sights and around more parks. In Bellevue stopped at Cafe Cesura and had them put loose leaf green tea into a tea bag and refill my thermos with hot water.  In Kirkland I turned off the loop to ride up Waverly Way past Heritage Park and on a bluff above the lake. Then it was hill climbs up Market Street in Kirkland and then up Big Finn Hill from Juanita.

January Picnic - Looking South Lake Washington from O.O. Denny Park

Looking South along Lake Washington from O.O. Denny Park

Once again I dropped off the route, dropping all of the elevation I’d just gained back to the lakeside at Holmes Pt.  Down there among all of the McMansions is O.O. Denny Park, a nice big stretch of open space right on the lake with expansive views north and south.  I stopped here and made my tea and did a bit more reading.  After lingering a bit I reached that time where I’d have to leave if I wanted to be home before dark.  I had to climb up from Holmes point but then it was the long descent down Finn Hill.  This take you to Kenmore and the intersection with the Burke Gillman trail at Logboom Park.  I tend to avoid the trail on sunny weekend days, but I the alternatives are a lot hilly and longer, so I decided to just cruise back into the city.  Well it wasn’t so bad — people were definitely out, just like at all the other parks, but it wasn’t packed.

January Picnic - NFE in the distance

NFE in the distance

I made good time one the trail and the times were the lake was visible there was very tantalizing views of the mountains in the distance. The dwindling sun was coloring the sky with soft pinks and purples. Everyone once in a while I could glimpse Mount Rainier which was obscured by clouds when I was in my prime viewing spots.  No good place to stop for pictures when I could see it, so Mount Rainier amidst torn up purple clouds will only remain recorded in my memories. Once I arrived at the U-Distrct it was back on the Lake Washington Loop through city neighborhoods. I left it on my old commute route along the backside of Capital hill, which let me make my way back to the Mountain to Sound Greenway which I could connect to the Beacon Hill Greenway and then back home.

A lovely day of riding with a mix of winter scenery, tea, snow dappled mountainscapes, blue skies, good coffee, mountain poetry, food out doors and 75km of riding.

Full album on Flickr: January Picnic

Saving Daylight Ride

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

Ragged lines on grey canvas

Ragged lines on grey canvas

While I don’t much dig the whole “spring forward” part, I’m always happier when we are on Daylight Savings Time. It means more light after work allowing for these more meandering commutes home. It means that my typically late starts for weekend rides can still be a solid ride before dark. The mornings of course return to darkness for the time being, but it’s already lightening up by 7am and by the time I head into work it’s full daylight. Commuting both ways in the light is, in my mind, where it’s at.

Atlantis under flowering trees

Atlantis under flowering trees

It had poured rain all day on Saturday and not PNW drizzle either – a strong, steady continuous rain. I’d had some activities planned for early Sunday morning but what with it still pouring when I went to bed I wrote it off. But at some point during the early morning hours the rain petered out and Sunday turned out to a rather nice day – partially cloudy and warmish – I just had to get out for a bit of a ride. Of course having sprung forward meant that my usual late start was an hour later than normal, but as noted I still had many hours of light available. I headed out around 2pm with thoughts of heading to the Seattle waterfront.

Even just riding down 12th Ave into the ID it became apparent that there were throngs of people out. It’s been an odd winter with drought conditions in January/early February and then just weeks of heavy rain, pushing us into flood territory (and the snow pack going from well below average to above average). People clearly were hungering to get out of doors and a relatively nice day brought them out in droves. The thought of the waterfront crowded with light-starved Seattle-ites lost it’s appeal and I made a spur of the moment decision to head east.

Looking Northwest from Mercer Island

Looking Northwest from Mercer Island

I was on the very familiar I-90 Trail/Mountains to Sound Greenway which follows I-90 and crosses the floating bridge over to Mercer Island. As I climbed up to the I-90 tunnel I was everywhere reminded that dates notwithstanding the flora considers it spring. The cherry trees have been flowering since late January and many are almost done with that, while others are at their peak. The dogwoods are blooming, daffodils are everywhere, green shoots on every branch – with the warmer weather today and a bit of sun peaking out of the layers of clouds it definitely felt like spring.  There was of course plenty of other bicyclers out in this weather and while not the crowds the waterfront would have been, I was certainly not alone.

Flowering Trees on Mercer Island

Flowering trees on Mercer Island

Just across the first section of the floating bridge, on the western edge of Mercer Island is a little park, which I’ve stopped at now and again. But I’ve wondered for some time of the road heading north from there would hook up with the primary Mercer Island Loop route or just dead-end among the mansions. A vigorously flowering tree also attracted my eye and settled the issue – I’d head that way. I pulled over and took a break and some photos down at the little park. I’d brought a book of  poerty by Ryōkan with me and just randomly turned to a poem while I sat on the edge of Mercer Island:

The three realms are like a guesthouse.
Human life resembles a dewdrop.
Time for practice easily evaporates;
true dharma is rare to encounter.
One must sustain vigorous effort.
Do not wait for encouragement
from one another.

an excerpt from Monks by Ryōkan

 

Lean-to

Could you live here?

Continuing on I rode around the northern edge of Mercer Island to the second part of the I-90 floating bridge.  Once you cross the bridge on the edge of the mainland the highway stays elevated over the marshes, estuaries and swampland. The trail wends it’s way through these mere’s before eventually intersecting with East Lake Washington Blvd. I had been hearing the call of nature and right at the intersection point with the E. Lk WA Blvd is a closed parking lot wooded toward the back. I headed back there to answer the call and found the pictured lean to. I used the “facilities” and then sat in this lean-to for some time. Clearly someone had lived here for a spell – there was evidence of a fire and a framework that with a tarp over it would have provided some escape from the elements.  I asked myself could I live here?

Untitled

View from the Lean-to

These out of the way and often more hidden encampments of the homeless are generally in these interstitial areas, areas that the rapacious developers have no interest in and the NIMBY’s won’t go to the mat for. Next to highways, on the edge of wetlands, in-between places where one can be out of sight and out of mind. Under this lean-to the rain would be diverted but the roar of I-90 would be a constant companion and in the summer the wetland is sure to produce an endless supply of mosquitoes.  I felt I could live here, but it is my privilege that I don’t have to.  Once again I turned to Ryōkan:

If someone asks
where I live,
say,
“The farthest end of
the heavenly river shore.”

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View from the tower at Gene Coulon Park

I headed south on East Lake Washington Blvd. following the Lake Wa Loop. It had fully clouded over while I was under the lean-to and as I rode there was the occasional spatter of rain.  Nothing too serious but as I approached Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park in Renton I pulled over to put my tweed cardigan back on (yes I’d been able to ride sans sweater for the first time in ’14). I locked up my bicycle on the edge of the pier and spent some time up in the tower that climbed from the pier enjoying the view. I refilled my water bottle in the bathroom – they turn off the water fountains in the winter, which I understand the reasoning behind, but I think is an unfortunate practice. I sat at one of the picnic tables and read a bit more Ryōkan.

How can I
sustain my life?
So far,
winter this year
has been brutal.

Winter has indeed been brutal all over this year, but less so here in the PNW than elsewhere.  We were in drought conditions until February and since then above average rain for weeks on end. The snow-pack went from well below average to above average and now the talk is of flooded. But this is no polar vortex or the snows in the Middle East, or flooding in London…

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Humble Pie

From Gene Coulon I pretty much just stuck with the Lake Washington Loop. Crossing over the Cedar River I noted that it was definitely in flood stage, covering the path as it ducked under the bridge and encroaching well on to the lawn at the edges.  The route skirts around the Renton Airport – which has relatively newly repaved roads which made for some smooth riding – and then you are up onto Rainier Ave for a good few miles.  Rainier Ave is pretty much the main non highway corridor from Seattle to Renton and it is a fairly busy, fairly fast road, but with a decent width and a bicycle lane it is also a major cycling route.  At Rainier Beach the Lk. Wa. Lp. heads north to stay along the Lake and to head to Seward Park. But I decided to ride Rainier Ave all the way to the ID which is pretty much where I live.

I’ve ridden on quite a bit of Rainier and certainly drove the length of it back in the day, but this was the first time I’ve ridden the length of it and it is an interesting study in contrasts. It has several striations of gentrification running the gamut from looking like a chunk of a more desolate part of Detroit to one of the condo-fied bits of Fremont. It wasn’t great bicycling with the lane having ended when the Lk Wa Lp branched off, the surface being of variable quality and the traffic, but in the main it was fine.  Eventually I hit the CD and at the edge of the ID I remembered there was this Wood Fired Pizza place that looked like a shack built around a food truck and I decided to check it out.

Saving Daylight Ride - Margherita at Humble Pie

Margherita at Humble Pie

Humble Pie, pretty much is a shack built around a real stone wood fired oven. The oven itself is just enclosed by heavy duty chicken wire and only the bathrooms and the kitchen were full (and fully code compliant I image) structures. But they have a few taps of beer and make a pretty great wood fired pizza. It was the end of the day and while the ride wasn’t epic, it was enough to work up a good appetite.  A pint of IPA and the pictured pizza were an ideal end to good days ride and one I was grateful to be able to indulge in.

You can view all my pictures from this ride here: Saving Daylight Ride.

An Autumn Mixed-Terrain Ride

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

An Autumn Mixed-Terrain Ride - Atlantis in the Leaves

Atlantis in the Leaves

It’s been one of those weeks and as so often is the case there is no better therapy than a nice bicycle ride. I’ve been pining to get back to the mountains and while I set out too late to really get into the Cascades I did make it to the foothills.  I ended up  following the Mountain to Sound Greenway which is a sequence of trails interspersed with road riding: I-90 Trail -> Issaquah-Preston Trail -> Preston-Snoqualmie Trail with a brief sojourn on the East Lake Sammamish Trail. While separating one from traffic (and I-90 which this route parallels most of the time) these trails are usually wedged in where they can and are thus a lot hillier than one might expect. The Preston-Snoqulamie tail is a genuine rail-trail which runs nice and flat except where bridges are gone (such as over the Raging River Valley).

 
An Autumn Mixed-Terrain Ride - Looking back down the leaf strewn Issaquah-Preston Trail

reaching out my hand
I catch
a single falling leaf

I wanted to get to the Issaquah-Preston Trail which is one of my favorite mixed-terrain routes.  This trail is a rocky dirt path paralleling I-90 that ends (appropriately enough) at Preston.  From there you an take one of the best paved trails in the state The Preston-Snoqualmie trail which is a rare paved trail in the woods. These are all routes I’ve ridden many times and have reported on more than once in these pages but I think this was the latest autumn ride I’ve done on this route. The paths, especially the more wooded sections were deeply buried in multi-colored leaves which was beautiful but rather buried the many large rocks on these trails.  Still it was great to be in the cool mountain air, with the fog shrouded foothills looming above. I wish I’d set out early enough to ride further into the mountains – the dwindling light always a factor this time of year.

An Autumn Mixed-Terrain Ride - Issaquah Creek

Issaquah Creek

I only rode a couple of miles on the Preston-Snoqulamie Trail and decided to stop at a section of the trail that crosses a gorge above a stream. Of all the times I’ve ridden the trail I’ve never gone down to this stream which I rectified on this trip. It was pleasant here; this part of the trail has turned away from I-90 and I was down far enough that the few other users of the trail were mostly unnoticeable.  After a bit of a break by the pools of water I backtracked down to Issaquah and had a couple of beers and some onion rings at the Issaquah Brewhouse. While I was there, a ‘Thriller’ “flash mob” broke out right in front of the pub which lasted the length of the song and as I returned to my bicycle broke up.  On my ride east I was on the north side of the I-90 following the Mountain to Sound route, for my return west I stuck to the south side on the hillier route on the edge of Newport. But I had to back track on the I-90-Mercer Island-et al bit back home.

An Autumn Mixed-Terrain Ride - Pools on a feeder creek to the Raging River

 Pools on a feeder creek to the Raging River

I made it it home in the dark around 7:30 having done around 50 miles on this day. An even dozen photos from the ride can be found in my An Autumn Mixed-Terrain Ride on Flickrset on Flickr.

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.

Memorial Day Ramble

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

Memorial Day Ride - 13

I wasn’t sure where I was going to go, just that I needed to go.

The paucity of cycling for this year was exacerbated by my Jury Duty for which I ended up taking the bus into Seattle for 7 days out of 10.  Thus I was not even getting in my typical commute ride.  Jury Duty was pretty interesting though and I did quite enjoy being able to walk around the city during our breaks, so while I missed the cyclo-commuting it was overall a valuable experience..  The trial ended the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend and I was finally able to get back on the bicycle.

Memorial Day Ride - 01

Trails at Viewpoint Park

The weekend had been sort of mixed weatherwise and I’d planned to get out on Sunday which was supposed to be the nicest day. However it turned out to be pretty windy and rainy and I busied myself with other activities. By Monday, Memorial Day itself, I just had to get out there and while the day was initially cloudy, it cleared up as my ride went on. I’ve pointed out in the past that there are limited directions that one can head out from my house, so I chose the easterly option up Rose Hill. I’d left around lunch time so I had grabbed a sandwich and wanting to eat it rather soon-ish I went to Viewpoint Park which is on the plateau of Rose Hill and overlooks I-520. I’ve ridden past this park many times and even poked my nose into it, but as it’s so close to my house (about 5 miles) it was always too close to stop so I’ve never really explored it. Thus this was a bit of new territory practically within walking distance of my house. It is a nice bit of woods with well laid out trails, though clearly orientated toward walking. The trails are covered with bark, which is rideable but discourages any “bombing” of. I rode down to the overlook and had my lunch.

Memorial Day Ride - 04

Turned into a mountain of new green, into a mountain path
-Hōsai Ozaki

The downside of having done as little riding this year as I’ve had is that one’s endurance is lower and thus ones options decline.  Of course frequent rides that push beyond your current endurance is the only way to build it up, but for any given ride you have to keep that in consideration.  I wasn’t particularly interested in any of the standard local rides and a lot of my favorites I thought might be a little ambitious at this point. So I kept riding with only vague ideas where I’d go. I ended up riding on West Lake Sammamish Parkway (which actually I have yet to do this year, though I’ve ridden on the East side at least once) but bailed off it on a road I’d not take before just about as it arrives at Issaquah. This “new” road led almost directly to a road that I had been on before on that intersected with the I-90 trail.

Memorial Day Ride - 05

On West Lake Sammamish Parkway

I had a choice then – take the I-90 trail which leads to several options (Lake Washington Loop, Mercer Island, Seattle), or strike out through Newport which also has its options ( it also intersects Lake Washington Loop, you can head east to May Valley, continue south to Renton &c).  I was uncertain so I rode the trail figure that gave the most options (and I’d done May Valley just last month).  The clouds were burning off by this time and it was now really pleasant  riding.  The trail, while somewhat urban, still allows one to contemplate ones upcoming choices and by the time I arrived at it’s intersection with the Lake Washington Loop, I’d decided to press on to Mercer Island.

Memorial Day Ride - 06

On the I-90 trail

Of course from Mercer Island one can do the loop around the island, cross into Seattle and go Clockwise or Counter-clockwise on the Lake Washington Loop and so on. But I’d decided to do the Mercer Island Loop. Now I feel I should digress a little and talk about this particular choice. For such a close ride ( a bit over 8 miles from home) you’d think I’d have done it frequently, especially as I ramp up in a new year.  But the fact is I’ve rarely done it – twice that I can recall. The reason for this is that I think of it as one of the frequent “roadie rides” and thus is a bit more trafficked than I prefer. While I have nothing against roadies – to each their own! – I consider my ride style pretty far from them. Roadies are always “training” for something, whether it be longer club rides, Cat n+1 races or whatever.  I’m usually out looking for new places, seeing how things change at different times of the year, in short I soak in the scenery and am glad that I get some exercise whilst I do so.  On every ride I try to keep in a touring mindset – the bicycle is the best way to experience place not the end in and of itself.

Memorial Day Ride - 08

On Mercer Island

When one is touring you have to be completely self-suffecient and I maintain that one all my rides. I can repair about anything beyond a frame failure, wheel taco or other catastrophic failure.  Roadies on the other hand barely seem to carry gear to fix a flat. Maybe a spare tube and a pump stuck in their jersey back pocket. This I think limits most of them to sticking to routes that aren’t too far that they can find a shop or get picked up by someone without really putting them out. If you are a Seattle area roadie then, once you move on from trails, the Lake Washington,  Loop and the Mercer Island Loops are the closest and easiest to get right on to. So you see a lot of roadies there, which again more power to ’em, I just enjoy riding where I see few cars and fewer cyclists.

Memorial Day Ride - 09

Classic twisty Mercer Island road

Anyway I went pretty far afield there, but that is why I’ve done Mercer Island so little. Now Mercer Island is a little island in Lake Washington that being right on the edge of Seattle and being mostly lakefront is pretty tony.  But the road around the south side of the island is really enjoyable to ride on – all twisty roads with its ups and downs, but no real killer hills. Since my previous two rides here had been counter-clockwise for this one I chose to go clockwise.  Going this direction gets you into the good stuff right off.  There are this switchbacks that go around coves and bays as you can see in the above picture that are just tons of fun to ride around. I noticed for the first time that while in the counter-clockwise rout there is no shoulder (which isn’t much of a problem) there is in the clockwise direction. Nice. I really had a good time riding this part of the island.

Memorial Day Ride - 11

Seattle across the lake

You are mostly in the woods on the southern half of the ride and it is only as you approach the west side of the Island does it open up a bit. Of course every inch (barring a park or two) along the waterfront is occupied by high end housing so there really aren’t a lot of amazing views. Still it opens up now and again and you can see some of the neighborhoods of Seattle on the east side of Capitol Hill. Of course once the views open up a bit the south (and most interesting) part of the ride is about over. The only really hills, and even these aren’t tough at all, are then the climb to the point where you cross I-90. After that point you are on the north side of the island which is only about a four mile ride.  I often ride these roads for as I’ve intimated before I tend to get off the I-90 trail even when I’m just crossing the island.  I was due for a break at this point and I rode into Luther Burbank Park to take it.

Memorial Day Ride - 14

For a hollow mind two eyes are open
-Hōsai Ozaki

I parked my ride at my favorite part of Luther Burbank Park: John Hoge’s earthwork, The Source and hung out for a while. This whole ride, like many of my rides, I tried to treat like a day on tour – stopping at interesting looking places, taking breaks at places with things to see and generally enjoying being outside and not just ride, ride, ride. I hadn’t really ridden to any places I hadn’t been aware of, but  I mixed it up by finally fully exploring Viewpoint Park, doing the Mercer Island Loop clockwise and stringing together a varied and mixed ride. There was a bit of offroad, a bit of trail, a bit of city riding, an island loop and two separate lakes visited. My legs were feeling it around forty miles, which is pretty sad, but I pushed on for another five which I always feel is a good thing to do to increase ones endurance.  The next ride I can push it to further and hopefully soon enough I’ll be riding further afield.

See all my photos from this ride in my Memorial Day 2011 Flickr set.

A sunny day off from work

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

20110504-020413.jpg

The seemingly interminable project I’ve been working on has finally come to an end and I’m on call as it awaits approval fir manufacture. This spring has been wet and cold but warm days have begun to appear though so far they have been few and separated by a return to cold and wet. So when this wednesday was forecasted to be the only sunny and warm day this week I jumped on it. Since I have to check in with work periodically I thought I’d “live blog” today’s ride, posting when I stop to check work email.

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So I set out around 1pm on the frequently ridden Lake WA Loop heading toward Mercer Island. The first stop was Mercer Slough just outside of Bellevue, at a vigorously flowing fish ladder.

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The I-90 Trail cross the two sections of the I-90 Bridge with Mercer Island in between. I tend to skip the trail on the island and take the roads, which are a but further from the highway and a nicer ride. But it’s been a while and being midweek figured the traffic would be lower – which it was. Very pleasant riding and as the picture above atests, some nice views.

20110504-042632.jpg

After the bridge I’m back on the Loop, the west side of the loop now heading north. There is some nice riding here along the lake and amidst the valleys the wend down to it. It is much more trafficked though and gets increasingly so as I approach the University district.

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Any time I out riding on a warm day for more than a couple of hours I’m going to need a beer. Once I reached the U-District it’s just a couple miles on the Burke-Gillman Trail to Fremont and Brouwers – my favorite drinking establishment in Washington State. Pictured above a New Belgian Le Terroir Dry Hopped Sour, which if you like sour beers is fantastic. Sour, tart with a bitter-ish hoppiness that is perfectly balanced with the sourness. I also had a Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2008. The Bigfoot is one of the all time classic barleywines – strong, yet not too strong and deceptive in how quaffable it is. However this 2008 vintage was I think a bit off – aging beer is a risky proposition and a lot of great beers don’t age. Or they only age for so long. Anyway it was drinkable, but nothing to write home about.

Free Range Cycles

Across the Street from Brouwers is Free Range Cycles which I’ve always been curious about – they have really good looking and functional bicycles sitting outside: Surly’s, Soma and even the occasional Rivendell.  But I’m always in Brouwers too long, or never had time to make it over. Well today I finally did and what a great shop! Especially for Riv fans, as it turns out they are a (rare) Rivendell dealer, but apart from that the shop is stocked with saddlebags, Brooks saddles, leather bar tape, racks, baskets and tons of stuff for the practical and non-racing bicycler. Definitely a shop I’ll be back to. Anyway after some checking out of the shop and hanging out a bit with the owner and some other like minded cyclists I headed out.

I didn’t jump right onto the trail; I rode through the streets of Fremont most of the way to the U-District. However at one point I’m riding on a bit of an uphill, in a bicycle lane that is just filled with debris and whoosh my rear tire just completely and nearly instantly deflates. I pull over and find my tire is off the rim!  I’d ran over a nail bent into a U shape and it had shredded the tire and hitting the brake pads had pull the tire off.  Damn!  I did quite a fast tire change and was back on it.  I have to say my Marathon Plus tires have been great got maybe 9 months flat free but then three this year. But all of them have been serious items I’ve hit – this nail, a chunk of an x-acto blade and a big hunk of glass. Anyway just goes to show that no tire is truely puncture proof, some are just more so then others.

Anyway after that little adventure I hopped on the bicycle and headed home. The route home from this point on is pretty much of little interest – the Burke-Gillman trail, then over Finn Hill into Juanitia and up Market Street Hill in Kirkland and home.  Some good hills there after a good long flat section on trail. I tend to skip the trail, but again it being a good time for it I gave it a whirl. It was quite crowded in the U-District but emptied pretty soon after.  Anyway a great ride and nice to get out in the middle of the week.