Sunday, August 24, 2008

Being A Two-Wheeled Tourist

Here are the stats and here is the narrative . . .

Seattle is very pretty during August and September, sunshine filled months and balmy weather. A great time to be a tourist and today that is exactly what I did. 

Got on my bike to go for a short run and decided as soon as I clipped in that I wanted to avoid the Burke Gilman Trail as much as possible. What better thing to do than to cross the I-90 Bridge over to Mercer Island and then come back?

It was such a pretty morning, the sun was out with a light breeze pushing high clouds out of the SSE (or was it SSW?) and I headed down the hill towards Husky Stadium and the Montlake Bridge. Just as I got to the bridge the warning horn went off and so I had to stop and wait while a sailboat went through. A crow alighted on the walkway to the left of the photo and stayed there even as the bridge deck went almost vertical. It finally took off as it could no longer stand or keep its balance despite its best (and noisy) efforts. And here is something I've never noticed before. See those wires hanging down? They power Seattle Metro's Electric Buses. Seriously de-tensioned. 

Once the bridge went up I squiggled through the Montlake Neighborhood (a mixture of really interesting show places and not-to-grand (or is it grandiose) houses) towards Madison Valley and Lake Washington Boulevard (noticed that the Bush School seems to have a newish building now). The area near Lake View Park is one of my favorite places to ride because of all the trees and the twisting and turning of the road. I took it easy on the curves and was passed by a roadie who said "Hi" as he went by. 

Lake Washington Blvd down through Madrona is a fast and fun downhill (I am usually huffing it UP these hills on foot) but soon I was climbing a big, steep, hill to get to the I-90 Bike Trail. Riding this section reminded me so much of Santa Barbara's Riviera, not as sun-drenched or crowded but the divided roads and spectacular views are shared (please ignore the finger). 

The drop down to the bridge trail is very steep and my brakes squealed as I descended towards the bridge deck—it got the attention of everyone there actually. :-P

Boy was it windy on that deck and a little narrower than I remembered—I can just hear AW saying "Narrow?" Yeah, Narrow! Narrow because there were people walking across the bridge, running two-or-three abreast, and other bikers coming from behind me and from ahead. So what do you do when faced with two people walking and fast riders coming towards you AND a peloton of sorts (well, they were all wearing the same clothes) approaching from behind. Kind of fun actually. But OH were the views of The Mountain amazing. 

Once off the bridge I noodled around along the trail on Mercer Island, poking my nose into the various parks and generally enjoying all the tennis games, children playing (in the distance), and birds chirping, etc.. One thing I don't get, though, who, in their right mind would take a smoke break in the middle of a tennis game? Something is not right . . . 

Returning across the bridge felt a little strange although it went faster with a tail wind. All that separated me from the water was a railing, the bars of which could easily catch my bar extensions. Up the west end and through the tunnel down towards the Coleman Park area and Rainier Valley. Lots of tennis courts here too but none were being used. Then I ran out of trail. Hmm. 

Ended up riding on the sidewalk along Rainier Avenue until I could turn onto a side-street for safer riding. Dearborn Street was also similarly dicey but traffic was not too bad for a Sunday morning. Lots of people out, walking to have Dim Sum. Lots of homeless people too, one of whom had a very nasty looking suppricating wound on his arm. 

So, here is a tourist moment. I've been to the ID (International District) a bunch of times BUT I have never noticed some of the sculptures out there. Look up, up on the light poles. Here there be Dragons . . .

(this is my favorite picture from the day)

Managed to work my way down to Alaskan Way and the bike path that runs along the trolley tracks and spent the next few minutes actually dodging real tourists who were wandering around a bit lost but certainly having a good time. It was nice to see actually. Well, most of it. There was this one guy in a grey mini-van who thought it would be a good thing to stop in the middle of the bike path and then pull forward as I made to go around his front end. 

Normally Alaskan Way is a really busy street, especially during the summer, and today was was no exception. But traffic patterns were quite different I think because one of the big cruise ships was either embarking or disembarking passengers. Traffic control was out in abundance and I was able to make easy progress to the sculpture park and the bike path that goes through Myrtle Edwards Park. It didn't hurt that an AMTRAK train was coming through at the same time and the road was blocked off. That did not stop a woman from running in front of the oncoming train while dragging her child along. They made it but only just and with much squealing of brakes. Yikes! Another almost for the Darwin Awards?

Lots of ships in Elliot Bay, lots of ships waiting for grain to be loaded, and boy were they loading grain from the elevators along the track. You cannot see much but you can certainly hear the stuff going into the ships. The ship being loaded was flagged in Singapore. 

Took a bit of a break for some food and drink (aren't Sports Beans wonderful? So juicy.) 

Not so wonderful is the fact that West Nile virus has put in an appearance in Western WA or, at least the warning signs have.  (but now you know what to do . . .)

Now, how to get home? Is there a non-hilly way? Not really. Went through the Interbay Train Yards with a rather impatient roadie behind me. I was moving, not fast, but moving and he was on my tail and could not pass because of the tightness of the track. Ah well. He passed when the track opened up and gave me a look that could kill I suppose before he sped off. Meh! Get over it Dude. 

And then the climbing began. There is no flat way that I can see and so I headed up towards Magnolia and all the great views there. This time I was climbing instead of descending as I normally do and it was hard. I had a rabbit though and managed to hang with a skinny-tyred rider who went past me on a downhill (lots of drag and friction on this MTB). 

The rest of this ride was a pretty uneventful jaunt through Fisherman's Terminal and then to Fremont where I joined the BG Trail to home. With 30-something miles under my belt I began to get very hungry. The low fuel warnings were going off in my head, I began to slow down and had to gut out the last climb to home. But it felt good.

I got home at about 12:15. At 12:30 it started pouring in my neck of the woods here in Bryant. 

Once home I began the process of replacing the 4000-odd calories that I expended on this ride, stretched, and then fell asleep on the floor in front of the TV while sort of watching the Men's Water Polo Final. How did it come out?

What a lovely adventure for the day. So glad that I was able to get out there and enjoy . . . 

Seattle in August is (mostly) wonderful.

And here is the elevation profile:

1 comment:

Andy said...

Excellent ride, photos and commentary. Hungary won the water polo finals. But, I still don't know how they get the horses in the pool to play the sport.